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Firefox 85 Cracks Down on Supercookies – Mozilla Security Blog

Trackers and adtech com­pa­nies have long abused browser fea­tures to fol­low peo­ple around the web. Since 2018, we have been ded­i­cated to re­duc­ing the num­ber of ways our users can be tracked. As a first line of de­fense, we’ve blocked cook­ies from known track­ers and scripts from known fin­ger­print­ing com­pa­nies.

In Firefox 85, we’re in­tro­duc­ing a fun­da­men­tal change in the browser’s net­work ar­chi­tec­ture to make all of our users safer: we now par­ti­tion net­work con­nec­tions and caches by the web­site be­ing vis­ited. Trackers can abuse caches to cre­ate su­per­cook­ies and can use con­nec­tion iden­ti­fiers to track users. But by iso­lat­ing caches and net­work con­nec­tions to the web­site they were cre­ated on, we make them use­less for cross-site track­ing.

In short, su­per­cook­ies can be used in place of or­di­nary cook­ies to store user iden­ti­fiers, but  they are much more dif­fi­cult to delete and block. This makes it nearly im­pos­si­ble for users to pro­tect their pri­vacy as they browse the web. Over the years, track­ers have been found stor­ing user iden­ti­fiers as su­per­cook­ies in in­creas­ingly ob­scure parts of the browser, in­clud­ing in Flash stor­age, ETags, and HSTS flags.

The changes we’re mak­ing in Firefox 85 greatly re­duce the ef­fec­tive­ness of cache-based su­per­cook­ies by elim­i­nat­ing a track­er’s abil­ity to use them across web­sites.

Like all web browsers, Firefox shares some in­ter­nal re­sources be­tween web­sites to re­duce over­head. Firefox’s im­age cache is a good ex­am­ple: if the same im­age is em­bed­ded on mul­ti­ple web­sites, Firefox will load the im­age from the net­work dur­ing a visit to the first web­site and on sub­se­quent web­sites would tra­di­tion­ally load the im­age from the browser’s lo­cal im­age cache (rather than re­load­ing from the net­work). Similarly, Firefox would reuse a sin­gle net­work con­nec­tion when load­ing re­sources from the same party em­bed­ded on mul­ti­ple web­sites. These tech­niques are in­tended to save a user band­width and time.

Unfortunately, some track­ers have found ways to abuse these shared re­sources to fol­low users around the web. In the case of Firefox’s im­age cache, a tracker can cre­ate a su­per­cookie by  encoding” an iden­ti­fier for the user in a cached im­age on one web­site, and then retrieving” that iden­ti­fier on a dif­fer­ent web­site by em­bed­ding the same im­age. To pre­vent this pos­si­bil­ity, Firefox 85 uses a dif­fer­ent im­age cache for every web­site a user vis­its. That means we still load cached im­ages when a user re­vis­its the same site, but we don’t share those caches across sites.

In fact, there are many dif­fer­ent caches track­ers can abuse to build su­per­cook­ies. Firefox 85 par­ti­tions all of the fol­low­ing caches by the top-level site be­ing vis­ited: HTTP cache, im­age cache, fav­i­con cache, HSTS cache, OCSP cache, style sheet cache, font cache, DNS cache, HTTP Authentication cache, Alt-Svc cache, and TLS cer­tifi­cate cache.

To fur­ther pro­tect users from con­nec­tion-based track­ing, Firefox 85 also par­ti­tions pooled con­nec­tions, prefetch con­nec­tions, pre­con­nect con­nec­tions, spec­u­la­tive con­nec­tions, and TLS ses­sion iden­ti­fiers.

This par­ti­tion­ing ap­plies to all third-party re­sources em­bed­ded on a web­site, re­gard­less of whether Firefox con­sid­ers that re­source to have loaded from a track­ing do­main. Our met­rics show a very mod­est im­pact on page load time: be­tween a 0.09% and 0.75% in­crease at the 80th per­centile and be­low, and a max­i­mum in­crease of 1.32% at the 85th per­centile. These im­pacts are sim­i­lar to those re­ported by the Chrome team for sim­i­lar cache pro­tec­tions they are plan­ning to roll out.

Systematic net­work par­ti­tion­ing makes it harder for track­ers to cir­cum­vent Firefox’s anti-track­ing fea­tures, but we still have more work to do to con­tinue to strengthen our pro­tec­tions. Stay tuned for more pri­vacy pro­tec­tions in the com­ing months!

Re-architecting how Firefox han­dles net­work con­nec­tions and caches was no small task, and would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the tire­less work of our en­gi­neer­ing team: Andrea Marchesini, Tim Huang, Gary Chen, Johann Hofmann, Tanvi Vyas, Anne van Kesteren, Ethan Tseng, Prangya Basu, Wennie Leung, Ehsan Akhgari, and Dimi Lee.

We wish to ex­press our grat­i­tude to the many Mozillians who con­tributed to and sup­ported this work, in­clud­ing: Selena Deckelmann, Mikal Lewis, Tom Ritter, Eric Rescorla, Olli Pettay, Kim Moir, Gregory Mierzwinski, Doug Thayer, and Vicky Chin.

We also want to ac­knowl­edge past and on­go­ing ef­forts car­ried out by col­leagues in the Brave, Chrome, Safari and Tor Browser teams to com­bat su­per­cook­ies in their own browsers.

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Firefox 85.0, See All New Features, Updates and Fixes

We’d like to ex­tend a spe­cial thank you to all of the new Mozillians who con­tributed to this re­lease of Firefox.

At Mozilla, we be­lieve you have a right to pri­vacy. You should­n’t be tracked on­line. Whether you are check­ing your bank bal­ance, look­ing for the best doc­tor, or shop­ping for shoes, un­scrupu­lous track­ing com­pa­nies should not be able to track you as you browse the Web. For that rea­son, we are con­tin­u­ously work­ing to harden Firefox against on­line track­ing of our users.

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Halt and Catch Fire Syllabus

This site fea­tures a cur­ricu­lum de­vel­oped around the tele­vi­sion se­ries, Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017), a fic­tional nar­ra­tive about peo­ple work­ing in tech dur­ing the 1980s-1990s.

The in­tent is for this web­site to be used by self-form­ing small groups that want to cre­ate a watching club” (like a book club) and dis­cuss as­pects of tech­nol­ogy his­tory that are fea­tured in this se­ries.

There are 15 classes, for a semester-long” course:

~ #01 ~ #02 ~ #03 ~ #04 ~ #05 ~ #06 ~ #07 ~ #08 ~ #09 ~ #10 ~ #11 ~ #12 ~ #13 ~ #14 ~ #15 ~

* Apéritifs Casual view­ing pre­sented be­fore gath­er­ing. This is en­ter­tain­ment; not re­quired view­ing.

* RFC as koan A Request for Comments from the Internet Engineering Task Force, for re­flect­ing on.

* Emulation as koan An em­u­lated com­puter in the browser, also for re­flec­tion.

* Themes Recommendations for top­ics to be dis­cussed.

* Readings Related ma­te­r­ial for deeper think­ing on the class topic.

* Description Brief sum­mary of what’s go­ing on in the episodes and how it re­lates to tech his­tory at large / the weekly topic.

* Episode sum­maries A link to sum­maries of the episodes that should be watched prior to meet­ing as a group. Watching each episode is not re­quired; if time does­n’t al­low, re­fer to the sum­maries. Content warn­ings are pro­vided for rel­e­vant episodes. If there are spe­cific con­cerns, this can de­ter­mine which episodes should be skipped or an­tic­i­pated be­fore view­ing.

Curriculum and web­site de­signed by Ashley Blewer.

see also ↠ source code & site meta­data

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Postgres scaling advice for 2021 - CYBERTEC

ServicesPostgreSQL ad­min­is­tra­tionPost­greSQL clus­ter­ing and HAPostgreSQLSolutions — Who uses PostgreSQL

So, you’re build­ing the next uni­corn startup and are think­ing fever­ishly about a fu­ture-proof PostgreSQL ar­chi­tec­ture to house your bytes? My ad­vice here, hav­ing seen dozens of hope­lessly over-en­gi­neered / over­sized so­lu­tions as a data­base con­sul­tant over the last 5 years, is short and blunt: Don’t over­think, and keep it sim­ple on the data­base side! Instead of get­ting fancy with the data­base, fo­cus on your ap­pli­ca­tion. Turn your mi­cro­scope to the data­base only when the need ac­tu­ally arises, m’kay! When that day comes, first of all, try all the com­mon ver­ti­cal scale-up ap­proaches and tricks. Try to avoid us­ing de­riv­a­tive Postgres prod­ucts, or em­ploy­ing dis­trib­uted ap­proaches, or home-brewed shard­ing at all costs — un­til you have, say, less than 1 year of breath­ing room avail­able. Wow, what kind of ad­vice is that for 2021? I’m talk­ing about a sim­ple, sin­gle-node ap­proach in the age of Big Data and hy­per-scal­a­bil­ity…I surely must be a Luddite or just still dizzy from too much New Year’s Eve cham­pagne. Well, per­haps so, but let’s start from a bit fur­ther back…Post­greSQL and MySQL — broth­ers from an­other moth­erOver the hol­i­days, I fi­nally had a bit of time to catch up on my tech read­ing / watch­ing TODO-list (still dozens of items left though, arghh)…and one pretty good talk was on the past and cur­rent state of dis­trib­uted MySQL ar­chi­tec­tures by Peter Zaitsev of Percona. Oh, MySQL??? No no, we haven’t changed horses” sud­denly, PostgreSQL is still our main fo­cus 🙂 It’s just that in many key points per­tain­ing to scal­ing, the same con­straints ac­tu­ally also ap­ply to PostgreSQL. After all, they’re both de­signed as sin­gle-node re­la­tional data­base man­age­ment en­gines.In short, I’m sum­ma­riz­ing some ideas out of the talk, plus adding some of my own. I would like to pro­vide some food for thought to those who are overly wor­ried about data­base per­for­mance — thus pre­ma­turely latch­ing onto some overly com­plex ar­chi­tec­tures. In do­ing so, the worriers” sac­ri­fice some other good prop­er­ties of sin­gle-node data­bases — like us­abil­ity, and be­ing bul­let-proof.All dis­trib­uted sys­tems are in­her­ently com­plex, and dif­fi­cult to get rightIf you’re new to this realm, just trust me on the above, OK? There’s a bunch of aban­doned or stale pro­jects which have tried to of­fer some fully or semi-au­to­mat­i­cally scal­able, highly avail­able, easy-to-use and easy-to-man­age DBMS…and failed! It’s not an ut­terly bad thing to try though, since we can learn from it. Actually, some prod­ucts are get­ting pretty close to the Holy Grail of dis­trib­uted SQL data­bases (CockroachDB comes to mind first). However, I’m afraid we still have to live with the CAP the­o­rem. Also, re­mem­ber that to go from cov­er­ing 99.9% of cor­ner cases of com­plex ar­chi­tec­tures to cov­er­ing 99.99% is not a mat­ter of lin­ear com­plex­ity/​cost, but rather ex­po­nen­tial com­plex­ity/​cost!Al­though af­ter a cer­tain amount of time a com­pany like Facebook surely needs some kind of hor­i­zon­tal scal­ing, maybe you’re not there yet, and maybe stock Postgres can still pro­vide you some years of stress-free co­hab­i­ta­tion. Consider: Do you even have a run­way for that long?* A sin­gle PostgreSQL in­stance can eas­ily do hun­dreds of thou­sands of trans­ac­tions per sec­ond­For ex­am­ple, on my (pretty av­er­age) work­sta­tion, I can do ca. 25k sim­ple read trans­ac­tions per 1 CPU core on an in mem­ory” pg­bench dataset…with the de­fault con­fig for Postgres v13! With some tun­ing (by the way, tun­ing reads is much harder in Postgres than tun­ing writes!) I was able to in­crease it to ~32k TPS per core, mean­ing: a top-notch, ded­i­cated hard­ware server can do about 1 mil­lion short reads! With reads, you can also usu­ally em­ploy repli­cas — so mul­ti­ply that by 10 if needed! You then need to some­how solve the query rout­ing prob­lem, but there are tools for that. In some cases, the new stan­dard LibPQ con­nec­tion string syn­tax (target_session_attrs) can be used — with some shuf­fling. By the way, Postgres does­n’t limit the num­ber of repli­cas, though I per­son­ally have never wit­nessed more than 10 repli­cas. With some cas­cad­ing, I’m sure you could run dozens with­out big­ger is­sues.* A sin­gle node can typ­i­cally do tens of thou­sands of write trans­ac­tions per sec­on­dOn my hum­ble work­sta­tion with 6 cores (12 log­i­cal CPUs) and NVMe SSD stor­age, the de­fault very write-heavy (3 UPD, 1 INS, 1 SEL) pgbench” test greets me with a num­ber of around 45k TPS — for ex­am­ple, af­ter some check­point tun­ing — and there are even more tun­ing tricks avail­able.* A sin­gle Postgres in­stance can eas­ily han­dle dozens of Terabytes of data­Given that you have sep­a­rated hot” and cold” data sets, and there’s some thought put into in­dex­ing, etc., a sin­gle Postgres in­stance can cope with quite a lot of data. Backups and standby server pro­vi­sion­ing, etc. will be a pain, since you’ll surely meet some phys­i­cal lim­its even on the finest hard­ware. However, these is­sues are com­mon to all data­base sys­tems. From the query per­for­mance side, there is no rea­son why it should sud­denly be forced to slow down!* A sin­gle node in­stance is lit­er­ally bul­let-proof as far as data con­sis­tency is con­cerned­Given that 1) you de­clare your con­straints cor­rectly, 2) don’t fool around with some fsync” or asyn­chro­nous com­mit set­tings, and 3) your disks don’t ex­plode, a sin­gle node in­stance pro­vides rock-solid data con­sis­tency. Again, the last item ap­plies to any data stor­age, so hope­fully, you have some” back­ups some­where…* Failures are eas­ily com­pre­hen­si­ble — thus also re­cov­er­able­Mean­ing: that even if some­thing very bad hap­pens and the pri­mary node is down, the worst out­come is that your ap­pli­ca­tion is just cur­rently un­avail­able. Once you do your re­cov­ery magic (or bet­ter, let some bot like Patroni take care of that) you’re ex­actly where you were pre­vi­ously. Now com­pare that with some par­tial fail­ure sce­nar­ios or data hash­ing er­rors in a dis­trib­uted world! Believe me, when work­ing with crit­i­cal data, in a lot of cases it’s bet­ter to have a short down­time than to have to sort out some run­away datasets for days or weeks to come, which is con­fus­ing for your­self and your cus­tomers.Tips to be pre­pared for scalin­gIn the be­gin­ning of the post, I said that when start­ing out, you should­n’t worry too much about scal­ing from the ar­chi­tec­tural side. That does­n’t mean that you should ig­nore some com­mon best prac­tices, in case scal­ing could the­o­ret­i­cally be re­quired later. Some of them might be:* Don’t be afraid to run your own data­baseThis might be the most im­por­tant thing on the list — with mod­ern real hard­ware (or some metal cloud in­stances) and the full power of con­fig and filesys­tem tun­ing and ex­ten­sions, you’ll typ­i­cally do just fine on a sin­gle node for years. Remember that if you get tired of run­ning your own setup, nowa­days you can al­ways mi­grate to some cloud providers — with min­i­mal down­time — via Logical Replication! If you want to know how, see here. Note that I specif­i­cally men­tioned real” hard­ware above, due to the com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that a sin­gle cloud vCPU is pretty much equal to a real one…the re­al­ity is far from that of course — my own im­pres­sion over the years has been that there is around a 2-3x per­for­mance dif­fer­ence, de­pend­ing on the provider/​re­gion/​luck fac­tor in ques­tion.* Try to avoid the se­ri­ous mis­take of hav­ing your data architecture” cen­tered around a sin­gle huge tab­leY­ou’d be sur­prised how of­ten we see that…so slice and dice early, or set up some par­ti­tion­ing. Partitioning will also do a lot of good to the long-term health of the data­base, since it al­lows mul­ti­ple au­to­vac­uum work­ers on the same log­i­cal table, and it can speed up IO con­sid­er­ably on en­ter­prise stor­age. If IO in­deed be­comes a bot­tle­neck at some point, you can em­ploy Postgres na­tive re­mote par­ti­tions, so that some older data lives on an­other node.* Make sure to bake in” a proper shard­ing key for your ta­bles/​data­bases Initially, the data can just re­side on a sin­gle phys­i­cal node. If your data model re­volves around the millions of in­de­pen­dent clients” con­cept for ex­am­ple, then it might even be best to start with many sharded” data­bases with iden­ti­cal schemas, so that trans­fer­ring out the shards to sep­a­rate hard­ware nodes will be a piece of cake in the fu­ture.There are ben­e­fits to sys­tems that can scale 1000x from day one…but in many cases, there’s also an un­rea­son­able (and costly) de­sire to be ready for scal­ing. I get it, it’s very hu­man — I’m also tempted to buy a nice BMW con­vert­ible with a max­i­mum speed of 250 kilo­me­ters per hour…only to dis­cover that the max­i­mum al­lowed speed in my coun­try is 110, and even that dur­ing the sum­mer months.The thing that res­onated with me from the Youtube talk the most was that there’s a def­i­nite down­side to such the­o­ret­i­cal scal­ing ca­pa­bil­ity — it throt­tles de­vel­op­ment ve­loc­ity and op­er­a­tional man­age­ment ef­fi­ciency at early stages! Having a plain rock-solid data­base that you know well, and which also ac­tu­ally per­forms well — if you know how to use it — is most of­ten a great place to start with.By the way, here’s an­other good link on a sim­i­lar note from a nice Github col­lec­tion and also one pretty de­tailed overview here about how an Alexa top 250 com­pany man­aged to get by with a sin­gle data­base for 12 years be­fore need­ing dras­tic scal­ing ac­tion!To sum it all up: this is prob­a­bly a good place to quote the clas­sics: pre­ma­ture op­ti­miza­tion is the root of all evil…

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Backblaze Hard Drive Stats for 2020

In 2020, Backblaze added 39,792 hard dri­ves and as of December 31, 2020 we had 165,530 dri­ves un­der man­age­ment. Of that num­ber, there were 3,000 boot dri­ves and 162,530 data dri­ves. We will dis­cuss the boot dri­ves later in this re­port, but first we’ll fo­cus on the hard drive fail­ure rates for the data drive mod­els in op­er­a­tion in our data cen­ters as of the end of December. In ad­di­tion, we’ll wel­come back Western Digital to the farm and get a look at our nascent 16TB and 18TB dri­ves. Along the way, we’ll share ob­ser­va­tions and in­sights on the data pre­sented and as al­ways, we look for­ward to you do­ing the same in the com­ments.

At the end of 2020, Backblaze was mon­i­tor­ing 162,530 hard dri­ves used to store data. For our eval­u­a­tion, we re­move from con­sid­er­a­tion 231 dri­ves which were used for test­ing pur­poses and those drive mod­els for which we did not have at least 60 dri­ves. This leaves us with 162,299 hard dri­ves in 2020, as listed be­low.

The 231 dri­ves not in­cluded in the list above were ei­ther used for test­ing or did not have at least 60 dri­ves of the same model at any time dur­ing the year. The data for all dri­ves, data dri­ves, boot dri­ves, etc., is avail­able for down­load on the Hard Drive Test Data web­page.

For dri­ves which have less than 250,000 drive days, any con­clu­sions about drive fail­ure rates are not jus­ti­fied. There is not enough data over the year-long pe­riod to reach any con­clu­sions. We pre­sent the mod­els with less than 250,000 drive days for com­plete­ness only.

For drive mod­els with over 250,000 drive days over the course of 2020, the Seagate 6TB drive (model: ST6000DX000) leads the way with a 0.23% an­nu­al­ized fail­ure rate (AFR). This model was also the old­est, in av­er­age age, of all the dri­ves listed. The 6TB Seagate model was fol­lowed closely by the peren­nial con­tenders from HGST: the 4TB drive (model: HMS5C4040ALE640) at 0.27%, the 4TB drive (model: HMS5C4040BLE640), at 0.27%, the 8TB drive (model: HUH728080ALE600) at 0.29%, and the 12TB drive (model: HUH721212ALE600) at 0.31%.

The AFR for 2020 for all drive mod­els was 0.93%, which was less than half the AFR for 2019. We’ll dis­cuss that later in this re­port.

We had a goal at the be­gin­ning of 2020 to di­ver­sify the num­ber of drive mod­els we qual­i­fied for use in our data cen­ters. To that end, we qual­i­fied nine new dri­ves mod­els dur­ing the year, as shown be­low.

Actually, there were two ad­di­tional hard drive mod­els which were new to our farm in 2020: the 16TB Seagate drive (model: ST16000NM005G) with 26 dri­ves, and the 16TB Toshiba drive (model: MG08ACA16TA) with 40 dri­ves. Each fell be­low our 60-drive thresh­old and were not listed.

The goal of qual­i­fy­ing ad­di­tional drive mod­els proved to be prophetic in 2020, as the ef­fects of Covid-19 be­gan to creep into the world econ­omy in March 2020. By that time we were well on our way to­wards our goal and while be­ing less of a cre­ative so­lu­tion than drive farm­ing, drive model di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion was one of the tac­tics we used to man­age our sup­ply chain through the man­u­fac­tur­ing and ship­ping de­lays preva­lent in the first sev­eral months of the pan­demic.

The last time a Western Digital (WDC) drive model was listed in our re­port was Q2 2019. There are still three 6TB WDC dri­ves in ser­vice and 261 WDC boot dri­ves, but nei­ther are listed in our re­ports, so no WDC dri­ves—un­til now. In Q4 a to­tal of 6,002 of these 14TB dri­ves (model: WUH721414ALE6L4) were in­stalled and were op­er­a­tional as of December 31st.

These dri­ves ob­vi­ously share their lin­eage with the HGST dri­ves, but they re­port their man­u­fac­turer as WDC ver­sus HGST. The model num­bers are sim­i­lar with the first three char­ac­ters chang­ing from HUH to WUH and the last three char­ac­ters chang­ing from 604, for ex­am­ple, to 6L4. We don’t know the sig­nif­i­cance of that change, per­haps it is the fac­tory lo­ca­tion, a firmware ver­sion, or some other des­ig­na­tion. If you know, let every­one know in the com­ments. As with all of the ma­jor drive man­u­fac­tur­ers, the model num­ber car­ries pat­terned in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to each drive model and is not ran­domly gen­er­ated, so the 6L4 string would ap­pear to mean some­thing use­ful.

WDC is back with a splash, as the AFR for this drive model is just 0.16%—that’s with 6,002 dri­ves in­stalled, but only for 1.7 months on av­er­age. Still, with only one fail­ure dur­ing that time, they are off to a great start. We are look­ing for­ward to see­ing how they per­form over the com­ing months.

There are six Seagate drive mod­els that were new to our farm in 2020. Five of these mod­els are listed in the table above and one model had only 26 dri­ves, so it was not listed. These dri­ves ranged in size from 12TB to 18TB and were used for both mi­gra­tion re­place­ments as well as new stor­age. As a group, they to­taled 13,596 dri­ves and amassed 1,783,166 drive days with just 46 fail­ures for an AFR of 0.94%.

The new Toshiba 14TB drive (model: MG07ACA14TA) and the new Toshiba 16TB (model: MG08ACA16TEY) were in­tro­duced to our data cen­ters in 2020 and they are putting up ze­ros, as in zero fail­ures. While each drive model has only been in­stalled for about two months, they are off to a great start.

The chart be­low com­pares the AFR for each of the last three years. The data for each year is in­clu­sive of that year only and for the drive mod­els pre­sent at the end of each year.

The AFR for 2020 dropped be­low 1% down to 0.93%. In 2019, it stood at 1.89%. That’s over a 50% drop year over year. So why was the 2020 AFR so low? The an­swer: It was a group ef­fort. To start, the older dri­ves: 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB dri­ves as a group were sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter in 2020, de­creas­ing from a 1.35% AFR in 2019 to a 0.96% AFR in 2020. At the other end of the size spec­trum, we added over 30,000 larger dri­ves: 14TB, 16TB, and 18TB, which as a group recorded an AFR of 0.89% for 2020. Finally, the 12TB dri­ves as a group had a 2020 AFR of 0.98%. In other words, whether a drive was old or new, or big or small, they per­formed well in our en­vi­ron­ment in 2020.

The chart be­low shows the life­time an­nu­al­ized fail­ure rates of all of the dri­ves mod­els in pro­duc­tion as of December 31, 2020.

Confidence in­ter­vals give you a sense of the use­ful­ness of the cor­re­spond­ing AFR value. A nar­row con­fi­dence in­ter­val range is bet­ter than a wider range, with a very wide range mean­ing the cor­re­spond­ing AFR value is not sta­tis­ti­cally use­ful. For ex­am­ple, the con­fi­dence in­ter­val for the 18TB Seagate dri­ves (model: ST18000NM000J) ranges from 1.5% to 45.8%. This is very wide and one should con­clude that the cor­re­spond­ing 12.54% AFR is not a true mea­sure of the fail­ure rate of this drive model. More data is needed. On the other hand, when we look at the 14TB Toshiba drive (model: MG07ACA14TA), the range is from 0.7% to 1.1% which is fairly nar­row, and our con­fi­dence in the 0.9% AFR is much more rea­son­able.

We al­ways ex­clude boot dri­ves from our re­ports as their func­tion is very dif­fer­ent from a data drive. While it may not seem ob­vi­ous, hav­ing 3,000 boot dri­ves is a bit of a mile­stone. It means we have 3,000 Backblaze Storage Pods in op­er­a­tion as of December 31st. All of these Storage Pods are or­ga­nized into Backblaze Vaults of 20 Storage Pods each or 150 Backblaze Vaults.

Over the last year or so, we moved from us­ing hard dri­ves to SSDs as boot dri­ves. We have a lit­tle over 1,200 SSDs act­ing as boot dri­ves to­day. We are val­i­dat­ing the SMART and fail­ure data we are col­lect­ing on these SSD boot dri­ves. We’ll keep you posted if we have any­thing worth pub­lish­ing.

The com­plete data set used to cre­ate the in­for­ma­tion used in this re­view is avail­able on our Hard Drive Test Data page. You can down­load and use this data for free for your own pur­pose. All we ask are three things: 1) you cite Backblaze as the source if you use the data, 2) you ac­cept that you are solely re­spon­si­ble for how you use the data, and 3) you do not sell this data to any­one; it is free.

If you just want the sum­ma­rized data used to cre­ate the ta­bles and charts in this blog post you can down­load the ZIP file con­tain­ing the CSV files for each chart.

Good luck and let us know if you find any­thing in­ter­est­ing.

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Open Collective

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FDA approves first long-acting injectable to treat HIV infection

n a move that could trans­form HIV treat­ment, the Food and Drug Administration has ap­proved a monthly in­jectable med­ica­tion, a reg­i­men de­signed to ri­val pills that must be taken daily.

The newly ap­proved med­i­cine, which is called Cabenuva, rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant ad­vance in treat­ing what con­tin­ues to be a highly in­fec­tious dis­ease. In 2018, for in­stance, there were ap­prox­i­mately 36,400 newly in­fected pa­tients liv­ing with HIV in the U. S., ac­cord­ing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide be­came newly in­fected in 2019, ac­cord­ing to UNAIDS.

Although sev­eral med­i­cines ex­ist for treat­ing HIV, ViiV Healthcare is bank­ing on the im­proved con­ve­nience of get­ting a monthly shot, even if it must be ad­min­is­tered by a health care provider. The com­pany, which is largely con­trolled by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), gath­ered data show­ing nine of 10 pa­tients in piv­otal stud­ies claimed to pre­fer the shot over tak­ing pills each day.

This ap­proval will al­low some pa­tients the op­tion of re­ceiv­ing once-monthly in­jec­tions in lieu of a daily oral treat­ment reg­i­men,” said John Farley, who heads the Office of Infectious Diseases in the FDAs Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a state­ment. Having this treat­ment avail­able for some pa­tients pro­vides an al­ter­na­tive for man­ag­ing this chronic con­di­tion.”

Two clin­i­cal stud­ies of more than 1,100 pa­tients from 16 coun­tries found that Cabenuva was as ef­fec­tive in sup­press­ing the virus as the daily, oral, three-drug reg­i­mens that were taken by pa­tients through­out the 48-week study pe­riod. However, pa­tients must first take an oral ver­sion of the in­jectable med­i­cine and an­other pill for the first month be­fore piv­ot­ing to monthly shots, ac­cord­ing to the FDA.

The cost, how­ever, is steep — the list, or whole­sale, price is $3,960 a month, or more than $47,500 a year. The list price for the one-time ini­ti­a­tion dose is $5,490. However, a ViiV spokes­woman ex­plained that a 30-day oral lead-in,” which is re­quired as part of the ap­proval, will be made avail­able at no charge to pa­tients. She also main­tained the list price for the monthly shot is within the range” of HIV treat­ment pills on the mar­ket to­day.

There is also con­sid­er­able com­pe­ti­tion from Gilead Sciences (GILD), which mar­kets sev­eral HIV med­i­cines. During 2019, its HIV treat­ment fran­chise gen­er­ated $17.2 bil­lion in rev­enue, a 12.5% year-over-year in­crease, and grabbed more than 80% of the mar­ket for pa­tients start­ing HIV ther­apy, ac­cord­ing to Cowen an­a­lyst Phil Nadeau. He ex­pects HIV med­ica­tion sales to hit $24.4 bil­lion in 2025, but points to HIV pre­ven­tion pills as big dri­vers of that in­crease.

ViiV, mean­while, is de­vel­op­ing an every-other-month in­jectable in hopes of cap­tur­ing a more sub­stan­tial mar­ket share.

Last November, an in­terim analy­sis found cabote­gravir — a com­po­nent of Cabenuva — was 89% more ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion among women than Truvada, a Gilead pill that must be taken daily and is the cur­rent stan­dard of care. And a sep­a­rate analy­sis re­leased in July showed the every-other-month shot pro­tected un­in­fected peo­ple by 66% more com­pared with Truvada in at-risk men and trans­gen­der women who have sex with men.

We see Cabenuva as the be­gin­ning of long-act­ing treat­ment for HIV,” said Kimberly Smith, who heads global re­search and med­ical strat­egy at ViiV, who ex­pects to seek FDA ap­proval for this ver­sion of the shot in com­ing weeks. We’re open­ing the door with Cabenuva and will only cre­ate more hunger for other long-act­ing ther­a­pies. It re­ally be­comes a sort of an­chor.”

The ap­proval, by the way, comes more than a year af­ter ViiV hoped to win ap­proval for the treat­ment. In late 2019, the FDA is­sued a so-called com­plete re­sponse let­ter and ex­plained ap­proval could not be granted at the time due to is­sues with chem­istry, man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­trols, which are used to de­ter­mine safety, ef­fec­tive­ness and qual­ity.

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Gay Dating App "Grindr" to be fined almost € 10 Mio

In January 2020, the Norwegian Consumer Council and the European pri­vacy NGO noyb.eu filed against Grindr and sev­eral adtech com­pa­nies over il­le­gal shar­ing of users’ data. Like many other apps, Grindr shared per­sonal data (like lo­ca­tion data or the fact that some­one uses Grindr) to po­ten­tially hun­dreds of third par­ties for ad­ver­tis­ment.

Today, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority up­held the com­plaints, con­firm­ing that Grindr did not re­cive valid con­sent from users in an ad­vance no­ti­fi­ca­tion. The Authority im­poses a fine of 100 Mio NOK (€ 9.63 Mio or $ 11.69 Mio) on Grindr. An enor­mous fine, as Grindr only re­ported a profit of $ 31 Mio in 2019 - a third of which is now gone.

filed three strate­gic GDPR com­plaints in co­op­er­a­tion with noyb. The com­plaints were filed with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA) against the gay dat­ing app Grindrand five adtech com­pa­nies that were re­ceiv­ing per­sonal data through the app: Twit­ter`s MoPub, AT&T’s AppNexus (now Xandr

Grindr was di­rectly and in­di­rectly send­ing highly per­sonal data to po­ten­tially hun­dreds of ad­ver­tis­ing part­ners. by the NCC de­scribed in de­tail how a large num­ber of third par­ties con­stantly re­ceive per­sonal data about Grindr’s a user opens Grindr, in­for­ma­tion like the cur­rent lo­ca­tion, or the fact that a per­son uses Grindr is broad­casted to ad­ver­tis­ers. This in­for­ma­tion is also used to cre­ate com­pre­hen­sive pro­files about users, which can be used for tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing and other pur­poses.

un­am­bigu­ous, in­formed, spe­cific and freely given. The Norwegian DPA held that the al­leged consent” Grindr tried to rely on was in­valid. Users were nei­ther prop­erly in­formed, nor was the con­sent spe­cific enough, as users had to agree to the en­tire pri­vacy pol­icy and not to a spe­cific pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tion, such as the shar­ing of data with other com­pa­nies.

Consent must also be freely given. The DPA high­lighted that users should have a real choice not to con­sent with­out any neg­a­tive con­se­quences. Grindr made use of the app con­di­tional on con­sent­ing to data shar­ing or to pay­ing a sub­scrip­tion fee.

The mes­sage is sim­ple: take it or leave it’ is not con­sent. If you rely on un­law­ful consent’ you are sub­ject to a hefty fine. This does not only con­cern Grindr, but many web­sites and apps.” — Ala Krinickytė, Data pro­tec­tion lawyer at noyb

This not only sets lim­its for Grindr, but es­tab­lishes strict le­gal re­quire­ments on a whole in­dus­try that prof­its from col­lect­ing and shar­ing in­for­ma­tion about our pref­er­ences, lo­ca­tion, pur­chases, phys­i­cal and men­tal health, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, and po­lit­i­cal views​​​​​​​Finn Myrstad, Director of dig­i­tal pol­icy in the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC).

Grindr must po­lice ex­ter­nal Partners”. Moreover, the Norwegian DPA con­cluded that Grindr failed to con­trol and take re­spon­si­bil­ity” for their data shar­ing with third par­ties. Grindr shared data with po­ten­tially hun­dreds of thrid par­ties, by in­clud­ing track­ing codes into its app. It then blindly trusted these adtech com­pa­nies to com­ply with an opt-out’ sig­nal that is sent to the re­cip­i­ents of the data. The DPA noted that com­pa­nies could eas­ily ig­nore the sig­nal and con­tinue to process per­sonal data of users. The lack of any fac­tual con­trol and re­spon­si­bil­ity over the shar­ing of users’ data from Grindr is not in line with the ac­count­abil­ity prin­ci­ple of Article 5(2) GDPR. Many com­pa­nies in the in­dus­try use such sig­nal, mainly the TCF frame­work by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Companies can­not just in­clude ex­ter­nal soft­ware into their prod­ucts and then hope that they com­ply with the law. Grindr in­cluded the track­ing code of ex­ter­nal part­ners and for­warded user data to po­ten­tially hun­dreds of third par­ties - it now also has to en­sure that these partners’ com­ply with the law.”

Grindr: Users may be bi-curious”, but not gay? The GDPR spe­cially pro­tects in­for­ma­tion about sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. Grindr how­ever took the view, that such pro­tec­tions do not ap­ply to its users, as the use of Grindr would not re­veal the sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion of its cus­tomers. The com­pany ar­gued that users may be straight or bi-curious” and still use the app. The Norwegian DPA did not buy this ar­gu­ment from an app that iden­ti­fies it­self as be­ing exclusively for the gay/​bi com­mu­ni­ty’. The ad­di­tional ques­tion­able ar­gu­ment by Grindr that users made their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion manifestly pub­lic” and it is there­fore not pro­tected was equally re­jected by the DPA.

An app for the gay com­mu­nity, that ar­gues that the spe­cial pro­tec­tions for ex­actly that com­mu­nity ac­tu­ally do not ap­ply to them, is rather re­mark­able. I am not sure if Grindr’s lawyers have re­ally thought this through.”

Successful ob­jec­tion un­likely. The Norwegian DPA is­sued an advanced no­tice” af­ter hear­ing Grindr in a pro­ce­dure. Grindr can still ob­ject to the de­ci­sion within 21 days, which will be re­viewed by the DPA. However it is un­likely that the out­come could be changed in any ma­te­r­ial way. However fur­ther fines may be up­com­ing as Grindr is now re­ly­ing on a new con­sent sys­tem and al­leged legitimate in­ter­est” to use data with­out user con­sent. This is in con­flict with the de­ci­sion of the Norwegian DPA, as it ex­plic­itly held that any ex­ten­sive dis­clo­sure … for mar­ket­ing pur­poses should be based on the data sub­jec­t’s con­sent”.

The case is clear from the fac­tual and le­gal side. We do not ex­pect any suc­cess­ful ob­jec­tion by Grindr. However, more fines may be in the pipeline for Grindr as it lately claims an un­law­ful legitimate in­ter­est’ to share user data with third par­ties - even with­out con­sent. Grindr may be bound for a sec­ond round.”

* The pro­ject was led by the Norwegian Consumer Council

* The tech­ni­cal tests were car­ried out by the se­cu­rity com­pany mnemonic.

* The re­search on the adtech in­dus­try and spe­cific data bro­kers was per­formed with as­sis­tance from the re­searcher Wolfie Christl of Cracked Labs.

* Additional au­dit­ing of the Grindr app was per­formed by the re­searcher Zach Edwards of MetaX.

* The le­gal analy­sis and for­mal com­plaints were writ­ten with as­sis­tance from noyb.

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The Battle of GameStop

Over the past sev­eral weeks, GameStop stock has traded more like a cryp­tocur­rency than a fail­ing mall-based re­tailer.

What is go­ing on here?

In one sen­tence: Institutional in­vestors short GameStop (i.e., the pre­vail­ing wis­dom, at least un­til the past few weeks) are play­ing a game of chicken with re­tail in­vestors & con­trar­ian in­sti­tu­tions who are long. [1]

GameStop is a video game re­tailer; it has been in de­cline for sev­eral years now. Video games have moved to an on­line, di­rect-to-con­sumer dis­tri­b­u­tion model. Foot traf­fic in malls (where most GameStops are lo­cated) was down even be­fore COVID; many mall-based re­tail­ers are strug­gling.

Unsurprisingly, over the course of 2020 this led to GameStop be­com­ing one of the most shorted stocks on Wall Street.

However, there were early signs that GameStop was un­der­val­ued. Michael Burry (of The Big Short fame) took a large long po­si­tion in 2019, claim­ing video game discs are not en­tirely dead. In August 2020, Roaring Kitty (a.k.a. u/​Deep­Fuck­ing­Value on Reddit) pub­lished a video de­tail­ing why GameStop was a good play based on its fun­da­men­tals — a fu­ture short squeeze would just be the ic­ing on the cake.

On January 11th, Ryan Cohen (founder of Chewy, which sold to PetSmart for $3.35 bil­lion), joined GameStop’s board af­ter his in­vest­ment firm built up a 10% stake in the com­pany. At this point, re­tail in­vestors, es­pe­cially those on the pop­u­lar sub­red­dit Wall Street Bets went crazy. They high­lighted that GameStop was now a growth play. It is now led by a pre­vi­ously suc­cess­ful founder, its on­line busi­ness is grow­ing at a 300% rate, and it is in the process of turn­ing around its core busi­ness. [2] As such, GameStop should be val­ued at a Venture Capital mul­ti­ple of 10x+ rev­enue, rather than a measly 0.5x rev­enue.

This nar­ra­tive is com­pelling. Despite short sell­ers warn­ing oth­er­wise, GameStop has con­tin­ued to climb in price. All of the GameStop op­tions is­sued (with a high strike price of $60) were in the money on Friday (1/22/2021), trig­ging a gamma squeeze as in­sti­tu­tions who had writ­ten the op­tions rushed to cover their po­si­tions. GameStop closed Friday at $65.01.

On Monday (1/25/2021), GameStop opened at $96.73, spiked at $159.18 (likely be­cause of an­other gamma squeeze), [3] then crashed with pres­sure from in­sti­tu­tional shorts, clos­ing at $76.79 (still up 18% day-over-day).

But the bulls aren’t fin­ished with GameStop. These gamma squeezes are noth­ing com­pared to what will be com­ing: the near-myth­i­cal Infinity Squeeze”. Most fa­mously seen with Volkswagen in 2008, when short sell­ers are forced to cover their po­si­tions due to a mar­gin call, the price of the stock rapidly rises (hypothetically to in­fin­ity) since the num­ber of shares shorted ex­ceeds the num­ber of shares avail­able to buy.

Can a sub­red­dit com­prised of re­tail in­vestors re­ally move the mar­ket like this? I doubt it — all of the big swings in this stock have been caused by in­sti­tu­tions. What this sub­red­dit does is con­trol the nar­ra­tive.

First un­veiled to the main­stream fi­nance world in a February 2020 Bloomberg ar­ti­cle, Wall Street Bets is pro­fane (as I’m sure you’ve no­ticed if you clicked any of the links in this post). But Wall Street Bets is­n’t some sin­is­ter, mar­ket-ma­nip­u­lat­ing en­tity. Rather, it is a vir­tual wa­ter cooler for in­di­vid­ual re­tail in­vestors to post memes — and emo­jis, oh so many emo­jis — about their in­vest­ments.

Reading Wall Street Bets feels like the dis­cus­sion at a mid­dle school cafe­te­ria table circa 2000. Redditors on Wall Street Bets (who re­fer to them­selves af­fec­tion­ately as autists” or retards”) [4] en­cour­age one an­other to have diamond hands” (💎 🤲), the will to stay strong and not sell a stock when things are go­ing poorly. Contrast this with the paper hands” (🧻 🤲) of those who are weak-willed and sell a stock based on mar­ket sen­ti­ment. Companies are headed to the moon” (🚀). Bears are not men­tioned with­out the ad­jec­tive gay” (🌈 🐻). Self-deprecating cuck­old ref­er­ences to my wife’s boyfriend” abound.

Despite this lan­guage (or per­haps be­cause of it), Wall Street Bets is one of the most en­ter­tain­ing and in­for­ma­tive places on the in­ter­net. People post mean­ing­ful analy­sis of com­pa­nies that are un­der­val­ued and why they are in­vest­ing. Browsing the sub­red­dit, you get a crash course on con­cepts that you would oth­er­wise learn only at a buy-side firm or work­ing as an op­tions trader: EBITDA mul­ti­ple, book value, delta hedg­ing, im­plied volatil­ity.

But the most com­pelling as­pect of Wall Street Bets is in its name: the bets. The abil­ity to gain (or lose) a life-chang­ing amount of money — with screen­shots to prove it — cre­ates an en­vi­ron­ment sim­i­lar to that of the casino floor. And if Wall Street Bets is the casino floor, then Wall Street it­self is the house.

The same emo­tion that caused us to root for the thieves in Ocean’s 11 is what makes Wall Street Bets so en­tic­ing. Put frankly, Millennials are tired of get­ting fucked by the man. When you’re un­der­em­ployed with $100,000 in stu­dent loan debt, your fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion feels over­whelm­ing. You re­ally don’t want to take the ad­vice of your par­ents or CNBC talk­ing heads [5] to in­vest 10% of your salary for a 4% an­nual re­turn. At that point, what’s an­other $5,000? Might as well buy some short-dated GME calls.

For those of use who don’t fit the un­der­em­ployed Millennial ar­che­type, Matt Levine’s Boredom Markets Hypothesis ap­plies. COVID has re­quired us to work from home, with­out much abil­ity to spend for travel, din­ing, or en­ter­tain­ment. Putting money into Robinhood is a de­cent sub­sti­tute — with the added bonus of it be­ing an investment”, rather than con­sump­tion. In an age where the Fed will print seem­ingly un­lim­ited money to prop up cap­i­tal mar­kets, bet­ter to be ir­ra­tional ex­u­ber­ant as a part of the mar­ket than be left out of the party.

Further, the nar­ra­tive pre­sented by the GameStop trade in par­tic­u­lar is com­pelling. It al­lows the small re­tail in­vestor to play a role in mar­ket events nor­mally only played out at the hedge fund scale (a short squeeze was a key plot el­e­ment in Season 1 of Billions). The short sell­ers in this case aren’t par­tic­u­larly sym­pa­thetic: Andrew Left of Citron Research re­leased a video in which he lays out the bear case for GameStop. His main ar­gu­ment was a smug ap­peal to au­thor­ity, es­sen­tially claim­ing Wall Street knows bet­ter than you peo­ple on mes­sage boards”. [6]

So sure, Wall Street Bets is ir­rev­er­ent, has ir­ra­tional ex­u­ber­ance, and is guilty of hero wor­ship (Elon Musk and more re­cently Ryan Cohen). But it also pro­vides a sense of com­mu­nity dur­ing the stresses of COVID and pro­vides a com­pelling way for the lit­tle guy to stick it to the man.

As Keynes re­minded us (in the most overused fi­nance quote of all time): The mar­kets can re­main ir­ra­tional longer than you can re­main sol­vent.” When enough peo­ple be­lieve in a vi­sion, it can cause that vi­sion to man­i­fest it­self. Wall Street is scared that re­tail in­vestors can man­i­fest their own vi­sion, rather that the one dic­tated by the ma­jor fi­nan­cial play­ers.

The en­tire GameStop sce­nario is a case study in re­flex­iv­ity. [7] Reflexivity is the idea that our per­cep­tion of cir­cum­stances in­flu­ences re­al­ity, which then fur­ther im­pacts our per­cep­tion of re­al­ity, in a self-re­in­forc­ing loop. Specifically, in a fi­nan­cial mar­ket, prices are a re­flec­tion of traders’ ex­pec­ta­tions. Those prices then in­flu­ence traders’ ex­pec­ta­tions, and so on.

This may seem ob­vi­ous to some, but it flies in the face of the ef­fi­cient-mar­ket hy­poth­e­sis. As Soros states,

What makes re­flex­iv­ity in­ter­est­ing is that the pre­vail­ing bias has ways, via the mar­ket prices, to af­fect the so-called fun­da­men­tals that mar­ket prices are sup­posed to re­flect. [8]

What does this mean for GameStop? Because of traders’ bull­ish sen­ti­ment, a pre­vi­ously fail­ing com­pany is now in the po­si­tion where it can lever­age the overnight in­crease in value to make real, sub­stan­tive changes to its busi­ness. GameStop can pay off debt through the is­suance of new shares or make strate­gic ac­qui­si­tions us­ing its newly-valu­able shares. [9] A strug­gling com­pany could be­come solid sim­ply not be­cause of a change in the un­der­ly­ing busi­ness, but be­cause in­vestors de­cided it should be more valu­able.

Reflexivity may be the best way to un­der­stand the 21st Century. Passive in­vest­ing is an ex­am­ple of re­flex­iv­ity in ac­tion. [10] So is win­ner-take-all ven­ture in­vest­ing. Uber raised an ab­surd war chest, caus­ing more in­vestors to want to pile in, which led to more fundrais­ing and even­tu­ally a suc­cess­ful IPO. The fact that Uber has not yet turned a profit, yet to­day has a $100 bil­lion mar­ket cap, can­not be ex­plained with tra­di­tional fi­nan­cial think­ing, but can be ex­plained by re­flex­iv­ity.

The in­ter­net and in­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion only ac­cel­er­ates these trends. Instances of re­flex­iv­ity like the strange mar­ket move­ments we’ve seen with GameStop are hap­pen­ing more and more — not only in fi­nan­cial mar­kets, but also in the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial realm, to in­cred­i­ble ef­fect.

When Donald Trump won the pres­i­dency in 2016, I dis­tinctly re­mem­ber writ­ing in my jour­nal: Anything is pos­si­ble.” I was blown away that this com­plete buf­foon of a man, some­one who the Huffington Post re­fused to cover as pol­i­tics meme-d his way into the pres­i­dency. He was a joke, un­til sud­denly, in a Tulpa-esque twist…he was­n’t. Similarly, in­ter­net con­spir­acy the­o­ries spread via Facebook memes man­i­fested them­selves in the real world when Trump sup­port­ers stormed the Capitol a few weeks ago.

Our per­cep­tion shapes re­al­ity. And when enough peo­ple agree on a spe­cific per­cep­tion, it be­comes re­al­ity. [11] As we be­come more and more con­nected, dis­course will ex­pand and and ac­cel­er­ate. We’re go­ing to see some strange things be­come re­al­ity.

Even, per­haps, hedge funds go­ing bank­rupt and newly-minted mil­lion­aires, all be­cause of some peo­ple who wrote about a strug­gling video game re­tailer on Reddit.

Retail in­vestors ba­si­cally just shut a hedge fund down.

Citadel and Point72 are in­vest­ing (backstopping) $2.75 bil­lion into Melvin Capital who was su­per­man short $GME GameStop

Melvin down over 30% in 2021

Melvin cap is run by Gabe Plotkin a Steve Cohen SAC pro­tege— Will Meade (@realwillmeade) January 25, 2021

[1] For the best sum­mary of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, see Matt Levine.

[2] When you take into ac­count the clo­sures of poorly-per­form­ing stores, per-store rev­enue and prof­its are up.

[3] Options were writ­ten up to a strike price of $115 and these all were in the money.

[4] Not con­don­ing the lan­guage, but Wall Street Bets mem­bers with trad­ing gains of­ten make do­na­tions to these causes.

[5] Wall Street Bets has a love/​hate (mostly hate) re­la­tion­ship with Jim Cramer, a.k.a. Chillman Boomer”.

[6] Andrew Left is an in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter. That said, I’m not here to at­tack him per­son­ally, and no­body in their right mind would con­done the al­leged threats made against him by GameStop bulls up­set by his stance on the com­pany.

[7] Good in­tro to Soros’s Theory of Reflexivity in this Financial Times ar­ti­cle.

[9] More de­tails in this Reddit post.

[10] Passive in­vest­ing is also help­ing GameStop’s run — as the price of the stock in­creases, in­dex funds need to buy more shares to re-weight, which in turn dri­ves up the price. Reflexivity.

[11] This is my fa­vorite re­but­tal for those who claim cryptocurrency has no in­trin­sic value”. Sure — but nei­ther does the U. S. dol­lar. We just all de­cided that it would have value, so it does.

...

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10 264 shares, 5 trendiness, words and minutes reading time

ENTSO-E

On 8 January 2021 at 14:05 CET the syn­chro­nous area of Continental Europe was sep­a­rated into two parts due to out­ages of sev­eral trans­mis­sion net­work el­e­ments in a very short time. ENTSO-E has pub­lished the first in­for­ma­tion on the event al­ready on 8 January 2021, fol­lowed by an up­date with ge­o­graph­i­cal view and time se­quence on 15 January 2021. Since then, ENTSO-E has analysed a large por­tion of rel­e­vant data aim­ing to re­con­struct the event in de­tail.

This sec­ond up­date pre­sents the key find­ings of de­tailed analy­ses, which have a pre­lim­i­nary char­ac­ter sub­ject to new facts, which will emerge in the still on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The analysed se­quence of events con­cludes that the ini­tial event was the trip­ping of a 400 kV bus­bar cou­pler in the sub­sta­tion Ernestinovo (Croatia) by over­cur­rent pro­tec­tion at 14:04:25.9. This re­sulted in a de­cou­pling of the two bus­bars in the Ernestinovo sub­sta­tion, which in turn sep­a­rated North-West and south-east elec­tric power flows in this sub­sta­tion. As shown in Figure 1 be­low, North-West bound lines which re­mained con­nected to one bus­bar, con­nect Ernestinovo to Zerjavinec (Croatia) and Pecs (Hungary), while South-East bound lines which re­mained con­nected to an­other bus­bar, con­nect Ernestinovo to Ugljevik (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia).

Figure 1 - Decoupling of two bus­bars in Ernestinovo

The sep­a­ra­tion of flows in the Ernestinovo sub­sta­tion, lead to the shift­ing of elec­tric power flows to neigh­bour­ing lines which were sub­se­quently over­loaded. At 14:04:48.9, the line Subotica — Novi Sad (Serbia) tripped due to over­cur­rent pro­tec­tion. This was fol­lowed by the fur­ther trip­ping of lines due to dis­tance pro­tec­tion, as shown in Figure 2, be­low, lead­ing even­tu­ally to the sys­tem sep­a­ra­tion into two parts at 14:05:08.6.

Figure 2 - Tripping of ad­di­tional trans­mis­sion net­work el­e­ments af­ter the de­cou­pling of two bus­bars in Ernestinovo

The route where the two parts of the Continental Europe Synchronous Area were sep­a­rated is shown in Figure 3 be­low:

The sys­tem sep­a­ra­tion re­sulted in a deficit of power (approx. -6.3 GW) in the North-West Area and a sur­plus of power (approx. +6.3 GW) in the South-East Area, re­sult­ing in turn in a fre­quency de­crease in the North-West Area and a fre­quency in­crease in the South-East Area.

At ap­prox­i­mately 14:05 CET, the fre­quency in the North-West Area ini­tially de­creased to a value of 49.74 Hz within a pe­riod of around 15 sec­onds be­fore quickly reach­ing a steady state value of ap­prox­i­mately 49.84 Hz. At the same time, the fre­quency in the South-East Area ini­tially in­creased up to 50.6 Hz be­fore set­tling at a steady state fre­quency be­tween 50.2 Hz and 50.3 Hz as il­lus­trated in Figure 4 be­low:

Figure 4 - Frequency in Continental Europe dur­ing the event on 8 January 2021 right af­ter the dis­tur­bance and dur­ing re­syn­chro­ni­sa­tion

Due to the low fre­quency in the North-West Area, con­tracted in­ter­rupt­ible ser­vices in France and Italy (in to­tal around 1.7 GW) were dis­con­nected in or­der to re­duce the fre­quency de­vi­a­tion. These ser­vices are pro­vided by large cus­tomers who are con­tracted by the re­spec­tive Transmission System Operators (TSOs) to be dis­con­nected if fre­quency drops un­der a cer­tain thresh­old. In ad­di­tion, 420 MW and 60 MW of sup­port­ive power were au­to­mat­i­cally ac­ti­vated from the Nordic and Great Britain syn­chro­nous ar­eas re­spec­tively. These coun­ter­mea­sures en­sured that al­ready at 14:09 CET the fre­quency de­vi­a­tion from the nom­i­nal value of 50 Hz was re­duced to around 0.1 Hz in the North-West area (Figure 4).

In or­der to re­duce the high fre­quency in the South-East Area, au­to­matic and man­ual coun­ter­mea­sures were ac­ti­vated, in­clud­ing the re­duc­tion of gen­er­a­tion out­put (Eg. au­to­matic dis­con­nec­tion of a 975 MW gen­er­a­tor in Turkey at 14:04:57). As a con­se­quence, the fre­quency in the South-East Area re­turned to 50.2 Hz at 14:29 CET and re­mained within con­trol lim­its (49.8 and 50.2 Hz) un­til the re­syn­chro­ni­sa­tion of the two sep­a­rated ar­eas took place at 15:07:31.6 CET.

Between 14:30 CET and 15:06 CET the fre­quency in the South-East area was fluc­tu­at­ing be­tween 49.9 Hz and 50.2 Hz due to the rather small size of the South-East Area where also sev­eral pro­duc­tion units were dis­con­nected (Figure 5). During this pe­riod, the fre­quency in the North-West Area fluc­tu­ated far less and re­mained close to the nom­i­nal value, due to the rather large size of the North-West Area. This fre­quency be­hav­iour is a sub­ject of fur­ther de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Figure 5 - Frequency in Continental Europe dur­ing the event on 8 January 2021 for the com­plete du­ra­tion

The au­to­matic re­sponse and the co­or­di­nated ac­tions taken by the TSOs in Continental Europe en­sured that the sit­u­a­tion was quickly re­stored close to nor­mal op­er­a­tion. The con­tracted in­ter­rupt­ible ser­vices in Italy and in France were re­con­nected at 14:47 CET and 14:48 CET re­spec­tively prior to the re­syn­chro­ni­sa­tion of the North-West and South-East ar­eas at 15:08 CET.

ENTSO-E con­tin­ues to keep the European Commission and the Electricity Coordination Group, com­posed of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Member States, in­formed and up­dated with de­tailed re­sults of the pre­lim­i­nary tech­ni­cal analy­ses.

Based on the pre­lim­i­nary tech­ni­cal analy­ses pre­sented above, a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing the le­gal frame­work un­der the Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/1485 of 2 August 2017 (System Operation Guideline) will be es­tab­lished, whereby National Regulatory Authorities and ACER are in­vited to join with TSOs in an Expert Investigation Panel.

In line with the pro­vi­sions of the men­tioned Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/1485 of 2 August 2017, ENTSO-E will pre­sent the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to the Electricity Coordination Group and will sub­se­quently pub­lish a re­port once the analy­sis is com­pleted.

Note: All fig­ures and de­tails about the se­quence of the events are still sub­ject to fi­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pos­si­ble changes.

The trans­mis­sion grids of the coun­tries of Continental Europe are elec­tri­cally tied to­gether to op­er­ate syn­chro­nously at the fre­quency of ap­prox­i­mately 50 Hz. An event on 8 January 2021 caused the Continental Europe syn­chro­nous area to sep­a­rate into two ar­eas, with an area in the South-East of Europe be­ing tem­porar­ily op­er­at­ing in sep­a­ra­tion from the rest of Continental Europe.

Is this the first time such an event hap­pens in Continental Europe?

The Continental Europe syn­chro­nous area is one of the largest in­ter­con­nected syn­chro­nous elec­tric­ity sys­tems in the world in terms of its size and num­ber of sup­plied cus­tomers. Such a kind of event can hap­pen in any elec­tric power sys­tem. System re­silience and pre­pared­ness of sys­tem op­er­a­tors in charge have a de­ci­sive im­pact on the con­se­quences of such events. A sep­a­ra­tion of the syn­chro­nous area with a much larger dis­tur­bance and im­pacts on cus­tomers took place in Continental Europe on the 4 November 2006. This event was ex­ten­sively analysed and led to a num­ber of sub­stan­tial de­vel­op­ments, like the European Awareness System (EAS) which is a plat­form al­low­ing TSOs to ex­change op­er­a­tional in­for­ma­tion in real time, en­abling them to re­act im­me­di­ately in case of un­usual sys­tem con­di­tion. The TSOs are there­fore well pre­pared in or­der to co­or­di­nate and man­age such events and limit the con­se­quences. This pre­pared­ness and a per­ma­nent ob­ser­va­tion of the sys­tem fre­quency al­lowed to re­syn­chro­nize the two sep­a­rated ar­eas in a very short pe­riod of time.

How are coun­ter­mea­sures co­or­di­nated in Continental Europe in case of fre­quency de­vi­a­tions?

In Continental Europe, pro­ce­dures are in place to avoid sys­tem dis­tur­bances and es­pe­cially large fre­quency de­vi­a­tions with the risk of un­co­or­di­nated dis­con­nec­tion of cus­tomers or gen­er­a­tion. The TSOs Amprion (Germany) and Swissgrid (Switzerland) are re­spon­si­ble for these pro­ce­dures in their role as syn­chro­nous area mon­i­tor (SAM) in Continental Europe. The SAM con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tors the sys­tem fre­quency. In case of large fre­quency de­vi­a­tions, they in­form all TSOs via the European Awareness System (EAS) and launch an ex­tra­or­di­nary pro­ce­dure for fre­quency de­vi­a­tions to co­or­di­nate coun­ter­mea­sures in a fast and ef­fec­tive man­ner in or­der to sta­bi­lize the sys­tem. One step of this pro­ce­dure is a tele­phone con­fer­ence by Amprion, Swissgrid, RTE (France), Terna (Italy) and REE (Spain). This tele­con­fer­ence took place at 14:09 CET on 8 January 2021. In the tele­phone con­fer­ence, the sit­u­a­tion was eval­u­ated, the TSOs in­formed about coun­ter­mea­sures which were al­ready ac­ti­vated. The TSOs of the North-West and South-East Area also co­or­di­nated the ac­tions for re­con­nec­tion in or­der to reach one syn­chro­nous area in Continental Europe again.

Were end cus­tomers dis­con­nected? Were there any other con­se­quences?

Customers in the or­der of 70 MW in the North-East Area and in the or­der of 163 MW in the South-East Area were dis­con­nected. Due to the high re­silience of the in­ter­con­nected net­work and the rapid re­sponse of European TSOs, the se­cu­rity of op­er­a­tion and elec­tric­ity sup­ply was not en­dan­gered fur­ther. An im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to sta­bi­liz­ing the sys­tem was de­liv­ered by the pre­vi­ously con­tracted in­ter­rupt­ible ser­vices, which were ac­ti­vated in France and Italy. Such con­tracts which have been agreed with cus­tomers al­low the TSO to tem­porar­ily and au­to­mat­i­cally re­duce the elec­tri­cal con­sump­tion de­pend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion with the elec­tric power sys­tem in real-time.

What is an elec­tri­cal bus­bar?

A bus­bar is an elec­tri­cal junc­tion in a sub­sta­tion, which con­nects over­head lines, ca­bles and trans­form­ers through elec­tri­cal switches. Usually, there are sev­eral bus­bars in a sub­sta­tion, which can be con­nected by a bus­bar cou­pler. Are there spe­cial de­vices pro­tect­ing the equip­ment in a sub­sta­tion? Various de­vices pro­tect the equip­ment in a sub­sta­tion. One of them is an over­cur­rent pro­tec­tion re­lay, dis­con­nect­ing au­to­mat­i­cally the equip­ment (Eg. over­head line or ca­ble) if the elec­tri­cal cur­rent be­comes so high that it can cause dam­age to the equip­ment. A cur­rent which is higher than the ma­te­r­ial out of which the equip­ment is rated for (Eg. alu­minium wrapped around a steel car­rier rope) will cause me­chan­i­cal dam­age and can also en­dan­ger peo­ple and other as­sets, if for in­stance a dam­aged over­head line drops on the ground with­out be­ing dis­con­nected. Another type of pro­tec­tion are dis­tance pro­tec­tion re­lays, which mea­sure a com­bi­na­tion of cur­rent and volt­age in time and act in a se­lec­tive way to pro­tect equip­ment de­pend­ing on the dis­tance of the fail­ure from the equip­ment.

What next steps are fore­seen for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion?

According to the Article 15 of the Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/1485, for a Scale 2 event such as the one of 08 January 2021, an Expert Investigation Panel shall be set up com­posed of TSO ex­perts, to which also National Regulatory Authorities and ACER are in­vited. The Expert Investigation Panel will pro­duce a re­port which de­scribes in de­tail the se­quence of events, root causes and — if ap­plic­a­ble — nec­es­sary ac­tions to con­tribute to pre­vent­ing sim­i­lar events in the fu­ture. The next steps, time­line and fi­nal pub­lish­ing dates, as well as all other rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion, will be pub­lished on the ENTSO-E web­site.

...

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