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From: Ron6/13/2023 6:44:33 PM
   of 6762
 
A Romanian hacker who ran the infrastructure behind several malware strains was sentenced to three years in U.S. federal prison on Monday.
therecord.media

Prosecutors said 39-year-old Mihai Ionut Paunescu helped run “bulletproof hosting” service PowerHost[.]ro, which helped cybercriminals distribute the Gozi Virus, the Zeus Trojan, the SpyEye Trojan, and the BlackEnergy malware. Cybercriminals used the malware strains to steal financial information, among other purposes.

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From: Glenn Petersen6/17/2023 3:17:57 PM
   of 6762
 
This has to be a big employee morale booster:

Reddit CEO praises Elon Musk’s cost-cutting as protests rock the platform

Steve Huffman said in an interview that Elon Musk's cost-cutting at Twitter was inspiring and that the two have chatted "a handful of times."

June 16, 2023, 2:51 PM CDT
By David Ingram
NBC News
Twitter owner Elon Musk may have had an influence on Reddit’s CEO ahead of changes to the website that have resulted in a user-led rebellion on the platform.

In an interview Thursday with NBC News, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman praised Musk’s aggressive cost-cutting and layoffs at Twitter, and said he had chatted “a handful of times” with Musk on the subject of running an internet platform.

Huffman said he saw Musk’s handling of Twitter, which he purchased last year, as an example for Reddit to follow.



Steve Huffman at Variety & Reddit An Evening With Future Makers at Wynn Las Vegas on in Las Vegas, on Jan. 5, 2023.Greg Doherty / Variety via Getty Images
-------------------------------

“Long story short, my takeaway from Twitter and Elon at Twitter is reaffirming that we can build a really good business in this space at our scale,” Huffman said.

“Now, they’ve taken the dramatic road,” he added, “and I guess I can’t sit here and say that we’re not either, but I think there’s a lot of opportunity here.”

Musk shocked Silicon Valley peers with his deep-cost cutting at Twitter and began his ownership of the company last fall by axing most of the company’s employees in a chaotic series of decisions that left some people doubting whether Twitter would be able to stay online.

Huffman is trying to turn Reddit profitable after decades as a money-losing website punching above its weight in internet culture.

This week, influential volunteer moderators who manage the communities that make up the site walled off large parts of Reddit, making them inaccessible to most users as part of their demonstration. The protest is a response to part of Huffman’s business plan, which includes potentially charging other tech companies large fees for access to Reddit data.

Huffman said there’s one concrete area where Musk’s example has been clear: job cuts. He said he had often wondered why Twitter under its previous management had struggled to be profitable on a consistent basis despite revenue in 2021 of $5.1 billion.

“As a company smaller than theirs, sub-$1 billion in revenue, I used to look at Twitter and say, ‘Well, why can’t they break even at 4 or 5 billion in revenue? What about their business do we not understand?’ Because I think we should be able to do that quite handsomely,” he said.

“And then I think one of the nonobvious things that Elon showed is what I was hoping would be true, which is: You can run a company with that many users in the ads business and break even with a lot fewer people,” Huffman said.

Musk ended up hiring some employees back, but corporate headcount has remained well below where it was before the acquisition. Musk has also imposed other severe cost-cutting measures, such as not paying some of Twitter’s bills including rent, leading to an eviction order in Colorado.

“They had to do some pretty violent changes and violent surgery to get there,” Huffman said.

It is not clear if Twitter is profitable because some advertisers have left, cutting into revenue, but Huffman said the lesson was on the other side of the ledger.

“People are talking about a lot of things on Twitter, but I think that’s the part that’s the most interesting from my point of view as a business person, is that there actually are good businesses at this scale,” he said.

Reddit’s recent layoffs have been far more modest than Twitter’s. The company said June 6 that it was laying off about 5% of its workforce, or 90 employees.

Huffman did not say how often the chats with Musk have taken place or where they’ve happened.

Twitter and Reddit are both headquartered in San Francisco, and the privately held companies both share Fidelity as an investor. Reddit is majority-owned by Advance Publications, the parent company of Conde Nast, according to CNBC.

Musk’s representatives at Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Huffman said that many ordinary people do not realize that there are “two classes of company” in the world of consumer-facing tech businesses: There’s internet heavies such as Google and Facebook, and then there are much smaller but still well-known companies such as Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Reddit.

“From a user’s point of view, you’re like, ‘Oh, they’re just as big. They’re just as successful. You know, maybe a little less so,’” Huffman said.

“But you wouldn’t realize that it’s like a 20, 30x difference in revenue. And, you know, not really profitable — maybe a quarter here or there,” he said.

Twitter had $5 billion in revenue in 2021, the year before Musk’s acquisition. Meta, the owner of Instagram and Facebook, reported revenue that year of $117.9 billion. Alphabet, the owner of Google, reported revenue that year of $257.6 billion.

Huffman said he has not adopted Musk’s thinking across the board.

“There’s a lot of other things where our platforms are just different — how they think about moderation versus us,” he said.

He didn’t cite examples. A Reddit spokesperson Friday declined to cite any specifics but said Reddit is different in multiple ways, including that ordinary users have the power to upvote and downvote posts.

One specific difference is their handling of former President Donald Trump and his supporters. While Musk reinstated Trump’s Twitter account, which prior management had suspended after the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, Reddit has kept in place its ban on the subreddit r/the_donald, a gathering spot for Trump’s supporters.

Elsewhere in the interview with NBC News, Huffman criticized the organizers of this week’s blackout, saying he was considering pursuing rules changes that may allow ordinary Reddit users to vote them out. He compared the long-tenured, difficult-to-oust moderators as “landed gentry,” and some moderators fear Huffman may force them out.

Reddit CEO praises Elon Musk as protests rock platform (nbcnews.com)

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (6730)6/17/2023 5:01:08 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 6762
 
The Reddit Blackout Is Breaking Reddit

When the user revolt ends—if it ever does—Reddit’s community won’t ever be the same.

Boone Ashworth
Wired
June 17,



PHOTOGRAPH: ILONA SAKHNO/ALAMY
--------------------------

IT’S PRETTY EASY to piss people off on Reddit. Less so to piss off seemingly everyone on the platform.

Still, Reddit’s management has succeeded in doing just that as it weathers protests over its decision to charge for access to its API. That ruling risks putting the company in a death spiral as users revolt, the most dedicated community caretakers quit, and the vibrant discussions move to other platforms.

The company’s changes to its data access policies effectively price out third-party developers who make mobile applications for browsing Reddit; two of the most popular options, Reddit Is Fun and Apollo, which together have over 41 million downloads, are both shutting down. After some initial backlash from users and disability advocates who said Reddit’s changes would adversely affect accessibility-focused apps aimed at people with dyslexia or vision impairments, Reddit said it would exempt those apps from the price hikes. Those apps also have far smaller user bases than Apollo or RIF.

Reddit’s plans—driven by an urge to make the company more profitable as it inches toward going public—sparked a protest across nearly 9,000 subreddits, where moderators of those communities switched their groups to private mode, preventing anyone from accessing them. Many of those subs remain inaccessible four days later, and their moderators say they plan to keep up the blackout indefinitely. (Disclosure: WIRED is a publication of Conde Nast, whose parent company, Advance Publications, has an ownership stake in Reddit.)

However unfazed Reddit execs appear to be, this subreddit seppuku sure does seem like a surefire way to sink the company. But does it really signal the death of Reddit?

“I can't see it as anything but that,” says Rory Mir, an associate director of community organizing at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (Earlier this week, Mir wrote about what Reddit got wrong.) “Like with Twitter, it's not a big collapse when a social media website starts to die, but it is a slow attrition unless they change their course. The longer they stay in their position, the more loss of users and content they’re going to face.”

The unrest at Reddit is the latest in a string of social media upheavals that have seemingly pitted profit-hungry companies against their users. Platforms like Reddit, Twitter, or even Amazon that started operating at a loss in order to grow their user base eventually face pressures to further monetize their traffic. When a site sidelines the wants and needs of its users in the pursuit of profit, that leads to a downturn—and potential death of the platform—that author Cory Doctorow has termed “ enshittification.”

“Any plan that involves endless and continuous growth is bound to run into scale issues, which is where I think Reddit and Twitter are running into problems,” Mir says. “You can’t inflate the balloon forever. It will pop at some point.”

Amy Bruckman is a regents' professor and senior associate chair at Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Interactive Computing. She has also contributed to WIRED and is a moderator of several subreddits, including the very popular r/science, which is restricted until Monday. Bruckman says this era of social media has been rife with sudden changes. “There was an extended period of years, maybe even a decade, where it felt like the way things are is the way they always will be,” she says. “And everything is suddenly shifted.”

Reddit charging for access to its API is also about more than just third-party clients, Bruckman says. A move like this has angered so many people on Reddit because it feels like a betrayal of the community’s trust. It might be a vocal minority of users who are pissed off about the changes, but they’re the people who volunteer their time to keep communities functional—and they’re arguably the most important users on the site.

“Beyond the fact that it’s in a dozen ways harder to do our job, it’s also just the case that Reddit felt more like an open platform where innovation by committed users was encouraged,” Bruckman says. “And this feels like it's trampling on that.”

Reddit has denied that it is specifically targeting third-party apps like Apollo and RIF. The company initially said that limiting its API access is a move meant to control the flow of data being gobbled up by generative artificial intelligence companies like OpenAI training their large language models. But in an interview with NPR, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said limiting third-party access will also help Reddit keep control over how it displays ads—the company’s primary source of income—to users. Force everyone to interact on one app, and it’s easier to fill their feeds with whatever advertising you want.

“They’re shooting themselves in the foot,” Mir says. “The content of the users is what makes the platform worth visiting. These hosts kind of run into this confusion that their hosting is the reason people are going there, but it’s really for the other users on the medium.”

And those users are bailing. Bruckman says she knows a moderator who has already quit, saying it wasn’t worth the energy to devote so much time to a company that can just toss all that effort aside. Like with Twitter, no clear alternative has emerged as a replacement. Bruckman advocates for public funding of a nonprofit version of something akin to Reddit. Some more casual users say they’re going back to Tumblr, which is still recovering from its own corporate sanitization in 2018.

Still, Mir says, there’s a real hunger for stability on a platform. It’s part of the reason sites like Reddit and Twitter have gotten so big. There are people who have had the same email address for 30 years or the same username on Reddit for a decade. If users have invested significant time in a community, it’s going to be a pain to find something amid the sea of federated upstarts that all claim to be the next best thing.

Clearly, Reddit is hoping that inertia and customer loyalty keep people on its site. Even if users grumble about losing their favorite app, the company is expecting they’ll just cave and download the official app. That may work on your typical user, but it’s not going to be as easy to convert the mods—especially ones who feel burned by Reddit’s monetary machinations.

Mir offers another business metaphor for the tension on Reddit: “If you have a really good music venue, but you break relations with every notable artist, you’re not going to be a very successful venue. You need to really prioritize the needs of the folks providing the value on your platform.”

The Reddit Blackout Is Breaking Reddit | WIRED\

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (6730)6/17/2023 5:06:47 PM
From: Ron
   of 6762
 
-- influential volunteer moderators who manage the communities that make up the site walled off large parts of Reddit, making them inaccessible to most users as part of their demonstration.

Noticed that earlier on Reddit. This is going to be interesting.

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To: Ron who wrote (6732)6/17/2023 5:22:38 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 6762
 
A self-inflected wound. I wonder where the users are migrating.

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From: Ron6/17/2023 5:22:52 PM
   of 6762
 
The Untold Story of the Biggest, Boldest Supply-Chain Hack Ever:
Hackers May still be inside corporate and government computers, years later: Solar Winds
archive.ph

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (6733)6/17/2023 5:40:26 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 6762
 
I just bought the only physical encyclopedia still in print, and I regret nothing

The still-updated World Book Encyclopedia is my antidote to the information apocalypse.

BENJ EDWARDS - 6/9/2023, 6:30 AM
Ars Technica



A photo of the 2023 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia on the author's family room shelf. / Benj Edwards
----------------------

These days, many of us live online, where machine-generated content has begun to pollute the Internet with misinformation and noise. At a time when it's hard to know what information to trust, I felt delight when I recently learned that World Book still prints an up-to-date book encyclopedia in 2023. Although the term "encyclopedia" is now almost synonymous with Wikipedia, it's refreshing to see such a sizable reference printed on paper. So I bought one, and I'll tell you why.

Based in Chicago, World Book, Inc. first published an encyclopedia in 1917, and it has released a new edition almost every year since 1925. The company, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, claims that its encyclopedia is "the only general reference encyclopedia still published today." My research seems to back up this claim, at least in English; it's possibly true even for languages. Its fiercest competitor of yore, The Encyclopedia Britannica, ended its print run in 2012 after 244 years in print.

In a nod to our present digital age, World Book also offers its encyclopedia as a subscription service through the web. Yet it's the print version that mystifies and attracts my fascination. Why does it still exist?

"Because there is still a demand!" Tom Evans, World Book's editor-in-chief, told Ars over email.

Today, up-to-date information flows freely thanks to the Internet. It's only a Google search away. Many people rely on Wikipedia, which is a nonprofit collaborative resource, for reference purposes. Despite that, some people and organizations apparently still buy paper encyclopedias. Evans said that sales of the print edition are "in the thousands" and that World Book always prints just enough copies to satisfy demand.



The Encyclopedia Britannica, a competitor of World Book, ended its print run in 2012. / Encyclopedia Britannica
------------------------

A World Book rep told Quartz in 2019 that the print encyclopedia sold mostly to schools, public libraries, and homeschooling families. Today, Evans says that public and school libraries are still the company's primary customers. "World Book has a loyal following of librarians who understand the importance of a general reference encyclopedia in print form, accessible to all."

As a kid, our family owned a 1968 edition of World Book that I relied on for school reports and projects all the way until my high school graduation in 1999, although I briefly used Microsoft Encarta on CD-ROM and a CompuServe encyclopedia in the 1990s. At the time, even with electronic references, instantaneous, up-to-date information didn't seem as important. We were still largely operating at the speed of paper. While that concept seems foreign to us in our current world, there was a certain kind of comfort in that slowness.

Speaking of slow, a paper encyclopedia set certainly can't run away from you. Back in the day, our family's encyclopedia set took up a large dedicated shelf in our family room. Just like my old 1968 edition, the new print edition of World Book is a physically hefty reference. The 2023 version spans 17,000 articles spread over 14,000 pages in 22 volumes. The company says it features over 25,000 photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and maps.

All this paper-bound content can't possibly come cheap, you might think. And, of course, you're right. At a time when most information comes to us for free online (with strings attached, of course), it's easy to have sticker shock at the $1,199 retail price for the 2023 edition of World Book, although shoppers might occasionally find it for as low as $799 on Amazon (to compare, the online subscription costs $250 per year). Earlier editions are available for much lower prices.

I know it may seem weird to prefer the print edition since you can get the same content in the online version in a space-saving and portable format. But with the paper version, the World Book will always be yours. It can't be edited stealthily or taken down if the company needs the server space or goes out of business.

So I took the plunge.

Why I bought an encyclopedia



Unboxing a print encyclopedia in 2023 is a somewhat surreal experience for a tech writer./ Benj Edwards
----------------------------

First, I'll be honest: The existence of an up-to-date print encyclopedia in 2023 took me by surprise. I experienced a range of emotions, from glee to confusion to sadness over the past. "The last of the dinosaurs" metaphor sprung to mind. But then I suddenly felt that I had to have it, and that's when the rationalizations kicked in. I have two kids, 10 and 13, and maybe the kids could use it for school, just like I did? Or maybe they could use it as a steady source of offline information in a world where unreliable information seems to be coming at them from all sides?

I'm an AI reporter for Ars Technica, and I often write about generative AI tools that could potentially pollute our online spaces (and our historical records) with very convincing fake information. Some people think these tools may destabilize society. At best, they may merely decrease the signal-to-noise ratio of online information. Years ago, The Guardian and BuzzFeed called this presumed coming age, where true and false information are almost impossible to distinguish, "the Information apocalypse." Never one to shy away from the chance to coin a term, I've called it the "cultural singularity."

Although I've warned about AI-generated misinformation on Ars Technica as well, I'm still optimistic that people who are cognizant of these issues can get through the coming decade with factual electronic knowledge at hand. But just in case I'm wrong, a little voice in the back of my head reasoned that it would be nice to have a good summary of human knowledge in print, vetted by professionals and fixed in a form where it can't be tampered with after the fact—whether by humans, AI, or mere link rot. That's appealing to me.

So I pulled the trigger and bought the 2023 edition. A week or so later, the entire encyclopedia set arrived in a single box that looked small but was massively heavy. Each volume came individually shrink-wrapped. It may sound silly, but as I carefully pulled them out of the box one by one, I enjoyed feeling the weight of the information in my hands. It felt like stepping back onto dry land after a long boat ride. It's hard to put a name on that emotion.



An example of The World Book 2023 Encyclopedia, turned to the entry on "Television." / Benj Edwards
--------------------------

Opening up a volume of the World Book took me back in time. Memories of school libraries and book reports came flooding back. Notably, each volume has nothing to distract you from reading. No pop-ups, no requests for donations, no ads. It's just you and the information, curated by World Book's editors.

As for its content, the 2023 edition doesn't shy away from the contemporary. New biographies of notable figures such as snowboarder Chloe Kim, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, find their place alongside hundreds of article updates on topics varying from homeschooling and indigenous peoples of the Americas to space exploration and television.

To test its accuracy, I looked up articles on subjects I'm knowledgeable about, including "Artificial Intelligence," "Computer," "Video Games," "Internet," and "Communication," eagerly checking for updates and additions to the 1968 edition I had as a kid. It's surreal to open up a reference book familiar to me from my childhood and read (in the familiar World Book typeface) an up-to-date article that mentions Instagram and Snapchat and includes a photo of a smartphone.



Smartphones appear in the 2023 edition. That feels weird when the last time you looked at a World Book was in the 1990s. / Benj Edwards
--------------------------

World Book's authoritative, neutral tone feels refreshing. For example, the 2023 edition pulls no punches regarding its concise analysis of our previous US president's legacy, but it doesn't go out of the way to attack him, either. Every article I've read so far is accurate and well-written.

It hasn't been a perfect product, however. The 2023 edition of World Book that I purchased includes a binding error that replaces the first 60 pages of the "G" volume with pages from the "U" volume. Judging by a review from an Amazon customer who noticed the same thing, it's possible that defect is present in the entire (likely small) print run.

When I told Evans about the print error, he replied, "We were recently made aware of that manufacturing problem. The printer has assured us that it is an issue for only a very small number of sets." World Book offered to replace the faulty volume for free.

Reaction from my family



The shark photo on the World Book 2023 spines didn't win fans in my household. / Benj Edwards
---------------------

After I ordered the encyclopedia, I kept it a secret from my family until it arrived because I wanted to surprise my wife and kids. Who would expect an encyclopedia set to show up on the doorstep in 2023?

Upon first telling my wife that I bought an encyclopedia, she was confused, then excited. She, too, recalled the thrill of researching projects in encyclopedias as a kid. But that's where the fun ended. While she wasn't looking, I placed the set on a prominent bookshelf in the family room of my house, then unveiled it to her. When she saw the large photo of a shark spread across the spines of the 22 volumes, she frowned and said, "I don't want to see a big-ass shark every day when I walk in the room."

(I have since moved the set to a new shelf.)

According to the press release announcing the 2023 edition, World Book selected the shark photo (which it calls a "Spinescape®") because sharks are "a high-interest topic to students K-12 and World Book has a desire to support shark conservation." It's not a bad photo—it's just not the handsome set of formal reference volumes that my wife was apparently expecting.

Later, I introduced the encyclopedia to my kids. They had never used a print encyclopedia, and they looked at me like I was an alien, almost as if I were speaking a different language (such a trite expression, but man, is it accurate). I had hoped they could use the encyclopedia as an old-fashioned reference, but so far, they have completely and utterly rejected it, not even expressing interest or opening it once. That aspect of my plans for the encyclopedia has been a big failure.



A promotional photo of The World Book Encyclopedia 2023 edition, complete with shark. / World Book
--------------------------

My family's reaction was disappointing, but I don't mind that the encyclopedia set is just for me. Every morning as I wait for the kids to get ready for school, I pull out a random volume and browse. I've refreshed my knowledge on many subjects and enjoy the deliberate stability of the information experience. I feel confident using it as an occasional personal reference as the online world slides further into AI-augmented noise. And it's definitely more accurate than an AI large language model at the moment.

Aside from the shark photo and the print error, I am genuinely proud to own a modern World Book Encyclopedia. And I say that freely, having purchased the set out of pocket myself. In fact, World Book did not respond to my initial request to provide a sample volume to examine. Who knows—maybe they had to print out my email and physically mail it to Warren Buffett for approval first. I may eventually get a reply next year by steamship. But that's the comfortable, slow speed I'd expect from the world's last general-subject print encyclopedia.

For now, I was happy to chat with World Book's Tom Evans via tempered electrons, who says his employer's commitment to the print edition is ongoing. "We will continue to produce the print edition of The World Book Encyclopedia while there is still a demand. We believe in supporting teachers, librarians, and students and are committed to supplying content to them in whatever form is required," he said.

I'm no information prepper, but I'm glad that no matter what happens online, the information inside my World Book set will never change. Sometimes it's nice not to always be magically up to date.
----------------------

Benj Edwards is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. In his free time, he writes and records music, collects vintage computers, and enjoys nature. He lives in Raleigh, NC.

I just bought the only physical encyclopedia still in print, and I regret nothing | Ars Technica

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (6735)6/17/2023 5:46:27 PM
From: Sultan
   of 6762
 
Interesting.. $1,199 for 22 book set..

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From: Glenn Petersen7/6/2023 8:27:01 PM
1 Recommendation   of 6762
 
How to Make Money by Losing $300,000 a Year on Slot Machines

Millions of people tune in to see others tackle the casino mainstay. ‘It’s fun to watch somebody else play with their money while you’re sitting on your couch drinking a beer.’

By Katherine Sayre
Wall Street Journal
July 5, 2023 7:05 am ET

PALM SPRINGS—Brian Christopher lost $300,000 gambling on slot machines in casinos last year. Hundreds of thousands of people cheered him on, from the comfort of their own homes.

Several times a week, Christopher takes a seat at the slots and livestreams his play on YouTube and Facebook. With a phone pointed at the animated screen in front of him, he pushes buttons to a soundtrack of chimes, bells and cheery tunes.

“Line it up, buttercup,” he’ll often say as he tests his luck.

A new class of niche celebrities have turned the once-solitary experience of gambling at casino slot machines into a spectator sport with millions of viewers and fan camaraderie. Using monopods or videographers to film the action, the players spend hours talking audiences through the highs and lows of jackpots and losses.

“It’s fun to watch somebody else play with their money while you’re sitting on your couch drinking a beer,” said Wayne Deck, a 60-year-old in Fairfax, Va., who watches Christopher online and visits casinos in-real-life.

Sue Leahy tunes into Christopher’s broadcasts from her home in Latitude Margaritaville, a Jimmy Buffett -themed retirement village in Daytona Beach, Fla. Leahy said she grew tired of losing during her own play, so she started copying Christopher. She noted the kinds of machines he used, and how much he bet, and has hunted them down during her casino visits. “Ever since then, I’ve been winning,” Leahy said, while noting that no one wins all the time.



Slot-machine aficionado Brian Christopher with fan Sue Leahy. / PHOTO: SUE LEAHY
----------------------------------

Some who livestream their play are high-rollers who bet $100 or $300 per spin. Others provide practical tips on how to avoid overspending during gambling and remind viewers that the house always wins.

Pat Cudd, a retired English teacher in Gruver, Texas, started playing slots in the early 1990s, and she and two of her sisters have traveled to the Gulf Coast and Las Vegas to enjoy the hobby together.

\At home, in the town of about 1,100 people, she soaks up online slots as a bystander. “Some people like to buy scratch-offs at their local 7-Eleven. I’d rather watch them play slots on YouTube,” she said.

Nongamblers, and some who have given up the pastime, also are among Christopher’s audience of 612,000 YouTube subscribers and 707,000 Facebook followers. “They get their fix by watching someone else play,” he said.



Brian Christopher filming with Executive Assistant Raymond Alvarado and Videographer Apurva Raj. / PHOTO: HILLARY MCAFEE/BC VENTURES
-------------------------------------

Christopher has built his particular brand of stardom into a full-time business with 10 employees—including his husband and Senior Vice President of Operations Marco Bianchi—who pack merchandise, such as T-shirts and shot glasses, manage social-media interactions and help secure enough deals and partnerships to fund the enterprise. Christopher declined to provide his total revenue, but said he makes enough to turn a profit after paying his staff and the $300,000 in gambling losses.

He offers cruise trips through a partnership with Carnival cruise lines, with as many as 650 fans joining him at sea each trip, and gambling together in the onboard casinos. Next year, he has eight cruises with fans lined up that depart from the Texas Gulf Coast, Miami, Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia.

Casinos long banned patrons from filming to avoid distractions and to protect the privacy of other customers. They have warmed to the idea in recent years, influencers say, and often give special permission for filming, or make promotional deals with the social-media stars.

An assistant and a videographer help Christopher film and produce videos, and he posts daily edited snippets in addition to going live three days a week. Some days, he plays online games from his desk in Palm Springs.

The key is to always include the audience at home, he said. When he first started posting videos, Christopher heard from viewers that they didn’t want to hear him curse. Now, when he loses a spin, he declares “how rude.” (His official fan club has 4,000 members who call themselves the “Rudies.”)

“Make them feel like they’re sitting there beside you,” he said. “It’s not, ‘I won a jackpot.’ It’s, ‘we just won a jackpot.’”

Some celebrity slots players disclose their losses as a badge of honor—a signal they’re being honest about the odds. Francine Maric, a full-time high-roller known as Lady Luck HQ, posts her win-loss statements from casinos. She said she lost $320,000 last year, but still made a profit thanks to advertising revenue and sponsorships.



Francine Maric, known as Lady Luck HQ online, posts her win-loss statements. / PHOTO: FRANCINE MARIC
------------------------------
“Some people like to golf,” Maric said. “Some people like to watch sports. Some people like to collect things. I like to gamble.”

Maric, who lives in the Atlanta area, travels with her husband to casinos once or twice a month to record her playing. Back home, she edits the footage into videos she gradually releases over the following few months.

She remembers organizing her first meet-and-greet with fans at the Blue Chip casino in Michigan City, Ind., on a frigid January day. She said she was shocked when 300 people showed up to take photos with her. Fans have brought her good-luck gifts such as a wooden elephant and an angel to keep bad spirits away.

Heather Deurr, who lives in West Virginia, said watching her favorite slot players online is relaxing, like turning on reruns of a favorite TV show. While she enjoys tuning in, though, she dismisses the idea that there is any strategy to be learned.

“Sometimes you could sit down on a machine and have really good luck, and go back the next time and sit down and not win a dime,” Deurr said.

Write to Katherine Sayre at katherine.sayre@wsj.com

How to Make Money by Losing $300,000 a Year on Slot Machines - WSJ (archive.ph)

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To: Sultan who wrote (6736)7/6/2023 8:41:47 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 6762
 
When I was in grammar school my parents bought a set of the World Book Encyclopedia for me and my younger sister. I could sense that they represented a significant financial outlay for our family and treated them with the respect they deserved. They turned out to be very useful. When my mother died, they were still in her bookcase. I considered keeping them but ended up giving them to the Salvation Army.

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