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From: Glenn Petersen7/6/2023 8:27:01 PM
1 Recommendation   of 6761
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

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

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To: Sultan who wrote (6736)7/6/2023 8:41:47 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 6761
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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From: Glenn Petersen7/12/2023 7:22:37 AM
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Russian Wikipedia’s Top Editor Leaves to Launch a Putin-Friendly Clone

The move is seen as a potential precursor to a ban on the original version.

By Noam Cohen
Bloomberg Businessweek
July 12, 2023, 4:01 AM UTC

When a group of armed mercenaries seized a Russian regional capital and began marching toward Moscow in late June, verified information was hard to come by. Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine largely ignored the Wagner Group’s mutiny at first, while government censors quickly blocked access to Google News through the country’s largest internet providers and hid results for certain searches, such as those for the rebels’ leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, on the Russian search engine Yandex.

An exception was the crowdsourced encyclopedia Wikipedia, which posted a detailed article in Russian about the uprising that incorporated new reporting as it happened. The article, “The Mutiny of the Wagner Group,” cited sources ranging from news media outlets that the Kremlin labels “foreign agents” for not toeing the party line to US newspapers and Russian state media, and is thousands of words long. It drew more than 270,000 page views on its first day.

Wikipedia is one of Russia’s most popular websites, with about 95 million visitors a month, including about 10,000 active editors who maintain its nearly 2 million Russian-language articles. Its enduring presence in Putin’s Russia is a bit surprising, given the Kremlin’s aggressive attempts to control what is said about the government and its policies, a tendency that’s only accelerated since the invasion of Ukraine. Wartime censorship has brought new laws against supposed “disinformation” and bans of news websites, civic organizations and even environmental groups.

While Wikipedia has remained in operation in Russia so far, there are signs that things are shifting against it. From March 2022 through this June, the government repeatedly sanctioned the site, levying fines totaling almost 23 billion rubles ($255 million), according to the Wikimedia Foundation Inc., the San Francisco-based organization that hosts the servers that operate Russian Wikipedia and is thus legally responsible for what is published.

Jacob Rogers, a lawyer who represents the foundation in Russian litigation, says it wouldn’t agree to any of the government’s requests to remove content and is challenging the fines in court. “We think that Wikipedia is full of pretty good information overall, that it’s got good reliable sources representing a variety of different perspectives on these issues, that the users are doing a good job of making it be written in a neutral point of view,” he says.

A worker removes a PMC Wagner Center logo from the Wagner Group’s closed office in St. Petersburg on July 2. / Photographer: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images
Putin has long made his displeasure with Wikipedia clear, vowing in 2019 to support an alternative that “will be reliable information, presented in a good, modern way.” This April, Valery Fadeyev, the chairman of the Human Rights Council, a Kremlin-backed mouthpiece on civil society issues, said Wikipedia’s coverage of Ukraine justified replacing it with a more cooperative local alternative. The same month Maksut Shadayev, Russia’s minister of digital development, told journalists that the government had no plans to do so, but hardly offered the encyclopedia a vote of confidence. “We are not blocking Wikipedia yet,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency. “There are no such plans for now.”

In what was widely interpreted as an ominous sign, a near-copy of Russian Wikipedia appeared online on June 27. (Wikipedia’s license allows users to “fork” the service, copying a version and starting an alternate version from that snapshot, under certain conditions.) Articles on topics that Russia has banned—like the one about alleged human-rights abuses in Bucha at the start of the war—had been removed. An article on the Wagner Group appeared, but it didn’t mention the mutiny. Gone, too, was an article about a profane chant against Putin that’s popular among Ukrainian soccer fans.

The new site is called Ruwiki, a common shorthand for Russian Wikipedia. It’s the work of Vladimir Medeyko, the long-serving leader of Russian Wikipedia editors. His colleagues were shocked that he’d quit a project he’d worked on since 2003—and even more taken aback that he said his reason for leaving was to create a Kremlin-compliant rival.

Medeyko in Moscow. / ]Source: Ruwiki
Medeyko says he isn’t working for the government. He says he sought to reform Wikipedia from within for more than a decade before the split, which was made possible after he found like-minded investors that he declines to identify. The new site features less free-for-all Wikipedian crowdsourcing. In its initial form, Ruwiki can’t be edited by outsiders at all, though Medeyko’s plan is to allow such volunteer contributions on most articles, while also having panels of experts vet the material. "Experts are not interested in participating in Wikipedia because they don’t want to argue with people without a proper education who have exactly the same rights,” he says.Ruwiki will follow Russian laws while maintaining its neutrality, according to Medeyko. “There will be particularly strict requirements for the quality of sources and indisputable phrasing regarding current events,” he says. Its article about the invasion of Ukraine never refers to it as an invasion, simply noting that “Military operations in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. This was preceded by a crisis in relations between Russia and Ukraine.”

While Medeyko says he opposes blocking Wikipedia, some hard-liners within the government see his project as a way to do just that. Alexander Khinshtein, the chair of the digital committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, wrote on his Telegram account the day after Ruwiki went live: “As I’ve said many times, Wikipedia can only be completely blocked when a domestic analogue has been created. Now, that’s no longer an issue.”

Russian Wikipedians fear a similar outcome. “If they want to block us, they can,” says Stanislav Kozlovskiy, who’s replaced Medeyko. He says the Putin regime has targeted fewer than 200 articles—a tiny fraction. He also says it’s hard to satisfy government censors entirely. “We try to maintain neutrality, and any sensitive issues are reviewed by moderators,” he says. “We limit the use of Russian or Ukrainian sources for current events, but that doesn’t stop the criticism. In Russia, officials think our articles are written by Ukrainians, while some Ukrainians seem to believe that they’re written in the Kremlin.”

Russia isn’t the only country where Wikipedia has found itself in conflict with local officials. Turkey shut it down for more than two years after it refused to remove material describing the nation as a state sponsor of terror because of its support of militant groups in Syria. The Turkish government said the accusations were part of a smear campaign that threatened the public order and national security. A Turkish court restored Wikipedia in 2020, saying the ban violated the country’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

Pakistan shut down Wikipedia for a weekend in February for posting what it considered to be sacrilegious content. In May, India told the foundation it would block the English version of Wikipedia locally if it didn’t follow an Indian law that says all maps must match its national border outline, including disputed areas such as Kashmir. The community is debating whether to comply.

One of Wikipedia’s best defenses against such actions is its popularity. When China, the only major country to ban Wikipedia outright, began blocking the site, it softened the blow by first cultivating a government-friendly alternative: the collaborative encyclopedia Baidu Baike. The new site allowed registered users to create their own content but was also careful to follow China’s censorship rules, giving users a service with a similar feel that posed less of a threat to the government.

Medeyko also plans to replicate some of Wikipedia’s crowdsourced formula. He’s said that Ruwiki will look for editors who don’t find Wikipedia inviting, either because of political controversies or other reasons.

Creating the site has made him a heretic in the eyes of his former community. When Medeyko announced his plans, Wikipedia’s other editors immediately deleted his account—his handle was DrBug—which he had used to make more than 25,000 edits and create hundreds of articles. But if Ruwiki does supplant Wikipedia in Russia, editors who worked on the original site will have to decide how they feel about it, and how to engage with it. Nikolay Bulykin, a frequent contributor to Russian Wikipedia who uploads photographs of historic churches and castles taken by drone, shrugs his shoulders at the thought of the thousands of hours he’s devoted to creating content for Wikipedia ending up on a site that could replace it.

“I’m not going to forbid anyone from using my work,” he says from Kazakhstan, where he relocated after the Russian army began drafting men to fight in Ukraine. “That’s not what free knowledge is all about.”

Russian Wikipedia Editor Leaves to Launch a Putin-Friendly Clone - Bloomberg (

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From: Ron7/14/2023 7:56:29 PM
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Amazon still on track to open a new home internet service, via satellites by 2025

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From: Glenn Petersen7/16/2023 7:47:25 PM
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You’re Not Imagining It: Social Media Is in Chaos

By Sriram Krishnan
Mr. Krishnan is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm.
New York Times
Guest Opinion
July 15, 2023

War is breaking out on social media, and it could radically change how the internet works and how we experience it.

Last week, Meta rolled out Threads, a social media product similar to Twitter that quickly got over 100 million sign-ups. This is more than just a tech founder cage match — it is the latest incident in a pattern of increasing chaos. Large parts of internet community site Reddit went dark recently in a user protest over its decision to charge other companies more for using its data. This came right after the livestreaming platform Twitch walked back restrictions on creators after boycott threats. There’s change in the air in social media, and it is spreading fast.

I spent most of the past decade working at large social media companies. I briefly helped Elon Musk after his acquisition of Twitter, in which my firm is an investor. My firm is also an investor in Substack, Reddit and other social media companies, and our general partner Marc Andreessen is on the board of Meta.

I believe the skirmishes of the past few weeks are connected to one another and are worth paying attention to. They represent a fundamental rejection of how the internet and large tech companies have worked for several decades. Instead of being limited to a few large companies, we may be at the start of an era of many online spaces, where consumers could have more power and rights than they’ve ever had.

Think of the current large social networks as various European nations at the dawn of the 20th century. Often ruled by monarchs and autocrats (C.E.O.s), they exist in an uneasy balance with their own users and with one another.

Users and social networks have an unspoken agreement: In return for entertainment, utility and an audience, users hand over control. If the network chooses to kick you out, you’re out in the cold. Choosing to leave one platform means losing your audience forever. You can’t take it with you.

Large social networks act like geopolitical neighbors in an uneasy Westphalian peace with one another. They often move in lock step, swiftly introducing similar features. Stories on Snap? Copied by Instagram and YouTube. TikTok reels? See Reels and YouTube Shorts.

They are also aligned ideologically on what content to censor. Major companies agreed on how to handle theories on the origin of Covid or stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop, leading to what Evelyn Douek, a Stanford law professor, calls “content cartels.” In many ways, there has been a prevailing monolithic culture on how things get done.

In 1914, Europe seemed to be at relative peace, but there were cracks and tensions emerging. All it took was an assassination, initially seen as insignificant, to plunge the world into conflict. Similarly, in the first half of 2023 there has been a succession of online dominoes smashing the status quo of social media to smithereens, causing uprisings in several places.

The first domino was economic. As interest rates started to rise, social media companies discovered they weren’t immune to macroeconomic forces. C.E.O.s reacted with an increased emphasis on products that make money directly from the consumer and reducing employee head count.

The second domino was the introduction of A.I. assistants like ChatGPT. While many were blown away by their possibilities, they forced social media websites to re-evaluate how their data is used externally. Historically many websites like Reddit and Stack Overflow allowed some of their content — especially the discussions among their users on various topics — to be available free. This was typically done to allow search engines to find this content and send users back to these sites. Want to compare two highly recognized San Francisco restaurants? Enter their names and “Reddit” in Google, and recent Reddit conversations are likely to appear. Click on one of the links, and you’re now in Reddit (thereby boosting its business). Third-party developers also tapped this data to build useful tools on top of this content.

A.I. assistants rely on enormous amounts of such data and would hoover up that conversation about San Francisco restaurants. So if you ask an A.I. assistant for the names of San Francisco’s best restaurants, it could well use that Reddit discussion to generate its answer. But it won’t tell you that Reddit was a source for its answer. It won’t send you to Reddit. And as of now, it pays Reddit nothing for the help.

The third domino was Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. Whether or not you agree with Mr. Musk’s moves after he bought Twitter, they have sparked a chain reaction. Reddit’s C.E.O. cited Twitter as a template for how to cut costs. Meta’s Facebook and Instagram followed Twitter in charging for verification of individual users. Meta introduced Threads, the Twitter alternative. While it’s early days to see how this plays out, it is clear the social media landscape has shifted quickly and profoundly.

This takes us to the first key shift that may reshape how the internet works: decentralization. For over a decade, all major internet platforms have been “centralized” — services are run by a central team, often based in Silicon Valley.
Decentralized services try to bring modern democratic ideas to internet platforms. While social media giants endure a constant stream of accusations that they curate their content in a way that furthers political agendas, the goal of decentralization is a network that is credibly neutral in the way it works. The network should be able to resist attempts by any party to seize power and become centralized. Most important, no centralized gatekeeper can delete a user’s account or data — and you should be able to take your audience with you wherever you go.

Interest in decentralized services has been increasing for some time, as various groups have disagreed with the management of the platforms they use. One such service is Farcaster, a decentralized social network in which I’m a direct investor. Others are apps like Bluesky and Mastodon. Instagram has said Threads will support some flavor of this in the future.

The second major development is that large internet sites are fighting back against A.I. models with the internet equivalent of raising the castle drawbridge. The coding site Stack Overflow, Reddit and others have raised the prices for their data to be used. In Reddit’s case, the change had the effect of blocking some popular third-party applications, setting off continuing protests and blackouts.

We will need a fundamentally different mechanism for websites to exchange value with A.I. assistants. Otherwise, expect more raised drawbridges and more user protests. Some industry experts believe the answers are in legal action and older sites forming content alliances.

As a technologist, my hope is that the answers lie in code rather than lawyers and that we see creative technology solutions to help keep the internet open.

For far too long, the online world has been in stasis limited to a few options dominated by a few large companies. Technological breakthroughs and unrest were needed to shake things up, and that has happened. A pessimist might say that this is going to lead to chaos and challenges. As an optimist who invests in technology entrepreneurs for a living, I believe we are in for an age of major innovation, with all of us having more options and say in how things are run online.

Either way, it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

Opinion | Threads, Twitter, and the Future of Social Media - The New York Times (

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From: Ron7/20/2023 6:00:40 PM
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Pioneering hacker Kevin Mitnick, FBI-wanted felon turned security consultant, dead at 59

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From: Ron8/22/2023 7:06:49 PM
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New site: 404 Media: The Secret Hacking Weapon Used to Dox Ordinary Citizens

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From: Ron10/19/2023 4:55:49 PM
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Thousands of IT workers contracting with US companies have for years secretly sent millions of dollars of their wages to North Korea to fund its weapons programs. They worked remotely with companies around US and used false identities to get jobs, per FBI- Associated Press

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From: Ron12/15/2023 3:42:47 PM
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McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine Hackers Say They Found the ‘Smoking Gun’ That Killed Their Startup

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From: Ron12/23/2023 11:11:35 AM
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The Hank Show: How a House-Painting, Drug-Running DEA Informant Built the Machine That Rules Our Lives- A deeply unsettling exposé of an exploitative tech genius.

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