Use This App to Avoid Shady Companies

Argument analysis flowchart

Too many companies say they care about an important issue, sponsor events, and then turn around and fund organizations (or politicians) that actively fight the important issue. This behaviour by corporations is unethical and wrong. One person got so sick of companies claiming to be in favour of issues only to fund campaigns opposing it that he built an app to out the corporations. The Bobbele app allows you to scan a barcode and see what corporations fund behind the scenes, plus any controversies the companies are embroiled in.

A good example is Google since they gave up on doing no evil their controversy list is rather long.

From the creator of the app:

I use the wikipedia dumps that are provided monthly and go through all articles to filter out company and product related ones and all the relevant sections which might be controversial. I do a lot of post processing then to link all the companies based on the parent and owner information so luckily no manual labour and its easy to keep up to date!

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Find Products That Last a Lifetime (and those that don’t)

tape and tool

Having to buy things is always a nuisance, but sometimes things are needed, so when that happens be sure to get things that last. That’s the premise of Exit Reviews, a new site that asks people to review products once the product breaks. Thus, you can research which products last and which component is the most likely to break. It’s a neat idea to help stop people from buying weak products.

Find out how long products last, where they break, and how to fix them

?Common stress points

Find out what the common failure modes of product are.

?Quality declines

See if a product’s/brand’s quality has changed or gone down at some point. Let’s keep corporations accountable.

?Average longevity

Learn how long products of a brand last and compare them with the average longevity of a category.

?Repairability

Everything breaks eventually, but when it does, can you easily repair/fix it?

Check it out.

Let’s Green the Gaming Industry

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Games are fun and we should play more of them! That being said, we should also be conscious of the impact our technological-driven gaming has on the environment. Ben Abraham recently launched a new project called Greening the Game Industry to promote the concept of sustainable gaming. The project stems from his work on a very good book, Digital Games After Climate Change, and he hopes to get more people thinking about ways gaming companies can better respect the environment.

One of the best ways to reduce your impact in any industry is to buy second hand and use things to their end of their life. Thus, the thinking of a “patient gamer” is one we should all follow.

The initiative is called the “Games Consoles EU Self-Regulatory Agreement”, and I won’t go into the details of self-regulation but suffice to say most of what you need to know is right there in the name. This is not the EU trying to bring energy-profligate console manufacturers to heel, and is more like a simple mechanism to get them all to the table to see what stuff they already agree on and can codify into some (not even particularly binding) rules of the road. It is also not really a climate-focussed initiative, at least not primarily, which might work backwards from the known impact of the industry and/or a given constraint and say ‘you can use this much no more’ (and there are substantial barriers, practical and conceptual, to being able to do that yet anyway). Since the EU already has rules about “vampire power”, or the power consumed when switched off or in standby.

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How Drones Logistics Redefined Blood Delivery in Rwanda

Delivering good is always a challenge, and it’s a particularly hard challenge in a mountainous country like Rwanda. An ambitious company known as Zipline noticed that drones could solve this geographic challenge by just going over the terrain. And if it works, they should deliver one of the most time sensitive cargo that exists: blood. Now when a rural health clinic needs new blood they call Zipline who dispatch a drone.

Their system is efficient, safe, and is a good model for other countries with similar logistic challenges.

“It’s so good. And it’s not just good for Rwanda,” says Timothy Amukele, a pathologist who is not involved with the research team or Zipline, but who previously ran a medical drone group with projects in Namibia and Uganda. (Amukele is currently the global medical director for ICON Laboratory Services, which helps run clinical trials.) Drone applications for global medicine have been touted for years, but researchers have lacked concrete data to back up that promise, says Amukule: “This is more than just guys playing with toys.”

“Drones are not easy,” he continues. “To actually make this a success, where they’re getting blood and packing it safely and releasing the drones and monitoring the flight and bringing them back—and for five years covering 80 percent of that country—it’s just really impressive.”

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Carbon Capture Solutions from Students get Funding

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The best thing to do to prevent climate change is to stop burning fossil fuels, until that happens we need to find ways to extract carbon from the air to reduce the speed of climate change. Of course, carbon removal needs to be powered by renewable systems themselves. The XPrize for carbon removal kicked off in February, part of that launch involved a competition for universities to apply for funding radical carbon removal ideas. The winners have been announced and the projects are looking at everything from cleaning up asbestos to making a tea out of yard waste.

The Blue Symbiosis team from Australia’s University of Tasmania is looking to tap into the natural CO2-absorbing properties of seaweed, by repurposing oil and gas rigs as regenerative farming sites. The offshore platforms provide the trunk, while the seaweed will act as the branches, according to the team. The team aims to scale up production to the point where the system can have a real impact on ocean health, with part of the seaweed to also be used in construction materials such as fire-resilient bricks, enabling the carbon being stored to be quantified.

“I researched the potential of repurposing oil and gas infrastructure to regenerative seaweed sites, which led to the conclusion that this holds real promise for both environmental and commercial reasons,” says team leader Joshua Castle. “Decommissioning oil and gas infrastructure is an emerging AU$60-billion (US$44-billion) problem for governments and industries in which they are expected to share the costs. Seaweed has the potential to deliver vast environmental benefits for ocean health – but if it can’t be scaled, significant impacts on ocean health can’t be realized.

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