The Right to Repair in Europe

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One of the largest markets in the world will soon be demanding manufactures to let consumers repair what their products. You may have bought a product like a cellphone that gets minor damage which you can’t repair yourself, so you need to send it back to the manufacturers for an expensive or worse: buy a new one. The amount of waste produced by negligent manufactures because their products cannot be repaired is astronomical. This has led Europe to begin the process of passing legislation around the consumer’s right to repair what they own.

Some political leaders agree. In November, the EU Parliament called on the European Commission to make routine repair of everyday products easier, systematic and cost-efficient. It said that warranties should be extended, and that replacement parts should be improved and made more accessible, as should information enabling general repair and maintenance.

The EU’s existing eco-design regulations could be an instrument to reach these goals. These mandates were established years ago to improve the energy efficiency of products sold in the EU. But in March, the first eco-design regulation that will define standards for repair and useful life will come into force. Manufacturers of washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and monitors will have to ensure that components are replaceable with common tools. Instruction manuals must be accessible to specialist companies. And producers must supply spare parts within 15 days.

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How Satellite Alerts Save Forests

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Information is key to success, and that’s especially true when it comes to fighting deforestation. Organizations and governments trying to protect our forests need to know where the illegal activity is happening, when, and who the perpetrators are. A team of researchers wondered if providing alerts from satellites could help organizations preventing deforestations. The short answer is yes.

Those findings come from new research into the effect of GLAD, the Global Land Analysis and Discovery system, available on the free and interactive interface Global Forest Watch. Launched in 2016, GLAD provides frequent, high-resolution alerts when it detects a drop in forest cover. Governments and others interested in halting deforestation can subscribe to the alerts on Global Forest Watch and then intervene to limit forest loss.

Moffette and her co-authors set out to understand whether these kinds of automated alerts could achieve their goal of reducing forest loss, which has global climate implications. Land-use changes like deforestation account for 6 percent to 17 percent of global carbon emissions. And avoiding deforestation is several times more effective at reducing carbon emissions than regrowing forests.

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Tired of Google’s Control Over Your Life? Try These Instead

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I’ve been using Duck Duck Go instead of Google search for years and don’t regret it. There are less ads and the search results include more diverse sources – plus I don’t get trapped in Google’s filter bubble. Over at No More Google they have compiled a list of services you can use to get Google out of your life. Like reducing meat in your diet, reducing Google in your life doesn’t have to be absolute. Just do what you’re comfortable with, maybe that’s no longer using Chrome or maybe it’s switching away from Gmail.

Richard Stallman outlined many reasons you shouldn’t use Google, here’s a snippet:

Censorship

  • Amazon and Google have cut off domain-fronting, a feature used to enable people in tyrannical countries to reach communication systems that are banned there.
  • French blogger Claims YouTube Tried to Censor Juncker Interview.
  • Google has agreed to perform special censorship of Youtube for the government of Pakistan, deleting views that the state opposes.This will help the illiberal Pakistani state suppress dissent.
  • Youtube’s “content ID” automatically deletes posted videos in a way copyright law does not require.
  • YouTube has made private deals with the copyright industry to censor works that are fair use.More information.
  • Google shut off Alexa O’Brien’s Google Drive account, denying her access to it, because her reporting on Chelsea Manning’s trial included copies of al-Qa’ida propaganda that was presented as evidence.
  • Never trust a remote storage company to keep anything but a spare backup copy. When you store that, put your files into an archive and encrypt it so that the company can’t tell what’s in them — not even their file names.
  • Vox lawyers got Youtube to take down criticisms of a video published by Vox, and threaten the critics with punishment, too.
  • The videos were almost surely fair use, but Youtube decided against the critics anyway. This shows how Youtube’s general submission to the copyright industry constrict’s people’s rights.

Check out No More Google.

Graphene as a Limitless Power Generator

Graphene has long been heralded as an amazing new material that can change entire industries and revolutionize the economy. Notably this has yet to happen. Yet.

At the University of Arkansas a team of physicists found a way to use graphene to generate limitless power based on the movement of atoms. Since a graphene layer is only one atom thick the thermal changes from the Earth can move the atoms ever so slightly, so as long as the Earth generates heat this graphene sheet made the team can generate minuscule amounts of energy.

We’re finally getting to see some cool theories about graphene get turned into real applications.

The team used a relatively new field of physics to prove the diodes increased the circuit’s power. “In proving this power enhancement, we drew from the emergent field of stochastic thermodynamics and extended the nearly century-old, celebrated theory of Nyquist,” said coauthor Pradeep Kumar, associate professor of physics and coauthor.

According to Kumar, the graphene and circuit share a symbiotic relationship. Though the thermal environment is performing work on the load resistor, the graphene and circuit are at the same temperature and heat does not flow between the two.

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Submerged Servers Are More Efficient Than Landlubber Servers

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A few years ago Microsoft decided to sink a data centre and see how well it performs. The short answer is: well, the underwater server farm did just fine. This is significant because it proves that underwater data centres are feasible and, to Microsoft’s surprise can be more reliable.

Data centres take a lot of energy to keep cool so by putting it in the water the cooling system uses the chilly waters surrounding it. The carbon footprint of these underwater systems is potentially smaller too since instead of running massive air conditioners (which consume a lot of energy) they are using their local environment.

Their first conclusion is that the cylinder packed with servers had a lower failure rate than a conventional data centre.
When the container was hauled off the seabed around half a mile offshore after being placed there in May 2018, just eight out of the 855 servers on board had failed.
That compares very well with a conventional data centre.
“Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land,” says Ben Cutler, who has led what Microsoft calls Project Natick.

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