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Display this news only The Explosive Problem With Recycling Phones, Tablets and Other Gadgets: They Literally Catch Fire.
09/12/18English
Slashdot What happens to gadgets when you're done with them? Too often, they explode. From a report: Around the world, garbage trucks and recycling centers are going up in flames. The root of the problem: volatile lithium-ion batteries sealed inside our favorite electronics from Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and more. They're not only dangerous but also difficult to take apart -- making e-waste less profitable, and contributing to a growing recycling crisis. These days, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are in smartphones, tablets, laptops, ear buds, toys, power tools, scooters, hoverboards and e-cigarettes. For all their benefits at making our devices slim, powerful and easy to recharge, lithium-ion batteries have some big costs. They contain Cobalt, often mined in inhumane circumstances in places like the Congo. And when crushed, punctured, ripped or dropped, lithium-ion batteries can produce what the industry euphemistically calls a "thermal event." It happens because these batteries short circuit when the super-thin separator between their positive and negative parts gets breached.

Old devices end up in trouble when we throw them in the trash, stick them in the recycling bin, or even responsibly bring them to an e-waste center. There isn't official data on these fires, but the anecdotal evidence is stark. Since the spring of 2018 alone, batteries have been suspected as the cause of recycling fires in New York, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. In California, a recent survey of waste management facilities found 83 percent had at least one fire over the last two years, of which 40 percent were caused by lithium-ion batteries.


Display this news only Microsoft is Interrupting Chrome and Firefox Installations To Promote Its Edge Browser in the Newest Windows 10 Build
09/12/18English
Slashdot An anonymous reader shares a report: If you open Edge and search for "Chrome" or "Firefox" using Bing, Edge's default search engine, you'll be presented with a massive banner informing you that "Microsoft Edge is the faster, safer browser on Windows 10 and is already installed on your PC." Four boxes below then show you how Edge lets you browse longer, and faster, offers built-in protection and built-in assistance. If that doesn't stop you, then Microsoft has a new, much nastier trick up its sleeve -- when you go to install Firefox or Chrome it intercepts the action and pops up a window promoting Edge with the same line about how its browser is faster and safer. It then gives you a blue button to click to open Edge, or a grey one you can click to install the browser you actually want to use. Oh, and this window will keep appearing, unless you go into Settings and stop Windows 10 from offering you app "recommendations." Further reading: Creator of Opera Says Google Deliberately Undermined His New Vivaldi Web Browser.

Display this news only Pluto Should Be Reclassified as a Planet, Experts Say
09/07/18English
Slashdot The reason Pluto lost its planet status is not valid, according to new research from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. From a report: In 2006, the International Astronomical Union, a global group of astronomy experts, established a definition of a planet that required it to "clear" its orbit, or in other words, be the largest gravitational force in its orbit. Since Neptune's gravity influences its neighboring planet Pluto, and Pluto shares its orbit with frozen gases and objects in the Kuiper belt, that meant Pluto was out of planet status. However, in a new study published online Wednesday in the journal Icarus, UCF planetary scientist Philip Metzger, who is with the university's Florida Space Institute, reported that this standard for classifying planets is not supported in the research literature. Metzger, who is lead author on the study, reviewed scientific literature from the past 200 years and found only one publication -- from 1802 -- that used the clearing-orbit requirement to classify planets, and it was based on since-disproven reasoning. He said moons such as Saturn's Titan and Jupiter's Europa have been routinely called planets by planetary scientists since the time of Galileo.

"The IAU definition would say that the fundamental object of planetary science, the planet, is supposed to be a defined on the basis of a concept that nobody uses in their research," Metzger said. "And it would leave out the second-most complex, interesting planet in our solar system." "We now have a list of well over 100 recent examples of planetary scientists using the word planet in a way that violates the IAU definition, but they are doing it because it's functionally useful," he said. "It's a sloppy definition," Metzger said of the IAU's definition. "They didn't say what they meant by clearing their orbit. If you take that literally, then there are no planets, because no planet clears its orbit."


Display this news only Tourism is Compromising the World's Largest Telescope
08/28/18English
Slashdot Thousands of people moved to let China build and protect Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest telescope. And then the government drew in orders of magnitude more tourists, potentially undercutting its own science in an attempt to promote it. An excerpt: During the four-day Radio Astronomy Forum, Stierwalt and the other astronomers did, finally, get to see the actual telescope, taking a bus up a tight, tortuous road through the karst between town and telescope. As soon as they arrived on site, they were instructed to shut down their phones to protect the instrument from the radio frequency interference. But not even these astronomers, who want pristine FAST data for themselves, could resist pressing that capture button. "Our sweet, sweet tour guide continually reminded us to please turn off our phones," says Stierwalt, "but we all kept taking pictures and sneaking them out because no one really seemed to care." Come on: It's the world's largest telescope.

Maybe their minder stayed lax because a burst here or there wouldn't make much of a difference in those early days. The number of regular tourists allowed at the site all day is capped at 3,000, to limit RFI, and they have to put their phones in lockers before they go see the dish. Krco says the site bumps up against the visitor limit most days. But tourism and development are complicated for a sensitive scientific instrument. Within three miles of the telescope, the government passed legislation establishing a "radio-quiet zone," where RFI-emitting devices are severely restricted. No one (not cellular providers or radio broadcasters) can get a transmitting license, and people entering the facility itself will have their electronics confiscated.


Display this news only Raspberry Pi's PoE HAT Ships For $20, Tosses in a Free Fan
08/27/18English
Slashdot Raspberry Pi is offering a Power-over-Ethernet HAT board for the RPi 3 Model B+ for $20 that ships with a small fan. Per blog LinuxGizmo, the "802.3af-compliant 'Raspberry Pi PoE HAT' allows delivery of up to 15W over the RPi 3 B+'s USB-based GbE port without reducing the port's up to 300Mbps bandwidth." From the report: The Raspberry Pi PoE HAT features a fully isolated switched-mode power supply with 37-57V DC, Class 2 input and 5V/2.5A DC output. The HAT connects to both the 40-pin header and a new PoE-specific 4-pin header introduced with the B+ located near the USB ports. To enable PoE, you need power sourcing equipment, which is either "provided by your network switch or with power injectors on an Ethernet cable," writes the foundation in a blog post.

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