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Display this news only Grandson of Legendary John Deere Inventor Calls Out Company On Right To Repair
03/21/19English
Slashdot chicksdaddy writes: The grandson of Theo Brown, a legendary engineer and inventor for John Deere who patented, among other things, the manure spreader is calling out the company his grandfather served for decades for its opposition to right to repair legislation being considered in Illinois. In an opinion piece published by The Security Ledger entitled "My Grandfather's John Deere would support Our Right to Repair," Willie Cade notes that his grandfather, Theophilus Brown is credited with 158 patents, some 70% of them for Deere & Co., including the manure spreader in 1915. His grandfather used to travel the country to meet with Deere customers and see his creations at work in the field. His hope, Cade said, was to help the company's customers be more efficient and improve their lives with his inventions.

In contrast, Cade said the John Deere of the 21st Century engages in a very different kind of business model: imposing needless costs on their customers. An example of this kind of rent seeking is using software locks and other barriers to repair -- such as refusing to sell replacement parts -- in order to force customers to use authorized John Deere technicians to do repairs at considerably higher cost and hassle. "It undermines what my grandfather was all about," he writes. Cade, who founded the Electronics Reuse Conference, is supporting right to repair legislation that is being considered in Illinois and opposed by John Deere and the industry groups it backs. "Farmers who can't repair farm equipment and a wide spectrum of Americans who can't repair their smartphones are pushing back in states across the country."


Display this news only Jury Finds Bayer's Roundup Weedkiller Caused Man's Cancer
03/20/19English
Slashdot An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Shares in Germany's Bayer's fell more than 12 percent on Wednesday after a second U.S. jury ruled its Roundup weed killer caused cancer. Tuesday's unanimous jury decision in San Francisco federal court was not a finding of Bayer's liability for the cancer of plaintiff Edwin Hardeman. Liability and damages will be decided by the same jury in a second trial phase beginning on Wednesday. Bayer, which denies allegations that glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer, said it was disappointed with the jury's initial decision. Bayer acquired Monsanto, the longtime maker of Roundup, for $63 billion last year. The case was only the second of some 11,200 Roundup lawsuits to go to trial in the United States. Another California man was awarded $289 million in August after a state court jury found Roundup caused his cancer. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

Bayer had claimed that jury was overly influenced by plaintiffs' lawyers allegations of corporate misconduct and did not focus on the science. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria called such evidence "a distraction" from the scientific question of whether glyphosate causes cancer. He split the Hardeman case into two phases: one to decide causation, the other to determine Bayer's potential liability and damages. Under Chhabria's order, the second phase would only take place if the jury found Roundup to be a substantial factor in causing Hardeman's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The jury found that it was on Tuesday.


Display this news only Kids From At Least 112 Countries, Including the US, Go on Strike To Protest Climate Change
03/15/19English
Slashdot It started 29 weeks ago when 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg began skipping school on Fridays to protest climate change by standing outside of her nation's parliament building. Today, kids from more than 110 countries, including the United States, are following Thunberg's lead and will play hooky from classes for something they think is ultimately more important: preventing the warming of their planet. Live updates, from The Guardian. Further reading: Thousands of scientists are backing the kids striking for climate change.

Display this news only The Opportunity Rover's Final Photo of Mars
03/14/19English
Slashdot pgmrdlm shares a report from CNN: Last May, Opportunity took a look around Perseverance Valley on the inner slope of Endurance Crater's western rim. The valley is about the length of two football fields and it's full of descending shallow troughs. Ironically, Perseverance Valley became Opportunity's final resting place when a planet-encircling dust storm took over Mars in June, blocking the sun from reaching the rover's solar panels. Engineers lost contact on June 10 and persistently sent more than a thousand signals and commands to the rover over eight months until they realized the mission was over on February 13. But before those dark days, Opportunity acted like a tourist, snapping 354 photos between May 13 and June 10 that would create one last beautiful panorama of the place it will forever call home. "This final panorama (embedded in the report) embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery," said Opportunity project manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "To the right of center you can see the rim of Endeavour Crater rising in the distance. Just to the left of that, rover tracks begin their descent from over the horizon and weave their way down to geologic features that our scientists wanted to examine up close. And to the far right and left are the bottom of Perseverance Valley and the floor of Endeavour crater, pristine and unexplored, waiting for visits from future explorers."

Display this news only Musician Creates a Million-Hour Song Based On the Number Pi
03/14/19English
Slashdot An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Now, for Pi Day (March 14), music software programmer Canton Becker has crafted a million-hour song based on Pi that unfolds generatively on a virtual tape deck. Titled "Shepard's Pi," the song combines two of Becker's favorite infinities: Pi, and an auditory illusion called a Shepard tone, which he describes as an "unsettling sonic illusion of a pitch that climbs or descends forever, never reaching a top or a bottom." Found at PiSongs.com, users can tune into "Shepard's Pi" in real time with a custom virtual tape deck. The track itself evolves moment to moment, but the synthesized and sampled tones will be familiar to anyone who has ever listened to the electronic music of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Aphex Twin, and Global Communication. Far from being a mere gimmick, it is a highly evocative and transporting piece of electronic music, alternately ambient, glitchy, and interestingly rhythmic. The 58,999 GB MP3 file needed to be distributed via a webpage or app, so Becker "started hacking away at the basic algorithm in the programming languages PHP and Javascript," reports Motherboard. "In between coding marathons, Becker composed and recorded the loops and samples that would form the basis of the song. He experimented with sounds that would work well together regardless of being stacked one upon the other."

"When users hit 'play' on the virtual tape deck, the algorithm actually 'performs' the piece," the report says. "This way, the 114-year song can fit in just one gigabyte of space, which is mostly comprised of the digits of Pi. The virtual tape deck was also a solution to a built-in quirk of browsers such as Chrome, Safari, and Firefox -- users must click on a webpage to trigger a sound." From start to finish, the song lasts 999,999 hours, "a limitation imposed by only considering the first one billion digits of Pi."

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