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Submission + - Group Recycling New York City Pay Phones into Free WiFi Hubs (

retroworks writes: Jessica Lieber writes for FastCompany on the LinkNYC project, which is run by a private consortium called CityBridge. The project, which will convert existing public pay phones to free wifi hubs, is billed as "the largest and fastest public Wi-Fi network in the world." The advertising-supported model could eventually be expanded to other cities. 500 structures will be distributed among all five boroughs, and 4,500 within the first four years until there are 7,500 units.

Submission + - Anonymous Reportedly "RickRolling" Isis (

retroworks writes: According to a recent tweet from the #OpParis account, Anonymous are delivering on their threat to hack Isis [slashdot, and are now flooding all pro-Isis hastags with the grandfather of all 2007 memes — Rick Aston's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (1987) music video, aka “Rick Roll” meme. Whenever a targeted Isis account tries to spread a message, the topic will instead be flooded with countless videos of Rick Astley circa 1987.

Not all are praising Anonymous methods, however. While Metro UK reports that the attacks have been successful, finding and shutting down 5,500 Twitter accounts, the article also indicates that professional security agencies have seen sources they monitor shut down. Rick Aston drowns out intelligence as well as recruitment.

Submission + - Uber Promotes Kitten Escort Service (

retroworks writes: No, it's not the Onion, and it isn't April Fools. Forbes Magazine reports a test market of "kitten delivery" (today only, according to TFA).

If you just want to cuddle, you can order a kitten escorted by a participating Uber driver for up to 15 minutes.

If nothing else, will this service allow Uber to expand in markets which ban human taxi competition? Or will concern over kitten trafficking spoil the venture?

Submission + - Ruling on DCMA Returns Right to Hack (

retroworks writes: Just last month Slashdot featured a discussion on the DCMA and its potential to compromise physical property ownership via software licensing controls.

Yesterday, EFF, ISRI and IFIXIT announced a victory. For the next 3 years, you can jailbreak your phone and hack your car.

A petition backed by Electronic Frontier Foundation, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and IFixit was endorsed by the Library of Congress, and for the next three years DCMA is not enforceable. You can hack devices you own. This applies to automobiles, cell phones, video games, tablets, and other devices previously guarded under DCMA.

From the EFF Press Release, "The Librarian of Congress has granted security researchers and others the right to inspect and modify the software in their cars and other vehicles, despite protests from vehicle manufacturers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed the request for software access as part of the complex, triennial rulemaking process that determines exemptions from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)."

Submission + - Jailbreaking Amnesty Declared by Library of Congress (

retroworks writes: A petition backed by Electronic Frontier Foundation, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and IFixit has been heard and endorsed by the Library of Congress, and for the next three years DCMA is not enforceable. You can hack devices you own. This applies to automobiles, cell phones, video games, tablets, and other devices previously guarded under DCMA.

From the EFF Press Release, "The Librarian of Congress has granted security researchers and others the right to inspect and modify the software in their cars and other vehicles, despite protests from vehicle manufacturers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed the request for software access as part of the complex, triennial rulemaking process that determines exemptions from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)."

Victory! (But.... Now what happens when VW emmissions software gets open sourced?)

Submission + - Next Gen Bomber (

retroworks writes: The B-52s currently in use have been flown by 3 generations of American Air Force pilots. B1s and B-2 Bombers are also long in the tooth. Northrup Grumman wins for the NEXT half century, with a major new order for state of the art bomber aircraft. The Atlantic reports "While the current fleet remains useful, the Air Force wants a bomber that can evade the advancing air defenses of Russia and China—if ever the need arises. The long-range bomber would act as a deterrent against actions designed to keep U.S. forces out of a designated area—what the military calls “anti-access aerial denial."”

Submission + - Will Laser Technology Trump Gun Control Law? ( 3

retroworks writes: Hey, maybe I have an idea. We invent a laser gun but do not classify it as a firearm. The laser guns can be shut off by GPS code. Everyone who is a legitimate hunter opts for the laser gun, and the few who remain with conventional firearms see the price of ammo go up like obsolete ink and toner cartridges, rendering the conventional firearm like an obsolete printer. People start to preserve their remaining "ink" and keep the conventional firearm in the closet but use the laser weapon (don't call it a gun) for hunting etc. Over a couple of generations, this could result in stopping violent multiple homicides, or give people a sense of control and comfort.

Hey, I'm trying to participate in an impossible conversation, give me a break. This idea is as likely to work as registering guns is likely to either A) take away gun rights or B) reduce psychopathic rampages. More gun ownership won't reduce violence and regulators aren't in any position to analyze psychopaths and surgically reduce the gun ownership. More likely some regulator will feel a liability like the KY marriage license lady and deny someone loudmouth their gun license and we'll have another 10 years of this debate. Not finding this debate fruitful is not the equivalent of "accepting" the violence either. The solution is going to be technological.

Submission + - EU - Interpol Hosts "E-waste" Conference During Forced Accra Shanty Evictions (

retroworks writes: On June 25-26, at International INTERPOL headquarters in Lyons, France, a conference called "Countering WEEE Illegal Trade" is taking place. CWIT will brief customs agents and EU policymakers on the crime of exporting "secondhand" electronic devices, which they say will eventually wind up in areas like Agbogbloshie in Ghana or Guiyu in China. Speakers include and its controversial source, Mike Anane (who coined term Sodom and Gomorrah for Agbogbloshie and claimed 80% of imports are dumped there).

A report linked at CWIT's website, however, admits only 7% of used electronics imported to Ghana are dumped, rather than 80-90%: "Nevertheless, 14 % of the imported e-equipment (equalling around 30,000 t) was not functioning in 2009. While half of this volume was reparable, the other half was clearly in a condition beyond repair (see Figure 2)."

New investigations of Agbogbloshie "e-waste dump" have found little or no evidence of the dumping claims. Adam Minter, author of 2014 bestseller Junkyard Planet, wrote "Anatomy of a Myth" this week. African blogger Emmanuel Nyalete also visited Agbogbloshie, and pointed out that African teledensity (per World Bank) could not have grown at double and triple digits per year if imports had not been reused.

Is it too late for CWIT and Interpol to reverse course? While UK imprisons African importers (see slashdot story on Joe Benson (who purchased used tech on behalf of buyers in Africa), African activists in Agbogbloshie are reporting that the real reason for the "dumping story" is a land grab. It will soon be too late to investigate further — Ghana developers began forced evictions, and bulldozed the scrapyard and surrounding shantytown late yesterday. Photos armed police evicting the recyclers appear this AM on Twitter, and at and in this blog

Submission + - Uber's Rise in China May Be Counterfeit (

retroworks writes: Josh Horwitz' story in Quartz today reports both the apparent rapid success of Uber adaptation in China, and a queasy footnote for shareholders applauding the rapid growth. While China is a natural ride-sharing haven, it also has a tradition of gaming the western system.

"Accomplices can sit in their apartments, disable location settings, and specify a pickup not far from the actual location of driver’s vehicle, the report said. The driver then accepts the hail, and goes on a trip without a passenger. After the accomplice approves payment, the driver will – hopefully – pay back the fee and share a cut of the bonus. It’s not the most clever get-rich scheme on the planet. But for drivers, it’s better than waiting for a hail in a parking lot."

Uber's spokeswoman told the Quartz writer that the company has an on-the-ground team who investigate into these various type of fraud, then uses "deep analytics, and new tools developed by our Chinese engineers in our dedicated fraud team to combat against such fraud.” The Uber spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the nature of these tools.

Submission + - Independent Reporters Confirm "Ewastegate" Hoax in Ghana (

An anonymous reader writes: Slashdot had the news first. During the past 12 months, there has been widespread reporting of Agbogbloshie, Ghana being the world's "largest e-waste dump" or "most polluted site on earth" or "where most used technology goes to die". A small group recyclers with ties to used technology importers in Ghana have disputed the claim for years, but the news outlets have embraced the story. In 2014, Europe gave a $1.2M grant to an NGO (Blacksmith Institute) to clean up the site, which instead vanished in a FIFA-like charade.

Now two independent reporters have verified that the site is an automobile scrapyard, (see page 78) where men do burn tires and auto wire, but where very very few electronics can be found. Those that are found — estimated at 910,000 pounds per year (not "millions of tons") — are generally collected in push carts from homes and businesses in Ghana. They were usually imported used from Europe, but typically kept in use by Africans for 5-15 years before being tossed to the scrappers at Agbogbloshie.

Links to the two independent stories which validate the "hoax" theory appear in today's Resource Recycling web magazine.

The Guardian
Al Jazeera
Washington Post
The Atlantic
Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican....

In another related Slashdot story, on the 12th month since his sentencing for "e-waste export crime" TV repairman Joe Benson, a Nigerian born Essex businessman, remains in jail, despite studies finding his exported goods were more likely to work than brand new electronics sold in Africa.

Submission + - Scientists just automated light-based computers (

retroworks writes: Integrated photonic devices are poised to play a key role in a wide variety of applications, ranging from optical interconnects and sensors to quantum computing. However, only a small library of semi-analytically designed devices is currently known. In the article in Nature Photonics, researchers demonstrate the use of an inverse design method that explores the full design space of fabricable devices and allows them to design devices with previously unattainable functionality, higher performance and robustness, and smaller footprints than conventional devices. The designed a silicon wavelength demultiplexer splits 1,300nm and 1,550nm light from an input waveguide into two output waveguides, and the team has fabricated and characterized several devices. The devices display low insertion loss (2dB), low crosstalk (100nm). The device footprint is 2.8×2.8m2, making this the smallest dielectric wavelength splitter.

Submission + - Africa E-Waste Dump Continues Hyperbole War (

retroworks writes: Two stories appear today which feature close up photos of young African men surrounded by scrap metal in the city of Accra. The headlines state that this is where our computers go to die (Wired). The Daily Mail puts it in even starker terms, alleging "millions of tons" are dumped in Agbogbloshie.

The stories appear the same day as a press release by investigators who returned this week from 3 weeks at the site. The release claims that Agbogbloshie's depiction as the worlds "largest ewaste dump site" to be a hoax. It is a scrap automobile yard which accounts for nothing more than local scrap from Accra. Three Dagbani language speaking electronics technicians, three reporters, Ghana customs officials and yours truly visited the site, interviewed workers about the origins of the material, and assessed volumes. About 27 young men burn wire, mostly from automobile scrap harnesses. The electronics — 20 to 50 items per day — are collected from Accra businesses and households. The majority of Accra (population 5M) have had televisions since the 1990s, according to World Bank metadata (over 80% by 2003).

The investigation did confirm that most of the scrap was originally imported used, and that work conditions were poor. However, the equipment being recycled had been repaired and maintained, typically for a decade (longer than the original OECD owner). It is a fact that used goods will, one day, eventually become e-waste. Does that support a ban on the trade in used goods to Africa? Or, as the World Bank reports, is the affordable used product essential to establish a critical mass of users so that investment in highways, phone towers, and internet cable can find necessary consumers?

Submission + - #EWastegate: Nigerian ExPat TV repairman still in UK jail despite retraction (

retroworks writes: What could possibly be worse than dumping 75%-80% of obsolete used "e-waste" in African dumps to be burned by children scavenging wires? What could be worse than violating international law?

How about lying that the crimes occurred in the first place?

Ghanain Emmanuel Nyaletey, an electronics repair technician who grew up a few blocks away from Agbogbloshie, has published an editorial questioning why the press has failed to correct its false reporting on the "e-waste export crisis". In April, Nyaletey will fly back to Ghana, with reporters, working on a documentary of the "e-waste hoax".

Seven months after the prison sentence for UK-based, Nigerian born TV repairman Joe Benson, the original source (Basel Action Network) of the "world's largest e-waste dump" story (Agbogbloshie scrapyard in Accra, Ghana) denies ever, ever stating that it has knowledge of foreign dumping in Africa. After the Guardian and the Independent and BBC ran stories claiming to follow "cut wires", UNEP studies of the "seized containerloads" found a range of 85%-93% of used electronics imported to Ghana and Nigeria were repaired or reused. The UN funded study found that the used electronics were more likely to be used than brand new product (raising questions of how much ESD "waste" is being resold after warranty return), that cities in Emerging Markets were generating up to 1/3 per capita as much electronic scrap as OECD nations (which would make them a larger net source than the West). Further, the study found that "geeks of color" like Nyaletey who repair and repurpose western imports earn six times more than the national average wages for their home nation (Nigeria, Ghana studies). Nyaletey painstakingly documents the findings from the 2011 and 2012 UN funded studies, and questions why white environmentalists are still trying to "save Africa" from reuse and repair.

2012 Study of Nigeria "E-Waste Assessment"
2011 Study of Ghana "E-Waste Assessment"

While the environmental organization BAN now denies being the source of the "80% waste" statistic, Memorial University researcher Josh Lepawsky has tracked the organizations orphaned statistic through peer-reviewed reports on "e-waste exports" over the past 15 years, and found it to be one of the most frequent citations in scholarly research on the topic.

If not from western "waste ships", what IS the source of the electronics shown at the African dumps? Cities like Accra and Lagos have millions of households with television (and refrigerators, and computers, etc.). World Bank estimated in 2003 that Nigeria had over 6 million households with television. Twenty six percent of Ghana households had televisions 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, 3 separate documentaries are in the works based on interviews with "Hurricane" Joe Benson. Benson has provided documentation that his cost of shipping, per unit, was much greater than scrap value, and has documented how he returned unrepairable appliances back to UK recycling centers free of charge, saying there is no earthly motive to ship waste. A petition to #freejoebenson will be circulated by Nyaletey in Ghana, and is now available online

Submission + - Instant Powdered Acohol: Approved for Sale (

retroworks writes: From Motherboard.vice:

"The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has given the greenlight to Palcohol, a powdered alcohol that you mix with water to make, well, liquid alcohol. The TTB had already approved the product for sale last year but almost immediately backtracked on that decision, saying the approval had been “issued in error.”

"TTB spokesperson Tom Hogue today said the approval is only based on whether or not the label on the product matches what’s actually inside, according to the Associated Press. Palcohol sorted out the labelling issues since last year and so four flavors of Palcohol are now approved for legal sale."

Submission + - Craig Brittain (Revenge Porn King) Sues for Use of Image (

retroworks writes: Washington Post reporter Caitlin Dewey leads with "Revenge-porn impresario Craig Brittain is learning the hard way that karma is a real witch."

The report states that the Federal Trade Commission has settled a complaint against Brittain, whose defunct site, "Is Anybody Down" was accused of unfair business practices. TFA: "The site paid its bills by soliciting women’s nude photos on Craigslist and/or from their exes, publishing the photos without the women’s permission (and often with their names and phone numbers attached), and then charging fees of $200 to $500 to take the photos down."

Brittain agreed to destroy the image and never operate a revenge porn site again. However, On Feb. 9, "Brittain filed a takedown request to Google, demanding that the search engine stop linking to nearly two dozen URLs — including a number of news articles, and files on the case from the FTC — because they used photos of him and information about him without his permission."

Ars Technica explains. “In this instance,” writes David Kravets, “fair use and general First Amendment principles are on Google’s and the media’s side.”

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