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UK Man Sentenced To 16 Months For Exporting 'E-Waste' Despite 91% Reuse 212

retroworks writes: The Guardian uses a stock photo of obvious electronic junk in its coverage of the sentencing of Joseph Benson of BJ Electronics. But film of the actual containers showed fairly uniform, sorted televisions which typically work for 20 years. In 2013, the Basel Convention Secretariat released findings on a two-year study of the seized sea containers containing the alleged "e-waste," including Benson's in Nigeria, and found 91% of the devices were working or repairable. The study, covered by Slashdot in Feb. 2013, declared the shipments legal, and further reported that they were more likely to work than new product sent to Africa (which may be shelf returns from bad lots, part of the reason Africans prefer used TVs from nations with strong warranty laws).

Director of regulated industry Harvey Bradshaw of the U.K. tells the Guardian: "This sentence is a landmark ruling because it's the first time anyone has been sent to prison for illegal waste exports." But five separate university research projects question what the crime was, and whether prohibition in trade is really the best way to reduce the percentage of bad product (less than 100% waste). Admittedly, I have been following this case from the beginning and interviewed both Benson and the Basel Secretariat Executive Director, and am shocked that the U.K. judge went ahead with the sentencing following the publication of the E-Waste Assessment Study last year. But what do Slashdotters think about the campaign to arrest African geeks who pay 10 times the value of scrap for used products replaced in rich nations?

Comment Re:Occulus Rift (Score 1) 186

It's not entirely clear that VR is going to displace PC gaming to that significant of a degree.

As a fairly avid gamer, most games I play are not in the first person perspective and I don't want them to be. I don't like FPS, and that's a huge portion of all first-person games... and VR almost implies a first person perspective.

Only if you've got no imagination. What this iteration of VR is bringing is head tracking and that allows massive virtual screens. I think Rift and similar products are going to break into non-gaming market as cost effective way of getting giant flat displays.

Comment Re:4k at viewing distance isn't that special (Score 1) 304

Because it's approximately true. Nominal resolution of the human eye is 1 arc-minute (1/60 of a degree), therefore a 1920 pixel wide display will subtend 32 degrees horizontally at the resolution limit. At 9 feet (108 inches), a 62 inch wide screen will subtend 32 degrees horizontally. Since screen sizes are measured on the diagonal, that equates to a 71 inch diagonal.

If that resolution is correct then you shouldn't be able to tell the difference between a 150dpi display and a 300dpi display at 2 feet but I certainly can. I'm not sure the 0.3-0.4 arc-minute figure I quoted in my other reply is really typical but I think most people's vision is better than 1 arc-minute.

Comment Re:4k at viewing distance isn't that special (Score 1) 304

Nominal resolution of the human eye is 1 arc-minute (1/60 of a degree)

That is too low. See, e.g. this, which states that the resolvable pixel size is about 0.3-0.4 arc-minutes. Using 0.4 means that at 9 feet any 16:9 1080p screen larger than 28" has resolvable pixels. A 4k screen could be as large as 55" before the pixels are resolvable.

Comment Re:They've been pushing this angle for a while (Score 1) 362

I don't know why Jeffrey Gundlach is, but see no a priori reason to assume he *isn't* as smart, or smarter, than Elon Musk.

Well for a start he's a bond manager. The great minds of our world create, discover, invent. They don't manage bonds. The fact that he is not seeking out the sorts of intellectual challenges that Musk is, IMHO, evidence that he's not as smart as Musk. Regardless of the business success of Musk's companies, they've managed to solve engineering problems that no one else seems to have done. But, of course, that's irrelevant because he may well have more knowledge/experience/wisdom in the area he's giving advice. I think he could well be right in saying that the battery tech is the real point of difference for Tesla and that they should focus on that exclusively. But I suspect that Musk feels that if he doesn't prove there is a market then other car manufacturers will not take it seriously.

Comment Re:Safari for iOS lacks support for all these (Score 1) 333

The post I replied to claimed you couldn't write *any* software for iOS without a dev subscription. That's false. Of course there are limitations with HTML5, just as there are limitations with any platform. I contend that the limitations are unlikely to be an issue for 95% of people who want to develop something for their phone/tablet but won't pay $100 per year to do it.

Comment Re:Define personal computer (Score 1) 333

To be fair though HTML5 apps, and I run a few of them (Google's gmail app for the ipad for example) aren't anywhere near as smooth as native apps.

True, but for software you're writing for yourself that's probably not a big problem. The poster I replied to claimed you couldn't write and run software on your iOS device without paying the developer subscription. That's simply false, I've done it myself.

Comment Re:Define personal computer (Score 1) 333

You can't write personal software for your iOS device without paying a $100/year subscription. (Well, you can write it, but you can't run it) I'm sorry, I don't want to have to pay a subscription to write software for my own device.

You can write anything you like in HTML5 and run it. In fact many "real" apps are just wrappers for a webkit widget running an HTML5 application.

Comment Re:It already found its place. (Score 1) 333

But it's not a general purpose computer. The small screen, no keyboard and no external ports make it useless for doing any real work. Except for niche applications, it's strictly a content consumption device.

You try to make that sound trivial, but content consumption is what 90% of people use computers for 90% of the time outside of their jobs.

Comment Re:Trade secrets, not patents (Score 1) 148

I highly doubt this.

Would have thought it common knowledge at this point. But here have some Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola#Coca_.E2.80.93_cocaine

The Wikipedia article doesn't actually support the claim that no one else could make Coke though. A competitor could by from the Stepan Company just as Coca-cola does. If Coca-Cola don't have an alternative source then they wouldn't even be able to apply pressure to stop Stepan from selling to a competitor.

Comment Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (Score 2) 338

The USPS doesn't pay taxes. That means that we are paying their taxes.

Do postal service employees work for free? No. They pay taxes on the income that USPS pays them. Even if USPS doesn't generate a profit (and therefore doesn't pay an tax on its profit), it's still generating economic activity which is taxed. No different to any other company that is not making a profit.

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