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Submission + - Why You Should Care About The Supreme Court Case On Toner Cartridges (consumerist.com)

rmdingler writes: A corporate squabble over printer toner cartridges doesn’t sound particularly glamorous, and the phrase “patent exhaustion” is probably already causing your eyes to glaze over. However, these otherwise boring topics are the crux of a Supreme Court case that will answer a question with far-reaching impact for all consumers: Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it?

Here’s the background: Lexmark makes printers. Printers need toner in order to print, and Lexmark also happens to sell toner.

Then there’s Impression Products, a third-party company makes and refills toner cartridges for use in printers, including Lexmark’s.

Submission + - Call For Engineers To Act On Climate Change (phys.org)

dryriver writes: Phys.org reports: "Discussion around limiting climate change primarily focuses on whether the best results can be gained by individuals changing how they act, or governments introducing new legislation. Now though, University of Leeds academics Dr Rob Lawlor and Dr Helen Morley from the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied Centre suggest engineering professionals could also play a pivotal role, and could provide a co-ordinated response helping to mitigate climate change. Writing in the journal Science and Engineering Ethics, they say engineering professional institutions could take a stand in tackling climate change by developing a declaration imposing restrictions and requirements on members. "A strong and coordinated action by the engineering profession could itself make a significant difference in how we respond to climate change," they said. Quoting 2014 research by Richard Heede from the Climate Accountability Institute, they say nearly two-thirds of historic carbon dioxide and methane emissions could be attributed to crude oil and natural gas producers, coal extractors, and cement producers. These are industries typically enabled by the engineering profession. They argue that the profession could take a more active role and have a positive impact in reducing the level of damaging emissions by proposing environmental restrictions or encouraging engineers to think how the resources and processes they use could be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Submission + - U.S. to Temporarily Suspend Expediting for H-1B Visas (uscis.gov) 1

elrous0 writes: According to an U.S. Immigration Services press release:

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

While the ostensible reason given for this suspension is to "help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times," there is little doubt that this move is tied to President Trump's ongoing efforts to curb abuses in the controversial H-1B program.

Submission + - How I Stopped Trying to Upgrade My Life (backchannel.com) 3

mirandakatz writes: In our upgrade-obsessed world, it’s easy to conclude that happiness comes from new and shiny things. As Google X's Hans Peter Brondmo writes, that sort of thinking is wrong. At Backchannel, he details his path toward accepting "Life 1.0," rather than constantly chasing the next upgrade. He writes, "My perceived need for an upgrade was driven by data that reinforced, everywhere I turned, that upgrades are it. More, newer, ever-shinier things will make you even happier. Upgrade your life to Life 7.0 and THAT will bring you the joy and happiness you think others have. I mostly knew it was bullshit, but when the stimuli is overwhelming and it’s continuously training your learners that upgrades in their many forms lead to greater happiness, then after a while it messes with your algorithms, skewing your truth and values."

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why Are Many Products Deliberately Aimed At Younger Consumers? 4

dryriver writes: Everyone who is currently over 35 or so is familiar with a certain phenomenon: You've spent your childhood, teens and twenties buying everything "cool" — music, films, books, toys, clothing, computer games, comic books, PC hardware, game consoles, software, all sorts of consumer electronics. During this time, you and the rest of your generation kept the companies that produce this stuff flush with cash — it was your steady buying and consuming that allowed these companies to grow really big and thrive in financial terms. Now, suddenly, you are outside the target demographic for these same companies — they are still producing "stuff", but it is now aimed at new children, teens and tweens. When you look around for products made for a 35+ year old person, you find that almost everybody producing stuff is obsessed with serving a younger, less discerning demographic that is spending its parents' cash, just as you once spent your parents' cash. Why is this? Shouldn't products you "grew up with" also "grow with you as you grow" — accompany you into older age in a more mature, developed and sophisticated form in other words? Or is commerce all about get-their-money-while-they-are-young-and-impressionable?

Submission + - SPAM: Risk Of Cascadia Quake Elevated As Puget Sound 'Slow Slip' Event Begins 1

schwit1 writes: On Wednesday, the semi-annual "slow slip" event began, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) at the University of Washington. The event happens about every 14 months deep underneath the Puget Sound area and is essentially a slow earthquake that takes place over the course of two weeks.

During a slow-slip event, after 14 months of moving eastward, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate stalls and moves westward, which puts stress on the Cascadia subduction zone.

Seismologists often refer to this as a "straw that broke the camel's back" scenario.

"It's loading up the edge of the lock zone of the Cascadia subduction zone more rapidly than normal tectonic processes would do," explained Bill Steele, director of communications at the PNSN. "You're getting seven months of strain accumulation applied to the back edge of the fault over a week."

Link to Original Source

Submission + - The Alternate Facts of Cable Companies (backchannel.com) 1

mirandakatz writes: New York's attorney general sued Spectrum earlier this month, essentially alleging that the cable company had blatantly lied about the internet speeds it was providing to customers. At Backchannel, Susan Crawford offers some much-need analysis of why this happened in the first place, and what if all means. Crawford writes that "in a world in which Spectrum faces little to no competition, now expects even less regulation than before, and has no need to spend money on better services, the lawsuit won’t by itself make much of a difference. But maybe the public nature of the AG’s assault—charging Spectrum for illegal misconduct—will lead to a call for alternatives...We’d get honest, straightforward, inexpensive service, rather than the horrendously expensive cable bundles we’re stuck with today."

Submission + - Republican Plans To Use Congressional Review Act To Kill Broadband Privacy Rules (ibtimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is planning to roll back privacy rules that restrict what internet service providers can do with customer data by using the Congressional Review Act. Doing so would prevent the FCC from ever issuing the rules again. Privacy advocacy group Public Knowledge is opposing the use of the CRA, calling it “entirely too blunt of an instrument” to use in the situation.

Submission + - Intel Suddenly Serious About Neuromorphic Chip Future (nextplatform.com)

kipperstem77 writes: A recent conversation we had with Intel turned up a surprising new addition to the machine learning conversation—an emphasis on neuromorphic devices and what Intel is openly calling “cognitive computing” (a term used primarily—and heavily—for IBM’s Watson-driven AI technologies). This is the first time to date we’ve heard the company make any definitive claims about where neuromorphic chips might fit into a strategy to capture machine learning, and marks a bold grab for the term “cognitive computing” which has been an umbrella term for Big Blue’s AI business.

Submission + - GoDaddy CEO: Americans Won't Be Smart Enough to Fill Tech Jobs for Decades

theodp writes: A day after his company joined the likes of Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook in the Technology Companies amicus motion and brief against Trump's Executive Order on immigration, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving advises Americans in FORTUNE that If You’re Against Outsourcing, You Should Support U.S. Visas For Skilled Foreigners. "With so much technical illiteracy in the US," Irving writes, "the H-1B visa program has become America’s secret weapon warding off economic catastrophe. Though STEM education is the clear long-term solution, the US is not going to see a vastly greater pipeline of domestic technical talent coming from our universities anytime soon. It will take us years, if not decades, to educate a new wave of students from elementary thru their advanced degrees. Until that next generation enters the elite technical workforce in mass, the most technical jobs (all 545,000 of them) will simply sit open if H-1B visas shrink or disappear." If Irving's piece gives you a sense of deja vu, Microsoft President Brad Smith similarly argued in 2012 that "an effective national talent strategy therefore needs to combine long-term improvements in STEM education in the United States with targeted, short-term, high-skilled immigration reforms." To bring this about, Smith suggested producing a crisis (video) would be key: "Sometimes when a small problem proves intractable, you have to make it bigger," Smith explained. "You have to make the problem big enough so that the solution is exciting enough to galvanize people’s attention and generate the will to overcome the hurdles that have been holding us back. I believe that if we can combine what we’re doing with respect to education with what we need to do with respect to immigration we have that opportunity ahead of us." So, is Big Tech now trying to make lemonade out of Trump's immigration lemons?

Submission + - How beer brewed 5,000 years ago in China tastes today (thestreet.com)

schwit1 writes: Stanford University students have recreated a Chinese beer using a recipe that dates back 5,000 years.

The beer “looked like porridge and tasted sweeter and fruitier than the clear, bitter beers of today”, said Li Liu, a professor in Chinese archaeology, was quoted by the university as saying.

Last spring, Liu and her team of researchers were carrying out excavation work at the Mijiaya site in Shaanxi province and found two pits containing remnants of pottery used to make beer, including funnels, pots and amphorae. The pits dated to between 3400BC and 2900BC, in the late Yangshao era.

They found a yellowish residue on the remains of the items, including traces of yam, lily root and barley.

The finding suggests that the Mijiaya site was home to China’s earliest brewery.

Submission + - Paypal disguises 13% price hike as 'Policy Update'. (paypal.com) 2

turbotalon writes: In an email sent to users February 7th, Paypal is disguising a 13% rate hike as a 'Policy Update.' Roughly one quarter of the 'policy changes' are rate hikes, yet their emailed summary glosses over the rate hike, focussing instead on a few of the 'policy changes' with one sentence at the end about 'changing some of the fees we charge'.

Additionally, they have added a "non-discouragement clause" for sellers that provides:

"In representations to your customers or in public communications, you agree not to mischaracterize PayPal as a payment method. At all of your points of sale (in whatever form), you agree not to try to dissuade or inhibit your customers from using PayPal; and, if you enable your customers to pay you with PayPal, you agree to treat PayPal’s payment mark at least at par with other payment methods offered."

Reading the full text of the update reveals the following fees are increasing:
  Standard transaction fee
  International currency exchange fees
  In-store transaction fees
  Micro-payment fees
  Cross-border transaction fees

Submission + - New York Sues Charter Over Slow Internet Speeds (reuters.com)

An anonymous reader writes: New York filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing Charter Communications Inc of short-changing customers who were promised faster internet speeds than it could deliver. The lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan accused Charter's Spectrum unit, until recently known as Time Warner Cable, of systematically defrauding customers since 2012 by promising and charging for services it knew it could not offer. At least 640,000 subscribers signed up for high-speed plans but got slower speeds, and many subscribers were unable to access promised online content such as Facebook, Netflix, YouTube and various gaming platforms, the complaint said. The lawsuit seeks "full restitution" for customers, as well as hefty civil fines. Among the allegations in the complaint was an accusation that Time Warner Cable leased older-generation modems to 900,000 subscribers knowing that the modems could not achieve faster internet speeds.

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