Topic: The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement Gains Ground
If you buy a product — a car, a smartphone, or even a tractor — and it breaks, should it be easier for you to fix it yourself?
Manufacturers of a wide range of products have made it increasingly difficult over the years to repair things, for instance by limiting availability of parts or by putting prohibitions on who gets to tinker with them. It affects not only game consoles or farm equipment, but cellphones, military gear, refrigerators, automobiles and even hospital ventilators, the lifesaving devices that have proved crucial this year in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, a movement known as “right to repair” is starting to make progress in pushing for laws that prohibit restrictions like these.
In August, Democrats introduced a bill in Congress to block manufacturers’ limits on medical devices, spurred by the pandemic. In Europe, the European Commission announced plans in March for new right-to-repair rules that would cover phones, tablets and laptops by 2021.
And in more than 20 statehouses nationwide, right-to-repair legislation has been introduced in recent years by both Republicans and Democrats.
Over the summer, the House advanced a funding bill that includes a requirement that the Federal Trade Commission complete a report on anti-competitive practices in the repair market and present its findings to Congress and the public.
The goal of right-to-repair rules, advocates say, is to require companies to make their parts, tools and information available to consumers and repair shops in order to keep devices from ending up in the scrap heap. They argue that the rules restrict people’s use of devices that they own and encourage a throwaway culture by making repairs too difficult.
They also argue that it’s part of a culture of planned obsolescence — the idea that products are designed to be short-lived in order to encourage people to buy more stuff. That contributes to wasted natural resources and energy use at a time when climate change requires movement in the opposite direction to rein in planet-warming emissions.
Manufacturing a new device or appliance is still largely reliant on polluting sources of energy — electricity generated from burning fossil fuels, for instance — and constitutes the largest environmental impact for most products.
Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5015841
Topic: UK gamers and politicians take aim at console ’scalpers’
Furious British gamers and lawmakers are training their sights on "scalpers" who are buying up coveted PS5 and Xbox consoles and selling them online at vastly inflated prices.
The popular consoles have also been hard to come by in other parts of the world, but in Britain anger has boiled over to the point where some lawmakers want to ban the practice of reselling them online at higher prices.
While a PS5 normally costs between £360 and £450 depending on the model, its median resale price on sites like eBay is £650-£750, according to US researcher Michael Driscoll.
Topic: Singaporean student plays Pokemon on ingenious ‘Melonboy’
Imagine that you are on the MRT and a young man sitting next to you is playing video games on a watermelon-like console.
That’s the unusual sight some people recently experienced in Singapore when a teenager was seen playing “Pokemon Go” on a self-built console made of a watermelon, a screen and some buttons.
Cedrick Tan, a student from the Singapore Management University, has been tinkering with the project on YouTube which has led to him building his own version of Pokemon Emerald inside a fruit.
An avid creator, Tan’s long list of projects include turning a map into a blank canvas for augmented reality, finding a way to send messages to Telegram using Microsoft Excel, and building a playable Game Boy Advance inside a melon.
When asked about his project, Tan said: “When it came down to actually making the Melonboy, it happened to be really convenient seeing as the melon was very spacious on the inside allowing me to wire everything up with ease.”
The Game Boy emulator can then be loaded and run with the same software as the original game. Inside the scooped-out melon, a power bank, buttons, a 1.8-inch screen, loudspeakers are assembled.
According to Tan, the construction took about a month; though he blamed the time-length on a faulty device integral to the game boy. Without the problem, the watermelon-based console could have been finished in less than a week, he said.
“As an information systems student, I have no background in electrical engineering, so learning that from scratch took some time,” Tan recalled. The result is a working game console, complete with a Game Boy Advance emulator and a game controller.
But the best thing about Tan’s video is the public’s reaction to the watermelon game boy.
On a visit to the market, he played the game console surrounded by real watermelons, which provoked weird looks from passers-by.
Tan also recalled being quizzed about the device when he brought it into a train station.
A distressed SMRT staff asked him about the strange device, and after hearing his explanation, requested him to show it to her colleagues.
In addition, Tan said he also experienced another unforeseen problem where someone complained that he was carrying a watermelon bomb.
Tan also posted on Reddit about his clumsy contraption, where he received plenty of praise, inspiring him to build different versions in the future, including avocados and coconuts.
Unfortunately, Tan revealed that the watermelon had rotted just a few days after his YouTube video was uploaded.
However, Tan vowed to continue making his creations and could take on the challenge of turning the durian into a game that could be called StinkyBoy’s Pain Game.
Source article: https://chinapost.nownews.com/20200827-1697494