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Verizon, Apple Continue to Lobby Against Your 'Right to Repair'

A handful of states are pursuing so-called "right to repair" laws, which would make it easier for consumers to repair their own technology purchases and find replacement parts and tools. The proposals first originated of all places with John Deere tractor owners, who say the company's draconian restrictions placed on what owners can do with their tractors has made the cost of doing business significantly more expensive. But the push is increasingly popular among cellular phone and tablet owners, frustrated by rigid, costly repair monopolies.

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Third party phone repair shops say that phone makers like Apple and game console makers like Sony and Microsoft have effectively monopolized repair, using their size and power to drive smaller companies out of business.
Verizon and Apple have worked in union to thwart such bills in several states, but traditionally don't like to publicly talk about their lobbying on this front. They now have another state to worry about, with Washington State considering their own right to repair bill, created in the wake of outrage over Apple's decision to throttle the performance of older phones to (Apple insists) protect device integrity in the wake of failing battery performance.

"It was introduced before [the throttling] news broke, but that’s become something constituents and legislators have sunk their teeth into," Jeff Morris, the Washington representative who introduced the bill tells Motherboard. “They can say ‘this is what we’re talking about’ and point to this as the type of thing that is accelerating the demise of their technology so they have to buy the next model.”

After Apple confirmed it throttles the performance of older iPhones, the waitlist to have your phone replaced has been arguably absurd, something that could be easily fixed by opening the door to third-party repair shops, while simultaneously helping out small businesses.

14 different tech trade groups-- including the Consumer Technology Association, the CTIA, the Telecommunications Industry Association, the Computer Technology Industry Association, and the Entertainment Software Association--called the bill “unwarranted." AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile fund and dictate policy for at least two of those associations.

Apple has been notably obnoxious on this issue. When the company was trying to shoot down one such law in Nebraska, it attempted to claim that bringing more repair options to consumers would result in the state becomming a "mecca for hackers" and other "bad actors."

LG Electronics earns CES 2018

Best TV product honors for AI OLED TV
LG Electronics (LG) was honored with more than 90 awards at CES 2018, led by the Official CES Best TV Product Award for the fourth consecutive year, this time for the new LG AI OLED TV (model C8). LG also earned numerous best-of-show honors for the LG InstaViewThinQ Refrigerator and LG 4K UHD Projector.

LG’s 2018 innovations unveiled at CES include home appliances and home entertainment products with LG ThinQ AI including the first TVs with the Google Assistant built-in, most notably the LG SIGNATURE AI OLED TV W8 featuring ThinQ which won more than 10 awards at CES. The LG InstaViewThinQ Refrigerator followed in award wins, offering a streamlined food management system through LG’s webOS platform and Amazon Alexa integration that makes shopping for groceries, playing music, checking the weather, managing your calendar and more, simple. LG also debuted the revolutionary new α (Alpha) 9 intelligent processor that further enhances performance of its flagship LG AI OLED TVs and revealed the outstanding LG V30 smartphone in a brilliant new Raspberry Rose color.

Top awards earned by LG at CES 2018 include:

LG 4K UHD Projector: 9 to 5 Toys: Best of CES / Consumer Technology Association: 2018 CES Innovation Awards – Best of Innovation / TWICE: Top Picks Awards
For a complete list of LG’s CES 2018 awards and accolades and additional information visit www.LGnewsroom.com/ces2018.

VISIT

http://www.lg.com/ph

Your brain responses to music reveal if you're a musician or not

Brain areas best predicting musicianship. Red: left/right anterior cingulate gyrus; Green: right inferior frontal gyrus; Blue: right superior temporal gyrus; Gray: caudate nucleus, middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Jyväskylä
How your brain responds to music listening can reveal whether you have received musical training, according to new Nordic research conducted in Finland (University of Jyväskylä and AMI Center) and Denmark (Aarhus University).

By applying methods of computational music analysis and machine learning on brain imaging data collected during music listening, the researchers we able to predict with a significant accuracy whether the listeners were musicians or not. These results emphasize the striking impact of musical training on our neural responses to music to the extent of discriminating musicians' brains from non-musicians' brains despite other independent factors such as musical preference and familiarity.

The research also revealed that the brain areas that best predict musicianship exist predominantly in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain's right hemisphere. These findings conform to previous work on how the brain processes certain acoustic characteristics of music as well as intonation in speech. The paper was published on January 15 in the journal Scientific Reports.

The study utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain data collected by Professor Elvira Brattico's team at Aarhus University. The data was collected from 18 musicians and 18 non-musicians while they attentively listened to music of different genres. Computational algorithms were applied to extract musical features from the presented music.

"A novel feature of our approach was that, instead of relying on static representations of brain activity, we modelled how music is processed in the brain over time. Taking the temporal dynamics into account was found to improve the results remarkably," explains Pasi Saari, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Jyväskylä and the main author of the study.

As the last step of modelling, the researchers used machine learning to form a model that predicts musicianship from a combination of brain regions.

The machine learning model was able to predict the listeners' musicianship with 77 % accuracy, a result that is on a par with similar studies on participant classification with, for example, clinical populations of brain-damaged patients. The areas where music processing best predicted musicianship resided mostly in the right hemisphere, and included areas previously found to be associated with engagement and attention, processing of musical conventions, and processing of music-related sound features (e.g. pitch and tonality).

"These areas can be regarded as core structures in music processing which are most affected by intensive, lifelong musical training," states Iballa Burunat, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Jyväskylä and a co-author of the study.

In these areas, the processing of higher-level features such as tonality and pulse was the best predictor of musicianship, suggesting that musical training affects particularly the processing of these aspects of music.

"The novelty of our approach is the integration of computational acoustic feature extraction with functional neuroimaging measures, obtained in a realistic music-listening environment, and taking into account the dynamics of neural processing. It represents a significant contribution that complements recent brain-reading methods which decode participant information from brain activity in realistic conditions," concludes Petri Toiviainen, Academy Professor at the University of Jyväskylä and the senior author of the study.

The research was funded by the Academy of Finland and Danish National Research Foundation.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Jyväskylä. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Lamborghini considering hybridization of next Aventador

Image: Newspress/Lamborghini via AFP Relaxnews
Nobody needs to be a super-sleuth these days to guess the direction a motor manufacturer is going to be going in over the next few years. If it doesn’t have an SUV in its lineup it soon will have, and no matter what type of automaker it is, electrification is also going to figure in future plans.

Lamborghini has already gone down the SUV route with the stunning Urus, and it appears hybridization is next on the Italian supercar manufacturer’s list of things to do, possibly with a future version of the legendary Aventador.

Speaking to Motor Authority at the Detroit Auto Show last week, Lamborghini’s head of research and development, Maurizio Reggiani, said “we must decide what will be the future of the super sports car in terms of electric contribution.”

Some may assume the problem with developing an electrified powertrain for a car like the Aventador would be getting the kind of performance required for such a model, but the likes of the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 have shown performance isn’t an issue for hybrid supercars. No, the problem is the weight of batteries, which is a particular problem for the Aventador as it already weighs in at a whopping 1,853 kg. In fact, weight is already such an issue with the Aventador that even a dual-clutch gearbox, which would seem like a must-have for a next-generation Aventador, isn’t going to be approved until it justifies the extra weight it brings over the present single-clutch unit.

The Aventador already uses lightweight carbon-fiber for its bodywork, so the developers can’t drop a whole load of weight by changing what the car is made from.

Even so, it’s really just a matter of when rather than if hybridization comes to Lamborghini, and it’s much the same story with turbocharging. Reggiani has already admitted that turbos will get bolted on “sooner or later,” which Lamborghini’s commercial officer Federico Foschini also confirmed last year. The Urus will almost certainly be getting a hybrid powertrain soon, and a next-generation Huracan is likely to go hybrid in 2022.

As Euro 6 emissions aren’t getting less stringent anytime soon, it’s only a matter of time before the Lamborghini flagship has to adopt at least some level of electrification. JB

Decreases in Psychological Well-Being Among American Adolescents After 2012 and Links to Screen Time During the Rise of Smartphone Technology.

In nationally representative yearly surveys of United States 8th, 10th, and 12th graders 1991–2016 (N = 1.1 million), psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness) suddenly decreased after 2012. Adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on nonscreen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being. Adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest. Psychological well-being was lower in years when adolescents spent more time on screens and higher in years when they spent more time on nonscreen activities, with changes in activities generally preceding declines in well-being. Cyclical economic indicators such as unemployment were not significantly correlated with well-being, suggesting that the Great Recession was not the cause of the decrease in psychological well-being, which may instead be at least partially due to the rapid adoption of smartphones and the subsequent shift in adolescents’ time use. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

Marijuana Farms Expose Spotted Owls to Rat Poison in Northwest California

Northern spotted owl. (J. Mark Higley/Hoopa Tribal Forestry)

Quick Summary
70 percent of northern spotted owls and 40 percent of barred owls tested positive for poison
Issue expected to intensify with Proposition 64 recreational marijuana law in effect
Wildlife species are being exposed to high levels of rat poison in northwest California, with illegal marijuana farms the most likely source point, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis, with the California Academy of Sciences.

The study, released Jan. 11 in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology, showed that seven of the 10 northern spotted owls collected tested positive for rat poison, while 40 percent of 84 barred owls collected also tested positive for the poison.

[Press release of images, owl calls and study documents.]

The study is the first published account of anticoagulant rodenticide in northern spotted owls, which are listed as a threatened species under federal and state Endangered Species acts.

The study area encompasses Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties. It supports previous accounts that rat poison is contaminating the food web in this region, as the primary food source for owls — rodents — is being contaminated.

Timberland converting to marijuana farms
Mourad Gabriel
Lead author Mourad Gabriel is research faculty with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and director of nonprofit Integral Ecology Research Center. (Morgan Heim/Day’s Edge Productions)
Driving the issue is the increasing conversion of private timberland into private, illegal and unpermitted marijuana cultivation sites. These sites often overlap with designated critical habitat for northern spotted owls, and the owls feed at their edges.

“Spotted owls are inclined to feed along forest edges. Because grow sites break apart these forest landscapes, they are likely source points for exposure,” said lead author Mourad Gabriel, a research faculty member with the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center within the School of Veterinary Medicine’s One Health Institute. He’s also executive director of nonprofit Integral Ecology Research Center.

Gabriel’s studies in 2012, 2013 and 2015 were the first to link rat poison and illegal marijuana farms to the deaths of fishers, a weasel-like mammal living in remote forests of California and the Pacific Northwest, bringing broad attention to the issue.

Abundance of grow sites, lack of oversight
owl collection sitesProposition 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana in the state, took effect this month. With its arrival, resource managers expect the number and size of unpermitted, private cultivation sites to grow, which could exacerbate the problem.

The study authors note that an estimated 4,500 – 15,000 private cultivation sites are in Humboldt County alone, yet the county has seen legal permits for only a small fraction of them. That means there are thousands of unpermitted private grow sites with no management oversight.

“When you have thousands of unpermitted grows and only a handful of biologists that regulate that for multiple counties, we’re deeply concerned that there aren’t sufficient conservation protective measures in place,” Gabriel said. “If no one is investigating the level at which private marijuana cultivators are placing chemicals out there, the fragmented forest landscapes created by these sites can serve as source points of exposure for owls and other wildlife.”

Anticoagulant rodenticides inhibit the ability of mammals and birds to recycle vitamin K. This creates a series of clotting and coagulation problems, which can lead to uncontrollable internal bleeding.

Barred owls and added stressors
Barred owls are a physically larger group of owls currently competing for resources and space in critical habitat designated for northern spotted owls. Forty percent, or 34 of 84, of the barred owl tissue samples collected for this study tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticide. The owls are being exposed through the prey they eat.

Environmental contamination, when coupled with ongoing competition from barred owls, poses an additional stressor on northern spotted owls, the study said. The fact that barred owls are contaminated as well shows that the species may be used as potential surrogates for detecting these contaminants in northern spotted owls.

scientist with owl specimens
Jack Dumbacher with the owl collection at the California Academy of Sciences. (2017 California Academy of Sciences)
“Access to these owl specimens allows us to explore the health of the entire regional forest system,” says Jack Dumbacher, curator of Ornithology and Mammalogy at the California Academy of Sciences. “We’re using our collections to build a concrete scientific case for increased forest monitoring and species protection before it’s too late to intervene.”

This study’s researchers did not kill any owls for this study. Northern spotted owls were opportunistically collected when found dead in the field, while barred owl tissue samples were provided by outside investigators conducting an unrelated barred-owl project.

The necropsies for this study were conducted at the California Academy of Sciences and the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, which is part of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Additional co-authoring institutions include Green Diamond Resource Company, Hoopa Valley Tribe and Humboldt State University.

The study was funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata and Yreka California Field Offices.

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