posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
It's the tale of an extremely difficult, user-unfriendly game reaching untold heights of success. It's the story of a company that has remained committed to listening to and interacting with its fans even as it at has grown exponentially. More than anything, it's the story of two best friends who liked playing video games and decided one day to make their own. Riot is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, but to really know how one of the world's biggest development studios got started, you need to go back to Los Angeles in the early aughts. You need to find two University of Southern California business students who formed a bond unrelated to their studies. More than a hundred million people play League of Legends every month now. For a game as uninviting and complex as this, that's an absolutely astonishing number of people. It's also quite amazing to compare the early years of League to today, and see just how much the game has changed over the years. I don't think many people realise just how different today's League is to that of only a few years ago. I play League pretty much every day, as a great way to unwind after a day's work. I'm not always happy with every single change Riot implements - anyone remember the tank meta? - but when push comes to shove, I think the company is doing quite a good job of keeping League fresh with interesting new content, gameplay changes, and balance adjustments. They failed spectacularly in the area of communication these past few years, but they seem to have turned that ship around in the second half of this year, with more openness and better communication about the state of the game, their choices, and their reasoning - and, of course, they are finally fulfilling some long-standing player requests and their own promises.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project. Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren't public. I never quite understood why Apple was building a car when you look at the state of their software and their hardware (except for the iPhone's hardware). Fix that stuff first, before designing and building something that can actually quite easily kill people.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Yes, Siri can usually place a call or send a text. It can tell you sports standings, Yelp restaurant reviews and movie times - features Apple added years ago. And it must be said that all of its competitors have their own limitations and also make mistakes. But in its current incarnation, Siri is too limited and unreliable to be an effective weapon for Apple in the coming AI wars. It seems stagnant. Apple didn't become great by just following the data on what customers are doing today. It became great by delighting customers with feats they didn't expect. The AI revolution will demand that. 'Stagnant'? Seems to be the default state of Apple's software these days.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Ubuntu, the platform used in the majority of cloud deployments worldwide, today released version 16.10 with hybrid cloud operations, bare-metal cloud performance, the ability to lift-and-shift 80% of Linux VMs to machine containers, Kubernetes for world-leading process-container coordination, full container support in OpenStack, and telco-grade networking latency enhancements. ...this isn't really about the desktop anymore, is it?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Last week, I ragged on the Verizon models of the Google Pixel, so in the interest of fairness - here's Verizon and Google responding to the criticism levelled at the usual role carriers in the US play in delaying updates and adding tons of crapware. Verizon told Ars: First and foremost, all operating system and security updates to the Pixel devices will happen in partnership with Google. In other words, when Google releases an update, Verizon phones will receive the same update at the same time (much like iOS updates). Verizon will not stand in the way of any major updates and users will get all updates at the same time as Google. Also, the Verizon version of the Google Pixel is carrier unlocked, so you can use it where ever you like. Finally, we have three apps pre-installed on the phone Go90, My Verizon (which is your account management tool) and Verizon Messages (your messaging app). As you noted, all three can easily be uninstalled by the user. Google further confirmed that that updates will not be held back by Verizon. Google told Ars: OS updates and monthly security patches will be updated on all Pixel devices (Verizon and non-Verizon versions) simultaneously. That's excellent news.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Today, we're taking the wraps off of Android 7.1 Nougat, the latest version of the platform. You probably saw a sneak peek of it at last week's event. It's an incremental update based on Android 7.0 but includes new features for consumers and developers - from platform Daydream VR support and A/B system updates to app shortcuts and image keyboard support. The first developer preview will hit later this month.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Samsung Electronics Co. is ending production of its problematic Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, taking the drastic step of killing off a smartphone that became a major headache for the South Korean electronics maker. After halting sales of the new versions of the large-screen smartphone that failed to fix exploding batteries, Samsung finally pulled the plug on a key product that was supposed to compete with Apple Inc.'s iPhones and other high-end smartphones during the U.S. holiday shopping season. Production will stop, Samsung said in a statement Tuesday. The only right decision.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Remember Dash, which we talked about late last week? Apple released a press statement to its various blogger sites today, claiming: "Almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were detected across two accounts and 25 apps for this developer so we removed their apps and accounts from the App Store," Apple spokesperson, Tom Neumayr, said in a statement provided to The Loop on Monday. "Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful. We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, on behalf of all of our customers and developers." Case closed, right? Well... Not entirely. This was just Apple's word, without any proof, posted on blogs that often let themselves be used for saccharine Apple PR. Without any proof, how can we know Apple is telling the truth? Do we just believe them because... Because? The developer in question, Bogdan Popescu, quickly replied in a blog post, and his story is entirely different - and his story is backed up by recordings of telephone calls between him and Apple (which is legal in Romania). I'm not making this up. What I've done: 3-4 years ago I helped a relative get started by paying for her Apple's Developer Program Membership using my credit card. I also handed her test hardware that I no longer needed. From then on those accounts were linked in the eyes of Apple. Once that account was involved with review manipulation, my account was closed. I was not aware my account was linked to another until Apple contacted me Friday, 2 days after closing my account. I was never notified of any kind of wrongdoing before my account was terminated. What Apple has done: on Friday they told me they'd reactivate my account if I'd make a blog post admitting some wrongdoing. I told them I can't do that, because I did nothing wrong. On Saturday they told me that they are fine with me writing the truth about what happened, and that if I did that, my account would be restored. Saturday night I sent a blog post draft to Apple and have since waited for their approval. Tonight Apple decided to accuse me of manipulating the App Store in public via a spokesperson. The recorded phone calls leave nothing to the imagination - they do not line up with Apple's PR speak at all. In the recorded phone call, Apple admits that they never notified him at all, despite Apple's claims to the contrary. Then, they tried to coerce Popescu into publicly admitting wrongdoing - even though he did nothing wrong. After Popescu told Apple he was not going to do that, Apple tells him that he can tell the truth, but that Apple wants to approve the story before posting it. Popescu complies, sends in the story - and a few days later, Apple sends in its blogger army, by falsely accusing Popescu of manipulating App Store reviews. And the Apple blogger army - and large swaths of the Appel developer community, which I follow on Twitter - immediately crucified him, believing Apple's every word, without questioning them, even if Apple didn't offer any proof. Brian Gesiak's take says it all: "Good to know: if it's ever my word against Apple's, I know who the 'community' is going to trust." Maybe Apple's bloggers will learn a valuable lesson from this. Most likely, they will not.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE. This is the first release of the stable/11 branch. Some of the highlights: OpenSSH DSA key generation has been disabled by default. It is important to update OpenSSH keys prior to upgrading. Additionally, Protocol 1 support has been removed. OpenSSH has been updated to 7.2p2. Wireless support for 802.11n has been added. By default, the ifconfig(8) utility will set the default regulatory domain to FCC on wireless interfaces. As a result, newly created wireless interfaces with default settings will have less chance to violate country-specific regulations. The svnlite(1) utility has been updated to version 1.9.4. The libblacklist(3) library and applications have been ported from the NetBSD Project. Support for the AArch64 (arm64) architecture has been added. Native graphics support has been added to the bhyve(8) hypervisor. Broader wireless network driver support has been added. The release notes provide the in-depth look at the new release, and you can get it from the download page.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Samsung Electronics Co. has temporarily suspended production of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, an official at a supplier for Samsung said Monday, amid a series of media reports that some Note 7 replacements have caught fire. The halt is in cooperation with consumer safety regulators from South Korea, the United States and China, the official said on the condition of anonymity. It's high time regulators around the world initiate a deep investigation into this whole debacle. Samsung's behaviour has been inexcusable, and borders on gross negligence.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The end may be in sight for software patents - which have long been highly controversial in the tech industry - in the wake of a remarkable appeals court ruling that described such patents as a "deadweight loss on the nation's economy" and a threat to the First Amendment's free speech protections. There's so much good stuff in the actual ruling (I urge you to read the whole damn thing!) that I don't even know where to start, middle, and end. I think this is the best part? It is well past time to return software to its historical dwelling place in the domain of copyright. See Benson, 409 U.S. at 72 (citing a report from a presidential commission explaining that copyright is available to protect software and that software development had "undergone substantial and satisfactory growth" even without patent protection (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)); Oracle Am., Inc. v. Google Inc., 750 F.3d 1339, 1380 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (noting that "several commentators" have "argue[d] that the complex and expensive patent system is a terrible fit for the fast-moving software industry" and that copyright provides "[a] perfectly adequate means of protecting and rewarding software developers for their ingenuity" (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)); Peter S. Menell, An Analysis of the Scope of Copyright Protection for Application Programs, 41 Stan. L. Rev. 1045, 1076 (1989) (explaining that patents were historically "not seen as a viable option for the protection of most application program code" and that many software programs "simply do not manifest sufficient novelty or nonobviousness to merit patent protection"). Reading this gives me tinglies in my tummy. I have no idea about the level of importance of this decision, how many different appeals could wreck it, or even if it is very relevant to begin with - but my god is this an absolutely amazing read that echoes everything I and many, many other people have been saying about software patents for so many years now. Software need not have more protection than copyright on the written code itself. Anything beyond that is destructive.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Long before Linus Torvalds wrote Linux, Microsoft was the king of Unix world. The company, somehow, developed Xenix, the most popular version of Unix of its time. However, IBM's decision to go ahead with MS-DOS in its PCs acted as a death blow to Xenix and Microsoft lost interest in the OS. The article's light on details and content, but I figured it'd be an interesting excuse to ask if any of you ever used Xenix in any serious fashion. So, did any of you?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Monthly security updates will come from Google (for all models), and system updates will be managed by Verizon for Verizon models, and Google for unlocked models bought from Google Store. Pixels bought at Best Buy are the Verizon models, so system updates for those, too, will be managed by Verizon. Combined with the news that Verizon models will have a locked bootloader and come with Verizon crapware, it's pretty clear that Americans among us should really, really opt to buy the Pixel outright from the Google Store. Yes, that means higher upfront costs, but you'll have lower monthly expenses, proper updates, and an unlocked bootloader. Anybody with even an ounce of common sense should avoid Verizon Pixels like the plague.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
A big challenge in sharing digital information around the world is "tofu" - the blank boxes that appear when a computer or website isn't able to display text: ⯐. Tofu can create confusion, a breakdown in communication, and a poor user experience. Five years ago we set out to address this problem via the Noto - a.k.a. "No more tofu" - font project. Today, Google's open-source Noto font family provides a beautiful and consistent digital type for every symbol in the Unicode standard, covering more than 800 languages and 110,000 characters. A single font with a uniform style covering 110000 characters - this is quite impressive.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Earlier today, Apple cancelled my developer account and has removed Dash from the App Store. Dash is quite a popular application from a lauded developer, Bogdan Popescu, and yesterday, when he broke the news, he had no idea what the reasoning was. Other famous Apple developers expressed their worries, and now we have an update from Popescu, with Apple's explanation: Apple contacted me and told me they found evidence of App Store review manipulation. This is something I've never done. Apple's decision is final and can’t be appealed. I can't update Dash for iOS anymore and I can't distribute it outside of the App Store. Dash for macOS will continue to be supported outside of the App Store. If you purchased Dash on the Mac App Store, you should migrate your license as soon as possible. At the moment you are not able to download Dash from your App Store's Purchases tab anymore, so if you lose access to your currently activated version of Dash you won't be able to migrate your license anymore. Apple has pretty much nuked his entire account from orbit. Even people who own Dash can no longer install it from the Mac App Store - they'll have to migrate their license. Dash for iOS can't be distributed this way, of course, and is pretty much done. Dash is quite a popular tool among Apple developers, and it seems incredibly unlikely that its developer would need to resort to manipulate App Store reviews, but obviously, none of us know the whole story. For all we know, a competitor manipulated the reviews. In any event, all this - again, sadly - illustrates what I've been saying for years: building your business atop Apple's iOS or Mac App Store is a terrible business decision. You are completely and fully at Apple's whim, and while you may have some recourse if you're favoured by Apple's popular bloggers who can bring your case to the limelight, if you're not... Well, too bad for you.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Google, of Android operating system fame, released its first Pixel smartphones Tuesday to replace its Nexus lineup. HTC has been selected to assemble the device, becoming for Google what Foxconn is to Apple. "Google has done the design work and a lot of the engineering," the Mountain View-based company's hardware chief Rick Osterloh told Bloomberg News. Ouch! That's gotta hurt. After spending years building its design and engineering chops, HTC has been demoted to water boy. Supplying Google with smartphones isn't a victory -- it's an embarrassing end to HTC's decade-long campaign to break out of that contract-manufacturing business and stand on its own two feet. Sure, sure, I see your point - or, and bear with me here, because this might shock you, but maybe, just maybe, being a manufacturer of someone else's phones might actually be a more stable, more profitable, and wiser business decision in the long term.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
We've seen Google put out job listings for a position that would indicate they wanted to create custom chips, and we have even seen this backed up by additional reports as well. We received confirmation that Google is indeed building custom silicon, but we aren't told the extent to which Google will customize their own chips (whether it will be custom a CPU, GPU or both). At least we get an idea as to what Google is working on. Google is taking this Pixel endeavour quite seriously.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers' incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter. The company complied with a classified U.S. government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events. Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to a spy agency's demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time. Ars Technica contacted various technology companies to ask them if they were ever subjected to the same FBI demands: A spokeswoman for Microsoft, Kim Kurseman, e-mailed Ars this statement, and also declined further questions: “We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo.” For its part, Google was the most unequivocal. Spokesman Aaron Stein e-mailed: "We've never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: 'no way.'"

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
PDFium is the Google open-source project for PDF support in Google Chrome. PDFium was previously closed-source based upon Foxit PDF technology while now it's been fully open-source since 2014. The Pepper API Flash implementation is also what's used by Google's Chrome web-browser. By switching to the PAPI-based Flash, Firefox would be able to finish getting rid of their NPAPI support with the Firefox Flash support still relying upon it with Shumway and other projects not panning out.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Google unveiled a whole slew of new hardware products today, most notably its Pixel phones. You already know all the specifications and how it looks, so I won't bore you with the specifications details. Two good points about the Pixel phones: they come with easy on-device access to 24/7 phone and chat support with real Google people (...but what if it doesn't boot?), and it has a supposedly really great camera with no bump. The bad news about the Pixel? The pricing. Oh boy the pricing. The small Pixel costs a whopping €759, the bigger Pixel costs €869 (German pricing). That's absolutely crazytown, and I simply don't know if the Google brand has what it takes, hardware-wise, to go toe-to-toe with Samsung and Apple. More bad news: it's barely available anywhere. It's only available in the few markets where iOS is really strong (US, UK, Canada, Australia), and Germany, but nowhere else. Not in the rest of mainland Europe (an Android stronghold), not in Japan, not in China, not in South America (another Android stronghold). As a Dutch person, this is especially grating because virtually all of these goods are shipped to Europe from the port of Rotterdam, where they lie in warehouses before being shipped off. But not to The Netherlands. Anyhow, I just find it perplexing that in 2016, product launches are still nation state-restricted. Honestly though, I like the Pixel phones. I was a little apprehensive when looking at the leaks, but with the higher-quality announcements, product videos, and hands-on photos and videos coming out, it's starting to grow on me. I definitely would have liked a more outspoken design, but then I remember that the best modern smartphone I've ever had was my beloved, cherished Nexus 5 - not exactly a beacon of extravagance - which just feels great in the hand, mostly thanks to the excellent type of plastic used on the orange-red model I have, but also thanks to its unassuming, generic shape. Maybe I don't know what I want. I deeply dislike the design of my pink iPhone 6S (except for the pink, of course, that's still awesome), but at the same time, it feels pretty great in the hand, so I can't really fault Apple or Google or Samsung sticking to the generic, default shape we've settled on. The same applies to my current phone - a Nexus 6P - which is a pretty 'safe' design, too. Google also unveiled - again - Google Home, its Alexa competitor, and an updated version of ChromeCast, which can now stream 4K video. They also demonstrated the first Daydream VR headset, which uses a Google Pixel - or any other future Daydream-compatible Android phone - as its display. Tying all of these devices together is Google Assistant, a souped-up Google Now with a conversational interface. It's difficult to say how useful Google Assistant will be beyond the staged demos. Like the Pixel, these devices are only available to a very small group of people - the US, mostly - save for the new ChromeCast. So, why is Google getting into the hardware game for real this time? That's why today Google is unveiling an entire, interconnected hardware ecosystem: two phones, an intelligent speaker, a VR headset, a Wi-Fi router, and a media-streaming dongle. And the most important parts of that ecosystem - the Pixel phone and Google Home speaker - exist to be the ideal vessels for the Google Assistant. The rest of the products fill out Google's ecosystem, but are also enhanced by Google's cloud-based intelligence. In making its own hardware, Google is pitting itself against Apple for the first time, Google phone vs. iPhone. Those are very high stakes, with very little margin for error. So it looks like Google decided to follow a simple dictum: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. I'd like to add something to that dictum: you have to make sure people can actually buy your stuff. Google has a lot of work to do on that one.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
On Saturday, the U.S. government plans to cede control of some of the internet's core systemsâ€"namely, the directories that help web browsers and apps know where to find the latest weather, maps and Facebook musings. The U.S. has been in charge of these systems for more than three decades; plans to transfer control of these functions to a nonprofit oversight organization have been in the works since the late 1990s. Some Republicans in Congress raised late objections over the transfer, which they termed a "giveaway" to the rest of the world. But they failed to block the move in a spending bill to keep the government operating. Here's a look at the systems in question and what's at stake for internet users.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
So how do the Atari ST sales and marketshare actually stack up? According to research by Reimer, who gathered his figures from various annual reports, International Data Corp (IDC) forecasts, Gartner Dataquest research, as well as a few magazine articles from the 1980s (most of which have gone dark online since originally compiled, unfortunately). The numbers were pretty grim for both platforms when looking at the larger overall marketshare picture.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Recent additions to MenuetOS include SMP support for up to 32 processors, support for 32GB RAM, support for time-critical, non-preempting processes, additions to window transparency, improved USB webcam and storage support, context-mixing compressor, WebCall (IP to IP with audio and video), streaming audio (internet radio) and video support - all written 100% in 64bit x86 assembly.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Tomorrow, Google will unveil two new phones, and for the first time, they won't be Nexus devices. So much has been leaked now that we know pretty much everything there is to know about these Pixel phones. With every Android manufacturer except Samsung in a death spiral, while Samsung's phones are having 'issues', it makes sense for Google to try and assert more control over what used to be the Nexus line. The result will be devices carrying Google's own Pixel brand. One aspect of the rumours and leaks that caught my attention was this bit: Making two high-end phones with all the bells and whistles, just as ready for the future as they are today is a step in the right direction. Buying billboards and commercial space during sports events so people know you're doing it is another step. Speculation about having a well-trained support staff that you can reach anytime from anywhere through the phone's settings points to yet another. If Google builds a better mousetrap and makes sure everyone knows they built a better mousetrap, the world may beat a path to their door. If Google is really going to pursue a serious effort to expand the Nexus (okay, Pixel) appeal beyond us nerds, it's going to need more than billboards in New York. It's going to need these phones to be front and centre with carriers, smartphone stores, and online stores. It's going to need an aggressive marketing campaign to capture the attention of people who would otherwise just opt for an iPhone or Galaxy, and explain to them why they should abandon the two major brands they know. Most of all, though, Google is going to need a support structure for these phones. For reasons that are still unclear to me, my Nexus 6P is not receiving its monthly security patches anymore, and I have no idea why. Sure, I can figure it out by browsing or posting on XDA or diving deep into my phone's software (and I will), but I'm a nerd, so set those options aside for a moment - where would I go with an issue like this? Who would I contact for help? Can I walk into a Google Store or whatever and get some sanctioned support for this issue? The answer is - as with anything related to Google and support - a firm and resounding 'no'. If Google really wants to take its Pixel phones to the masses, it's going to need a sales and support structure that goes well beyond store.google.com and XDA.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
How often have you taken a gadget or a pair of shoes in for repair and found out that fixing it will cost more than buying a new version? Too often, that's how often. And Sweden is trying to fix this, by halving the tax paid on repairs and increasing taxes on unrepairable items. The new proposals come from the ruling coalition of the Social Democrat and Green parties, and, if successfully enacted, would be accompanied by a publicity campaign to encourage Swedes to repair products instead of replacing them. I am a proponent of this, and feel like we should push especially electronics companies much harder to release information about parts, repairs, diagnostics, and so on, to ensure that consumers are not at the whims of the Apples and Samsungs of this world when it comes to defective products. In response to cars becoming ever more complex, lawmakers all across the United States and Europe started proposing and passing bills to ensure that independent repairs shops and dealers would have access to the same kind of information that first-party dealers get or to make sure that vehicle warranties were not voided simply because you brought your car to a third-party repair shop. We should strive for similar laws for electronics. Much like cars, if your smartphone is broken, you should be able to bring it into any repair shop to have it fixed, by forcing electronics companies, like car manufacturers, to release repair, parts, and diagnostics information, without said repair voiding any warranties. I see no reason why electronics companies should enjoy special status.

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