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Decoding the Inscrutable Logos On Your Electronics

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the be-sure-to-drink-your-ovaltine dept.

Hardware 140

jfruhlinger writes "If you've bought a piece of electronic equipment — a computer, a printer, even a lowly power supply — you've no doubt noticed a host of inscrutable logos festooned all over it — UL, CE, FCC, TUV, RoHS, ENERGY STAR, and the like. What do they mean? Each of these compliance marks tell a story about your gadget's operation or lifecycle, and knowing what they mean can let you in on the hidden life of the gizmos you buy."

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140 comments

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But only if... (2)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535978)

They're stamped on there legitimately.

For a while there, you couldn't go a week without seeing one story or another about some "UL certified" device blowing up... because the UL stamp was fake.

Re:But only if... (2)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536142)

The devices didn't blow up because the UL stamp was fake. They blew up because they were cheaply built pieces of crap.

The fake testing agency stamps were just the icing on the cake.

Re:But only if... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536238)

The devices didn't blow up because the UL stamp was fake. They blew up because they were cheaply built pieces of crap.

The fake testing agency stamps were just the icing on the cake.

Quite an interesting bit on the BBC a few weeks back (I'm sure it's in their archives) on "innovation" in China - Once a company has made a product on contract they would retain some of that technology to make extra runs of the product - even going so far as to brazenly and proudly show their knock-offs at trade shows, completely overlooking the matters of copyrights and patents.

I recently acquired a set of Syma S107 helicopters (which are a ton of fun) and while reading a little bit more on them found there are loads of knock-offs - product, packaging, manual and accessories all copied. That's a heck of an effort just to make a duplicate. Faking CE, FCC or UL stamps isn't even icing on the cake, it's testament to their attention to detail when making a copy.

Re:But only if... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537166)

How much would it interest you to know that the Syma S107 is itself a blatant rip off a product that came before? Or that at this point in the timeline, it's utterly impossible to figure out who actually engineered these things in the first place.

I have a small collection of these heli's as a result of my product research for my webstore. At least 12 different brand names, but only 7 different models. The other 5 are exact copies, with the only changes being stickers/paint/dye.

Even more interesting, the best ones are the most ignored in the greater market. Such as the pico Z. Which is one of the few models of these toys that use a single rotor blade setup, instead of the counter-rotating system that most of them use. The pico Z is interesting because it's obviously an effort to shrink 3D R/C helicopters. They cut a lot out, but in principle the Pico is a micro sized version of it's larger cousins. It has a gyro, it uses a single rotor, it has a full tail rotor and automatic collective mixing (this is a result of the ESC). The down side being that it has no attitude control as a 3d heli would have, so it always flys forward and it's less controllable than the counter-rotating dual rotors, because those kind can hover, where the Pico can't (not really).

Anyway, back on topic - it's my experience (I buy a lot of wholesale from China) that most companies could not possibly care any less about Intellectual property, and only slightly more than that about contractual obligations. As it turns out, if you can find a product you want, and they don't make it , they will go steal the design, the dies and process from someone that has it. Then they'll build the widget for you, at .01c less than the other guy. This sounds like a joke, or bullshit, but I'm not even remotely kidding. I tried to get into Airsoft (legal reasons in the US make it hard). The manufacturer I was working with is a big brand name in the field. As part of my investigations, I went to a trade expo, and as soon as I told anyone I wanted Airsoft, they said "who's?" Turns out they weren't kidding either. I asked for "cheap" copies of all the top lines, and got them. Right down to the misspelled Grock.

Re:But only if... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537730)

Indeed some of the electronic knock-offs are incredible but I have tried knock-off iphones and they were crap. It didn't help that they were iphone clones, but they weren't very responsive and crashed a lot. I bought a lot of clothes from china with a namebrand stamped right on it and these along with the iphone clone can be purchased online and not through a shady dealer but anyway... the clothes often have sewing errors and you can tell when it's a new child replacing an old one because the sleeve pattern should be black white black not black black white. I mean seriously, can't they be more disciplined? I paid good money for these knock-offs.

Re:But only if... (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538410)

The devices didn't blow up because the UL stamp was fake. They blew up because they were cheaply built pieces of crap.

The fake testing agency stamps were just the icing on the cake.

Are you sure it wasn't UL exacting revenge for stamping a fake logo onto the product?

Re:But only if... (3, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536188)

If a regulatory standard does not have a publicly accessible database to confirm conformance, it is useless.

This includes the worst such standard of all: the self-certified. See also Ethernet over powerline, RFI and Ofcom.

Re:But only if... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537160)

If a regulatory standard does not have a publicly accessible database to confirm conformance, it is useless.

This includes the worst such standard of all: the self-certified. See also Ethernet over powerline, RFI and Ofcom.

TUV has an online accessible database: http://www.tuvdotcom.com/ [tuvdotcom.com]

You just type in the certificate number (which is a tiny print under the triangle logo) and you can find everything about the test procedures and even see the signatures of the people responsible for the test.

Disclaimer: I work in TUV.

Re:But only if... (2)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537198)

yep, lots of tp-link routers from a major geek-from-an-egg online retailer that have fcc codes that don't match the fcc licensing database [fcc.gov] . They work more reliably in my experience than the "cisco" home wireless routers do though. I guess the regulatory body labels don't mean much whether they are fake or real anymore. *shrug*

Re:But only if... (3, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536434)

Hardly. Getting UL certification, or CSA certification is stupidly easy. It all comes down to manufacturing and the quality of it and why 'shit blows up'. An example, back when I was working at a plant that made medium and heavy industrial equipment for the disposal of components of ICBM's, we had everything CSA and UL tested. This test involved a disclosure of the electrical device and how it worked. The CSA certification was similar. This was followed with a POTS test and we could slap the label on.

Besides that we also shipped this stuff to europe, and it had to be electrically certified for Germany, France, and Belgium. At least the wiring codes were easy. I always did like their rubberized 'soft' wiring vs the hardcoat we used here.

Re:But only if... (1)

BBF_BBF (812493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537366)

Getting UL or CSA certification says NOTHING about the quality of the device. It's all about electrical safety.

Basically, a certification means that a device won't catch fire if it shorts out and won't electrocute the crap out of you in certain short circuit cases.
Plus the manufacturer submits all units for test, so it's up the manufacturer to ensure that "production" units are identical to the ones submitted for testing.

Re:But only if... (3, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537570)

No, tuffer than that.

Dielectric strength is tested; mains separation from consumer touchable parts are tested; holes can't be big enough to stick a small screwdriver or knife into (something that conducts more than .25") into the chassis, and so on. Yes, electrical safety, but beyond first article inspection, there's a long list of details to keep an object "safe" for consumers so that liability can be reduced, and insurance costs go down.

Re:But only if... (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538102)

This can still be done with plenty of lip service. Just like building that's done to minimum code requirements is often a crappy place to live, designs done to minimum standard requirements usually suck.

Re:But only if... (3, Interesting)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538212)

"holes can't be big enough to stick a small screwdriver or knife into (something that conducts more than .25") into the chassis"

That only applies if you're going for an Ingress Protection rating.

Disclaimer: I make dust and water-proof lighting solutions. I have to pass this with every single product revision I make for commercial use.

Re:But only if... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537790)

Yeah I wasn't exactly clear in my first two sentence. But I have been awake for nearly 30hrs so I promise NOTHING! HAHAHA!

Re:But only if... (1)

jollygreengiantlikes (701640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537952)

You're glossing over an abundance of detail on UL/CSA listing.

I work for a company that manufactures industrial particulate moisture sensors. Due to the location these are commonly installed in, we have been required to jump through a number of hoops (HazLoc classifications, etc) without first being told what hoops we'd have to be jumping through. (Perhaps this is easier at a larger company where there are personnel dedicated to reading the tomes of standards - literally 1000's of pages which cost $$$$). After two go-arounds with UL at ~$10,000 each and no communication other than "Your device does not meet applicable standards" we've shelved the process.

If you've got the inside track for maneuvering, I'd love to hear about it.

Re:But only if... (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538110)

You're doing it wrong. Get in touch with a company that does consulting, contract with someone who has done hundreds of those devices. For $10k extra you'll pass. BTDT.

Still a cost problem for low-volume electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538458)

If your equipment is manufactured in large volumes, or even small volumes if it's large expensive heavy machinery, the cost of testing isn't a problem. But if you're making a small volume of fancy technology, and changing designs a couple of times a year until everything's really stable, UL testing can apparently be annoyingly expensive, so maybe you'll end up using UL-tested power supplies but not certifying the whole design.

And a lot of equipment doesn't bother with NEMA certification, which is a stricter set of rules for use in places like computer hosting centers. Fortunately, more and more network equipment is moving from purpose-built hardware to virtual machine appliances you can run on certified PC server hardware.

Re:But only if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538542)

the disposal of components of ICBM's

That would be *most* of the ICBM, wouldn't it?

Re:But only if... (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536930)

UL doesn't exactly staff itself with the best and the brightest, either. It's all about extracting as much revenue as possible from every company in an end-product's supply chain, while ultimately giving enough approvals to keep the companies from going to a competing service like CSA or TUV.

Re:But only if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537070)

hahaha you might want to take a look at everyone else before you say "UL is bad".

FM, CSA, TUV are bottom of the barrel when it comes to engineers and quality. UL is the highest quality but also the most expensive. That's how they are, on purpose.

Re:But only if... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538222)

UL sucks horribly and half of them were 100% incapable of understanding my device or how it works.

CE certification is superior and the Europeans actually have an education.

New section: "Tell Slashdot" (4, Insightful)

Bongoots (795869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535980)

I'll just move on, because I can't see anything here. If I wanted to know this I would've gone to Wikipedia.

Somehow I thought this was a news site (maybe it says something about that in the tagline?), but I must have been mistaken. Silly me.

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (1)

Plombo (1914028) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536172)

I wish you hadn't been modded down, because you have a valid point.

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536264)

yes, because everyone had the same interested and level of experiences as you do~

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (1)

Bongoots (795869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536310)

If I wanted stuff that didn't matter, I would go to Digg.

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538236)

Quit assuming everyone knows everything, douchebag.

Not every geek understands what these things mean and may indeed be QUITE interested in learning about it. After all, it *DOES* deal with technology, which is something nerds quite enjoy.

Maybe you should go to Digg and stay there. Or maybe 4chan's /g/ board might be more appropriate for you, given your apparent lack of cognitive ability.

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536322)

This is what I'm hearing you say: "This article looks like shit! It's crap! Seriously, look!"

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536360)

Oh my GOD! I totally saved myself a few seconds on reading this page - could you go through the entire Internets and tell me every page that you don't like, don't agree with, and wouldn't bother to read; but comment on anyway? Thank you, I want to be better informed.

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (1)

Bongoots (795869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536400)

Wow. Thankyou AC for the whoosh sound I just heard.

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (1)

Legal.Troll (2002574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536478)

Concur, file this under "basic understanding of how the world works".

If you've never seen one of these logos and been curious enough to discover their meaning on your own, do you really care enough to read this story?

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536480)

/. long moved from being a news site for nerds to a tech site for people who don't have a fucking clue years ago.

Re:New section: "Tell Slashdot" (3, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536534)

It would have been nice if they had a chart showing the logos and explaining them. Yes, we get it, most of those are there as proof of passing certification... but which ones mean what?

TFA total mess (5, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535994)

TFA is a convoluted mess of industry jargon and useless information.

A useful article would involve the icons themselves and what they mean.

Re:TFA total mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536038)

It's not on Slashdot because it's useful, it's because it's an infoworld article. They give baksheesh to the editors or something.

Re:TFA total mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536242)

One (in the know) would expect no less than a confused piece of crap from an "IT" publication's article on an Electronics subject.

Re:TFA total mess (2)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536460)

An even more useful article would explain the difference between what they are supposed to mean (generally that the item complies with the requirements of a standards body), and what they actually mean (generally that a standards body has mandated that all items of this type have their logo on it), and what they mean in practice (in my experience, that the vendor told the manufacturer they were worried about the lack of sufficient impenetrable logos).

If the article was really, really useful, it would dispel some of the myths that surround these logos - I've dealt with several small businesses who believe that the C E mark is a meaningless advert for the European Union that must appear on every part of every object in Europe, or the gnomes of Zurich will wreak unspecified havoc on them.

Re:TFA total mess (5, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536740)

Here's your useful article [anarchius.org] .

Re:TFA total mess (4, Insightful)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536898)

This is why, on /., you read comments and not TFS/TFA. Thank you.

Re:TFA total mess (1)

formation (2241238) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538374)

Check to see if your Company name is available http://bit.ly/m2IHF4 [bit.ly]

Re:TFA total mess (1)

dlgeek (1065796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538448)

I was going to mod you up, but you're already at +5, so let me just say THANK YOU. *THIS* is what I was expecting from TFA, sadly it was lacking.

Re:TFA total mess (1)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538180)

I clicked through the article looking for the slick USA Today-like info graphic. Ah yes...there's nothing like an all-text article on icons. Maybe the editors should reject submissions where the link starts with "gopher://".

Was it just me (2)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536006)

Was it just me or did the story actually say almost nothing. I was expecting a list of the syllables and what they meant.

Re:Was it just me (2)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536176)

There's a lot more to RoHS than "states that specified substances aren't present." I could write a whole article on that one alone. Oh, gee, somebody has: Wikipedia! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Was it just me (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536854)

You're right, especially the irony of RoHS trying to be better for the environment when RoHS-compliant gadgets are actually junked quicker and with greater frequency because RoHS solder joints are brittle shit. Red Ring of Death anyone?

Take a look at the wiki link you posted. I love how the "Hazardous materials and the high-tech trash problem" section is right above the "Life-cycle impact assessment of lead-free solder" section. So we're giving the poor people much more garbage to wade through, but at least it's better for their health.

Re:Was it just me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536516)

was/it/just/me/or/did/the/sto/ry/ac/tu/al/ly/say/al/most/noth/ing/I/was/ex/pec/ting/a/list/of/the/syl/la/bles/and/what/they/meant

Syllable n. - a unit of spoken language that is next bigger than a speech sound and consists of one or more vowel sounds alone or of a syllabic consonant alone or of either with one or more consonant sounds preceding or following.

Free windows ..... (2)

ELCouz (1338259) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536014)

Showing your product key on Slashdot is not a good idea !!!

Re:Free windows ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536164)

Yeah, because otherwise it would be oh so hard to install Windows. Not that anyone smart enough to notice, would want to install it in the first place. ^^

Also, PROTIP: Information (and that includes data, and so, software) is always free. No matter what the MAFIAA tells you. You don't have to trust me on that, and you should not need to trust anyone on that. You can check the physics of it for yourself: Can Microsoft control if I'm going to install Windows here? As long as anyone else they can't control has a copy of it... and as long as they can't control me... according to the laws of physics... no. :)

Re:Free windows ..... (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536178)

Actually, /. is an reasonably safe place to let Windows 7 codes fly.

Re:Free windows ..... (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536196)

He's right. Front page of the article. Article is a trap BTW, mostly wordiness with some acronyms. Sorry Daniel P. Dern, but whaaaaaaaa?

Windows 7 Home Premium
JYR76-C9WTK-T8G7R-4V9D7-TY32J

And this generic fodder:

Other certification marks confirm that the device has been tested in terms of radio-frequency (RF) and electromagnetic interference (EMI). This includes ensuring that RF from cell phones, WiFI routers, microwave ovens, cordless phones, etc. won't interfere with the device's operation. Similarly, devices have to be tested to make sure they aren't emitting a too-high level of RF that could interfere with another device (like airplane navigation, or a heart monitor). Any device with a "radio" (including WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular, WiMAX) emits RF, of course -- and just about anything with a microprocessor can be an "unintentional RF radiator."

Was this written for People or was this written for folks in IT?

Re:Free windows ..... (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536746)

JYR76-C9WTK-T8G7R-4V9D7-TY32J

Ha. Sounds like a good tag for this story.

Tagged: JYR76C9WTKT8G7R4V9D7TY32J

It's exactly what it is... (0)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536048)

A series of "standards" designed to keep groups of people employed while producing more "standards" that contributes nothing to human civilization.

Re:It's exactly what it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536150)

You must be in puberty. Without standards, you would not be here.

Re:It's exactly what it is... (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536776)

A series of "standards" designed to keep groups of people employed while producing more "standards" that contributes nothing to human civilization.

See also ITIL.

"hidden" (4, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536096)

knowing what they mean can let you in on the hidden life of the gizmos you buy

They tell you when you buy them.

Don't feed them after midnight.
Keep them away from water.
Avoid sunlight.

Thought that was common knowledge.

Re:"hidden" (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536758)

knowing what they mean can let you in on the hidden life of the gizmos you buy

They tell you when you buy them.

Don't feed them after midnight. Keep them away from water. Avoid sunlight.

Thought that was common knowledge.

<pedantic_mode>These go for all mogwai, not only Gizmo [youtube.com] .</pedantic_mode>

Re:"hidden" (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537178)

Isn't the fact that you bothered to create and close tags about being pendantic indicative of an extra level of pedantic behavior? :)

RoHS (3, Insightful)

Scott Kevill (1080991) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536152)

Rodents of Hunusual Size. I don't believe they exist.

Re:RoHS (1)

GrBear (63712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537748)

It's "Rodents of Human Size", and they're know to gravitate toward politics.

Windows Key (3, Informative)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536200)

Does this guy realize that he just published his windows 7 product key?

Re:Windows Key (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536420)

haven't spend much time figuring out how the win7 licensing work but, isn't the oem licenses with computers from
"the big guys" locked to specific hardware etc. So that key will only work for a lenovo pc and unless you call ms
that specific lenovo pc?

Re:Windows Key (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536560)

Simple answer no. Long answer nooooo. Since the key information is stored either in the bios or in the first part of the boot drive, you can pretty much soft-hack it in if you understand the basics of how a PC works.

Re:Windows Key (1)

masteroffm (1026700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536634)

the system restore discs typically install a pre-activated copy of windows using a generic key and they are locked to a specific hardware configuration. the OEM key itself can be used to install windows on any computer if you have the generic installation media (like you get when you buy an OEM copy). also with Windows 7 there is no difference between OEM, Upgrade, or Retail discs. Previously with XP you couldn't install using Upgrade media with an OEM key. with Windows 7 the license type is solely dependent on the key. You can even make install media that will install any version of windows (Home, Pro, Ultimate) from an existing install disc. as far as activating goes though a web activation may fail, but a phone activation should work just fine (not that I am saying from experience or anything).

Re:Windows Key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538114)

Damn you sir, I had no intention of R'ing TFA until you mention'd this salient fact....

Where did they get this article? Demand Media? (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536230)

Crap article. You'd think there would be a picture of all the logos on something, followed by a close-up picture of each logo and its explanation . But no. It's pure did not do the research. [tvtropes.org]

This looks like Demand Media content for a made-for-Adsense page. Probably paid the author about $10.

Wanted the real story behind the marks (0)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536232)

LIke UL: Overpriced for its safety testing; you can get a CE certification for less. Or Energy Star: Let's you waste energy as long as you don't waste it in certain ways.

Use your decoder ring (2, Insightful)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536240)

Decoding the Inscrutable Logos On Your Electronics

Mine says "Don't forget to drink your ovaltine."

Re:Use your decoder ring (1)

bigwillystylie (261466) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536316)

Burma Shave

I am okay with that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536562)

Mine says "Don't forget to drink your ovaltine."

As long as we're not talking about Drinking the Kool-Aid.

Misread title? (2)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536282)

Am I the only one who read the title as "Decoding the Inscrutable Legos On Your Electronics"?

Re:Misread title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537028)

No, I saw that too. How did they know?

Re:Misread title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537158)

Yes, as most of us read "Decoding the Instructable Legos On Your Electronics"

I think the lego let down was due to capitalizing every word in the title except for "the" which doesn't really make any sense.

Re:Misread title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537668)

I actually read it as "Decoding the Indestructible Logos On You Electronic" and wondered what kind of new super logos they were talking about.

Decoded? NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536284)

This article says exactly nothing, wtf. Nothing is decoded. Is it too much to just put each logo on a sheet and what it certifies and ACTUALLY decode the symbols for the rest of us?

Kosher? (2)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536286)

Where's the Kosher electronics?

Re:Kosher? (1)

ELCouz (1338259) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538208)

... it won't be applied to any bacon cooking machine :)

Compliance (2)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536350)

The article is interesting and has a fair point. I have worked at three companies now where compliance was very much an afterthought and was charged at each company to get them over the line before the items went to market. Luckily I have been able to make various combinations of hardware and firmware meet C-Tick (CISPR21/22), A-Tick (S-001/2/3/4), IP-52, EN60950 etc.) with judicious application of capacitors to ground, sticky metal foil, clip on ferrites and firmware corrections. On the other hand, hardware I have designed has considered these things first up an resulted in quick testing and no revisits to the test labs. You software types have no idea! Making sure your SELV and hazardous voltage clearances right first time will save very expensive rework and restesting.

Re:Compliance (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538138)

So you're saying there are idiots out there who do PCB layout without having all that put down in design rules that get automatically checked? WTF?! When I do layout, I first check what limits are placed by the board maker and assembly house, then applicable standards and good engineering practice, then everything gets put into the DRC rule set. From that point onwards it's easy sailing.

Article sucks (3, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536388)

Even Wikipedia has better info than that paid article :P

UL: Underwriters Lab - a safety testing outfit
CE: Conformité Européenne (french) - Europe's equivalent of the UL
TUV: Technischer Überwachungsverein - German safety org like the above two
FCC: Federal Communications Commission - they license, test and certify radio equipment (cell phones, wifi, etc)
RoHS: Restriction of Hazardous Substances - a European law restricting hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and a few others
ENERGY STAR: A set of energy efficiency standards primarily featured in the US, British Commonwealth nations, and parts of Europe. They are typically much stricter than national requirements.

At the end of the day though, most of these are just marketing stickers. Yes, they require some degree of certification, but it's kind of like getting your MCSE or A+. Not having the cert does not necessarily mean your device will blow up or pop breakers, it just means the mfg didn't pay their fee to get certified. For big mainstream appliances it's kind of dumb to not have it, but on most smaller gadgets it's a non-issue.

Re:Article sucks (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536640)

>For big mainstream appliances it's kind of dumb to not have it, but on most smaller gadgets it's a non-issue.

Until it sets on fire and:

  - Insurance refuses to pay up for the damage
  - You lose your home due to the above
  - The electrical supplier sues you for connecting non-compliant devices to their power grid

It is against code in most places to use devices that didn't pass recognized safety standards (your relevant government will have a list of recognized testing labs they can provide you with). That means it is illegal to connect the device to the public utilities and therefore not covered by your insurance.

The same thing can apply to devices that aren't tested for compliance with wireless coverage standards, too. Think ICES, DOC, IC, FCC, whoever does it in your area. In that case, the device doesn't set on fire. Instead, a white van comes to arrest you and you get to pay the government money (lots in most cases).

Re:Article sucks (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536954)

Except that:

- The insurance company doesn't care. I know my policy doesn't have any exclusions for nonstandard devices.
- You lose your home from the fire, the insurance company WILL build you a new one unless they actually put an exclusion in your policy. And the "approved" devices start fires too.
- The electrical supplier doesn't care either. I signed nothing agreeing to use only "approved" devices, they'd have a really hard time suing me for it.

It's not against code most places. You don't even assume any more risk most places.

And with wireless, nobody cares as long as you're not creating interference with a licensed user of a frequency. Really, nobody cares. No white vans, no arrests, no fines. It might not be technically legal (or it might be, depending on the frequency) but unless you take the local TV station or the pigs off the air, nobody gives a fuck.

So stop it with the FUD.

Re:Article sucks (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538152)

I think you truly believe what you say, but it's just FUD spread by certification agencies and standard body shills. I don't know if you're one knowingly or not. It's a bunch of BS. If something cheap and poorly done starts a fire, there's usually no way of telling what it was. It'll melt and you won't be able to even tell what the heck it was. Nobody cares, really. As long as it's not fraudulently done (on purpose to get insurance money), you'll be in the clear.

Re:Article sucks (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536946)

Of the ones you list, TUV is pretty strict. The rest are pretty much all self-certificates, though with UL you probably had to go to a third-party agency to give you your rubber stamp.

Re:Article sucks (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537034)

They are only 'marketing stickers' in the sense that it may well be illegal to sell the devices without the stickers.

Re:Article sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538252)

That's the problem, they're only stickers.

Article failure, press left mouse button to cont.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536438)

Start reading article
No chart
Stop reading article

Ugh, come on now. (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536456)

This is complete garbage. We have to at least assume some sort of level of competency for the readers of this site. What are we trying to do here, be PBS for kids?

As someone who layout these.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536464)

I hate those logos, yet they're mandatory due to govt. regulations (not just the US). Sometimes I have to make the product labels larger after convincing with the higher ups I can't print anything smaller than 6p and still be humanly visible.
The *best* part is trying to fit 2 or 3 languages onto the device itself. And they're getting smaller every year....

Merci Canada.

Sounds great, except... (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536532)

...the article doesn't actually tell you jack about decoding the logos. Instead, the article can mostly be summed up with, "You have lots of logos on your electronic gadgets. They mean things, like meeting safety or RF interference standards! They cost money."

Completely useless article (2)

joost (87285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536590)

Okay, so I tried something new and went ahead and read TFA this time. Big mistake. For something supposedly about the icons on electronic you'd expect to see the icons with their meaning printed next to them, right? But not this article! It reads like an SEO meta tag, does nothing to explain what any of those icons mean, and is full of bullshit jargon. Save yourself the trouble and don't read it. As for the slashdot "editors": fuck you guys.

neat! (2)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536668)

this thing is three fucking pages of high-level dreck about the labels the author saw and what they mean in general
at the end of page 3 im told not to despair and keep the faith as the industry tunes its testing parameters to top notch standards!

i did however get a nice bombardment of inline advertising for the site, side bar adverts for the sponsors,
and enough fucking namedropping to fill a grocery cart with products tattooed in symbols and codes
that by the end of the article i could only appreciate from afar.

When it saiz CrapXon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536736)

You know it's bulged capacitor time

Speaking of festooned logos... (1)

aneroid (856995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536780)

The next Ask Slashdot article should be "How do we get those ridiculous laptop stickers off our palm rests?" and even from some desktops. 5 at last count: brand/model, cpu, graphics card, windows os and one huge sticker with the CPU, RAM, HDD, OS specs...as if you stole a display piece. /. covered how AMD hates them as much as we do [slashdot.org] but...what next?

'festooned' is a popular word in articles on /. [google.com] .

For an article on decoding those icons (2)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536788)

You'd expect a chart or something telling you what they were.

when it saiz diebold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536944)

You know it means a fucked up election

NOM? (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537512)

I always see "NOM" on my electronics, and wonder what that means. An interesting read, but this article did not help me in my quest.

Re:NOM? (2)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537688)

I had exactly the same question, and figured it out eventually. It's a official Mexican technical standard, which is managed by a technical committee similar to other national standards bodies.

http://www.ul.com/global/eng/pages/corporate/contactus/faq/marks/nom/ [ul.com]

For the longest time, I thought it meant something like "Name", since NOM appeared in the inset in the HP48 where you could put an engraved nameplate.

Yeah... And what about those tags on my mattress? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537870)

Surely Slashdot can find some enterprising Karma whore to write about that.

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