All of this electronics churn is environmentally terrible, and it's frustrating that, as with carbon energy products, the entire world is forced to pay for the environmental externalities rather than the actual tech users.
You can make an accelerationist argument about not discouraging tech development and dealing with the problems using more efficient tech in the future, I guess. But I'd honestly rather have electronics cost a bit more and know that manufacturers had a financial interest in maintaining rather than replacing.
It is well known that Americans consume far more natural resources and live much less sustainably than people from any other large country of the world. “A child born in the United States will create thirteen times as much ecological damage over the course of his or her lifetime than a child born in Brazil,” reports the Sierra Club’s Dave Tilford, adding that the average American will drain as many resources as 35 natives of India and consume 53 times more goods and services than someone from China.
The difference is the burden of proof. For the initial 6 months, the manufacturer/store has to prove the item was not somehow defective from the beginning, due to manufacturing errors or similar mishaps, even if it broke 5 months and 29 days after the sale.
In the following 18 months, the burden of proof shifts to the buyer, to prove that the fault did not happen to due mistreatment during (ab)use of the item.
That's how it is in Denmark, at least.
The top 5% on the other hand are IMO within normal usage patterns.
The exceptions seem to focus on using consumer products like a coffee maker in an industrial setting. But, 2 years is rather short term to be replacing these devices not to mention the overhead of a regular breakdown > replacement process.
On the other hand, warranty here in the US can be annoying to deal with anyways--I've failed twice at getting replacements for Samsung flash memory cards that have been in production for less than their warranty period. There a some problems (microsd becoming read-only) that can't be caused by user misuse. That might be more reflective of Samsung as a company, however I've had similar issues with other companies as well.
We've finally cracked the nut with renewable resources. Its cost a great deal of environmental damage, but I see no good progression to go from hunter-gatherer to high tech. That's just entropy laws.
Now, it could certainly be argued that certain trajectories should be followed and aren't. But progress costs.
Sometimes it's even used in marketing ("bring your old TV, get new one 10% cheaper"), maybe because they need to meet some quotas so they have to actively convince people to bring their old stuff.
I'm not sure what happens with the items they collect, but hopefully it's shipped to some recycling center instead of getting dropped in a landfill, which would be the case when consumers didn't have this option.
(The difference is marked in the case of the General Data Protection Regulation, which will become enforceable in a few months. There is no wiggleroom in interpreting it, compared to its predecessor, the Data Protection Directive, where each member state has implemented their own version, with varying levels of data protection.)
Heck, our power company will pay you $35 if you recycle a working fridge or freezer through them. With them coming out to pick it up for free. The idea being that a lot of people stick their old, inefficient fridge in the basement or garage when they get a new one and it sucks down a lot of power.
It's a pretty damn good example of the market solving a problem by itself.
This only really falls apart when the cost of new stuff is less than the cost of recycling. High wages are not good for recycling/repair businesses.
When you get new tires on your car most places will take the old ones for free. They get recycled into filler for lower quality rubbers (you can't re-vulcanize rubber, it's like un-baking a cake)
In Italy is the same. Keep in mind that the retail price includes a tax to cover the costs of recycling, so it is not really free :-). The amount depends on the type of appliance. This too should come from an EU directive.
They didn’t say they thought it was free. In fact they said
> so the cost is included in the retail price
And you quoted that!
Also, I also think we should have a carbon recapture tax added to gasoline, but no one I know really wants to pay an additional tax of 7-10$/gallon.
As always in the EU, the exact effect of these differs by country (EU directives describe goals, and leave the means to get there to member countries)
It seems like a better idea would be to just have Amazon give you a voucher for the recycling fees in your local community.
Edit: summary at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_waste_in_China
There's far more stuff coming from China to the west than vice-versa. A ship can't travel empty, but needs to be ballasted with an appropriate weight of cargo. If there isn't enough booked cargo on the return leg to China, they'll make up the weight with scrap metal or rubble.
Sure, send them back to China, I don't care, it just seems silly that we would all just mail our broken junk back one piece at a time to AMazon who then puts it in a container and sends it to China.
Better to take it to alocal recycling facility for them to send it en masse. Have Amazon give you a voucher to handle the recycling fee.
Still, Amazon just gifted me an item when I tried to return it since I ordered it by mistake (and I was honest on the form). I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to avoid recycling returns too.
That can't work for any country that has "country".
In the US, the vast majority of goods are delivered using trucks that burn diesel.
You can't have a gas tax without a diesel tax. Everyone would just switch over.
If you tax gas, you effectively tax everything, and that's not okay for any economy.
Why? The purpose of the carbon tax is to capture the negative externality of carbon pollution, and to encourage more energy-efficient industries. Not all parts of the economy use equal amounts of energy, and we should encourage the energy-efficient ones.
I burn carbon when I drive my car to work. I burn much less carbon when I take the bus to work. We want to encourage the latter - carbon taxes let the market do this encouragement. The alternative is doing so by government fiat.
I understand that. It's the obvious reasoning behind a gas tax.
My entire point is that there are also other effects.
If gas prices raise significantly, then the price of everything - groceries, medication, clothing, cleaning supplies, solar panels, everything - raises, meaning simple things that everyone relies on suddenly become unaffordable to low-wage workers, so their employers suddenly need to raise profits to accommodate the price hike, and raise wages for the bulk of their employees, or (more likely) simply fail, resulting in a significant unemployment increase.
You can't just magically fix climate change by putting the poor out of work, nor should you.
> encourage more energy-efficient industries.
This can be done with much more reasonable methods. Don't forget that transportation is not the only significant source of carbon emissions. The best legislative efforts we can make are to support clean energy (nuclear, wind, solar).
If I can get that 17% function to run in 94% of the time, that is a greater gain from less effort than making any of those <1% functions run in 50% of the time.
The same principle applies to air pollution. Focus on the container ships burning bunker oil and the power plants burning coal first. Personal transportation using internal combustion engines is one of those 1% things, and even then, just taxing the gasoline won't help all that much.
As parent mentioned, it will also stifle the economic activity that could allow ordinary people to afford capital investments like at-home solar energy systems. And while one presumes that a "carbon tax" on gasoline fuel should be used to combat air pollution elsewhere, that is not necessarily how it will be spent.
British Columbia has a revenue-neutral carbon tax 
Especially in the US, where we are likely to raise the defense budget from $500 billion to $700 billion per year.
Makes me think about how much carbon is released for "defense".
-Thirty Ninth President of the United States of America Ronald Reagan.
Why not, we already tax everything as it is right now? And lots of places have carbon taxes, it works fine.
Businesses that rely on low wage workers suddenly have two major problems:
1. They have to find more profit to accommodate shipping expenses
2. They have to pay their workers more
Both of those problems are incredibly difficult to some, and both of them together are deadly to business.
A gas tax would significantly harm the livelihood of poor hard working people.
The poor just take transit or bike.
Even some of the big cities (like LA) have woefully lacking transit and everyone just sits in gridlocked traffic for multiple hours every day.
While running a car may be cheap in financial terms in the US, environmentally and in terms of scarce natural resources it is anything but, and at some point the US is going to have to deal with the social acceptability of one person driving an enormous vehicle for long distances many times per week or within our lifetimes there are going to be serious problems.
A metro's most car-dependent are its working poor, who need to live the furthest away from the downtown core to afford housing.
They live outside the cities where housing is more affordable but there's no public transport
And, unless something changed recently, batteries. My iPhone 5 had a faulty charging socket, which got worse. A month after unboxing, it would no longer charge at all, so I handed it in for repair. Got back a unit with half the battery life and a faulty charging socket.
I gave it to a good GSoC student across the world after a second unsuccessful trip to service
Are phone parts "consumable"? I thought "consumable" meant refers to things that get "used up" like milk, ink, pens, etc., not storage media or LCD screens or the like...
It's not worth it to extract the lithium, monetarily speaking.
Can you substantiate that? It's clearly at odds with my experience, neither of my two replacement units had a battery life that even came close to unboxed unit.
I just don't buy that every serviced device gets a new battery.
(I am in Europe by the way)
However, that is in addition to various other statutory consumer rights about fitness for purpose and being of appropriate quality, which EU member states might have in their national laws as well. Here in the UK, for example, those obligations can run for many years beyond the initial warranty, and can result in repair, replacement or (full or partial) refund for faulty products depending on the circumstances.
In most cases, it's the vendor who took your money who is on the hook legally for these kinds of responsibilities, though in practice of course manufacturers often offer their own warranties to the final customers and/or make supporting arrangements with vendors selling their products.
Unfortunately at present most of these rules only apply to private individuals, and with business purchases caveat emptor and expensive service contracts are often the norm even if a purchase is being made by a small business with no more real leverage against a vendor or manufacturer than a private individual. When it comes to electronic devices like phones and laptops, this is potentially quite a big stumbling block in terms of forcing up standards of maintainability and promoting a "right to repair" to reduce waste.
kinda similar like car parts, warranty is like 3-5 years (or 100K km) but parts must be available like 10 years or something
Well, let’s see what a leading company is saying about that:
”We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material”
It’s not quite the cyberpunk dream of being able to repair anything with a soldering iron in 30 minutes, but it’s a very critical step to reach. We’re slowly getting there.
: https://images.apple.com/environment/pdf/Apple_Environmental... (page 16)
Nidhogg's Rule: Recycling. There is no such place as Away, so be careful what you throw there. Recycle, give away, don't waste, find a place for it somewhere else. This includes people as well as things.
The last time I got a circuit schematic was with my Icom radio. And even with that, still received none of the firmware. "Proprietary".
Ideally, mechanical drawings, circuit schematics, and firmware would enable a great deal of repair and 3d party parts replacement. But the idea of allowing that isn't capitalist - in fact it goes directly against selling more to replace (planned obsolescence).
I would heartily like to have a library of parts I can refer to, designs I can 3d print parts as needed, firmware access to correct issues. But this all flies in direct opposition with "commercial" opportunities, save a very few.
It's also why I highly prefer free/open source hardware, with as much details how it works available. That's the only way to guarantee that your hardware doesn't get abandoned - there's always someone who has a similar problem.
(Also, nitpick, but cypherpunk != cyberpunk; the former won't care about repairability of the hardware, unless you put your private key on it.)
His livelihood does depend on it (although he has acknowledged that, as electronics get more disposable, he will inevitably end up having to shift into something like software or hardware design), but he has made a really admirable effort of actually going boots-on-the-ground and lobbying at political hearings.
Even though I'm a programmer and not really a hardware guy, I find watching him repairing stuff very interesting and oddly satisfying. He often even does all this on a live stream.
PS. For some reason most of his videos get a "do you want a website" preroll ad, which is already a running joke on his streams.
Just got that ad... in Polish. Seriously, what's going on with that? Why always this ad?
Listen from that timestamp till 13:10.
Personally, I don't see how gerber files with board layouts and selling replacement components violates any trade secrets, considering the former is readily reverse-engineered (even if you can't easily determine exact routing for things in layers not on the board surface) and the latter poses them no risk either.
As for what boils down to the "people are stupid" argument, that's just BS and they know it.
Not sure where you saw that (link?), but no, they don't. Watch the video I just linked above on what their lobbyists say.
One has to ask what's really more likely to destroy my life - the glass of the iPhone I clumsily tried to repair, or the shit I wrote on that iPhone...
I find it rather tiresome and not very thoughtful.
I feel like we're at the very bottom of a parabolic curve right now where everyone is getting fucked due to fake money being injected into these systems. I think above all, what everyone can agree on, is that the individual should come first, and policy should follow. The amount of large businesses with their hands in politics is really the struggle he's crusading against.
I can definitely see where he comes from as a small business owner -- it seems like the same injustice that individuals feel towards certain sections of the upper class is magnified. I think it's helpful to hear small-business owners' side of the argument, because they really are the ones who stand to be hurt most by moving further left, unless done with careful tact.
"Left-wing politics are anti-business" is a huge fallacy.
He seems to love what he does, but we need people like him in politics.
It's too bad just being honest is so rare these days.
So, for example, a family would go to their local technology artisan to put together a smart home system tailored specifically to their needs. Or perhaps a local band would commision some custom-made Raspberry Pi-based synthesizer with fancy lights for a show (https://youtu.be/_nBK8sAl9nw)
To the consumer, it would mean not only devices tailored to their needs, but also ones that are cheap and simple to get repaired and extended, because they would be based on open standards. No lock-ins, no secret surveilance.
What makes me think this is possible is how big the hobby space is around all these hackable technologies (raspberry pi / arduino, 3D printing, electronics)... people are already building home media centres and farm bots in their back yard just for fun. Hacker spaces are already a thing -- make them a service!
I've built a coin-operated electric candle stand for a local theater group. I'm just an amateur at electronic circuits, and I'm sure a professional would have spent less time on it, but even at half my hourly price, I would have blown half their production budget.
You could say some builders would be willing to take a pay cut to work within your community, but frankly, doing one-off toys to upper-middle-class people is not my idea of community service. I'd rather have a well paying job writing B2B software and then work for free for people in actual need.
 a copy (with extra features) of something commonly found in catholic churches around here: https://www.nextnature.net/app/uploads/2010/05/led_candles.j...
Then you have bugs, months after delivering, and you can't say "no I won't fix it". So although you don't want to work anymore, you still have to.
Then you have new functionalities. You are burned out with the project but there is this little thing that your friend/customer really needs. And you don't want to do it, and since you've never been paid, you'll do it for free again and you'll get burned out some more... So no compensation.
Now you can argue that the problem here is not the money, but the lack for a proper contract, that'd be right. But the money question automatically brings the contract question. That's why I say : don't work for free, ever.
Your idea only really works if you can get a large number of these artisans on board, across many disciplines, and keep their "dance card" stocked.
The issue is that solving any problem in software costs about $1000. And typically if you want to solve one problem you need to solve 2-20 others first.
Your mention of open source is key here. Every pizza place in the world probably has a dozen information problems that would be worth solving, but most of them aren't going to be willing to spend $100,000 to do it, even in 10 installations.
But of those 10 problems, 9 or 10 of them are not core IP for them. So something like 95% of the budget could be split across like 1000 pizza places, driving that cost to $1-20 which is a much more manageable cost.
So you need some sort of bond to finance these projects across 1000 clients.
And second, when you split the design work across 1000 clients all paying in a different moment, you end up with 990 little gigs and 10 big ones and the 990 are too small to be worth the overhead for your artisan. To make those worthwhile you need some infrastructure for turning those contracts into 5 minute non interactive (no customer support) deliveries, and packing them into a stocked queue that can pay the artisan'a rent. I.e. If there's one new pizza joint on a Tuesday afternoon, there are 50 other 5 minute tasks that they can also do so they aren't waiting around for pizza joints and getting nothing done.
And when a pizza joint needs analytics while that artisan is on vacation, you need another artisan who can step in.
So that's a two sided market, which is a notoriously hard startup problem.
And lastly, these information problems are not all code problems. There is design and stats and customer service and other stuff mixed in there. So you need a stable of design artisans, customer service artisans, etc. which means we're talking about an n-sided market.
Which the startup world has, as far as I'm aware, no known examples of.
It'll happen. It's just messy.
Rather than a bond, which would be unwieldy to implement, we'd take a risk: we develop it for the first few customers for a percentage of the cost, but keeping all rights to the code so we can then reuse it. Some projects pay their bills and some more, others not so much.
As for the n-sided market, we used the typical solution: having employees.
In our case, we used an open source platform (Odoo) which comes with the generic business modules - CRM, Accounting, Invoicing, ERP, etc - and which allowed us to build integrated functionality for the specific industry. We had clients of all sorts, from one-man dental offices to international clothing manufacturers.
(Disclaimer: I still work with Odoo, but I was never an Odoo SA employee)
I would argue the issuance of the bond and the separate market for holding risk is key.
Developing a market is key to being able to fund smaller and smaller client segments. This is what I talked about above... with a single origin of corporate ownership there is an upper bound on the number of managers. You need to separate into two markets to meet the entire demand. It's just a matter of graph traversal distances. N corporate boards cannot manage N^2 managers.
But N^2/10 agents can manage N^2 managers. And they take 25%.
That's exactly what the commercial market of Internet of Things devices is so far. You couldn't really make it worse by putting a replaceable ESP8266 or BeagleBone at the heart of each of these gadgets.
I am a software developer and consultant and you do not figure how insanely expensive I am - when your family comes through the doors of my artisanal soldering boutique and demands a custom built home automation system, I would suggest them to invest the money in a long, long vacation with the whole family instead.
With kids growing up playing with Raspberry Pis, in 10-20 years I don't think your comment's parent is such a farfetched idea.
This works perfectly well for non-so-smart stuff (thermostats, automatic cat doors, etc etc) but when you increase complexity (smart home system) you need engineers with higher qualifications and better expertise. And that's expensive (unless someone volunteers and works for pennies, but that quickly gets stressful - literally not worth it).
(Not like off-the-shelf solutions are any better. They were also born that way - by lowest spending necessary.)
I'm getting a bit tired of the smart home system example. We've seen projects for smart home systems in DIY magazines since the 70s. These projects never really took off, and turned into businesses (Nest being a notable exception). It's something people don't really need or even want.
... and the artisan would refuse, and explain how much simpler and functional their lives would be without any "smart" systems or appliances ?
He cracks gear open before he's ever turned it on to look for build quality and/or any janky crap, then reassembles and runs it after. (No, he's not batting 1.000, but he's good.)
Classic teardown here of some sweet gear from the <hint> fourth smallest country (area) in Europe (0m37s, 1m06s & 1m21s are +1 moments, btw.)
I'm behind on the comments but I hope someone linked back to the "It Should Last Fifty Years" thread from the past ~12 mo or so: highly relevant to the topic at hand.
For me, it was youtube videos of the grinders being used / reassembled / cleaned that made up my mind. I mean, if you're going to spend $200+ on a grinder, it's nice to know ahead of time that you can fiddle with it.
Does not seem too much like Science Fiction nowadays...
I wonder if anyone might remember the name of the story: The basic plot is a business man living in a throwaway society manages to convince a dying man to sell him his personally developed car. A car that has been built to last for decades. The business man eventually succeeds by promising to respect the philosophy of the dying man and the manufacturing of machines built to last. As he is driving the magnificent car away he starts thinking of the "improvements" he will make. That loud analogue clock on the dashboard could be replaced by a digital clock and that gear lever knob that could be made from a modern plastic....
It isn’t your story, but I am reminded of Philip K. Dick’s Pay for the Printer from 1956: https://web.archive.org/web/20150509063736/http://www.americ...
You can read it thru google translate if you are brave enough :) https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pl&u=http://...
TLDR: Someone invents a catalyst able to revert any product back to dust after precisely set lifetime, every country adopts it to ensure steady employment across whole planet. Pants? 3 monts, wrist watch? 1 year, car? 2 years, etc. Can you guess what could and did go wrong? ;)
Also I'll link a sort of inverse to that tale: http://www.eldritchpress.org/owh/shay.html#line01
I hardly think I gave the story justice, since it is based on my memory from something like 20 years ago or more and I am sure I am misremembering the specifics.
But to address the points that were raised:
It is a convertible and plastic does not do well in the sun. Then next year the company decides that they can save 50% on manufacturing cost by using a cheaper and thinner plastic, which would only last 10 years, rather than the decades of the alloy it replaced originally, but that is more than enough time for any car. Then soon after that the company decides that 10 years is still too long and they can save even more by.....
First a digital clock, then a digital clock that gets wifi updates, then a digital clock that tracks and transmits your locations, then a digital clock that won't work unless the company sends a heartbeat code, then...you get the idea...it is a slippery slope.
The ending works well because everything in the car is handmade and overengineered, and the "improvements" are all cost-saving measures. In doing so, he ends up making the car nothing like the original and nearly the same as the cars the maker was reacting to.
Recently my smartphone battery died and I could order a new one for less than $10 and replace it in 20 seconds.
Both devices are more that four years old but I am not going to replace them with something, that does not have at least this amount of repairability.
Smartphones and laptops with soldered batteries, RAM or SSD? Come on, these things are not throwaway devices - even if this is what marketing wants you to believe.
What you should really want, if you like reparability, is a market for reparable goods. In general, it will be more costly than mass-produced integrated goods, but foisting repair opportunities onto every consumer product will ultimately make people less satisfied with the products on the market, and it will make those products less accessible (and more expensive).
As for cars, I think there's a real market opportunity to make your cars exceptionally open to repair, but I don't think mandating it is a good idea. Especially as powertrain designs become more and more complex, the likelihood that you will be able to correctly reassemble them dwindles. The onus must remain on the customers and technicians to meet the technical demands of repair.
A line in the sand must be drawn between "difficult to repair" and "illegal to repair". The first is at the hands of the customer, the second, the legislature.
As for software, sure, the DMCA is unfair, it should have been struck down long ago. It is being abused constantly, and serves little or no practical purpose except to enable abuse.
Being able to work on a machine you own sounds much more like a "right" than an "opportunity" to me.
Repair is not a right, ownership is. The problem here is that the DMCA allows something that you consider your property to be ultimately owned by somebody else even after you purchase it.
The problem with smartphones is entirely separate, it's a question of convenience and practicality for third-party repair shops and people who can afford repair tooling for their own devices.
I object to the idea that manufacturers should have a duty to package and sell separately replacement parts for their goods on the open market.
It was never thought of as a right before because it is so obviously acceptable and good that nobody had even conceived that somebody might try to deny it.
I still remember how my macbook pro started to be slow and unusable after OSX updates.
My real wish is that one day, computer or smartphone hardware might last at least 5 or even 10 years. I know software is evolving quickly, but there comes a point where I don't think you need to upgrade your hardware, the hardware is just fast enough to do certain things with today's software. At one point, software should stop changing so often. Then maybe we won't need to toss hardware anymore.
I don't like Apple products, but it surely is funny that they realized they were making durable products and started to see it as a problem.
I'm just not seening the evidence of this "planned obsolescence". I would put it on the level of a conspiracy theory. Little hard evidence in favour, but anecdoes accepted as fact by those inclined to believe them.
As a counter-anecdote, as it happens I'm typing this on my 2011 Mac mini, my main work machine, which is still going strong. Just upgraded to High Sierra - the seventh major OS version this machine has seen. It's working well and and no sign of Apple trying to force me to buy anything new.
What? Apart for ink cartridges, for which some manufacturers are know to have some hard counters, this list is beyond ridiculous. Planned obsolescence means a conscious design to fail at a certain mark, a carefully evaluated MTBF in order to extract financial gain.
1. Just a description: "planned obsolescence" is wilful design into failure that makes one turn a greater profit at the expense of consumers.
2. Some ink cartridges are know to have hard counters, so that's one OK, but the recommendation is about taking a risk: third party ink might not be up to spec and clog things up (happens).
3. Backwards compat on SNES would have meant including the NES hardware into the SNES, driving costs up. Plus this happened in a modular way with addons such as the Super Game Boy. Also, the PS2, X360 and PS3 shelf life are a testament to the dedication of keeping things up and running. Also also, suddenly not keeping the old hardware around to throw it away somehow contradicts later claims of "buying used instead of new".
4. This is only valid with the cooperation of lazy teachers: "refer to exercise 4 on page 32". I've been using 10+ years old books to learn and teach math, physics, french, history... New editions strive to streamline the experience, fix mishaps, and comply with legal requirements and state-mandated education programs.
5. Fashion, by definition, is zeitgeist. Culture and style evolve, there's no conspiracy at play, this is human nature creatively plowing forward.
6. What's the benefit for MS to make people buy new computers? I don't see the logic here. If anything, people are less inclined to buy new software if it makes them buy a new computer. Do you really think there's a shady deal between Adobe and Dell so that Adobe makes its software hungrier and receive a cut on sales because Dell sales would go up? Maintaining old versions has a cost, and unless you want to ceaselessly accrete dead weight like a black hole you have two choices: go forward and cut dead weight at some point, or not go forward and be stuck in the past (because obviously everything was better back in the day, y'know). Also, software is made by people, and those people need to eat (even FOSS folks!), plus increasingly said software rely on services that need to be kept up running, and that has a cost too. Nothing entitles you to receive a lifetime of upgrades after paying a couple bucks (if at all). Expecting (almost coercing!) people to do what you want for free has a name: exploitation.
7. Nothing prompts you to buy a new car every year. People would be surprised at the number of common parts cars share if they were even remotely interested in mechanics. Not only the whole statement contradicts 3. but how would you buy used if nobody bought new cars and resold them? Also, there's not just old cars pollute more and are less safe.
8. I've yet to see a battery that outright disables itself after a set number of cycle use. Batteries are designed to last at least a given number of cycles, not at most. LiPo, which has taken the world by storm due to its lack of memory effect and outstanding performance and durability, is extremely dangerous to handle. Requirements as well as improvements in hardware have been plateauing, which makes it less appealing to have things componentized for upgrades. Hardware durability has dramatically increased too. The whole thing contributes to people changing stuff less often instead of more because it just works, for longer stretches of time. Again there is no wilful intent to cripple things. There is one egregious case that can be made about Android phones, but that's got more to do about lack of focus, misguided bullet-point differentiation strategy and subsequent lack of resource to keep phones up to date than a grim large scale scam.
9. Ah, light bulbs. Great example. You know, if you get cheap, badly engineered crap, it has a high probability of both being less efficient and not last long. That's not a grand evil scheme, that's just "Want cheap? Get crap."
So, we get it, turning a profit is bad, corporations are evil and conspire to exploit the masses. Because that's what "planned obsolescence" is about: wilful design into failure that makes one turn a greater profit at the expense of consumers. How cynical a view is that, pushed by people that have no clue about what engineering is: designing within terrible, unfathomable physics, monetary and human constraints the best product you can. Abusive practices do exist, but seriously, most of the time it's just cost pressure or bad design (probably one driving the other). This kind of list is way too superficial and does nothing to make things better.
True story: I was ICDCS '98, perusing the textbooks with my advisor and some of his ex-students, and see the new (6th?) edition of Silberschatz's OS book. "Oh, yeah", one of my advisor's older students says, "Avi does have another kid going to college this year."
My desktop is approaching 8 years, and I haven't found it limiting either, only buying more storage for it over time.
I also have a backup server that's nearly 20 years old. All it does is serve disks so it doesn't need to be very fast either.
It really depends on what you do and how you do it. Someone with more hardware demands or just using more bloated software would find systems of my specification unbearably slow, but they'd probably say the same of the very latest today.
So many applications written under the pressures of business are just such crap.
I gave my sister recently a T420s that I had lying around, and the thing still screams.
I just sold a 4.5 year old 15" MacBook Pro for A$1550, it was originally A$3500. That makes the TCO equation look very nice indeed. And we only replaced it because my wife got a 12" for travel.
I have the next model along 15" MBP (still 2013) and I'll keep it until it is a year out of macOS updates, then sell it. It's done pro-level photo and video editing, still plays Starcraft etc just fine, and is a great dev machine.
I just repaired a 2009 iMac (hard drive failure), and it's also still supported by the latest macOS.
Just got a 4 year old iPad repaired for $A90. It's stuck on iOS 9, and slow for web browsing, but still works fine as a PDF reader, note taker, and a few games for the kids.
I can see a day coming where the same will be true of phones. But I get new iPhones now: to play with the newest tech, it's my primary camera for documenting family life. The "newest hardware" in iOS devices is supporting stuff like running neural net image recognition over entire photo libraries, doing 4K video capture and editing, and of course running whatever latest web monstrosity is out. People who don't want those features are fine to stick with older phones; I know quite a few family members still on iPhones 4S and 5.
My laptop is a refurb T420, around 5-6 years old. Runs Linux Mint and all the apps I need with no issues at all, still gets 5+ hours on battery.
Computers have been "fast enough" for a long time.
Save for security fixes, but I agree. Sometimes software is "done".
My current MacBook has lasted me 3 years already and unless something drastic happens I can see it lasting another 3 easily. Only issue is the battery replacement might be more costly (old MacBook had a removable battery). HDD performance shouldn't be a bottleneck for me either, but who knows what's around the corner in tech.
Obviously a gaming computer or something meant for advanced computing isn't going to last that long.
My current System76 Gazelle is going on 6 years old. The battery has been mostly dead (I can change outlets without shutting down but not much more) and the NVidia graphics have never actually worked right under Linux, but with 16GB and a 2800MHz i7 it's fine for development and I haven't found anything to replace it with.
Gee, I wonder who started that trend?
Just wait, somebody is going to try it with consumer devices sooner or later.
Two years later OmniCorp B enters into a deal to add them to their portfolio for whatever price they agreed upon. OmniCorp B now owns the physical Cisco gear but doesn't have a license to use it?
Having started to use a safety razor recently, I'm starting to think that the impetus for moving to cartridge razors was just to make the refills harder to interchange and less of a commodity.
Since male-pattern hair loss runs heavy in my family anyway, I decided to just buzzcut myself once a week on the lowest setting. For the limited shaving I do (sometimes my head, but usually just the edges of my beard), safety razors are so much better than cartridges.
They're cheaper, they last longer and it's so much easier to do accurate beard edges.
My cartridge razors last at least two months before I need to change them. Do you clean and dry your blades after use?
I replaced my smartphone earpiece, following an ifixit.com guide. Was initially daunted, given the expense of the handset, but it just took a set of mini screwdrivers and a wedge, 20 minutes, and has been working good as new for the last 3 months. Very satisfying experience.
So, I borrowed my buddy's pentalobe driver set and about an hour later had pulled the logic board out, replaced the antenna, and buttoned it all back up. That's been about a year ago and it's still working perfectly. And the new antenna was something like $6 on Amazon...
Then I look over at my Kitchenaid mixer. You know the iconic one that would look right at home in the kitchen of the 1960s. It's constructed durably, it's repairable, and people go out of their way to spend more to get it. I can get it repaired if it breaks. Why can't all appliances be like my Kitchenaid mixer?
And I'm considering it.
Because people don't like to spend extra for quality products. For most appliances, there are brands that sell quality versions which will last for years, but lots of people just look for the lowest priced one with the features that they want, and buy it.
But, that being said, I completely agree with you.
They do repairs for free (voluntary donation appreciated) to keep items out of the landfill.
There are some downsides, such as that usage of the service outside the contract becomes impossible, so contracts should be sufficiently broad (and not targeting just the average people). And you don't "own" your product (which could be a psychological problem). But I guess that's about it.
Do you want to be dependant on an idea of a corporation that they will treat you fair?
Are you OK to give away your washing machine and oven just because you had troubles with finances and you missed one payment?
As someone who had to throw away a washing machine because the company wouldn't service it, I would have very much preferred a rental model where the loss would have been theirs.
To flip your question: Are you okay not being able to buy a washing machine because you couldn't make a significant one-time payment? Are you okay with your investment going waste because the company wouldn't service it? I would say no to both.
No, we aren't and no, it doesn't. Buying things up-front means your interaction with a corporation is brief and to the point. With service model, they get to gouge you for money and restrict the things you can do with the item you now don't own, but rent.
> Are you okay not being able to buy a washing machine because you couldn't make a significant one-time payment?
There are plenty of ways to amortize that using third parties that have no interest in limiting your control over the washing machine.
Also, it's you who get to choose when to do the purchase. Once you enter a contract, you'd better have a stable paycheck for the entire duration of it, or you'll be SOL.
Neither do I care about my flexibility to modify my washing machine. All I care is that it washes my clothes well.
BTW, what's "SOL"?
It's more inconvenient to you not to be able to use a washing machine when you need it than it is for a service provider to have a random customer unable to pay them on time.
> BTW, what's "SOL"?
Shit Out of Luck.
In this model, I have the washing machine to use whenever I need it. If it breaks, or if I need a bigger capacity model, or I'm not happy with its performance, I can immediately switch to another supplier. Paying for the entire machine up front closes my options. They already have my money, so they can offer poor service and get away with it.
The point of my comment above, and amelius's if I understand correctly, is that a service model eliminates this risk from the buyer. I'll be able to get another washing machine without incurring a financial loss.
What matters at the end of the day is having a working, safe, reliable washing machine. Having a right to repair is only a means to this end, and not an end to itself. A service model is another means to this end. Don't confuse the means for the ends and entertain only one means.
I.e., stronger rights for people who use services.
Don’t count on service quality laws to make up the disparity caused by losing the right to full ownership of one’s property.
Can you come up with a concrete scenario?
> Don’t count on service quality laws to make up the disparity caused by losing the right to full ownership of one’s property.
Yeah, but now we're fighting for the "right to repair". And we need to fight for the "right of a clean environment". And a "right of no planned obsolescence". Seems much more complicated to me than just getting the incentives right in the first place.
Would iPhone allow the second-hand market for their phones? Not likely, thus keeping a huge part of the less fortunate population out of the possibility to get hands-on premium products.
Your model could be an addition to the current service model, not a replacement.
The current events cited in the article serve as examples.
There aren’t a lot of universal human “rights” that are self-evident in the context of common law, but the few that are ought to be held as absolutely sacred and inalienable. Property ownership is one of them.
You can say that again. Just look at the John Deere debacle that's been happening for an exceptionally good example of why this is a terrible idea. Physical good = ownership = full end-user control. Anything less is dangerous for consumers.
So, imho, what we should do is give customers who use services better rights.
A short answer is "everything Stallman has ever warned us about (most of which has already come to pass)."
A longer answer contains many, many reasons, so I'll just throw out some paragraphs.
Ownership is more than psychological, it's about your right and ability to do what you want with your stuff. It's also about whether your stuff is designed to help you or to work against you. "Do what you want" includes modifications, repair, and any usage that you might want even if not officially sanctioned by the company. If you don't own your stuff, you can't control whether it's tracking you and sending back data about you. You can't control whether one day the company goes out of business, or gets bought by a new owner, or decides for liability reasons or whatever that they should remotely disable or recall the product (maybe at the moment you need it most).
There's also a reason that "rents" are a hugely important concept in economics. In general, the renter is open to exploitation by the rentee who continually makes money not by creating additional new welfare/value but due to a historical circumstance, i.e. being the one who originally owned the thing being rented.
More issues: paying for services actually accentuates the problem of planned obsolescence, because it gives the service-provider the ability to terminate or alter terms of the deal at intervals (or immediately via software update) thus virtually forcing an upgrade.
When products are built to actually last, buying is perfectly environmentally-friendly. If you look at a mid-20th-century family's home, almost everything in it was built to last for decades -- furniture, appliances, vehicles, even clothing (with appropriate repairs). That was a result of the purchasing equilibrium. Many people have had to move toward the renting equilibrium where they don't expect to own things permanently, and the stuff they own is crap.
I'll stop there, but reiterate that the number 1 issue is ownership and control. I suggest you try the thought experiment of placing goods on a scale from "most ownership" (purchased for long-term reasons, customizable, repairable) to "least ownership" (comes with terms and conditions, may be updated or changed by the company at any time), and evaluate each good by how long it lasts, environmental-friendliness, how much it respects the rights of the user versus the wishes of the producer, and how much it is subject to planned obsolescence. (Starter: the iPhone is on the far end in all categories.)
Also, how is using a service different than paying someone to do a job for you. E.g. paying someone to do your laundry instead of buying a washing machine. The person you hire can choose any means of doing your laundry, including putting a washing machine in your home.
If that's causing problems with exploitation, isn't that a fundamental flaw in our economy, rather than with the idea of preferring services over products?
It isn't, and this illustrates another problem: with service model, you're much more tied to having a stable income source. If you're temporarily not able to pay someone, they won't come to do the work for you. If you're not able to keep paying for the service, the provider will remotely suspend or terminate it. Whereas, if you own a device, you can keep using it even though you're 3 months out of a job, with no new one in sight.
I'm not saying it's impossible to picture a society where this happens, but it's not very reachable from where we are now. We're struggling to get down basics like repairing your own devices. Nor is it a particularly desirable society compared to a society where everyone owns and controls all their own stuff.
> how is using a service different than paying someone to do a job for you
I'm not sure what this question has to do with what I wrote. I don't want either one. I want to pay once for a quality washing machine that I can repair, use when, where, and how I want to. For another example, I want a bicycle that fits my exact size, style, speed, and safety preferences, that I can pay for once and keep repaired and in good condition and resell later on, rather than throwing money at some company year after year to ride awful one-size-fits-none rent-a-bikes. Those bikes are useful for many scenarios but a bad replacement for long-term ownership.
(edit) For example in the washing machine scenario, the service I employ to launder clothes can easily decide to hike their rates for all clothes not purchased from Banana Republic, or they can sell data about my clothes preferences to advertisers, or they can make me sign terms of service that give bad compensation for damaged clothes or delayed washing. Their incentives are often misaligned from mine; they aren't usually acting in my best interests. I guess you'll say "but competition will magically fix that", however, if we look at the real world, most markets don't have enough competition for that to be true.
> If that's causing problems with exploitation, isn't that a fundamental flaw in our economy, rather than with the idea of preferring services over products?
I don't understand what you're saying here. It sounds akin to arguments that roads should all be privatized, where the fact that nobody would build roads to rural homes gets written off as some problem with the economy rather than a flaw in the idea itself. Or similarly, sounds like you're advocating a system that you know clearly wouldn't work because you are able to picture some idealized version of society where it might.
Still, they tend to have highly modular, easy-to-swap-out parts. Hard drives, wireless cards, RAM, keyboards, battery, it's usually all removable and they sell spares for custom parts like the keyboards. Many of their devices even have a full CPU socket on the motherboard, so you could keep a good one running for a very long time.
If you luck out and get a good one.
If by "borked GPU" you're referring to the nVidia BGA failures, those weren't the fault of the laptop manufacturer. HP and Toshiba, among others, were affected severely by that too.
I remember the 11" W110ER fondly; it was tiny, but it still had a discrete GPU. Those were the days...as much as I love the small ARM Chromebooks, they do lack power for most sorts of realtime rendering applications.
I'm not sure what the exact issue was, but I got a new machine with a card that hung under reproducible conditions (as well as seemingly random ones) over several operating systems and use cases. I thought that BGA issues mostly came after a little while of thermal stressing on the boards and the footprint. But you never know; shit happens.
Try looking at ifixit for repairability scores. They take the laptops apart and show you the internals on the reviews they do.
Of course, cross reference the repairability score with your desired performance and price. Pick any one.
They are coming out with an "anniversary edition" Thinkpad that looks like it's a refresh of a T400 series chassis. It seems promising.
Mine's been running Arch for almost a year without any hardware issues so far. I also manage to pull roughly 8 hours of development out of a full battery.
Slightly industrial grade hardware is often field repairable. I go for new or refurbed durable low depreciation tools worth mastering. Emacs, weather sealed camera gear or even cookware are examples.
Otherwise I use low power almost disposable Chromebook, Chromecast and Moto-G away from a Linux box with cheap reasonable dumb screens and bluetooth speakers.
The haptics of consumer tools are churned far too easily for business models. Windows XP showed how too slowly depreciating good enough assets in the field upset vendors. Constant maintenance and futzing are taxes outside actually advancing any state of the art. I don't drive living in a midstory DC building together saving about +50% of typical American transport and HVAC power budgets. And I don't sport shop or even eat energy intensive packaged food mysteries.
Good and operationally efficient habits can go well enough with software and city living.
Would love to know if something like this exists in New York.
Why 5 years? Why not 4 or 6?
Actually, I think the warranty period should increase, always. For example by one month every year.
So a product sold in 2017 has a warranty of 2 years (24 months).
A product sold in 2018 would have a warranty of 25 months.
A product sold in 2019 would have a warranty of 26 months.
And so on...
This would encourage (force!) companies R&D to always improve products, but at a sustainable speed.
Of course the figures given above should be tweaked better, maybe start at 3 or 4 years warranty very soon, increase by 1, 2 or 3 months per year, I don't know.
Maybe it can be 6 instead of 5. That's an unnecessary detail for you to obsess about at this point. Instead focus on the larger issue, which is that governments should force companies to give a much longer warranty period than the typical 1 year. That will make companies design for longevity, reducing costs for customers and environmental damage.
Like not paying 10s of thousands for a Tesla that has a clause against using autopilot with ride sharing services other than Tesla.
I want a new car with no software, no computers, no GPS, no radio, no power windows, no keyless entry, no thermostat. Where do I find it? Realistically I can only chose between crap I don't want.
And if I buy an older car, not only I have to deal with problems that would otherwise be avoidable if I bought a new car, but the government doesn't want me to use old cars. Great freedom of choice. What a life.
- GPS -> mount your smartphone
- Thermostat -> more/less clothes
- Radio -> get a bluetooth headset for your helmet
- The list can go on and on...
You just described my motorcycle! Beautiful 0-miles engine (took it out of the dealership this week). It has no unnecessary stuff and that's what I love the most about it. I do pretty much all the maintenance myself and the community of motorcycle riders is very supportive and helpful to do so.
Now... Why isn't there a car company that builds cars on the same level of complexity? I know comfort/luxury sells. But there should be a tier of cars that are easily serviceable.
Meanwhile, I highly recommend you get a motorcycle :)
I also agree with your point that there __should__ be a market for a no-frills car of the same design philosophy.
However, I would NEVER recommend that someone get a motorcycle. You and I both know the risks. Literally every time we roll out we can be killed or maimed brutally. I think it's actually pretty irresponsible to recommend them to other people.
> Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists' risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than a passenger car.
(the official sources are cited in the article)
Now, I could totally be missing the humor in this, in which case, ignore me.
I disagree. It's the old freedom vs. security/safety argument. I have no qualms about recommending motorcycles or even just older and simpler cars, because safety is not the only factor and a lot of the time it's used as an argument to take away freedom. You can be perfectly safe by spending your entire life locked away in a jail cell... and you'll still die.
I do think an amendment to my original statement is needed, though: I would NEVER recommend them to other people without firmly impressing upon them the value of safety courses and the risks involved.
But you'll also end up with a less secure car probably.
+ all their patents are open for that reason.
+ Elon has said personally that it is of no use to be the last human standing on a sinking ship.
Personally, I think they may actually fancy people doing their own repairs.