back to article Someone got so fed up with GE fridge DRM – yes, fridge DRM – they made a whole website on how to bypass it

Fed up with the DRM in a General Electric refrigerator that pushed the owner to buy expensive manufacturer-approved replacement water filters, an anonymous hacker went to the trouble of buying a domain name and setting up a website at gefiltergate.com to pen a screed about appliance digital rights restriction management (DRM) …

  1. oiseau Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Entirely legal

    ... said product hacking of this sort is entirely legal, in America at least.

    Hmmm ...

    Is there any other place in the world where it is not entirely legal?

    ie:

    Whose goddamned fridge is it anyway?

    Or am I actually renting it from GE under some new type of contract?

    Maybe I just think it belongs to me but for some strange reason it does not.

    Right-to-repair legislation, which aims to ensure consumers have a legal right to repair products ...

    It is incredible that right-to-repair legislation would be actually needed in a country where property rights are clearly enshrined in the constitution, to the extent that said rights many (most) times are enforced contrary to and without remedy to public interest.

    O.

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Entirely legal

      Right To Repair is also being objected by the knobs that are Apple. That is what is wrong with the industry. Apple could easily back it and still make profits.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge

        Re: Entirely legal

        bot then those would be slightly smaller profits and we can't have that in cAAApitalism

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Entirely legal

          Everything Marx told us about Communism was wrong. Unfortunately, everything he told us about Capitalism was correct ... modern Russian proverb.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @vtcodger - Re: Entirely legal

            Beautifully said. Too bad I couldn't give you more than one up-vote.

          2. HildyJ Silver badge
            Megaphone

            Re: Entirely legal

            Far more pithy than Adam Smith but I will cite him anyway because capitalists ignore his fear of monopolies:

            "To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens." (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations)

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Angel

              "Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations"

              F**k me sideways.

              Sounds like someone has actually read it.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: "Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations"

                Adam Smith also said that growth is never unlimited and that business have a moral obligation to support their workers

        2. johnmayo

          Re: Entirely legal

          Surely in their case this should be "cAPPLEitism?

      2. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Entirely legal

        Which is an excellent reason not to buy an Apple product. Making something which is deliberately fragile, loading it with software that deliberately slows it down to unusable to 'force' you to upgrade etc etc is a despicable behavior.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Entirely legal

      You are always perfectly entitled to repair your own kit. Or even modify it (subject to electrical code, etc).

      The issue arises if you later wish to claim warranty service on said item, or install manufacturer-provided updates (for example).

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Entirely legal

        ... issue arises if you later wish to claim warranty service ...

        Then they should print that in big bold lettering on the first page of their warranty:

        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        Using other than our brand of [whatever] voids this warranty.

        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        But it is not done (or the fine print is illegible) because it scares potential buyers away.

        Still, it wouldn't matter to me because:

        1. I wouldn't ever be so dumb as to buy a fridge with custom water filters.

        2. If I have't taken it apart, it isn't really mine, so no warranty* to speak of.

        O.

        * After a few weeks use without issue, obviously.

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: Entirely legal

          Using other than our brand of [whatever] voids this warranty.

          Can't speak for the laws where-ever you are, but in Australia this is not the case, at least with respect to statutory warranties, but may apply to manufacturer extended warranties.

          If an item isn't repaired correctly, then that can void the warranty with repect to those specific parts of the device affected by that repair. For example, a non-certified filter may void the warranty on the water/ice dispensing system, however it would not, for example, void the warranty on the compressor. And note also, that the onus is on the one providing the warranty to show that a particular non-approved repair is the cause of the malfunction that a warranty repair/return is being sought for.

          Alo worth noting, in Australia, the warranty also applies to repairs by the manufacturer done previously under warranty, such that the part repaired has a new warranty equal to the length of the original warranty. E.g., if a compressor has a 3-year warranty and fails during that period and is reapired/replaced by the manufacturer, that repair itself now has a 3-year warranty on it from the date of the repair.

        2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Entirely legal

          Then they should print that in big bold lettering on the first page of their warranty:

          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Using other than our brand of [whatever] voids this warranty.

          I'd be in favor of it being printed on the top of the "EnergyGuide" label. Just to be sure the potential buyer gets a chance to see it before purchase.

      2. the hatter

        Re: Entirely legal

        Simplistically, you are correct. But the Right to Repair movement is seeking to combat a barrier - the ability to repair. No point saying I have the right to repair my device, if I can't access parts to make those repairs - because the manufacturer doesn't sell them, and because they require code access or crypto secrets for someone else to be able to make and sell parts. When attempts to obtain said software or secrets are illegal, that makes your simplistic point an empty platitude.

        1. Missing Semicolon
          Stop

          Re: Entirely legal

          Practically, however, you are wrong. Repair by anybody else but the manufacturer or their designated service centre is prevented by the necessity to break other laws to do it. So, when components are cryptographically linked, the only way to replace a part (even when the part is genuine) is to crack the protection system, or use the manufacturers' service utilities. This falls foul of DMCA, patents/copyrights, or software piracy.

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Entirely legal

          Or because parts have been unnecessarily glued or welded together so that it is impossible to make any reasonable repairs.

      3. overunder Silver badge

        Right to Repair... Jon Johansen's life.

        It''s also a public domain issue when such techniques are shared. Even in the "Right to Repair" legislation it's an issue. Jon Johansen's life was turned upside down due to DeCSS even when people had a right to 1 backup. S.S.D.D(evice)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Right to Repair... Jon Johansen's life.

          "Jon Johansen's life was turned upside down due to DeCSS"

          And that was only stopped when a US judge quite rightly pointed out that the laws concerned do not have ANY validity in the country where Mr Johansen lived. (The case was killed for lack of jurisdiction)

          1. 9Rune5 Silver badge

            Re: Right to Repair... Jon Johansen's life.

            And that was only stopped when a US judge quite rightly pointed out that the laws concerned do not have ANY validity in the country where Mr Johansen lived.

            ...where they then tried to put him on trial for mail fraud (being about the only law that came somewhat close).

            As I recall, the prosecutor promptly lost that case, but still landed a cushy job with the Norwegian equivalent of MPAA.

            I'm confident there was no corruption involved. The prosecutor went on a fishing expedition just for the fun of it.

      4. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: Entirely legal

        You are always perfectly entitled to repair your own kit.

        John Deere disagrees.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Entirely legal

      your position on this issue makes TOO much sense. heh.

      But, if it WERE illegal to bypass an RFID sensor [by taping/gluing an appropriate RFID to it], how are the fridge police going to STOP us?

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Entirely legal

        The other thing is the fragillity anyway of modern stuff.

        Coffee Philips machine broke again.. its been back under warranty but once again broke.

        Synology NAS - main board broke down 1 week after warranty.

        AEG washing machine, 15 months and the pump broke, 5 years and the main bearing in the drum is buggered

        The only toys bought for my kids that last more than 5 minutes are Mamod steam engines and 1960/70 vintage TriangHornby or lego.

        My Monday morning taxi driver had to return his 90k km Merc because it stopped functioning at all

        Manufacturers buy up brand names and then cheapen everything to the point the brand is worthless. Hersheys have done it to Cadbury (not that those in America would know, Cadbury was a good chocolate everywhere else in the world - the American version was made under licence by Hershey and just as shit as they have now made it world wide), Colmans of Norwich ENGLISH mustard is now going to be made in Germany by Unilever, HP sauce with the houses of parliament is made in Holland...... it is FRAUD and is only happening because it doesnt matter who I buy X from, at the end of the day the same over arching company is making it, no competition is leading to shit products, high margins and disappointment for consumers. Any attempt at breaking into the market is stiffled by laws and rules designed to keep people out and keep the cozy monopolies. The politicians know where their back pockets get filled and have no interest at all in fixing it, either in the USA or EU

        1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Entirely legal

          Believe me, people in the USA, at least those of us not shambling through life in a waking sleep, know how lousy Hershey's chocolate is, how useless our current president is, and how awful mega-brewed domestic beer is. (Hence the craft beer movement) We are also saddened by all of the above.

          I am irked by the way my wi-fi enabled LG air conditioner's Android app refuses to run on my rooted phone. IT'S an AIR CONDITIONER. Why should the app or LG give a f*ck? Not exactly high security here. What is a malicious hacker doing to do, make my home a few degrees warmer or cooler? Great air con, but this idiocy will make me consider another brand next time I'm in the market for any appliance, and I would urge anyone to skip buying LG for this reason.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Entirely legal

            Great air con

            Pun intended?

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Entirely legal

            "Why should the app or LG give a f*ck?"

            A better question: why should an air conditioner need a mobile phone of any sort?

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Entirely legal

            "I am irked by the way my wi-fi enabled LG air conditioner's Android app refuses to run on my rooted phone. "

            Setup openhab, interface to the aircon, install the openhab app. Problem solved.

          4. James Anderson Silver badge

            Re: Entirely legal

            Congratulations on challenging the Budwieser/Molson duopoly. But please learn how to brew beer properly -- most American craft beer taste like someone stuffed a handful of dried hops in your mouth, bitter doesn't come close to describing the experience.

          5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Entirely legal

            Sounds like you do not believe that the "internet of things" needs to be secure. One thing a malicious hacker *might* do is to program your WiFi enabled aircon to be part of a DDOS attack, or to send millions of spam emails. You wouldn't even know it was doing so.

            1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              Re: Entirely legal

              One thing a malicious hacker *might* do is to program your WiFi enabled aircon to be part of a DDOS attack, or to send millions of spam emails.

              And who's to say the crap firmware in the air conditioner isn't already vulnerable anyway, regardless of what app you're accessing it with (but most likely the piss-poor outsourced one from the manufacturer).

          6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Entirely legal

            "I am irked by the way my wi-fi enabled LG air conditioner's Android app refuses to run on my rooted phone. IT'S an AIR CONDITIONER. Why should the app or LG give a f*ck?"

            The usual complaint hereabouts is why does so much Internet Of Tat have poor or no security. Now you're whinging because your IoT device HAS GOT [at least some] security. Jeez, ya just can't please some people :-)

          7. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Entirely legal

            "What is a malicious hacker doing to do, make my home a few degrees warmer or cooler?"

            Use it as a springboard into your LAN or as part of a botnet (consider Mirai).

        2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Entirely legal

          > AEG washing machine, 15 months and the pump broke, 5 years and the main bearing in the drum is buggered

          AEG now is Electrolux (and other companies), avoid. Story is just as your last paragraph puts it.

          Same is true for various (ex-)German brands that used to produce decent stuff; in fact most brands I could name from the top of my head, I am afraid.

          If you want utter shite, buy anything from Whirlpool.

          1. teebie

            Re: Entirely legal

            Whirlpool's kitchen heaters are surprisingly effective. I don't understand why they market them as washing machines.

          2. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: Entirely legal

            Well I know that Telefunken (TVs), are just re-badged Vestels from Turkey. That said, I cant say I have much of a complaint. Other then never reciving an System Update for it. but, I guess that should in all honesty count as a blessing.

            1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              Re: Entirely legal

              Well I know that Telefunken (TVs), are just re-badged Vestels from Turkey

              Telefunken is still around? Granted, the Telefunken we have here is an early-1960's Concertina, so I couldn't even get close to a comparison.

        3. KBeee

          Re: Entirely legal

          Cadbury were bought by Kraft (now called Mondelez) not Hershey. Despite reassurances to the British Government of the day when buying Cadbury (you can guess where this goes when a greedy Multinational Company promises something), they moved production first to Poland, then onto China, India, Brazil and Mexico, closing plants in UK, Canada, New Zealand, USA and Ireland.

          1. theModge

            Re: Entirely legal

            I live within Chocolate smelling distance of the Cadbury Bournville plant. It's got Mondelez branding on it, but it's still very much producing chocolate.

            1. Scott 53

              Re: Entirely legal

              Chocolate smelling distance

              Happy days. Living in Selly Oak as a student, sometimes you'd smell Cadbury's (particularly nice on an Old Jamaica day) and on other days you'd get a waft from the Davenports brewery on Bath Row. Showing my age, I admit.

              1. theModge

                Re: Entirely legal

                I'm living in Stirchley, as a university employee, but I can confirm that Selly Oak is as student dominated as ever.

            2. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: Entirely legal

              The OP referred to the Cadburys Somerdale chocolate factory in Keynsham, which Kraft promised would remain open after the merger, only to shut it down and close it permanently days after the merger closed. The production of its products was moved to Poland, and it caused not only a huge uproar in the Bristol-Bath area, but also nationwide. Bournville is the only one still producing chocolate products (it's where their R&D lab is). Mondelez also have a plant in Banbury (produces Kenco coffee).

        4. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Entirely legal

          You are incorrect where Cadbury's is concerned (well, ownership/licensorship anyway).

          Cadbury was sold to KRAFT (and now is owned via a merger/reorg/demerger by Mondelez). Hershey's is owned by the Hersheys Trust Company. Never have the two had a relationship other than Hershey's making Cadburys under licence.

          You are correct in saying that Cadburys was rubbish in the US, and now is rubbish elsewhere too... But then again, I have *always* found Cadburys to be rubbish compared to brands that do *not* use palm/vegetable oil as part of the 'fats' portion in chocolate. There was a massive row in the European courts over that (which Cadburys won in the end).

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Entirely legal

        Johnson have done something similar on their Glade timed/sensor spray scent thingies

        In their case it's not RFID chippery but two black stripes on the spray nozzle that aren't there on generic cans. The workaround is to swap out the nozzle from a genuine one - or a black marker pen.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Entirely legal

      "Or am I actually renting it from GE under some new type of contract?"

      If you are, and it breaks, then GE are obligated to REPAIR it as part of that rental agreement, etc etc.

      A good lawyer can have a field day with this kind of stupid mindset on the part of the makers - and a few cases like that - showing that their civil liabilities go through the roof (death of a billion paper cuts) - would have a far more salutory effect on their attitude than any level of copyright laws might do

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Entirely legal

      @oiseau

      *

      Recently I bought a really nice Acer Swift laptop. The standard install process for Windows 10 is designed to FORCE me to set up a Microsoft online account (note slurpage: email account and mobile phone number mandatory). Whose laptop is this anyway?

      *

      So....an hour later, and a hard drive reformat later, this nice laptop is running Fedora32. And no online accounts and no M$ slurpage.

      *

      What puzzles me is this -- Why do people put up with this stuff? RFID chips in water filters? Mandatory slurpage of PII by enormous corporations? And the matching extended costs too?

      *

      .....and Fedora 32 is MUCH nicer (in every way) than Windows 10!!

      1. Qumefox

        Re: Entirely legal

        Don't give Windows 10 an internet connection during installation/OOBE and it'll still let you create a local account. Of course it'll try bug you to setting up a microsoft account when you do finally let it lose on an internet connection, but on this second try, you can tell it to piss off.

  2. Rich 2 Silver badge

    What a mess we’re making!

    Anyone who has seen the film Brazil Will recognise the similarity with the ‘unofficial ducts repair’ scenes.

    Any wafer thin concept of social responsibility that there ever was with business is quickly evaporating. Especially in the land of the free. Where else?

    1. RM Myers Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Land of the Free

      I'm not sure China is really the land of the free (China-based Haier is the manufacturer).

      1. Rich 2 Silver badge

        Re: Land of the Free

        Ok. The ‘land off the free’ remark is out of place. It’s still true though

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Land of the Free

          Surely ripping off consumers with DRM is an American invention

          Is China stealing our IP?

          We can't let a rippoff gap develop

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Land of the Free

          Yep. I don't think they are selling DRM fridges *inside* China. No, the market is very very much else where. I wonder where. ;)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Land of the Free

        When it comes to repairing consumer electronics, China is a much more free place than the US. Hence the US whining about its lack of respect for IP...

        They're also more efficient. Some years back, I've had a laptop motherboard fixed, in a small shop in Beijing, for the equivalent of a few €. As in, the tech did not propose to replace the whole thing with a new one. He actually took a soldiering iron to replace some component or other near the CPU.

        1. coconuthead

          Re: Land of the Free

          But was it a lead-free soldier?

          1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: Land of the Free

            "But was it a lead-free soldier?"

            I'm no expert but I reckon most soldiers like to be lead-free.

            Have one on the house.

            1. Alistair Silver badge

              Re: Land of the Free

              I'm no expert but I reckon most soldiers like to be lead-free.

              .... well.. .the functional ones ususally are....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonder in anyone's managed to hack their air conditioners while they were at it. Using their app requires an account and all that rot, no thank you.

    1. Ozan

      I hate so much for remote apps which ask login while it only controls something local. All that cloud (I mean mainframes with cooler name) bullshit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This ain't cloud. It just plain Big Brother. Probably want to use it to find ways to void the warranty.

      2. The Dogs Meevonks

        If it requires an app or any kind of login outside of my own network to be used... it's not being purchased.

        Fuck all of this IoT shit.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge
          Mushroom

          "If it requires an app or any kind of login outside of my own network to be used... it's not being purchased."

          So what happens when (not if) EVERY air conditioner requires it? And it's not like it's getting any colder on this dirt ball, meaning alternative methods of cooling may not be viable for much longer, either...

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Wonder in anyone's managed to hack their air conditioners while they were at it.

      You mean GE air-conditioning units can only use GE RFID tagged filters...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So that's one (or actually now two) brand names to avoid.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "..corporate communications director promptly replied that GE sold its appliance unit to China-based Haier in 2016, which continues to use its brand"

    Well perhaps GE should have considered that people will assume that a product with GE on it was at least endorsed by them and therefore it won't be good for their overall brand that people are pissed that their fridge has DRM.

    The whole who own GE appliance division now remind me of 30 Rock when Jack Donaghy explains how NBC, is owned by GE, who is owned by Kabeltown which is a division of Sheinhardt wigs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The development of this sorry just adds insult to injury: not only will the fridge not work unless you fork out extra dosh, with the added "intelligence" it is probably also recording your rather colourful opinions of the matter and sending a live feed back to China.

    2. RM Myers Bronze badge

      Overall Brand

      GE is basically out of the consumer goods market. They are in the process of selling their lighting unit, which is their final consumer product. I suspect companies and governments buying jet engines and power generating equipment will be more concerned about the reputation of those specific products.

      Also, GE is very close to bankruptcy due to their old long term health insurance business, and the GE brand was probably the most valuable part of the appliance business for Haier, so I'm sure they had much choice but to give Haier the right to use the GE brand. Otherwise, they probably would have been sued by their own stockholders and creditors.

      1. Killing Time

        Re: Overall Brand

        Don't know where you got the idea GE is close to bankruptcy unless you are an acolyte of Stephen Tusa and enjoy shorting the stock.

        They sold the Appliances unit some years ago when they could see the margins were dropping and they had an opportunity to sell it at a premium. Their current problems actually stem from what they spent the money from that sale on. You really need to get your facts straight before commenting on what the stockholders would do.

        I doubt many Wall Street traders while away their hours as commentards but as a general rule of thumb, its good practice.

        1. RM Myers Bronze badge

          Re: Overall Brand

          Even if you don't agree with Harry Markopolos's assessment of GE Capital's reserves for long-term care policies (and I tend to give it some credence, having been involved in insurance reserving and having witness some massive under reserving leading to company failures), the other statements still apply. The GE brand has value in consumer electronics, and excluding it from the sale would have definitely lowered the price. Given the current legal environment, that probably would have lead to a stock owners class action suit.

          1. Killing Time

            Re: Overall Brand

            No I don't agree with him and see it as the hedgefund backed shorting move it is, along with many other actual shareholders.

            I am also realistic enough to understand that brand names have value and market share.

            As to your last point, if the purchase of Alstom, which directly lead to their current troubles, didn't raise an action, this wouldn't.

            In the real world, people just sell their stock.

            1. RM Myers Bronze badge

              Re: Overall Brand

              This discussion has probably been overly long, since I don't have any real interest in GE other than following the problems they have had with their loss reserves, and only because I did loss reserving for years (P&C, but workers comp has similarities to GE's book, particularly the long tail and effect of future medical infation). As far as shareholders lawsuits a quick search will turn up hundreds of articles. As an example, this quote from www.cfo.com (1)

              "Among business practices that investors don’t like, one of the most reviled is when companies in their portfolios provide scanty information about planned M&A deals.

              Shareholders’ antipathy for the practice is so great that in 2017, they initiated class-action litigation in response to 73% of public companies’ announced deals valued at more than $100 million, according to a new report from Cornerstone Research. ..."Between 2009 and 2015, investors challenged more than 90% of such M&A deals, Cornerstone reports."

              (1) https://www.cfo.com/ma/2018/07/shareholder-lawsuits-over-ma-deals-are-dwindling/

              Note that the "dwindling" in the URL refers to the drop from 90% to 73%. Also, this is all deals, not just the ones with "scanty information".

              Have a good day.

              1. Killing Time

                Re: Overall Brand

                I agree, yet you have contrived to make it longer by your cut and paste and in doing so appear to have confirmed my point regarding the acquisition of Alstom.

                Very kind of you.

                Have a great day.

                1. MJI Silver badge

                  Re: Overall Brand

                  Getting puzzled here.

                  GE that is a US company isn't it?

                  Alstom is a European company. This version created by merger of GEC (British company) and Alsthom (mainly French company). After GEC was killed by crap management.

                  So nearest thing to aviation with the European company would be BAe from EE (Lightning).

                  Can someone clear up link between GE and Alstom (not Alsthom or GEC Alsthom)

                  1. Killing Time

                    Re: Overall Brand

                    Simple, they bought them but were forced to divest various parts such as the rail division and some other bits, by the French government who had part ownership.

                    It turned out to be a dog of a deal.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Overall Brand

            "The GE brand has value in consumer electronics"

            When referring to brands that are sold on in this way it's more appropriate to use the past tense.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Mushroom

      If there's a GE logo on the fridge, I don't give a flying frak who is controlling their appliance production. It is GE that is responsible and it is GE that gets the blame.

  6. Richard Boyce

    Reminds me of Linksys owned by Cisco

    Cisco decided it was a good idea to use the patch update system of their retail customers' routers to sieze control of them, and make commercial demands of the owners in return for allowing them to configure their property again. After the scandal that erupted, they did a U-turn and sold the Linksys brand. People do remember these things, even years later, as this post shows. Don't treat your customers with disrespect after purchase if you want repeat custom.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of Linksys owned by Cisco

      Perhaps it should be part of consumer legislation to post a conspicuous notice on packaging when a brand has been sold on.

  7. Shady

    Next great idea

    Very surprised HP haven’t yet started selling printers that recognise only the chemical signature, or invisible to the naked eye micro dots, or a RFID thread woven into their paper, so that they’ll only print on HP branded paper.

    Counting the minutes until another commenter points to a link or patent that says this is on the way....

    1. ExampleOne

      Re: Next great idea

      Well, HP are the only printer vendor I am aware of trying the subscription ink circus. Ironic, given Canon, Epson, and Brother are all going down to ink tank/CIS system route.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Next great idea

        I'll believe it when I see one of them make a portable CIS photo printer. Photos are the one reason I use inkjets, and usually while on international trips where photo labs aren't guaranteed.

        Oh, and HP is taking a CIS route, too, with the Smart Tank printers.

      2. joe bloggs 6

        Re: Next great idea

        My Canon inkjet printer keeps nagging me that I am not using Canon cartridges each time I replace one.

        Why would I? I can buy a full set of compatibles for less than the price a single Canon cartridge. And a full set is more than I paid for the printer! I can't notice any particular image quality issues with the compatibles.

        I'd happily use Canon cartridges if they were a sensible price. I'm stopping the printer from getting any firmware updates just incase they try something stupid like blocking non-Canon ink.

        1. Old Used Programmer

          Re: Next great idea

          That's the business model pioneered by King Gillette. He figured that he could practically give away his razors, so long as people had to buy his blades. At the time, the blades were carbon steel and only lasted for a few shaves. Then came modern, stainless steel blades that lasted far longer...

          And for the previous mentions of HP...the *did* try to force people to buy their toner cartridges, and got shot down over it. More recently, they've said they're raising prices on the printers because they don't profit from replacing toner cartridges.

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: Next great idea

            Then came modern, stainless steel blades that lasted far longer...

            What blades do you use? After about 50 years (on and off) of using safety razors, I use Feather blades. They are the best I have tried, and give an excellent shave without cuts/soreness; but still only last a week (Mon-Wed, one side; Thu-Sat the other; Sunday, no shave or both sides - Cost about £0.30 each).

          2. Kobus Botes
            Big Brother

            Re: Next great idea

            @Old Used Programmer

            "At the time, the blades were carbon steel and only lasted for a few shaves."

            I had a very interesting conversation with someone many years ago (somewhere in the nineties). He worked in an R&D lab for a large company producing razors amongst other things (he was unwilling to say who it was) and according to him a couple of them unofficially experimented with carbon coatings on blades. They managed to produce blades that were super sharp and did not go blunt: at the time of our conversation he was still using the first of the three blades he kept for himself - this was some three to four years later.

            Management was less than enthusiastic about these shenanigans (they very enthusiastically gave a presentation and demonstration to senior management, all starry-eyed about the possibilities and market reaction) and ordered them to hand in all samples for destruction. All further research in the same vein was forthwith forbidden to boot.

            Most of us are naïve that way. Just look at the history of the Internet and networking. I certainly (in my small involvement in establishing Intrawebs) never considered the malicious ways sharing and linking could be abused, given the bright new future .

      3. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Next great idea

        The last Epson printer I had a couple of years back was a royal pain in the arse if I tried to use even their own refilled ink cartridges.

        The pop ups telling me about the dangers of not using freshly paid for, overpriced epson cartridges made it almost impossible to print and prevented access to advanced print options.

        It was still in good nick when I threw the poxy thing in a skip.

        The HP I replaced with recently had a flying lesson.

        Any recommendations for an occasional home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses?

        This attitude from big business trying to maintain control of your property after you have paid for it is a real pain, I wonder where it will all end?

        Will MacDees be selling burgers as a service soon?

        1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C
          Pint

          Re MukkyDees

          Don't know about burger chains' business plans, but lager brewers adopted the "you only rent it" business model donkey's years ago.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

          Color laser printers don't dry up and the prices have gotten lower. But probably not as good for printing pictures. Mine is several years old so I can't say if picture printing is better now.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

            From memory, if you want good photos then Dye Sublimation is a reasonable choice. And being solid, the ink doesn't dry up.

            I've no idea how the financial side works out though.

            And then there used to be a wax printer that used solid blocks which it melted and then spat at the paper ala ink jet (IIRC). No drying up there, but I suspect the wax blocks aren't/weren't cheap.

            1. Zarno Bronze badge

              Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

              That'd be good old Tektronix phaser tech, popularized after the division was sold to Xerox and used in the Xerox Phaser lineup.

              Never seen/used one, but hear they worked well.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

                "Never seen/used one, but hear they worked well."

                I had two as part of the fleet

                Waxjets (and they _were_ waxjets) worked really well if you used them for several prints every single day. The moment you let them sit for a while was when they'd gum up - and they worked by having tubs of melted wax inside them so having them sitting on anything except a _VERY SOLID AND STABLE SURFACE_ was a bad idea (anyone kicking the table would upset them and they took over an hour to cool sifficiently to be safe to move)

                If you only used them occasionally (or avoided color printing) then you were guaranteed to have the usual inkjet gumming problems - on steroids - because cleaning them involved working with a hot plate running at 80C

                Frankly i was glad to see the back of them. I have a number of very nice pictures they printed but the hassle factor was way too high for the crayons they used

            2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

              Dye Sublimation gave good pictures - at a price FAR HIGHER than inkjet. Any printed image (even a single full stop!!) used the same amount of the dye coated sheet as a full colour photo. I think that it died a death once inkjets got good enough except for specialized uses (like ID cards) where instant drying is an advantage.

              (The used dye sheets are also a security hazard as they have a negative image of what was printed.)

              Just use compatible inks or printers with refillable ink tanks.

            3. calmeilles

              Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

              I've no idea how the financial side works out though.

              A quick Google suggests $prohibitive… though to be honest I didn't look far, stopping at the £400 set of inks.

            4. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

              And then there used to be a wax printer that used solid blocks which it melted and then spat at the paper ala ink jet (IIRC). No drying up there, but I suspect the wax blocks aren't/weren't cheap.

              They had one at a place I worked; the prints were top-notch, but at eye-watering prices. Especially when you'd only use one sporadically, as it did have some kind of cleaning or calibration routine that it would perform either on every power-up or at regular intervals (every week, IIRC).

              Back then it was the only printing tech that could deal well with overhead sheets.

              1. My other car is also a Trabant.

                Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

                Xerox make good wax printers that are cheap to run but they are seriously expensive. They also really need to be powered up all the time; every time you power them up a load of wax goes through (or used to when I was working with them). The biggest cost is the continuous heating, if you don't use them very much. But they are very good for busy marketing departments and the like.

                The shoe sized wax blocks are quite cheap, and the whole thing is really quite environmentally friendly - hardly any packaging.

        3. Natalie Gritpants Jr

          Re: Next great idea

          Yes, don't use an inkjet, get a laser printer. Been very happy with my Samsung printer/scanner/copier, but they've sold the business to HP so can't recommend either of them.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: Next great idea

            The wost bit about Samsung having sold off its Printing Division to HP. Was the sad fact that HP had to almost instatly gimp the Mobleprint App on my Phone. Which was an awsome way to just fire up the MFD, and scan a slate of Documents, and have them directly deposited in to which ever eMail / Messanger App I needed.

            Sadly the only work around is to find an older (working copy), published by Samsung. Which I'm saded to say is always nagging me ab out wanting to install a broken update.

            Makes me wonder what my next Printer should be. I would have likely stuck with Samsung, because I have a sething hatred for HP So I guess Samsung... Asumuing they still somehow still exist in some GE / Telefunken / <INSERT OTHER RE-BADGE: HERE!!> I guess will also be offf my list. But, I guess It will still be some form of Laser or other, that I'll be going for. I've hav the same Printer for over 10 Years now. and, I've only had to replace the toner cart just the once. yeah good luck just trying to print a single sheet after just a month after installing Ink. And, you still wonder why people want HP to die??

        4. DryBones

          Re: Next great idea

          Brother laser printer, black and white or color depending on your major need.

          Just take your photos to the kiosk or drugstore, they use superior quality real photo stuff, and the cost isn't that prohibitive. For the rest, non-drying non-water-soluble laser toner is the way. Lasts for years and years.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Next great idea

            And if you're going somewhere where photo labs aren't guaranteed? That's the primary reason I keep a PhotoSmart.

        5. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Next great idea

          "Any recommendations for an occasional home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses?"

          Yes: Use a laser printer

          1. Evil_Goblin

            Re: Next great idea

            Kyocera do a decent colour laser/scanner/copier with pretty much all the bells and whistles for under £300 these days, comes with enough toner for 1200 pages straight out the box as well.

        6. ckm5

          I have a Brother

          I've been through several brands incl. Epson & HP. I now have a Brother all-in-one - it's my second one, I only upgraded to get double-sided printing and an auto-feeder....

          Otherwise, dead reliable, cheap 3rd party ink and does pretty much everything without fuss. Never had a problem with ink drying up and it sometimes goes months between printing, although it will randomly auto-clean.... Also, works perfectly with a Mac as a printer & scanner.

        7. sadsteve

          Re: Next great idea

          Get a printer that uses a dye ink as opposed to a pigment ink. I've got a Canon wide platen printer that uses dye based inks and I've had it off for months at a time without it clogging when I start it up again.

      4. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Next great idea

        Well, HP are the only printer vendor I am aware of trying the subscription ink circus.

        Ink-subscription services are pretty common in the business arena. When you have a couple hundred or more workgroup printers or floor-standing MFDs printing thousands of pages per week each, a subscription service makes sense.

        1. dgeb

          Re: Next great idea

          I’m not going to disagree about it being commonplace, but that situation is when it makes the *least* sense to use a subscription model.

          When you have a sizeable fleet of devices in the same model range, simply keeping a stock of spares adds relatively little overhead. Running them at high duty cycle makes that even more true, as you’re going to do reach the replacement windows for all components on a regular basis.

          It’s when you have a single large device that is expensive (from your perspective), and/or used lightly enough that something like an imaging unit replacement is an unexpected expense that it can make sense to have a subscription plan for service and consumables - you are in fact passing on the risk to an organisation that meets the ‘sizeable fleet’ description above.

    2. DS999

      Re: Next great idea

      HP's subscription ink is actually not a bad idea for light home use. I have the "free for under 15 pages a month" plan, where I have to pay $1 per 10 pages for extra. I've only had to do that once when I had to print a few dozen pages. If I had to print hundreds there are better options such as going to a print shop or buying retail cartridges and temporarily swapping them. They have plans that cost money that come with higher monthly allotments and cheaper per page overages for people whose printing needs aren't quite so modest as mine.

      I used to buy cartridges that I had to replace long before they ran out of ink because they dried out due to age and disuse so I was probably paying some insanely high per page rate. A laser printer would avoid that but a color laser multifunction has a much higher up front cost, so I figured I'd try HP's subscription solution this time around. Time will tell how long the printer lasts and how they handle the ink drying up - they automatically send you cartridges before yours run out of ink, but not sure if/how they tell if they are drying up. I wouldn't be surprised if the subscription cartridges are designed to last a lot longer before drying out to avoid this issue, something they had less reason to care about when the consumer was paying for them.

      I got a $129 printer for $40 on closeout so I'm not out much if it doesn't work out.

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Next great idea

      HP no longer provide a PCL5 driver for Win10, so it's not possible to use older Laserjets like the LJ5 I have. This is a fairly recent thing, as I had been using my LJ5 quite nicely with Win10 until a recent update. Now, I am positive this has nothing to do with HP wanting to sell me new printers with DRM'd cartridges, because that would be evil. And Microsoft would never push out a driver upgrade that would stop hardware from working, would it?

      Lucky for me, I found the old PCL5 driver on the web (HP have deleted it from their website...now why would they do that?), which Win10 still accepts. So I am up and running with a printer that works perfectly and shows every sign of outliving me.The HP driver does pop up a message every time I print, warning me that the (brand new) black toner is nearly empty. Hmmm. But the printer, which was free, and easily repairable, is working like a champ.

      Not going to be buying HP again.

      1. Inkey
        IT Angle

        Re: Next great idea

        They do that for linux drivers too...

        Since M$ and hp are all good Foss friends now and offering support for open projects... Weirdly a cups update sent hundreds of older machines to the obsolete pile. Love to know what criteria they use to decide which printers get the chop as there are some drivers that are as old and older that did not get tossed on the pile, considering that there's very little difference between the drivers for similar models... Try installing a driver with the printer off and use a similar model driver...

        10 year old desk jet works fine but according to hp it's obsolete

        1. Norman Nescio

          Re: Next great idea

          They do that for linux drivers too...

          Since M$ and hp are all good Foss friends now and offering support for open projects... Weirdly a cups update sent hundreds of older machines to the obsolete pile. Love to know what criteria they use to decide which printers get the chop as there are some drivers that are as old and older that did not get tossed on the pile, considering that there's very little difference between the drivers for similar models... Try installing a driver with the printer off and use a similar model driver...

          10 year old desk jet works fine but according to hp it's obsolete

          Perhaps some public-spirited programmer will take it into their heads to ensure that drivers remain available and modifiable. I can see such a thing being a shared aim.

        2. Lunatic Looking For Asylum

          Re: Next great idea

          Apple are too close to CUPS for my liking :-(

          I wouldn't trust Apple to do a good thing if they could do a bad thing.

  8. Plest

    E-waste

    I love Apple for this very reason...

    "Oooh look how great we are, we love making the world a better place with our superb technology. You're so empowered by choosing from us...providing you have the required disposable income of course!".

    The second it breaks what's Apple's response? "If it's a current model and you have AppleCare, sure we'll fix it. You mean it's 4 years old?! My God that's at least 2 generations out of date! You need to throw that old piece of crap on a barge full of other e-waste crap that's heading to some third-world nation that deal with this stuff and immediately get on the website and buy a new model! Easy payment terms up to 2 years ( 'cos that's the longest you should be keeping your Apple kit! ) makes sure you can keep feeding the Apple machine."

    Having had a my rant I do have two 2008 iMac's still going strong in my family and a 2013 mabook that's serving a family member doing their A-levels. I also have a 6 year old Samsung tablet that's still going strong. So while I hate the idea of e-waste being dumped on some poor bugger's doorstep some kit, if it's looked after well, does give good service.

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: E-waste

      Son, i just had a 2012 Mac mini repaired, for free. The machine had a problem with one of the USB ports. The local Apple Store replaced the motherboard and put back the 3rd-party RAM, and the two 3rd-party SSDs, all for free. They did try to sell me a new Mac mini. And they knew that I’d been in there evaluating Mac Pros and would, on past experience, be buying at least a dozen for the company in a month or two. Being known as a good customer instead of as a cheap asshole can work wonders.

      1. PATSYQB

        Re: E-waste

        Good customer? Cheap asshole? Sorry - Just to be clear, which one are you ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: E-waste

        They did not replace it for free. Quite obvious you are willfully oblivious to the favours being done and the kickback they are crying themselves to sleep with as you walk in blind.

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: E-waste

      Bless, I recently got an original bondi blue iMac up and running again. Only needed a new hard drive since the original one 'sang' when spinning.

      Apple does make robust hardware from time to time but have been trying to eak out ever last nickle and dime lately and it's showing. As is the obsession with having something new every time (even if that means replacing something that never should have been messed with.. I'm looking at you Mac book pro keyboard).

      On the flipside, the eldest just managed to break the screen on her Acer aspire one and it's going to cost more than a second hand one to get a new screen. The screen was appalling when new anyway but resellers want about as much as for the full HD screen for my works lenovo. Madness...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: E-waste

        Cost of the screen? Is the Aspire One not now EOL so no spare parts? Hence those left are for scalpers or data recovery. Thus the high prices.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: E-waste

          It was a landfill pc when new to be honest, pretty sure it's EOL was about 1 or 2 years after production ended. Such it the joys of modern computers (it was a hand-me-down 4 odd years ago and the eldest had given it a hammering).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FridgeGate

    I'm sure Boris Johnson would approve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FridgeGate

      It all must of happened while I was lying in a fevered haze but I am sure they have acted legally and reasonably, so lets move on.

  10. John Savard Silver badge

    Solution

    Instead of making it legal for consumers to bypass it, they should make it illegal to put this nonsense in products in the first place. Apparently, the voters don't have sufficient control over legislators to bend them to their will instead of that of big corporations. Since they can vote for whomsoever they please, they can fix that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solution

      "Since they can vote for whomsoever they please, they can fix that."

      If that were true, then there wouldn't be such a thing as party tickets and primary elections. For all intents and purposes, to be able to get elected, you need to get on the ballot, and guess who controls that process.

      As for "that nonsense", they usually use the excuse of quality control. Otherwise, they'll claim they'll have to deal with excessive warranty claims due to "stupid mistakes," and at the last, they can threaten to pull out and take rather-important things like their still-active patents with them.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Solution

        In the UK we have safe seats because no one in the area ever elects another 'party'. The problem is that we ALL know from bitter experience that it doesnt matter which tosser you vote for they are all the bloody same, back pocket open at all times and dont give a flying fig about electors between elections, and not even much at elections because once in they are in for life.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Solution

          "In the UK we have safe seats because no one in the area ever elects another 'party'."

          You can't have been paying attention to the results of the last general election. Just check out where some of that 80 seat majority came from.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Solution

            "Just check out where some of that 80 seat majority came from."

            I live in what is one of Labours safest seats. At the last election, the Labour share of the vote dropped noticeably, but nowhere near enough to be any real worry for the incumbent. Although it was quite heartening to see so many other Labour seat, some seen as "safe", be lost in their heartland. Hopefully that shook them up a bit. There's far too much complacency in politics, relying on fighting a very few "swing" seats where all the campaigning happens.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solution

      It is illegal in the EU.

      I'm sure it will be another thing Boris changes to appease Trump.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Solution

        Possibly, but I dont think it is illegal in the EU, certainly fixing your printer so it will only work with approved supplies (i.e. your own very over priced ones) is perfectly legal and widely done.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Solution

          It's illegal according to El Reg: https://www.theregister.com/2002/12/30/eu_tells_hp_et_al/

          1. Damage

            Re: Solution

            Canon told me that they still do region coded printers. They lost out on a sale - as everyone seems to do it they all lost out! Did the EU law actually pass?

  11. Anon

    online profanity filters are awful

    Yes, they don't really work.

    dashdashnewline

    Anon of Sc[aeiou]nthorpe.

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: online profanity filters are awful

      asterisks don't fucking work either, assholes.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Advertent FUD

    TLDR: Your municipal water supply is safe and clean; to ensure that it's likely also full of chlorine, which these filters, marketed with heavy FUD, are often designed to remove.

    "The GE website suggests that a water filter is a good idea to avoid exposure to unfiltered water and sediment, inadvertently offering a sad commentary on public water infrastructure and government funding priorities."

    No, they're very much advertently creating FUD about water quality just like everyone else who sells retail water filters in developed countries. If, like more than 90% of people in the US (I'd assume it's even higher in the UK), you receive your water from a municipal supplier, that water is tested several times a year and the results are available to you from your supplier (some agencies mail out reports to every customer). You will find that the overwhelming majority of you receive water that is clean and safe to drink.

    By contrast, if you have a well or are one of a very small number of people whose municipal agencies are known not to supply clean water, you almost certainly have invested in a properly-sized point-of-entry filtration system; a tiny point-of-use filter is an inefficient and inadequate solution to that problem anyway, and may not be designed to remove the specific type of contamination you have. If you're one of a much larger number of people who have older or poorly-installed plumbing in their own houses, you may well have sediment, heavy metals, and other contaminants in your water, but (a) it's nothing to do with the government unless you live in public housing and (b) you may not even be aware of it because unlike the municipal supply there is no requirement in most jurisdictions that your water be tested at point of use (by your landlord or the person who sold you the property). Depending upon the nature of the problem, these little point-of-use filters may or may not correct the issue, but of course they do so only for that single spigot. If you actually have a significant sediment problem, your pipes and fittings will be filled with it and subject to erosion and premature failure regardless of whether you filter it at point of use.

    The actual reason you want a carbon-block or granulated-carbon filter for drinking water at point of use is not to remove sediment or make the water safe, though it does indirectly reflect those "government funding priorities" you bemoan: it's to remove the chlorine most municipal agencies add to guarantee the safety of your water. While the levels are safe to drink, chlorine doesn't smell or taste very good, and most people prefer water that has not been treated with it or has had it filtered out. Carbon filters do that quite well, and that's why most of the little point-of-use filters you see retailers offering are carbon filters. They will remove some sediment as well, but that's usually not their primary function. There are point-of-use filters designed only to remove sediment, but these are typically only the very cheapest models and are of little use to most people.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Advertent FUD

      The bypass that you can use in these fridges is for setups that have an under sink filter that also supplies drinking water to a small faucet. The leak thing is a joke because if you get a leak its going to be outside the fridge. Under sink filters are themselves a bit of a scam, you can spend upwards of $180 a pop for a filter cartridge.

      Most tapwater in the US is good quality. Where its bad its usually so bad that a domestic filter won't do any good, you'll have to buy bottled water or get used to the weirdest tasting coffee. A water filter is sometimes useful for removing residual chlorine, that's bad for coffee, but you're unlikely to need it. Many states require the water supplier to test the water at regular intervals and publish the results.

      1. swm Silver badge

        Re: Advertent FUD

        "Most tapwater in the US is good quality."

        Tell that to the residents of Flint Michigan. The government actually hid problems with their water quality.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Advertent FUD

          ...and there are still places in the US that use open-to-the-air storage reservoirs for the treated, ready to use "drinking" water. Open to insects and other crawlies, piss and shit from any local critters, bird dropping, dead animal carcases rotting in them and the occasional human pissing in them.

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Advertent FUD

      The BRITA type filters also do a pretty good job of removing Pb and Cu which may come from plumbing - Pb is now unusual, but can come from poor quality modern brass fittings. If you are a tea drinker, these filters will remove Fe and tannic acid which form a dark coloured scum on the surface of tea. Iron tannates are the main ingredient of most inks that were used in Europe for about 1500 years.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Advertent FUD

        If you are a tea drinker, these filters will remove Fe and tannic acid which form a dark coloured scum on the surface of tea.

        Small correction, that tannic acid is extremely unlikely to be in the water for the filters to remove, it is infused into the water with the rest of the tea solubles from the tea leaves.

        1. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: Advertent FUD

          Yes, sorry. I’m a Chartered Chemist - It was a very sloppily constructed sentence. Dry black tea contains about 30mg/g of tannins (often expressed as tannic acid equivalent), of which only a trace amount is free tannic acid. I expect that I hadn’t drunk enough caffeinated beverages before I posted...

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Advertent FUD

      Filters are actually an added risk. Admittedly a small one. If they aren’t regularly cleaned or changed. In fact several of our NHS England customers now specify almost all their kit without filters. Or require automatic self-cleaning ones, if there’s no option.

    4. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Advertent FUD - WRONG

      Look at https://www.businessinsider.com/cities-worst-tap-water-us-2019-3?r=US&IR=T

      for a description of the contaminated water supplies in several cities in the US. (Flint, Michigan was just one bad example).

    5. Jon Smit

      Re: Advertent FUD

      London tap water tastes bloody awful and using a filter helps remove the chewiness, they also reduce the need to descale kettles every couple of weeks. The scum from limescaled tea isn't attractive when you've become used to soft water in another part of the UK.

      1. David Nash

        Re: Advertent FUD

        And vice versa, although the scaled-up kettles and everything else is a pain, if you grew up with the taste of hard water, soft water is not nice to drink.

        1. Glenturret Single Malt

          Re: Advertent FUD

          AND: the frequency of deaths from heart disease is lower in hard water areas than soft.

    6. The Original Steve

      Re: Advertent FUD

      I use both a water jug with a Britta filter and also a kettle (well, hot water dispenser) with a built in Britta filter. I do by 3rd party (Amazon own-brand) filters though as the cost is ridiculous for the branded ones.

      I'm not clued up at a technical / chemical level, but I live in a very hard water area and find the use of the Britta filters soften the water dramatically which results in next to zero limescale in my kettle as well as removing unpalatable tastes and scents which is ideal for light teas.

      I'd rather like it if I could filter the washing machine, dishwasher and shower, but that's purely to reduce the limescale and thus prolong the life of the goods. Although I believe dishwasher salt is mean to do that for me.

      I wouldn't bother with a filter for the taste alone, but 6 years on the same kettle without needing to descale it at all is something of a miracle given I had to do it every few months pre-filter.

  13. chivo243 Silver badge

    so wrong on two counts

    1. Buying a GE Smart Fridge??

    2. Bothering to get involved on behalf of the smart crowd!

    I am totally ready to the Mad Max version of appliances with a twist of Brazil for that unidentifiable flavor.

    1. ortunk
      Mushroom

      Re: so wrong on two counts

      Fridge apocalypse now!

      +1 for Mad Max

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: so wrong on two counts

        If you have Netflix, watch the "Ice Age" episode in the series Love, Death, and Robots.

        Fridge apocalypse for the win.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: so wrong on two counts

          'twas a good anthology series. My wife was especially terrified of the one where cats had evolved thumbs!

  14. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I will never buy a fridge you have to plumb in.

    I have apoplexy at dish/clothes washers that wont take my free hot water cos of some 'efficiency' rating designed by a fucking idiot. But if I want chilled water I'll put a jug in the fridge so I dont have to go back to it if I want more. Whatever next rfid milk bottles that wont let you drink non-gm milk?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I will never buy a fridge you have to plumb in.

      Washing machines these days take in such small amounts of water, and in short bursts, that the pipe run-through time generally means they still have to heat the water, whilst your hot water system is being used just to heat the water in the pipes.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: I will never buy a fridge you have to plumb in.

        Depends on the run length. At our last house, there was about 3 feet of pipe from the boiler to the washer connection. OK, it was a combi, so the argument isn't really applicable - but gas heated water is cheaper (and quicker) than electric heated water.

        When I get my thermal store fitted (currently on hold as the factory shut down), there'll be a circulating pump on the DHW for exactly the reason you cite - I'm peed of with the amount of water we have to waste before we get the hot water we want (often a small amount). Will that be energy inefficient ? Not for most of the year when the heating would be on anyway, and the pipes will be lagged.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I will never buy a fridge you have to plumb in.

      "But if I want chilled water I'll put a jug in the fridge so I dont have to go back to it if I want more."

      Don't you still need to go back to hit the jug more than once? Plus what if you need more than a jug at a time? Plus there's the automatic ice maker (which I've personally found quite useful as it means you don't have to think about ice on a hot day).

  15. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Easy solution

    Look: you're plumbing in the GE fridge anyway, so leave the bypass gadget in, and put a bigger, more easily accessible, and standard size filter in the water line before it even gets to the fridge. Parts easily found at your home center...where you were going anyway to get the parts to hook the water into the fridge.

    Done.

  16. Blackjack Silver badge

    Please correct me if I am wrong but...

    Is still possible to get dumb fridges, right? Or they are no longer being made?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Please correct me if I am wrong but...

      My appliances resent that designation!

      My fridge/freezers keep everything cold to the correct temperature, automatically switching on and off when required. They don't need software patches, and the fridge even puts a light on when you open the door!

      Dumb, they are not!

  17. razorfishsl

    Ahhhh... yess..

    Haier over a decade ago I was doing business in China with this "bankrupt" company...

    then the Chinese military got involved with CCP backing...

    so we stopped doing business with them..

    Why would a refrigerator company with military backing, what RFID in a fridge.....

    1. Tim99 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      You might find it difficult to deal with any large Chinese company that is not backed by the military. I have a working theory that China is relatively stable because they just replaced the Emperor, Court, and Mandarins with the General Secretary, The Party, and The Military...

      1. My other car is also a Trabant.

        My view for what little it is worth is that the Chinese government system is Confucianism with capitalist characteristics. Though in your example the Party replaces the bureaucracy (that was selected by examination), and the military is still the military.

        1. Tim99 Silver badge

          Yes you are right. Mandarins were the bureaucracy, I structured my rule of thumb, because military positions of authority were also Mandarins - Military Mandarin Ranks went from Field Marshalls/Generals down to Corporals/1&2Class Privates. As you know, Party committees are embedded in almost all state bodies, as well as most private and state companies. So, in a similar way to the structures of the Imperial past; when the administrative, bureaucratic and leadership functions for the military were generally controlled by Mandarins; the party permeates nearly everything.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The Chinese military own loads of normal civilian companies. As well as some of their armaments factories. It helps pay the bills. Or the massive illicit bonuses for top officials to squirrel away. They had cash back when state owned companies were being sold off.

      In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard Corps had so much cash from their own factories and investments that when the government privatised the national telecoms provider they outbid everyone and bought it for cash.

      In dictatorships, it’s useful to have alternative supplies of cash, for bribes or bureaucratic infighting.

    3. crayon

      "Haier over a decade ago I was doing business in China with this "bankrupt" company..."

      Haier is actually a customer friendly company that listens. And it is profitable so not sure why you're claiming they are bankrupt - unless you're being witty and saying they're morally bankrupt.

      A decade ago:

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/china/2010/06/17/haier-a-chinese-company-that-innovates/

      Care to divulge what business you was doing with this "bankrupt" company a decade ago?

  18. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Useful information

    I need a new fridge. It's useful to know brands to avoid.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May be legal, but its immoral

    It causes people to throw away instead of repairing. I threw a functional HP printer away because some HP wanker decided that I couldnt use cheap ink but had to buy their hugely over priced offering. Strangely enough I wont be buying any more HP crap either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: May be legal, but its immoral

      Not legal in the EU!

  20. Stork Silver badge

    Boats?

    Really? Boats is for sure one of the things I want to be able to fix.

    Or do they have something different in mind? Mine is small and with sail.

  21. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    1st ammendment

    "categories where repairs that require breaking digital locks are still not allowed, like boats, medical equipment, and game consoles."

    Except, due to that pesky 1st ammendment, I can tell you how to crack boats, medical equipment, and game consoles as much as I want, and they can't do jack shit about it.

    And if some judge decides to ignore the bill of rights and US Constitution, one can then fall back to the prohibition-era policy (this is when the nutjobs in the US tried to prohibit alcohol...), a few of the brewers published guides to make sure you DIDN'T produce unauthorized alcohol like "Make sure you don't put in 2 spoons full of barley; after that, I implore you, whatever you do, DO NOT store the bottles for 30 days or they may go through fermentation and produce unauthorized alcohol." 8-)

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 1st ammendment

      Except, due to that pesky 1st ammendment, I can tell you how to crack boats, medical equipment, and game consoles as much as I want, and they can't do jack shit about it.

      For that I don't need your instructions, nor the 1st amendment (which does only apply in the US of A anyway). Just a large sledgehammer.

      (the one with the Fubar XXL hanging off its belt)

  22. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Pint

    My Toaster Tale

    I raise a glass to Sunbeam despite my beloved toaster going "bang" and letting the magic smoke out in a most spectacular way.

    Ah well, 40 years of daily use is a good run. Cover off and the single controller chip has clearly cracked in two. Sob. Never mind; a quick bit of rewiring and it still toasts, providing the plunger is held down - a mere inconvenience.

    But it wasn't designed for minutes of sustained finger pressure a day so the nice knob of the plunger snapped off.

    So it's out of its casing, operated by a length of wooden dowel. It looks deadly but isn't, is still working wonderfully, has many more years of life left in it, and it hasn't once groused me up over the internet or made any complaint.

    1. Lunatic Looking For Asylum

      Re: My Toaster Tale

      > Cover off and the single controller chip has clearly cracked in

      Can't you replace with a PIC ?

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: My Toaster Tale

        Can't you replace with a PIC ?

        I had thought of that, and it's still on the list of possibilities, but figuring out the hardware drive for the AC coil which magnetically holds the plunger down and power on is a little complicated, outside my current skill level. The pot ADC reading and timing is easy.

        Having rewired it as a quick fix it's not yet bubbled up the to do list.

        Besides; I might get tempted to turn it into an IoT device :)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: My Toaster Tale

          "Besides; I might get tempted to turn it into an IoT device :)"

          Careful there, steady on old chap!

          "Would you like some toast?"

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: My Toaster Tale

      the single controller chip has clearly cracked in two

      You got the wrong model...

  23. Jim Whitaker

    Maintainability

    Right to repair? - I'd establish a duty for devices to be easily repairable. For example, replacing the battery in my mobile phone should require no tools (other than an "ordinary" screwdriver perhaps). No need for prising, heating to melt glue or "proprietary" restrictions, e.g. trademarked connectors.

    1. My other car is also a Trabant.

      Re: Maintainability

      There's only one problem: I have somewhere an old IP68 satnav with removable battery. The space taken up by the reinforced back, the O ring slot and the thumbscrews would roughly double the thickness of the phone, for something that nowadays only needs to be done every few years.

      At one time with some Sony models you could just buy a kit of a battery, and preglued new back. I'd be perfectly happy with that.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cycle trainers too

    My brother paid almost £1k for a Trax cycle trainer, with software & routes to while away the winter wetness. Garmin bought the company and have blocked access to the software, etc unless he pays £XX a month to use what he owns and had stored on his own computer.

  25. Manolo
    FAIL

    Unnecessary hack

    As mentioned in the comments on Hackaday, the whole hack is unnecessary.

    The fridge will keep dispensing water after the expiration date on the filter and will just display a negative number of days on the display.

    https://hackaday.com/2020/06/14/the-water-filter-that-wouldnt-defeating-drm-with-duct-tape-and-a-dremel/

    "The author of this article even states that he later discovered (after destroying his fridge) that this isn’t a real lockout, it’s just an annoying warning. We all hate DRM, this isn’t DRM. It’s a just someone who went HAM on their fridge without looking too closely at it first.

    From the first paragraph of the article: (UPDATE:After this article has made it around a couple people let me know that the fridge would, in fact, continue to work just would roll over to a days-past mode. That said I can now buy 15$ filters on Amazon vs 50$ DRM filters. Oh and no more triangle of doom on my fridge HMI)"

  26. Citizen99

    In my youth we had a COMET-supplied Washer/Dryer with electro-mechanical programmer and knobs and switches. It was a 'doddle' to replace parts when they wore out, until they became unobtainable/unrepairable.

    Recently had to replace a 'Bosch' washer after the second time of renewing the brushes; this time the error control electronics would not reset. Slightly off topic, unrepairablity more than DRM, but still ...

    Rant continues ... and touch screen car electronics you can't adjust without taking your eyes off the road ...

  27. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Penny for your thoughts

    And in the midst of all this, a particularly stupid idea has reared it's head again...

    https://news.sky.com/story/beatles-penny-lane-in-danger-of-being-renamed-if-slavery-link-proven-says-liverpool-city-mayor-12007116

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