back to article Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

There is much that people of breeding and taste can and should despise in gaming. Some of it comes from the angry undertow of sullen boyish aggression that pervades the over-muscled, over-weaponised first-person-shooter end of the market, where it is impossible to pick up the controller without hearing your mother tell you to …

  1. Waseem Alkurdi

    Spot-on analysis

    But that first paragraph is way off the mark. Those stereotypes ...

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again.

      Re: Spot-on analysis

      I managed about 2½ before giving up. Not sure what point the author wanted to make but "don't bother reading this drivel" is the one I took away. Which is a bit sad as right to repair is an important matter but I just wasn't in the mood for the tired clichés.

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Re: Spot-on analysis

        Dear Reg, can I please have an option to hide comments from people who can't be bothered to read the article?

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Spot-on analysis

          Perhaps a question to answer to prove you understood it? But then a lot of arguments would have no comments at all, I suspect.

          But then, I don't understand writings elsewhere about American football, whose writers seem to believe sincerely that they are communicating.

      2. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Spot-on analysis

        I had never seen the gaming pc thing as an environmental issue but it so clearly is.

        Tired cliché seems a tad harsh. That observation leads directly to notion of not limiting pc power to make a part of the game. Many sports that use technology limit it so that each player has a fair chance of winning based on thier own ability.

        Cycling has minimum weight limits, car racing max power output. Why not make doom a fair fight.

        Then the race becomes how cheap and reliable can you make a gaming rig. For developers how much can you squeeze out of the hardware. You can spend a huge amount on mental energy on software with comparatively little CO2.

        It would be something that those that run competitions could dictate without the need for legislation. Should be good for the sport, and reduce their capex. Game centres would be on board.

        If the state permited occasional standard gaming rig power upgrades based on the countries CO2 production, kids might pay a bit more attention to macro environmental matters.

        I'm not much of a gamer but it seems like a win win win.

        1. Vometia has insomnia. Again.

          Re: Spot-on analysis

          It was the gamer stereotype I found irksome, but the subject of power consumption is a real problem that does need solving. It's not just the computer idling hot (my games PC has an i7 in it which seems to run pretty hot, and as a result I'm often in a hurry to turn it off; if I forget, my lair can be quite uncomfortable even if it's just been sitting there twiddling its virtual thumbs) but that some of the software is less than ideal. It's stuff you wouldn't necessarily expect such as pause menus in games that send the temperatures soaring, much more so than during actual gameplay, and is something that seems to be a common problem; it's been this way for years, unfortunately. "There must be an answer", though I'm not entirely sure what it is.

          Edit: oh yeah, and "make Doom a fair fight": I remember when we had a Megastream installed at work and my co-worker had a lot of fun with people using their high-latency dial-ups. That really wasn't fair! :D

        2. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: Spot-on analysis

          @teknopaul “I had never seen the gaming pc thing as an environmental issue but it so clearly is.”

          Is it really that much of an issue? Home PCs are responsible for 3% (previous Reg article) of household electricity consumption. Most home computers will not fall foul of the power rules just some gaming PCs, a very small niche of the home Computer market.

          These rules will have little if any environmental impact. If those politicians devising these rules really wanted to have an impact maybe they should be looking at things that are responsible for more than 3% household electricity consumption. But of course, that will impact a lot more voters so let’s just be seen to be doing something.

          “Cycling has minimum weight limits, car racing max power output. Why not make doom a fair fight.”

          Cycling and car racing do have rules in sporting competitions. But then so do E-sports, the competitors use the same equipment normally a console Xbox or PlayStation.

          Also, you are under the illusion that a high-end gaming rig will give you an advantage, it doesn’t. All it does is allow you to turn on all the bell and whistles. 4k, shadows, full particle effects, reflective surfaces do not give you an advantage, they only make the game look better.

          As long as your PC + monitor can do a decent refresh rate at say 1080 upgrading to a top end GPU electricity guzzling gaming rig will not make you better, but the game will look better. Real advantages come from keyboard/controller and a shit hot internet connection.

          Finally, a lot of PC gaming is single player so does fair fight even enter the equation.

          1. juice Silver badge

            Re: Spot-on analysis

            > Is it really that much of an issue? Home PCs are responsible for 3% (previous Reg article) of household electricity consumption.

            Depends.

            I work at home (two monitors + laptop), and have a personal machine, in the shape of an old but relatively powerful dual-CPU Xeon machine running WIndows 10. The only issue is that it's a bit flakey when it comes to hibernation, so it's either "on" or physically switched off.

            Since I live by myself (*sob*) in a fairly small flat - and have a gas boiler - my electricity usage is fairly low; around £1 per day on average. But if I leave the above beast running, that jumps up to £1.50 per day.

            Which isn't a huge amount, and it's certainly something I can live with, as opposed to the cost of upgrading to something which is both measurably faster and less power-hungry.

            But it's still a 50% jump.

            > Also, you are under the illusion that a high-end gaming rig will give you an advantage, it doesn’t. [...] As long as your PC + monitor can do a decent refresh rate at say 1080 upgrading to a top end GPU electricity guzzling gaming rig will not make you better, but the game will look better. Real advantages come from keyboard/controller and a shit hot internet connection.

            Actually, it really does: a faster refresh rate means that your input activity is effectively polled more frequently.

            Nvidia aren't exactly unbiased when it comes to discussing why you should buy a faster/more expensive GPU, but their website does have a nice overview of why professional gamers are competing with Bitcoin miners for the high end gear:

            https://www.nvidia.com/en-gb/geforce/news/what-is-fps-and-how-it-helps-you-win-games/

            For me, it's the same as the financial companies who lay their own fibre optic cables between continents, to shave an extra microsecond or two off their transactional activities. For most companies, that's hugely OTT; for them, it can affect billions of dollars worth of trading!

            1. Geez Money

              Re: Spot-on analysis

              Definitely true that higher end PCs help. Upgrading to 240hz was a day and night difference in gameplay. Things like fast moving heads which tended to be hard to pick out of the blur before suddenly became clear as day things to click on. If you play fast paced games it can be the little difference that consistently puts you over the top.

              That said, it's not like you can't enjoy all games and effectively compete in many games at 60fps so it's going to be down to genres you play.

          2. A. Coatsworth

            Re: Spot-on analysis

            >>Also, you are under the illusion that a high-end gaming rig will give you an advantage, it doesn’t

            A funny, if apocryphal anecdote I read somewhere is that lowering the specs in an older game (was it CS?) can give you an advantage, as it will allow you to see farther in the distance, and sometimes enemies would try to hide behind items, such as foliage, that your pc is not actually rendering.

            1. Geez Money

              Re: Spot-on analysis

              I think you're talking about the smoke/fog effects in the original counterstrike. That wasn't a matter of lowering your hardware specs though, just the quality of the smoke settings, it would replace the cloud of particles that actually obscured your vision with basically just a single flat sprite of a cloud that you could see right around. Something similar happens in csgo with fire, I believe.

              1. juice Silver badge

                Re: Spot-on analysis

                > That wasn't a matter of lowering your hardware specs though, just the quality of the smoke settings

                Yeah - that's partly a combination of technical limitations of the engine, and reducing the amount of work your PC has to do... which gives you a better (and/or more stable) FPS.

                Because that's the other thing as well, Frames Per Second are not fixed. They can wildly vary, especially if there's lots of stuff happening.

                And then there's all the fun with v-sync - if you turn it off, then you'll probably get visual tearing. But if you turn it off, that might drastically drop your effective FPS - e.g. if your machine is managing 50FPS on a 60HZ monitor, then you might end up locked to 30FPS.

                So, yeah. The more grunt in your machine, the more effectively you can tune your in-game experience and the more of an edge it gives you.

            2. the Jim bloke Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: Spot-on analysis

              I remember with the Battlefield Vietnam game, the draw distance for foliage etc was shorter than your sight distance, so a player with no visibility out of the paddy field or whatever they were hiding in, was basically squatting in a naked paddock to anyone sufficiently far away.

              I believe the game wasnt a commercial success...

              I cant remember if the draw distance was user modifiable - definitely an advantage to set it lower.

        3. Jaybus

          Re: Spot-on analysis

          For some odd reason, there are those who don't appreciate being told to limit their energy usage by people who use ten or a hundred times more energy than they do. It's the governmental micro-management that doesn't sit well. If you are about making things fair, then wouldn't it be better to limit household energy usage? No doubt many deeming themselves green, but living in a mansion would balk at that. But just limit the household usage and if people want to use their allotment playing games, then I say.....have fun!

      3. jason_derp Silver badge

        Re: Spot-on analysis

        "I managed about 2½ before giving up."

        What a thorough and productive lad, you are!

        1. Geez Money

          Re: Spot-on analysis

          To be fair, when the text and background are both purple it's hard to read.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spot-on analysis

        I unfortunately read the whole thing. Let me give you the summary:

        "Kids today are evil rape satans who are evil and rape satans and... right to repair is ok... F*CK KIDS TODAY". There were barely two sentences about right to repair in this whole mess of outright wrong, somewhat offensive gamer stereotypes and whinging about how a ZX Spectrum ought to be good enough for anyone.

        We're missing an old man yelling at clouds icon here.

        1. John 104

          Re: Spot-on analysis

          You said it. What a bunch of drivel.

          Who is the state to dictate how I use my own personal items? Because they think it is too power hungry and they determine that my past time is not worthy of electricity? What about all the lauded electric cars they want to run in the state? Will they limit the sale of certain models because they have higher capacity batteries?

          What a load of bull shit. But, not surprising from California. What IS surprising is how many of you here think its such a super idea for the government to further infringe on your rights. If you have a problem with the power and heat generation of your gaming rig, game less. Problem solved.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spot-on analysis

      I think it's something about bureaucrats wanting to reduce the amount of energy penises use or something with that general "vibe".

  2. Jonathon Green
    Thumb Up

    Amen Brother!

  3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    Wow. Just wow. Talk about alt-right to repair...

    Reality is that this is all a big conspiracy theory. You already have the right and the means to repair almost anything, but people can't be bothered.

    These days I make a very nice living fixing things people are convinced by this kind of nonsense article are unrepairable.

    1. devin3782

      You do have the right, yes, but the problem is parts availability. For example Apple has a chip in their chargers/laptops which is from Intersil but Apple made a little tiny change and told Intersil not sell the chip to anyone and this chip blows up often, the chip in question is the ISL9240, lets not forget Apple goes to the ends of the earth to make sure parts don't slip out into the market (Other companies do similar, mostly based on the fact Apple got away with it).

      A GPU card maker (Asus or Asrock) recently told a customer that the thermal pad thickness was a trade secret. The lack of schematics for the equipment is also a huge problem and there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to access wiring diagrams.

      On a slight side note lets not forget the special firmwares in ink cartridges which prevent 3rd party ink from working and a number of anti-consumer practices which artificially shorten the life of products.

      At this point we're way past conspiracy theories.

      1. jonathan keith Silver badge

        IMO, those practices and all the others ought to be punishable under anti-competition / monopoly abuse legislation.

        Better yet, as part of some sort of over-arching climate change legislation, which explicitly states the importance of extending the life of electronic devices through repairs and upgrades, and makes the manufacturers' whole 'upgrade cycle through built-in obsolescence' (or 'designed to fail') illegal.

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          Not so Smart

          I had to dispose of a Smart car with 100,000k on the clock due to built in obselecence of computer components. Made me sick. Never buy anything from Mercedes.

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        The only reason why companies don't publish schematics is that you cannot copyright the wiring of components. So as soon as a schematic is published, another company can just take it make a clone of your product, legally.

        Of course this is limited if you use proprietary components and they would have to write their own firmware.

        Coincidentally companies stopped including schematics once China started copying everything, so no schematics at least delayed appearance of clones by some time.

        These days that shouldn't be a problem anyway, as most electronics do not contain anything new or revolutionary.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Coincidentally companies stopped including schematics once China started copying everything, so no schematics at least delayed appearance of clones by some time.

          China started copying everything or China started making everything?

          When it gets to the point where the 10 different companies go to the same white label manufacturer in China and get the same product only with 10 different names on it, withholding schematics as a way to prevent the product being copied makes no difference. It does make things harder for their customers though.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            I think that idea came after they started copying everything. Manufacturers thought "hang on a minute, they already make our product for fraction of the cost... why don't we make them make our product officially?" and it went from there...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              In the begining

              Chicken or egg?

              Somewhere around creation - in the late 80's - China became a popular place for outsourcing manufacturing because they invariably had the native capacity to learn and organize for any task assigned, and the party saw to it that reliable infrastructure was provided. Every aspect of manufacturing that required low to mid level engineering was covered amazingly well in China at a cost which was essentially zero, and oh so quickly. This was music to the ears of financial experts who were concerned only with quarterly profits, lobbying, and heightening their own worth relative to any other profession within the company.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re. companies don't publish schematics is that you cannot copyright the wiring of components

          well, on that point, Rossmann had a different take: they don't want to publish the schematics not to have them stolen by competition, but to self-incriminate, i.e. that they actually stole (some of) the schematics from the competition...As, potentially, all of them do it.

          1. Jaybus

            Re: re. companies don't publish schematics is that you cannot copyright the wiring of components

            Not really. Chip manufacturers always publish reference designs. When designers with different companies use the same reference design as a guide in their product design, there is likely to be similarities and overlap. There are only so many ways to connect the chip. Nevertheless, that doesn't stop lawyers from using that overlap in trying to claim infringement. It's not self-incrimination so much as self-defense in a litigious World that would make a corp not want to publish.

            The more likely scenario is that at some point company A decided that hardly anyone looked at the schematic and it cost too much to publish it. The others decided that if company A didn't have to, then neither did they. And no corporate conspiracy theory is required to explain it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re. companies don't publish schematics is that you cannot copyright the wiring of components

            Happened a LOT in agriculture, virtually every manufacturer had machines from the competition hidden on site to study and "borrow" ideas from...either bought through an intermediary or provided by a helpful farmer in exchange for an unofficial deal

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Not sharing schematics is a minor inconvenience for someone determined enough to reverse-engineer the product. I've been doing that for years. In my industry it's for legit reasons, such as providing support for products from long dead manufacturers, but the process would be very similar for a counterfeiter.

          For a complex multilayer PCB assembly you could be talking about tens of thousands of dollars to outsource the reverse engineering process. That's clearly out of reach for someone who wants to repair their TV/laptop/tractor. If you are ramping up a production line to sell knock-off iPads, it's a minor line item on your startup cost ledger.

        4. Claverhouse Silver badge

          These days that shouldn't be a problem anyway, as most electronics do not contain anything new or revolutionary.

          Plus the schematics are sent to China to build.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Schematics may or may not be sent to the contract manufacturer. You can easily build an entire electronic assembly without schematics as long as you have the proper build documentation.

            A CM will typically request schematics to aid in troubleshooting or for test development.

      3. Nifty Silver badge

        "You do have the right, yes, but the problem is parts availability"

        This is why cars are (so far) one area where maybe there's still scope. Buy a well known used older model and insurance write-offs destined for breakers yards will supply many parts for you when needed. The knowledge base around cars - often in mechanics' heads - is also good.

        To watch is when manufacturers control the repair of locking systems and engine management units by 'keying them in' to something that only they control. And even then, there's a lively after market of re manufacturing you damaged/worn out keys by cloning them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "locking systems and engine management units by 'keying them in' to something that only they control."

          I'm not an expert, but at least some of this is due to EU regulations for theft prevention. The products we do for the EU market have an elaborate "marrage" between the engine controller, the transmission controller, and the system that talks to the key fobs. The NAFTA products use the same hardware, but don't use all of the fancy software security.

          Documentation on the entire system is on a need to know basis (IME, they're paranoid, so they give you a bit less than you need to know), but they're are references to the "legally mandated" functions.

        2. Karl Vegar

          I guess you have mostly been working on clasics?

          Something as simple as replacing the rear brake pads will require a connection to the onboard 'puter in order to reverse the electric handbrake back to where the calipers will take the new pads and the disk. Some models require you to code in a new battery.

          And there are a lot of settings and diagnostics you can only get at through the diagnostics port. Yeah, they all use the ODB or the ODB-II port, and there is a comono set of commands / diganostics data there. But the standard port was put in to allow US police to plug in a device and check that your car is withing emissions rules. Most of the other stuff is using vendor spesific subsets of the command and diagnostics. There are some 3.rd party tools for some vendors, (VCDS and ODBEleven for VAG for instance), for others like Mercedes there are some pirate versions available. Or the more recent approach, you can lease access to the software to diagnose your car. (Oh, and the brand repairshops are no longer able to buy the software, they must also start to lease the software.)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re. recently told a customer that the thermal pad thickness was a trade secret

        on one hand, I agree that it nicely underlines the point about 'manufacturers' obsessing (and getting paranoid) about their IP, but I do think this was just an extreme case of 'customer disservice', on the most human level, rather than a token of corporate obsessions, filtering down to the lowest-paid bods. In other words, I think it was a 'customer support' dick being just a little dickier than usual, to get rid of a problem (great problem strategy!), aka you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

      5. the spectacularly refined chap

        You do have the right, yes, but the problem is parts availability. For example Apple has a chip in their chargers/laptops which is from Intersil but Apple made a little tiny change and told Intersil not sell the chip to anyone and this chip blows up often, the chip in question is the ISL9240...

        I've downvoted this simply because I'm tired of how often it gets trotted out in the absence of any semblance of evidence. OK, so it's a tiny change over the 9239, but if that's the case you'll be able to explain precisely what that change is.

        I've never been able to locate a datasheet for it so I don't know. Nor, do I suppose, do you. It may well be essentially the same chip with one or two parameters changed for engineering reasons. The point is you don't know and neither do the folks ranting on YouTube without the slightest idea what they are ranting about. Yes, YouTube, none of these people can be bothered documenting their "expert" findings properly.

        Custom components have been around a long time, they predate the transistor, early radio sets did often have one or more custom valves, most CRT TVs featured several such devices because of particular requirements and high production runs. You refer to schematics, but if you ever saw one for most of the home machines of the the 80s you would have noticed most of the off-CPU complexity was in that big chip labelled "ULA".

        1. WaveSynthBeep

          My interpretation of one of Louis Rossmann’s rants on this subject is that they changed the I2C address of the chip, which is a kind of thing chip manufacturers do when they put out a variant chip.

          So the Apple version replies when you talk to address (for example) 0x68 and the generic one only replies when you talk to 0x60. If you swap in the generic one the Apple firmware talks to 0x68, doesn’t get an answer and fails stop. Or it carries on, but if the command is ‘turn on the main power rail’ then not much progress is going to happen beyond there. This low level code may be in the SMC microcontroller which we can’t change even if we hacked up our own OS patch.

          That’s just my surmising as an informed civilian though. I could be wrong.

        2. J. Cook Silver badge
          Flame

          Knowing apple, they probably swapped the VCC and GND pins- they did that for a couple of their the LaserWriter models, which prevented you from using the commonly available Canon engine equivalent components to repair them. That's not why Rossmann uses it in his rant; he's ranting because you can't buy them on the open market, the black market, or any other market outside of cannibalizing another unit that has a working IC, and that particular IC fails often enough that independent repair shops should be able to purchase them in order to keep the broken devices out of the landfill for want of a single chip that should be no more than, say, ~$20 USD*.

          There's also the question of data recovery- Apple solders the storage directly to the board, AND encrypts that data using the TPM module on the board. So for the want of a ~$20 chip, a $3000 computer is junk and all the data on it is gone forever.

          THAT is what the rants are really about. Customer-hostile behavior.

          1. idiot taxpayer here again

            @J.Cook

            The encryption can be turned off if you want a crim to be able to read your data. In any case, your data would not be lost forever.That is what backups are for.You do keep backups don't you, and check them to make sure they work. Of course you do.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              I do keep backups, but a lot of people don't keep any or don't update enough. In addition, even though I've got a backup of the data, the computer I paid a lot of money for has been turned into a paperweight despite the fact that most of the components still work. Do you not see a problem there?

              1. Anonymous Kiwi

                Exactement. I have an eleven-year-old iPad that has yet to fall me as far as storage, ram, gpu or cpu goes. The only thing stopping me from using it for everything is outdated safari.

            2. Anonymous Kiwi

              Backups? What?

              The best thing is if there was no need for backups, you're not replacing the mmc are you?

            3. J. Cook Silver badge

              Yes, but that is not the point.

        3. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
          Stop

          Custom ICs

          I've never been able to locate a datasheet for it so I don't know

          Therein lies the key. Most commodity components (and battery charge controllers definitely fit in that group) do not have NDA requirements, which is perhaps the most common reason datasheets are difficult or impossible to find. This is a very common requirement around GPUs and high speed networking devices (I first encountered this issue about 2000 with a Vitesse multi-gigabit dynamic crosspoint switch).

          For a commodity component to not have a datasheet floating around somewhere means that it has very probably been specifically developed (in this case for Apple) by the silicon vendor for a suitably large sum of money.

          As Apple paid for it, they can insist that the part is available only to them.

          This is not particularly unusual in the integrated circuit industry but the main reason for doing this sort of thing is to pack a lot of functionality required into a single device rather than have 3 or 4 devices but it also needs economies of scale.

          The NRE charge for a typical ASIC can run to $millions so you only get the benefit if you have a suitably large production run.

          In this specific case, I can't really see what engineering change in a pretty standard function would justify going down this route and I therefore must agree that the only engineering reason I can see is to enforce a very expensive motherboard / main board replacement by preventing users or even highly skilled repair people in very well equipped shops from doing what could be a trivial repair job.

          So the evidence is there that the part is unobtainium and the most probable cause is that it has been developed specifically for Apple and no-one other than Apple's CMs are permitted to buy it.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Custom ICs

            And that is why it should be discouraged, including by the use of legislation if necessary. It is unacceptable that something should be written off just because a basic chip has been sequestered by the manufacturer

      6. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        You are right, the problem is availability of parts. It may be possible to nick some parts from a 2nd non working device of the same make/model, although this can work out quite expensive. It's also possible that it won't work anyway, particularly if the part requires some sort of key or serial number to be reported. I believe the Xbox drives (blu ray and onboard storage) do this: The motherboard will only work with the parts with the specific serial numbers it was manufactured with.

        1. Down not across Silver badge

          Yes, and Xbox is worse than that. If you want to replace/upgrade your disk you can't (well, not officially) unlike PS4 that just lets you format it, download and install system software from the web.

      7. SuperGeek

        Don't forget vehicle manufacturers such as Deere and Vauxhall. Deere don't want you tweaking ECU's because, well copyright code. Vauxhall don't want you replacing your own control units or vehicle configuration (adding cruise control or extra speakers etc) because of top secret VCI codes you need to do it to program the modules to "see" the added hardware.

    2. jonathan keith Silver badge

      One major factor in the argument is "ease of repair". You tell me that a laptop or a smartphone is easy to repair, when it uses proprietary screws, the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard, and everything is encased in solidified adhesive.

      This recent Linus Tech Tips video on the Framework laptop shows how to build a laptop well, with the capacity for repairs and upgrades designed in from the start, and gives the lie to all the manufacturers who say otherwise:

      https://youtu.be/0rkTgPt3M4k

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Was going to link to the same video.

        Colour coded screws (and spares in the case) modular bits and bobs (all reliant on USBc interestingly) modeluar replaceable components, and a motherboard that can be used outside the case as well...

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          The modular bits are great, as long as you actually can repair the modules. If modules contain parts that you can't buy spares anywhere, then it's akin to moving the goal post rather than giving the ability to repair.

          If e.g. charging chip on the USB charging module dies, you should be able to buy that chip and replace it. Swapping a QFN chip is literally a minute job.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            They're currently available chips. That might change but if this design is modularised and standardised then someone else can make modules for it anyway. As it's mostly based on USB3 you worry less about the exact chips in the module than you do about the overall function of the module.

            It would be such a good thing if frame.work's laptops and modules became a de facto modularised laptop standard.

            1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

              Well, so far I have not seen schematics nor any manufacturing specs for the modules. They say it will be available or I have not looked hard enough on their website.

              I have an idea for a module, but can't find any documentation.

              I hope it's not the case of riding the hype while not actually providing anything what was promised.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                They will supply schematics to repair shops on request. I guess they're under NDAs and frame.work had to limit circulation. Louis Rossmann: Frame.work isn't virtue signalling; they genuinely support Right to Repair. I wish them success.

      2. GraXXoR

        I was just about to add to the chorus.... If Framework can ship to Japan without breaking the bank I'm in.... I will order a couple of the unbuilt ones and use them as teaching materials for my modern computing class... where we build computers together.. .from Arduinos to i5 powered Linux boxes (sorry, the word boxen still brings me out in a beardy rash) and set them up as web and media servers and video phones etc.

        It will be nice to show the kids that a completely modular computer is possible... Even if RTR is not in time for me, I hope I can educate a bunch of up coming youngsters in the "evils" of proprietary / locked down / black box hardware and get them to push for more openness in the future.

        1. Anonymous Kiwi

          Can you put linux on an arduino?

          1. dvd

            No, not even close.

            It's not it's intended use.

            I believe that you can just about put an rtos on it.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              RTOS

              I've seen (and played a little with) an RTOS on an ATTiny. Not sure which one exactly as it was quite a few years ago and FemtoOS supports a couple of them.

            2. GraXXoR

              Brain fart.

              I meant Raspberry Pi not Arduinos when talking about Linux. Arduinos I only really use for real time control of things like temperature sensors and LEDs.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            "Can you put linux on an arduino?"

            No, because the microcontrollers running them don't have enough ... anything to run it. You need more storage, more RAM, and faster processing just to start. However, there are a lot of similar boards with much faster processors out there which can run Linux easily. Not only are there boards specifically intended for education of which Raspberry Pi is by far the most famous, but you also have companies imitating the Raspberry Pi's usefulness and demonstration boards which chip manufacturers put together to demonstrate the benefits of their products. There is a wide variety out there, and for most use cases, a board already exists to fill them.

      3. rg287 Silver badge

        That laptop is amazing and Linus was rightly very excited about it.

        What I would say though is their options do encourage the pre-built model.

        Linus states that if you order the DIY version it is $300 cheaper than the pre-build. But that price point is actually an unconfigured barebones laptop minus ram, storage, OS (if you want windows), power brick, wifi or any of the expansion modules.

        The base pre-build model is $999, for i5-1135/8GB/256GB/W10Home.

        Speccing the same laptop as a DIY comes to $1106, some assembly required...

        All that being said, it's probably a small price to pay for the config flexibility that DIY gives you. If you want the base processor but 1TB storage then you can do that, which is simply impossible on a lot of new laptops. If you want the top processor and oodles of RAM for builds, but only need a small SSD then you can do that. And if you want it bare for Linux/BSD then you can opt out of paying for a Windows license, which is nice. And you might have components lying around at home which you want to use rather than buying new. The DIY route won't be any cheaper, but you'll get the laptop you want.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          The price does not look too bad, but I'd prefer AMD processor. 4 core Intel feels like buying tech from 2015.

          1. teknopaul Silver badge

            gonna have to downvote you since this article is all about trying to avoid the PC Arms race, essentially PCs were great in 2015. I have never really liked 4k. more space is not necessary if you don't have more pixels. I often wonder if flashy animated UIs were not better UX before the new tech made these tricks possible.

            I noticed my dhcp/dns cache is 10 years old today, its a rpi, natch.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              For most purposes it really doesn't matter how old the CPU's are. It's not as much of a bottleneck as people make out.

              My previous (gaming) computer was one of the original "buggy" AMD Phenoms that would crash if you hit 100% utilisation on all cores and threads. I never noticed any problem with this, and it lasted 13 years in service before it got to the point that I decided it wasn't really capable of running modern games and retired it to a friends kids. It did get a new mid range graphics card every 4 years or so just to keep it competitive, but...

              At work we had a bunch of core 2 duo boxes that due to tight finances were retained in service. I filled them full of memory, replaced the HDD with an SSD and gave them a quadro card for 2 screens and they lasted in service from something like 2008 through to Jan 2020 when Win7 support ended.

              Due to not having enough laptops available for staff at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 these boxes which were still kicking around ended up being wiped and gifted to staff as thin clients so everybody had a decent home setup for working from home, and as only one of them has come back they are probably going to do another 5+ years service from now.

              My point simply is that if a 12 year old CPU is still task adequate for general purpose use, there is no particular reason why a 5 year old one should be a problem. It's not like 2000 where we moved from a 25Mhz 386 to a 1Ghz processor in 5 years.

          2. Anonymous Kiwi

            What's wrong with that?

            I have both: a 4-core amd a6 from 2015

            Edit:

            wait no, 2016, but still, I'm considering upgrading to a Pi 4.

      4. ovation1357

        Really interesting product that I'd never heard of and will now be reading about more, but f**k me, that guy on the video is annoying! I just couldn't keep watching him

        What I'm especially waiting for is a laptop with the option to have a traditional keyboard again (i.e. non-chiclet), and I'd definitely also want physical buttons on the touchpad... Both things should theoretically be something that a fully modular laptop could offer.

        That said, I'm coping better than expected with the chiclet keyboard on my Lenovo P14 although I still miss the keyboard of my T520 and I am _really_ missing the bottom set of physical touchpad buttons (there are still physical buttons above the touchpad which I use although this can be awkward and they're really part of the 'red nipple' track point device embedded in the keyboard).

        Right! I'm off to find and explore Framework's website....

        1. Anonymous Kiwi

          Apple designed something for their later macs where the function keys are replaced by a single touchscreen key, that's long, and apps can program it to show certain buttons.

          What I don't understand is why they don't just make the whole keyboard like that. It solves the keyboard layout problems...

          And they are into minimising key travel...

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            "What I don't understand is why they don't just make the whole keyboard like that. It solves the keyboard layout problems..."

            Take a proper keyboarding/typing course and learn why there are bumps on two keys in the middle row of letters. A good keyboarder can type blind because they type by touch, looking at the paper/screen the whole time. The function keys are not as critical because they're accessed infrequently enough that most people look down to strike.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. MyffyW Silver badge

      Right to upgrade

      Recently doubled the RAM on my desktop PC with a simple clip-in of a DIMM. If only my daughters iBoxen would have such an easy path.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Right to upgrade

        I agree this makes sense, but remember that every socket that sits idle is also e-waste. When we build modular rather than solder we use more sockets and connectors. I wonder how many of the worlds connectors have never been connected ....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Right to upgrade

          If each socket that is used saves a machine being binned for a new one that has the new spec soldered on, then it only requires a very small percentage of machines to be upgraded to break even.

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Right to upgrade

            if

            What proportion of ISA/PCI/PCIe/RAM slots remained unpopulated for the useful life of the device? It adds up over time.

            There are legitimate considerations on both sides of the argument.

    5. elaar

      I remember ringing up Cambridge Audio 25 years ago, getting through to their tech department and talking to the head engineer that designed the actual amplifier model that I was trying to repair. He swiftly told me the bias current measurement I needed to repair it and job done.

      How about that for customer service?

      However, more recently LG informed me that the custom door lock mechanism and sensor for my washing machine is no longer manufactured as my machine went EOL slightly over 3 years ago.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        I recently binned Cambridge Audio CD player amp that died after a couple of years because the overheating sensor went so ot would turn itself off. Since it was all integrated circuits it was not even possible to salvage the amp.

        I imagine the difference is 25 years rather than the company.

    6. Paul 195
      Black Helicopters

      hmmm

      How many different screwdrivers do you use to repair things? And how often do you need to buy new ones? Apple didn't invent pentalobe screwheads because none of the existing ways of connecting screwdriver to screw work properly. They did it to make it harder to open up their stuff.

      If it was just a conspiracy theory manufacturers wouldn't be lobbying so hard to prevent changes to the law.

      Just because the 21st century is filled with batshit conspiracy theories, it doesn't mean nothing is true.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Built to repair?

    In a lot of cases, the kit just isn't expected to be repaired by anyone. In our electronics lab we have instruments ranging from about 35 years to a couple of years old. For the former we have service manuals - right up to stuff around a decade old. Thereafter it all changed. The latest issue we had was with a DVM costing well over a grand, which died within its warranty. The manufacturer replaced (not repaired) it. When I queried this, I was told they don't repair anything these days because it's uneconomic. It's all made in China but the national "service departments" are calibrators and replacement box shifters.

    Yet more WEEE on the bonfires in Turkey and Africa.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Built to repair?

      I started repairing TV's when I was kid, six years old - it was easy and fun then - just turn the TV on for a few minutes, turn it off and put your hand in the back and touch all the valves. All you had to do was just swap out the cold ones and then, most of the time, everything started working again. If it didn't work then I told them I'd get rid of the broken TV but I kept all the warm valves to fix the next one.

      I was so disappointed initially when transistors appeared because it made my work much harder - LOL, but then I started learning a lot more and reading the circuit diagrams so it was actually a bonus.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Built to repair?

        If it didn't work then...

        ... there's a reasonable chance it was the mains filter capacitor.

        However, on the whole, I think it's probably better if right-to-repair doesn't automatcally extend to 6-year-olds sticking their hands into live chassis generating EHT at 15kV+.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Built to repair?

          Yes, certainly that failure was a possibility (I didn't downvote you) although in those days capacitors were very reliable, because they were just physical devices - I think the metal oxide AC power rectifier was a possibility but I was just a kid learning how to fix things then.

          I only got bit hard by a TV once, my dad told me to always have the TV unplugged from the wall to be safe so I figured out it was probably just the CRT acting like a well charged capacitor.

          1. Warm Braw Silver badge

            Re: Built to repair?

            I didn't downvote you

            People who trouble to leave a reply usually don't, in my experience!

            Dying selenium rectifiers gave off a very memorable smell and the line frequency whistle was clearly audible: amazing what you could diagnose simply with your senses.

            I wasn't quite as precocious as you - fortunately there was a club at school where we did these things under the supervision of supposedly-responsible adults. Pity that kind of thing seems to be rare these days.

            1. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

              Re: Built to repair?

              "Dying selenium rectifiers gave off a very memorable smell"

              My friend had a TV repair business many years ago. A typical callout went like this:

              Old biddy: My cat likes to sleep on top of the telly. She is getting a bit old, and I think she did a wee where she shouldn't have. It smells terrible.

              My mate: Not to worry madam. Little accidents can happen. I'll have it fixed ready for Coronation Street tomorrow.

          2. terrythetech

            Re: Built to repair?

            The CRT was a well charged capacitor. The inner was conductive at EHT potential, the outside was painted with silver paint at earth potential. The glass of the tube acted as the dielectric. It was part of the smoothing circuit for the EHT which was low current /high voltage - yes the capacitor effect of the tube is what makes it bite.

            To really get bit, try cutting thought the mains derived EHT of a powered up oscilloscope - boy did those cutters fly. Fortunately I lived to tell the tale and the cutters didn't hit anybody, it was my job back in the day. However, the worst getting 'bit' was mains fuse right hand, chassis left hand, that time it was the 'scope that went flying and I had to have a break for a while. That sort of shock is potentially lethal, don't try this!

      2. Nifty Silver badge

        Re: Built to repair?

        When the family TV stopped working we all went without and parents decided to let the TV license expire for a while. 'Good for kids' education' or something. Till we worked out that the one valve that wasn't glowing was probably the one that was faulty... After that we'd watch TV whenever the parents were out.

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          Re: Built to repair?

          Smart parents, taught you how to fix TVs and tax eficiency.

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Built to repair?

        All you had to do was just swap out the cold ones and then, most of the time, everything started working again.

        My technique was to hit gently the TV side, the Fonzie way. It worked quite well!

        Hardware is the part you can kick ^^

    2. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Built to repair?

      "When I queried this, I was told they don't repair anything these days because it's uneconomic."

      Here's a company with a rather different approach to supporting their, admittedly expensive, microphones. They give a 10 year guarantee and guarantee availability of repairs for 20 years:

      https://schoeps.de/en/support-service/service.html

      "Most capsules and modules of the Colette series (which started in 1973) can still be maintained and repaired today ..."

      Not a shareholder, just a happy customer :)

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Even maintenance can be hard

    Try changing the battery in your phone ... it should not take much longer than 30 minutes and if all goes well you would not break too much trying to get it out and only have to replace the glue, not the entire phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even maintenance can be hard

      It took the local independent phone shop 10 minutes to replace the battery in my spare iPhone - done on the counter as I watched (and it cost me £20 - parts and labour).

      I don't think my current iPhone will be as easy, but Apple quoted £69 for them to replace it - which isn't far off the cost I've seen for genuine (i.e. not cheap knock-offs) replacement batteries for the old Nokia and Motorola mobiles lying around in the granddaddies toy boxes.

      R2R is necessary - but let's not try to justify it with arguments that can easily be undermined.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Even maintenance can be hard

        Dude. Changing a battery should not be even considered "repair".

        Which part of 69 > 20 > 0 don't you understand?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Even maintenance can be hard

          The effort required shouldn't be high, but the price of the battery might be depending on the quality of the cell concerned. I have an old phone here with a replaceable battery. That device isn't working well--it periodically reboots for no reason--and my guess is that the equally old battery is failing to provide the needed voltage. Looking for modern replacements is giving me a lot of sketchy-looking cheap options and some ones that look better (though no guarantees) at pricepoints higher than the quoted Apple figure. It's not necessarily unreasonable for the price of the replacement part to be high as long as you do have the ability to put one in without getting a serial number check failing the installation.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Even maintenance can be hard

          You're right, replacing a battery shouldn't be classed as "repair - but the great majority of work needed to keep an old phone in use is battery replacement - followed by replacing broken screens. The latter is certainly harder (and made harder by handset design) but I've yet to find any common display device that makes it easy. Even going back to B&W TVs that, in the early days, needed replacement "tubes" every year or so, it wasn't something tackled by many DIY enthusiasts.

          And which bit of "parts and labour" and the observation that that is no often more than the cost of a battery, that you don't understand?. £20 for replacement is less than the typical cost an end-user will pay for the battery to fit for themself. £69 is a bit more expensive, admittedly, but I've yet to get a warranted OEM replacement for any other phone - and, despite being happy to do the work, I'd probably pass my phone over to let someone else have the hassle for any financial saving over the cost of the bare battery. My time isn't free - which is also why I happily pay a decorator to paint our house as taking time off work to do it myself actually costs me more!

    2. NXM

      Re: Even maintenance can be hard

      1 minute, no glue. Fairphone.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Even maintenance can be hard

        But this is overpriced legacy tech repackaged as repair friendly and still made in China. Hardly an ethical buy.

    3. Marcelo Rodrigues
      Facepalm

      Re: Even maintenance can be hard

      "Try changing the battery in your phone ... it should not take much longer than 30 minutes..."

      It shouldn't take more than 30 seconds! Turn off the phone, remove back cover, change battery, put back cover, turn on phone.

      Done.

      And don't give me that "but the mobile must be thin!" crap. I have a Motorola Z2 Play, and that darn thing is thin enough to be uncomfortable: I bought a thick case, just so it fits comfortably in my hand!

      Give me a back cover, a replaceable battery and make it 9mm thick, instead of 5,9mm.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Even maintenance can be hard

        What about waterproofing? The last "waterproof" phone I knew with removable battery was the S5, and note I use quotes.

        1. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: Even maintenance can be hard

          @Charles 9 "What about waterproofing? "

          What about it I have never ever had a phone fail due to water ingress. Is the level of water resistance necessary. Waterproof down to a depth of so many meters for so many minutes. Oh great I have always wanted to go snorkelling with my phone!

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Even maintenance can be hard

            That's not a good argument against it though. It's a feature you don't need. I don't need it either. Yet I can think of several reasons someone might want a device they carry with them all the time, outdoors, through all weather to have protection against water. There are lots of things that I don't need or want, but that's not a good reason to ignore them when designing restrictions on everything.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Even maintenance can be hard

            "Waterproof down to a depth of so many meters for so many minutes."

            Blame ISO 20653 (IP rating specs).

            The IP water protection covers different levels of splashing or spray (it's intended for things like industrial cabinets, so rain, hoses, pressure washers are a big focus). Once you get to immersion, the standard is 1 meter for 3 minutes for IPx7.

            1 meter is fine for a puddle or a toilet mishap. The "phone fell in a lake/swimming pool" case is where you need a higher level of protection. IPx8 calls for depth and duration "as agreed between the users of the standard".

          3. Is It Me

            Re: Even maintenance can be hard

            I went swimming with out realising that my Pixel 2 was in my shorts pocket, only found out when my wife pointed it out on the bottom of the pool

            Picked it up blew out the USB-C port and kept using it until a year or so later it fell foul of the camera issue that they were known for.

            I also spend time on boats and sometimes get wet enough that I would worry about my phone if it wasn't water proof.

            I realise my use case isn't yours but waterproofing can be a good thing, and doesn't mean that it can't still be repairable as I have various waterproof items with user changeable batteries etc.

          4. DanceMan
            Thumb Up

            Re: What about waterproofing?

            Blackberry Q10 lost on the drive to work in a rainstorm. I must have got out of the car to do something with a wiper. Found it over 12 hours later soaking wet on the road (luckily ir was a side street) and dried it out for several days. Used it for several more years. Clip off back and replaceable battery. Survivability does not require glue.

          5. the Jim bloke Silver badge

            Re: Even maintenance can be hard

            yep.

            thats exactly what i want to do.

            Different people have differing requirements to you.

            Your comment is the same as me saying I live in walking distance of work - so nobody needs to own a car..

            have a downvote.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Even maintenance can be hard

          Samsung Xcover Pro.

          About 10mm thick.

          Replacable battery.

          IP68

          Headphone jack

          USB-C port

          Currently supported.

          Available unlocked direct from Samsung.

          Camera isn't great, and I have no idea if the processor supports any high end gaming, but I don't care much about that.

          Great phone, Samsung just won't publicize it. Seems they only want to sell it to corporate fleets.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Even maintenance can be hard

            Little wonder. It's considered a ruggedized phone (it's listed as MIL-STD-810G-compliant) so would be overkill for most. On the consumer end, demand for removable batteries is virtually nonexistent.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Repairability should be part of green legislation

    More important than what it costs the consumer should be what it costs the planet.

    Yes: old stuff can be recycled (and sometimes is) but there is still a lot of energy needed in making new things.

    Things sold should have a prominent repairability number on the box/web-page.

  7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    G-Force!

    Dammit, I now have the Battle Of The Planets theme running through my head.

    dur, dur dur, dur duh duh durrrr

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: G-Force!

      G'ah! I'll stick to the original Gatchaman, thanks.

  8. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    Nothing new

    Back in the fifties or sixties my Father worked for Morris Motors for a while. They took the spares price list for a Morris Minor and worked out that building a new car from spares would cost something around £1500 when a new one was about £150. At least you could build it from spares then but repair has always been a way of exploiting the great unwashed and trading them up.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new

      Even the push-bike is like this - friend of mine had a problem with his brakes and first up was advised to sell his bike as the cost of repair was uneconomic. After the local bike shop took a look it turned out they were fixable for not much more than the cost of a couple of inner tubes.

    2. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new

      There is always going to be a big make up on parts. They have to be bought, priced, stored, sold and shipped. All of those activities take people time and use capital. Plenty of those parts are never going to be bought either so you have to finally add disposal costs.

      1. David Hicklin

        Re: Nothing new

        Spare parts have always had a big mark up, as pointed out they have to be stored (sometimes for years), catalogued and in some cases distributed 1 part at a time to where they are needed plus this is where most of the profit comes from (or used to, now they would rather you buy a new one)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing new

      There's an "economy of scale" going on here which drives up the cost. Which is cheaper, for the OEM to buy 10,000 of the same part and ship them to one factory in one truck, or for 10,000 people to buy one each and have them shipped individually to their houses?

      To be fair, a 10x markup for building something from spares isn't right. But 2x may well be due to the cost of buying one part at a time.

      1. fireflies

        Re: Nothing new

        Basing fairness on a multiplier (2x is okay, 10x isn't) is actually a fallacy - it all depends on the number of components.

        Imagine a product that sells for £100. That includes the cost of parts, the packaging/transport/delivery, assembly, profit, etc.

        If that product consists of 10 parts, that's 10 potential spares to build it - so let's just imagine a 100% (2x) mark-up averaging an extra £10 for each part sold individually. So the sum of the individual parts is £200. This takes into account the transport/delivery for individual parts, etc.

        But then if that product consisted of 50 parts, a 100% mark-up) suddenly equates to an extra £2 for each part sold individually. That means you have to handle packaging/transport/delivery for an extra 40 parts, at no extra cost.

        If instead we considered the same average extra £10 for each part, this becomes £600 total, a 600% mark-up.

        That's a simplistic (and undoubtedly inaccurate set of numbers although the example stands) view - there would be many more factors involved (such as the difference between transporting a product like a car versus transporting however many spare parts, having parts production integrated into a larger production line for assembly versus having those parts produced and packaged separately, etc.)

  9. naive Silver badge

    "Right to repair" could be a legal quagmire

    It is easy to point out individual examples where a manufacturer builds something in such a manner resulting so it is difficult to repair.

    Legally defining what constitutes a violation of "Right to repair" is a challenging.

    Maybe a blanket law, asserting "Right to repair" as a consumer right could work.

    If a product can reasonably not be repaired, the consumer could sue as if it was a product defect, entitling him to a refund and damages for the time he tried to repair until he ran into issues caused by the manufacturer. Class action lawsuits could cost the apples of this world dearly.

    This law could name circumstances which help judges to determine if the right has been violated, like access to schematics and build plans, using constructions limiting access to the insides of the product like glue, proprietary screws and access to spare parts.

    Complex products need to be addressed as well, nothing prevents anyone from overhauling a 4L60E gearbox, being successful at it is a different story since fatal mistakes are easily made. Suing GM for this would be quite unreasonable.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: "Right to repair" could be a legal quagmire

      The designers should be able to explain why they put such and such screw there and there and why this is glued this and that way.

      If they cannot give a logical explanation, then probably there was no reason other to make it difficult to access.

      The problem is that often those workers are outsourced, this means they are not protected by employment law when they would blow a whistle. If manufacturer tells them to prioritise difficulty to repair over usability, they should be able to report this and be protected regardless of their type of engagement.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        "The designers should be able to explain"

        If you could oblige the designers to explain, they'd probably mention (at least in passing) the term "value engineering". This is the branch of engineering dedicated to making things simpler and cheaper to manufacture. The original design gets "adapted" to fulfil this primary purpose. It's actually quite possible that a good proportion of the "unrepairable" features that abound is about manufacturing cost savings rather than any specific intent to make things unrepairable.

        Just for example, blobs of glue are easier to place by robot arm than screws, and non-replaceable laser engraved or resin sublimated key caps (rather than double shot moulded) have taken over the market because the task of placing pre-marked key caps is much slower and more labour intensive (and error prone) than fitting blank caps and then passing the complete keyboard under a printer of some sort.

        There are of course exceptions, and they do stand out. I recently reboxed a Dell desktop computer, and I had to identify and fix two completely arbitrary, undocumented and unnecessary links on pin headers supposedly dedicated to other functions to prevent the BIOS complaining it didn't have a front panel fitted (although it did). I guess this was intended to thwart reboxing, as it had no obvious other useful purpose.

      2. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

        Re: "Right to repair" could be a legal quagmire

        In light of forcing manufacturers to make things easy to repair, as usual, the late great Douglas Adams was ahead of his time.

        "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair"

        He described how manufacturers were forced to include that text somewhere on every single component, no matter how small, because it wasn't the customer's attention this was being brought to, but the manufacturer's:

  10. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Test gear, wages and item costs

    With a modern appliance like a television, the test equipment required to locate a defective component is so expensive that it is uneconomic for even the largest of companies to own such equipment. (Often it is uneconomic even for the manufacturer - if a module fails functional test then replacing the module is cheaper than replacing the defective component.)

    I recently repaired a PSU (dried out capacitors that needed replacing) and a dimmer switch (blown TRIAC) - as a hobbyist who is retired I did not need to account for my time - however done commercially the wages cost would have far outweighed the cost of a new PSU and dimmer switch.

    Parts cost also needs to be considered - when a manufacturer buys a million of a type of component the price per component is a minute fraction of the price to buy an individual one of those components.

    Modern equipment with surface mounted components in very close proximity requires special tools and a steady hand to be able to remove and replace a component without disturbing adjacent components or shorting tracks spaced less than 1mm apart. As a result even where the faulty component is identified and a replacement component is readily available it is likely to be cheaper to replace a module.

    Unfortunately the days when you could repair an electronic device just using an AVO and a soldering iron are long gone

    1. elwe

      Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

      A steady hand and a bit of skill, yes. Special tools is only really for more complex components like BGA chips with high pin counts.

      I used to work in embedded systems and when developing a new product the first prototype would always have a few errors. A few would mean a trip to a specialist for rework, most were fixable by cutting tracks where they were in the top layer of the PCB and adding wires to make the correct connection, replacing surface mount resistors, capacitors etc.

      The head of hardware started only doing these repairs in the afternoon when the light was better, then I took over with younger eyesight etc. I got quite good at putting wires onto 0.5mm pin pitch components, even doing three adjacent pins. That and putting a wire onto a track where there wasn't a pad, having scraped off the top lacquer were the hardest tasks. Replacing a simple surface mount component was easy street.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

        Like the name elwe. :)

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

      as a hobbyist who is retired I did not need to account for my time - however done commercially the wages cost would have far outweighed the cost of a new PSU and dimmer switch.

      this is probably true in most cases nowadays. cost of replacement is considerably less than cost of repair. "I have a bad DVD drive" - do you replace or repair it? "The thing that is expensive" would get the repair. The cheaper things (or modules) get replaced.

      But at some point "the module" becomes "the item that gets repaired". And in the case of iThings, they seem to be ironically expensive AND disposable...

      I'm NO fan of government overLORDing. Oversight, sure. "Light touch" when needed. "Right to repair", sure. "Make it more expensive because we say so", not so much. And ALSO mentioned somewhat positively in the article, "YOU CANNOT OWN THAT BECAUSE 'WE FEEL' YOU DO NOT NEED IT" heavy-handed OVERLORDING: *NEVER* !!!

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

        More often than not, a defect is something simple, like a bad solder joint. That's just few glances under a microscope and a little bit of soldering.

        That especially was a case after lead solder was banned. Lead free solder joints tend to go bad.

      2. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

        @bombastic bob you have a point, as I see it right to repair is a balancing act there are genuine reasons some parts can't be repaired, cost, performance, efficiency.

        The challenge is trying to identify the genuine reasons some parts can't be repaired from the parts where the reason was to make it non-reparable.

    3. WaveSynthBeep

      Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

      The thing is that that economic balance can change over time. For example, just imagine there was a global pandemic and all the delivery and shipping services were disrupted - You couldn’t obtain the replacement modules, so you had to make do with what you could get. Or the manufacturer goes bust and the parts aren’t available any more. The classic car world is familiar with aftermarket suppliers and DIY lash ups for long gone parts, and this would be similar.

    4. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

      @Duncan MacDonald: if the onus was in the company/manufacturer to prove that the bits weren't repairable, the cost of diagnostics would come down very quickly.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "remember Dyson whipping up anger at the EU regulation limiting vacuum cleaner power?"

    This was about the way they were testing 'efficiency'. They were testing new machines with empty bags and stopping the testing before they started to lose suction and ramped up the power to compensate (shades of 'Dieselgate'). He was saying that his machines were more efficient because they didn't lose suction.

    His machines were always below the power limit... something like 700w when the EU was about to tighten the limit from 1600w to 900w

    (not a big fan of Dyson once he stopped being just an inventor)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Meh

      Shame his vacuum cleaners are so unreliable though.

      If you want something that is repairable get a Henry.

      If you want something that lasts and is expensive get a Miele.

      If you want something that's expensive and doesn't last get a Dyson.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Did you mean "Die soon"?

      2. keith_w Bronze badge

        our Dyson Vac is over 5 years old and still going strong.

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          Our Dyson DC07 vac is nearly 15 years old and still going strong.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Our Dyson DC-something is about 10 years old and still going strong - but on its 3rd motor, and with a failed cord rewind. Plus point is that the motor swaps were easy enough, but negs for breaking in the first place. Haven't bothered spending the £30 or so to repair the cord rewind.

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              My Mercedes TLK1100 is approaching its 30th birthday and is still working strong. I clean it by popping the top off, dismounting the motor (three screws) and dunking it in the sink. The only repair it has had was the plastic filter holder ring replaced.

        2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Alien

          My Dyson sphere is over 50 million years old and going strong.

          1. Psmo
            Alien

            That repairability tho'...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        repairable

        They are easily repairable though - and parts are available

        1. Nifty Silver badge

          Re: repairable

          When our Dyson died (failed trigger switch - unbelievably weak design) I used the warranty and was sent half a Dyson body. A re-assemby job, no problem for me but maybe would be for a non-techie. Then a few months later another call on the warranty, as one of the attachments brushes stopped turning, was sent another complete attachment. Dyson has no interest in being sent the old parts back for quality assessment - that does worry me.

          1. fireflies

            Re: repairable

            Sending broken parts back for quality assessment would cost more money and energy.

            I would expect it's more likely a company would focus on the percentage of in-warranty failures. If the number falls below a certain level, then they would look at the most reported fault and if necessary ask for broken parts to be sent to them.

            However I would be more worried if they needed to do that as it means that something went wrong in their initial product testing stages and they didn't encounter these failures before releasing the product to market.

            Getting a product from a ~90+% reliability rate (I presume it's in the 90s but as to what each company considers an acceptable failure rate probably varies) to ~99.9% would likely be cost prohibitive. There would be diminishing returns on the costs vs the extra reputation for being known for reliable products.

            How many of those "known for reliability" companies of old have either been bought out by other companies with more money and happy to trade on that reputation, or have sold out themselves to increase profit?

            No one can escape a percentage of their products failing due to defects (or flaws in the design) - mitigation of those failures is only cost effective to a certain degree and at some point, it is cheaper to replace the faulty parts/products than it is to keep trying to perfect a design and production process, resulting in a product that's more expensive, and/or late to market.

      4. tiggity Silver badge

        I would say the Henry (& similar family members) are also something that "lasts" but cheaper than a Miele (as well as Henrys being repairable) - Ours gets plenty of use (& lots of clogging nasties like pet hair to challenge it) but it keeps going year on year.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. MikeTimbers

      Re: How did Alienware get banned?

      See video on this

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5fc5ZX6Kzk

  13. Tired and grumpy

    Wow. Bigoted, snarky and blind to consequences all at the same time. So a state legislature now gets to decide how much computing power you're "allowed" to have and this is seen as a good thing? This isn't a tax or an incentive, this is a direct ban. Has everybody just given up and gone full Marxist-Leninist? Did I miss a memo to the effect that individual freedom, responsibility and choice were no longer a thing? I wonder how many items the author has in their house that aren't "necessary" or are "over powered" for their intended purpose. What shall we ban next?

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge

      "Individual freedom" is not the right to do whatever you want.

    2. Alumoi Silver badge

      They regulate the power consumption not the computing power.

      1. Robert Sneddon

        Not quite

        California is setting limits on the efficiency of the power supplies in prebuilt computers, not the actual total power consumption of the computers themselves. Most prebuilt computers, including very powerful ones have good-quality PSUs which meet or exceed the efficiency specs so no problem. A handful of style-over-substance prebuilt computers from Dell including some of their Alienware 'gaming' PCs have PSUs that don't meet that efficiency specification so they can't be sold in California (and a handful of other states that use California regulations to save themselves the effort of writing their own).

    3. fireflies

      In the case of "individual freedoms" - aside from what has already been pointed out - this law isn't impeding individual freedoms to build a computer that is power hungry or inefficient. It is preventing a corporation from building such a computer and making it available to the masses.

      At what point does individual freedom cover a multinational corporation?

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Yes, well, I imagine that would be the reaction from the country which still hasn't got round to phasing out incandescent lightbulbs.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        You phase out incandescent lights by allowing the replacements to develop to the point where they are cheaper to buy and run, not by banning them.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          TCO is less, but somehow it's turned into some bollocks about freedom like imperial measures.

  14. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Right to repair != right to bodge

    > Radio regulations have been this complex and a thousand times more for ages, and as you may have noticed it hasn't hurt the market for smartphones.

    and therein lies the problem. When can something be said to have been repaired?

    Is it when it appears to the user to work, or when it works AND meets all the regulatory, safety and environmental standards that the factory-produced item had to meet?

    Then, where does the high-cost test equipment come from. Who will have (say) £100k of correctly calibrated instruments in their home workshop?

  15. Michael Hutchinson

    IDLE power draw, not Active power draw

    Your analysis and definition of the new standards which have caused Dell to stop selling some systems in California (and other states) is completely incorrect. It's based on IDLE power draw from the power supply, and has nothing to do with having a RTX 3060 Ti. I suggest you educate yourself on this by reading this publications own write up on the legislation https://www.theregister.com/2021/07/26/dell_energy_pcs/.

  16. cookieMonster
    Thumb Up

    Timely

    Was watching a review of the Framework laptop last night, lovely bit of kit and totally modular , which means easy to change, replace parts. If / when they ship to Europe, I’d seriously consider getting one.

  17. confused and dazed

    Consumption

    It's easy to agree that fixing a $2K Mac or a $20K car is worth-while , but when a gadget costs $100, fixes are going to have to be very quick and very simple before they're un-economic and become land-fill.

    The issue is that we consume too much, me included. I'm just looking at my wireless phone charger. What was I thinking ? ... it's another totally unnecessary thing, consumes more power that it needs, but saves we the "onerous" task of plugging a cable in...I'm now looking at two 24 inch monitors that I am hoping will break so that I can order bigger ones .....

    Anyone for a consumption tax ?

    1. keith_w Bronze badge

      Re: Consumption

      Lots of countries have consumption taxes although they are generally referred to as Sales Taxes. In the U.K. they have the Value Added Tax (VAT), in Canada we have the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and provincial sales taxes (except in Alberta). I am sure that many, if not most, US States have sales taxes. And many counties in the US have their own sales taxes.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Consumption

        In France there's VAT plus an "Eco tax" levied on things with plugs, batteries, etc. And as of last year, air flights.

        1. The Dark Side Of The Mind (TDSOTM)

          Re: Consumption

          Most of EU (if not all) states have VAT.

  18. Persona Silver badge

    Sometimes it's hard.

    I've been in the situation where one of the components for an instrument became unexpectedly obsolete and disappeared from the market. We redesigned it to use a different component but it had different pinout so was not interchangeable. Our dwindling supplies of the old component went onto PCB's we already had leaving zero spares and zero ability to repair without a complete circuit board swap.

  19. Chris Evans

    Car makers are almost as bad.

    The rubber radio volume knob on my 2017 Ford Focus has started breaking down. Officially it is available as a spare but only with the facia for £152!

    I've tried to pull it off unsuccessfully but before I use mechanical assistance to get off (which will mangle it to an unsightly mess) I emailed Ford to ask if it is pull off [1] they just referred me back to a dealer, who've said they don't know. Knobs that look like they fit are only £4 on ebay (No 'Vol' text on it but I could live without it)

    Yes there is volume up/down paddles on the steering wheel but I know my wife will have the heebie jeebies as a passenger or occasional driver as she won't be using the paddles.

    [1] Google/youtube searches are flooded with irrelevant answers. I've lost my google mojo.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Car makers are almost as bad.

      > The rubber radio volume knob on my 2017 Ford Focus has started breaking down

      Wot? You need to get with the times, and buy a vehicle that has only a touchscreen, where you have to look over and search for the control instead of watching your driving! Plus when the touchscreen dies, it's an even bigger bill!

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Car makers are almost as bad.

        Pfft .... old school. Get a sleek modern car where you simply speak to it and tell it to increase the volume. It works really well once you have mastered speaking with a German accent.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Car makers are almost as bad.

      "Google/youtube searches are flooded with irrelevant answers. I've lost my google mojo."

      No, your mojo is fine. It's Google that has lost the plot.

    3. The Dark Side Of The Mind (TDSOTM)

      Re: I've lost my google mojo.

      Just don't google it. Many others did and lost too much time sifting through advertising and youtube links.

  20. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Make the polluter pay

    The nominal power used by the device shouldn't matter. If power is expensive enough people won't use it.

    Right to repair is legally extremely trick and, in a globalised economy, difficult to enforce. A simpler approach, that is not without its own problems, is mandating that manufacturers must take used products back and handle disposal and recycling themselves. There have already been several attempts at this that have failed because the volume is big enough to attract wheezes where other companies, almost invariably in countries with little or no environmental legislation, offer to to do the work. So legislation must be drafted with these kind of abuses in mind.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Make the polluter pay

      I don't really see how you can get around foreign sovereignty and fly-by-nighting...

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Make the polluter pay

        We already have import and export restrictions for all kinds of things. These could easily be adapted. Think of something like and "Inspector Gadget" label for repairability next to the Blue Angel. Producing companies will adapt if the incentives are there. Currently, the biggest incentive is still be the cheapest.

    2. fireflies

      Re: Make the polluter pay

      "If power is expensive enough people won't use it"

      How many consumers of pre-built PCs especially, are going to be able to:

      A) Determine the cost of power for a particular item that they have purchased (sure if you only brought one item and then measured the comparative average energy usage over 12 months compared to a previous year, then accounted for any other significant factors such as time spent at the property which could affect day-to-day energy usage, temperature differences year-on-year that could result in varying levels of electrical heating/cooling during summer/winter, etc., then you could perhaps get a rough idea of whether the single product you bought 12 months ago has been using more energy, and cost more than you would like - although it could be the degradation of other products in the household resulting in reduced energy efficiency, so you wouldn't know for certain unless you didn't use the device for another 12 months and compared it again)

      B) Determine the cost of power before even buying the item (or just decide to discard your £000s of gaming pc because it uses more energy than you like - after calculating the difference in the cost of buying a new pc of unknown energy efficiency and just paying for the extra power usage)

      Where does one find the energy efficiency/average power consumption of a pc in order to compare it to equivalent models? Nowadays, manuals are becoming obsolete, so they won't help. If you're lucky you'll get a generalised guide that includes copious references to "depending on model" or if you're unlucky a guide on using "generic item of technology".

      We're already in a world where online shopping for computers means a picture of the computer face on, and a couple more pictures from a slight angle. Want to see what ports are available? Want to know what the laptop keyboard looks like more clearly? No can do, but here's another picture showing the product from another angle - the most assurance you can get is that yes, they are indeed, three-dimensional.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Make the polluter pay

        If people aren't interested in the power consumption of their devices, then their electricity bill isn't high enough.

        You could easily extend the rating system for household electronics to such devices: eg. A - H

  21. Tim237

    The issue is bigger than people think

    The right to repair is not just about Apple devices and smart phones in general. Almost every manufacturer has taken the fact that the electronics industry has gotten away with not allowing spares to start the same things with their products.

    Auto manufacturers are now limiting parts and repairs. Take Tesla you can not buy spares and other manufacturers are following suit.

    You should be able to get the diagnostic software and spares for any product you buy. The diagrams for some products are available within months of the product release and China will copy a product by buying a few and reverse Engineer the product. So by not providing the information to the market you slow China down a week or two.

    Anyone with a brain knows that the real reason is greed not intellectual property.

  22. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Holmes

    Not so simple

    While I completely agree that some companies deliberately make things hard or impossible to repair, there are wrinkles (especially in electronics) that need to be considered.

    1. Second source. When I design something I always try to use parts that are made by more than one manufacturer. For jelly bean parts, that is quite simple[1] but for more complex parts it is not. Many years ago, there were multiple sources of the 68xx families of microprocessors and microcontrollers. That is not the case with todays processors. There are huge amounts of microcontrollers and processors based on ARM cores but parts from different manufacturers are simply not interchangeable.

    That means for any non-trivial design , there will be components that are only made by one manufacturer. Another area where this is the case is power regulators. If that company gets bought (lots of that has happened over the last few years) there is no guarantee I will be able to get that part in the future unless I do a rather expensive last time buy. I have actually had an EOL / EOB (end of life / end of buy) notice for well over 100 parts where the date on the notice was after the date of the last time buy so no-one could buy those parts any more.

    The only parts where true interchangeability exists (because it was ever thus) is relatively simple logic devices. Anyone's 74LVC74 will operate the same as anyone else's, to a great extent (but be careful of timing parameters).

    2. Prevention of reverse engineering[2]. The automotive sector is a case in point here. Companies making ECUs (which are now counted in dozens in some vehicles) don't want someone to make a cheap knock-off of their kit for various reasons so they take these steps:

    Use parts that are pre-programmed by a factory and make it impossible to read the contents of program memory back (that capability has been around for well over 20 years).

    Laser etch their own part number on it. The manufacturers of microcontrollers are only too happy to label a part with a vendor part number if 100s of thousands or more are being ordered.

    3. Reliability. For many applications, using plug-in modules works great, but not so much in the high reliability sector. There is a rule of thumb in electronics that over 90% (some would say 95%) of faults are related to connectors. In addition to that, these things have an environment where soldered down memory devices are the only thing that makes sense. Reliable connectivity of fibre is a major headache in avionics as the 'standard' methods are laughably inadequate.

    4. Component pin pitch and component density. Any decently equipped shop should have the ability to remove and replace components with very fine pin pitch (0.5mm is common as of perhaps 10 years ago) and BGA devices (standard DDR2/3 parts are in BGAs with 0.8mm pitch). Here I agree that repair should be possible but it requires a properly equipped shop. I personally have such equipment that I use for my own projects but it is not the sort of thing I would expect the average household to have.

    5. The design and the designers. When the Apples and Samsungs of this world hear a clear demand for ever thinner gadgets, then something has to give and usually it is maintainability. As for the designers, very few of them have ever had to actually repair anything and as such they have no clue as to how to make something actually repairable.

    There is more but you get the idea, perhaps.

    [1]. Even the most mundane components often cannot be interchanged between manufacturers. Take the hugely popular 100nF ceramic MLCC surface mount capacitor (the go to choice for decoupling the power rails at ICs). They have interesting features such as DC bias and ageing issues. The variation between even the biggest players in the market makes it almost impossible to use different vendors except in the most undemanding of circuits. I certainly would never use different vendors if the loop stability of a circuit was even partially dependent on the characteristics of a surface mount ceramic capacitor. The same goes for resistors.

    Even transistors with the same generic number are often not interchangeable from manufacturers. That bit me in the early 80s when a part from (what was) Motorola semiconductor products worked, but the part with the same generic number from RCA did not.

    [2]. While there are certainly good reasons for this, it can be (and is) abused to prevent anyone else make or repair these things. Considering the regulatory and legal situation it may be more motivated by the desire to not be the target of a massive lawsuit.

    Note that some semiconductor companies sell (and have been for at least 20 years) integrated devices to make changing a part without authentication impossible. One that stands out is Maxim Integrated.

  23. stiine Silver badge

    i'm not bothering to read this

    Because the author did not use the word 'warranty' once.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    goes further, that mandates that equipment be designed for repair.

    that'll take another half a century to debate, another one to design, and into next century to implement, i.e. how to make a laptop half a mm thick, yet repairable, yet cheaper still, yet implantable, yet 'even more fastest', yet more recyclable, yet less profit-hittable, yet more monetizeable, yet we-care-about-your-privacy-even-more-able?

  25. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Y 'all forgetting one thing

    This is a tech orientated site, and most of the readership is fairly techie, so for us repairing some gizmo is a bit of a no brainer, gimme the replacement part, a box of tools and a bit of time... oh look my broken old phone has a spiffy new USB socket that works(and battery too)

    Again for my day to day job, I'm liable to rip out a sensor switch, wire in a new/repaired one, make sure the thing works and off we go again.

    However, that does'nt work with 90% of the population who have not a clue when it comes to 'techie' stuff which means everything comes down to cost

    So if you've spent 25 000 on a car and fixing it is going to cost 500..... meh fix it, but if you've got a 400 washing machine and its going to cost 500 to fix...... may just as well throw it out and buy a new one and it that comes with a 2 year warrenty

    Its not just the cost of the part , its paying someone to fit it so its no good having a washing machine drum bearing that costs 50 when its going to cost 4 hrs labour to get it in there

    1. A K Stiles

      Re: Y 'all forgetting one thing

      We recently had our Fridge-freezer compressor die. It's about 8 years old and was quite expensive when we bought it.

      Repair quote was about a quarter of the original purchase price, so we opted to have it repaired (with effectively a 12 month warranty on the repair work).

      It now works properly again, having had the compressor replaced along with a whole bunch of control wiring, and obviously it had to be re-gassed.

      But that all took about 3 weeks what with a couple of tech visits and waiting for parts, whilst we could have had a new one delivered and the old one taken away within 24 hours. Thankfully we had helpful friends nearby who could give us a bit of fridge/freezer space for the duration, but what price is the (in)convenience. If it happened again out of warranty, I'd certainly be thinking twice about whether to repair or replace the thing.

  26. Uncle Ron

    Huh?

    Is it fair for a company to have to honor it's warranty if someone breaks it trying to repair it? Or if a product is modified by the user in some way that makes software updates fail? Should the company have to allow for this? Should they be held accountable for doing something on purpose (that doesn't add value) to cause this? This is not a black and white issue, is it? I think the right to repair already exists, but the warranty is voided, yes? Parts availability, or purposefully designing a product to be "tamper-proof" is another issue. No one honors a warranty if you "break in," but should they? Should they? Purposely making it impossible to repair, or the lockout of 3rd party supplies, with no actual benefit to the user, is what should be regulated. Huh? Apple (and others) have been doing all sorts of unnatural acts for years and years, in HW and SW, to make users throw up their arms in despair and just buy another one. That should not be allowed. And it shouldn't be rationalized away by marketing BS, or accepted as BAU.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      @Uncle Ron "Is it fair for a company to have to honor it's warranty if someone breaks it trying to repair it?"

      Of course not. But why would you try to repair when it is still under warranty?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally, I think the reason why those gaming rigs got targeted for eco constraints - while other wasteful behaviour is not targeted - is a function of political connectedness. 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid - the green car - 0 to 96.56 kph in 1.98 seconds. And Telsa gets green credits for selling those. Just one way in which regulations are guided only very loosely by forward looking criteria, but in the details hew to a goal-defeating political topography.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      There's a simple fix

      Have the green credits / tax credits for electric vehicles phase out above a certain price. If someone really wants that expensive high end model then they can pay the true cost without any government subsidy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Max Telsa Instantaneous Power ~ 500,000 watts. (500 kW).

      1. Persona Silver badge

        That's a lot of power but it's only doing that for a tiny percentage of the cars lifetime. Few people will be using that extreme performance more that a few times as an experiment. The ones that regularly do will be the ones who would otherwise be doing just the same and more in a petrol car.

  28. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Some confusion

    Right to repair and ease of repair do not get them mixed up with easy as they are totally different things.

    Right to repair wants the parts and the schematics so independent repair is possible.

    Make things easy to repair is a lot harder to get passed as the manufacturers just want to make it cheaper, if they can also make it thinner, lighter then that is a marketing bonus and they can up the price.

  29. Daedalus Silver badge

    Noble waffle

    Stop for a moment and think what this means, not for Apple or John Deere or Massey Ferguson (are they still in business under that name?), but for Acme Products (Wyle E. Coyote, CEO, head cook and bottle washer). They're a small company trying to make it in a newish market where the big boys haven't yet set up shop in any serious way. Faced with the regulations, obligations and machinations necessary to support Right To Repair, they decide to sell out to somebody else with better legal and compliance departments.

    Thus always with good intentions. I've been on projects for small companies (most of which sucked) and I can't imagine what they would have done if RtR had been in force. Come to think of it, Apple Inc. were once a small company. Hey, if RtR had existed then, we wouldn't have Apple to kick around!

    What's that? There will be exemptions in the law? Yes, but it always turns out that in order to qualify you need to pay people to help you prove that you qualify.

    The bottom line is that regulations tend to favour the big players, always, because they can absorb the cost and effort, and turn them to advantage in shutting out the competition. So it goes.

    1. fireflies

      Re: Noble waffle

      Why should right to repair need to be a burden on small companies?

      They already have a schematic for making the product.

      They already have the individual parts for making the product.

      I also don't expect "right to repair" is going to cover every possible product, that would be unfeasible - no one is going expect Bic to provide replacement lids for their pens, or the ink, tube and nib for the cheap Biros.

      Right to repair doesn't mean regulating prices of replacement parts, but it should mean allowing third parties to produce parts to same specification and for a product to be reasonably conducive to repair (such as replacing batteries, swapping out standard components like a hdd, memory, fan, etc. in a computer), not using prohibitive practices like unnecessarily soldering or gluing components down.

      (Many) Courts have long been capable of using reasonable judgement, and there's no reason why this should be different. It doesn't need to be an overload of regulation behind RTR - we already have simple regulations like the consumer rights act and small/large companies alike are able to conform with such rules without collapsing.

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Noble waffle

        They already have the individual parts for making the product

        No they don't. They are small firms with terrible cash flow. They buy parts made in small numbers as needed and pay a premium for the small production runs. They can't afford to rent and stock a warehouse with spares for earlier versions of their products.

  30. martinusher Silver badge

    Right to Repair is about control

    The world is full of complex machines that can't be repaired without complex diagnostic systems that need the help of technical specialists to troubleshoot and repair. The change that's prompted the right to repair movement is that the traditional relationship between vendor and customer has been deliberately broken in order to generate an income stream for the vendor outside the actual product sale. In extreme cases the vendor(s) may practically give away the customer because their business model is based on the income stream.

    Unfortunately, what works for business executives doesn't work for customers. A broken TV may be an inconvenience but a broken combine harvester incurs real costs. Not thinking this through is likely to cause customers to gradually drift away from a particular vendor -- the product may be absolutely stunning but if the cost and risk involved in owning it hits a threshold then people will find alternatives.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Right to Repair is about control

      Ever heard of cartels? What good are alternatives when ALL the manufacturers are doing the same or worse?

  31. Tron Bronze badge

    Be careful what you wish for.

    The Californian regulations may be aimed at reducing crypto mining using crazy power GPUs.

    Have fun repairing surface mount stuff. The best you can get in many cases will be swop out modules, which would be helpful.

    A lot of tech has been rendered off limits to users to slow the reverse engineering process conducted in the Middle Kingdom.

    To make things take-apart-able, they will probably be bigger and cost more. Be wary of new national restrictions. I'm 100% against non-replaceable batteries/hard-to-open, warranty-voiding cases etc, but the UK is small. If the big manufacturers won't play ball with post-Brexit UK-only regulations, nobody here will have a washing machine in a few years. Enjoy washing those nappies by hand.

    Although the throwaway culture has clearly gone too far, don't be too eager for governments to ban things. Once they start, they won't stop. Do people need PCs? Couldn't they make do with Chrome Books? If they had no storage devices they couldn't breach copyright (note the absence of DVD-RW capable units for TVs). Limit storage to the Cloud and content will be easier to monitor. Tiny camera units (ones that can catch out MPs) may be an early target. Not secure enough. Too much empowerment of the masses.

    You can restrict international sales by implementing VAT requirements, as has been done. You can walk back on the consumer economy by mandating ever more strict rules and certifications. You aren't simply banning things - that would make you unpopular. Instead, find other ways to keep stuff from falling into the hands of your citizens.

    So be careful what you wish for.

  32. Denarius Silver badge

    as for IT upgrades

    How about software efficiency ? Remember the QNX demo 1.4 Mb floppy that ran a competent [for the time] web browser ? Why is a 100 Mhz CPU running Win95 and office 95 faster to boot, and faster to do spreadsheets of usual size and word process faster than the multicore Ghz of today running windows 10. For that matter, even Linux becoming bloatware, requiring much greater resources to boot. For most distributions, 4 Gb RAM is minimum. Yes, yes , I know about the low resource ones.

    Granted old stuff becomes unreliable, partly due to unavoidable complexity so upgrades are needed. eventually. But seriously, every 4 years ? My precrapware cars usually last a decade plus and still run well when upgraded for something newer. That is, until now. Some makes are unmaintainable outside of major cities. Not trustworthy in rural Oz. In summary, article makes a good point on assets being repairable without drama for both owner and repair services. About time noncompetitive and monopolistic practices were seriously addressed by governments.

    1. fireflies

      Re: as for IT upgrades

      My 2013 built i7 desktop PC running windows 10 on a cheap sata III SSD and about 20 items in startup boots to desktop much quicker than any windows 95 (or 98, 98se, etc.) PC I've known. (aside from a graphics card addition and SSD added as primary, it's all components from 2013)

      There has been a time where Windows 95 would be quicker than some pcs on the market, but with SSD drives becoming the norm, it is not as prevalent. If a computer is slow booting it's generally because it's doing (or still dealing with the aftermath of) updates, or the ironically named "fast shutdown" has meant that the pc hasn't rebooted for several weeks and is suffering the effects of it.

      Windows 10 does seem more efficient than windows 8/8.1 before it, and sure, technology has moved on to the point that systems can load up much quicker, despite the bloat of the more recent operating systems.

      Software is less efficient, but the Windows NT based systems have been much more stable than the windows 9x operating systems. How many of those could stay running for a week without crashing? Stability, security, and functionality demands are much greater than the 9x days.

      That is not to say that even Windows 8-10 is woefully inefficient in some areas. Trying to search for drivers in a windows update should not take longer than a google search, given that the system has the device id, which pinpoints the exact component model and manufacturer, and an update either exists or it doesn't - for whatever reason, Microsoft think that a 10+ minute search is necessary - perhaps they are dealing with each request by hand, and Bob the driver inspector is approaching a well-earned retirement.

  33. james 68

    Research, it's a thing.

    Someone didn't do their research before writing this article.

    https://www.pcgamer.com/high-end-gaming-pcs-are-exempt-from-the-cec-power-regulations/

  34. Esme

    Well said!

    Funnily enough, I was thinking along similar lines just the other day. This was due to my love of Kerbal Space Program, most releases of which have run very slowly on my kit (which is refurbed). Then a couple of versions ago, some code optimisation must have been done, because now, on the same hardware, KSP is running really well and smoothly. Heck,I'm just setting up a KSP v1.12 install with umpty mods, and it's STILL running well.

    Seems to me that thoughtful laws that put pressure on games software houses to write efficient code rather than just expecting gamers to shell out for ever more powerful and energy consuming rigs could be an all-round win situation. Except possibly for shareholders in PC manufacturing companies, but can't say as I'm terribly concerned about their loss of income.

  35. RobLang

    No mention of software pull?

    Many of the reasons that e-waste occurs is that software requirements increase over time. Not just in bloating but in expected functionality and bandwidth needs. That's not just repair, that's upgrade. Easy with the silver box under my desk that's like Trigger's broom but more difficult with the smartphone on my desk.

    As part of the ZX Spectrum generation, I felt the opening paragraphs lessened the article as a whole. Those stereotypes are wildly incorrect - especially for the PC gamers who spend less and less time on testosterone FPS with each passing year. Just take a look at the PC Game most played figures for 2020, the bumper year. Of course, you did that before you sneered through the first two paragraphs because you're a journo and journos look at information before writing, don't you? You'll know that DOTA2, Among Us and Terraria were the most played because you checked, didn't you?

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again.

      Re: No mention of software pull?

      I was surprised by the opening paragraphs which struck me as lazy journalism at its worst. Having played video games since the late '70s I'm not convinced the stereotype has ever been true except perhaps a small minority, though one might say that much is true of any game or pastime. Whatever was the case, it's certainly wildly inaccurate nowadays, though. I got absolutely hammered for saying so, though nobody seemed inclined to offer any reason for their disagreement, just one comment remonstrating with me for not reading the rest of what was on the face of it a rather poor article.

  36. Oh Homer

    Save the planet, daaahling!

    I'm not so naive as to think we can continue raping and pillaging planet Earth without dire consequences, I'm just a bit fed up being at the top of the pile of sacrificial lambs, while the wolves are allowed to continue roaming free.

    Seriously, just let me have my goddamn gaming PC already, and go pester the actual contributors to California's groundwater problem.

    Will my owning a Potato PC somehow magically stop California's mindless, greedy, hedonistic agricultural industry from relentlessly sucking the groundwater dry?

    My best guess would be no, that this problem will only be "solved" once the parasitic humans responsible finally succeed in destroying the source of their own existence, and finally yeet themselves.

    Good riddance, but please leave me and my previous gaming PC out of it.

  37. Mast1

    'Fessing up to design flaws........

    We had an office-quality big-name inkjet printer. It kept on saying that the ink cartridges were empty, even the day after you put a new one in.

    Pull the cartridge out and give it a shake to hear lots of ink sloshing around. A web search eventually found the fault: a strong spring had been attached to a pillar in a plastic moulding. Insufficient webbing at the pillar base led to stress concentration and plastic flow, so the ink detection method failed.

    A totally poor design which had not led to a product recall. But they did sell us the re-designed plastic part : cost £80. Nowhere near the cost of the wasted ink cartridges (opened prematurely).

    Yup, we were fooled once. But we stopped buying printers from that manufacturer.

    Manufacturers need to appreciate more the cost of a trashed reputation.

  38. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Enjoy your right to repair, soon you’ll have nothing to repair, everything will be in the cloud, you’ll be labelled an e-waste hoarder by the Medes if you don’t recycle your planned-obsolescenced-precious-metal-rich-electronics, and all you’ll be left with is a low powered dumb terminal, lest you do any harm.

    The future happens, its unstoppable

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      ...and all you'll be left with is a low powered dumb terminal

      A phone running a browser more or less fits that bill?

  39. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    The opening of this article reads like the brain mushed spouting of some indoctrinated college sophomore! Restricting access to technology based on the biggest BIG LIE of the modern era only shows that the "Climate NAZIS" main concern has nothing to do with Climate Control and everything to so with People Control.

    As I read in an article this morning there was a heat wave in 1911 that killed 21,000 people in Europe! Was that caused by Global CO2 increases? I think not! As the "Industrial Revolution" was only 50 off years old by them.

    Regarding right to repair, it IS a huge issue. I doubt it will get solved as the Corporations have millions in lobbying money and those advocating it have little.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Maths fail

      1911 - 1750 > 50

      must contain some letters

  40. Binraider Silver badge

    My old C64, a design almost 40 years old is quite happy after a recap and replacement PSU. I'd have an Amiga too, if I had the desk space. Funnily enough, both of those systems the schematics were readily available if not included in the user manuals (my first-time-around A1500 definitely included them). Batteries and floppy drives are a bit limited today, but there are replacements for both of those readily available.

    Entertainingly, file compatibility from the Amiga onto modern systems is surprisingly good. Sheets and word docs made in "The Works! Platinum" open perfectly in current office software. Talk about compute capability not really advancing how most people work... Unless you're into really heavy number crunch.

    And the games on either of those systems are generally better than modern AAA shit. (I will excuse Indy devs in present day, who have made some really outstanding stuff... Factorio!!!)

    I used to have a lovely Subaru Legacy 3.0R, long out of production and low mileage but had to consign to the dustbin when it needed a front and back exhaust boxes. I could only get one from Japan or the USA at extortionate cost. Right to repair, to me, means mandating spares availability or the ability of third parties to produce replacements. I'm all for that. A repair does not have to be "easy" to have right to repair.

    From point of view of waste, not being able to get a replacement exhaust for sensible money meant getting another 1500kg's of car (that could have been avoided entirely). For the mileage I do (not much) the carbon cost of making the car is probably vastly more than the fuel bill will ever be.

  41. Joe Gurman

    So….

    ….you want tat to be designed for the convenience of the relative few who find it “fun” to tinker, rather than according to the whims of the punters. I wish you the best of luck with that.

  42. Luiz Abdala
    Stop

    As JayZTwoCents says...

    "There is no reason for a G-Sync Monitor to draw 15W from the socket in hibernation mode."

    So yeah, you can buy the high-powered components all you want, but they must obey idle comsumption power limits, and I agree with that philosophy. That´s topic number one.

    Topic number 2: the right to repair indeed should be a given, but since Apple exists, and they tell you to chuck that 1-year old laptop into the bin and buy a new one because of a single capacitor, you should be able to tell them to go f* themselves, go to Louis Rossman, and let him solder a new capacitor in place of the one that went kaput and charge you 50 bucks for it.

  43. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    Unfair dig at Dyson

    The efficiency rules for vacuum cleaners are rubbish. The result is cleaners that don't work properly. His particular beef was with the tests where cleaners under test could go into "eco mode" that met the power requirements, but didn't actually clean anything. He refuses to sell a product designed not to work.

    You need 1500W or more to really shift embedded crumbs and fluff.

  44. Ex-PFY

    There's Gold in them spare parts...

    Many a company made silly money off of supplying spare parts for military contracts, the price of a single bolt, but they have amazing traceability (Manufacture+processing), usually more lucrative than the original machines..

    Manufacturers are missing a trick, design so anyone can buy your golden cash cow spares...

  45. croc

    IFF I were a manufacturer of a product for which I provided warranty, I wouldn't allow user maintenance (other than what was routine or required for operation) under the warranty period. That said, I would also offer reasonably priced repairs at my own facilities, and / or expert advice (again, for a reasonable price) at the facility of the users' choice.

    What gripes me is the current trend of 'planned obsolesence' that is so prevalent today. I expect a certain lifetime of service from my 'things'. The mfg apparently plans for their devices to only work for the warranty period + one day.

  46. Grinning Bandicoot

    Started to try to find this case from the 70s after the "right to repair" item. The case if I recall correctly went some along these lines.

    A shop machinery manufacturer built a mill and sold it in the 1930 to a customer. The customer later modified the mill to suit its needs. The mill manufacturer later went insolvent as did purchaser one and the mill was sold as part of the proceeding. The new purchaser made further modifications to the machine. Meanwhile the successor manufacturer of the mill was bought out by another corporation seeking new markets. At this point we have a mill sold twice and modified after each sale with the original manufacturer long gone. A product liability suit was brought against the firm that purchased the remaining assets of the firm that went insolvent. The plaintiff won and won big. So Joe "I Don' Needa Manual" fixes the equipment and in the process disables a safety device as part of the fix; it is not Joe going to court but the company that built what Joe fixed. What is a preventative action against this? Make it so the maker controls how the equipment is altered.

    Consider Taxifornia A.K.A. California where that combine is regulated by CARB (California Air Resource Board). CARB only permits pre-approved modifications. It was more likely CARB that killed the right-to-repair bill in the legislature rather than Apple and kin. In the automotive field exists a large underground market of computer to change a vehicles acceleration, torque, and horsepower. CARB when where it can goes after these sellers and prosecutes. These computers may be legal elsewhere but not in their jurisdiction. Find me any policing agency that wants their work made more difficult and ypu've found the village idiots.

    You want your smart communication system repairable, then it shall be built with discrete components. When you need a dissecting microscope to see the traces it not likely that you will have much success when your kit is 00Phillips and a 0.5 Torx to remove the cover and your 100 watt solder gun covers half of the components that you need afore mentioned microscope to read the part numbers. Joe starts his fix, destroys equipment, sues because the directions that weren't read were not correct. The bottom dwellers win again

  47. Mark Wallace

    Jesus.

    Did you take a special course on how to make the written word unreadable?

    Try writing with your brain, not your crotch.

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