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    Nice. I have been thinking about this for some time now and I really think, that there should be law to make things repairable. The amount of shit that is thrown away each year is really embarrassing. It would make much more ecological sense than ban on light bulbs.

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      Is it being thrown out that you think is a problem or some sort of environmental or economic issue? I’m not sure things being repairable is a good idea for the sake of being repairable. But I think if things are not repairable then they need to prove some minimal environmental impact. My laptop, for example, is a highly coupled piece of technology. I’m not sure making it repairable is something that I, as a consumer, want.

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        I do. My Macbook Pro is going to be 9 years old in a couple months, and I can still use it fine (at least for web development type stuff). The reason it’s lasted that long, besides 2008 Apple building awesome laptops, is also that I was able to upgrade it (RAM upgrades and HD->SSD replacement) and “repair” it (replacing the battery a couple times, of course, but also replacing a couple cables internally that started failing). Without this, I would have maybe been able to bring it to an AppleStore a few times but the cost would have forced me to throw it away much quicker.

        Now if I was to look for a new laptop, I would definitely look for one that has the same level of “repairability”, which means leaving the Apple nest.

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          In my opinion post 2008 a lot if not most of the hardware (in particular laptops) and other kinds of consumer devices have become stripped of a lot of great things. I have a Toshiba from that year that packs everything. 5ghz wifi, bluetooth, firewire, 4xusb, hdmi, vga, serial, pcmcia, dvdrw, physical rfkill switch, webcam, esata, multimedia keys, Harman/Kardon speakers (the best ever), great quality (but low res) screen, and the type of plastic used for the case is high quality.

          Nowadays it’s nothing like back then. You get a fraction of the features for twice the price, in thin plastic. Sure, more memory, better cpu and more storage but that’s aboit it. I suspect the 2008 financial crisis set things in motion - to me, that’s the year when quality dropped.

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            A major reason Apple is able to make their new laptops so lightweight and portable while maintaining long battery life is the space-saving afforded by integrated components. Repairability takes space (removable panels vs structural panels, sockets vs soldering, shielded vs unshielded batteries, etc.). Most people care more about portability than repairability. Even though I place a heavier emphasis on repairability, it would be wrong to force an inferior laptop experience on everyone for the sake of a few power users.

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              I’m ok with that, as long as the costs of responsible disposal are factored in, i.e. price in how much it’ll cost to disassemble and properly recycle a glued-together single-piece laptop. There is a movement in that direction, but very inconsistent at the moment, in the U.S. varying state-to-state (e.g. California and New York have stricter e-waste laws than most states, requiring up-front payment of lifecycle costs). Implementation varies even more, currently with a lot of fraud where stuff doesn’t necessarily actually get recycled, or is exported with questionable post-export controls.

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              I want that, but I also like how thin/light my MBP is. Similarly I wouldn’t expect to be able to swap out the CPU for my Game Boy very easily. I imagine having a way to do that would add quite a bit of weight if you look at all the componenets

              Maybe I’ve just been brainwashed, but my impression is that this is mostly an either/or situation, moreso than a smooth gradient.

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            I agree, but laws are hard to get right. In eg. video panels, planned obsilescence helps fund the development. Regulating that out may give us robust black-and-whie CRTs.

            Of course most crap is along the lines of kitchen appliances that are cheaper to replace than repair, in which case recycling sounds better than throwing out.

            The last case is eg. not having built-in batteries, here at the fringe, where you can put your money into a Fairphone instead of an iPhone.

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            This was one of the key points for kettles in the Ecodesign report a few years ago (alongside turning off when the water is boiling, being insulated enough that they don’t waste much of the heat they make warming the room, and having a clear indication of how much water is in them) - that they should have a reasonable design life. 7 years was the suggestion, I think.

            British press presented it as “EU TO BAN HIGH POWER KETTLES”. Because of course they did.

            I wonder how much they’ll bother to spin this negatively now we’re leaving.

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              Where is the balance between

              • planned or unplanned obsolescence enabling newer, better, and generally cheaper technology to enter the market, and
              • long-lasting, repairable products purchasable as investments rather than disposable tools?

              Imagine if a government said that smartphones must have a supported lifespan of four years. What would that have done for the rollout of 3G? for HSPA? for LTE? for BT LE? Would we still be taking video at 720p instead of 1080p or 4k?

              Would Google and Apple be still actively supporting Android 4 and iOS 6? Worse, would Microsoft still be supporting Windows Phone, only because the law requires them to?

              I think you can tell from my leading questions that I’m not in favor of government-imposed longevity requirements. I believe that such would impede technology progress even more than the side effects of patents.

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                What would that have done for the rollout of 3G? for HSPA? for LTE? for BT LE? Would we still be taking video at 720p instead of 1080p or 4k?

                I know that this is harder in a smartphone form-factor, but it is effectively what we had in computing before the smartphone/tablet ‘revolution’. Need to push 4k video? Upgrade your video card. Want BT LE? Add a PCI card or USB dongle. (Or the 2004 laptop version: need this new technology called WiFi? Insert an Intersil Prism cardbus card.)

                Even in laptops, it was normal until a few years ago that you could replace/upgrade your memory, hard drive, battery, etc. Now we have companies touting that they are the most environment-friendly while gluing their batteries in their laptops/phones.

                (I am an Apple user, but this is an extremely bad trend.)

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                  Part of that is the demand for smaller and lighter devices. You can cram in more battery or shave off more millimeters if you turn access panels into rigid structural elements. You can ditch hard battery cases if the battery isn’t user serviceable - the laptop case can protect it from punctures. And so on.

                  Reversing this trend will probably need users to accept fatter, heavier devices.

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                    I prefer older Thinkpads but I’d rather accept they’re not what the markets want than have the govt enforce that preference.

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                    I don’t share your concerns. New tech could still be rolled out, perhaps just at a slower (and I would say healthier) pace. Cell towers in Europe are still compatible with 3g and will be for some time.

                    With stricter regulations in place companies might have to keep some additional cash reserves to support older devices a bit longer, but that just means you’ll pay a bit more to get your shiny 1080p today. If you’re a frontline tech consumer accelerating everyone else’s gear towards obsolescence and the garbage bin, charging you more is fair. After all, the costs of additional waste and recycling problems such consumers help create end up being spread across all consumers (tax payers).

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                      frontline tech consumer accelerating everyone else’s gear towards obsolescence

                      That’s an interesting point. Is upgrading a laptop merely a symptom of a larger disease? What if the EU mandated that every web site remain functional and capable of meeting some baseline performance criteria on a ten year old computer? (Every year they’d pick a common model, stick it in a vault, and then in ten years that becomes the test reference.)

                      I don’t necessarily want a thicker heavier device just so I can upgrade it later. Why should I even need to upgrade it? If it works today, it should work tomorrow.

                      Could make some allowance that new sites are exempt. If I buy a computer today, the sites I browse today should remain browsable for ten years, but no guarantee for sites that don’t yet exist.

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                        How is holding back tech development “healthy”?

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                          Development is very expensive. Being stuck covering the previous costs, you don’t necessarily ship new versions. At all. And even then, the price would be higher than now.

                          I’m pretty sure something like this stalled OLED panels, but I don’t have the real-life bandwidth now to find old news.

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                            Sure, there are costs in developing new products, no doubt. There are also costs associated with recycling and waste, and usually these are not paid for by the same entity.

                            If regulations declare that companies can keep “innovating” while ignoring many of the lifecycle steps of their product after point of sale, these regulations encourage shipping new products all the time, with ever shorter lifespans. I don’t want time and public money to be wasted on recycling such products.

                            Germany has recently forced retailers to take back electronic waste, whether they sold it or not. This problem could be more effectively solved even higher up the chain, and I would welcome such regulations. I don’t want products built by engineers who are forced to glue batteries in while they know it’s a toxic design yet the company can get away with it and make a profit. I want products from engineers who can build nice things that comply with what should be common sense regulations.

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                              Funny enough I found the verdict http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-10-1685_en.htm as a first hit on DDG.

                              Probably can’t be arsed to find any of the analyses from back then. This is a pretty obvious case where development didn’t proceed as expected.

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                                Where’s the connection? The link you posted is about a price-fixing issue.

                                During the four years, the companies agreed prices, including price ranges and minimum prices, exchanged information on future production planning, capacity utilisation, pricing and other commercial conditions. The cartel members held monthly multilateral meetings and further bilateral meetings. In total they met around 60 times mainly in hotels in Taiwan for what they called “the Crystal meetings”.

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                                  That not fining them would have enabled them to make more money and drive development forward.

                                  Not a huge fan of cartels, but many anti-trust lawsuits have actually been detrimental to consumers.

                                  Like Standard Oil was going down quite well by itself, and its monopoly position encouraged looking for alternatives and at the end of the day, consumers got affordable oil.

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                                    Well, good riddance to those OLEDs. The use of price-fixing means these products weren’t even able to compete fairly in a free market in the first place.

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                            (i’m in a foul mood today..)

                            Imagine if a government said that smartphones must have a supported lifespan of four years. What would that have done for the rollout of 3G? for HSPA? for LTE? for BT LE? Would we still be taking video at 720p instead of 1080p or 4k?

                            99% of the population uses these things for tinder and watching cat videos. they would be fine with black and white crts.

                            I think you can tell from my leading questions that I’m not in favor of government-imposed longevity requirements. I believe that such would impede technology progress even more than the side effects of patents.

                            if we don’t start to regulate resource consumption, there will nothing be left to regulate. natural resources are limited, and the “invisible hand of the market” isn’t really good with those things.

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                              So your argument is “most people don’t do stuff that requires the latest technology, so who cares about technological progress”?

                              It has always been this way. You need better technology to exist well before the majority of people start to take advantage of it. There’s a lot of cool stuff society could do with higher bandwidth, and we’re not going to get there if we hold society back with primitivist/Luddite political barriers.

                              Your last paragraph is wrong in several ways. First, the only really limited resource is energy. Based on recent adoption trends, we’re on track to switching away from petroleum and coal. It’s unlikely that we’ll be energy-starved at any point, barring misguided energy regulations.

                              Second, thee free market is extremely good at those things, assuming it’s allowed to operate. I see this opinion every once in a while and I can’t imagine it coming anywhere but from a lack of understanding about how markets work. In the presence of a free futures market and low regulatory overhead, the free market is (stochastically) optimal at saving resources for the future. Capitalists know that if a resource becomes rarer and demand stays the same, it gets more expensive. So, if we’re expending a finite resource, you can make a lot of money by stashing some of that resource and selling it in the future at an increased price. The calculation, in abstract, is fairly straightforward; you want to maximize the projected discounted value of the resource at time T minus the NPV of selling the resource now. Futures and related instruments allow the market to accurately determine these values. The end result is that the resource is well-distributed throughout time.

                              On the other hand, when a resource is controlled by a government, the incentives are entirely different. Politicians have an extremely high time preference with government money because they need to buy political support now (via pork barreling, job programs, reallocation of government-owned resources, etc.) or they won’t even have a position in the future. Check out what happened to the environment in the USSR. http://countrystudies.us/russia/25.htm Who cares about the future when A) you can’t improve your future position by earning money and B) you can destroy natural resources to earn political power now? Think on this a bit and you’ll see why a free market (with instruments like futures) and private property solve this problem elegantly. Also check out https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coase_theorem , which shows how a free market plus strong property laws epsilon-optimally solves the problem of pollution externalities, with epsilon decreasing as the market becomes more efficient.

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                                (a bit less foul mood today..)

                                i never expected such a long response for my rant, thanks for that.

                                i agree with that there is the possibility for society to really profit of new technology. for that the masses have to become better in creating things, not only consuming them. i guess this requires people to have more free time, so there goes that. to not only be negative: some positive (imo) examples which seem to work are bandcamp and patreon.

                                yes, the only limited resource is energy, if one wants to see it that way. fossil energy sources should not be used, as we really need these ressources (somewhat clean carbon sources) to build things (like plastics, most of medicines), not to burn it. it is hard to replace oil for that. the problem is that doing things will get exponentially harder if these resources are depleted. an example may be that we can synthesize most chemical compounds, but it is usually a magnitude more efficient to extract it from plants. (clarification: we can create oil like substances, but it is not energy efficient to do so, hence we need the oil).

                                if we fail to switch to renewable energy sources and less resource usage asap, it will be too hard to do it. while the world is in a somewhat messy state right now, we still are in a position where it can be done, but time works against us.

                                this is the problem with the free-market-will-fix-it: it takes too long. power plants have already amortized themselves, but they are kept running (even if they are 50 year old nuclear plants which leak everwhere) because you can still make profits of them. the profits will not be worth much if it blows up tomorrow (nuclear wise or global warming wise), but that isn’t really interesting as not the owner has to fix it but the nation states will do that. same goes with the loss of species. experience shows that the ecological system is complex enough that we don’t understand it, still we decide to not stop obvious bad things like using too much fertilizer and pesticides. if the tipping point is reached, things will get bad.

                                i agree with that politicians will not fix the problems as they think only in terms of power (kind of the same in the USSR, just without the votes..). as said, the free marked theoretically will fix things, but if it is too slow there will nothing left to be fixed. who cares about the future if you will be long dead when things go awry? people deciding things are 50 and older, there’s nothing to worry for them. even if there would be things to worry, they still have enough money to keep the bad effects on bay for themselves.

                                we need to start fixing things now.

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                              I think you can tell from my leading questions that I’m not in favor of government-imposed longevity requirements. I believe that such would impede technology progress even more than the side effects of patents.

                              Not to mention the increased costs and prices.

                              People want the government to magically “mandate” that something be better for them. Reality just doesn’t work that way.

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                              The Parliament is asking the Commission …

                              I wonder what Europe looks like in a universe where this sentence reads: “The Parliament is telling the Commission…”

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                                Better, probably. Brexit probably wouldn’t be happening, for one. But fortunately the commission seems to be accepting that, de facto, it should do whatever the parliament says.

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                                  The public impression of the Commission probably didn’t help for Brexit, but the UK government has also generally been against giving the EU Parliament more power, not wanting a EU-wide legislature that functions as a regular legislature (with power to initiate and pass laws, etc.), as that could be seen as a step towards a “United States of Europe”.