I've been repairing my phones and computers for years—I don't like being at the mercy of hardware vendors, especially when there's a sea of original and gray market replacement parts out there to be had. Upgrades? Same thing. While companies like Microsoft and Apple are making it almost impossible to tinker with the toys they make, it feels good to know that I can still at least install a fresh battery or increase the size of an old laptop's on board storage for hundreds less than it would cost me were I to take it into one of their repair centers. As I plopped a replacement battery into my 2012 11" MacBook Air earlier this week. I found my self feeling a lot of gratitude for the folks who talk me the fundamentals of puttering about with electronics. However, I know that not everyone has access to folks that can help them learn the skills they need in order to diagnose or correct a problem with their laptop, game console or other devices. This can make getting started with repairing you gear feel pretty intimidating.
You can get around this intimidation in a couple of ways. You can, if you're lucky enough to have one where you live visit a repair cafe or other similar business. They have the tools and instructions you'll need in order to learn how to do it yourself. And of course, there's the Interwebz. You'll find no end of videos that suggest how to tinker out a technical problem. Read the rest
The Right to Repair movement has introduced dozens of state-level laws that would force companies to support independent repairs by making manuals, parts and diagnostic codes available, and by ending the illegal practice of voiding warranties for customers who use independent repair services, but these bills keep getting killed by overwhelming shows of lobbying force from members of the highly concentrated manufacturing sector, particularly Apple, whose CEO, Tim Cook, warned investors in January that the number one threat to Iphone sales is that customers are choosing to repair, rather than replace, their mobile devices.
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As I wrote last week, the California Farm Bureau (which lobbies for the state's farmers) struck a deal to gut the state's Right to Repair legislation, a move that will cost farmers their right to fix their own tractors and other heavy equipment.
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Join me, EFF attorney Kit Walsh and iFixit's Kyle Wiens -- along with special guests! -- in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session tomorrow (Thursday) from 11AM-3PM Pacific; we'll be talking about the upcoming Copyright Office hearings on creating exceptions to the DMCA to make room for independent repair and security research. We'll be live here at 11AM tomorrow! Pass it on.
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Since the passage of the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, "Warranty Void if Removed" stickers and other policies that put restrictions on third party repairs have been unenforceable in America, but that doesn't stop companies from putting deceptive tamper-evident stickers on their equipment in an effort to trick or intimidate their customers into going to a manufacturer-authorized service depot.
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iFixit Video always does informative overviews of new gadgets, like this nifty look at how Face ID works. Read the rest
Writing in IEEE Spectrum, iFixit's superhero founder Kyle Wiens and Repair.org exective director Gay Gordon-Byrne bring the case for the right to repair (previously) to the engineering community, describing the economic, technical, and environmental benefits of permitting a domestic industry of local, expert technologists to help their neighbors get more out of their gadgets.
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Motherboard says a source told them that "an Apple representative, staffer, or lobbyist will testify" against the state's Right to Repair bill, which requires companies to make it easy for their customers to choose from a variety of repair options, from official channels to third parties to DIY. Read the rest
Nebraska is one of five states considering Right to Repair laws that would require companies to provide manuals and parts so that people could fix their own stuff, or get their stuff fixed by independent service centers, and the lobby groups for ATVs and motorcycles are pissed. Read the rest
Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it both a crime and a civil offense to tamper with software locks that control access to copyrighted works -- more commonly known as "Digital Rights Management" or DRM. As the number of products with software in them has exploded, the manufacturers of these products have figured out that they can force their customers to use their own property in ways that benefit the company's shareholders, not the products' owners -- all they have to do is design those products so that using them in other ways requires breaking some DRM. Read the rest
New York is one of four states considering legislation that would guarantee your right to get your stuff fixed by independent repair centers, curbing manufacturers' attempts to limit access to technical documentation and parts, meaning you pay less to keep your stuff working, and that means that your gadgets don't become immortal, toxic e-waste. Read the rest
If you think that your phone may have been hacked so that your adversaries can watch you through the cameras and listen through the mics, one way to solve the problem is to remove the cameras and microphones, and only use the phone with a headset that you unplug when it's not in use. Read the rest