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[Discuss] EOMA68 Computer

IngeGNUe <ingegnue at> writes:
> * It is easier to repair because it's less of a hassle to obtain and
> swap parts
> * When there is a problem, you won't be throwing out the entire
> machine

Repair I'm puzzled about. It doesn't seem to me that most keep their
machines long enough for repair to be a consideration except perhaps the
hard drive. That's modular now. I don't think the repair issue is
currently driving the waste so much as Wirth's Law.  My experience is
consistent with his numbers in the white paper: "if the computer was not
connected to the Internet it could continue to be used for its
designated tasks until it suffered major component failure (possibly in
8 to even 15 years time)," though I dislike the "if the computer was not
connected to the internet" part. At some point you could imagine repair
shops coming back because of modular design but it's a distant point
from where we are now.

It may be that people discard earlier out of fear of component
failure. I've done this in the past with harddrives. So I might guess if
the parts were made so 95% last 10 years and that became known people
would tend to hold onto things longer. But I doubt this also vs. Wirth's
Law effects.

> * The eco-consciousness will depend on the development cycle of the
> machines. For one thing, I don't think there will be planned
> obsolescence and delayed upgrades the way there is in other consumer and
> enterprise electronics, which are planned specifically to *tempt* people
> to buy *more* so they can make more money.

So I don't think the planned obsolescence happens primarily from the
hardware people. The best you could say is they have a symbiosis with
software people in this regard.

> * If they do this for-profit then there is an issue where market forces
> might influence them to tempt people to buy more and more SoC upgrades,
> resulting in more waste. But, that would require the...project
> maintainers, if you will, to spend more and more money. A large
> corporation would be more likely to pull that off than a small
> crowdfunding project.

But it would be nice if they got big so they actually displace a
significant amount of more wasteful production.

> * I hope that this will change the way people look at devices, that they
> realize they can build and fix instead of dispose, but we'll see...

That would be good. Free Geek and other (some local) groups do or have
done some of this with existing hardware but newer machines can be a
little trying I'm told. The really old stuff is more fun for fixing and
swapping components maybe. So modular machines would perhaps be
appreciated by these people after they age out and enter the throw away
stream.  At those ages repair does become a real issue maybe.

But still I can't get excited buying such a thing as an individual
choice right now. I look at computers as flowing through a pipeline from
mining to landfill:

(Switch to fixed width font if possible)

mining/production -> new -> 3 year "obsolescence" -> 8+ year demise -> landfill
                             |                      |                   ^
                             |                      |                   |
                             \/                     \/                  |
                       Used market A  -->     Used market B ------------+

Now I've heard a nice phrase about fitness and pollution that goes
something like: "Run (or bike) unless you must walk. Walk unless you
must take the bus/train. Take the bus/train unless you must drive. Drive
unless you must fly." My variation on that for computer consumption
could be, "Keep unless you must replace. Replace with very old unless
you must replace with moderately old. Replace with moderately old unless
you must buy new."  Repair maybe should fit somewhere in there. The
point of staying out of used market A is to avoid driving up the price
for cash strapped non-profits. My impression is that they can't deal
with used market B from needing various bloated software packages and
not having time for the headaches of component failure. With this
company's laptop available I'd only amend the end of the slogan with
"replace with moderately old unless you must buy new modular. Buy new
modular unless you must by new unmodular."  At best buying this laptop
is splurging now with the promise to do better in the future.

The more pressing problem to solve to me is the one he glosses over
here on his way to his area of interest:

   The problem is that the kinds of web sites that most people visit and
   want to use are being designed with modern computers in mind. Even some
   recent smartphones are more powerful than high-end desktop computers of
   a decade ago. The latest version of Google Maps, for example, when using
   the "Street View", overwhelms a recent version of Firefox running on a
   computer with 8 Gigabytes of memory and a Dual-Core Dual-Hyper-threaded
   2.4 Ghz processor, causing it to reach 100% CPU and lock up the entire

It's not actually that bad I don't think (but I will reject a site that
rejects me -- and Street View? is it such a sacrifice not to have Street
View?). For instance, I notice banking and credit card sites are usable
enough on old machines. All sites hosting free software projects are
perfectly fine. BLU's site? Perfectly okay ;). Maybe there's some kind
of threshold for visitors that different kinds of companies are willing
to discard. Banking sites maybe that's some fraction of a
percent. Google I think it's at least 1% based on the obnoxious messages
they give when you don't whitelist them on noscript or librejs. So I
think there are a bunch of ways you can deal with the bloated sites some
web developers are producing these days. If we could spread tips and
(free) software to help here as we simultaneously save old computers
and get them used by people in substitution for new purchases then maybe
numbers in weblogs would force accomodation of slower machines with less
memory. You know, get the stubborn, difficult group who use things like
noscript or go away from a site early if it's slow up to 3% and see how
companies react to that.

IngeGNUe <ingegnue at> writes:
> On 07/19/16 11:20, Mike Small wrote:
>> Having cheap upgrade options and having those
>> options publicized might also make me more tempted to consume more not
>> less.
> Actually, this could be a problem if big corporations take this project
> and run with it.
> But I think that's as issue with the profit motive taking precedence
> over the environment whatever you're selling.

I'm inclined to disagree here. My feeling is that environmental efforts
tend to be niche until a profit motive takes force, perhaps with the
help of a subsidy. Take Denmark and wind power for instance. I'm not
deeply familiar with their case but it sounds to me like the country
decided early to go to wind, the government introduced subsidies to
shift the supply curve as necessary to make it possible for companies to
create a wind industry, but then companies (whether big or small I don't
know) built up the equipment and produced the power, profit motive
driving all of that. Where there are not government subsidies we wait
until the thing stands on its own at market equilibrium. Maybe there's
some demand curve shift from environmental awareness, something similar
to and in the reverse direction (reduced consumption) of the demand
shift you get from advertising, but it's not an obvious effect. How many
times do you see protest and campaign to change behaviour but only
e.g. when the price of gasoline goes up do you see a noticeable change?

But I guess Free Geek is nonprofit. They also deal in the price system
to get sales to offset their costs, but as a nonprofit they could choose
reduced sales if that somehow better fulfills their mission statement.
Is that what you're getting at?  Hmmm, I guess now I think the onus for
not upgrading unnecessarily should be on the consumer in this case. Free
Geek should be selling as much as they can, constrained only by what's
available to divert. And if I feel like modularity in this new laptop
could induce me to upgrade unnecessarily I should deal with that myself
by not doing it (but I still won't buy one new).

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