By on March 5, 2020

With the California Farm Bureau effectively giving away the right of farmers to repair their own equipment without involving the distributor in the spring of 2019, the right-to-repair movement fell back on its heels. Horrified by the ground lost, the group has rallied to better incorporate those hoping to fix or modify mobile devices and automobiles. Despite being disparate products, members share a common goal of returning control to consumers and preventing various industries from having a stranglehold on products they were supposed to relinquish ownership of when sold.

Hoping to better illustrate the plight of farmers, Bloomberg published an article outlining one man’s struggle with John Deere. Kevin Kenney is a Nebraska-based engineer who’s also a member of a grassroots campaign to undermine the corporate mandate against repairing its tractors. He believes farmers owe it to themselves to know how to fix their own equipment or risk finding themselves perpetually at the mercy of the manufacturer — while losing the skills to be self-reliant.

Why should you care? It’s presumed automakers will follow a similar business plan as vehicles become increasingly networked and electric, and as executives redefine what constitutes ownership while using proprietary software as their shield. Pretty much exactly what John Deere is doing.   (Read More…)

By on February 23, 2018

In So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, Douglas Adams introduces the reader to the character of Rob McKenna. Rob is a truck driver; he is also a Rain God. It rains every day of McKenna’s life because the clouds want to be near him. Later on in the book, McKenna starts earning a healthy living from vacation resorts, which pay him to stay away.

I can’t say it’s rained every day of my life. I can say that the weather in my home town improves dramatically the minute I leave. Last week, while I was riding a Road Glide around Los Angeles in a recurring rainstorm, there was an early spring in Ohio. Temperatures went from the mid-twenties to the mid-seventies pretty much overnight and stayed there until my plane was about halfway back home, at which point it started to rain and the mercury dropped twenty degrees. I am not kidding about this.

On the road home, I saw a two-foot-wide hole in the freeway where there had previously been no hole whatsoever. I drove around it. Shortly afterwards, I was confronted by an odd tableau: at least six cars pulled over, covering both shoulders, with their drivers in conversations ranging from dazed to agitated. All of the cars were tilted to some degree, because they all had at least one flat tire. In my rearview mirror, I saw a Subaru coasting to a stop on the right shoulder behind me. It, too, was tilted.

Turns out that was just the beginning.

(Read More…)

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