I am irked by this trend. If I buy something, it should be up to me to determine its destiny. If I want to change an iPad into an IheatingPad thats my business. If I want to download music from iTunes and play it on my Comodore 64, that shoould be my right. If I want to take a Kindle edition of a book and reformat it to read on my no-name Augen eReader it should be just fine. I want to make a copy of a DVD as a backup, I see nothing wrong with doing that.

Alas the manufacturers of hardware, software, and media disagree. Lets make everything propriety and either difficult, impossible, and increasingly illegal for people to tinker with stuff that they own?

Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating piracy in any shape or fashion. I work with enough film makes, authors and musicians to have a very healthy respect for intellectual property. It would be a cold day in hell that a loan out a per-release screener of a movie, or share an MP3 of a new song. All I ask for is to have the legal rights to tinker for my own enjoyment and purpose.

Is this wrong?

I hate propriety stuff. Much of my growling comes from the years I spent working in the PC world. certain brand name manufacturers seems to go out of their way to engineer into the designs features to ensure that should a floppy dish drive or CD Rom drive fail, the users only option was to spend three times the price of a generic part on an ‘authorized’ part. Oh, there was nothing sophisticated about the technique, the ‘guts’ of the device were generic, they merely changed the physical shape just enough to ensure that a generic part would not fit.

I reached the stage where when asked the question of what brand of computer some one should buy. I would give them the advice, go to the store, if you recognize the logo on the front of the box, keep walking!

Three years ago we moved, I scrapped my ever growing pile of computer trash, keeping only two desktops and a couple of aging laptops. of course over the past three years I have once more acquired a new computer scrap yard. I must have well over a dozen broken brand name boxes. Most have an obvious single point of failure, but those devious engineers have made it nearly impossible to mix and match parts.

This in my mind might be great from the manufacturers point of view, but I see it as being very short sighted. Perfectly good equipment finds its way to the landfill rather than into the hands of someone that could make great use of it.

I am the first to agree that computer prices have dropped significantly, a basic system can be bought for $300. But there are many, many families that just do not have $300. If these manufacturers would change their Modus Operandi the world would be a much better place.

People would still buy new computers, but at least their old ones could be cheaply repaired and help bridge the Digital Divide.

Instead we seem to be headed in exactly the opposite direction. Even worse, it seems to be with government blessing. While they can’t find agreement on minor matters like the economy being in the toilet , they have no problem in accommodating ridiculous requests from big media and big tech!

Simon Barrett

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