SuttaCentral

Just a rant: starting to despise electronics

In the past 3 months I’ve had 3 new expensive electronics (computer, kitchen appliances, etc…) permanently die on me. I think I’ve lost around $2000 total the past few months. I’m going to try to return one tomorrow, which I’ve only had for 20 days brand new, and try to get $500 back.

These experiences just push me further into the dhamma, and solidifying the belief that anything that can fail, will fail, either sooner or later.

I’m honestly thinking of never buying electronics again unless I really have no choice, talk about dispassion! And what about all those future fully electric cars? will they be just as fragile and vulnerable to electric surges? Will the engine die because of a tiny loose wire? Doesn’t look like a good outlook.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my rant.

8 Likes

There are benefits to going analog…
I.e. brooms, bicycles, mortar and pestle etc…:laughing:

Although greenhouse gas friendly, electric cars require batteries made with metals from environmentally unfriendly mining practices :flushed:

Reduce consumption by going analog when possible, and if you do need electronics- buy used if you can.

8 Likes

Yeah, this is how it goes. Nothing works, everything collects your data, and you’re paying through the nose for it all. So we better practice, otherwise we might be back in 2121 giving our children “the talk” about not going outside without anti-recognition face paint.

5 Likes

Yeah you’ll need to login into your wifi connected “smart bowl” that has 1 year warranty (but will break a day after), just to have soup.

4 Likes

My rant is with mobile phones! Every major update slows it down…until at one point u want to make a call ( isn’t this the point of a phone? :wink:) , and the darn thing freezes :exploding_head::exploding_head::exploding_head:
I’m still holding onto a 6 year old phone and it get slower every month :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Profit making through a cycle of dependency and “upgrades“

7 Likes

I know what you mean! Things get more complicated, built for shorter periods. It feels like we have crossed an event horizon with wifi, AI-enabled toasters that can write love-letters.

I think about it in terms of complexity.

How much complexity does an average home have today? Let’s try counting the complexity just in software! First, how many computers in a home?

In the 80s, Bill Gates wanted to put a computer on every desk. That seemed crazy ambitious, but from our perspective, it’s crazy limited. Today we have:

  • a couple of desktops
  • half a dozen laptops, or a dozen
  • some tablets
  • some phones
  • various appliances: TV, fridge, stove, toaster,
  • “smart home” security and other features
  • watches
  • routers
  • 50 or so processors in every modern car (eg Tesla)

Easily 200 CPUs in a household, possibly much more.

Let’s assume each one runs Linux. (most embedded systems use Linux, as do tablets/phones/watches, etc.) The Linux kernel is well over 20,000,000 lines of code. The whole OS is of course much bigger, but we’ll be conservative. Each line of code includes maybe 80 characters, each one of which can be one of 128 glyphs (assuming ASCII).

So just considering software, this is 40 trillion things that can go wrong.

Just this week, one tiny configuration bug took down vast swathes of the internet.

It’s a wonder anything works at all!

10 Likes

I wonder about how the error rates for a human vs electronic/AI compare for a particular task?:thinking:

1 Like

No need! The bowl recognises you and heats the soup to your preferred temperature. It can also tell you jokes and sing songs about you! Because nothing masks malicious data collection like cute gimmicks.

5 Likes

Automation has in some instances dulled pilots’ skills to the point that there have been documented cases of airplane crashes because pilots had relied too heavily on malfunctioning onboard computer programs to fly the planes. The major airplane manufacturers (Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, etc.) have made it a priority to include pilot training to emphasize basic flying skills to counter the over-reliance on programmed functions.

3 Likes

I worked for many years for electronic assembly companies, and the culprit for many mystery failures in products is often static electricity. That is, static that hits a particular component while it’s still at the factory. Electronic manufacturers have to instill almost military-grade discipline in their workers to stay grounded at all times when they handle circuit boards to prevent a static shock too small to feel from weakened a component, which then causes it burn out after a couple weeks of use. Much of the trouble is the push to miniaturize electronics more and more. The components become very fragile electrically as they get smaller. So, when I have this happen, I SMH and think, “Whoever the contractor was probably didn’t take ESD precautions very seriously.”

8 Likes

The retail electronics industry, clothing industry…it’s all such a sad racket. I can say that I can probably afford to buy stuff that I need for work, like notebooks, desktops, men’s suits, and things like that. What I’ve done for a few years is to buy second hand, or recycled electronics and clothing. Americans are pretty wasteful in general, and so I have Lenovo business level notebooks and Dell desktops (Products | Remachines) , tailored suits (almost new Hickey-Freeman suit 42S, $26.00 at Goodwill) and nice dress shoes for work (St. Vinny’s resale) …all bought secondhand for a tiny fraction of the retail price. I get a perverse small thrill bypassing the retailers and bypassing the purchase of consumer goods made in Chinese sweatshops. Your Apple phone, Adidas shoes and Sony TV may have been made in China by forced Uighur labor

I understand the argument that by not buying the item from the Chinese sweatshop I indirectly harm the 13 year old factory worker there, but until these large retailers stop using forced workers, or kids, or paying sweatshop wages, I’ll avoid the retail purchases as much as possible.

4 Likes

Disposable electronics are the business model these day- fixing the item usually costs a significant portion of the cost of a new one.

That said, my dad still has a Panasonic National radio that’s 40 years now- still works :wink:
Not to mention my 20 yr old Walkman :sunglasses:

Many CRT TVs actually get dumped not because the tube blows, but the VHS signals aren’t around anymore.

Maybe it’s just that they don’t make them like they used to…sigh…

3 Likes

Hi All,

The issue of planned obsolescence is not new and in the EU people are working on it. Planned obsolescence - Wikipedia

2 Likes

And we have estimates of how many bugs there are per 1,000 lines of code. Just a random example from the internet:

Bug to code ratios
The idea of bugs per lines of code isn’t really a new idea. Steve McConnell, the primary source for the previously mentioned post, has written extensively on defects per lines of code. Covering average bugs per LOC stats in his great book Code Complete:
(a) Industry Average: “about 15 - 50 errors per 1000 lines of delivered
code.” He further says this is usually representative of code that has some
level of structured programming behind it, but probably includes a mix of
coding techniques.
(b) Microsoft Applications: “about 10 - 20 defects per 1000 lines of code
during in-house testing, and 0.5 defect per KLOC (KLOC IS CALLED AS 1000 lines of code) in released
product (Moore 1992).” He attributes this to a combination of code-reading
techniques and independent testing (discussed further in another chapter of
his book).
(c) “Harlan Mills pioneered ‘cleanroom development’, a technique that has
been able to achieve rates as low as 3 defects per 1000 lines of code during
in-house testing and 0.1 defect per 1000 lines of code in released product
(Cobb and Mills 1990). A few projects - for example, the space-shuttle
software - have achieved a level of 0 defects in 500,000 lines of code using
a system of format development methods, peer reviews, and statistical
testing.”

1 Like

Not to be a naysayer or anything, but the system seems to work very well (apart from climate change and pandemics and child labour and all the other unwanted side effects).

The thing is, when I was a kid there were only a few things that I really wanted for the future. Top of the list was access to any music from around the world, any time I liked. And here we are with just that: “Hey Google, play some Mongolian throat singing please”.

Another thing that used to be troublesome, this time when I was a young adult, was all those reference books that I carted around from one apartment to the next, just to look up an interesting nugget of out of date information. Give me a phone and Wiki any day.

Of course these days my tastes and pastimes have changed somewhat, but here I am talking to a bunch of wonderful Buddhists from all over the world. Of course I still hanker after a bit of Morse code bounced off the ionosphere every now and then, but still …

I guess I’m lucky because people seem to give me old electronic devices that are perfectly serviceable (if you can follow a few YouTube videos to get them going again), and pretty much everything I wanted as a kid is here now.

“Hey Google, can you play a dhamma talk on freedom from desires please”. :wink:

3 Likes

I do like being able to have the whole of the Chinese Tripitaka saved in a laptop. Being able to perform text searches through it is pretty handy, too.

3 Likes

It’s not even planned obsolescence anymore, it’s just straight obsolescence. Literally new devices are failing for me and others. Microsoft or Acer, for example, wants you to ship the device to them so they can “repair” it, then after a month they send you another device, which probably has other issues, then you have to play phone tag again and send it back again, rinse and repeat and you’ve lost several months of time you could have spent using a working device.

I’m reading about this issue on several forums with Microsoft, Acer, and other major corps that employ a “service” model, i.e. you’re paying for 2-3 years of service, not the actual device. But it’s obviously a scam, as the device failure rate is significant and then you waste all your time dealing with an AI virtual assistant which tells you the same thing over ane over.

I say this as I now have to send my 20 day old new Microsoft surface laptop, that has to be “serviced” which can take 2 months and possibly damaged in the mail. So it’s going to take longer to fix the product than I’ve had to even use it.

Just what a scam.

2 Likes

Hi @Thito,
I hear your frustration with your new product and hopefully that will be solved soon. I’m also quite sure that it’s not easy to find three mustard seeds from households where that has not happened in some form, nowadays. :wink:

I don’t have enough data to judge whether the defect rate is significant. Considering the large number of components in a single product and how the defect probability of independent components compounds, it surely feels to be quite large.

In Europe, there is a minimum of 2 years guarantee against those defects. Consumer guarantees, warranties, claims and returns - Your Europe

It is not as ideal as having a perfect product every time, which does not sound realistic, but there is some risk mitigation.

Hopefully your new laptop will be repaired or replaced soon and you will be able to use it immediately afterwards.

With Metta

5 Likes

I own three internet radios which allow me to listen to tens of thousands of internet radio stations from a stand-alone device without having to be at my computer to listen to internet radio. There are numerous manufacturers of internet radios and based on the research I have done there are millions of these devices owned by people all around the world.

For a number of years, most internet radios connected to internet radio streams via a non-profit internet radio station aggregator known as Reciva. Several years ago Reciva was purchased by the large tech company Qualcomm. Apparently Qualcomm has not figured out how to make money from the Reciva internet radio aggegator service, so it has decided to shut down Reciva which will essentially render inoperable all the internet radios which use it to stream stations. These devices will become obsolete overnight. Initially the shutdown date for Reciva was scheduled for 31 January of this year, but the date was pushed back to 30 April and then delayed again until 21 July.

The manufacturers of internet radios which pull their streams from Reciva claim that they can’t do anything about the shutdown of Reciva. These manufacturers have said that since Reciva is operated by Qualcomm, once Qualcomm pulls the plug on Reciva the built-in hardware on the internet radios simply will have nothing to connect to online.

The manufacturer’s website for the three radios I own has information regarding the “managed shutdown” of those radios which use Reciva. Despite the manufacturer’s claim that it is powerless once Qualcomm terminates the Reciva aggregator, the term “managed shutdown” seems to imply that there is some sort of kill switch that will be activated on the radios which use Reciva to stream internet radio stations. People who own internet radios which rely on the Reciva aggregator are understandably upset.

3 Likes

Just gave this a brief glance, and looks promising. Don’t know if this work around is still applicable. Maybe if you have a tech-savvy friend they might want to give a go at the instructions to help your radio into it’s next rebirth?

3 Likes