“We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.”
― Rudyard Kipling–The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling

The Right to Repair Stuff

What It Is.

The Right to Repair is a movement that starts with the proposition that if you own something, you should have the right to fix it yourself or hire someone of your choice to do so. These days a lot of products are manufactured in a way that makes them almost impossible to fix. I recently had a Surface Pro 3 in for repair and it became obvious that to fix it I’d have to replace the SSD, but the way the device is made, with super-thin display glass and heavy use of adhesives to secure that glass that makes it a dicey proposition to fix. Nine out of ten times you will break the glass and the glass ends up being more expensive to replace than it’s worth when you break it so we opted not to fix it. 

We live in a throw-away society. As soon as something stops working the way it’s supposed to, manufacturers either want us to send it in for them to fix behind those wizardly curtains or toss it and buy a new one! Whether it’s the T2 chip in a Mac or a John Deere tractor that costs $800k that you are not allowed to own the software on and you have to pay them again to “tell” the tractor that the new part you just put in is “OK” and recognize it? Apple and John Deere should not be able to tell me what parts I can use on a phone or a computer or a tractor for that matter, that I own. Frigidaire & LG should not sell parts to an “authorized” repair shop that I can’t buy myself! John Deere is moving towards a world where their tractors and combines are more software than hardware. Owners have to hack older John Deere’s without the company’s blessing and JD shows no indication they’ll change that attitude. A Digital Trends Motherboard article on such restrictive software patents quotes a Nebraska farmer, “If a farmer bought the tractor, he should be able to do whatever he wants with it. You want to replace a transmission and you take it to an independent mechanic — he can put in the new transmission but the tractor can’t drive out of the shop. Deere charges $230, plus $130 an hour for a technician to drive out and plug a connector into their USB port to authorize the part.” A better model would be for companies like John Deere to let their software patents time-out after a decade and release it to the public domain. This would let JD recoup their investment but give owners the right to modify and fix older equipment without having to resort to software from an old Soviet Union state’s hacker infrastructure to keep it running! Public domain software would also put a treasure trove of code that hackers could use to add features to old gear giving famers more control and a longer tail to their investment without the huge repair costs of being forced to let John Deere fix equipment that they can fix themselves or local repair shops to fix and improve without the dealership tax. 

New Rules in the Summertime

On July 21st, 2021 the FTC voted unanimously to enforce laws around the Right to Repair, ensuring that consumers in the US will have the right to repair their own electronic and auto devices. This on the heels of President Joe Biden who 12-days earlier signed an executive order meant to promote competition in the US economy. It did a lot of things, from banks to airplanes, but for our purposes, it encouraged the FT, which is an independent agency,  to create new rules to prevent companies from taking the Right to Repair away from US consumers. This is what government is supposed to do, but we live in a society today that since Reagan who while giving “average” Americans lip-service, actually valued the uber-wealthy over hard working people who maybe don’t have a few thousand to toss at reminding a tractor they own it in software! Don’t these uber-rich companies have enough money? Do we have to give it ALL to Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk or in this case, the CEO John C. May and many wealthy investors in John Deere?

When I was in my teens I worked for a John Deere dealership and drove combines & tractors every day. They are monster machines that have a base cost of around $500,000 today and by the time you add in what some farmers need in attachments and features, you’re nearly pushing a million dollars in some cases. And for farmers who are just making it this is an incredibly painful investment that requires they put everything on the line just to be able to do their essential-to-society job and one that can come crashing down once you’re off warranty and just need the damn thing to work.

I Wanna Fix It!

What these changes to the patent rules means for those farmers and fixers like me is that I can fix your stuff without having to worry about bricking your laptop, game pods or 4k TV. It means that I can get parts, tools and the knowledge to fix every device out that that some website has taken apart to show how easy or hard it is to fix. iFixit.com is a leader in this area and a strong proponent of Right to Repair

Right to Repair can mean that workers can retrain themselves on repair videos, manuals and tips websites that drive the repair ecosystem on the World Wide Web. It means that if there’s a Ukrainian firmware update that teaches a combine, tractor or ATV that the FARMER owns it and not John Deere, then that’s good for everyone.

The first iteration of my repair business was a website called IWannaFixit.com which is my attitude about . . . stuff, let ME fix it! And I come by it honestly. My Grandfather, Ralph who owned a Chrysler dealership in Kingman, KS in the 40’s and 50’s also had a repair shop at home where he would sharpen saws and repair bikes and mowers. My Dad, Darwin was an engineer at Boeing, Lear and Rockwell and was an early engineer of composites used today for advanced aircraft wings and stealth. And in his shop at home he bought and repaired totalled cars for resale. He loved taking things apart and then learning how they worked, making them better and then putting them back out in the world. I remember when he came across the first unified headlights that couldn’t be taken apart to fix one stupid broken piece, you had to replace the whole thing. He was livid and recognized this as the wrong path forward. When I learned how to fix Macs, iPhones and PCs on iFixit and YouTube I joined Ralph and Darwin in a long line of tinkerers. I know our stuff isn’t just junk to be used and tossed but speaks to who we are, in part, especially if we live with it, use it, fix it and hand it on. And as owners, this makes all of our devices worth more because we don’t have to toss it when it glitches.

This isn’t a hard concept for manufacturers, and the Right to Repair Association has some basic standards about repairability:

  • Make information available: Everyone should have reasonable access to manuals, schematics, and software updates. Software licenses shouldn’t limit support options and should make clear what’s included in a sale.
  • Make parts and tools available: The parts and tools to service devices, including diagnostic tools, should be made available to third parties, including individuals.
  • Allow unlocking: The government should legalize unlocking, adapting, or modifying a device, so an owner can install custom software.
  • Accommodate repair in the design: Devices should be designed in a way as to make repair possible.

Stand Up!

This isn’t something that’s inevitable, it’s going to require that we push the crazies we elect to make common-sense laws about our stuff. If you want to take a stand you can see what your laws are and how to get engaged here:


Take a look at your state:

Is This Important or Just More Work for Me?

If our “stuff” can be designed at the beginning to be fixed there will be less waste in our landfills and cost us less over time. Making devices with proprietary screws and glued-in parts make repairs difficult and expensive. Companies like Apple maintained that making laptops light and thin requires gobs of glue and special screws and logic boards that can’t be upgraded because everything is soldered on! But guess what? That’s not true. A company called Framework is building a sleek and powerful DIY laptop that can be custom-made, they’ll build it or send you the parts and you can build it! And size isn’t the issue here, you don’t have to glue something together to make it thin and strong as Framework makes obvious with their product.

The most powerful computing company on earth, Apple was created by hackers who loved to toy with the devices of the time, when the Woz needed a I/O for their new devices he just hacked an early TV and turned it into a monitor, he said, “I wasn’t restricted from anything that kept me from building that computer and showing the world that the future of personal computers is going to be a keyboard and a TV.”

“That all came from being able to repair things, and modify them, and tap into them yourself.” and these days, Wozniak supports Right to Repair. Early Apples benefitted from an open framework on their computers that originally made Apple the success it became with the Apple II. “How was Apple hurt by the openness of the Apple II?” Wozniak said recently. Apple was born and all of that incredible creative power was released to the public as he says, “That all came from being able to repair things, and modify them, and tap into them yourself.” Wouldn’t it be great if Apple turned their creativity and power and all that money they have into making devices that are easy to upgrade and replace and repair? That would be another computer revolution that might be as powerful and far-reaching as the first one. I’m not sure the Stock Market would like it, but we would.

Steve Jobs once said, “What is Apple, after all? Apple is about people who think ‘outside the box,’ people who want to use computers to help them change the world, to help them create things that make a difference, and not just to get a job done.” If this is true, if this ethic is still in Apple (if it was beyond the Woz) then Right to Repair and designing to last has to be in the genetic code of companies into this century. Companies have to stop building disposable products, start building products that last, that can be fixed and upgraded. Designed with repairability in mind on the drawing board. France recently enacted a “repairability index” and has begun to require makers of certain electronic devices, including smartphones and laptops, to tell consumers how fixable their products are. They have to give their products a score, or “repairability index,” based on easy to understand criteria, including how easy it is to take it apart,  the availability of spare parts and to include technical documents. This is to combat a world that’s been damaged by planned obsolescence; oceans filled with disposed-of plastic and a market built on the creation of products with a finite life-span that have to be replaced at great individual and planetary cost in resources and pollution. We can then transition to a more circular economy where waste is minimized and products last.

I have an early Apple IIc that still works. The one shown here isn’t mine, but mine is just like it and I’ve kept it working with a few upgrades to the software and some added parts when things wore out, but my kids still use it to play old 8-bit games. One of their favorite is Karateka. You can still play it online if you don’t own an oldie like my Apple:


But the point isn’t that this game is in any way equivalent to Amazon’s New World or Metal Gear Solid V, it’s that even a device that’s now 35 years old and obsolete by any standard is still working and bringing people joy in a world of virtual headsets and immersive worlds. What I hope is that someday when I hand my stuff off to my kids and grandkids that somewhere in our distant, distant future one of my great, great, great grandkids will wake up on their home, possibly an exoplanet and wonder what that funky old box is in storage and pull out a fragile old antique made of beige plastic with a fading Apple logo, push the power button and watch Karateka boot up and begin the battle to free Mariko once again from the clutches of the evil Warlord Akuna and wage an 8-bit karate battle for her freedom!

Battling Evil on Proxima Centari b

This is the time. Companies “sunset” their devices with software updates that brick them after a certain period so that you just have to toss it. But we all have a relative with an ancient silver watch or dusty turntable with his collection of Yes, Jethro Tull  or Elvis Presley records that still play. This isn’t rocket science, but even Elon Musk gets that reusability makes space cheaper so why is Tesla fighting the Right to Repair initiative in Massachusetts? He gets it when it’s his bottom line, but apparently not for his car customers. Teslas can only be fixed by a Tesla dealership and you can’t even buy parts to fix your own car. Apparently intelligence and vision don’t always jibe with allowing all of us non-muggles to be able to keep and use our stuff ourselves so this clearly isn’t a no-brainer for guys like this, although it should be. It seems sometimes like the smarter they are the harder they want to make it for the rest of us to keep our stuff working without paying them again and again, so they can squeeze another nickel out of our funky patched jeans and build their own private rockets to the future.

Maybe when he and Bezos get there they can either obey the Will of Landru as we must out here on Beta III or they can just ask the Captain . . . .




Related Resources:







The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment. – Warren Bennis

Please Click on This Link or We’ll Shoot This Dog!

I was reminded today of an issue I see all the time and that’s what happens when you click on those cute photo-essays about why your dog follows you into the bathroom or “You Won’t Believe what the Feral Kid from Mad Max looks like”!


I have a dog that follows me around so in a moment of weakness I clicked on one of those links and a few images in I got the dreaded “Contact our certified Windows Technicians for Immediate Assistance” windows that prevents you from closing your browser an warns it will “disable your computer” if you try to. Well, I usually use a Mac, so that’s no biggie, but the browser’s still frozen.


Don’t worry, they can’t disable your computer. The trick is to get you to call and get your credit card number so they can pretend to fix your PC or Mac, in some cases installing key logger programs on PCs so they can steal your banking info.


There is simple way to disable that problem on Macs and PCs without calling though:

On a Mac:

  • Hold down simultaneously Command-Option-Esc which will bring up the “Force Quit” menu. 
  • Select the browser you’re using that’s frozen and click on “Force Quit”.
  • Restart the browser while holding down the “Shift” key to get back to browsing without the warning page (this starts the browser with a fresh cache, if you don’t hold down Shift the same hacked page will reappear).

On a PC:

  • Hold down Control-Alt-Delete at the same time (on some keyboards it might be Control-Shift-Esc)
  • This will bring up the task manager. Click on the app that’s frozen and select “End Task” to close the app.
  • Restart the browser while holding down the “Shift” key to get back to browsing without the warning page (this starts the browser with a fresh cache, if you don’t hold down Shift the same hacked page will reappear).

The trick is to force the app to quit and then re-open the browser with a cleared cache onto a “new” page. 

As far as why your dog follows you into the bathroom, just click on this link!


We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. – Douglas Adams

Atlanta Fiber Primer

Things are changing here in the ATL. Comcast used to rule the roost, Uverse incursions aside, but now there’s a new kid on the block and that’s Fiber! If you want to know if you’re eligible to go from 30MBps or 75MBps with Comcast to 1000Mbps using light instead of electricity, here’s the skinny:

First, where to check:
Google Fiber:
AT&T Fiber:

Fiber is a proven technology and works as well or better than DSL or cable regardless of speed. One of the nicer things about it over cable is that if you do have an outage, you don’t have to reboot all your devices in order like you do with Comcast cable. It just reconnects. But frankly, I haven’t seen any outages since my hookup, so my first three-month impression is that it is VERY stable.

FWIW, I note that Comcast is making a BIG push in neighborhoods eligible for Fiber. I had never seen a Comcast rep in my neighborhood and getting tech support was always a pain with them, but suddenly a very nice Comcast rep showed up at my door TWICE in the same week “just to make sure you’re happy with your service”. Uh-huh. Now you ask.

Comcast is matching the speeds of course, but to get GB speeds, they are jumping all the way to 2GBps (2000MBps) for $299/Mo with a $500 installation and $500 initiation fee! At this point there is no 1GB service from Comcast. On the Comcast residential side it appears to go from 25MBps to 75MBps to 2GBps, about a 26X jump! There are are no deals or bundles in this territory, you have to pay to play:

So as it stands, AT&T & Google are the only real Gigabit Ethernet deals in town unless you just LOVE Comcast and you’re made of money.

FYI if you are upgrading to Gigabit either via Google, AT&T or Comcast, your own internal infrastructure has to be up to speed. Older routers and switches may not be up to Gigabit ethernet. If you have a computer made in the last five years it should be GB capable. If you have Ethernet wiring in your house it needs to be at least CAT 5, but CAT 5e is spec’d for Gigabit. CAT 5 may work, it technically does have the four twisted pairs, but 5e was designed from the ground up to be GB capable and to deal with increased crosstalk from the fast speeds.

If your computer is good and your router & wiring are good, then make sure any switches are also GB capable. Most budget switches on shelves today are STILL fast ethernet or 10/100 and not gigabit-ready. What you need is 10/100/1000, gigabit switch.

Finally, don’t expect actually Gigabit speeds (around 900-980MBps) unless you’re hard-wired. Plugged-in I get about 940MBps. Any WiFi connection, even with a very good & expensive GB-capable WiFi router is going to give you speeds (depending on your equipment) from about 20MBps to 585MBps. GB WiFi is VERY dependent on your specs. Faster, more modern computers paired with the latest 802.11AC spec’d WiFi router _might_ give you 500MBps if you’re in the same room. Generally though you’re going to see well under that, usually (with a good setup) around 200-300MBps. Which is still smoking fast.

Most of the internet you’re going to surf is outputting no where near this speed, so caveat emptor. I got Gigabit fiber with AT&T because it’s available now and it’s $70/Mo with no installation fee and a 1-year contract. I’m not a fan of AT&T but glass is glass!

Google’s page on the subject:

Contact me at WWWebbIT.com if you want help making the transition into the LIGHT!


Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, . . . who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated, who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes. . . .

FSCK is Not a Four-Letter Word


Modern Macs (those running OS X (X = 10) are pretty self-regulating, but now and then your Macintosh of Choice (iMac, Macbook, Macbook Pro, Mac Pro, Mac Mini will behave badly, apps will freeze or you’ll get the dreaded Kernel Panic where the display freezes and you have to reboot.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 6.37.39 PM

If you have your install DVD or can start in Safe Mode (hold down the shift key after you hear the “bong”) you usually don’t need to do a FSCK repair, however, there are times where running FSCK is the best option for checking the OS X file health. Apple outlines these other options here.


If your Mac is unhappy it may be time to FSCK (File System for Consistency checK).  This works on all Mac OS X up Catalina and Big Sur (Mac OS 10.15 & 11). To repair a Catalina disk error, run Disk Utility  From Mac OS 10.0 to 10.14, you can run FSCK. To run the FSCK command you have to be booted into Single User Mode and you get there like this:

  1. Restart or Start if your Mac is off.
  2. After you hear the “bong” at startup, hold down the Command (Apple Symbol: ⌘) and the “S” key (Command + S). Hold both keys down until you see a black background with white text flowing down it. This is showing the boot process textually.
  3. Once it’s complete, you’ll see at or near the bottom this line:
    :/ root#  (Or it may be your user name instead of root. )
  4. At this prompt you will type in: fsck -fy (yes, that’s a space between the “k” and the “-“)
  5. Hit Enter or Return to run the process. Depending on the size of the drive or the number of issues it may take several minutes, so be patient.
  6. At the end of the process you’ll see one of two messages:  ** The volume (name_of_volume) appears to be OK  . . . or:  ***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****
  7. If it’s the latter, run it again. Anytime you get a “File System Was Modified” warning at the end of the process you have to run it until you get the “OK.”
  8. Once you get “The volume (name_of_volume) appears to be OK” type “exit” at the prompt and hit return. Your machine should now boot normally. If not, you have other, possibly bigger issues and might want to contact me for help.

FSCK can fix a number of file-system-related issues either from a power outage or just apps crashing or a kernel panic. It won’t fix everything, but it’s a great tool to have at your disposal.