Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Defend the Right to Repair

Image Source: LA Times (Hat tip: The Outer Light).

The tech giants have moved one step closer toward criminalizing anyone who refurbishes or recycles old electronics. The hypocrisy of Silicon Valley companies came into sharp relief as a US federal appeals court in Miami ruled to imprison a tech waste e-cycler on 11 April 2018.

HLN LIVE Recycler Eric Lundgren - Stands Up For Repair and Recycling! (2 May 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Court exhibit: one of the discs that Eric Lundgren made to restore old PCs that already had valid Microsoft licenses. Image Source: The Register

The convicted man, Eric Lundgren, will go to jail for up to 15 months. Lundgren started recycling tech products on his own when he was 16 years old. He has a noted history of re-engineering tech waste and making it useful again. He built an electric car which outperformed Elon Musk's Tesla. From the LA Times:
A Southern California man who built a sizable business out of recycling electronic waste is headed to federal prison for 15 months after a federal appeals court in Miami rejected his claim that the 'restore discs' he made to extend computers' lives had no financial value, instead ruling that he had infringed on Microsoft Corp. to the tune of $700,000.

The appeals court upheld a federal district judge's ruling that the discs Eric Lundgren made to restore Microsoft operating systems had a value of $25 apiece, even though the software they contained could be downloaded free and the discs could only be used on computers that already had a valid Microsoft license. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals initially granted Lundgren an emergency stay of his prison sentence, shortly before he was to surrender, but then affirmed his original 15-month sentence and $50,000 fine without hearing oral argument in a ruling issued April 11.

Lundgren, 33, has become a renowned innovator in the field of electronic waste, or e-waste, using discarded parts to do things such as construct an electric car, which in a test far outdistanced a Tesla on a single charge. He built the first 'electronic hybrid recycling' facility in the United States, which turns discarded cellphones and other electronics into functional devices, slowing the stream of harmful chemicals and metals contained in those devices into landfills and the environment. His Chatsworth company, IT Asset Partners, processes more than 41 million pounds of e-waste each year and counts IBM, Motorola and Sprint among its clients.

'This is a difficult sentencing,' U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley told him last year, 'because I credit everything you are telling me. You are a very remarkable person.'

Before he launched IT Asset Partners, Lundgren lived in China learning about the stream of e-waste, and also finding ways to send cheap parts to the U.S. to keep electronics running. One of his projects was to manufacture thousands of 'restore discs,' supplied by computer makers as a way for users to restore Windows software to a hard drive if it crashes or must be erased. The discs can only be used on a computer that already has a license for the Windows operating system, and the license transfers with the computer for its full life span. But computer owners often lose or throw out the discs, and though the operating system can be downloaded free on a licensed computer, Lundgren realized that many people didn't feel competent to do that, and were simply throwing out their computers and buying new ones.

Lundgren had 28,000 of the discs made and shipped to a broker in Florida. Their plan was to sell the discs to computer refurbishing shops for about 25 cents apiece, so the refurbishers could provide the discs to used-computer buyers and wouldn't have to take the time to create the discs themselves. And the new user might be able to use the disc to keep their computer going the next time a problem occurred.

But in 2012, U.S. Customs officers seized a shipment of discs and began investigating. The discs were never sold.

... [The sentence has] set a precedent for Microsoft and other software makers to pursue criminal cases against those seeking to extend the lifespans of computers. 'I got in the way of their agenda,' Lundgren said, 'this profit model that's way more profitable than I could ever be.'

Lundgren said he wasn't sure when he would be surrendering. He said prosecutors in Miami told him he could have a couple of weeks to put his financial affairs in order, including plans for his company of more than 100 employees. 'But I was told if I got loud in the media, they'd come pick me up,' Lundgren said. 'If you want to take my liberty, I'm going to get loud.'"
Microsoft defended itself against the negative publicity by claiming that the suit was brought forward by US Customs, not by Microsoft. It also stated:
"Microsoft actively supports efforts to address e-waste and has worked with responsible e-recyclers to recycle more than 11 million kilograms of e-waste since 2006. Unlike most e-recyclers, Mr. Lundgren sought out counterfeit software which he disguised as legitimate and sold to other refurbishers. This counterfeit software exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of cybercrime, which puts their security at risk and ultimately hurts the market for recycled products."
Nathan Proctor, director of the Right to Repair Campaign argued:
"Companies have gotten too aggressive in pushing us to throw things away and buy new things. What we should be doing instead is reusing more, repairing more, and recycling the rest."
Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit.com, commented: "I've never seen tactics like those used by Microsoft in this case." Boing Boing declared that Microsoft's smear campaign against Lundgren was bullshit. In the background, a series of laws are being considered in states across the USA concerning the right to repair old electronics.

Tech companies do not want to permit independent shops to refurbish old hardware. The 'Right to Repair' coalition is fighting for people's right to repair the things they own. The Website of the Repair Association, which defends Americans who work in the repair industry, and which helps foster open source repair groups, is here.

In a 27 April 2018 statement, Microsoft retorted that Lundgren is a counterfeiter who is misleading people. The company posted e-mails written by Lundgren, which the court accepted as proof that Lundgren was profiting from counterfeited material.

Bear in mind, however, that this is coming from a company which doesn't exactly respect its customers. Microsoft records and retains everything you type during the whole life of your computer (if you want to turn off Windows 10's keylogger, go here for a tutorial).

Meanwhile, Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates is helming a new global spying project, via the clearly evil EarthNow start-up, "funding will focus on providing 'innovative and unique real-time Earth observation services.'" Eye in the Sky will send up 500 small satellites, ending privacy as we know it, and producing continuous live high definition video feeds of every inch on earth. You can read more about that here and here. The EarthNow 18 April 2018 press release is here. The aim is to watch everyone and everything with a latency of about one second, and supposedly help the environment by cramming earth's exosphere and thermosphere with even more space junk. You can check what satellites are above you here.

Enjoy that one second latency period, because if Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple have their way, that one second will be the only breathing room you have left. And you probably won't even have that.

In the Lundgren case, the incentive for Microsoft was not just protecting its copyright and its schedule for planned obsolescence. Microsoft's real concern was the fact that older machines will not have the spyware capabilities that new ones do. Moreover, if old computers are refurbished and improved, they will be able to operate at a high level outside the growing AI-driven matrix.

It is an interesting fact to consider: what is the latest date that different brand models of computers were free from spyware? Perhaps we should keep our still-operational obsolete computers in storage.

This is the real reason why there is a technocratic incentive to remove old computers from circulation. There will come a day when newer computers will not operate unless they are part of the cloud. I will wager that  you will not even be able to turn them on unless they are networked and connected to AI. They will also be portable and embedded in our bodies, making it impossible for us to turn anything off, because we will be physically merged with a global AI system. At that point, older computers will become very valuable indeed, and nothing will be more radical and dangerous than owning a 'free machine,' an unconnected, autonomous computer - and being able to repair and upgrade it.


  1. Really he should have used Linux instead of pirating Windows..

  2. His story doesn't match the other side and the court documents. I'm all for recycle and re-use, but if he only provided the discs as plain units, rather than producing full on exact counterfeited content, there may of been much more sympathy for the effort.


  3. I can't stand the whole propriety mindset. No wonder our entire state of existence is in such a state of disrepair.