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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Get Lowdown on Manual Before Buying

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One of the first things I did when we moved into our new house last fall was obtain electronic copies of our appliance manuals whenever possible. Oddly, this was not always possible, and sometimes, it was trickier than it should have been. Having written against so-called "Fair Repair" legislation in the past, I suspected planned obsolescence might have something to do with it -- and a recent salvo by the "fair repair" crowd offers plausible support for my suspicion.

In a story about an Australian man who had been illegally distributing repair manuals for Toshiba laptops, Wired implies that the company's main motive for making it difficult to repair its older models is to have a short-range means of goosing sales. But then it dismisses out of hand the firm's concerns for customer safety (a.k.a., liability) and protecting its intellectual property.

Make what you will of their arguments: I nevertheless agree with the following advice -- for anyone who is a tinkerer or might want to use a computer for more than a few years:

So if you're considering buying a Toshiba laptop, don't. And if you're a current owner, write Toshiba... Buy from manufacturers who do make service documentation available online, like Dell, HP, or Lenovo.
Lenovo.jpg
A Lenovo Laptop (Image by cetteup, via Unsplash, license.)
I disagree with the letter to Toshiba being a nasty one: I'd politely request a repair manual and perhaps offer to sign a waiver and a non-disclosure agreement.

The article wrongly supports "right to repair" -- which violates right to contract -- despite noting two other measures besides boycotting that could solve this problem: (1) an effort to create open-source repair manuals of the older Toshiba models and (2) customer demand succeeding in getting manufacturers in other industries to be freer with their manuals.

So, if you think you might want to use a piece of equipment for a long time or tinker with it, a consideration you should be aware of is the availability of documentation you need to maintain and repair it.

End of story.

-- CAV

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