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posted by martyb on Thursday January 09 2020, @09:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the tough-row-to-hoe dept.

Digital Rights/Restrictions Management (DRM) technologies affecting new tractors are behind the continuing rise in popularity of the models. Particularly in the midwest, farmers are finding that 40-year-old tractors do the job with less trouble and expense.

Tractors manufactured in the late 1970s and 1980s are some of the hottest items in farm auctions across the Midwest these days — and it's not because they're antiques.

Cost-conscious farmers are looking for bargains, and tractors from that era are well-built and totally functional, and aren't as complicated or expensive to repair as more recent models that run on sophisticated software.

"It's a trend that's been building. It's been interesting in the last couple years, which have been difficult for ag, to see the trend accelerate," said Greg Peterson, the founder of Machinery Pete, a farm equipment data company in Rochester with a website and TV show.

Previously;
Reeducating Legislators on the Right to Repair (2019)
John Deere Just Swindled Farmers Out of Their Right to Repair (2018)
US Copyright Office Says People Have the Right to Hack their Own Cars' Software (2015)


Original Submission

Related Stories

US Copyright Office Says People Have the Right to Hack their Own Cars' Software 25 comments

An Anonymous Coward offers the following:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/28/its-ok-to-hack-your-own-car-us-copyright-authorities-rule

Car owners and security experts can tinker with automobile software without incurring US copyright liability, according to newly issued guidelines that were opposed by the auto industry.

The Library of Congress, which oversees the US Copyright Office, agreed with fair use advocates who argued that vehicle owners are entitled to modify their cars, which often involves altering software.

Automakers including General Motors and other vehicle manufacturers such as Deere & Co opposed the rules. They said vehicle owners could visit authorized repair shops for changes they may need to undertake.


Original Submission

John Deere Just Swindled Farmers Out of Their Right to Repair 61 comments

Wired has published a long article about how the farming equipment manufacturer John Deere has just swindled farmers out of their right to repair their own equipment. Basically the manufacturer was allowed to write the agreement governing access to the firmware embedded in the farming equipment.

Farmers have been some of the strongest allies in the ongoing battle to make it easier for everyone to fix their electronics. This week, though, a powerful organization that's supposed to lobby on behalf of farmers in California has sold them out by reaching a watered-down agreement that will allow companies like John Deere to further cement their repair monopolies.

Farmers around the country have been hacking their way past the software locks that John Deere and other manufacturers put on tractors and other farm equipment, and the Farm Bureau lobbying organization has thus far been one of the most powerful to put its weight behind right to repair legislation, which would require manufacturers to sell repair parts, make diagnostic tools and repair information available to the public, and would require manufacturers to provide a way to get around proprietary software locks that are designed to prevent repair.

Motherboard also covered the topic about how farmer lobbyists sold out their farmers and helped enshrine John Deere's maintenance monopoly.

Earlier on SN:
The Right to Repair Battle Has Come to California (2018)
Apple, Verizon Join Forces to Lobby Against New York's 'Right to Repair' Law (2017)
US Copyright Office Says People Have the Right to Hack their Own Cars' Software (2015)
Jailbreak your Tractor or Make it Run OSS? (2015)


Original Submission

Reeducating Legislators on the Right to Repair 11 comments

Last year dozens of 'Right to Repair' bills were introduced throughout the US, but defeated. Maybe this time its time has come.

Right to Repair bills, designed to foster competition in the repair industry, require manufacturers to allow repair, and even provide manuals, diagnosic software, and parts. Manufacturers oppose these laws as it can cost them more to address devices repaired by third parties, because repairs are a source of revenue, and because repaired items are less likely to be replaced with new ones.

[O]ne of the most effective anti-repair tactics is to spread FUD about the supposed security risks of independent repairs.

Without a concerted and coordinated effort to counteract this tactic, legislators receive primarily well-heeled opposing views, and vote accordingly.

Why Repair Techs are Hacking Ventilators with DIY Dongles from Poland 84 comments

Hacking Ventilators With DIY Dongles From Poland:

As COVID-19 surges, hospitals and independent biomedical technicians have turned to a global grey-market for hardware and software to circumvent manufacturer repair locks and keep life-saving ventilators running.

The dongle is handmade, little more than a circuit board encased in plastic with two connectors. One side goes to a ventilator’s patient monitor, another goes to the breath delivery unit. A third cable connects to a computer.

This little dongle—shipped to him by a hacker in Poland—has helped William repair at least 70 broken Puritan Bennett 840 ventilators that he’s bought on eBay and from other secondhand websites. He has sold these refurbished ventilators to hospitals and governments throughout the United States, to help them handle an influx of COVID-19 patients. Motherboard agreed to speak to William anonymously because he was not authorized by his company to talk to the media, but Motherboard verified the specifics of his story with photos and other biomedical technicians.

William is essentially Frankensteining together two broken machines to make one functioning machine. Some of the most common repairs he does on the PB840, made by a company called Medtronic, is replacing broken monitors with new ones. The issue is that, like so many other electronics, medical equipment, including ventilators, increasingly has software that prevents “unauthorized” people from repairing or refurbishing broken devices, and Medtronic will not help him fix them.

[...] Delays in getting equipment running put patients at risk. In the meantime, biomedical technicians will continue to try to make-do with what they can. “If someone has a ventilator and the technology to [update the software], more power to them,” Mackeil said. “Some might say you’re violating copyright, but if you own the machine, who’s to say they couldn’t or they shouldn’t?”

I understand that there is an ongoing debate on the "right to repair". However, many manufacturers increasingly find ways to ensure that "unauthorised" people cannot repair their devices. Where do you stand on this issue? During the ongoing pandemic, do medical device manufacturers have the right to prevent repair by third parties?

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:02PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:02PM (#941626)

    Digital restrictions management denies users their freedoms and, in these cases, leads to planned obsolescence and waste. Everyone should have a Right to Repair. It's like inputting a hole into a rubber mat and then inserting your manhood into the floor sandwich. Is it rape, or is it Controlling a Swept Object?

    Likewise, we must also insist on Free Software.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by BsAtHome on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:15PM

      by BsAtHome (889) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:15PM (#941637)

      It's like inputting a hole into a rubber mat and then inserting your manhood into the floor sandwich.

      Well, if that manhood is the one from the manufacturer, then it may be a good move. We can then all walk on that rubber mat and trample the manhood into proper proportions, flat, wide and elongated, just like the mat itself. And, of course, he has no right to repair. So that will prevent any further procreation of no-right-repair manhoods from that specific manufacturer.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:28PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:28PM (#941645)

      So you're demanding to make sure the manufacturers hands are bound that they cannot make demands.

      Interesting.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:59PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:59PM (#941660)

        Yes. Sometimes allowing people to do whatever they please does not lead to the greatest amount of freedom, such as when companies dump toxins into water supplies, or do other things which harm people. A far greater number of people would have freedom if DRM were banned.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:55AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:55AM (#942138)
          Very true, but you missed the best example: allowing people the "freedom" to own slaves. That is in a sense is essentially what DRM is designed to do: it basically enslaves what should be hardware you bought and paid for to the whims of some other master besides you, which in turn enslaves you to their whims insofar as your life depends on that hardware.
      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Friday January 10 2020, @06:50AM

        by sjames (2882) on Friday January 10 2020, @06:50AM (#941796) Journal

        Yes, the same way I support laws that (hopefully literally) make sure muggers' hands are bound.

        Put another way, their right to swing their fists ends at my nose.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:57AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:57AM (#941816)

        Manufacturers hands are in no way bound. This issue derives from manufacturers lobbying government to interpret the law in a way that is detrimental to society. The first-sale doctrine is, arguably, at the very heart of capitalism. You buy it, you own it. You can now sell it. Without it, those who own things would naturally collude to never truly relinquish their ownership. It actually is still this way in some places. For instance in my current country of residence I can't actually buy land. Instead I am only allowed to buy a 100 year lease. America used to be better than this.

        This new trend is of "licensing" over ownership is basically a government granted loophole to destroy the first sale doctrine. Working against it is not tying the hands of manufacturers, it's telling the government to stop selling out the entire nation for their god damn corporate "donations."

      • (Score: 2) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Friday January 10 2020, @09:31PM

        by fido_dogstoyevsky (131) <{axehandle} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday January 10 2020, @09:31PM (#942042)

        So you're demanding to make sure the manufacturers hands are bound that they cannot make demands.

        Yes. There have to be consequences for not playing nice.

        Look on the bright side: small consequences now may well result in fewer manufacturers (and the politicians they own) dangling from light poles later on.

        --
        It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Unixnut on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:47PM (2 children)

      by Unixnut (5779) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:47PM (#941655)

      > It's like inputting a hole into a rubber mat and then inserting your manhood into the floor sandwich. Is it rape, or is it Controlling a Swept Object?

      +1 Seriously tortured analogy

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @01:11AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @01:11AM (#941722)

        Oh, it's torture all right, but maybe that's their thing?

        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Friday January 10 2020, @06:52AM

          by sjames (2882) on Friday January 10 2020, @06:52AM (#941797) Journal

          Read the analogy again. It's definitely THEIR thing.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Unixnut on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:15PM (30 children)

    by Unixnut (5779) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:15PM (#941636)

    I am finding a similar thing with cars as well. As cars get more and more complex and hard to repair, not to mention more and more hard to debug/fix without expensive factory "debug software", more and more people are going for older cars.

    The number of problems my colleagues have with new cars from "reliable brands", like BMW and Audi is mad. Loads of odd software/sensor/electrical errors, including one guys Porsche cabrio that randomly decided to open its roof in the middle of the night. This being the UK, it was pouring with rain overnight, so in the morning he went out to a soaked interior. That had to go back for a firmware update, but the car was out of warranty, so it cost a good chunk of change for the repair, and to try to salvage the interior.

    My cabrio roof is manual, so I never have to worry about such an event, for example. And the above problems are without DRM even. I don't think cars have DRM (yet, I've not come across it), but I expect that one day they will do that too, making cars complete black boxes.

    My newest car is 2004, and that does do random things, such as the radio turning on full blast randomly on some nights (only symptom was a dead battery in the morning, until my neighbours knocked on my door at 3am and complained about the car radio). and the windows sometimes randomly winding down (only when I am driving though, never when the alarm is on). On an old car I could just trace the wires, check the fuses, see if there is a short, or what is going on, but the window switches are not simply wires, but are IC's connected to the car message bus, so god knows what is triggering the motors to wind down or the radio to turn on randomly.

    Turns out the radio is a known firmware bug, which can't be updated as the car is out of warranty, which is frustrating. The "fix" is to put a blank CD in the drive. So it plays silence for 20 mins, then turns off. This tends to not drain the battery too much, and doesn't disturb the neighbours. However, the radio being proprietary/integrated in the car message bus, I can't just replace it with a single-DIN aftermarket radio like in the old cars.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:06PM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:06PM (#941665)

      Of course cars like Mercedes, Audi, and BMW are going to cost a lot more to maintain. That's why I drive a Toyota Corolla. Nothing wrong with a Camry or a Corolla, if you want a status car you're going to pay more. Even oil changes are a lot more expensive on those status cars.

      I don't know how you can consider a car that costs a lot more to maintain per mile drive to be more reliable. Isn't the point of something being reliable to save you money?

      Interestingly my Corolla has a radio bug as well. I think it's weather related, it seems to act up when the weather is hot but usually works fine when the weather is cold. When it acts up it either has difficulty turning on or when it does turn on it either won't switch stations or it turns off when I try to change stations. Now that it's winter it's been working fine though. I Googled it I guess it's a common issue with my car. Oh well, it's not worth replacing my radio for that.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Unixnut on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:28PM (7 children)

        by Unixnut (5779) on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:28PM (#941673)

        > Of course cars like Mercedes, Audi, and BMW are going to cost a lot more to maintain. That's why I drive a Toyota Corolla. Nothing wrong with a Camry or a Corolla, if you want a status car you're going to pay more. Even oil changes are a lot more expensive on those status cars.
        > I don't know how you can consider a car that costs a lot more to maintain per mile drive to be more reliable. Isn't the point of something being reliable to save you money?

        In Europe German cars are seen as reliable. The whole "German reliability" thing. The Japs are seen as reliable as well, but not as popular here (Germany is right next door, while Japan isn't). Indeed the old German cars were phenomenally reliable. The fact that 70s Mercedes are still used as taxis in places in Europe is testament to that. The new ones however, are poor (I would say they started to go downhill round 2001). Funny thing here is Mercedes are so popular as taxis that they are not really considered status symbols (unless you get the large engined/AMG models).

        And for me, reliability does not need correlate to being cheap to run. Reliability to me is having systems, when properly maintained, to not break. Sure, I can forgive a 15-20 year old car if it has the odd hiccup every couple of years, as wear and tear do their thing, but for a 1 to 3 year old car to have such issues is not acceptable, no matter how cheap (or expensive) it is to maintain. Especially as the issues are not due to poor maintenance or age, but due to firmware bugs, or over-engineered complexity (the more complex a system, the more failure modes it has).

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 10 2020, @12:03AM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 10 2020, @12:03AM (#941691)

          Our 2002 is a Mercedes - as for reliable? The wiring harness in those years was absolutely atrocious: thin wires carrying high current (for example to the halogen headlamp bulbs) with insulation that self-destructed in less than 10 years. The stunt that has us looking for a replacement was a battery killing - just decided to drain its battery overnight for no apparent reason. Automatic everything and one system or another decided to not shut off. If you're going to build a "smart" car, you should at least have a battery self-defense module that prevents the 12V cell from being drained to 7.6.

          --
          John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:04AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:04AM (#941693)

          I would say they started to go downhill round 2001

          Nah, they went downhill from the 90s on. European Common Market was well established by the late 80s, and they were shit-scared of Japanese onslaught on their auto market due to their super reliability and low maintenance costs.

          Up through the 80s, though, "German reliability" in their cars were for real - the indestructible MB 300D and BMW 5-series from that era stand out. Audi, not so much.

          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @04:35AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @04:35AM (#941765)

            I get the strong idea the people buying these status cars are signalling they are rich beyond comprehension.

            Whereas I look at them kinda like having to ask Dad for the car keys, knowing he will want to know exactly where I am going and what I did. And he might allow me to drive it.

            I do not like having to get permission all the time like an irresponsible adolescent kid.

            Or a super rich luxury car owner.

            Having DRM on your stuff only signals you will accept someone else determining what you will be allowed to do, and is watching you to verify your obedience.

            A bird in a gilded cage.

            And they want me to buy the cage as well. Well, some people will take it. Treating me thusly just insults me and makes me angry.

          • (Score: 2) by driverless on Friday January 10 2020, @11:53AM

            by driverless (4770) on Friday January 10 2020, @11:53AM (#941830)

            Yup. My dad got a 1998 5-series and it needed neverending fixing, including some bugs like the steering wheel randomly lowering itself down to the lowest position that the BMW service guys never managed to fix. There's a car buying guide here that tracks service records of most cars on the road and it rated the 5-series from around the time my dad got his as "lemon, avoid if possible". It also had incredibly poor headroom for such a large car, I had to bend my head sideways to sit in it, which I've never had to do on any Japanese hatchback. And those things just run forever, and cost very little to fix if there's a problem, unlike the German imports.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:21AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:21AM (#941703)

          German cars are seen as reliable in Europe because they are usually made in Germany or some other European cars. German cars in the U.S. are made in Mexico or "assembled" in the U.S. with imported parts. If you actually check the prices for used cars in the U.S., the prices of ones that come from German factories are much higher than others because of the difference in quality. My mechanic can tell them apart, usually on sight of the exterior or engine, and once showed me a spreadsheet of all the work he does on cars and the difference between where the German brands were made was astounding.

          • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Friday January 10 2020, @07:03PM (1 child)

            by PiMuNu (3823) on Friday January 10 2020, @07:03PM (#941987)

            > German cars are seen as reliable in Europe because they are usually made in Germany or some other European cars.

            OTOH, French, Italian and British cars have a terrible reputation for reliability...

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @10:01PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @10:01PM (#942318)

              Yeah, that second cars at the end of the sentence was supposed to be "country" as a reference to the location of the factories.

    • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:25PM (3 children)

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:25PM (#941670) Journal

      You need to put in a master switch for all the electrics. Or just pull the cable from the battery's negative terminal.

      --
      Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:30AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:30AM (#941708)

        If you disconnect the battery on a USA-spec car the computer will "reset" and you will have to drive some distance (50-70 miles??) before the emissions system self-tunes to the car. In that interval the car probably won't pass any emissions testing (required in my state for the annual inspection).

        And of course you will probably lose time on the car clock, and the radio might go into self-protect mode and require unlocking with a passcode before it will work. All of the above happened on my 2009 when I changed the battery. There are probably more things to go wrong with power outage on newer cars.

        • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Friday January 10 2020, @02:12AM

          by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday January 10 2020, @02:12AM (#941741) Journal

          I think we're in trouble [gstatic.com]

          --
          Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:12AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:12AM (#941805)

          At least that is all you had. I mentioned on a different story having to have my mechanic come out and do something with his scan tool and a procedure off of Alldata before I could start my car. At least the radio remembered the time and presets.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Rich on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:39PM (4 children)

      by Rich (945) on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:39PM (#941676) Journal

      I don't think cars have DRM

      Oh, they do. A lot.

      For my tiny, old 2006 Smart fortwo, there are digital restrictions in place that keep you from swapping out certain modules. The not-even-a-car Renault Twizy was closed with an "upgrade" at some point in its lifecycle that kept you from doing a few useful things, non-upgraded models are sought after. The Nissan GT-R R35 was said to have "unbreakable" firmware (but eventually some English companies managed to do mods). So it's everywhere.

      Add to that, that old-school mechanical workshop floor mechanics have no idea about, say, "bus termination of differential signaling multi-drop controller area networks" so more confusion arises when they pull a works stereo and the poor ECU goes into panic mode, because it can no longer talk to the cruise control buttons. (From the sound of the words they'd probably think that's a big bus stop in a communist country, rather than a little plug that goes at the end of the strange wire that they just pulled out of the radio...). Not intended as such, but practical restrictions management.

      Aside from the Smart, I've got two late 80s/early 90s classics that have 4th Gen GM ECUs. These are still something that can be tackled, the code sits in an EPROM and is 68HC11, although the logic flow is said to be in a very unreadable linear sequence. Also, part of the "personality" module is an analog resistor module (the "CAL" part of the 4th Gen MEMCAL, or of the the 3rd Gen MEMPAK/CALPAK duo) that, last time I looked, no one on the open internet had understood. I'll keep those cars, just as some of the most American farmers now start looking at ex-Soviet tractors from Belorussia...

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 10 2020, @12:05AM (2 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 10 2020, @12:05AM (#941696)

        You can always unbolt the EFI and strap on carburetors and a mechanical spark distributor...

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by Rich on Friday January 10 2020, @02:20AM

          by Rich (945) on Friday January 10 2020, @02:20AM (#941743) Journal

          carburetors and a mechanical spark distributor

          Tough luck for me. It's a direct injected diesel. But I've seen conversions to Hayabusa 1300 engines. The little bubble gets a little more bubbly with those. :) Kind of defeats its purpose for me, though. I'd rather swap out the drive unit for an electric one. Really perverse: A mechanic who knows the car can swap the whole rear-axle-engine compound in under an hour, but it's impossible to swap any electronics module without dealership "programming". OTOH, the car is so simple that anyone with decent Arduino attitude could hack out fitting firmware in a month - well, bar the complicated emission test detection and defeat logic :P

        • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Friday January 10 2020, @06:47AM

          by RS3 (6367) on Friday January 10 2020, @06:47AM (#941795)

          Or an aftermarket fuel injection system. And some of them use GM PCMs. I'm fixin' to build a programming interface...

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:38AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:38AM (#941711)

        VW has a nice trick. The “radio” is main computer with GPS input. So it is the NTP for the whole car. If you pull or it fails the car shuts down. Can not control the timing of the injectors.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:46PM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:46PM (#941679)

      from "reliable brands", like BMW and Audi...

      Sarcasm?

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Unixnut on Friday January 10 2020, @12:04AM (6 children)

        by Unixnut (5779) on Friday January 10 2020, @12:04AM (#941694)

        > Sarcasm?

        Common perception :-P

        Saying that, those companies are trading on the momentum of their legacy and "brand". Loads of people still associate them with quality and reliability, even though IMO that has not been the case for the last 18 years. Every time I sat in one of them they always felt so cheap and plasticky. They feel like a VW with a badge slapped on them, and then sold for 40%+ premium.

        If they are not going to build quality, I am not going to pay their premium, especially when they try to convince me I am buying a "Brand lifestyle". Tits to that, I am buying a vehicle, not your life image. I would sooner buy a VW (and I almost did, but my heart overtook my head, and I bought something Italian instead).

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:21AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:21AM (#941704)

          They feel like a VW with a badge slapped on them

          Actually European chumps I know swear by VW (still, at least some of them) as the standard of "German engineering" and reliability, basically the Toyota of Europe.

          As for Italian, you know what to expect, and at least it's pretty and fun (when not broke down).

          • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Friday January 10 2020, @12:58AM (1 child)

            by Unixnut (5779) on Friday January 10 2020, @12:58AM (#941719)

            > Actually European chumps I know swear by VW (still, at least some of them) as the standard of "German engineering" and reliability, basically the Toyota of Europe.

            They were, until the (T)FSI era. Those engines are awful. Already leaking oil through their piston rings after 3 years. VW owns Audi and Porsche, so their faults with penny pinching and bad software propagates through the brands. The good thing is that everyone and their mother knows someone who can work on a VW. They are quite modular and easy to repair, and parts are plentiful. Also because they share technology, you can sometimes fit parts (like the in car entertainment system) from upmarket brands into yours. Decent hackable cars.

            However VW had its golden moment from the 80s till the 00's (the GTIs, the G-lader, and the VR6 are highly regarded). They still do good stuff upmarket (with their Lamborghini and Bugatti brands), but fact is if they skimped there people would not buy them.

            > As for Italian, you know what to expect, and at least it's pretty and fun (when not broke down).

            Oh god yes. I would never recommend it to others, but it makes everything, even my commute a smile inducing moment. If I have to drive, I want to have a grin on my face and a desire to do it more, which it gives me in spades.

            The biggest irony is the jokes all my collegues gave me when I bought it. All the typical "You must like to spend time by the road", "So you want to be on first name basis with your mechanic", "I guess we won't be seeing you in the office often", etc... yet I average 30,000 miles per year in it, while their German machinery spends most of its life in garages getting repaired. I honestly expected that it would be the other way around.

            The car just passed 100,000 miles, and the only problems I had were with the German bits:

            1. The alternator went (Bosch), but they go eventually due to the extreme environment they operate in
            2. The Window issue (Bosch), no idea what could be causing it. It might be a spurious/corrupted packet from some other ECU (or even the radio firmware bug). It is all on the same bus, which is mad.
            3. The Radio (Blaupunkt). My hope, that it being a Blaupunkt under the skin, I may be able to switch it out with a standard Blaupunkt instead. However the fact it has the odd frimware bug that standard radios don't, make me worry that the firmware has been customised, which is what caused the bug in the first place, and may preclude me from switching it with an aftermarket radio.

             

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @02:21PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @02:21PM (#941869)

          Same with Pyrex state-side, Pyrex containers are now just regular glass, so all that "pyrex doesn't shatter with temperature changes" is just plain false, and has been for over 30 years.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:44AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:44AM (#942129)

            Secondhand PYREX (nb. never pyrex or Pyrex) ftw. If, of course, there's a secondhand market close to you - not the case for many rural folks.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12 2020, @03:03AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12 2020, @03:03AM (#942394)

            PYREX in all caps is used to denote borosilicate glass [wikipedia.org] and pyrex in all lowercase is tempered glass [wikipedia.org]. If you have mixed case, then you have to check the date of manufacture, markings, or tint to know for sure.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 10 2020, @12:00AM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 10 2020, @12:00AM (#941687)

      Our newest is a 2002, it was an "advanced luxury model" at the time, and it's about to get sold because it's flaking out too much.

      1999 didn't seem to be too bad - our 1999 pickup truck has some gremlins in the seat belt control module - fairly easily controlled, and the ECU does weird stuff just after first startup if you idle too long, but give it a reboot and it still runs fine at 140,000 miles. We also have a 1999 Miata which seems to be mostly free of cyber-gremlins.

      Then I've got a 1991 Miata - and it's engine is about ready for replacement (long story, don't ask) - it's been running on an aftermarket ECU since 1997 just fine, and I think the replacement ECU to go with the new engine is looking like a Megasquirt - more open than the Link it has.

      If I had all the time in the world to track one down and build it, I'd like to have a ~1969-70 GM A body like the Buick Skylark or similar, new 350 V8 crate motor, open source controlled EFI system on it - I just can't figure out the ideal transmission. Manual would be O.K., I'd actually rather have an automatic in the car but the old automatics are so horribly inefficient and I don't know of any new ones that I would trust the software in.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by anubi on Friday January 10 2020, @01:25AM (2 children)

      by anubi (2828) on Friday January 10 2020, @01:25AM (#941729) Journal

      Unixnut, you just stated the exact reasons I purchased what was then a 20 year old Ford E350 7.3L IDI diesel van off Craigslist, then spent three times it's purchase price fixing it up.

      It has an old-school purely mechanical diesel engine, made by International Harvester in it.

      It also needed some TLC. Twenty years of use and the suspension is worn. The transmission needed service, etc. New glow plugs. Entire cooling system.

      All in all, I now have about $15K in it. And I think it's pretty decent van. I think of it like an old mule. As far as racing goes, I think anything in my neighborhood would outrun it. So far, it's taken me everywhere I want to go for five years now. It's now 25 years old. I am 70. At this point, loyalty to me, not DRM, is very important. This machine has no DRM whatsoever, doesn't need to phone home. Neither are it's allegiances to the Hitler/Microsoft/Telecom/Google
      Youth Association https://duckduckgo.com/?q=nazi+using+childern+to+report+parents [duckduckgo.com] involved.

      Call me paranoid, but I feel that by allowing a lot of the new technologies in our home, we are allowing various factions to compile reams of data on everytime we violate their wish list. Those can be sold to bounty hunters.

      Oh, incidentally, if you are a farmer/rancher/trucker, there is a forum similar to this one for those of us with an interest in Diesel trucks and tractors...

      https://www.oilburners.net [oilburners.net]

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:47AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:47AM (#942133)

        Thanks SO much for that link, and for sharing personal details (your age!) which help your situation resonate.

        • (Score: 1) by anubi on Tuesday January 14 2020, @02:04AM

          by anubi (2828) on Tuesday January 14 2020, @02:04AM (#942947) Journal

          Yup, I wish I had bought it new, but at that time I needed an inexpensive employee commute car.

          And I did not make the best decisions either.

          Things age have done to me...I do not have near as much energy as I used to, but it's compensated for by experience which guides me from foolish time and energy wasting endeavors.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:16PM (27 children)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:16PM (#941638) Journal

    Why aren't they financing domestic fabrication of low cost simple reliable tractors?

    --
    Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 2) by nobu_the_bard on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:19PM (5 children)

      by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:19PM (#941642)

      That's an interesting question. Why is nobody putting out simpler tractors?

      Would need to see the data; maybe things like this story are incomplete. Perhaps enough someones are buying into the newer tractors that they're still making serious bank off them, and its only the small farms that can't afford them.

      This is just guessing for the kind of thing having more data about the whole problem might show.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:25PM (1 child)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:25PM (#941644) Journal

        Perhaps enough someones are buying into the newer tractors that they're still making serious bank off them, and its only the small farms that can't afford them.

        That's it in a nut shell. Small farmers just don't have the capital to nudge the market. For big ag, it's better to make them go bankrupt and steal their land.

        --
        Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:50PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:50PM (#941657)

          Steal their land is no joke. Land here goes between 9 and 10 arms-length, but it isn't uncommon to see desperation prices between 4 and 5 or even less on quick sales or auction. People are beating the shit out of their land with corn on corn or continuous corn to try an make a profit in the short term, but just costing themselves in the long run. It also doesn't help that the margins post-Trump are going negative. On many of my fields, I covered them early to buy time to research alternate crops rather than lose money. Bees seem to like it and my spouse thinks it looks pretty, so there's that. At least the farm isn't our only revenue stream.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Unixnut on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:34PM (2 children)

        by Unixnut (5779) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:34PM (#941649)

        I can think of a few reasons:

        1. It is very capital intensive to set up a complete new factory for factories. Especially in the western world. And if you do by some miracle manage, you have to compete with behemoths which a lot more financial and legal clout than you have.
        2. A lot of of the existing technology is patented, and mostly owned by the large companies. They are unlikely to licence any of them to small firms.
        3. Just like in the days of Microsoft dominance, big companies have standards for power take off and interfacing their tractors with other tools. Third parties build their tools to interface with those tractor interfaces, but if you want your tractor to copy that interface you have to licence the patents mentioned in (2), if the companies would even consider that.
        4. As mentioned, big corporate farms are not too affected by this. They are unlikely to self-maintain their own equipment anyway, but outsource it to maintenance firms (or even the OEM). This affects the small/independent farmer the most.
        5. Due to economies of scale, your "libre tractors" would be a lot more expensive than the commodity ones, with less features (think how open source phones are in our world. Usually 3x as expensive as the competition, using two/three generation old tech). Small/indie farmers, who are the target market, are the least able to afford higher costs.
        6. Leading on from above, your "libre tractors" would be competing with the second hand market, which will be much cheaper.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:10AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:10AM (#941698)

          1. It is very capital intensive

          This

          2. A lot of of the existing technology is patented

          Not this. The in-demand tractors the article talks about are 30-40 years old. Any patents applying to an equivalent tractor made today are going to be well past their expiry date.

          3. Just like in the days of Microsoft dominance, big companies have standards for power take off and interfacing their tractors with other tools.

          A little this. The article talks about tractors being retrofitted by the farmers with more modern tech, so you just have to not make your tractors difficult to modify.

          4. As mentioned, big corporate farms are not too affected by this.

          Good! That's one market you don't have to worry about serving then, and you can focus the business on the real customers.

          5. Due to economies of scale, your "libre tractors" would be a lot more expensive than the commodity ones, with less features (think how open source phones are in our world.

          Maybe, maybe not this. It's not like open-source phones though, which are trying to compete with today's latest bells and whistles; the entire point is that the bells and whistles are getting in the way!
          I suspect that with modern practises and tooling, it would be entirely possible to make an affordable replacement to 30-year old tractors.

          6. Leading on from above, your "libre tractors" would be competing with the second hand market, which will be much cheaper.

          Maybe this. However, the article mentions one such tractor was sold second-hand for over $60k! That's more than a fully kitted out Tesla Model 3!

          The farmers seem to want reliability and repairability though, so perhaps the real money is in the parts business.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by shortscreen on Friday January 10 2020, @01:42AM

          by shortscreen (2252) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 10 2020, @01:42AM (#941734) Journal

          It may not be possible to make new tractors similar to the 40-year-old ones because of new regulations that those designs would not comply with.

    • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:29PM (7 children)

      by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:29PM (#941647) Journal

      Why aren't they just using livestock (horses / oxen) still?

      --
      Keep everyone ignorant of the magical world! KEEP AMERICA OBLIVIATE!
      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:38PM (5 children)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:38PM (#941652) Journal

        They can't read GPS data. They are difficult to automate. And per acre costs might actually be higher, definitely if you factor in the time spent.

        --
        Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:09PM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:09PM (#941667)

          Animals are great for smaller farms. You can train them to do exactly what you want to do, they are useful for other things, fun to be around, and they aren't that much slower for fields with a lot of rocks, turns, etc. Big straight-run farms like mine? Instead of 2 corn acres a day, mine and my neighbor's combine can do around 10 and over 20 acres an hour, respectively.

          • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Friday January 10 2020, @12:22AM (3 children)

            by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 10 2020, @12:22AM (#941705) Journal

            Fun to be around?! Not at all what my father and grandfather thought. Horses are a bit unpredictable and dangerous. Most of the time, yes, they're well behaved. But, you never know when the stupid things are going to spook and go nuts. If panicked badly enough, they will do crazy stuff like charge full speed into a brick wall (usually fatal), trample everyone who doesn't get out of the way fast enough, tear up a bunch of fence (and cover themselves in deep scratches if the fence is barb wire), and rear up and try to smash whatever is in front of them, and other destructive and injurious things.

            Also got to keep them away from the cornfield. A horse or a cow that gets into a cornfield is going to eat the corn. The problem is not the loss of the corn. The problem is that corn is too rich for those animals. Their digestion can't handle it, and if they get the chance to eat their fill, and no one notices for a while, they'll die.

            Driving a 1940s tractor without a cab all day long, working the fields, really sucks. But that's better than farming with a team of horses.

            • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:57AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @12:57AM (#941718)

              I did both. Hell are farm equipment was mostly out of 1920. Bucking sleigh to bring the hay to the barn. House pull rake and side cutter that both worked by the wheels turning by the tractor. Hay chopper and saw that was powered by 12 inch belts on a pullley/pro was on side of 1950 international tractor same as on old stream tractors. We had 26acre farm with fruit trees too.

              All worked very welll but slow

              Did learn to drive at age 4

            • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:29AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:29AM (#941810)

              Sounds like they used broken and not trained horses. When the horse sees you, other people, and its partner as companions in a herd, rather than an obstacle to be avoided, they react very differently. Plus draft animals are much colder than the much hotter riders, which makes them much harder to provoke and less likely to bolt in general. Sure the tractor is faster and you don't have to worry about hydrating it, resting it, feeding it, etc., while working but, as I said, it comes down to the particular size of the farm and the other uses you can get out of them.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:58AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:58AM (#942140)

                I was gonna say - a lot of it is the personality of the animal, and a lot of that is how they've been treated. A working plowhorse rearing? I never once saw a clydesdale rear up. But people who treat their work animals badly get bit and kicked; it's tit-for-tat.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:50PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09 2020, @10:50PM (#941656)

        Distribution Restricted Manure.

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:53PM

      by HiThere (866) on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:53PM (#941684) Journal

      Because farmers don't have large budgets, and are very busy. This isn't true with the corporate farms, but they don't have as much trouble with tractors having DRM.

      As for why nobody else is doing so... the people don't buy tractors regularly, so they depend on brands they recognize as quality. How do you develop a name? You do it by people using your tractors and finding them reliable. I can't think of any quick way to enter the field, and it's got a high bar to entry...you don't want to use a pickup frame for your tractor.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by c0lo on Friday January 10 2020, @12:03AM (9 children)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 10 2020, @12:03AM (#941692) Journal

      Why aren't they financing domestic fabrication of low cost simple reliable tractors?

      Because there's no need to [alibaba.com] - just a matter of importation. True, the USian farmer would need to swallow their national(istic) pride to buy one from the Chinese, but it would worth it.

      A 80HP tractor at $3500 FOB [alibaba.com]. Feeling of guts, more than double that for "postage and handling" and you get one at $9000.

      An 180HP one is $25k [alibaba.com] FOB - say $60k delivered. A used (2013) Deere in the same class is around $100K [tractorhouse.com]. For the price of a new Deere, one can get at least two of a chinese model (simple enough he can repair himself) and keep one for spares.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 10 2020, @03:00AM (8 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 10 2020, @03:00AM (#941746)

        I bought a Chinese trailer from Harbor Freight - it suited my needs at the time, but I ended up keeping it longer than I planned.

        Problem 1: the paint peeled off within 12 months and the rust started

        Problem 2: Chinese sized axles and bearings - not US standard sizes, repair / replacement costing instead of $5 for US standard parts closer to $30, plus time required to obtain.

        Other than that, it was a good trailer and remarkably cheap. If I bought a Chinese tractor I think I might invest in an immediate strip and repaint - but I'd be very much more worried about details like quality of wiring, insulation, fasteners, etc.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday January 10 2020, @03:32AM (1 child)

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 10 2020, @03:32AM (#941755) Journal

          If I bought a Chinese tractor I think I might invest in an immediate strip and repaint - but I'd be very much more worried about details like quality of wiring, insulation, fasteners, etc.

          An one off job, on a pretty basic machine.
          Also, aren't those something that a well-seasoned farmer could do as the repairs s/he has the right to do?

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 10 2020, @02:54PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 10 2020, @02:54PM (#941883)

            I might invest in an immediate strip and repaint - but I'd be very much more worried about details like quality of wiring, insulation, fasteners, etc.

            An one off job, on a pretty basic machine.
            Also, aren't those something that a well-seasoned farmer could do as the repairs s/he has the right to do?

            Sure, DIY is possible, but if you're going that far with a repaint, rewire, fastener replacement, etc. you might be more inclined to restore a home grown antique if you can get ahold of one.

            Once the rust starts, rehab isn't much fun, or very effective - that trailer only has a couple more years before the frame cracks in half. And - $30 vs $5 for a bearing doesn't sound like a big deal, but when the trailer only cost $180 to start with.... same for a strip and paint, that's a lot of labor for a $180 trailer.

            --
            John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:42AM (5 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:42AM (#941812)

          My three thoughts.

          A lot of those Chinese tractors, especially at the cheap end, don't really compare to the agricultural tractors that the mid-tiers put out, let alone the top ones. For example, a 1 year warranty? My tractor came with 5.

          You'll have a hard time convincing farmers to do China anything, especially after the tariff situation exploded.

          Time is money. If my tractor goes down, it is because I am using it. If I am using it, I probably needed it to work yesterday. If mine broke, I can call my local mechanic or dealer and get a spare part in an hour and be going again and if not, they will loan me one while the part is overnighted so I can still work. One of those Chinese ones breaks, I'm looking at two weeks or more in shipping or 10x the price for express shipping and still out a tractor while I wait. Waiting a day or two at the wrong time of the season and I could be screwed for the year.

          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 10 2020, @02:57PM (4 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 10 2020, @02:57PM (#941886)

            Time is money

            Part of how we deal with this and our older vehicles is by having backups - 4 cars for 2 people. One goes down we don't even think about it, just switch to backup until we've got time to start working on repair. Two down at once is rare, but still not even a trip to the rental agency.

            --
            John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:10PM (3 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @08:10PM (#942015)

              So I buy 2 cheap Chinese tractors for more than the mid-tier or even expensive one costs here, and still have less features, less access to parts, less experience on it by myself and my mechanic, and I take a crap shot on how long the random brand will be supported. Some solution.

              • (Score: 2) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Friday January 10 2020, @09:41PM (2 children)

                by fido_dogstoyevsky (131) <{axehandle} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday January 10 2020, @09:41PM (#942046)

                So I buy 2 cheap Chinese tractors for more than the mid-tier or even expensive one costs here, and still have less features, less access to parts, less experience on it by myself and my mechanic, and I take a crap shot on how long the random brand will be supported. Some solution.

                Or you could buy an expensive dear john with expensive service costs (that's how they make a lot of their money) with more features, access to parts and experience by you and your mechanic rendered irrelevant, and you take a crap shoot on how long the particular model will be supported. Some solution.

                --
                It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.
                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:09AM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11 2020, @02:09AM (#942116)

                  Ignoring the fact your alternatives aren't cheap Chinese vs John Deere, the Deere will still be supported for a long time. For example, look up on their parts website [deere.com] the 2040 or the 4020, two tractors last available in '72, and '82, respectively. You can still get OEM parts on their website, not to mention the compatible non-OEM ones on the open market. Deere and other major manufacturers have a history of supporting their stuff for a long time. Can you really say that parts are going to be available for the Chinese ones almost 50 years later or that they will even last that long to put parts in?

                  • (Score: 2) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Saturday January 11 2020, @04:07AM

                    by fido_dogstoyevsky (131) <{axehandle} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday January 11 2020, @04:07AM (#942159)

                    Can you really say that parts are going to be available for the Chinese ones almost 50 years later or that they will even last that long to put parts in?

                    No, I'm saying that parts availability will be dependant on a company that's just (in the last decade) discovered that it can strongarm the disavantages of both buying and leasing to the customer and keep all the advantages to itself. In other words, only until them EOLling equipment is more profitable than providing backup; 'cos then you need to buy new.

                    --
                    It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @05:11AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @05:11AM (#941771)

      You know exactly the answer to your question. If there's no DRM or planned obsolescence, the kikes running the economy don't get paid enough. If American manufacturing businesses were placed back under the control of blue collar Americans rather than Jewish elites like the Rothschilds, you might get low cost reliable tractors manufactured domestically once again. Hope that helps.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @04:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @04:10PM (#941923)

      Emissions standards (and the need for FI/Engine management to meet them).

      And service lock-in profits.

      It's a win-win situation for the manufacturers.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by krishnoid on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:38PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday January 09 2020, @11:38PM (#941675)

    Call him a paranoid luddite [youtube.com], but the rest of the series bore out his decision. Don't forget to visit the gift shop!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @02:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @02:21PM (#941870)

    One of these days the manufacturer of the machines and/or robots that manufacture the tractors will be DRM protected and the tractor manufacturer will complain they can't fix their assembly line. Then they will lobby for the right to repair. Ha!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @03:14PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10 2020, @03:14PM (#941891)

    maybe i dont understand much mechanics but as a n00b i would assume that a tractor is not a device that needs more electronics INSIDE.
    rather, i assume it would need a super computer to design and build so you have a device you can throw into the dirt and it will run with no maintenance for 20 years?
    i think pre-computer and pre-robot, it was difficult to calculate and machine certain parts, shapes and designs ... but nowadays with all kinds of new knowledge and alloys
    and precision manufacturing machinery, that a tractor would be a futuristic tractor, still a ugly tractor but a modern version where it embodies the epitome of tractor-ness?! not iPad with dirt-wheels ...

    • (Score: 2) by aclarke on Friday January 10 2020, @04:34PM

      by aclarke (2049) on Friday January 10 2020, @04:34PM (#941938) Homepage

      It depends on the tractor you're buying. A $25k 30hp compact utility tractor will be relatively simple. A $500k tractor is going to have GPS-assisted auto-steer, complex telematics, communication with implements so that it knows, for example, to change the seeding or fertilizing rate based on its location in the field, etc. etc.

      There's also the fact that tractors have to operate with lower emissions, which means more complex emissions systems that are increasingly driven by software. This makes all machinery contain more electronics just to meet regulatory requirements.

  • (Score: 2) by aclarke on Friday January 10 2020, @04:11PM

    by aclarke (2049) on Friday January 10 2020, @04:11PM (#941924) Homepage

    Here in Ontario anyway, 2wd tractors like the one shown in the article aren't particularly sought-after. OTOH, 4wd tractors hold their value very well and it's hard to find a used one for a good price. I'm not sure when really, but about 20 years ago most manufacturers switched to mostly 4wd tractors. The differences in prices aren't so much about age vs. drivetrain.

    The other driving factor here is emissions. Depending on when the tractor was manufactured and the engine power output, it may be subjected to Tier 1-4 emissions standards. For a larger new tractor, that will likely involve DEF and other technologies that add to the initial purchase price, increase running and repair costs, and reduce overall reliability. Overall I'm for these changes as they're the cost of having a better environment. However, for a lot of farmers, if they can find a pre-emissions 4wd tractor with decent horsepower, that's a valuable piece of equipment to keep around.

    Remember also that the larger farmers who are buying 100+hp tractors are running quite a few tractors. They'll likely have 2 or whatever new large 4wd tractors with all the latest of everything. But they'll also want an older one around as well to keep their options open.

(1)