In a move to prevent theft, Home Depot is going to start selling power tools that must be electronically activated before leaving the store, or else they won’t work.

I don’t like this at all. How long will it be before companies follow Tesla’s example and begin selling tools as a subscription service, where you must pay a monthly fee in order to use power tools?

Remember the great reset? In 2030, you’ll own nothing and be happy about it

Categories: Insanity


Clyde · August 5, 2021 at 8:42 am

That follows the “John Deere model” where you pay for the tractor but are totally dependent on an authorized John Deere dealer for both parts and service to keep it running because Deere says “we own the software.” There are multiple court suits in progress against Deere over this (search “right to repair”), but given the total penetration of tech into products – especially cars and light trucks, and, lately, appliances – only the manufacturer and its trained tech staff and “tech agents” has the knowledge and software resources to perform repairs, adjustments and upgrades, which isn’t as severe as Deere’s position, but amounts to “soft ownership control” by someone other than the person who bought it nonetheless.

I can foresee a thriving black market in tech support; instead of buying drugs, sex or guns in back alleys we’ll be seeking car and appliance repair…..

    Tar · August 5, 2021 at 9:54 am

    I did NOT know that about Deeres… I’ve been looking at tractor prices and considering different brands, planning on getting one for the homestead, but that would absolutely SUCK. Would prefer an older used model to something like that… do we know if Kubota and other manufacturers do the same thing?

      Clyde · August 5, 2021 at 11:36 am

      Tar –
      Caveat Emptor (“Let the buyer beware”). Do your research and homework before buying. Anything. (And I mean anything – tractors, refrigerators, TVs, you name it).

      IIRC, the smaller Deeres (I have a <$2K Deere riding mower) don't do that, and I can find common parts online (my 3.4L Toyota and my Deere riding mower use the same oil filter, for example, and several places online sell other filters, blades, etc.) but I'm sure for internal parts it's "Deere only." On a $1500 mower that's already 10 years old, I could – painfully – dump it and buy a different one, or even replace the Deere engine with a different one, belts and bearings are belts and bearings, I could probably even fit a different mower deck if I had to. Transmission, probably not.

      On a $300,000 350 HP 8-wheel-drive tractor that must work or my 4,000 acre farm goes under, it’s a different story. In farm equipment, sometimes there’s only one source for that one piece of equipment that gets the job done. And, how local is the support? A dealer 25-30 miles away is acceptable, only 1 or 2 in your state not so much.

      SiG has, unfortunately, what is probably the answer – just stop dealing with them. The problem will be that the restrictions will have to go in at the manufacturer level so no matter where you buy it the tool will need “enabling.” And what happens if, say, the restriction is “no longer recognizes the battery” unless the software gets an update and The Huge Tool Company, Inc. decides it wants to sell everyone the latest model by simply never creating the update necessary for tools older than 4 years.

      Cars today are “drive by wire” – there is no direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the metal parts that control the front wheels – it’s sensors and servo motors which depend on one or more of the on-board computers to operate, which is how those fancy “driving mode buttons – sport, street, track, etc. – work. Same for brakes, and everything else (and yes, since software security was never considered, all that can be hacked, frequently via RF into the entertainment or GPS system).

      What if your table saw becomes “cut by wire” and the computer fails? Saw no workee. OTR trucks now use DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) to help control emissions and when that tank runs dry the truck goes into “soft fail” mode where it runs only at 25MPH so it can be driven to someplace where DEF is sold. Want to hear something really scary? All the NEW !! IMPROVED !! large fire equipment operates the same way – almost everything on the fire truck is software controlled by the on-board computers. (“We’d love to save your house, but we’re waiting for tech support to download the latest software upgrade so we can pump water…”)

        ruralcounsel · August 5, 2021 at 2:39 pm

        FYI – Anything painted Deere green under 100hp is made in France.

        MN Steel · August 5, 2021 at 10:44 pm

        A couple years or so back I told the wife about Deere, and she’s always known about my predilection towards working on my own vehicles.

        Which is why I bought a little ’80 Hinomoto (day after I bought it tge starter went out… 3 days later the $25 mid-80s Nissan pickup starter came in the mail) and a couple ’79 K-20 pickups that will become one with spare parts galore.

        Screw the majority of electronics, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

SiG · August 5, 2021 at 9:31 am

I think never buying tools there is the only answer.

Right now, I’m quietly boycotting Home Depot and switching to Lowe’s for a totally unrelated reason. I look at something on their website and then they pester me about it with another email Every Stinkin’ Day. Sometimes for weeks. There have been times when I’ve looked at something online, gone to the store and bought it, only to still get the “are you still thinking about this?” emails for the rest of the month.

How am I to believe that they’ll always make the tool work and the security add-on will never, ever fail? What if it’s a battery operated tool and it goes without its battery for days on end?

    it's just Boris · August 5, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Not shopping there works right until there are no outlets that don’t carry old-style tools.

    That change can be accomplished, given a little bit of time, via regulation. Try buying a new car in the US without a computer control system these days, for instance. As far as I know, you really can’t thanks to regulations on emissions and efficiency that de-facto require the computerization even if it’s not mandated directly as such.

    What’s the alternative? Something to think about, but starting by telling the store why you’re not shopping there is a start, at least.

Bob · August 5, 2021 at 9:45 am

Entirely possible

Tar · August 5, 2021 at 9:50 am

Kinda reminds me of the idea for “smart” guns the news media gushes about (that no smart gun owner would touch with a 10-foot pole).

All you need to do to defeat people using that tech is find a way to activate the “smart” gun’s fail-mechanism remotely (or block the signal that says “OK you can work now” if it defaults to fail-mode).

Reasons “they” want “smart” everything and 5G everywhere – they can un-person someone and render them powerless with a mouse click. Reasons they don’t like gas-powered cars and anything that isn’t reliant on the grid: they want us dependent, vulnerable, and fearful.

Aim to misbehave.

    ChuckInBama · August 5, 2021 at 10:51 am

    And they want to un-person us with a mouse click because there are too few of them to do it face to face. We have the numbers. All we lack is the initiative.

Forgot my name · August 5, 2021 at 1:16 pm

Check this out:

“We’re developing open source industrial machines that can be made for a fraction of commercial costs, and sharing our designs online for free. The goal of Open Source Ecology is to create an open source economy – an efficient economy which increases innovation by open collaboration.”

    Dan · August 6, 2021 at 8:54 am

    I had high hopes for these guys but they’re still dicking around. Been waiting on the pelletizer for 15 years but it is STILL in the planning stage. Nice idea, poor execution.

The Freeholder · August 5, 2021 at 2:11 pm

This is why I found the battery “guts” to rebuild my old DeWalt NiCad battery packs into NiMh packs. Not as expensive as a new tool and extra batteries, and I get all the performance without the battery pack popping an “over temperature” warning and quitting in the middle of a job.

I also advocate buying and refurbing older vehicles rather than buying new.

And while I’m here, I think we’re headed for the same thing in electronics. I’ll buy an old Android phone and drop the Linage OS on it if Apple goes through with this. I’d hang every pedo from the yardarm given a chance, but Big Brother needs to stay out of my phone.

Therefore · August 5, 2021 at 5:47 pm

We saw this back in 1999 as we prepared for y2k. Many fire engines had maintenance modules built in. Change the oil every 3 months, check the filters every 6 months and so forth.

When we change from ’99 to ’00 some of that software weighs treat that as 100 years of no maintenance. And the machine wouldn’t move to protect the engine.

There was a similar issue with some military equipment. If certainl things happened the equipment the equipment stops until the equipment is repaired. Ie plug the oil leak and pour more oil in.

There is now combat mode. If you are in combat mode keep going even if it will mean total destruction of the equipment.

    Divemedic · August 5, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    My fire department had an old surplus 5 ton military truck that we used to fight woods fires. Since there wasn’t a bit of electronic anything on that truck, one of the guys made a bumper sticker for it that said “This truck is Y2K compliant” and put it on there as a joke. We all got a big laugh out of it.

rightwingterrorist · August 5, 2021 at 8:35 pm

I’ve got an X-340 lawnmower with a 54″deck.
Takes me about 3hrs to mow my lawn. It’s quite big.
For someone else a 3203.
The wife is trying to sell that for someone else.
I would be more than happy to buy the 3203 for me and then turn around sell my 1967 Allis Chalmers D-17 with it’s congruent equipment.


Anonymous · August 5, 2021 at 10:20 pm

The marketplace is a feedback mechanism to discover what buyers want. The feedback vendors are getting is that products with remote controls leased on a subscription are acceptable, because buyers keep accepting them. This is not a “market failure”, and we don’t need communism to force other people to give us what we want.

No policeman would stop you if you made and sold an aftermarket engine computer for a tractor. Farmers can buy a $300,000 350 HP 8-wheel-drive tractor, but all farmers nationwide can’t chip in $500 each to hire a techie to car-customize it? Why do you trust farmers to vote?

    Divemedic · August 6, 2021 at 6:16 am

    I was going to respond in a comment to that thought, but it became too long, and will now be a post.

Dan · August 6, 2021 at 8:51 am

I have some experience in this after working alongside Milwaukee Tool for RF based asset management. Plus they have an app so you can program your screw gun for various speed profiles depending on the material you’re working with.

So believe me I understand the slippery slope problem along with the X as a subscription idea but I see this is just adding some new firmware to the existing set to allow one-way activation over Bluetooth LE at checkout. No different to me than activating a gift card.

    Steve · August 6, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    How long before it goes from “one way activation” to an annual license subscription. Don’t pay and your tool stops working. And then when the manufacturer comes out with a new version, the tool stops working. You have to upgrade to the new tool. I’ve seen this repeatedly in the computer industry, with the DMCA used as a club to prevent you from “circumventing” the software lock.

      Dan · August 8, 2021 at 8:27 am

      I don’t know how long, if I could answer that question I would be rich on the stock market or crypto. Which items have you seen in the computer industry that you bought once and then surprise, it was rendered inoperative without further payment? I’ve been in consumer computing and electronics for 30 years and none spring to mind.

joe · August 6, 2021 at 6:44 pm

it’s like windows on your computer…it ain’t really yours, you are basically renting it…

TRX · August 7, 2021 at 1:22 pm

You have to buy a software license for some of the large CNC machining centers. That’s separate from the purchase of the equipment. The licensed is only valid for the registered owner and location; mos tof them use GPS geofencing to enforce that. There have been cases of machines that were moved from one side of an aisle to the other and when quit working. If the license expires, some of the machines will work in a minimal mode. Others just stop until someone pays all the new license fees.

Comments are closed.