Insidious computer hardware conspiracy ?

This is what I found on some forum on the internet:

1. Is it possible (i.e. cost-effective) to implement in the cpu some mechanism that intentionally disables it after a predetermined amount of usage?

2. Can such an implementation be made undetectible?

3. Do any cpu manufacturers actually do this?

A few months ago I wrote about some failing technology, now I got the feeling there is a conspiracy going on. After a succesfull restore of my Windows Vista OS and some radio software like WSPR, HRD, JT65HF.  And finally installing the drivers to communicate with the radio. I could not start the computer yesterday, fans were running but that was it. First I thought it was the videocard, but replacing it by a new one I already bought last year did not change anything. There were also no usual beeps from the bios and the LED which is normally blinking was not doing anything as well. So what could I do? I checked memory and all connectors, they were all ferm in place. I suspect the powersupply but what if I buy a new one and it is another problem? Well, I decided to bring it to the nearest computershop for examination so we have to wait. But now the strange thing…..a colleague from my job has exactly the same computer. He had  the same problem with the videocard in the warranty period. And believe it or not this morning I told him my computer had probabely died, he couldn’t believe it as he has exactly the same problem and experience with his computer since last weekend !!!! So that’s why I think this has to be a kind of insidious computer hardware conspiracy !!!

Bas, PE4BAS, is a regular contributor to and writes from Groningen, Netherlands. Contact him at [email protected].

8 Responses to “Insidious computer hardware conspiracy ?”

  • kd0jek:

    Personally, I think all updates are just another way to keep tabs on us. Most of the time, updates have always caused me headaches.. The probelms became less of a problem after I started sending feed back about how I would have to spend hours correcting their updates. It’s a plot to spy on all of us or to make our equipment in-operative to sell something new, which will be old the minute we buy..
    73,, john kd0jek

  • Peter KG5WY:

    Good info.
    I plan to but a new laptop soon.
    I’d like to know the model of the computer so I can avoid it.
    Please email me and tell me.

  • David Parkison:


  • Steve KC6YFR:

    Ohhhh! Nooooooooooooooo!
    You’re scaring me. I have Vista and have always been able to use the restore point to get out of trouble.
    Please tell me there’s no limit hidden and undetectable in the machine.
    BTW I really enjoy reading this site everyday. Thank you for all you do!
    Steve Shinn

  • Clint W5AMU:

    My wife’s acer laptop had vista and it got progressively worse. it would slow down, reboot at random times (nothing active, just sitting idle). We installed Ubuntu 10.4 and was amazed. Rock solid stable, MUCH, MUCH faster. Install was painless and faster than the vista restore. By the way, vista restore finally quit working, so we had little choice at the time.
    Ubuntu is far superior to Vista. Even the HP wireless printer and scanner work flawlessly.

  • Cameron KI4JDD:

    I have seen this issue with more than one manufacturer…not a conspiracy but rather manufacturing problems. First example was a case of industrial espionage; the Taiwanese liberated an electrolyte formula from the Japanese and used it to produce millions of defective capacitors. The Japanese were on to them and gave them a bad formula. The bad capacitors went into a variety of electronics, including a few models of IBM PCs. IBM had to pay people like me to replace many thousands or defective system boards.

    Second example: Dell put out a bunch of Opti GX270s with bad system boards that started failing just after the 3 year warranty and they didn’t want to admit they had a problem…big problem for companies that bought several at once.

    Some people don’t like to buy the extended warranties, but they have some down in price and when you look at the cost over the life of the machine, they are not that expensive.

  • Richard W5BXE:

    As a person who has purchased several thousand business PC’s over the past 20 years, I will simply say they run the extremes, regardless of the manufacturer. Some perform flawlessly while others fail in right out of the box.

    The problem, as aluded to by another writer, tends to be when a manufacturer buys a lot of bad components. These companies buy stuff by the trailer load, so the problems come in almost the same quatity.

    Batteries immediately come to mind. A major brand only warranties their batteries for a year while you can get a three year warranty on the internal hardware (almost want to say “Danger Will Robinson!”).

    Windows Vista was generally shuned by the business world because of performance issues. I am one that still runs XP on a majority on my 800 PC’s. But, I am solwly making the move to Windows 7 since it appears much more reliable than Vista (and Service Pack 1 didn’t kill it).

    Lastly, let me not leave out the issue of poor code (software). Stuff is turned out with insufficient testing. This seems to be of almost epidemic proportions. Once a bug is found, a patch is next. Sadly some patches seem to break something else (once again, poor testing).

    Sadly, none of this is new. Been in the IT business for 43 years and have seen lots of change and lots of the same.

    P.S. Patch your Windows machine. Don’t ignore it or you may discover someone else owns your machine (can you say botnet).

  • KF7MAX:

    First a comment on UBuntu..etc. If the PC works like crap on WinVista and works great on UBuntu.. its not hardware that is at fault. Software and drivers are the most likely culprit. I bet that same PC would install XP Pro and run just fine. And I bet if you ran the Vista Install a few times it would take. One reason we never went to Vista.. most our PC’s are on XP pro still and we are now moving to Win7, which so far in our testing is very stable, at least in the software inviroment we currently run in.

    Opti GX270s : As a tech while working for a company that bought several hundreds of these. We did have about a 25% failure rate on the motherboards, caps would bulge out. Bad Caps… Dell alway replaced these ASAP for us. No issues there. They even replaced a number of them that failed after the standard warrenty was over at no cost.

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