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Unfixable computers??
Old 06-16-2012, 12:41 AM   #1
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Unfixable computers??

I own an Apple Macbook and have been very happy with it. Recently, I upgraded my nearly four year old machine by doubling the memory and adding a bigger and faster hard drive to it. But, as this article shows, that may not be possible for some Apple computers in the future....

The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable | Gadget Lab | Wired.com

I hope that is not true.
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:04 AM   #2
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It will be possible, you'll just need a different skillset. For instance, just because memory is soldered in doesn't mean it can't be replaced. It may be that the design says it can't be increased, but even in such a case faulty memory can be replaced. You just have to be able to do some soldering.

As an example, DW's cousin (who is quite low income) asked DS & I to have a look at her old Wintel machine. To me it looked like the motherboard had had it. DS, who was a CS/EE student at the time, saw a leaking capaciter on the motherboard. He get another for a couple of bucks, soldered it in and voila. I doubt that Best Buy would have had anyone on staff who could do that in less than an hour with about $5 in parts (or in 3 weeks with an unlimited budget). If they had someone who could do it, (s)he would have been fired for doing it and missing a $200 sale.

Fixing will be possible, just not economical.
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:04 AM   #3
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It will be possible, you'll just need a different skillset. For instance, just because memory is soldered in doesn't mean it can't be replaced. It may be that the design says it can't be increased, but even in such a case faulty memory can be replaced. You just have to be able to do some soldering.

As an example, DW's cousin (who is quite low income) asked DS & I to have a look at her old Wintel machine. To me it looked like the motherboard had had it. DS, who was a CS/EE student at the time, saw a leaking capaciter on the motherboard. He get another for a couple of bucks, soldered it in and voila. I doubt that Best Buy would have had anyone on staff who could do that in less than an hour with about $5 in parts (or in 3 weeks with an unlimited budget). If they had someone who could do it, (s)he would have been fired for doing it and missing a $200 sale.

Fixing will be possible, just not economical.
Best Buy or some other big box repair place probably would have said "The Motherboard is bad...that'll be $75 for me telling you that." Something like that happened with my SIL's computer. After I examined what really was going on, the motherboard was fine. The problem was the PC would shutdown from overheating. Removing the CPU fan, reapplying some new thermal grease to the cpu and resintalling the CPU fan resolved the problem.
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:36 AM   #4
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This may or may not pertain to Apples, but PC's are becoming so cheap that it seems like a dream come true to some of us oldtimers. For us it is simply mind-boggling to see a variety of desktop computer models for sale for under $500.

Really, to me it isn't worth doing upgrades of specific hardware components any more when they become a few years old and outdated, because a new computer with those upgrades and more costs so little. YMMV because computers are way high up on my priority expenditure list.
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:37 AM   #5
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Fixing will be possible, just not economical.
In today's world with most consumer products, that's the norm.

Sure, you could fix it if you (or somebody you know) has the skillset (and the tools), but in most cases "stuff" is designed as throw-away.

Is that good or bad? I have no idea. But that's just the way it is in these times...
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:38 AM   #6
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Some things are actually not fixable, no matter how skilled you are, if they have a pcb (very common in laptops), it will be impossible to replace. Memory soldered in would be very difficult to replace, that would be a LOT of solder to remove, and some of it could get in the board. Just replacing a popped capacitor, especially in a PC desktop is about as easy as it gets for unusual repairs, you can just snip the wires right below it, tie on the new capacitor and apply a very tiny amount of solder.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:09 AM   #7
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I hope that is not true.
Someday it'll make as much sense to fix & upgrade a computer as it would to fix or upgrade a wristwatch.

Or a buggywhip.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:47 AM   #8
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I have just upgraded and extended the life of my old laptop for an estimate 2 more years. Total cost was $150 max and two hours of my time.
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:21 AM   #9
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I just upgraded Ms. G's laptop for nothing. I gave her my old one.
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:30 AM   #10
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I just upgraded Ms. G's laptop for nothing. I gave her my old one.
And you bought ______ for yourself? I am thinking iMac for me when current desktop dies, but its been going strong for 6 years.
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:46 AM   #11
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I own an Apple Macbook and have been very happy with it. Recently, I upgraded my nearly four year old machine by doubling the memory and adding a bigger and faster hard drive to it. But, as this article shows, that may not be possible for some Apple computers in the future....

The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable | Gadget Lab | Wired.com

I hope that is not true.
The new machine design is designed around a different set of trade offs than older machines.

For example, in machines from roughly 2008 and earlier, the rechargeable batteries are good for around 500 full charge/ discharge cycles, or about 2 years of very heavy use, or 4-5 years of typical home use.. The newer lithium polymer cells are good for around 1500 charge/discharge cycles, and should be good for 5 years of very heavy use, or a decade of home use. (after the rated number of cycles, the battery has 80% of the capacity it had when new.). If the battery doesn't need to be replaced as often, or even at all over a typical machines useable life, then it could be practical to eliminate the space needed to build a user accessible battery compartment, connectors, and a removable battery container meeting puncture and heat resistance requirements. This stuff represents about 30% of the volume of a typical battery subsystem in a laptop computer. If it can be eliminated, and the battery molded to use the space saved (along with any other free space) then the time the laptop can run between charges can be made considerably longer.

Similarly, there is no reason that a FLASH memory storage device needs to have the same size and form factor as a hard disk drive, or use relatively bulky SATA signal and power connectors. Building the drive on a dense compact board tied into the system using low profile edge connectors can cut the volume needed by 2/3rds.

The MacBook Air and Pro models both make these trade offs.

Battery replacements are done by swapping out a portion of the case that has all the high wear components attached (battery, trackpad, keyboard). The old assembly can be recycled or remanufactured as appropriate.

Folks seem to like the smaller, lighter machines, and these are the engineering trade offs needed to build such devices. It's quite possible to design machines where lots of parts are individually user accessible and swappable, with a different set of trade offs, such as thicker cases and reduced battery life in exchange for the space to hold bulkier modular components.

Most end users don't touch the inside of their machines after purchase. Not laptops, or desktop all in one boxes, or traditional towers. Rather than design for the small percentage of users that do open the box, Apple has chosen to leverage the behavior of the vast majority of their users, maximizing usability and minimizing weight and thickness of the laptop.

It's all just design trade offs. Oh, and past history shows that there will be third party battery and FLASH storage replacements for these machines.

Disclaimer: We have three laptops, from 2002, 2004, and 2006. I keep these running through the usual methods, although they aren't used much any more. Two have relatively new batteries, and one has had the disk drive replaced. I don't have any plans to buy more, as I find the iPads, combined with a desktop server system, to cover all our current needs.
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Old 06-16-2012, 12:12 PM   #12
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I'm thinking that my computer just needs to be vacuumed out
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Old 06-16-2012, 12:20 PM   #13
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And you bought Acer for yourself? I am thinking iMac for me when current desktop dies, but its been going strong for 6 years.
I have a zillion years of Quicken info, Mac doesn't do Quicken very well. Bought a 17" Acer Aspire cheap no real bell or whistles, easy on the old eyes.
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:01 PM   #14
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Back in the day, I thought the beauty of Apples was that they really didn't need to be upgraded much. Unlike Windows machines, where the upgrading, putting components in and out was part of the challenge/fun.

I was a Mac guy in the past, then defected to Windows, but with rumors of Windows 8 being horrible (can anyone say, cut off your nose to spite your face?), I might have to defect back.

Will Windows 8 Kill Microsoft? | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com


Only time will tell.
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:27 PM   #15
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I have a zillion years of Quicken info, Mac doesn't do Quicken very well. Bought a 17" Acer Aspire cheap no real bell or whistles, easy on the old eyes.
Especially with the current version of Quicken on the Mac. Ecch! Do Not Want!

For Mac users, I recommend iBank as a good Quicken replacement. It's a bit different, and there is a learning curve involved, but I was able to load some 16 years of data from banks and brokerage accounts into it, with maybe an hour of fiddling to fix up errors, mostly in brokerage data. (fiddly stuff like marking transactions Sell To Close vs Sell to clear phantom short positions. IBank has more useful options for equity positions...)

I was faced with getting a PC for Quicken, or running Windows and Quicken in a virtual machine or jumping to another app. The competing apps were all offering free trials, so I spent a little time trying to import my date into each and seeing which was the most usable. IBank won for me.
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:44 PM   #16
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For Mac users, I recommend iBank as a good Quicken replacement.
I have used several money management applications and they have been abandoned. First, was Managing Your Money which was sold to a bank, if I remember correctly, and then abandoned. Next, was MS Money, which MS stopped supporting. So, today, I make my own Excel spreadsheets. I figure it will be a long time before MS abandons Excel.
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Old 06-16-2012, 02:23 PM   #17
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The new machine design is designed around a different set of trade offs than older machines. ....

The MacBook Air and Pro models both make these trade offs. ....

Folks seem to like the smaller, lighter machines, and these are the engineering trade offs needed to build such devices. It's quite possible to design machines where lots of parts are individually user accessible and swappable, with a different set of trade offs, such as thicker cases and reduced battery life in exchange for the space to hold bulkier modular components.
That's all true. The problem I have with Apple is that they don't offer enough choices of hardware for me, especially if I want something cheap for occasional use. If they had one line of sleek, but non-upgrade-able, and another line of somewhat clunkier, but modular, upgrade-able/replaceable - one would have a choice within the Apple OSX. It's one reason I'm now on Linux - I've got lots of choices of hardware and SW configuration.

I think the soldered in RAM is the biggest issue on these, their newer OS releases have often required additional memory.

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Really, to me it isn't worth doing upgrades of specific hardware components any more when they become a few years old and outdated, because a new computer with those upgrades and more costs so little.
Well, a recent experience I had would counter that. I just upgraded all three MacBooks in our immediate family (DW's and tho daughter's) to OSX 10.7, so that set-up, usage, and troubleshooting would be common across all of them. The oldest laptop is ~ 5 YO, and needed a RAM upgrade to work with the new OS version. Going from 1GB to 4GB cost less than $30. For $30, she's getting better performance and a lot of new features of the new OS. This laptop should do the job for at least a couple more years, probably more. That was certainly worth $30 for us. The laptop she buys a few years out will provide more performance/$ than buying one today, so she wins twice.

-ERD50
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:39 PM   #18
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I'm thinking that my computer just needs to be vacuumed out
Getting rid of excess bits and bytes?
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:01 AM   #19
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Some things are actually not fixable, no matter how skilled you are, if they have a pcb (very common in laptops), it will be impossible to replace. Memory soldered in would be very difficult to replace, that would be a LOT of solder to remove, and some of it could get in the board. Just replacing a popped capacitor, especially in a PC desktop is about as easy as it gets for unusual repairs, you can just snip the wires right below it, tie on the new capacitor and apply a very tiny amount of solder.
I finally got round to fixing a satellite TV decoder box the other day, after 6 months (typical FIRE project - there was no urgency as we'd bought a new box when the power supply went in the old one, but I'd kept it out of curiosity and found a web site which described the issue). It required a swap-out of a small electrolytic capacitor. I was expecting to have to somehow lash up the new to the pins of the old, but to my surprise the old one came out very cleanly, one leg at a time with my soldering iron on the other side, and left clean holes for the new one. Even more surprisingly, I remembered to note the polarity before I removed the old one. Ten minutes work including finding out how to open the box; now works as good as new.
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:02 AM   #20
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I paid about 40 cents a Gigabyte for the new ordinary hard drive I put into my MacBook. Today, I see that some of the new solid state drives (SSD) are going for a bit under $1 a Gig. Looks like they wil be an economic reality by the time I replace my lovely little MacBook.
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