Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Disposable Income??


Well here we are, half way through 2009. This year saw the culmination of, arguably, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Yada yada yada. We have heard this all before.

I thought we were going to talk about Wi-Fi?

Well today I thought I would talk about disposable computers. Several weeks ago an associate of mine saw her beloved 17 inch iMac G5 all-in-one start to shut down for no apparent reason. She had Apple Care and had no problem trucking it down to the local Apple Store Genius Bar for a looksie.

They had her Mac for a week and then called and said, "you better come down here". When she got there they broke it to her gently, her mac was dead. The logic board was failing and a replacement would cost more than the worth of the unit. A few tears were shed before she realized this would mean she would need a new iMac - STAT!

So she cam home with a new improved 20 inch, Aluminum Bezel, Glass front, 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac .

The poor old unit sat next to the front door accumulating dust until I stripped some parts off of it and sent the remainder to the recycling plant here in San Francisco where they are used to this kind of recycling, as I am sure they are elsewhere these days.

I felt bad. Seemed like a waste.

Then I did the worst thing a husband can do to a Wife's computer. I spilled a drink on my wife's MacBook. I freaked out, flipped the unit over, yanked out the mag-safe power cable and the battery and spent the next several hours wiping it down and blowing air through the unit to get it dry. I failed, the next morning she had a host of keyboard and restart issues. She was not happy, however, to her credit, she was not super mad at me either, just at the situation.

So, guess what I did? Yep. I took the unit down to the Apple Store, where again the Genius Bar Dude said it was covered by AppleCare and that they would call us in a few days and tell us what was up. And guess what the verdict was? 800 dollars, 100 dollars cheaper than the Brand New Macbook. Worth the investment? Probably not.

Now here is where most folks would start to rail against the new disposable society. Everything from cell phones to TVs are all disposable now. Right? Wrong.

Not me. Why? Well I have a small contribution to make to help stop this madness.

I found two places that were willing, with a little effort, to show me how to take care of these problems myself. No fancy Apple Store Genius, know-it-all, Fixer Upper, dude (BTW, most of the time, they do not even do their own repairs at Apple, they farm it out). It should be mentioned that I am no stranger to this kind of stuff. Awhile back I repaired my first original AirPort Basestation by replacing a burnt out capacitor. Heck, a logic board replacement for the MacBook doesn't even involve soldering

The first site I am sharing is run by a pair of guys who were in college and decided to try and fix their Mac themselves, then they were fixing their pals computers and then, weell, they said, You do it. They started iFixit. Ifixit will sell you the parts and show you how to replace them. This, of course, voids the warranty, but, hey, you were going to throw it out and get a new one anyway, right?

Here is their story in their words

It bugged us that most consumer devices lacked repair instructions. We think it should be easy for people to learn how to fix things.

So we wrote some instructions the first chance we got. And we posted them online, for free. For the first time, it was easy for someone with no technical background or experience to take apart a Mac. Our step-by-step instructions were enabling people to repair Macs they wouldn't have been able to repair on their own.

We thought the instructions would be useful to our customers -- and they were. But it turned out that they were useful to a lot of other people as well! We've heard repair success stories from forensic detectives, field translators, and even kids. From New York to Alaska, Tibet to the Faroe Islands, people have used our guides to fix their stuff. They saved money, they kept their Macs out of the landfill, and they did it completely by themselves.

And the amazing thing? They enjoyed doing it. It's fun to take stuff apart. It's interesting to see what's inside that magic iPod you carry around every day. It's gratifying to fix it with your own hands. Don't believe us? Try it! Fix your Mac yourself. Show a friend how to fix something.

We're all in this thing together, and if we work together we can fix the planet. Join us.

Neat! And they are helping the environment while making a good buck or two in the process. Oh, and not just Macs, Nintendos, Palm Pre's, iPones and iPods, and even bananas

Next up, I found there guys, The Powerbook Medic folks. Theyare similar to iFixit in that they sell parts and show you how to fix stuff. They also will fix it for you (for a reasonable fee) and they also have video tutorials on YouTube


Lastly, they have made their own Mac Tablet PC from an old MacBook - it looks pretty sweet


The total cost to fix my Wife's Macbook now looks to be around $250-$350. A far cry from the $800 plus I was quoted to do the same thing by the Apple Store. Don't get me wrong, AppleCare is awesome. It has saved my bottom so many times. Well worth every penny, but aside from that, do we really need to be tossing out so many electronics in this day and age?

So it turns out you do not have to chuck out that pretty awesome Apple MacBook after all. I am sure there are sites for Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony and homegrown BYO (build it yourself) FrankenPuters and others as well. A quick google search shows you that anyone can do this kind of repair.

Oh, now, how I wished I could go back and get that iMac G5.


We finally got the MacBook back from Apple and now it will not boot. It booted before, just had crazy keyboard shenanigans. Now, Dead.

So now we have to move forward with the plan. I will update as I do it.

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