“Computers and Hair Dryers”–or “Bite the Big One, Apple!” September 16, 2010 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns – Tags: , , , , , ,

Wow, it’s been a few weeks AGAIN since I last posted…blame it this time on Apple!

Since Labor Day weekend, every time I want to use my Mac, I’ve had to sit down on the floor, open it up, and aim a HAIR DRYER at its guts for five to seven minutes just to get it to boot up. Initially that would last me a few hours (I could not shut it down or even let it go to “sleep” or else it wouldn’t “wake up”). Since last weekend (until this morning, thankfully), it’s only lasted for half an hour at the most; many times only a couple MINUTES or so…Several times it froze WHILE IT WAS BOOTING UP.

Does that sound frustrating? Imagine Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, or flying his kite into the Kite-Eating Tree. Now times it by a hundred.

(For anyone curious, the issue is the soldering on the memory part of the logic boards. Over time it apparently shrinks and/or loses some of its connectivity, so by heating it up, it expands enough to work. But you cannot turn off the machine. And the only way to fix it is to resolder the board–not something the average Mike can do–so you’re basically screwed and have to buy a new machine.)

So the only way to even check email was to use my brother’s borrowed ancient Toshiba laptop (Windows, of course), with a DIAL-UP MODEM. Do you remember those? They were popular back in the days when people used VHS tapes and cell phones as big as your arm. Using a dial-up connection with today’s web sites is like running a race ankle-deep in peanut butter.

What fun!

At least I’m learning patience. And some new swear words. And how to check my blood pressure often.

Anyway, I finally ordered the new Mac (was planning on it later this month anyway after I sold something to pay for it, but a couple weeks early isn’t bad).

But the more I thought about this situation the more it bugged me.

Okay, granted, my G5 is five, maybe even six years old. Prehistoric in terms of computers.

BUT, that level of prehistory is usually applied to speed of processors, amount of memory and capabilities of software, NOT durability. I mean let’s face it, even the lousiest American cars manufactured since 1990 have come with five- to seven-year warranties and have been on the road as long or longer without an engine rebuild. Heck, my brother even has a 1980 Pontiac with over 500,000 miles on the original, unrebuilt motor! What gives with computers? When I found the issue with mine on the Apple support boards, I noticed several others with similar issues–so my problem is not too rare.

I had an old G3 that was pretty sturdy (dropped it on the floor and all that didn’t work was the sound card), but it still had developed weird problems that meant its days were numbered after five or so years. And when I bought a refurbished iPod, it lasted a grand total of two or three WEEKS before conking out. Ugh.

Can Apple–or anyone else for that matter–make a machine that stays strong for more than a few years now? Is it, as MAD magazine used to wonderfully satirize, “planned obsolescence”, or just manufacturing incompetence and low-quality parts?

Neither one is good.

Well, the on the bright side, the new machine has arrived, just in time. Big job due late next week so I’ll have to bid adieu till near the end of the month. Got some neat ideas for future blogs, lots of stuff to scan.

Meanwhile, my latest hair dryer-induced resurrection has held up an unprecedented five hours so far. Figures–just as the new replacement looms. Maybe these machines get jealous of each other?


Take care,



P.S.: Speaking of jealousy, make your friends Hulk green with envy by getting a cool commission from me–I promise not to smash. (But I’ll do a smashing job for ya!) Just ask Craig here. Thanks and have a great weekend!

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