Steve Jobs Chums His Bathtub with Whale Meat to Feed His Ego: Part 2

Continued from Steve Jobs Chums His Bathtub with Whale Meat to Feed His Ego.

The title of this post and the previous one is probably too harsh on Mr. Jobs. I have no way of knowing his or his ego’s feeding habits. I’ve employed this hyperbole to convey my frustration over and issue that plagues engineers and is subsequently injurious to society on a grander scale. For now, I will stick with the iBook as an example.

For the record, Kat’s laptop has been working soundly until today. We were hoping that the problem Kat experienced is just one of those weird things that would inexplicably never happen again. My suspicion that a certain chip is beginning to disconnect from the motherboard appears to be correct.

So I followed this guide to place a shim between the metal shield, which lies flush against the bottom of the computer case, and the rebellious chip. I cut out a small piece of a CD-R for my shim.

Opening up the computer was really easy with the exception of what may be another one of Apple’s dirty tricks. Photographs will probably describe it best.

See that orange ribbon in the back? I think it’s supposed to connect the hard drive to the motherboard. However, it was affixed to the shield and thus came loose from the motherboard when I lifted the shield up. In alternate universes, I tore the ribbon, forgot to reconnect it when putting the computer back together, and was possessed by Dr. Sam Beckett (“Oh boy!”) who fixed everything and left me to take all the credit as he hopefully made his final leap home. Here’s a closeup of the dastardly ribbon cable.

Eventually the hard disk ribbon came loose from the shield allowing me to take this photo of the poorly designed motherboard.

I placed the piece of the CD-R between the offending chip and the black ribbon which connects the optical drive to the motherboard and then reassembled the laptop. And it works! Hopefully this surgery will be my last on Kat’s computer, but there is a chance that the shim I chose isn’t thick enough in which case I’ll have to cut it open and try again. I just want to say that I fixed it for good and be a hero.

Anyway, when a similar problem appeared in the iBook G3, which preceded Kat’s G4, Apple owned up and made an attempt to do right by its customers by extending the warranty. However, Apple hasn’t made any attempt to fix the problem with the G4. That’s just appalling and feeds my suspicion of Apple, their products, and the intent behind their design. In taking apart Kat’s G4, I noticed a design feature that annoyed me: extensive use of plastic snap tabs instead of screws, like older generations of the iPod. I understand that screws require inventory and an additional manufacturing step, but they make repairing the product easier and can always be replaced if damaged. Snap tabs are not replaceable and will weaken or ruin the case if broken. It’s as though Apple couldn’t care less about making the G4 repairable. Therefore, I charge that Apple engineers their products to be trendy, fast sells with lifetimes that satisfy Apple’s desires rather than customers’ needs. That is, I contend that Apple designs their products to require replacement in order to facilitate the sale of new products; planned obsolescence. Apple gets away with this because they’ve successfully sold the idea that having the latest Apple is fashionable. Yes, Apple products are useful and easy to use, but if I were to consider buying a new Apple product, its cool factor would compel me more than its ability to retain value. Other brands don’t retain value very well either, and it bothers me that consumers accept this standard of quality from their computers. Dixie cups are supposed to be disposable, not computers.

One final point of advice: keep screws and other removable parts in a safe spot. Replaceable as they may be, losing them is a pain in the ass.

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