September 6, 2006

No user serviceable parts inside

Posted in Commentary at 6:05 am by Michael Sweeney Media

Dont you just love this phrase “no user serviceable parts inside”? Your favorite widget has just broken and you find that not only will the company not support you if you try to fix it, they will charge you more than the cost of a new widget to fix the old widget, even if they will fix it. And this doesnt count trying to get parts.

This just really offends me often since by nature I hate to waste something that is perfectly good. A case in point was a favorite digital camera of mine which is the Nikon 950. An older 2 Megapixel camera but it has some features like the twisting body that I just love and it takes a super clean and crisp picture. Even at the paltry 2 megapixels, it works better then many of the newer cameras I’ve used. You can see one of my best shots here that I shot with it.

So my original 950 was borrowed by my then 16 year old daughter and never came home since she likes also and since I have more than one camera, or so she says 🙂 I went to eBay and found one for a cheap price and I got it for 30 bucks which should have been my warning, read the damn ad CLOSELY. In very small print, the seller had mentioned it was broken, the CCD did not work. Damn… So I go through with the buy to keep my good name and think I will use it as spare parts. The camera arrives and being the type I am, just how broken is the camera? Pop in some batteries and sure enough, no picture, no nothing. Hmmm… thats not a CCD error so dig out the AC adapter and pug it in. Presto.. lights, camera and action. I have a working camera at least when it’s on AC.

The batter holder was fractured so the batteries did not make good contact. Some superglue fix it but the cover would not stay closed. So back to ebay for a 2nd broken camera for another twenty bucks. Now comes the fun part. To replace the camera door and the surround shell, I have to take the entire outside shell off and a couple of circuit boards on a device built by elves in the watchmaker’s forrest! Oh well, nothing risked, nothing gained. With a few hours and practicing on the really broken 950, I work out the details of getting it all apart and back together again.

In the end, for the princely sum of sixty dollars I have a working 950 which I did take to Rome on my Macmania trip as a backup to my Sony. Worked like a dream the entire time!

Macs are the same way, if you dont mind taking a risk now and then you can do quite a bit yourself. I replaced my iPod 3rd gen battery in about 3 minutes and saved quite a bit of money. My daughter needed a new keyboard and iFixit came through with the keyboard and a well done guide to taking it all apart. Even my Powerbook was easy to upgrade the RAM on and anyone can take out four screws and pop a card in place. No need to pay someone fifty dollars for that. My 17 inch iMac was a simple matter of unscrewing three screws on the bottom and the entire back came off to provide easy access for a new hard disk install. Now, I ask you, how much simple could it be?

Along with the insides of the Mac, I do like to keep the outside looking nice. So on my new -used Powerbook(a absolutely cherry Aluminum 15 inch for a good price off ebay), I decided to try some “Applepeelz” coverings. These are self adhesive plastic covers for the top, bottom and handrest of the Powerbook. I hope they do not look too cheesy when in place but I will have them a few days and I will write more then about them. I also ordered some Portectorz for covering up the ports and some Wildeepz buttons to keep the screen from twisting into the keyboard. Again, I will write more once I get this trinkets and use them. It amazes me that Apple dropped the ball so badly on the Powerbooks where the screens get screwed up just by shutting the lid. What the hell were they thinking?

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