Your next computer

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Apple Computers.  There have been some interesting stories.

Apple’s New Proprietary Software Locks Will Kill Independent Repair on New MacBook Pros

This is an interesting one.  It was spawned by a supposedly internal Apple memo indicating that you need to have the person who repairs your computer run a piece of software to complete the task.  Otherwise a lock on the system will cause it to be unable to run.

Subsequent to the original post, some testing was done on a brand new MacBook Pro and the lock didn’t kick in.  At least yet.

I suppose the logic is that Apple wants to ensure quality repairs rather than anyone with a screwdriver having at it.  Of course, even now, you do need, at times, to have specific tools to complete the job.  I found that out on a personal basis when I replaced my traditional hard drive with an SSD.  That went fine but there was another connector that I didn’t have the part to do the job completely.  Fortunately, there was an independent Apple repair centre in Windsor that could help out.  Unfortunately, they are now out of business.  My closest Apple store is in London, two hours away.

If this indeed kicks in, and we buy the highest priced MacBook Pro, do we need to have proof from any repair company that they can do the entire job which now might include running that software?

Chinese spy chips are found in hardware used by Apple, Amazon, Bloomberg says; Apple, AWS say no way

With electronics and its ever so small parts, it’s not inconceivable that there’s truth in this story although there are plenty of denials.  But how do you know for absolute certain?  Whose word do you trust?

There are lots of documented cases where spyware gets installed and just sits there waiting for instruction before delivering its payload.  So, could there be a “spy chip” just sitting there biding its time until called upon?

Fortunately, at this time, each of these stories seem to be a great deal about nothing.

Nothing, that is, except for the price of stocks with Apple, Amazon, and Super Micro according to the report from CNBC.

The technology world loves conspiracy theories, insider stories, and leaks about new products so it’s not surprising that many news services picked up on the reports.

What’s a consumer or business to do?  We rely on the reputation of a company for being who or what they are.  I think we all know in our minds, who the leaders and most trustworthy companies are.  After all, we buy their products.  You’re reading this post on one that you probably acquired for yourself.

None of us are experts in technology from A to Z.  (Sorry Amazon)  We rely on companies to produce the best they can at the price point that we’re willing to pay.  We live in a world of increasing suspicion that software and web companies are tracking our moves without our permission.  This includes permission that’s buried elbow deep in acceptable use policies that you must agree to before you use the product.  In my mind, it’s not a giant leap to being equally suspicious of hardware.  For the past couple of weeks, Apple and Amazon were the target of the stories.  Who’s next?  Is the computer you’re currently using squeaky clean?

Will this affect your next computer purchase?

4 thoughts on “Your next computer

  1. For the time being, my next computer is my 2013 MacBook Pro. Prior to this computer, my MacBook Pro was a 2008 model.

    Over the years, I have typically aimed for at least a 3-year replacement cycle, but have more recently stretched the lifespan of my MacBooks through third-party upgrades from companies like OWC (updating storage and memory, swapping out the optical drive for a second storage disk).

    I have always made the best efforts to future proof each purchase by going with an upper level spec (more ports, more storage, maxing out the RAM) so that the machine can last as long as possible. (In the past few years, I have also taken to replacing the HDDs on my school laptop and SMART board computer with SSDs because the instant-on of phones and tablets has trained me such that I don’t have five minutes to wait for Windows to start up from a hard drive.)

    This CBC expose appeared yesterday in my Inbox:

    I visited an Apple authorized service provider (not an Apple Store) earlier this year when my MacBook suddenly would not close completely, and was told that one of the hinges had broken. At the same time, the technician showed me that five of the six lithium battery packs in the computer were swollen, while letting me know it wasn’t a safety concern and that they were still holding their charge well.

    Apple’s repair policy for a broken hinge (the display cable runs through the middle of the hinge) is to replace the entire top (lid with display and two hinges attached), at a cost of ~$900.

    My beloved Titanium Powerbook from 2001 still wears the duct tape that I used as a sturdy hinge replacement when one of its hinges broke. I used it until the wearing on the display cable rendered it problematic. The same issue (despite improvements to the hinge design) showed up on my 2008 MacBook Pro after about eight years (my son was using it at the time). Apparently joints can become problematic with old age…

    So, after five years, one of the hinges had failed on my 2013 device. Given the price on the replacement lid, and the estimated $500 to replace the battery pack, I was looking at about $1600 in repairs. I decided to go away and think about things, recognizing that investing that much money in a five-year-old machine suggested I was ready for a new one instead.

    However, the Internet has come along way since 2001, and there’s lots of good watching on YouTube (heck, YouTube didn’t exist in 2001) and so I took a look to see if there were any solutions to the broken hinge problem. As it would turn out, while neither is deemed an easy fix, there are videos for replacing the both the display and swapping out a MacBook Pro’s glued-in batteries.

    In the end, I replaced the hinge (it came complete with the display cable running through it) for $20, and the battery for $140, components sourced from

    With the future-proofed 16 GB of soldered-on RAM, this machine still hums along just fine in the latest Photoshop, especially since Apple has optimized the MacOS in the last two releases, High Sierra and Mojave. Given that cloud computing has become a much more important thing in the last eight years, the 512 GB non-user serviceable SSD is sufficient. (Should that ever change, OWC sells a compatible (and five years later, faster) 1 or 2 TB SSD replacement.)

    Now, with regards to the T2 chip, the chip in the MiFi certified lightning cables, etc., for years Apple has been keen on ensuring the best and user experience—owning the widget from the get–go.

    • Perhaps you recall needing to source all the correct drivers for the various third-party hardware bits that were in your Windows computer?
    • Perhaps you recall removing bloatware from whatever PC company built your machine and made an effort to “improve it” over their competitors?
    • Perhaps you recall having to deal with the spectre of viruses-in-the-gazillions in the Windows world?

    • Now that Android devices have emerged, many of these these same concerns or issues exist within the Android ecosystem.

    I have found that an Apple device plus AppleCare is excellent TCO value with a minimum of hiccoughs after the fact. Apple provides no-cost OS upgrades that are supported and certified on hardware for years after its release (beyond a two or three-year replacement cycle) since they know what is in the box they built. Google and Microsoft have both latched onto Apple’s successful App Store model as a way of distributing safe and compatible software to the end-user, and there is certainly some peace of mind knowing that you’re not walking around with an Internet-connected device in your pocket that has been hacked and is owned by someone else.

    Hmmmm. Perhaps I need to rework that last sentence.


  2. Thanks for your reply, Andy. There’s a great deal of solid logic in that. As I type this on my now eight year old Sony Vaio, I remember buying it as the best of breed at the time. It even came with my name engraved on the lid. Quite honestly, I figured that I would have replaced it long ago but I haven’t had to yet. (yet, being the operative word). I also bought a MacBook Pro at the time which I did replace for a number of reasons, one being that it allowed my wife to have a dedicated machine. The other was a miscalculation of the amount of RAM that I would eventually need.

    I’d keep an eye on those bulging batteries if I was you. In trouble shooting the trackpad on my MBP, one of the major fixes was replacing the battery because the design has it right under the trackpad. Fortunately, when I inspected mine, it wasn’t expanded and either deleting the plist or upgrade to Mojave (did the both at the same time) has solved it. At least for now, fingers crossed.

    My Windows experience wasn’t what you described – no bloatware was installed and everything is Sony supported so drivers were no problem. Since it dual boots into Linux Mint, Linux does an amazing job of finding things on install to make sure that it works.As for viruses and malware, I constantly check everything and, with the exception of a Microsoft Word macro on my Macintosh, I think I’m living clean.

    I agree with the goals of Apple but the business practice and the fact that someone else creates their hardware should at least open our eyes that it is a new world out there.


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