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Friday, 27 October 2023


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One more reminder. The Mac Studio is actually a top end machine in a smaller physical box. The "midrange" machine these days is a Mac Mini. A low end machine is a Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi 400 (the keyboard-included model) is more powerful than a 2000s era iMac.

Something I read somewhere over 50 years ago: When you buy something, immediately start to put money away for its replacement.

One of my wife's sisters had this realization after she bought the house her family had been renting for a number of years: When you rent, that monthly rental is the ceiling for your house expenses. When you own, that monthly mortgage payment is the floor.

Manufacturers of durable goods, whether washers or cars, have a practice called "value engineering." They look at what in the design is better than it needs to be, and look for ways to make those things "sufficient."

Browse the hardware store for some light mesh filter material that looks like it would catch dog hair and tape some over the air intake of the computer.

My 15 year old Kohler water faucet recently broke; seems to happen with a lot of their parts in my 15 year old house. But I called Kohler and they immediately expressed mailed a brand new replacement, no questions asked, and no shipping charge. Sometimes the warranty is as important as the quality of the part/manufacturer.

Sounds like living in the US is really complicated...

(From an olde worlde type)

Yeah, if you buy any kind of old house it is not so different from an old person. Stuff breaks. Our old house had an unholy amount of deferred maintenance that we have only partly tackled during our time here. After refinancing and taking out home improvement loans (the most we think we can), we are left to just saving up as we go, with a long way to go. Old cameras are way more fun.

There is no point trying to save money when buying plumbing. Never go cheap.

Sounds like my meatsack. I was born in the planned obsolescence era sadly.

I can just imagine your conversation with the neighbour lady about eggplant. Doing my best Paul Simon:

"“The problem is all inside your head”
She said to me
“The answer is easy if you
Take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be 11 ways
To use and eggplant"

Yeah, I'm feeling weird today.

I often rail at the impermanence of things, particularly those things that comprise our home. The structure apparently started out as a 1760's creamery for a nearby dairy farm, and it has had several generational iterations. Each renovation has raised alternating questions of competence and compromise, resulting in the current agglomeration. The place has what my wife calls "character." But really its purpose, other than keeping the rain off our heads, is to remind us of the second law of thermodynamics: that the universe tends towards entropy, and its painful local corollary, which adds to the law the phrase, "; this means you, bub." My wife gently reminds me not to get upset when another piece of the structure fails -- one might as well complain about the weather. Then again, it is somehow my job to fix those broken things, not hers, and so I am unable to reach the sense of philosophical detachment that she has so easily obtained. Bon Courage, Mike. You've only pitted yourself against time's arrow, after all.

Know the feeling.

I had a day of frustration yesterday. We have a puppy (now about 16 months). He sleeps in the laundry, and still chews a bit. He took a small chunk out of the rubber gasket that seals the glass door on our front loading washing machine. Just enough so that it now leaks a little.
I researched online, found a video on how to replace it. Found the part and ordered it online earlier in the week (that included researching if the company was competent in what they do). The package arrived yesterday, and it was the wrong part. Rang the shop, their system indicated they had the right one in stock. Drove to the shop during Fri pm peak hour traffic (18km in about 1 hour). They couldn’t find the part in the warehouse. Warehouse manager not back til Monday. Wasted 2 hours in a slow moving car park to come back to waiting on a call for the part.

Still mid Reno after two years. Started with the notion that every project product and service should be able to last 30 years. I’m 57, so that will see me out of this lifetime.

So we end up buying the simplest model of the best quality item. Elegant and durable and only as expensive as necessary.

Having lived in a rental that was renovated like yours. It looked great. But stuff was just routinely failing. Stuff that should have just been designed for long life… but wasn’t. Nor was it repairable.

Stuff breaks. Anticipating "breaks" and performing preventive maintenance/replacement is one way to make life a little (or in the case of a furnace or water heater a lot) easier.

The airline industry fixes/replaces parts and systems before they fail for all the obvious reasons. Folks like us need to decide what it is worth to buy and install a new furnace early instead of spending a few days and nights in a cold house.

We just replaced an apparently good sump pump because it had quite a few years on it and they only fail while three days of heavy rain are leaving inches or feet of water in a basement full of tools and furniture. And the new one has a battery backup. Insurance!

You know, you likely put the mojo on your faucet by bringing up Vegar Moen in yesterday's blog. Just sayin'.

I have a Mac Studio. I yearn for the days of the 27" iMac, which, rumor has it, may be coming back. I further yearn for the earlier versions of the iMac, which had an internal CD player, which I liked a lot. They got rid of it, I suppose, because they wanted to make the computer thinner. (You can never be too rich or too thin, a semi-royal once said.) I personally don't think the studio is well-designed. If you get one, you'll see.

A friend of mine has a brother who is a 'trolley dolly' for British Airways, and in 2013, he purchased on my behalf a Mac 'Trashcan' from the USA. It worked out at £1800 including £200 for his effort. The retail price in Blighty was £2500, so I made a good saving.

I have had to pull it apart and remove a layer of grime (a fine blend of cigarette smoke and cosmic dust) from the vents on the bottom once, which took a few hours careful disassembly/reassembly.

The onboard storage which I only used for the OS... A copy of the disk, plus the actual working OSX in two partitions, originally 64mb packed up, and I replaced it with a 256mb unit, which was in 2019 the smallest available, has been the only replaced part.

Overall, not only the best Mac I have owned, it is the best personal computer I have owned, it just sits on the back corner of my desk, and without more than a murmur, delivers whatever I ask of it. It sends its output to a wonderful NEC PA272 display and I have no plans to replace either.

This Mac was widely panned by the cognoscenti when it was originally marketed, but so far it seems to have defied their well published expectations. It is still fast, and still does everything that I ask of it.

Not wishing to invite trouble, but I seem to have beaten the folk who set out to wreck my day with their planned obsolescence, and long may it continue.

In that time, I have bought and wrecked a MacBook Pro and one MacBook Air, I have bought a replacement Air, which I use for travel and have every expectation that it will implode before my trashcan, under your rules of 'planned obsolescence'... So it is not all rosy in the Jenner household, but it is 'good enough'.

Mike, that's just ridiculous.
There cannot be eleven ways to use eggplant.

It's just you and your dog. Do you really need a dishwasher and an air conditioner?

My father would call this the "joys of home ownership."

I feel the same pain. Just this week a ceiling fan, a pedestal fan, two aircons, three water pumps, a side light on the car, and the microwave oven all quit. The repairs have all been straightforward apart from the car (seems I have to remove the engine to get to the sidelight), but it has taken over my whole life this week and that is the part I hate the most.

Designers and engineers now work to make things more cheaply, not better. We had a highly-regarded dishwasher that we liked a lot. When it finally reached the point of not being worth repairing whatever broke (drain pump twice in 12 years, I forget what else) we bought a similar model. In looking at the parts inside before installing, it was clear that the design had not changed, but the plastic parts were less robust (thinner plastic) and the hose connections were much flimsier.

Heck, you're pretty darn lucky if you're "back to baseline" after all the expense...

I grew up in Victor, and watched Eastview grow from a rural, tacky 1970's mall (complete with pea green carpet and colored fountains) to a destination location by the late 80's and early 90's.

During the pandemic, my coworkers and I wondered what would happen to places like malls and movie theaters. My opinion was that places that were already on the decline would see that decline accelerate, as the pandemic gave one more reason not to go to those places. It's funny that, growing up, I continually read in news, fiction, and elsewhere, that malls were the bane of modern existence, destroying small businesses and crushing the soul of suburbia. The diatribes against the evil of the shopping mall were ubiquitous.

Who would have thought that we might someday wax nostalgic for mall culture? (In other news, Barnes and Noble, once the nemesis of brick-and-mortar bookstores, appears to now be the last, best hope for brick-and-mortar bookstores.)

I feel your pain. I had to replace both my kitchen and bathroom taps (as we Brits call them). But my house is not the real problem. It's my daughters house, in which everything breaks and I am expected to fix. When she calls I automatically reply "what is it this time?" Oh well, it's nice to be wanted.

Re the browser tabs, there's a handy Chrome extension called tab wrangler which auto-closes dormant tabs after a predetermined amount of time.

You can pause it and set rules for exceptions, but I find it a very useful little tool to keep my tab breeding habits in check.

(I don't know if an equivalent exists for other browsers, but I'm guessing it does...)

Regarding water heaters and the periodic need to replace them, the best thing you can do to make them last longer is to replace the anode rod every few years. This is something plumbers may not mention. Why would they when they can sell you a new $800 heater every decade? A new anode rod is about $15. My standard issue (i.e., 9-year warranty) water heater is now 25 years old. I've replaced the sacrificial anode rod several times. It is not an arduous task. Maybe 20 minutes tops and a socket wrench. I'm sure a friendly, plumbing savvy neighbor can show you how. There's also YouTube.

The repair of almost everything that goes wrong in a house is decsribed in detail on You Tube. Parts, if absolutely needed, you can get on Amazon. Learn this stuff and you will save a fortune. Anyone can do it. (It's usually the capacitor...)

Mike, are you losing or behind on comments again? I commented here the same day as your post.

Sometimes we make our own failures. A plumber told me to replace the gasket in a toilet tank. A simple $2.73 fix. Well, in order to get to the gasket I had to remove the handle (and yes, I know they are threaded 'backwards'). Well, get a little too aggressive and I learned how fragile toilet tanks are! Cheap fix now costs $279.

A friend who once worked in a Sylvania fluorescent light factory told me the engineers worked out how to make bulbs that last 'forever.' Management said no thanks.

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