Apple and Being Freakin’ Poor

I fix things, it’s what I do to relax (and sometimes practice my swearing). I fix old guitars, repair books, do the building and maintenance around the house. If it breaks, I figure out what’s wrong, and if I can fix it. You might think I do this because I’m cheap. Nope, just poor.

Like this computer I’m typing this on now.

I started taking apart my Macs back in the late 90s, I think. I bought an old Lombard powerbook and took it apart, increasing the processor speed and wifi capabilities. When that laptop was really no longer viable, I started in on the G4 power books. I then got a few broken Titanium Macs, took them apart, combined them, and built ones I could use. This is why I learned to repair things in the first place, couldn’t afford anything new. I got the Macbooks (Intel chip) and started figuring those out. If something died beyond my capabilities, I went to eBay or to Craigslist and looked for another either broken one I could fix or a working laptop a few years out of date, but still supported and up-datable. Now, don’t think I’m some kind of computer genius. Like most things, I have no idea what I am actually doing. I just kinda, you know, figure it out, making ruinous mistakes along the way.

I was always 2–3 years, or more, usually more, behind the current laptops because of the poors. I have actually never owed a new computer (of any kind) or any Apple product. I would if I could, but that shit costs money that I, as an actor and writer just ain’t got. So, I get broken things and learn to give them life again. I add new hard drives, more ram, replace displays and logic boards, and swear when my fumbling and sweat leads to black screens and odd beeps.

I do find the beeps interesting though, if heart-attack inducing…

After my 2008 17" MacBook pro died (I later fixed it for my niece) I got a MacBook Pro from 2011 that I bought for a partial trade/cash deal back in 2013. I used it until 2019, when I got a refurbished 2017 MacBook Pro as a gift (the old one I couldn’t update to the latest operating system, and it was acting up. After I got the new one, I figured out how to fix the old one). So, I’m now, today, July 2020, I am typing on the infamous butterfly keyboard (evil, and super clickly loud), but I still have the old one to use with all my old iPods (another long story, I love old iPods and have a dozen to upgrade and fix) and this lovely, Space Grey MacBook… that if it breaks, I probably cannot fix it.

Yep.

The thing about the Apple ecosystem… It’s like hiring Frank Lloyd Wright to design your house. Wright will go in, design you a beautiful, innovative house, really a showplace of genius. But…

Ah, that but…

But, you will have to live in the house the way Frank Lloyd wants you to live in it. He will design the furniture, the living spaces and their function. To live there, you have to follow the dictates of Wright; sit how and where he wants you to sit, (he designs chairs too) and use the rooms how he wants you to use them. You will love it, or you will hate it, but you will never be ‘meh’ about it. This is Apple. You have to use an Apple product the way they want you to use it.

With each generation, they make it harder and harder to not only repair their products yourself, but to simply upgrade them. Ram is now soldered in, as is the hard drive. Used to be you could add more ram, fix things when broken without lugging it to the Genius Bar. No more. Even under Steve Jobs’ Apple they didn’t like you messing with things. No adding cards, no cracking the case or you lose ‘Applecare’ and don’t get me started on the iPhone…

So, I now have a MacBook I probably can’t fix. The storage is too small really (Apple wants you to use their ‘cloud’, instead of being able to upgrade the HD on your own ’cause it’s soldered in, and to pay for it), and I can’t upgrade the ram unless I pay for the next MacBook Pro up (again, soldered in). Of course, I’m now teaching myself how to solder.

Okay, why do I bother? Why don’t I get myself a ‘real’ computer?

For all the pains in my tiny butt, I like Apple (please, how many times have you swore at Microsoft? Okay then…), I find it easy to use, navigate and learn. Until now, I liked taking them apart and figuring them out. Now though, Apple has decided my input is no longer needed. If I want to upgrade, I should just spend a thousand or more instead of taking an aftermarket Mac and doing non-Genius Bar work on it. Really, half the time, I fix things they don’t want to bother with.

So, do I take this lying down?

Of course not. I figure out a backdoor, and shortcut, and way around.

Because I’m freakin’ poor and that is what I do.

Originally published at http://www.tompstewart.com on August 14, 2020.

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Actor, writer, artist living in Seattle WA. I write plays, articles on comic book history or any other odd thing that crosses my mind. More to come!

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Tom Stewart

Actor, writer, artist living in Seattle WA. I write plays, articles on comic book history or any other odd thing that crosses my mind. More to come!