by Doctor Science
-- is that they're a necessity (like a car), but the people selling them think they're a disposable, fungible luxury (like a TV).
What brings this on is Sprog the Younger's current laptop, a Samsung NP365. It's over-heating and occasionally making funny noises. Of course it's no longer under warranty. I said I'd open it up, look at the fan and see if I could fix it -- we've done similar things with laptops in the past, after all.
I found a YouTube video of someone dis-assembling the related NP355, and followed along (deeply amused by the guy's Scots accent, so I could imagine Fitz was talking me through it). It was only toward the end that I realized I'd have to go all the way down to the friggin' motherboard to get at the power supply, and I decided this was all too fraught and put it back together. Eventually. After some aggravation and hilarity -- and the leftover screws are totally my husband's fault (this time).
We'll struggle along with this computer until the AP exams are over, but then we have to start thinking about a new laptop for Younger, to take with her to Boston-Area Liberal Arts College (BALAC) in the fall. I started googling for info on "laptops that are easy to repair", and found Jason Perlow at ZDNet talking about The repairable PC is dead:
This trend in the PC industry towards more appliance-like, non user-serviceable devices and systems and away from those that are friendly to the home brewer/PC is analogous to how the automobile industry has also evolved, where component integration has driven down manufacturing costs.Perlow is writing this about Adrian Kingsley-Hughes' traumatic breakup with Windows PCs, and his switch to Macs. Despite what many Apple-fanboys have long appeared to believe, the attraction of PCs over Macs has *always* been centered on the fact that PCs are modular, both for hardware and for software. You have more options for which monitor or hard drive or spreadsheet program you use, you can customize. And this is why Window PCs continues to rule supreme for most businesses and government: multiple vendors means you can get competing bids, which means prices are *much* lower.
This has come at the expense of being able to self-service vehicles as well as no longer being able to repair or recondition many parts, and an increased dependency on dealership and authorized service center expertise. The car has become, in effect, an appliance as well.
Perlow feels that we all, even us tinkerers, recognize that
Where the endpoint devices are concerned, whether we use Windows or Mac or something else entirely, such as a mobile OS like iOS or Android, we are simply end-users.What Perlow and his friends in the tech industry don't seem to recognize is that this Cloud-based computing absolutely depends on constant, reliable access to a) broadband Internet, and b) money.
It's all about the Apps, stupid. And the delivery mechanism for those apps and the data services they need resides in the Cloud.
No more trying to make hand-picked white boxed or retail components work with each other and spending hours prepping systems. You buy a PC, it comes with an OS, and it just plain works. And your applications are subscriber-based, so you're always up to date.
In the US, in particular, broadband access is uneven. One of my friends was just talking about how his parents only have access to *dialup*, and they live in a part of the Appalachians where cell-phone reception is also impossible. My husband and I are looking for a new house, and even in central NJ we have to strike many areas off our list because we both do computer work at home, only FIOS gives us acceptable upload speeds, and there are many towns where FIOS is unavailable.
And then there's the idea that your stuff will be safe in the Cloud ... as long as you keep paying your subscriptions, of course. But if your income isn't steady and your subscriptions lapse, well ... the net effect is to just deepen the "Digital Divide" between the financially secure and the people in the second half of the country.
But if you don't use the Cloud, then when your laptop -- which you depend on -- breaks, you might have to wait a week or two or even three to get it fixed, if you're still under warranty, as it gets shipped off to whereverland and back. And the thing about laptops is that they're inherently breakable, they're one big moving part. I think every laptop the kids have had, has had problems with the keyboard, the screen, and/or the power supply, at one point or another. So I want laptops where those things are easy to fix -- and also where it's easy to get the battery and the hard drive out. IS THIS TOO MUCH TO ASK?!?
Any recommendations for Dell or Apple laptops that meet these criteria gratefully accepted -- they're the brands BALAC has educational discounts with, and that the IT department supports.
 One of the huge ironies about Apple is that its iconic 1984 ad presents Apple as the iconoclast, fighting the conformity of the Big Brother PC -- even though it's Apple computers that have always been uniform, un-customizable, un-individual. You can be a free spirit with Apple -- as long as you're exactly like all the other free spirits.