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Surfin': You Get What Your Pay For -- Learning the Hard Way

09/24/2010

A freak accident --- that is the only way to explain it!

I often bring my laptop (a 17-inch MacBook Pro down to the family room to keyboard in front of the television. Before I begin keyboarding, I always set the computer down on the wet bar and go fetch dog treats for Pumpkin Pie and Q.T. Pie, also known as “the Pies.”

Friday of Labor Day weekend, I put the computer down on that same spot and as I turn to go fetch the dog treats, the computer falls to the floor with a crash. I pick up the computer and it is lifeless. The screen is black. No matter how hard I press the power button, nothing happens.

I carry the Mac back to the shack, connect it its AC power adapter, press the power button, and it comes back to life. All is well except for two things: there is a dent in the southwest corner of the keyboard half of the clamshell and I cannot run the computer off its internal battery even though the battery's charge is at 100%.

My guess is that the battery is bad, the connection between the battery and computer is damaged, or worse. I fear “worse” and make an appointment to visit the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store for their diagnosis.

Lunchtime Thursday after Labor Day, I arrive for our appointment. In less than five minutes, the Genius Bar technician determines that the battery is bad. To confirm his diagnosis, he pops a new battery in my Mac and it runs off the battery no problem.

Next, he removes the new battery from my Mac and hands it to me. Then he hands me my old broken battery. With a battery in each hand, the comparison was shocking.

The new battery was much heavier than the old battery, so I assume its contents were more substantial than my old battery. Its exterior was certainly more substantial than the old battery which was flimsy in comparison.

I don't have to tell you that the new battery was an Apple factory replacement, but I do have to tell you that the old battery was not. The original battery in my Mac expired last winter and I bought a replacement from a battery dealer on eBay that claimed to be a direct replacement for the original battery, but at about half the price.

I should have recognized the error of my ways early on when the eBay battery began aging badly very quickly. Less than six months old and it lost its charge in 90 minutes more or less, which did not compare favorably with my original factory battery when it was six months old.

I learned a lesson: you get what you pay for; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Computer batteries, radio batteries, whatever replacement equipment batteries I need in the future, I will be much more careful when I go battery shopping.

·The Rest of the Story

A friend of mine wanted to replace her 10-year-old iMac with a MacBook Pro. When she learned that I was going to the local Apple Store, she asked me to check out the specs and prices of the MacBook Pros.

I did not have to drive 20 miles to get the specs and prices when the online Apple Store had all that information. So I went online and gave my friend a summary of what I found. She liked the specs, but not the prices.

I wanted my friend to upgrade her Mac because I am her personal computer tech support and an upgrade would benefit both of us. So I made her an offer that she could not refuse: my MacBook Pro for some cash that was about $900 less than what a new MacBook Pro would cost her. She agreed to my proposal based on the assumption that my busted Mac was not too busted.

As I already mentioned, a new battery fixed my old MacBook Pro, which sealed the deal. I ordered a new 17-inch MacBook Pro for myself and it arrived here last week.  

·New HPSDR Mac Utility

While on the subject of Macs, I want to mention that Jeremy McDermond, NH6Z, just announced the availability of a new cool Mac ham radio application that he developed. Called Waverider, it is a sine wave generator for the OpenHPSDR (Open Source High Performance Software Defined Radio) hardware that will generate a sine wave consistent with the capabilities of the Penelope HPSDR exciter board.

Jeremy measured a maximum output at around 17.5 dBm (1.6V) on the service monitor and you should be able to go to the 65-MHz capability of Penelope. However, there are a few limitations. Waverider is “not calibrated in any way, shape, or form,” and it only supports sine waves right now.

Waverider is available from NH6Z's Web site.  

Until next time, keep on surfin

 

 
Editor note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, lives and dies by his Macs. To contact Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog.



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