Hardware isn’t as hard as it used to be…

by debianjoe


This is a short rant, but it’s one of those things fresh on my mind.  Today, a good friend of mine that I’ll call “openSUSE guy” had some issues with his laptop.  He has been using an Asus laptop with a core i7, 16GB RAM, and ATI video.  It probably goes without saying, he sometimes pokes fun at my choice of hardware, as I often have HDDs with similar specs to his RAM.

Anyhow, this morning openSUSE-guy’s computer wouldn’t boot as in “won’t post, fan spins up and stops, and no flashes on monitor” wouldn’t boot.  I asked if he’d given it a cup of coffee, because I dumped a whole cup on the last laptop I had to replace, and they don’t like coffee as much as you might hope they would.  No such fatal mistake, as it had shut-down properly yesterday, and today…nothing.

While hardware failures do occur, and there’s really nothing that can be done in some cases, this isn’t about the massive failure.  openSUSE-guy took the keyboard off to check some voltages across the motherboard, and when he did…the keyboard started flopping around like one of those ribbons that the little Romanian gymnasts use in an Olympic sport that I don’t understand.  It was extremely flexible, and had a molded plastic overlay to separate the Chiclet-keys from each other.

I couldn’t help myself.  “That’s what’s wrong with it.  It’s made to be thrown away.”  I went to a filing cabinet and pulled out an old t43 keyboard (which is where everyone keeps spare laptop parts…right?) and tapped it against one of my coworker’s desk.  “Back in the IBM days, laptop keyboards had a solid metal backing which is way more masculine than that neon-backlit piece of junk.”

Really, the new laptops aren’t made to be worked on.  You’re supposed to use them up and then throw them away, and this just feels wrong to me.  I had much rather buy a few pieces to replace defective parts for about ten bucks on my older laptops than to drop $1000+ USD on a new laptop.  I’m cheap like that.  Once upon a time, things were intended to be used and reused, and I have noticed that it seems that products are being made at lower quality than their predecessors.  This goes for laptops, cell phones, and even vehicles.  Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m getting old, but I keep thinking “In my day, things were made better.”

After this rant, though, another guy I work with pulled an old Thinkpad 755CD out of hiding…and I realized THAT is a real laptop.  You could beat someone to death with those things, and they’d probably still boot up.