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The Good and Bad of Apple.

This article is my roster of good and bad product moves by Apple.  I only mention things that I think are important. Feel free to let me know your opinion and I will consider it.
2018[Bad]Apple has dropped its excellent "Airport" WiFi router line, and tells customers to buy other vendors' junk. Apple promotes the WiFi marketing gimmick called "mesh". The pundits that promote mesh are either profiteering, or idiots. [Bad] Apple completely fails to make headway making the Apple TV an awesome, must-have device.  It is shackled by how Apple lets developers use the OS.  Instead it is sold as a glorified Homekit hub integrated with a $30 Roku.  Why the fuck doesn't Apple get the excellent Apple TV hardware to play an important role in home WiFi?  Idiocy.[Good] Apple updates the "entry level" iPad without increasing its price.  The new iPad even retains the useful "legacy" headphone port, which has really only evaporated from the iPhone line. 2…

How I Upgraded the 'hard drive' storage of a MacBook Air

My friend was low on space on his MacBook Air, and he was always complaining about it.

This is how I upgraded his MacBook Air from 128 GB of internal storage to 500 GB.


The MacBook in question is a 2012 MacBook Air, the small 11 inch model.  It is a great laptop, and at the time of purchase he thought he'd only need 128 GB of storage.  Then he had a baby, and the number of baby pictures grew and grew.  Soon he was out of space.

Apple normally wants you to buy a new laptop in this situation, or sign up to a special iCloud subscription.  But there is a solution!
Stuff needed for the upgrade: There are some basic items I needed to upgrade this MacBook Air.  Fortunately these items are inexpensive!  A tech-oriented person might even have a few in their cabinet already, but if not, then no big deal.

M.2 SATA style SSD.
The heart of this upgrade is a new SSD.  But only a few SSDs will fit in a 2012 MacBook Air.

For this project, I ended up buying this Western Digital 500 GB M.2 drive fo…

Sodastream Carbonator Leakage

I went to buy a SodaStream "Carbonator" CO2 cylinder from my local hardware store.  The dealer pulled a new Carbonator out of the box and noticed it was lighter than usual.  So he put the new Carbonator in the "empty" pile and sold me a different one.

The dealer told me that sometimes the carbonators leak after they leave the SodaStream filling facility.  That means there could be an opportunity for c,ustomers like me to get ripped off!

The SodaStream cylinders I buy claim to have a net product weight of 410 grams - and that means that a full Soda Stream Carbonator should weigh at least 410 grams more than an empty Carbonator.

Here are the typical gross and empty weights of SodaStream Carbonators I've found:

"410g Net" SodaStream Carbonator Weight Full: 1114 grams Empty: 689 grams
Here are my actual measurements of the Carbonators I've purchased, measured using my handy postage scale.
Carbonator1, empty: 688 gramsCarbonator2, empty: 690 gramsCarbonator…

LanceJ's A1342 MacBook Advisor

I repair A1342 MacBooks, and so I know them quite well.  They can be wonderful machines, even in 2018.  Here is my advice for the diagnosis and repair of the A1342 series of machines.


Brief Overview The A1342 is the only polycarbonate Unibody MacBook.  There are two revisions: late 2009, and mid-2010.  These revisions have interchangeable parts.   The only significant difference is the CPU clock speed.  The machine's general design (and performance) is very similar to the 2010 MacBook Pro. A1342 manufacturing was discontinued in early 2012.
No-Start / Totally Dead Machine This is almost always due to liquid ingress through the keyboard.  Often times water will kill the keyboard, but everything else will be just fine.  The best way to check it out is to remove the back cover and try to start the machine by briefly shorting the jumper pads with a pair of steel tweezers.  When shorted for about 1 second, the fan should spin up and the machine should boot as normal.

The startup jumper…

Dustbuster Switch Repair

My Dustbuster vacuum - a CHV-1410, gets a lot of use.  We use it several times per day, every day.  It is a workhorse.

Sadly, it was becoming unreliable.  It would be fully charged, and I'd hit the switch and maybe it would begin to start and then stop, or it would lurch and stop - or maybe it would do nothing.
At first I thought it was the battery, but then I found that by carefully wiggling the switch I was sometimes able to get the vacuum to work.  All that on-off action over the months made the switch unreliable.

Instead of throwing away the otherwise perfectly good vacuum, I decided to replace the worn switch.

The one part needed: A $5 Switch I am happy to report that the specific switches used in the Dustbuster are commodity items that are manufactured by many firms and can be purchased on-line for under $5.


There seems to be two types of switches used, based on the charging mechanism:
For the Lithium models (CHV-1410L), I notice that there are only two conductors are attach…

Repairing an HP Pavillion DV6 Motherboard

Here's my procedure on how to remove and replace the logic board of an HP Pavilion DV6.

My model is a DV6-3122US, and many DV6s of the 3000 series are similar.

These machines often fail to start due to a motherboard failure.  With a motherboard failure, upon pressing power the fan will first spin and the power light comes on.  The capslock key will flash white once every 4 seconds, and the f12 key will stay a solid orange, and the screen - although powered up - displays black only.

Although the caps lock "single blink" indicator at boot implies a CPU failure, in my experience it is not due to the CPU itself but the supporting components on the motherboard. The only solid solution is to repair or replace the motherboard.  Replacement boards are readily available.  I bought one and replaced it myself.
Disassembly Procedure NOTE: The screws are different sizes, and its important to reinstall them correctly.  I color-coded the different screws in the photos below and refer t…

Nest Smart Thermostat Stupidity

Smart Thermostats are stupid.  $250 for what amounts to a $30 thermostat with $10 of extra smarts and a $180 display is simply insane.  Then you add the installation costs and security risks and the risk that it will become useless within 15 years and it becomes clear that Smart Thermostats are a very very stupid investment.

I have new approach.  I call it the Better Smart thermostat.  It costs the same as today's inexpensive "dumb" Programmable thermostats, but has 100% of the capabilities of the Nest.

Take today's $30 thermostat and keep it as a regular, simply-programmable thermostat.  It has a temperature sensor, a display, and some relays for turning the systems on and off.  Then add BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to give it the ability to get hints from an external device.

That's it.  No fancy display.  No special wiring.  No 802.11n.  It uses BLE, so it can use regular AA batteries.

But with BLE on-board, some significant opportunities emerge.  Now the thermo…