Mein Fuhrer! I Can Walk!

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Yes, it felt good. Not walking – I can do that well enough. It’s fixing the laptop that sizzled my bacon.

“Fixing” might actually be a stretch.

All I did – an act of desperation – was open the back of my Macbook Air and, with some hot water and Q tips, cleaned up the tsunami of spilled coffee that I thought had killed it. Then I hosed it down with contact cleaner and left the thing to dry overnight.

This is not what the computer store advised. They – the experts – advised me to throw it away. They advised me that it would need – at the very least –  a new motherboard and temperature sensor. Which, so they advised me, would cost at least $500 in parts and labor and might not cure the machine’s ills.

Hence, throw it away and  – here it comes! – buy a new one.

Because the Motor Gods are with me, I did not do so. I left the store, went home – with the idea in my head that I’d surf around on Amazon for a used Mac; see what was available. On the way home – because what the hell – I bought the $4 can of contact cleaner. What did I have to lose? If the computer store was right and the Mac was croaked beyond economic redemption, then it would not be hurting anything to hose it down. It was already beyond redemption, croaked and kaput.



The “croaked” and “not worth fixing” Macbook is fixed. It works as good as new, or at least as good as it did before I gave it a coffee enema. The fan no longer runs constantly and the motherboard must be working since I am typing this report using it right this very second.

And it didn’t cost me $500, either.

But it did teach me something. Something I already knew, actually – but which I hadn’t thought to apply to computers. Something I preach, often – when it comes to cars. It is that – most of the time – you can probably fix whatever’s wrong yourself even if you don’t really know what’s the matter. Provided you are audacious enough to just trust yourself and try.

Cars, computers – they are different animals but the principle is the same. If someone tells you it Can’t be Fixed (or it’s going to cost you a fortune to have it fixed)  it may not be so. Don’t give up! Don’t accept your fate.

Pop the hood – or take off the back cover. See what’s in there. Try to figure it out . . . for yourself. Read up. Ask around. Tinker with it.

Because what have you got to lose?

I’ll tell you what you’ve got to lose. The feeling of helplessness – of being at the mercy of things you do not grok. Of having to slump your shoulders in defeat and go shuffling in supplication to The Man – whether he is a mechanic or a computer guy.

They may be good guys.

But there is almost nothing in this world that’s better than taking care of some problem yourself. The saving money part is great. It is, however, incidental to the real reward.

And I think that’s what we have lost with regard to cars. They are “connected” – Internet enabled and concierge service equipped – but we have lost our connection to them. Which comes from grokking how they work – and figuring out how they work. Which imparts a sense of independence and control as opposed to being controlled by things and forces beyond our control.

The system wants to turn us into Elio – soft and helpless beings. Food for the Morlocks. Perhaps not in a literal sense, but it works out to be the same thing. This however requires our accepting of being helpless – and so, at their mercy  – for it to congeal.

We don’t have to let it.

Whether it’s under the hood – or under our keyboard.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Just think, Eric, if you were a woman, you could say that the shop was trying to rip you off because you’re a woman who doesn’t know anything about computers!

    If you were black, you could say they were trying to rip you off because they are racists…

    If you were Chinese…errr…scratch that…they woulda just built a new computer… 😉

    But since you’re just a normal straight white male….you’re fair game! (If you were a Christian, the geek could have legally killed you!)

    Good for you, Eric!
    I’ve “fixed” SO many things with electric contact cleaner, it’s ridiculous!
    Rotary volume knob making static when you turn it? Give ‘er a spray!
    A/C-off-Heat selector on your furnace not working in one position? Give ‘er a spray!
    Car throwing a code for a bad sensor? Don’t be too fast to replace the sensor…give the connector a spray!

    And just having the gumption to TRY!
    My sister brings over an old CD player that had sentimental value to her, that had stopped working, and asks if I can try and fix it. I tell her that I know nothing about electronics. She says “Just try”- so I open it up, and pretty much, unless there’s a big “On-Off” switch inside, in the off position, I don’t think there’ll be much I can do- But what do I see? The laser thingy was cocked in it’s mount. So I reseat it so that it sits level. Give her the CD player back…and VOILA! It worked!

    I’ve done countless repairs like that….but now with Youtube around and all, I’ve learned just enough to be dangerous!

    Even when ya have to do something that you know requires special tools….Google it/youtube it…’ll often find a way to improvise or otherwise get around it!

    I can’t remember the last time I paid anyone to fix something, except if it’s a job I don’t WANT to do- like the exhaust manifold on my V-10 Excursion. What a nightmare THAT would have been! (I love having a V-10. It’s the antithesis of an EV or Prius….the ultimate snowflake-libtard repellent!)

    • Youtube teardowns are great. The biggest issue with fixing many things is damaging something while taking it apart because you went in blind. Now we can see what’s hidden and go in with knowledge.

      • Exactly, Brent!

        I like the specific vidoes- like the one that showed how to replace the motor coupler in my mother’s wurshing machine. Sure…I mprobably would have figured it out on my own….but likely after a day of wasted labor, tearing everything apart. Seeing the vid….it was a 20 minute job once the $6 part arrived.

        Speaking of teardowns and such, do you watch that AvE guy?

        • I don’t watch anyone in particular. I simply search for what I’ll be digging into and see if someone has done it and put it on video or a series of still photographs. Just makes the whole thing faster. I can also improve from their starting point instead of starting from nothing. It’s just faster.

          I needed to do a smoke test to find an intake leak but I wasn’t going to buy a $700 smoke tester. So I searched and found someone who did video instructions on a home made one. I then improved the design and made one in a small fraction of the time he did.

          • Ditto, Brent.

            Sometimes in the process of looking for what ya need though, ya come across someone whose videos are both entertaining and so edumacational, that they’re worth watching just for enjoyment and general education.

            I came across that “AvE” canook while looking for some cordless tool reviews. He has an ongoing series he calls BOLTR (Bored Of Lame Tool Reviews) in which he buys and completely disassembles tools…

            Here’s one that’s very entertaining:

  2. Eric, et al,
    In the past Macs were made so that people with more intellectual and manual skills could repair and/or upgrade them. I managed to repair and upgrade all of my Mac systems but the new ones are designed such that the intention is to replace rather than repair. Frankly, I think this will destroy Apple in the computer market, but in Tim Cook’s opinion, that does not matter. He seems most interested in coasting on the reputation of Steve Jobs and selling crappy, overpriced iPhones. This is what happens to great companies when uninspired SJWs take over.

    • Macs have been going the wrong way since they went to standard PC hardware. They charge a premium for stuff you can buy just as good or better elsewhere for less. They say it is for their operating system which of course is simply made difficult to get working on other machines to get people to buy their hardware at a premium*. Before that Macs actually did have premium stuff inside of them. They were closer to unix workstations than PCs. The cases were designed so that things came in and out easy.

      *It will run on regular PCs with some effort. However its predecessor, NeXTSTEP ran on a variety of platforms without much issue because there was not attempt to lock it. At one time I had NeXTSTEP on a PC, Motorola Black NeXT machines, and an HP unix workstation.

  3. Okay, just so you don’t freak out again. I was going to offer subsidizing a replacement. However, you never called so I could make this happen. Shrug. you have friends out in the vapornet. Why not take up the offer when it is made? Never put all your eggs in one basket.

  4. koolio, glad the temp sensors were merely gunked up instead of dead. There are so many things that are fixed by disassembly and reassembly with perhaps a good cleaning in between.

    Also, just like a car there is what you can do yourself, what an independent place can do, and what an authorized service place can. At the last step it’s about replacing with factory new. I’ve had so many instances where a simple fix would work and I’ve had to make a whole kit of it because we can’t trust the guy at the end to do the simple fix correctly.

    I tried to resurrect an iPhone (not mine) that was progressively getting worse and was already replaced after previous repair attempts only made it worse. Now it shows no sign of powering up at all and nothing I do creates any sign of life. Youtube tells me that the likely problem was a chip becoming unsoldered until the phone dies completely.

  5. Eric,
    Welcome to the club, lol! You wanted to know how I fixed your stairwell light switch, and found which phone lines were bad in your spare room upstairs? Brother, this is what I have been doing all my life, teaching myself how to fix what no one else wants to fix, knows how to fix, or gives a crap to even bother trying to fix. I’ll have to come over and break some more of your stuff so you can get more practice! Why do you think I sold you the S-1 so cheap? I did know it’s value, but you needed a 2-stroke Kawasaki to go with your others, and you needed a basket-case to cut your teeth on, so to speak. I’ve never doubted your abilities or you intellect for one second! These are the kinds of experiences that set us apart from the M.A.’s of society. This is the raw talent that built this nation over a century ago!


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