2033: "Repair or Replace"

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airdrik
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2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby airdrik » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:11 pm UTC

Image
Title text: Just make sure all your friends and family are out of the car, or that you've made backup friends and family at home.

The economics might make sense for the producer, but I'd like to see some math on how it makes sense for the consumer. I could see it if I regularly had to fix/repair something on my phone every 6 months or so such that the total cost over (the next) 2 years is similar to just buying a new one, but the only cost on my current LG G4 since I bought it 2 years ago (already obsolete except the fact that it cost nearly half as much as the latest-and-greatest) has been one repair about a year ago and the original purchase (plus a few charging cables here and there).

Of course an old car is another story as we periodically sink a few hundred $ into ours every 6 months to a year to fix issues (i.e. more than the present value of the car), plus gas. At some point we should probably go ahead and get a newer car - especially one that gets better MPG and shouldn't need more than basic maintenance for the next N years (all-electric would be nice). But then again this is a 20+ year old car with >200K miles on it. It still runs pretty well, so my plan is to keep using it for another several years at least.

Additionally, we still have an analogue TV with a digital-analog converter box and we finally replaced our 11 year-old computer last year because it actually had fallen sufficiently behind that it was having troubles doing much at all (granted I know of a few linux distros that could be used to resurrect that old thing, but I haven't bothered).

Perhaps I'm just artificially limiting myself by being too frugal in my use. On the other hand when what I have already works the way I need it to, what am I really missing out on?


I think it's expected to freak out at the replace-when-old culture that we've cultivated in the last 10 years. It used to be that things were built to last and that you should take care of them so that you wouldn't need to replace them unless they were broken beyond repair.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby DanD » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:27 pm UTC

I don't think he's talking about retail usage. In large scale data centers, it's very rare that anyone would repair a computer. The standard approach is to simply pop in a new one and reload from backup/RAID.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:49 pm UTC

The backups of (the analogue to) personal data in the titletext makes me think it's more to do with smartphones.

(My smartphones are several years old. But the fuss to transfer old stuff to new devices makes me put up with their little foibles and their creeping absolesences, after having used them for significant time. And the new devices would have completely new 'unfixable' problems that I'd have to get used to, even if they stopped the old stuff from happening in the newer iterations.)

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Heimhenge
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Heimhenge » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:53 pm UTC

Yeah, it's tech that he's talking about and the car is just a good metaphor. I can identify with that ... been skipping every other Windows OS since Workgroups 3.11. As long as they work for my apps I feel no need to upgrade. But eventually the apps get so much outa sync with the OS that I am forced to upgrade, and it's usually cheaper to upgrade the OS than all my apps. Usually. I still have some old Adobe animation apps running on a Windows 2000 virtual machine. Saved me big bucks compared to Adobe Cloud.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby golden.number » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:38 pm UTC

It's not just tech things. I took an old drill into a repair shop and rather than fix it they just gave me a brand new one.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby hetas » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:48 pm UTC

Computers and cars and drills are built by robots but need to fixed by people.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby marsilies » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:41 pm UTC

To be fair, in terms of repair/replace a defective electronic item still under warranty, when the manufacturer gives you a replacement, they're typically taking your defective unit and refurbishing it to become someone else's replacement, or to sell off at a discount. They're not typically just tossing them into a hole.

A big factor is going to be how extensive the repair is and how long it's going to take. An iPhone, they can replace the screen at an Apple Store in a few hours. If it's something else more extensive, they'd rather give you a replacement then and there instead of having you wait for a 2-3 week turnaround as they send it out for repair. The repair is still happening, it's just not visibly impacting you.

A car manufacturer might do this, if they didn't have to worry about individual mileage, tune ups, any before and after-market customizations, etc. If a car dealer had just 5-10 types of car (including configurations of all options) and mileage wasn't a concern, sure, give the person bringing in a broken car another used one of the exact type off the lot to drive off in, and they'd fix the broken one up and put it back on the lot.
Last edited by marsilies on Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby sotanaht » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:43 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:Yeah, it's tech that he's talking about and the car is just a good metaphor. I can identify with that ... been skipping every other Windows OS since Workgroups 3.11. As long as they work for my apps I feel no need to upgrade. But eventually the apps get so much outa sync with the OS that I am forced to upgrade, and it's usually cheaper to upgrade the OS than all my apps. Usually. I still have some old Adobe animation apps running on a Windows 2000 virtual machine. Saved me big bucks compared to Adobe Cloud.

Skipping every other windows implies you aren't still using 7. That's a mistake.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby marsilies » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:47 pm UTC

sotanaht wrote:
Heimhenge wrote:Yeah, it's tech that he's talking about and the car is just a good metaphor. I can identify with that ... been skipping every other Windows OS since Workgroups 3.11. As long as they work for my apps I feel no need to upgrade. But eventually the apps get so much outa sync with the OS that I am forced to upgrade, and it's usually cheaper to upgrade the OS than all my apps. Usually. I still have some old Adobe animation apps running on a Windows 2000 virtual machine. Saved me big bucks compared to Adobe Cloud.

Skipping every other windows implies you aren't still using 7. That's a mistake.

Anyone want to try and figure out what he's on, if strict ever-other upgrade was followed?

Let's see, from Windows for Workgroups 3.11, assuming consumer versions of Windows...

Skip: Windows 95
Use: Windows 98
Skip: Windows ME
Use: Windows XP
Skip: Windows Vista
Use: Windows 7
Skip: Windows 8
Use: Windows 10

That's assuming you don't count 98SE or 8.1 as separate versions....

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:58 pm UTC

Also: was he using WFW3.11 and skipped the next one, or was WFW3.11 the first one he skipped? You might have an off-by-one error.
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby keldor » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:21 pm UTC

One big problem is that electronics don't really have much in the way of human servicable parts. Lots of teeny things soldered directly to the circuit board, beyond the capability of human hands. Unless it's a major component like the display or the battery, forget it.

Another consideration is that for $400, you can't really afford that much in the way of parts and labor. Computing devices are complicated systems, and it can easily take all day to figure a problem out if it isn't one of the relatively common ones. At that point, it's literally cheaper to just buy a new one than to pay the repairman's wages, let alone expenses. This is assuming it's even fixable in the first place.

golden.number wrote:It's not just tech things. I took an old drill into a repair shop and rather than fix it they just gave me a brand new one.


A drill is what, $30? In the time it takes to disassemble the thing, figure out what's wrong, then put it back together again, their hourly wage will be more than $30! That's assuming of course that they just happen to have replacement parts for it at all! To have a reasonable chance at this, the store would have to have a warehouse dedicated to all the spare parts for every single machine they sell. Now, the store could consider sending it back to the manufacturer, who would actually not only have parts, but experience with the innards of their drill, but shipping alone is going to cost nearly the price of the new unit...

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Heimhenge » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:39 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Also: was he using WFW3.11 and skipped the next one, or was WFW3.11 the first one he skipped? You might have an off-by-one error.


Geeez, didn't expect that much reaction to my comment ... it was just a generalization about upgrades. But if ya'll want to know:

HomeBase GUI (DOS)
W3.1
W3.11 (OK, so I didn't skip this one, but it was cheap ... came on a floppy)
W98SE
W2K
WXP
W7

And no, I haven't yet made the jump to W10. Still thinking about that one. I really liked W2K, but my apps were getting incompatible and my box wasn't powerful enough to run a VM, so I grudgingly upgraded to XP. Compatibility mode worked for awhile but eventually ran into some issues. So I finally bought a more powerful PC and installed W7 with W2K on VirtualBox for my older apps. Happy for the moment but see W10 in my future at some point.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Monster_user » Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:41 pm UTC

I've written this same post about four times now. Each time I finish I think, that is so obvious it doesn't contribute anything to the discussion.

We're designing computers to be modular, so you can replace parts (PSU and PCBs, GPU, RAM, MOBO, etc.), rather than individually soldered components and custom written firmware (ROM, Capacitors, circuits, transistors, etc.).

And that is not even getting into the Henry Ford assembly line-esque goal of optimizing the production process and reducing the cost of manufacturing and assembling.

Repairing vs Replacing is more an ethical quandary than an economic one. Our economic models highly favor a "throwaway" society/culture. Where we use limited use paper and Styrofoam cups instead of glass or other reusables.

Repairing and/or recycling isn't exactly a cheap process. Just look and all the fuss over the decommissioned USS Enterprise.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:00 am UTC

I wonder if a world of ubiquitous human-intelligence labor (i.e. robots) would change the economics here, since the major factor seems to be it's not worth a human's time to figure out what's wrong with something and make it better.

In the old completely pre-automation economy, was it still cheaper to build a whole new car than to renovate the husk of an old one? When you had to have humans doing the work either way?

In today's partially-automated economy it sure is, because robots can build new ones but humans have to repair the old ones which is why cars eventually get junked and replaced instead of just repaired.

In a future where robots do all the work, might we see a world where every old junker lying around somewhere gets hauled in for renovation because that's cheaper than buying a new car and also you get some cool retro style and hipster factor out of it at the same time?
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby ucim » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:05 am UTC

Well, things also actually wear out. Mechanical things have holes that things fit in (they get too big and the thing that fits in gets too small), things with teeth (that get dull or out of spec), things that have to be straight (they get bent - bent stuff will never become straight again), things that... well, eventually the whole thing is a collection of worn out parts in the shape of a car (or tape recorder, or pump) and repair or refurbishment means replacing pretty much everything. It can be done; aircraft engines are remanufactured all the time. But for less expensive stuff, it stops making sense.

Also, things are manufactured in bulk, but repaired one at a time. There's no bulk discount for repair labor.

And technology has another reason - often the newer version has features the manufacturer really wants you to have. The internet of things, for example, allows for extraordinary amounts of espionage on the part of the manufacturer and their clients. So, even more than just wanting to sell you more stuff (Apple, I'm looking at you), they want to sell you, more. {insert Soviet Russia joke here}

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Isaac Hill » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:38 am UTC

I'm currently facing (and postponing) this decision with my washing machine. Turn the control knob to select the wash cycle, then pull it out to start. The pull portion of the knob has become disconnected from the cycle select portion. I can turn the cycle select ring by itself, but it's tricky, the washer will often try to start before I get the select ring to the correct cycle, and the washer will occasionally (2 out the past 12 or so loads) get stuck and perform the inital part of the cycle indefinitely until I nudge the select ring.

A replacement timer costs $118 for an 11 year old appliance. Plus, there's the aggrivation of installing the thing. I tried to remove the existing timer to see if I could recouple the pull portion to the select ring, but couldn't figure out how to unmount if from the washing machine's panel.

So, I'm considering spending a few hundred more to get a new washing machine and junking one that would work perfectly well if the UI could take commands. I'll probably end up just fiddling with the control ring as long as the washing machine works OK otherwise, which is neither repair nor replace. What's a good a re- word for just putting up with middling stuff? Resignation?
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby keithl » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:11 am UTC

The purpose of new computers is to reprogram their hapless "users" to purchase the next new computer. They stopped being a solution to pre-existing needs years ago.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:10 am UTC

Everything used to be repairable at home. Ok, you'd have a mate who specialised in the area for tricky things, but on the whole it was home repair.
You open the bonnet (hood) of a car and all the men in the street would swarm round to see how they could help fix the problem. There was always one with a scissor jack, most had a socket set and some spark plug gauges. I patched and sanded many a rust hole in a car with fibreglass, filler and different grades of sandpaper.
My father's old electric drill had many a repair done on it. Mostly homers, but when the brushes needed replacing, he got someone to do it and the drill lasted many years more. But then the hammer drill he bought, when it finally burned out the windings, cut through walls like butter compared to the old drill.
Same with the household iron. The Bakelite case was cracked and patched with electrical tape, the wiring fixed regularly inside and the metal work only giving mother the occasional shock until it finally died and replaced by a nice lightweight easy glide model.

But anything you get now, from cars to the above household gadgets cannot be so easily repaired.
Cars need diagnostic plugin. And in the UK, we don't have one standard that works on all cars.
Electrical items need special tools to open, and I don't just mean screws with different heads on them. You need a heat gun and something to pop the case at the right spot. You can't even rewire then mains cable if it gets frayed.

It is all designed to be replaced for all but the simplest of problems. And even the simple things require a specialist repair shop.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby orthogon » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:07 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote: And the new devices would have completely new 'unfixable' problems that I'd have to get used to, even if they stopped the old stuff from happening in the newer iterations.)

This. I'm seriously thinking of giving up on my current phone, on which I can't pull down the notifications bar any more, on which the Bluetooth stops working after a few hours, and which randomly goes into "do not disturb" mode, and go back to the one where the memory is always full even though I only have like 2 apps installed. Throwaway hardware is one thing, but it's infuriating to have to replace the physical device because the bugs in the software aren't going to be fixed.
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Rossegacebes » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:25 am UTC

The main reason of replacing being cheaper that repairing is that the externality of proper recycling is not paid. If to discard anything you would need to pay for proper disassembling and *full* recycling (this cost could be included in the original sale price), repairing would be far, far more popular and convenient.

We'll get there, eventually.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby kdb » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:49 am UTC

Isaac Hill wrote:So, I'm considering spending a few hundred more to get a new washing machine and junking one that would work perfectly well if the UI could take commands. I'll probably end up just fiddling with the control ring as long as the washing machine works OK otherwise, which is neither repair nor replace. What's a good a re- word for just putting up with middling stuff? Resignation?


In this case: Probably not too bad an idea to repair it. For household appliances and some electronics, most modern devices are overcomplicated and thus more prone to failure than older, simpler devices while often not actually providing new features that are actually likely to be used.

Though of course there's a risk that something else will break soon. But changes are, that the old device is better than a cheap new one, so it might still be a viable trade-off.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Mental Mouse » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:16 pm UTC

This is just the current crest of a long-term trend. As soon as we got into mass production, it rapidly became more expensive to repair ordinary goods than to replace them with new factory-made stuff.

When was the last time you darned a sock, or re-tinned a pot? How often do you repair a small household appliance, as opposed to replacing it? Even patching clothing is almost unheard of, except for jeans where that's a fashion statement, And it's famous how little damage it takes to "total" a car, (meaning it's cheaper to buy a new one than repair the damage).

When my grandfather died, we had to clear out piles of stuff from his basement -- old watches where he'd replaced the band (I tried taking a couple, and promptly found out why he was always late), switches he was planning to repair someday, even some appliances he'd been planning to repair. He never got around to them, and he died in his 80s.

Even with transistor radios and such, repairing them rapidly became painstaking and required increasingly-unusual skills. For modern electronics and even some kitchen appliances, fixing anything is hardly worth the trouble even if you do have the skills and equipment. Consider that an electronic tech has a hefty hourly wage -- Is it worth his time to spend a half-hour or hour fixing a $30 coffee-maker or $20 toaster? Let alone if he screws it up and introduces a fire hazard! Computers and phones are the same but much more so, aggravated by the use of slave or near-slave labor in their production.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:40 pm UTC

airdrik wrote:The economics might make sense for the producer, but I'd like to see some math on how it makes sense for the consumer. I could see it if I regularly had to fix/repair something on my phone every 6 months or so such that the total cost over (the next) 2 years is similar to just buying a new one, but the only cost on my current LG G4 since I bought it 2 years ago (already obsolete except the fact that it cost nearly half as much as the latest-and-greatest) has been one repair about a year ago and the original purchase (plus a few charging cables here and there).

Furthering what keldor already said, and some context

Most businesses are between 1-19 employees in the US. They do not have a dedicated IT guy. If they're extremely lucky, one of their hires is an IT guy who can handle most issues. More than likely, they contract out to an IT company that provides support for these businesses.

In many respects, these companies are not much different than a private consumer when it comes to how they get their repairs. Some IT firms charge a flat hour to diagnose problems, some charge a half hour, some only charge if it takes more than a half our or involves component testing, some don't charge as long as you get the repair done by them, some do free diagnostics... some companies only do free diagnostics with long standing customers, through some sort of service contract or similar or simply a Good Ol' Boy system where once you've been using them for a few months/years you get put on the Long Time Customer list.

The amount charged per hour is also going to vary depending on a number of factors I can't predict. Most shops around here are in the $90-110 range for actual labor, but some have flat rate specials for things like wiping and reloading or a data backup. Stuff that's repetitive but doesn't require much attention from a tech.

But let's assume $75 an hour. Let's also assume a free diagnosis after the first half hour, and that you take your four year old desktop tower to them that no longer powers on to avoid any callout fees (Typically $10-30 plus a minimum of one hour labor). Your problem takes them two hours of component testing to determine that - yes, it's the motherboard itself. Memory and processor were tested and are fine, components were tested and are fine, power supply was tested and is fine. They offer to sell you a refurbished motherboard for $65 or a new one for motherboard is $85 - you can look it up on line and see there's a markup there but.. they gotta eat, so you pay for a refurb. They install it (30 minutes) and spend an hour running tests to verify the problem doesn't reoccur.

Three and a half hours of labor minus a half hour plus $65. You're at $290. Plus tax. For a four year old computer that is in a timeframe where component failure is becoming more of a reality than a far away risk.

A brand new computer'll run you about $500 from Dell. A comparable computer to your built as a whitebox today would run about $400.

Why would you spend $300 to fix a computer when a brand new one with a year warranty on the parts is only $100 more?

If you had the people come out to pick up your computer and they're going to return it, you can also add $50-100 to that $300 too. So now you're tied for a new computer.

If you're a business counting coins to stay afloat, it makes no sense for you to do that.

There's a tendency in the computer repair world right now to attack all software problems with a "Wipe and Reload" and a lot of amateur computer nerds like to make fun of that - the whole "Repair shops don't even repair problems, they just reload Windows" and... I mean, they're not wrong, but it's also not a stupid solution.

You're a customer, you probably don't have infinite money, you just want your computer to work again and some malware thing crawled in there and now every time you go online you go to searchmoney.ru.biz instead of Google and you can't fix it and just want it to stop. Which sounds better to you?

$75 for a tech to back up your My Documents, Desktop and such and reload your computer, then you reinstall all your programs at home (hope you have the disk)

$750 you owe in labor for a problem that's still not resolved and the technician is now asking if you want them to just wipe and reload, or to continue trying but aren't optimistic at finding a solution in the next 10 hours?
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:52 pm UTC

Computer hardware problems mostly come in two categories:

Simple mechanical issues can be fixed by dusting inside the case, unplugging and reinserting components, and making sure you've got adequate cooling.
Problems with chips or PCBs are occasionally possible to repair with nothing more than a fine-tip soldering iron and a steady hand (and sometimes some solder) but even those take a long time to diagnose, and most would require hours in a clean room with specialist tools to repair, let alone diagnose in the first place.

Occasionally, you'll get a problem like a loose wire where more conventional repairs will work - in this case, reattaching the connection using your preferred method - but the vast majority are either simple enough that you only need enough screwdrivers to get into the case and unseat components, or complex enough that replacement (at some level) is the more viable option.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby sonar1313 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:00 pm UTC

marsilies wrote:To be fair, in terms of repair/replace a defective electronic item still under warranty, when the manufacturer gives you a replacement, they're typically taking your defective unit and refurbishing it to become someone else's replacement, or to sell off at a discount. They're not typically just tossing them into a hole.

A big factor is going to be how extensive the repair is and how long it's going to take. An iPhone, they can replace the screen at an Apple Store in a few hours. If it's something else more extensive, they'd rather give you a replacement then and there instead of having you wait for a 2-3 week turnaround as they send it out for repair. The repair is still happening, it's just not visibly impacting you.

A car manufacturer might do this, if they didn't have to worry about individual mileage, tune ups, any before and after-market customizations, etc. If a car dealer had just 5-10 types of car (including configurations of all options) and mileage wasn't a concern, sure, give the person bringing in a broken car another used one of the exact type off the lot to drive off in, and they'd fix the broken one up and put it back on the lot.

Tesla does do it to some extent. As with phones where they give you a new one or a refurb, and take yours and fix it and give it to someone else, Tesla does the same with defective batteries. I'm close to as anti-Tesla as it gets but I tip my hat to the modular powertrains they've developed that just pop out of the car - no mechanics calling you seven hours later and telling you the fraculating spiral gear is shot and it'll be $2000 to fix.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Heimhenge » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:32 pm UTC

My wife needed to replace her Prius hybrid (200k+ miles) and we opted for another Prius, this time a Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. I'd done my own vehicle maintenance for many years, but except for adding oil (which I rarely have to do since the Prime uses synthetic) I don't touch anything else. It's all computers! So I have all these nifty auto tools ... gear pullers, compression testers, spark timers, gap blades, etc. that are basically junk now.

It's not just tech that goes obsolete ... it's also the tools you use to work on tech. I miss the haptic experience of working on an engine.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Archgeek » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:13 pm UTC

Keldor wrote:One big problem is that electronics don't really have much in the way of human servicable parts. Lots of teeny things soldered directly to the circuit board, beyond the capability of human hands. Unless it's a major component like the display or the battery, forget it.

Another consideration is that for $400, you can't really afford that much in the way of parts and labor. Computing devices are complicated systems, and it can easily take all day to figure a problem out if it isn't one of the relatively common ones. At that point, it's literally cheaper to just buy a new one than to pay the repairman's wages, let alone expenses. This is assuming it's even fixable in the first place.

HEhehEhe, you underestimate the capability of these hands. I'm largely held back by the enormous size of my crappy cheap iron tip. Myopia helps, until I smell my hair burning on the barrel.

That's true enough, but since I'm the repairman, I can afford a good 15 hours of my time before parts costs push it over the value line. That's when the sunk-cost fallacy comes out to play! :lol:

Heimhenge wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Also: was he using WFW3.11 and skipped the next one, or was WFW3.11 the first one he skipped? You might have an off-by-one error.


Geeez, didn't expect that much reaction to my comment ... it was just a generalization about upgrades. But if ya'll want to know:

HomeBase GUI (DOS)
W3.1
W3.11 (OK, so I didn't skip this one, but it was cheap ... came on a floppy)
W98SE
W2K
WXP
W7

And no, I haven't yet made the jump to W10. Still thinking about that one. I really liked W2K, but my apps were getting incompatible and my box wasn't powerful enough to run a VM, so I grudgingly upgraded to XP. Compatibility mode worked for awhile but eventually ran into some issues. So I finally bought a more powerful PC and installed W7 with W2K on VirtualBox for my older apps. Happy for the moment but see W10 in my future at some point.

A path perfectly typical of the savvy (that are stuck with windows, anyway), save perhaps for the lack of 95. I skipped a few more, myself, leapfrogging along the lines of:
W3.1 on DOS6.1
W98SE (over 5 hours between crashes, such stability!)
WXP SP1
W7

I'm sorry you see W10 in your future though. It's ...tremendously rude in its behaviour, and will frequently reset settings of applications it shouldn't be interacting with directly. I've also seen it break the driver for a serial port. Which is both horrifying and impressive.
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Heimhenge » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:43 pm UTC

Well yeah, that's the thing about W10 ... I don't think it'll accept some of my hardware. I've heard some horror stores about that, and I don't want to be put in the position of upgrading hardware for a new OS. That just sucks. I'm cool now, but expect I'll have to buy a newer box at some point. If I do, I'll at least get the ability to do VR, which I can't do on my current GTX 960 video card.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:44 pm UTC

When I bought the parts for my computer, it was 1100-1200, and buying a similar machine from a manufacturer wouldve been $2000. Each component was about $100, let's say. If you buy 10 components, you get them for 30%. Not 30% less, 30% of. That's $300 for the parts of what is essentially a $2000 computer. And if you are buying them as a major manufacturer, probably even less. So why would they spend $500 when they could replace it for half?

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Mental Mouse » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:53 pm UTC

I've basically been sticking with Linux since Win3.11 went away, and almost never regretting it. I've been setting up my systems for dual-boot, but in practice I never have to boot Windows, and at this point I'd need an insane amount of time to catch up on patches. Assuming the system didn't get infected before those finished...

For that matter, I just saw where this month ComputerWorld was saying roughly "Here's how you turn off automatic updates.. because given M$'s record for the last month or few, you really don't want to be installing any of their patches until they've had a few weeks to shake down and expose the broken ones."

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:21 am UTC

One exception to the "modern equipment is cheaper to replace" rule: The most common point of failure for flat-panel TVs and monitors is a dead capacitor, which is easy to spot because modern capacitors bulge when they go bad. For a few bucks to get a replacement from Fry's, and less than an hour of labor, you can get a $100-1000+ piece of equipment back up and running if you or someone you know owns a soldering iron.
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:07 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:One exception to the "modern equipment is cheaper to replace" rule: The most common point of failure for flat-panel TVs and monitors is a dead capacitor, which is easy to spot because modern capacitors bulge when they go bad. For a few bucks to get a replacement from Fry's, and less than an hour of labor, you can get a $100-1000+ piece of equipment back up and running if you or someone you know owns a soldering iron.

I've replaced blown-caps on an uncounted number of PC motherboards, myself.

A certain model/range of Dell was known for it. Maybe because of the capacitors being far too tight a tolerance, and unforgiving, given the replacement one of nominally the same spec from a general component supplier being larger than the one removed that was likely produced to a given engineering spec that might have been a bit too competitively pared-down due to various pressures.

But for the cost of one component (cheaper in bulk, once you see the pattern) and usually no more than half an hour (always a little longer the first time ever, or for a while, obviously), it saves all kinds of fuss like maybe trying to grab data and settings from a temporarily transplanted drive, speculatively suitable for applying back onto a whole-body replacement. (Which is easier if you can put it onto sufficiently identical hardware, and yet deal with Windows picking up the hardware serial number changes and needing prodding to accept that, but then you're on another machine with the identical propensity for a similar blown cap possibly looming in the near future,)

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Wowfunhappy » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:30 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Most businesses are between 1-19 employees in the US. They do not have a dedicated IT guy. If they're extremely lucky, one of their hires is an IT guy who can handle most issues. More than likely, they contract out to an IT company that provides support for these businesses.


Surely that's only if you count the absolute number of businesses though, right? If you take into account the number of employees or the number of computers purchased, the large companies are going to dwarf the small ones? Seems like a bit of a weird metric.

Your point is still valid for a certain segment of the market, but I'd have to imagine that out of all computers purchased for corporate use, a large majority of those devices are going to (a smaller number of) large companies with dedicated IT teams.

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:39 pm UTC

Wowfunhappy wrote:Surely that's only if you count the absolute number of businesses though, right? If you take into account the number of employees or the number of computers purchased, the large companies are going to dwarf the small ones? Seems like a bit of a weird metric.

This reminds me of a derivative of something I've often thought about. I'm an only child, and people seem to think that that's unusual to have no siblings, but it always seemed to me that of course most people have siblings because even if equal numbers of families had one child or several, 50/50, that would automatically result in at least twice as many children with siblings.

Your comment above makes me wonder in addition: though the average number of children per family is around two, might most children actually be from much larger families, because of your reasoning about companies and mine about siblings above? If you have ten families, three of them have no kids, three of them have one kid, three of them have two kids, and one of them has eleven kids, that's an average of two kids per family, yet a majority of children have at least ten siblings.

That's obviously an extreme exaggerated example, but maybe something less exaggerated might be true in practice?
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby wumpus » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:04 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Most businesses are between 1-19 employees in the US. They do not have a dedicated IT guy. If they're extremely lucky, one of their hires is an IT guy who can handle most issues. More than likely, they contract out to an IT company that provides support for these businesses.
[deletia]
There's a tendency in the computer repair world right now to attack all software problems with a "Wipe and Reload" and a lot of amateur computer nerds like to make fun of that - the whole "Repair shops don't even repair problems, they just reload Windows" and... I mean, they're not wrong, but it's also not a stupid solution.

This assumes that the time it takes to get a computer from "wiped and reloaded" to useful is non-trivial, or at least not a business cost. For the big companies (which take up easily more than half the employed workers, and plenty more workers with a computer in front of them) this is a non-issue, they have their own image that they slap on. For those >20 employee companies, things have gotten somewhat more expensive (although they probably aren't paying whoever is reinstalling office computer consultant rates).

Windows has become more full featured since XP, so this "load all the stuff you really need" probably ends after Chrome and Acrobat (maybe not Acrobat, I'd love to be Adobe-free). But don't expect it to be a completely trivial amount of time.

Other points for repair or replace:

electronic parts (especially chips): completely unrepairable. Chips can't be repaired by anything less than a scanning electron microscope, and even that would be heroic if some ultra-rare prototype needed repairing. Other parts (capacitors and whatnot) are equally absurd to repair, especially capacitors which will almost certainly blow through layer after layer during destruction, and cost pennies. So repairing parts is out of the question.

Circuit boards are nearly as difficult to repair. Obviously even a poor solderer like myself can eventually get a 403 (1x2mm?) resistor in place, but many chips have their pads *under* the package, making resoldering absolutely impossible (and desoldering likely to damage the board). While somebody mentioned the obvious "repair the big power capacitors" trick, nearly all other fixes aren't going to work (although you might get away with the "oven trick*", that is relatively close to how boards are soldered in the first place).

Mechanical devices are almost as pointless to repair. This might change depending on how 3d printing expands, but I'm not holding my breath. Another thing in cars is that more and more lubrication fluids are being sealed. This limits obvious places to leak, but gives the assembly (and these are often in the "throw the whole thing away rather than replace this assembly" status) an obviously finite lifespan.

Note that in the heyday of "repair culture", manufacturing jobs were considered "good jobs" and simply re-doing all the labor necessary to produce a widget was *expensive*. With modern manufacturing offshored to nearly unpaid labor, the costs are inverted. Don't be too surprised if people demand the ability to repair if management ever runs out of people willing to manufacture for almost free. Obviously this will never be true for software when "manufacture" means "download some bytes".

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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:24 pm UTC

Even for the small companies, a wipe and reload is basically trivial as far as time is concerned.

Backup Data, wipe, reload the OS, patch the OS, install Office, install 1-3 other pieces of software, restore data, walk away. About 45 minutes of actual time at a keyboard, the process itself takes.... well, depending on the various patching, anywhere from 3-8 hours but most of that isn't billed time.

1 hour of billed labor and no computer for most of a day versus 5 hours of billed labor and no computer for most of a day. That's a very easy choice.

Wowfunhappy wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Most businesses are between 1-19 employees in the US. They do not have a dedicated IT guy. If they're extremely lucky, one of their hires is an IT guy who can handle most issues. More than likely, they contract out to an IT company that provides support for these businesses.


Surely that's only if you count the absolute number of businesses though, right? If you take into account the number of employees or the number of computers purchased, the large companies are going to dwarf the small ones? Seems like a bit of a weird metric.


....

The link I threw in covered that completely. The entire reason I included it was so comments like this wouldn't happen.

From that link, there are 5 million businesses with 0-19 employees. I don't exactly know how a 0 employee company operates and can only assume it's a shell company of some description? At any rate, even if we assume half of those are not "real" businesses, it still means there are 2.5 million businesses with 1-19 employees. The 20-(whatever the maximum range is) companies number... not even 600,000.

That said, over 50% of Americans are employed by .3% of the companies.

Again, 90% of the companies in the US have 20 or fewer employees.

50% of Americans work for a company that has over 500 employees.

Companies with over 500 employees make up .3% of the businesses. There's somewhere around 18,000 of them.

My entire point being that the .3% of companies who hire 50% of the workers, and the remaining percentage that cover another 40ish% (in the 20-499 employee ranges) - those are far more likely to have a dedicated IT staff. The IT staff may consist of Fred at the 35 employee company, but it's a staff. This IT staff is literally being paid an hourly wage to dick around with problems. When someone's computer dies, Fred grabs a spare from the shelf, swaps it out, and takes the broken one back to his hidey-hole to dick around with and repair. Fred gets paid those 8 hours whether he's fixing a computer or sitting around with his thumb up his ass, so it absolutely makes sense from him to study and fully resolve the problem.

For the 1-19 employee companies, it does not make sense to have a dedicated IT guy because their shit is not going to be breaking enough to give him 8 hours of work in a month, much less a day. So they contract out - and that's where the cost per hour comes in to play.

In that respect, the 1-19 employee company has the same mindset as Joe Q Public, consumer. They don't give a shit what the problem is, they don't give a shit how it's fixed, they just want it fixed as quickly as possible as cheaply as possible.

Hence, all the other stuff I said.
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Re: 2033: "Repair or Replace"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:47 pm UTC

Wowfunhappy wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Most businesses are between 1-19 employees in the US. They do not have a dedicated IT guy. If they're extremely lucky, one of their hires is an IT guy who can handle most issues. More than likely, they contract out to an IT company that provides support for these businesses.


Surely that's only if you count the absolute number of businesses though, right? If you take into account the number of employees or the number of computers purchased, the large companies are going to dwarf the small ones? Seems like a bit of a weird metric.
5,130,340 businesses with 0-19 employees¹ is (going by median, though that might be generous giving the fat tail) 48-odd million in total. 494,170 x 20-99 is ~29 million. 83,423 x 100-499 represents, let's say, 25mil. Hard to judge 500+ (at minimum 9mil) but 130mil full-time workers (more narrowly the demographic of those we're looking for than the prior figures probably featuring under- and over-counting) leaves around 28mil unaccounted for.

Which is a long way from dwarfing, so you could probably fat-tail the fat-tail and still end up being more significant in terms of counting the legs and dividing by two…

¹ Really 1-20, including the boss-who-may-be-sole-worker, but then he's like a private citizen looking for household support.


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