New Club Members
Order Club Badge
Ham Radio Inventory Documentation
Breakfast Club
« Teaching teachers about ham radio | Main | Helping hams »

A Holiday KISS

The other day my mother’s 7 year old iMac stopped producing a video signal. Being naturally resistant to purchasing service, I started by searching the web for solutions. This strategy has served me well for many of my other monitors…buy some capacitors and do a little soldering. No brainer. It was fascinating to see the long chain of emails related to other folks who had similar complaints. Turns out that there was a large batch of capacitors made some years back that have all gone bad. Dell, I guess, spent millions replacing their capacitors. I downloaded the 35 page booklet on how to access the inside components of this iMAC. This is one of Apple’s early efforts to put the monitor, CPU, hard drive and DVD player all in one sleek device. So you have all of this equipment stuffed in the monitor shell (about an inch thick). Pretty nice deal, until you have to fix it.

So, as I dug into the issue, there are about 30 capacitors that could be replaced, if you can get down to them. You might spend 4 hours digging down to the point where they are installed on the mother board. So, knowing that I don’t have that kind of time, or the special tools needed to even crack the case, I headed off to the Apple store for their advice. We experimented – and in their wisdom, they did provide for a monitor out plug on the back of the machine. We plugged in a test monitor…and it worked just fine! So the solution presented itself: buy a new monitor and plug it….and …eh…wait…yeah, you need a mini VGA plug. OK. Apple should have that. Right? Not right. They don’t carry anything like that anymore, and neither do many other big box stores. If it doesn’t support something in their current inventory, they don’t stock it. So, back to the Internet…where I did find the cable and monitor and it is being delivered today. Doesn’t do much for my hope to complete the task in a couple of hours, but patience is a virtue we all need to learn in this modern age.

So, this set me off on my current rage…cables. In our desire to have the latest, hottest gizmo, manufacturers are killing themselves to produce stuff faster and faster…and they are just leaving the after-market for others to feed on. I have a bag of power cables for my phones, computers and accessories that provide a dazzling array of connections…most of which are now obsolete. I was reading that Europe is considering a law to make all power connections the same….THE SAME…so that you don’t have this cacophony of cables. I know, this might impede progress and certainly the economic recovery…but think of the relief it will provide the landfills!

Meanwhile, back to high tech stuff…I finally found time start hunting for ham Apps for my iPad…there really are quite a few…but they all seem to stop when you get to the all too important INTERFACE. You need to get adapters to take their 19 pin power plug to anything else…and that is exactly how Apple wants it. They don’t want you messing with the plumbing. (Thank you very much…they are so thoughtful). I learned yesterday that they too are planning to change the power plug to yet another soon! Now I know I am in the wrong business. I need to manufacturer adapters and plugs for the old stuff.

Somewhere in between all of this ham radio finds itself. It is increasingly difficult to build your own gear, so we are left to be adapters…adjusters to what we have been given. For this reason, most radios today are being designed to be all things to all people, which means they are extraordinarily complex and expensive. So, as much as I love my technology, I have to wonder what we have done to ourselves. What price have we all paid for living on the edge of sanity and innovation? For me, I am hanging on to my bag collection of wacky adapters and plugs…you never know when you will need that odd ball piece.

So, this Holiday season, reflect on this issues when you buy that camera, iPhone, radio, even your toaster! Enjoy the season with loved ones and get on your radios! Keep it simple (KISS…you can add the last word if you choose). That’s my plan.