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July 8, 2012 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Apple is abandoning EPEAT
Apple’s mobile design direction is in conflict with the intended direction of the standard. Specifically, the standard lays out particular requirements for product “disassemble-ability,” a very important consideration for recycling: “External enclosures, chassis, and electronic subassemblies shall be removable with commonly available tools or by hand.” Electronics recyclers need to take out hazardous components such as batteries before sending computers through their shredders, because batteries can catch fire when punctured.

EPEAT is a standard that in part evaluates computer hardware on its recyclability. It was originaly created jointly by industry players (including Apple) and government players. Now, Apple is pulling out, apparently because they can't meet the standard while continuing to pursue their design agenda. Apple has pulled all of its products from the EPEAT registry.

Much coverage has centered around the expected sales impact. WSJ:
Many corporations like Ford, HSBC, and Kaiser Permanente require their CIOs to purchase computers from sources that are EPEAT certified, said Sarah O’Brien director of outreach for EPEAT. And the U.S. government requires that 95% of the electronics it purchases be EPEAT certified. In 2010, the last year the survey was conducted, 222 out of the 300 American universities with the largest endowments asked their IT departments to give preference to EPEAT certified computers. Around 70 of the schools required EPEAT certification for electronics purchases, according to O’Brien.
posted by lodurr (165 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Never heard of this standard, but it sounds awesome.

Can't wait for the spin on this one.
posted by DU at 9:08 AM on July 8, 2012


Hmm, given the guy that runs ifixit (whose business is threatened by apple's stuff getting harder to service) seems to be behind this push, I'd rather wait for some official word from Apple on this.
posted by mathowie at 9:13 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aren't a hammer and chisel commonly availible tools? I mean, if its headed for recycling, does it matter that that you break a glue joint rather than remove screws. Actually, it's probably faster. (I hate Apple and its technofascist design, so my opinion may be colored by the delight I feel in the idea of someone taking a hammer to its sterile, lifeless products).
posted by 445supermag at 9:15 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shredders are for ATX cases and Lenovo keyboards, not for sexy Retina MBPs, you heathens.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:15 AM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd rather wait for some official word from Apple on this.

WSJ quotes EPEAT on Apple's response to them:
“They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,” [EPEAT CEO Robert] Frisbee said. The company did not elaborate, Frisbee said. “They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don’t want their products measured by this standard anymore.”
posted by lodurr at 9:18 AM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Matt, he links to the official announcement from EPEAT, which would seem to meet a standard of officialness with regard to who is or is not certifying.
posted by mwhybark at 9:20 AM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw this on the WSJ a couple of days ago. I don't think iFixit is behind anything: Apple asked to be removed from the registry.

No spin from me. Life with Apple has always involved keeping one eye on the door (same as with any corporate purveyor of anything).

If I'm glad for anything in this, it's that Apple is just pulling out and not using whatever influence it may have had as a co-creator to make the label useless.
posted by mph at 9:20 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple core. Who's it for?
posted by srboisvert at 9:21 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone seriously doubt that most consumer laptops will look like (un-serviceable and not in EPEAT) Intel "Ultrabooks" or MacBooks in the near future?

Also note that tablets are explicitly excluded from EPEAT-- they are already changing with the times and will have to continue to do so. The age of the serviceable computer is ending, except of course for the edge cases. Recycling programs will start to be fulfilled by the manufacturer, as Dell and Apple have been doing already.
posted by neustile at 9:22 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


also note that at this time, the EPEAT badge images on this page are broken.
posted by lodurr at 9:23 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I couldn't take my Mac apart, it would have died years ago. I also replaced the battery in my iPod. If I can't fix it or replace parts, I will find something that I can still service.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:26 AM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does anyone seriously doubt that most consumer laptops will look like (un-serviceable and not in EPEAT) Intel "Ultrabooks" or MacBooks in the near future?

One of the recurring themes in coverage of this is that you basically can't sell laptops to some Fotune 500s unless they're EPEAT, and that the absolute best you can hope for in federal sales is 5% of their total expenditures (which is probably going to get eaten-up by other mission-critical non-EPEAT stuff before they get around to your acquisition).

So, yeah, maybe I doubt that. I certainly hope it's not the case.

Apple's made a choice to take design in a certain direction. Recyclable style would certainly be harder and more expensive. But a) they've already got more margins than God, and b) I thought they liked a design-challenge?
posted by lodurr at 9:27 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think it's fascinating that Apple has gone in this direction with their system design. I assume it's all in pursuit of smaller, lighter, more stylish products. I absolutely love my iPad and my MacBook Air and I could care less that I can't service the battery or add more RAM. If surface mounting and gluing makes the thing 10% smaller and lighter, go right at it. As 445supermag notes when it comes time to recycle materials you can simply demolish the thing. Although you can't reuse the components then.

What surprises me about this shift is that Apple themselves has to service their machines. Under warranty and under AppleCare. Isn't it terribly expensive for them to fix a broken machine when it can't really be taken apart and put back together? Even something as dumb as fixing the switch contact in an iPad 2 must take an hour+ labor.
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on July 8, 2012


Nelson: Why would it be more expensive to them to do apple care service in-house than to have them pay for an apple-certified tech? to me it looks like a standard margin-salvage maneuver: get the service business back from the people you farmed it out to, so you can claim their margin as well as your own. Businesses that do service pulsate between outsourcing and insourcing like this all the time, according to what makes the most financial sense for them. Apple's gotten back some of their capacity for servicing, so they're taking back some of the business.
posted by lodurr at 9:32 AM on July 8, 2012


Apple keeps making moves like this that make it look like they're abandoning the enterprise market or at least don't care about it much.
posted by octothorpe at 9:32 AM on July 8, 2012


Apple keeps making moves like this that make it look like they're abandoning the enterprise market or at least don't care about it much.

This is pretty much the story of Apple starting from Jobs' return. Nothing surprising at all about them dropping a certification that gets in their way. I mean, have you seen what they sell as a "Mac Pro" these days?
posted by neustile at 9:36 AM on July 8, 2012


Final note, then I'll bow out for a while: The batteries that Apple uses on these machines are toxic. Apparently it's difficult to get them out of the machine without breaking them. So at the very least, there's a hazard involved.

Also, implicit in this is that you'll see less repair, and more replacement, once the machine is out of warranty. I've personally repaired a couple of Macs and at work we've had probably 8 essentially dead Macs repaired for continued use (most still in service). This would represent having to replace probably at least 4 of those, instead of repairing. We're not a big company; $3K vs. $600 is a significant cost differential to keep someone working.
posted by lodurr at 9:36 AM on July 8, 2012


> Apple keeps making moves like this that make it look like they're abandoning the enterprise market or at least don't care about it much.

Well, in the so-called "era of BYOD" Apple doesn't even need to market or care about the enterprise market because those same users will just buy their own Apple gear and use it with enterprise IT systems.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 AM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean, have you seen what they sell as a "Mac Pro" these days?

Low specs, you mean? annoying, that. I don't love towers but that's actually a really nice tower, if you have an application that a tower is good for. Or rather, was.
posted by lodurr at 9:38 AM on July 8, 2012


Also, implicit in this is that you'll see less repair, and more replacement, once the machine is out of warranty.

So in a couple of years, should we be looking to see independent Apple repair shops die off in droves?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:38 AM on July 8, 2012


in the so-called "era of BYOD"

I think I know what you mean ['bring your own device'], but I didn't realize this was actually something people were talking about. Do you have experience with this?
posted by lodurr at 9:39 AM on July 8, 2012


There are independent Apple repair shops?
posted by maryr at 9:40 AM on July 8, 2012


There are independent Apple repair shops?

We use one. She's very good.
posted by lodurr at 9:41 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Isn't it terribly expensive for them to fix a broken machine?

I'm not sure they do much of this. They simply replaced the iPad I sent in for service.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 9:41 AM on July 8, 2012


Isn't it terribly expensive for them to fix a broken machine when it can't really be taken apart and put back together?

Yes, which is why they don't bother. If they can cut their materials cost by a few bucks per unit by using glue instead of fasteners, then they can eat the cost of tossing a broken device away and giving you a shiny new one. As with so many other things it's shitty for the planet, but it makes fine business sense.
posted by phooky at 9:42 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think I know what you mean ['bring your own device'], but I didn't realize this was actually something people were talking about. Do you have experience with this?

It's the kind of acronym you'll find in CIO magazines and network security seminars. Basically it's shorthand for "the CEO bought an iPhone and wants to replace his Blackberry with it."
posted by pwnguin at 9:43 AM on July 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think enterprises get around any EPEAT requirements by leasing machines not purchasing them.
posted by nightwood at 9:45 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple had EPEAT Gold certification. Always quit when you're on top.

If you have problems with Apple product recyclability, give it back to the Apple Recycling Program and make it their problem.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:45 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


> if it's headed for recycling, does it matter that that you break a glue joint rather than remove screws?

Yes, a lot. Waste stream separation requires that you easily separate the metal from the plastic from the glass and from the composite. If you have to take a chisel to the thing, you just made the process slower and placed more burden on the recycler. Also, you now have to outfit your workers in hazmat gear, 'cos puncturing a LiPo battery is no fun.
posted by scruss at 9:46 AM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Burhan - Apple has kind of gone out of their way to * not * make it easy to work with enterprise systems. I heard that Cook is considering swinging back that way, but it's not pretty at the moment unless your whole network is Mac, and, you plan on keeping up with OS X server stuff after Apple nukes their enterprise dept (every time I call there now, even for Enterprise help and despite my place of business owning 4? 5? Xservers, I have to get a call escalated to some high level 'engineer' just to figure out permissions problems with Open Directory). Whoever supports enterprise stuff there now, there's not many of 'em.

Now sure, using your idevice with Exchange server works fine, but that really doesn't let you 'administer' a device.

But we digress.
posted by bitterkitten at 9:50 AM on July 8, 2012


Now sure, using your idevice with Exchange server works fine...

... as long as the device is iOS or you don't have high expectations for your Exchange integration.
posted by lodurr at 9:52 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not sure I welcome computers becoming disposable devices with a 3 year lifespan, like phones, but I have no doubt it is coming.
posted by Artw at 9:53 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you have problems with Apple product recyclability, give it back to the Apple Recycling Program and make it their problem.

From an environmental impact standpoint, shipping it to someone who will just throw it away isn't really any different than throwing it away yourself.
posted by kafziel at 9:53 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone seriously doubt that most consumer laptops will look like (un-serviceable and not in EPEAT) Intel "Ultrabooks" or MacBooks in the near future?

Seriously. It has always been much cheaper and more efficient to bond things together rather than designing in fasteners and threads, and also these fasteners get unreliable when you are getting to a certain level of miniaturisation. They're too fiddly to use, and it is easier to design a bonding fixture that accurately places the component, a measured amount of glue and it's done.

It makes much more sense (ignoring any apple hate or love) for really space-critical products to be internally bonded and non-serviceable. With either improvements on internal reliability of components, or cost effectiveness (for the manufacturer) of replacement versus repair, it stops making sense to have serviceable products pretty quickly. You lose the need for service centres and reduce your technical requirement beyond sales and software support to purely being at the factory. It's inevitable that this will become extremely attractive to any technology producer. Also, if your internal components reliability approaches that of the expected product life by a large majority of users, again serviceability for the small percentage that keep using a product past a certain lifespan makes sense.

The tech people that keep an old piece of hardware and continually upgrade it is becoming an outdated customer case for these kinds of products, I suspect. They are, however, the people that will bitch loudest.
posted by Brockles at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anybody else remember the "notebooks" from Sterling's mid-'90s stories? They were so disposable you wouldn't even care whether you were using yours or not. In Distractions he describes one as having a case made of "chopped straw". And people use fabric cell phones that they stuff up their sleeves like handkerchiefs. That kind of disposability could be cool and arguably green, but this -- Apple's building disposable Porsches.
posted by lodurr at 9:57 AM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The tech people that keep an old piece of hardware and continually upgrade it is becoming an outdated customer case for these kinds of products, I suspect. They are, however, the people that will bitch loudest.

Well, and the people who think we generate enough e-waste as it is without every hardware issue require a complete replacement of the device.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:57 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well if you think about it, the environment isn't very enterprise friendly. But you don't hear that side of the story.
posted by mazola at 9:59 AM on July 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


From an environmental impact standpoint, shipping it to someone who will just throw it away isn't really any different than throwing it away yourself.

You obviously didn't read the link. Apple subcontracts with Sims Recycling Solutions.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2012


Well, and the people who think we generate enough e-waste as it is without every hardware issue require a complete replacement of the device.

Oh, I completely agree. But there has to be some major benefit for a business to make that a priority against a decent sized step in profit. Unfortunately, that isn't there at present.
posted by Brockles at 10:03 AM on July 8, 2012


I had been on the fence about buying a new MBP with the Retina display or transitioning to a beefy Linux laptop for virtualization, but while the MBP looks amazing, the price and the encroachment of iOS into OS X along with this type of behavior has made the decision for me.

It sucks. I think OS X is probably the best operating system out there, but Apple continues to shit on pro customers, DIYers, and anyone else who wants to do something besides monetize their app stores. They could easily afford to engineer something that would comply with EPEAT and allow customers to repair their own computers, but instead they're gluing their laptops together and growing ever more proprietary and walled off.

Oh well.
posted by deanklear at 10:03 AM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


> I think I know what you mean ['bring your own device'], but I didn't realize this was actually something people were talking about. Do you have experience with this?

"BYOD" is on the lips of every tech writer. But yes, I have to deal with managers insisting on using iPads and iPhones (and Androids) rather than corporate Windows laptops and Blackberrys. Following a service delivery model rather than a device one seems to be what people want, and overall is about the same level of headache from a planing and support perspective.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2012


> I had been on the fence about buying a new MBP with the Retina display

I allowed myself one look at the new Retina MBP. The screen is simply amazing and can be used as an excuse for a number of faults, but that price is for sucker early adopters. "Retina"-style displays will become more ubiquitous and hopefully cheaper, so thanks to the early adopters for paying the premium for the rest of us.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:11 AM on July 8, 2012


But if you're doing both at the same time, it must be a real pain. And what do you do about software licensing, terminations, etc.?

But I digress. I'm just (irrationally, I suppose) a little surprised that BYOD is really elevated to strategic status. I mean, I suspect you're probably right on the net about level of support and cost, but only if you go one way or the other -- trying to do both is something that would cause me literal loss of sleep.
posted by lodurr at 10:11 AM on July 8, 2012


That kind of disposability could be cool and arguably green, but this -- Apple's building disposable Porsches.

That might be a good comparison, but not for the reason you are arguing.

Porsche: Recycling quota of 85% met ahead of schedule. The EU End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, which came into effect in 2006 and stipulates that 85 percent of new vehicles must be recyclable, was met ahead of schedule by Porsche. In order to achieve a recycling quota of 95 percent, which will be in place from 2015, we are developing proprietary procedures for handling materials that cannot be reused at present.

Don't forget that Apple sells in the EU and their products have to meet the EU standards like the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive.

It is my personal observation that Apple products have longer lives than other computers, so they have less environmental impact just from not being replaced so often. I just sold my 2006 Mac Pro Quad G5 on eBay and bought a Mac mini to replace it. The Quad G5 was still going strong and now some other guy is using it, probably for years to come.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:13 AM on July 8, 2012


BYOD is a great idea. It combines the current model of IT supporting machines that people take home and render unusable by doing god knows what to them with the innovation of IT having almost no control whatsoever over what kinds of hardware and software they end up having to support.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:15 AM on July 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


Apple really seems to be driving hard to the mass consumer market. Which is great for lots of people, but it's going to be fun watching the avatars of excellence defend the first Mac product that comes with a cup holder.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


charlie, my company has macbook pros still in service that we bought in 2007.

Thing is, those are only still in service because we've replace major components, sometimes several times, and in all but a couple of cases, out of warranty. So the longer life was possible because the hardware could be repaired. (With difficulty, by an experienced Apple-certified tech, but it could be repaired.)

So if those were the new, disposable-premium-goods Apple laptops, we've have replaced them several times over, resulting in a significantly shorter net lifespan.
posted by lodurr at 10:17 AM on July 8, 2012


Which is great for lots of people, but it's going to be fun watching the avatars of excellence defend the first Mac product that comes with a cup holder.

Nonsense, they've used slot-loading optical drives for years! ;)
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:18 AM on July 8, 2012


... it's going to be fun watching the avatars of excellence defend the first Mac product that comes with a cup holder.

Nah. They're getting closer and closer to the dream of a machine that has no ports and no moving parts at all. Eventually it's just going to be a full range of iPads, with text-input devices TBD at this time. So, no cup holders, just spilled liquid (for which you will be liable) and scratched glass (ditto).
posted by lodurr at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nonsense, they've used slot-loading optical drives for years!

Haven't you heard? They won't even have those, soon enough.
posted by lodurr at 10:20 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd feel more informed in this discussion if I really understood e-waste recycling. What's the fate of an end-of-life Dell desktop workstation, for instance? How about a 2003 Thinkpad? I don't even know if those things are refurbished and sold into third world markets or stripped down to the materials or simply dumped in a landfill. How different is Apple's harder-to-disassemble stuff in the end?

I'm pretty sure Apple does repair warranty hardware. I sent in an iPad 2 for a flaky home button and got a "new" one the next day. My assumption was it was a refurbish and that my own iPad was put in a line for refurbishing and resale. The iPad 3 costs roughly $350 to manufacture; that's 150 hours of Chinese labor. Maybe the tradeoff Apple is making is they'd rather glue the thing together and have a warranty repair cost them $20 instead of assemble it with micro-screws and have it cost them $10 to fix.
posted by Nelson at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2012


There's something about BYOD that just bothers me, and I think most of it has to do with the fact that it requires me to become more personally invested in the workplace.

I understand that's how it always was in the "good old days." Craftsmen had their own tools, and sometimes they got or lost jobs for the lack of them. But there are reasons we don't do things that way anymore....
posted by lodurr at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


> There's something about BYOD that just bothers me, and I think most of it has to do with the fact that it requires me to become more personally invested in the workplace.

Well, I think most IT shops will still gladly hand out a Blackberry to someone who just wants a work device and wants to keep the office and personal computing firewalled. But, that probably will change within ten years.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:24 AM on July 8, 2012


It is disapointing that Apple do not integrate sustainabililty and reducing environmental impact into their core corporate and design values. As a global leader in personal computers, they're missing an opportunity to really innovate, and be less evil.
Companies like Philips are way ahead of them in sustainability: http://www.philips.co.uk/about/sustainability/index.page
Apples page on the other hand set off my bulls**t detector for greenwashing: http://www.apple.com/environment/
posted by Drew Glass at 10:25 AM on July 8, 2012


This is not new. They have been doing variations of this ever since the first iPod without an exchangeable battery was released. more after dinner
posted by infini at 10:26 AM on July 8, 2012


I'm sure there are profit motives for Apple, but I think they are also just ahead of the curve in terms of trading off disasseblibility and repairability for size/weight, etc. I kinda doubt it is harder to recycle an iPad, with tens of millions per model versus other devices where there are many different types of device in smaller numbers with different layouts, even if they do have screws.

I also think repairability becomes less of an issue when using components that last longer (SSD and better batteries). Even doing integrated hardware and software allows them to offer usability on older devices longer. For the most part, people don't repair computers or phones, so it's hard to see this having a negative impact overall.

I don't know that anyone has shown that the average mac or iphone has a shorter lifespan in practice than an alternative device that is repairable. If in fact they don't, then repairability isn't a very good proxy for environmental impact.
posted by snofoam at 10:27 AM on July 8, 2012


[Folks, if you really need to talk about whether or not Metafilter does in general or is in this case doing a topic well, the place to do that is in Metatalk. Flag and move on or take it over there; don't make a thread worse by derailing it with a discussion of whether or not it's a good thread.]
posted by cortex at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2012


charlie, my company has macbook pros still in service that we bought in 2007.

Thing is, those are only still in service because we've replace major components, sometimes several times, and in all but a couple of cases, out of warranty.


I'm still using my ~2005 PowerBook G4. The only thing I've done is replace the battery once, I gave the old one to Radio Shack for recycling. I'm even running on the original 1Gb of RAM.

Oh.. I just noticed this:

I don't know that anyone has shown that the average mac or iphone has a shorter lifespan in practice than an alternative device that is repairable. If in fact they don't, then repairability isn't a very good proxy for environmental impact.

I'm also still using my original iPhone which is 5 years old. The battery life is still just fine. I delay upgrading phones as long as possible, but I've never had a phone last more than 2 years before.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2012


lodurr: "But there are reasons we don't do things that way anymore...."

Yea, tax law says you have to account for business related vs personal usage. So basically you carry around two devices because tax accounting is hard...
posted by pwnguin at 10:45 AM on July 8, 2012


I'm so looking forward to the new Apple Hubris Mac Pro, coming in 2013!
posted by tittergrrl at 10:57 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're allowed to BYOD at work but those devices are only allowed on the guest network so they don't have direct access to any internal servers. You can use the VPN to get into the internal network but that only supports Windows/OSX/Linux; iOS and Android devices are SOL. IT folks are never very happy about letting random bits of hardware connect to their networks.
posted by octothorpe at 11:08 AM on July 8, 2012


Yea, tax law says...

... absolutely nothing about work-life balance, or letting the employer-employee relationship take up more and more of your personal mental space.
posted by lodurr at 11:08 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


This makes me uncomfortable. I love the crap out of my new iPad, and while my MacBook Pro is four years old and slowly dying, I have a lot of fond memories with the thing... but computers that don't suck for the environment isn't just a checkbox among checkboxes for me.

Disposable products that change every three years I'm okay with, because I'll pass my old machines down to people in exchange for a new shiny premium thingie, and pretty tech things are a minor passion of mine, but not every product gets traded down, and when a product is no longer worth anything for anybody, it should be easy to recycle. This strikes me as wrongheaded. Hopefully there'll be models of retina Macs that stick to environmental consciousness, because at some point this computer's going away and I would hate, absolutely hate, giving up my OS. But if Apple's a dick about this my hand will be forced.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:13 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


charlie don't surf, your experience is different from mine. There's not a single MacBook in our company older than 3 years that hasn't had a major part replaced. Several hard drives, several system boards, at least 2 displays and one DVD drive, and almost all of that during a time when we had at most 6 macbooks in the company. Most of that time we had 2 iPhones. One of those had to be replaced at least 4 times that I know of; the other had to be replaced once.

We also had one G5 Mac Pro which was a graphic artist's machine for most of that time (it's now our server). We had to replace one failed hard drive. That's pretty much it. I bought the drive, shut everything down, opened it up and slotted it in. Piece of cake.
posted by lodurr at 11:14 AM on July 8, 2012


... also, our removable batteries tend to last about 10 months. So I'm skeptical on the long term battery life claims for the new non-replaceable battery devices. If it's my own money, I wouldn't buy them. (If it's the company's money, I voice my concerns & place the order when told.)
posted by lodurr at 11:17 AM on July 8, 2012


Nelson: " I don't even know if those things are refurbished and sold into third world markets or stripped down to the materials or simply dumped in a landfill."

In my city, people leave them on the boulevard in front of their house in the rain until the neighbours kids smash them and the municipality comes along and tosses them in the landfill.

Nobody wants your damn cast-offs, people!
posted by klanawa at 11:27 AM on July 8, 2012


Hey IT, here's a hint - if people want to start bringing in, paying for, and maintaining their own equipment, maybe it's not a control or preference issue. Maybe the stuff you were issuing them was garbage that impeded their performance.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:29 AM on July 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


> Maybe the stuff you were issuing them was garbage that impeded their performance.

I knew entropicamericana favorited that comment before looking. That's such a heated, trollish statement for anyone to actually address without getting shit smeared on them. Try harder.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:38 AM on July 8, 2012


Nelson, I think lots of old gear is reconditioned for local markets (I do some of it), and I think useful parts are stripped from old gear for sale into the third world, but I don't think whole systems are reconditioned for third world markets that much. It is very hard to tell for sure though, even though I'm sort of in the business.

klanawa: Nobody wants your damn cast-offs, people!

You can't be serious!?! In my city a pile of old electronics doesn't last an hour on the curb before somebody has driven off with it. Sometimes I'm the one picking it up, but recently I've been dumping a bunch of stuff that doesn't seem to be worth selling, and it all gets snapped up super fast.
posted by Chuckles at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2012


John Siracusa talks about this issue in the second hour of the Hypercritical podcast from last week (6/29). Essentially, he boils down the issue into a trade-off between products that are repairable, vs. products with less variables or moving parts (due to not being repairable) and have longer lifespans. The difference between buying a car that you could do maintenance and some repairs yourself, vs. a refrigerator that you never have to repair, or when you do you call in the specialists.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:42 AM on July 8, 2012


Burhanistan: That's such a heated, trollish statement for anyone to actually address without getting shit smeared on them. Try harder.

It wasn't really intended to be. What I perhaps should have said was: IT often gets too wrapped up in budgets (or perhaps they are not allocated enough money) and rarely issue employees equipment that is rational given the amount of work they have and how much they are paid. It really, really doesn't make any sense to give a worker that costs $50k a year a $600 computer if a $3000 computer would result in a meaningful increase to productivity, and it usually will. However, most people are still on that $600 computer. Hell, I have never seen a decent mouse at a business, despite the fact that a good mouse results in an immediate increase to computer use speed and costs about $50.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:45 AM on July 8, 2012


In days of futures past, technology users were to be penalized for hanging on to old gear too long. From Adbusters, Consumer Society Is Made To Break, October 20, 2008:
“Planned obsolescence” may sound like a conspiracy theory but it was once openly discussed as a solution to the Great Depression. In fact, most scholars trace the origin of the term to Bernard London’s 1932 pamphlet, “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence”[*], in which London blames the global economic Depression on consumers who disobey “the law of obsolescence” by “using their old cars, their old tires, their old radios and their old clothing much longer than statisticians had expected”. London’s sinister solution was to propose a government agency that would determine the lifespan of each manufactured object whether it is a building, a ship, a comb or a shoe. Those frugal consumers who insisted on using their products past the expiration date would be penalized. London explained his plan simply: “I propose that when a person continues to posses and use old clothing, automobiles and buildings, after they have passed their obsolescence date, as determined at the time they were created, he should be taxed for such continued use of what is legally ‘dead’.”

[*full text in the article]
As software and hardware lifespans shrink, we're approaching the time of constant, continuous, upgrades obsolescence in which no one can afford to stop and repair something. Functionality — having outrun the actual needs of users — will be replaced by fifteen-second fashions, and digital sumptuary laws will be revived for fashionable digirati.
posted by cenoxo at 11:57 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unless you're going some graphically intense work, how much better can you do than a $600 computer? I have a six or seven year old computer at work that works fine for editing code and running LibreOffice, Thunderbird and Firefox. Most people aren't really doing anything all that taxing at work with their computers; as long as they can run Office and a brower, it's probably good enough.
posted by octothorpe at 12:02 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I perhaps should have said was: IT often gets too wrapped up in budgets (or perhaps they are not allocated enough money) and rarely issue employees equipment that is rational given the amount of work they have and how much they are paid. It really, really doesn't make any sense to give a worker that costs $50k a year a $600 computer if a $3000 computer would result in a meaningful increase to productivity, and it usually will. However, most people are still on that $600 computer. Hell, I have never seen a decent mouse at a business, despite the fact that a good mouse results in an immediate increase to computer use speed and costs about $50.


My university's new purchases are mostly $620 Dell Optiplex 990s. For pretty much everything done here, it's way more computer than people need.

But some people still insist on iMacs that cost twice as much as a far better Dell, or Macbook Pros with Thunderbolt displays such that we end up spending as much on that one person as we do on five sane users.
posted by kafziel at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ya, Mitrovarr's point about IT spending is a bit outdated now I think. Back in the 90s I worked at a place where we constantly had 2-3 $35k/year employees waiting at each of 2 $300 printers. They did eventually invest in 2-4 $2000 printers and the problem was alleviated, but it took them a couple of years to figure it out.

That said, I bet it does still go one around periferals. No question, a $600 Dell is all you need, but a nice monitor, keyboard, mouse, and maybe a label maker or bar code scanner or wacomm tablet, or personal printer, can do wonders for productivity on that $600 Dell.
posted by Chuckles at 12:17 PM on July 8, 2012


But some people still insist on iMacs that cost twice as much as a far better Dell

You mean "better" in the same sense that a Chevy Camaro is a better car than a Mercedes Benz E350, right (it has more horsepower)?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:21 PM on July 8, 2012


What Octo and Kafziel said.

I support almost all administrative folks (accounting, word processing, web surfing, database accessing). There's no good reason to give em even what they have; but either way, they're reasonably priced, easy to service and recycle. Our Macs have caused us way more time & effort & $ than they are supposed to cost.

I do think that people should use whatever tool makes their job easiest, within relative reason. We give people any tools they need to help em do that stuff - if they want fancy mice or ergo keyboards, larger / better contrast monitors, multiple monitors, etc, we order them (and not just the bare minimum, we try to get stuff that's decent and somewhat durable). So that's really not a problem for us.

Apple has just not made it easy to play nice in the enterprise, tho, and there's currently no justification (for us) to have them, unless perhaps we turned into an all mac shop, and best interoperability became more important than anything else.

There's nobody that's going to convince me - right now - that only Macs will do the job of all our pc's. Perhaps 10, 15 years ago, I might have agreed, in terms of stability, how stuff works with multimedia, reliability. Not anymore. I even have a Dell Opti 990 at home that I use for giant multitrack recording projects, and it's not even a dedicated box and still has one of those 'energy saver' small power supplies.

I realize the kind of market Apple likes to target, and I appreciate their design aesthetic to an extent, but at the cost of (potentially) crapping on our environment and making things more and more difficult for big business use in a mixed enterprise arena, I couldn't presently recommend 'em for that.

(That being said: I kind of wish Apple had stuck to Risc processing.... that would give me more of a reason to be interested in them in terms of why its innards might serve as a better alternative for certain types of tasks. )
posted by bitterkitten at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to iFixIt, Google's Nexus 7 tablet is almost entirely user-servicable, at the cost of an estimated 1mm of additional width to the tablet.

So maybe it is possible to make thin, lightweight products that are also user-serviceable.
posted by Vhanudux at 12:33 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


445supermag writes "Aren't a hammer and chisel commonly availible tools? I mean, if its headed for recycling, does it matter that that you break a glue joint rather than remove screws. Actually, it's probably faster."

Ya, it isn't. Sure if you want to send sharp pieces of plasitic flying all over a hammer is your tool but if you want to get a battery out without damaging it potentially causing fires and hazardous material to spray all over then a couple screws and reusable clips are a much nicer solution.

lodurr writes "charlie, my company has macbook pros still in service that we bought in 2007. "

5 years isn't really an exceptional life time for a modern computer.

lodurr writes "I understand that's how it always was in the 'good old days.' Craftsmen had their own tools, and sometimes they got or lost jobs for the lack of them. But there are reasons we don't do things that way anymore...."

Craftsmen still do. Certainly all the electricians I know have their own tools. Thing is though most people aren't "crafting" anything with iDevices; they are there for consumption and pounding out 100 characters to facebook.


Mitrovarr writes "It wasn't really intended to be. What I perhaps should have said was: IT often gets too wrapped up in budgets (or perhaps they are not allocated enough money) and rarely issue employees equipment that is rational given the amount of work they have and how much they are paid. It really, really doesn't make any sense to give a worker that costs $50k a year a $600 computer if a $3000 computer would result in a meaningful increase to productivity, and it usually will. However, most people are still on that $600 computer. Hell, I have never seen a decent mouse at a business, despite the fact that a good mouse results in an immediate increase to computer use speed and costs about $50."

No IT department I've ever worked at has had enough money. And if a mouse can make a difference on your own productivity for $50 why wouldn't you just supply your own? And ergonomics is something some companies spend a lot of time on. Certainly I did. We spent hours every year selecting peripherals. One of the things is though that most people couldn't care less; see for example all those rubber dome keyboards you see in the homes everywhere.

Printing is the only thing users seem to care about. Everyone wants a personal printer on their desk (preferably colour) with costs around 30 cents a page instead of using the group printer down the hall with costs around 6 cents a page.
posted by Mitheral at 12:44 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Chuckles: "You can't be serious!?! In my city a pile of old electronics doesn't last an hour on the curb before somebody has driven off with it."

I live in a relatively affluent neighbourhood full people who have all the latest crap already.
posted by klanawa at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2012


Many corporations like Ford, HSBC, and Kaiser Permanente require their CIOs to purchase computers from sources that are EPEAT certified, said Sarah O’Brien director of outreach for EPEAT. And the U.S. government requires that 95% of the electronics it purchases be EPEAT certified.

Apple doesn't care about the government, corporate, or enterprise markets. They are consumer focused at the moment so this isn't relevant to them, again, at the moment. You can see the trend in their software as well. But things change.

As 445supermag notes when it comes time to recycle materials you can simply demolish the thing.

Simply demolish? How safe is the workplace where you have to smash things apart? How does that fit in a procedural workflow? What would demolishing things do the sorting times?

Apple keeps making moves like this that make it look like they're abandoning the enterprise market or at least don't care about it much.

It's quite easy to bail when you're role in Enterprise is miniscule. Consumers are their focus now. That said, a lot of consumer gear can do well in the professional workspace outside of Enterprise. It has been interesting to see the migration to iMacs and PC desktops from Mac Pros as video professionals get sick of waiting for properly revised pro gear from Apple and the new Final Cut has spurred them to look at other solutions. The iMacs and PCs are just as quick for the most part as the old Mac Pros with the very high end workstation market featuring Windows based machines that are very much faster (Apple has said wait for next year for their next significantly revised workstation). Biscardi is in the process of moving to consumer machines for editing and professional workstations for rendering:

I have to say, I’m seriously rethinking the iMac plan after seeing just how flippin’ fast PC workstations are with both Adobe and Avid software. I just might put lower cost PCs in the edit suites and just have a couple of 12 core Mac Pros for Smoke. I’ve used Macs professionally since 1996 but it’s clear that if I want maximum performance with our current software packages, Windows is the way to go. We can put together a pretty cheap PC with a lot of RAM and a nice nVidia card to get awesome performance from our software. I can also re-purpose all of our AJA Kona boards since they work cross platform.

Source

This reminds me of the time when we were running Maya 1 on SGI O2s and Octanes and within a few months, everyone was using NT Workstations that were far cheaper. This was around 1999ish and there was barely any recycling and renewable programs in our workplace at that time.

So the consumer/professional space is blurring and frankly has been blurring for years. This has happened and is happening to a lesser extent with consumer/enterprise. But in both the professional and enterprise space being green will be more important, or at least they will say it is. Recycling is a big thing for consumers at home but I'm not sure that it can be enforced as well as corporate policies can so the consumer market is one where it is clearly not as important at this time. No adhering to these standards will barely affect Apple i suspect, if at all.
posted by juiceCake at 1:10 PM on July 8, 2012


Pete and EPEAT were in a boat; EPEAT fell out, who was left?
posted by Evilspork at 1:21 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pete and EPEAT were in a boat; EPEAT fell out, who was left?

eWasted
posted by infini at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


BYOD is a great idea. It combines the current model of IT supporting machines that people take home and render unusable by doing god knows what to them

Apple's way ahead of you on that; people are decreasingly able to do god-knows-what to their devices. If the nominal purchaser doesn't really own or control the device, does it really matter whether the purchaser is the company or the employee?
posted by hattifattener at 1:50 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple is clearly not interested in the DoD market. Until Lion, Mac's supported CAC smartcards natively, better than the ubiquitous Windows. No more. The latest OSX STIG (Security Technical Implementation Guide) is for 10.6. This is way more significant than EPEAT to US DoD buyers.
posted by Runes at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I know what you mean ['bring your own device'], but I didn't realize this was actually something people were talking about. Do you have experience with this?

I was just reading that half of corporate environments allow this, and that 71% of CIO are doing it themselves. I do tech support for a living. We allow this. We've also recently done one of the largest iOS purchases of any company.

I've also seen a trend toward people splitting the costs of their IT purchases with their employer, then getting the device after a period of time.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:58 PM on July 8, 2012


5 years isn't really an exceptional life time for a modern computer.

Yeah, actually it is. It's been a long time since I did GSA sales, but IIRC they require that any computer they buy must have support and parts availability for 5 years after it's discontinued. After that, it's considered obsolete and the vendor can abandon it. Since computers are regularly discontinued after 1 model year, your 5 year old computer most likely has no ability to be repaired, unless the vendor reused those components in more recent model years. For major components like motherboards, that's impossible.

I was thinking back to 5-6 years ago, considering what was considered a mainstream Windows computer. Vista hadn't shipped yet, and a lot of people would soon be pissed off that their new PCs that were labeled Vista-Ready would turn out not to be very compatible at all.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:11 PM on July 8, 2012


And to be clear, that's referring to five years in active service on the job within a managed IT infrastructure here, not just personal use. I have a hooptie Dell Optiplex from 02 that works fine but I wouldn't have it on a network that was audited or joined to other sites.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:18 PM on July 8, 2012


kafziel: My university's new purchases are mostly $620 Dell Optiplex 990s. For pretty much everything done here, it's way more computer than people need.

You know, it's mostly in the UI that people are under-equipped. The problem isn't that the Optiplex isn't a fast enough machine (although for some people I'm sure it isn't), the problem is that you're probably using the default keyboards, mice, and monitors. Throwing another $500 into the UI ($250 for a 24" monitor, $150 for a decent keyboard, about $70 for a decent mouse) for that machine would probably really improve productivity. The mouse alone would probably be a huge improvement - cheap mice are absolute trash compared to decent ones.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2012


The iMacs and PCs are just as quick for the most part as the old Mac Pros...

but...but...the Mac Pro would be better!
posted by lodurr at 3:38 PM on July 8, 2012


Apple is pushing their OS X management system to the same one they use in iOS. That is securely deployed profiles that can be provided by any https service that can write XML and sign it with a certificate, and functionality such as the Mac App Store to deploy applications.

For Apple, this means they can move away from their poorly supported OS X Server platform to provide workstation management and provide a standard that third parties can build tools against. JAMF Software's management system is already using profile services to manage iOS and OS X machines (Lion and upwards).

From the mac management standpoint that means your job as an Admin is to configure a profile server (which doesn't have to be from Apple) to manage your macs, and then drop the profile on the machine. If you want to deploy applications, you could use tools such as JAMF or free software solutions like Munki to push installers to workstations automatically or provide endusers to install selected software without having to grant them administration rights. I am sure later builds of OS X will integrate something similar into the App Store to allow for enterprise licensing and deployment to be pushed out to users workstations.

All of this shift is towards end users bringing their own machines to work, and IT guys just bootstrapping it into the corporate environment, ensuring it meets specific requirements (such as enforcing disk encryption and storing the master encryption key in a place IT can retrieve it) and then handing it back to endusers. I do not think this is the best philosophy for all situations, but it works in a surprisingly large group of them.

And unfortunately, since Apple is sitting under a giant firehose of money, it is hard to convince them that maybe they should reconsider what they are doing because currently they are making a fuckton of money, so the market indicator that their ideas are working is telling them to keep doing what they want to do.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:38 PM on July 8, 2012


The mouse alone would probably be a huge improvement - cheap mice are absolute trash compared to decent ones.

Wow, this has not been my experience at all. In fact I'd venture to say that I have almost the opposite experience. The most productivity-sapping mouse I've ever used was the Apple Mighty Mouse. I've used a bunch of different mice in the last several years, and have been happiest with a fairly cheap Targus mobile mouse. On this system I've got a cheap Logitech that works fine; at work I use an even (far) cheaper Manhattan. I gave one of these cheap Manhattans to one of our graphic designers, and she doesn't sing its praises but she doesn't complain about it like she did about the apple wireless she was using before (which we got her to replace this ancient and wildly complex Logitech she'd been using since she started with us several years ago -- bless her, I had a hard time even figuring out which buttons to press on that thing).

Keyboards, OTOH...that's a totally weird space. The fastest, easiest keyboards I've ever used were super cheap, but that's also true of the very worst keyboards I've ever used. I'm typing now on a $10 Logitech that's just OK; at work I have a probably 10 year old MacAlly that probably cost $50 new, and it's just OK (but the alternatives are worse). I have a MacAlly sitting here beside me with a bad keyswitch that I loved -- just not very durable. It was pretty cheap, though. But I have to say, I've used some expensive keyboards that were really shitty.
posted by lodurr at 3:46 PM on July 8, 2012


Maybe the stuff you were issuing them was garbage that impeded their performance.

This, oh my god, this. If you have ever issued anyone in your organization a HP laptop, if you have ever issued them a HP laptop running Windows XP, in the year 2011, if you have ever issued them a HP laptop, running XP in the year 2011, with IE 7 as standard, and then locked it down so hard, it would narc you out to you manager if you tried to run Firefox or Notepad++...

...then you are the reason BYOD happened. This was my rig last year, and it was so fragile and compromised, we were issued a second laptop, that could only talk to our management network, which was even more locked down. It didn't help.

Now, I got a Mac, we have a really good SSL VPN setup with baked-in compliance tools for multiple platforms, and everything goes much better. Some guys got Macs, others are trying out Windows 8, a few Linux and BSD gurus... it's great. Where I'm at, they issue you pretty much what you want, so long as you can keep it humming. Old fashioned full desktop support is available for Windows 7 and Blackberry users - people who don't give a crap, in other words.

What really, for really real, brought about BYOD was the iPad. Non-technical c-level execs and top-performing sales reps were using Pages and Keynote for pretty much every meeting and presentation, and then IT told them they couldn't have it, here's a nice Windows tablet instead, and if the iPad was that important, maybe they getter just buy their own and support it on their own. Guess what?
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:49 PM on July 8, 2012


mrzarquon: All of this shift is towards end users bringing their own machines to work, and IT guys just bootstrapping it into the corporate environment, ensuring it meets specific requirements (such as enforcing disk encryption and storing the master encryption key in a place IT can retrieve it) and then handing it back to endusers.

So, it sounds like what you're describing is: I provide the machine, which I buy with my money; corporate IT locks it down and turns it into a corporate machine, such that when I leave, I have a brick.

Assuming that's right (and of course it may not be), what's in it for me as an end user, again?
posted by lodurr at 3:49 PM on July 8, 2012


> So, it sounds like what you're describing is: I provide the machine, which I buy with my money; corporate IT locks it down and turns it into a corporate machine, such that when I leave, I have a brick.

Assuming that's right (and of course it may not be), what's in it for me as an end user, again?


No, depending on the setup, when you leave, your profile is revoked, your company email account disappears, and your company issued software is erased. You still have your computer, or iOS device. Configuring the tools properly, they can even decrypt your drive for you remotely, so you can choose to re-encrypt it with a different master password they don't know.

In other instances, you can fully lock down a machine and wipe it, if instead of implementing a BYOD policy for your office, you still issue work owned machines to endusers. All of those features are available as options that can be implemented in the device management framework.

Quickly deploying a new machine for a enduser, regardless of them buying it vs the organization buying it is the bigger overall goal. For Mac sys admins, the previous practices were always using a monolithic image to wipe the new machines hard drive and installing a base os + applications, etc. Now it is all about using a change management tool that lets you enforce settings (or just preset bookmarks and functionality to allow users to change it afterwards) on machines the arrive on your desk as is. For example, the retina MBP ships with a slightly different version of 10.7.4 than what is available in a universal install image, so to image a MBP one either has to use the custom build, or wait until 10.7.5 ships which one could build a new universal image from. In the older model, that retina MBP would sit on the shelf until 10.7.5 is out (rarely do large enterprise spaces recreate new images unless its a universal one), under the new model, they can just add the management framework to the machine, it makes the settings that are required, and hand it back to the enduser. Enduser gets their machine almost as soon as it arrives, IT knows they can track it for inventory and auditing purposes, and also ensure it has the latest security updates, everyone is happy.

Also, the "we wipe your personal device when you leave" is already a must opt in requirement for users in most corporate environments for their iPhones. As a fully compliant ActiveSync device, it supports remote wipe and organizations doing iOS self enrollments have users agree to as much before they can get their management profile installed on their phone (which also includes things like wireless passwords, VPN settings, and eventually, iOS App Store apps the company has purchased for them on their behalf).

The other aspect of BYOD that some people are missing is that it's not always users personal money being spent on this machine, but their departments. Instead of IT saying they buy $X-Y worth of computers for departments as they need it, they can say "we will pay $800 towards a workstation, if you want something that is more than $800, you or your department will have to cough up the extra money."
posted by mrzarquon at 4:14 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate Apple and its technofascist design, so my opinion may be colored by the delight I feel in the idea of someone taking a hammer to its sterile, lifeless products

Apple lets me paint everywhere.
posted by Scoo at 4:19 PM on July 8, 2012


mrzarquon, that's helpful. I'm still left wondering why I would buy in to a regime like that, and there are a lot of "if it's done right" qualifiers in there. I'll certainly stipulate that you do; but I've been in or on the edges of IT departments my entire professional career and I know that the path of expediency is more usual.
posted by lodurr at 5:13 PM on July 8, 2012


And if a mouse can make a difference on your own productivity for $50 why wouldn't you just supply your own?

Because it's not my job to spend my own money to help the fucking company, which is my other objection to BYOD. In an employer-employee relationship, money should only ever flow from the company to the employee, and never, ever the other way 'round.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:29 PM on July 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


Not everyone is, and it isn't something that works for everyone.

The big components of what I mentioned aren't necessarily implemented in just BYOD environments, in fact I use them at my current job where we issue equipment to faculty, and the university owns the devices (no matter how much the faculty try to say otherwise). I can not give endusers admin rights on their Macs, but also ensure software updates are being run consistently thanks to the management frameworks I have in place, which is something no Apple tool has really made possibly (Apple Remote Desktop doesn't count).
posted by mrzarquon at 5:34 PM on July 8, 2012


Yeah, actually it is. It's been a long time since I did GSA sales, but IIRC they require that any computer they buy must have support and parts availability for 5 years after it's discontinued. After that, it's considered obsolete and the vendor can abandon it. Since computers are regularly discontinued after 1 model year, your 5 year old computer most likely has no ability to be repaired, unless the vendor reused those components in more recent model years. For major components like motherboards, that's impossible.

If you buy business-y models, you can get parts for years and years. I'm still fixing 15 year old servers, and the parts are dirt cheap. Optiplex GX280s? Plenty of motherboards available. Etc.
posted by gjc at 6:02 PM on July 8, 2012


The other thing about BYOD that's good is that it is forcing businesses to do things in more standard ways. Instead of this hacked to shit clipper executable that runs the company, they have a website that any device can connect to. If you aren't on a LAN machine and need access, you use SharePoint, or get a virtual desktop off the Citrix server.
posted by gjc at 6:06 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, I feel the same way, but you know what? I've bought my own mice & keyboards before, at places where I knew it wouldn't be a problem when I carried them away with me. But then, I still think of myself as a contractor at some level -- I've been one for most of my adult life, it's a hard mindset to break.
posted by lodurr at 6:26 PM on July 8, 2012


I've bought my own mice & keyboards before, at places where I knew it wouldn't be a problem when I carried them away with me.

Providing my own mouse, keyboard and other minor peripherals to make my life easier has been factored into my salary negotiation. For a few jobs in the '90s, I actually provided my own Powerbook as well, back when they cost three grand each... and "I'm going to need to use my own equipment, here's what it costs per year" was rolled into the discussion. I stopped being able to get away with that at larger shops in the aughts, as everything started to go on permanent lockdown.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:03 PM on July 8, 2012


Pope Guilty: "Because it's not my job to spend my own money to help the fucking company, which is my other objection to BYOD. In an employer-employee relationship, money should only ever flow from the company to the employee, and never, ever the other way 'round."

Yes, this. I work more than 40 hours a week (sometimes much more) for 40 hours of pay, I'm not interested in handing my money back in the form of computer hardware. And I'm really not interested in infecting my personal phone with company email. I really want to keep a sharp line between my life and my work.
posted by octothorpe at 8:04 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is my personal observation that Apple products have longer lives than other computers

Tell that to the people who bought iPad 1s two years ago who won't be able to use the upcoming iOS 6.
posted by JHarris at 8:06 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


A big part of the problem with 'why don't you buy your own equipment' is that the average employee doesn't know what equipment would help them. Most people are satisfied with poor computer equipment, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't actually accomplish more with better gear; they just don't know the better stuff exists, or they don't realize that the poor equipment is hindering them.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:10 PM on July 8, 2012


An iPad 1 would make a great Ubuntu tablet.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:22 PM on July 8, 2012


Pope Guilty writes "Because it's not my job to spend my own money to help the fucking company, which is my other objection to BYOD. In an employer-employee relationship, money should only ever flow from the company to the employee, and never, ever the other way 'round."

I agree in principle. In reality I've been lugging the same early 80s Model M from job to job for the 15 years (Take that "windows" key). I even bought a specific Belkin adapter to convert the PS/2 into USB to use it with laptops. The Model M makes me happier and using the piece of trash membrane keyboard or !UGH! a short stroke laptop keyboard when I can supply my own for the cost of a weeks worth of starbucks seems counter productive. $deity knows the company isn't going to notice one way or the other if I torture myself with some dollar store keyboard.

And as costs go it's cheaper than wear and tear on the clothes needed to meet the dress code most places I've worked.

I also buy my own notebooks so that I don't feel guilty when I don't turn them over to the company when we part ways.
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 PM on July 8, 2012


Well the problem is that everything is pretty subjective. Efficiency is not just about productivity, in my opinion. For example, I have verified I type fastest, hands down, with a full travel mechanical keyswitch keyboard, but in fact I prefer to use a low-travel scissor-switch laptop-y keyboard, and that keeps me working far longer and better. This is also variable amongst users: with a mouse - some people really love their optical mice, their laser mice, or even trackballs, etc. but I find I work best with a good, fast tracking laser mouse, bonus points if you can adjust the sensitivity via hardware key (this limits me to blinged-out gaming mice, with looks hilariously garish in contrast to the rest of a very staid, business-like setup). Which ignores the fact that if I'm coding or writing, the mouse becomes more of a hindrance than anything else - then I start seeing the benefits of OS/software elements that remove the mouse from the equation altogether and I never have to move my hands - and so on.

The point being, there's no real silver bullet for productivity in my view. Maybe someone really must have a full mechanical keyboard, maybe some people PREFER a rubber dome device. Some people might even prefer the Magic Mouse (I don't know who these people are), or maybe they like how the Microsoft BlueMotion ones track well without a mousepad, or maybe they whatever. In some ideal case scenario maybe IT departments could just give everyone a budget and a few popular recommendations and the user themselves could pick and choose their setup, but something tells me that the vast pricing differences between different products is going to cause this pie-in-the-sky concept to fall apart. Myself, I work in an academic lab, so we're all pretty much expected to provide our own hardware anyway (and having no IT department specific to our lab, and each lab basically fending for themselves in this respect, our network probably doesn't meet any kind of a enterprise standard), so it's a fairly moot point for me personally, but I don't envy the business-types who have to figure out how to arm their guys and gals with actual things that they would like to use.
posted by Tikirific at 11:08 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Green Apple quick step forces rapid about-face. Apple caught trous' down!
posted by markkraft at 11:11 PM on July 8, 2012


I don't really buy the idea that either disassembly or user swapability/serviceability is a necessary casualty in the pursuit of a quality hardware experience for the user. But l do think that to the extent that there exist real incentives that are driving Apple's decisions, it's likely that other manufacturers will follow suit at some point, at least, without some countervailing incentive.

If that's the case, long-term those features will only be available if there's a small-scale fab tech that yields enough DIY capability that people who value them can produce them.
posted by weston at 11:28 PM on July 8, 2012


I don't really buy the idea that either disassembly or user swapability/serviceability is a necessary casualty in the pursuit of a quality hardware experience for the user.

If you mean that the kind of disassembly requirement that Apple's leaving EPEAT over, then I agree and if we stipulate that we're talking about most users, most people here probably would, too.

That's the whole point of a standard like EPEAT: Get everybody together to do this thing that's not really good for any of them in market terms, but which serves a greater good.

If they all pursue their own business upside, you never get stuff like EPEAT. It's all disposability. As far as I know, just about every attempt to sell the idea of upgradeable hardware has ultimately either failed or faded away into niches. (Towers these days e.g. AFAICS are pretty much for gamers and very small server rooms.)

We have EPA mileage standards for auto manufacturers because the car manufacturers would always go for the sex-sale as long as there was cheap gas (which we've always been willing to mortgage our future for here in America). Computing hardware isn't really all that different.

So my big concern about this is not that Apple's being Apple, but that they're hurting the movement. And even if they don't endorse their own castrated standard or embark on a full-on campaign to discredit the very idea of green standards, they have hurt the standard. Just look here at this thread -- we have plenty of examples of people rationalizing the decision, alongside the main stream of the thread (which is largely discussing the larger concepts and how they've played out in our work experience). It's not as dramatic as I feared, but there are people here rationalizing-away the move just the way many fans and many people dependend on a technology rationalize away the negative effects of their thing.
posted by lodurr at 3:49 AM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, to be clear, I'm a loooong time Mac user, and as such, I'm entitled to be disappointed with the company when it screws up. Abandoning the recyclability and eliminating all user-serviceable parts is not the right way to go.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:01 AM on July 9, 2012


Clean design doesn't equate to a clean product. Apple should be factoring in the cost of disposal of their products. And by should, I mean should be legally obliged to.
posted by asok at 8:52 AM on July 9, 2012


As far as I know, just about every attempt to sell the idea of upgradeable hardware has ultimately either failed or faded away into niches. (Towers these days e.g. AFAICS are pretty much for gamers and very small server rooms.)

This statement is void of meaning. All technology falls out of fashion eventually, and towers were around for a damn long time. Planning for upgradability is difficult, but worthwhile. It's rarely done by manufacturers though because they'd rather sell you a new one.

My own iPad 2 has been opened up recently to attempt to repair it*, and opening it and reading around the internet has made some things clear.

- The iPad 1 is held together with clips like the Mac Mini. Not the easiest thing to open up but it can be done with just a thin spudger and some lever action.

- The iPad 2 is held together with hot glue; it is difficult to get it open unless you use a heat gun. And that's a minefield of possible problems; it's easy to sever the digitizer cable, and it's difficult to disconnect the battery. Once open though it seems pretty sensibly arranged. Major system components are connected to the logic board using sockets that are held shut with levers.

Despite the levered sockets, between versions Apple obviously made a move to make iPad harder for users to service, and I'm paying the price for it, as well as anyone else with a product out of warranty. The cost to have Apple repair an iPad 2 is $250; a new one costs $400.

* The backlight is out and I'm not sure where to go from here, try replacing the LCD or getting someone who knows how to use a multimeter to check the coils. I've considered writing an AskMe about this. If anyone has any suggestions, please MeMail. (I don't have the money to pay Apple's more-than-half-the-cost-of-a-new-device repair charge right now; I'd rather just save up for a new device if it came to that. Maybe something Android; the Nexus 7 is less than the repair cost.)
posted by JHarris at 2:30 PM on July 9, 2012


This statement is void of meaning.

It's less than optimally phrased, that's for sure.

What I meant was that whenever computer manufacturers have tried to sell upgradeability, it's ultimately been trumped by convenience as soon as a 'good enough' brick was introduced. By using towers as an example I meant to express that towers are now relegated to places where there's a need: among gamers, who want massive power supplies and fans, still occasionally mod their systems with add-on graphics & other stuff, etc.; and in smallish "data centers" where people take an old tower and continually refurb it to put it to new uses. (Case in point the aforementioned dual G5 Mac Pro upstairs from me, which used to be a hot graphic artist's machine and is now a file server.)

Laptop manufacturers periodically try to sell upgradeability and maintainability in the consumer space, and it always fails. (Asus -- or was it Acer? -- tried this in a big way about 7-8 years back with a new laptop platform that would afford swapping much more easily. Had replaceable panels, etc. They put out models in bamboo and cardboard to promote it. Consumer-wise, sank like a stone. But as they were an OEM they ended up leveraging that flexibility to more affordably deliver customized models to their partners, which may have been the real point all along.) Apple's first laptops and IBM's original ThinkPads were very much designed with serviceability in mind. (Now that I think of it there were a lot of similarities and I wonder if they had some of the same engineering designers working on them...) It has some traction in corporate space, but that's even fading as it becomes cheaper to replace than to repair.
posted by lodurr at 2:46 PM on July 9, 2012


I haven't seen it demonstrated that it's cheaper for anyone to replace a device than to repair it. I just don't see the cost of replacement components rivaling the cost of new devices. I just don't think that's true, but I'm open to evidence. Warranties end, things go wrong. I think it's more profitable for the manufacture to sell devices that aren't particularly serviceable, forcing the purchase of new ones, but I just don't see how that could possibly be cheaper for buyers.

I know a lot of people have gone mobile, using laptops as their primary work platform. Is the end of towers at desks and the broad shift towards thinner(apparently literally) clients more pronounced for people and organizations who use Apple products?

Is it truly so extreme that now you can't even open up a Macbook Pro or is this more of an iOS thing? I mean it sucks for home users, but I can't imagine that professional users can be comfortable with the possibility of their primary work platform suddenly turning into a paperweight due to a hardware failure. I mean lets say the machine goes down and you're not going to repair it, it's within your budget to simply replace it, great.. but don't you at least want to be able to open it up and pull your HDD or SSD without using a cutting torch?

Repair vs. Replace doesn't even come up until something has already gone wrong. I don't buy that professional users are comfortable with the idea of their tools bricking and being unservicable. At least, I could never be comfortable with that.
posted by TheKM at 11:34 PM on July 9, 2012


I should clarify, I don't think it costs less, in terms of parts, to repair an iPad than replace it. The difference is entirely from Apple's decision to charge half the purchase price, because they can.

(Although in fact, it seems that often when they "repair" a device, they just hand you a wiped refurbished unit. That's what happened when mine had a cracked screen replaced earlier -- that they did for free, it must be said, under their at-the-time once-only replacement policy. From what I understand, they never did that if the device was out of warranty though.)
posted by JHarris at 12:15 AM on July 10, 2012


I'm not sure you're ever going to get a straight-up 'costs less' analysis. It's going to be more like 'greater margin if we consider marketing strategy, repair supply chain costs, [etc.].'

I.e., more like, 'we make more money this way' than 'costs less.' Subtle but crucial difference.

And it may well be that they're wrong in that analysis, but if they like the odds they'll always gamble on a better margin.
posted by lodurr at 4:53 AM on July 10, 2012


San Francisco Officials Plan to Block Apple Procurement
Officials with the San Francisco Department of Environment told CIO Journal on Monday they would send out letters over the next two weeks,informing all 50 of the city’s agencies that Apple laptops and desktops “will no longer qualify” for purchase with city funds.
posted by Nelson at 11:03 AM on July 10, 2012


I wasn't asking about Apple's perspective.. I was wondering about their customers.
posted by TheKM at 5:19 PM on July 10, 2012


Apple Releases EPEAT Statement: We’re Special, but Different
posted by homunculus at 10:17 PM on July 10, 2012


A surprisingly unsurprising response. Basically they seem to be saying:
  1. Tablets & phones aren't covered* so this doesn't matter**
  2. besides, we're still [for now] doing all these other things that EPEAT either doesn't cover yet or was never meant to cover, so it's all good
The comment thread at TheLoop is basically made up largely of people arguing that Apple is better than EPEAT and will now make better & greener products for pulling out. Basically right-wing free-marketism. Superficially ironic, that, considering who's deploying it.

(Also unsurprising why they choose that as their venue.

--
*
**...and so by the same token, staying in EPEAT would have had no design consequences for their phone & tablet lines, have I got that right?
posted by lodurr at 5:01 AM on July 11, 2012


ergh...

*This makes a lot of sense -- iPad & iPhone procurements in F500 / the US Fed are not endangered, then, if those devices were never listed as EPEAT certified.
posted by lodurr at 5:02 AM on July 11, 2012


Also, the statement & spin makes it clearer why they pulled out: they're apparently prepared to play the 'we do it better than the gummint-backed standard' card.
posted by lodurr at 5:03 AM on July 11, 2012


Well, and their argument is the EPEAT specifications don't take into account newer developments in design / assembly / full lifecycle management, instead are just guidelines on how easily it is to take something about with a screwdriver.

I wonder if there was a bigger behind the scenes discussion with EPEAT that pretty much boiled down to Apple saying "you guys need to adapt to accommodate this stuff or we are leaving" and then Apple following up on that threat.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:28 AM on July 11, 2012


It sounds like not. No one has mentioned a discussion. Also, a discussion doesn't really sound like Apple in 2012 -- these days their attitude is more like 'why in the world would anyone disagree with us, when we're so clearly right?'
posted by lodurr at 11:38 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


All academic questions about recyclability vs lifecycle management aside, I'm not sure why people are up in arms over this battery thing. It's obvious that when dealing with the top case assembly there's going to be some specific solvent used to dissolve the adhesive at some point.

The iFixit guys are being borderline retarded about using excessive (and dangerous!) amounts of force when they essentially don't have the right key.
posted by Talez at 3:08 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's an interesting analogy. So if I understand you correctly, you're saying that because they don't have the "right key" [specific industrial solvents to dissolve the glue]*, their attempt at a tear down was inherently going to require "excessive (and dangerous!) amounts of force"?

Ergo, the system is (as has been noted) un-repairable, except by someone with the "right key"?

Have I got that right?

--
*is it common practice to use solvents to remove the type of glue used for this kind of application? That doesn't seem likely to me, as I imagine anything that would dissolve industrial adhesives would risk compromising the batteries. Hot glue or epoxy is more likely. I could imagine some kind of heating jig.
posted by lodurr at 4:35 PM on July 11, 2012


Ergo, the system is (as has been noted) un-repairable, except by someone with the "right key"?

Probably. Until someone figures out what they're using to dissolve the adhesive back at the repair mothership. Then I'd also expect vials of the stuff to be available on iFixit for vastly inflated prices and their attitude to Apple improved. But I'm willing to let other people fight that holy war. I'm just here to point out how silly iFixit were by attacking dangerous batteries with large amounts of force.

*is it common practice to use solvents to remove the type of glue used for this kind of application? That doesn't seem likely to me, as I imagine anything that would dissolve industrial adhesives would risk compromising the batteries. Hot glue or epoxy is more likely. I could imagine some kind of heating jig.

What? Did I read that right? Solvents are too dangerous so let's heat up Lithium batteries?

Plastic bottle recycling uses a solvent bath to dissolve adhesives used to affix labels and then cleans the solvent off using CO2. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple designed the battery cases with this in mind. Spray the top case assembly with the right stuff and the batteries come off like magic. For a company so intent on controlling the product life-cycle this seems like a no-brainer. For a generic recycler in a poorer country it's probably a nightmare.
posted by Talez at 4:50 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the net is that the system is only repairable by Apple. That unless it's repaired by apple (but it will probably just be replaced, instead), it's disposable.

If that doesn't bother you, fine. But it bothers me.
posted by lodurr at 4:54 PM on July 11, 2012


Apple's decision to no longer comply with EPEAT standards? It basically means they are choosing to make non-upgradeable, essentially disposable electronics using toxic materials, that can't be easily dissembled.

EPEAT exists not only for consumers who like being green. It also exists for those who like upgradeability, and who realize that the ability to upgrade a device means that it will have a longer lifespan.

Most notably, EPEAT standards protect our environment, by encouraging companies to design products using fewer toxic materials and heavy metals, in ways that cannot be easily recycled/ safely disassembled.

"Aren't a hammer and chisel commonly availible tools? I mean, if its headed for recycling, does it matter that that you break a glue joint rather than remove screws. Actually, it's probably faster."

...and that's a huge problem, because it feeds a huge, oftentimes illegal, unregulated marketplace for cheap e-waste processing.

There's a good reason why most of this e-waste goes to China, and, increasingly, to Nigeria and Ghana. That way, companies can avoid the expense of complying with our own environmental standards. So, when I say that this is an oftentimes illegal marketplace, what that means is that our companies actually ship the e-waste to China or other countries, to be processed in ways that aren't even compliant with these nation's own environmental standards.

And while there are some overseas companies that can do a pretty good job of safely recycling e-waste, they aren't competitive, so most of the processing is done in an illegal, unregulated manner, oftentimes with entire families -- kids included -- working together to break it down to its component parts. It's simply cheaper to do it that way. Boards are melted down in the open air, releasing toxic fumes, lead, etc., while scavenged e-waste is simply burnt or dumped, with pollution left to leak into rivers, groundwater, etc.

This has led to some very serious heavy metal pollution. In some Chinese cities, all the water is now shipped in, due to this. In this example from China, 80% of the local children have tested positive for heavy metal poisoning as a direct result of these kinds of policy decisions.

Apple's products are, perhaps, greener than some. They are also significantly less green than others, such as HP, Dell, Nokia, etc.

Think that Apple's stream for its recycled products keeps their e-waste out of these sorts of low-end, polluting systems? Think again.
posted by markkraft at 5:03 PM on July 11, 2012


Think that Apple's stream for its recycled products keeps their e-waste out of these sorts of low-end, polluting systems? Think again.

An Apple USB Keyboard circa 1998-2003? Isn't that just mildly deceptive about the current situation?
posted by Talez at 5:14 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Think that Apple's stream for its recycled products keeps their e-waste out of these sorts of low-end, polluting systems? Think again.

That is a bit sensationalistic, but yes, I agree that just because Apple can recycle their machines doesn't mean all their machines are recycled by Apple.

But then those places are just going to be burning everything anyway, so being EPEAT certified isn't going to help much either.

It's got to be a whole supply chain decision, and I am upset that Apple has moved away from supporting EPEAT because it devalues what is in essence a good program. Thats why I was wishing there was at least some discussion over why they had left instead of them just walking away from the table, but I guess that isn't the case.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:17 PM on July 11, 2012


> They are also significantly less green than others, such as HP, Dell, Nokia, etc.

Depends on your definition of Green. Dell's green website still only lists a handful of BFR/Mercury free products (and has no mention of 2012), while Apple has listed all of theirs as being free of them.

If you can find other information showing how Dell is actually greener, great, but it appears they haven't been ontop of keeping it updated as Apple has.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:23 PM on July 11, 2012


Greenpeace actually has a pretty well-researched report available on the environmental ratings of the largest electronics / PC manufacturers.

Topping the list is HP (5.9 points out of 10), Dell (5.1), Nokia (4.9), Apple (4.6), Philips (4.5), Sony Ericsson (4.2), Samsung Electronics (4.1), Lenovo (3.8), Panasonic (3.6), Sony (3.6), Sharp (3.0), Acer (2.9), LG Electronics and Toshiba (both 2.8), and Research in Motion (1.6).
posted by markkraft at 8:59 PM on July 11, 2012


Did you actually read the reports or just go for the numbers?
posted by Talez at 9:11 PM on July 11, 2012


Yes, I did read several of the top reports, which are rather clear and not particularly long. Did you?

Basically, Apple has significantly improved its green status over the past few years, when they ranked #15 out of 15. They now seem well poised to basically be unaccountable again... which is bad, considering the fact that their products are still full of toxic heavy metals, and aren't exactly biodegradable.
posted by markkraft at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The whole essence of the report is that you're penalized a lack of transparency more than providing lip service. Look at the stuff where it involves actually doing stuff. It's all greenish. Most of the points knocked down are "they won't commit to x in the future".

Clean Energy Plan? HP promises to buy more than 8% of their electricity from renewable sources for their facilities they get 4/8 and Apple is already sitting on 13% and they get a 3/8 for not publicly having a plan or targets on what to do?

Yep. This isn't rigged one bit against Apple's (dependinging on your perspective) secrecy/underpromising and overdelivering.
posted by Talez at 10:01 PM on July 11, 2012


note to self: as an adolescent, I noticed that it was really important to hate my favorite things. Now, I am nearing fifty, and here is Apple, reminding me: hate your favorite things.
posted by mwhybark at 10:47 PM on July 11, 2012


Yep. This isn't rigged one bit against Apple's (dependinging on your perspective) secrecy/underpromising and overdelivering.

So, you think they rigged the game against secrecy?

Would you have secrecy go unexamined and un-accounted-for?
posted by lodurr at 7:05 AM on July 12, 2012


Would you have secrecy go unexamined and un-accounted-for?

I'd rather have non-action be penalized more.

But 0/3 for "Use of Recycled Plastic in Products"? Fan assembles, speaker assemblies, Mac Pro plastic support assemblies are all post-consumer recycled plastic. And the vast majority of the products shipped are all aluminium, steel and glass anyway!

How exactly does this survey work again? The intern couldn't find basic information so they get the red pen out?
posted by Talez at 9:03 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gimmeabreak, Talez. If Apple had a problem with the findings of the report, they could easily contact Greenpeace and correct their mistakes for them.

Ultimately, though, Greenpeace's report is merely a substitute for, say, a comprehensive standard that focuses on measurable criteria such as:

Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials
Material selection
Design for end of life
Product longevity/life extension
Energy conservation
End-of-life management
Corporate performance
Packaging

IOW, it's a less-than-ideal substitute for actually complying with the EPEAT standards.

Really, I am hardly anti-Apple. I grew up using Apple computers. The first computer I seriously loved was the Apple IIe. I used to run an Apple QA lab for an Apple-centric software company. My best friend worked for Apple for many years, and I've spent a considerable amount of time on their campus.

Ripping into Apple isn't something that I love to do. It's something I feel compelled to do, because they betrayed their users by going back on their word, with next-to-no discussion with the larger Apple community, and a really flimsy rationale for doing so that isn't justified by "we want to make small, disposable consumer devices that make more money".

That's the problem in a nutshell. Having greener standards isn't a profitable thing to do... but it *needs* to be done. Apple only made serious strides in this regard reluctantly, when they were pressured to do so. But it's *still* not enough. In fact, it's still wildly unsustainable. And, as you pointed out, they have no concrete plans going forward... and no standard they intend to comply with, when it comes to these important criteria.

One of the proudest moments I ever had in regards to Apple was an old story about Steve Jobs, who, when his early Macintoshes took ages to boot, challenged its designers, saying that, in total, they could save the equivalent of an entire human's life by speeding up the boot-up time of their computer. That was the goal... knocking precious seconds off the time, and "saving a life". Those engineers rose to the challenge, and they delivered.

Well, EPEAT is a challenge too. It's a noble one. IT SAVES LIVES. It helps to save entire communities from heavy metal poisoning. It could spur designs that achieve great things, at a minimal cost.

...and Apple just broke their promises, no valid justification given, and walked away from the challenge. It's shameful.

Maybe *you* don't think Apple has a duty to it's customers to be greener, or to have public standards and goals as to what they will do to be more environmentally conscious in the future, but I know one person who felt differently about that issue.

"It is generally not Apple’s policy to trumpet our plans for the future; we tend to talk about the things we have just accomplished. Unfortunately this policy has left our customers, shareholders, employees and the industry in the dark about Apple’s desires and plans to become greener. Our stakeholders deserve and expect more from us, and they’re right to do so. They want us to be a leader in this area, just as we are in the other areas of our business. So today we’re changing our policy."
posted by markkraft at 11:38 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gimmeabreak, Talez. If Apple had a problem with the findings of the report, they could easily contact Greenpeace and correct their mistakes for them.

Or Greenepeace could do their job properly. They're just using the whole exercise for attention because it's not really sexy to say Apple has/is doing good work. Find a way to take the fuckers down a peg. Get that picture of ten year old waste in the stream to crucify them!

Maybe *you* don't think Apple has a duty to it's customers to be greener, or to have public standards and goals as to what they will do to be more environmentally conscious in the future, but I know one person who felt differently about that issue.

I do think it has a duty to be greener. Penalizing them for quietly going about their business of doing it doesn't help. Focusing on one area to the exclusion of all others doesn't really help either because as any company puts out one fire it may start another. People cheered on Apple as they dragged down the size of packaging and reduced the environmental impact of shipping but now the devices are too small to be easily recycled.

Greenpeace released their new "coal free iCloud" tripe today. This is a direct quote that shows how off the planet these idiots are:
Ultimately, if Apple is serious about its commitment to a coal-free iCloud, the most important thing the company can do is to use its buying leverage with Duke to push for cleaner energy options.
Apple buys about 30MW of power from Duke. You know how much generation capacity Duke has installed? 58,200MW. Apple is a rounding error on Duke's list of customers. If they said "generate your stuff from renewables or we're leaving" they'd probably say "don't let the door hit you on the way out because I don't want to have to clean the ass marks from it".

They also say that Apple should commit to 100% renewable power in Oregon. Which Apple already said they'd do.

I'm not sure at what point they really get off the backs of everybody. Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft et al aren't energy brokers or generators. They're not big energy users (except for Google maybe) to begin with. They don't have a lot of weight. They just want to make their products and services while trying to make sure their little corner of the world is as good as they can make it. Complaining they're not out saving the world from itself is pants on head retarded and it really needs to stop.
posted by Talez at 12:30 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft et al aren't energy brokers or generators. They're not big energy users (except for Google maybe) to begin with. They don't have a lot of weight. They just want to make their products and services while trying to make sure their little corner of the world is as good as they can make it. Complaining they're not out saving the world from itself is pants on head retarded and it really needs to stop.

Apple defends green credentials of cloud computing services
Greenpeace report named Apple among worst offenders for using highly polluting coal to power their data centres


Greenpeace today released the 5th edition of its Cool IT Leaderboard (1), which sees Internet search engine giant Google overtaking on climate issues, followed by Cisco and Ericsson.
posted by infini at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2012


Greenpeace report named Apple among worst offenders for using highly polluting coal to power their data centres

BTW, they count Apple as still using coal because they count RECs as a load of crap.
posted by Talez at 1:10 PM on July 12, 2012


The biggest problem I have with Greenpeace's reports are they are based more on company's projections vs deliverables (again, Dell has pledged to have most machines available in PVC options while all of Apple's are), and data point issues where Greenpeace is claiming Apple's data center will use 100mw of power, while Apple (who is running the data center) is saying they are using 20mw. When this was pointed out, GreenPeace said it was because Apple didn't give them any data, so they estimated, and made a new estimate to be 81mw, which is still four times that of what Apple had said at the time.

Now in the latest link, they are saying Apple is drawing 30mw from Duke, which might be a more accurate number, but still way closer to Apple's statements than anything GreenPeace was trying to say.

Now, granted, their data center is growing so its power usage is also increasing to go with it. But so far Apple has committed to building 40mw of solar arrays for their data center (and is actually building them), and their 5mw fuel cell farm as well brings their alternative power generation to 45mw. Which is more than what they are criticizing Apple for purchasing from Duke power right now.

What gets me is GreenPeace is pointing to those changes as the result of their pushing on Apple, when in fact it looks like Apple is just deciding to announce plans they are already undergoing (because they are a secretive company that doesn't announce something until it is done, and the decision to spend a few million or billion dollars on solar panels just doesn't happen in a weekend to shut up protestors, they had to be working on this way before greenpeace had announced anything).
posted by mrzarquon at 1:13 PM on July 12, 2012


What gets me is GreenPeace is pointing to those changes as the result of their pushing on Apple, when in fact it looks like Apple is just deciding to announce plans they are already undergoing (because they are a secretive company that doesn't announce something until it is done, and the decision to spend a few million or billion dollars on solar panels just doesn't happen in a weekend to shut up protestors, they had to be working on this way before greenpeace had announced anything).

Greenpeace has been after Apple for some years now.

But I don't have a horse in this race, just pointing out that the EU market has far more stringent requirements for eWaste and electronics, what they call Energy Using Products, than the US has and if any of these companies want to continue doing business with procurement (as per the original topic of this FPP) then they might want to think about all this than carrying on in their own little planet.
posted by infini at 1:19 PM on July 12, 2012


"(Greenpeace is) just using the whole exercise for attention because it's not really sexy to say Apple has/is doing good work."

From greenpeace.org's website:

Tasty news from Apple!
Feature story - May 2, 2007

We are cheering! Steve Jobs has decided to bring us closer to the greener apple that Mac users all over the world have been asking for.

Today we saw something we've all been waiting for: the words "A Greener Apple" on the front page of Apple's site, with a message from Steve Jobs saying "Today we're changing our policy."


Even now, Greenpeace's official response said the following:
"Since then, Apple has been leading the industry by designing environmentally friendly products and accelerating recycling."

Sounds like they have no problem saying that Apple has/is doing good work. That said, they also said:
"Five years later, it has taken two steps back when it recently notified the EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) organization that it:

Is withdrawing its products from the EPEAT registry and
Will no longer submit its products to EPEAT for environmental rating.

EPEAT is the leading global environmental rating system for electronic products which lists 29 manufacturers in the U.S. that comply with its stringent environmental requirements. The top 5 manufactures with EPEAT certified products are SONY (326), Samsung (309), HP (221), Lenovo (197) and Dell (171)."


Yes, Apple advanced their green initiatives very rapidly in just five years... but they are still measurably trailing other manufacturers, in several important aspects, to the point where they can be called one of the industry leaders. However, they still have a long way to go, and no longer want to be held measurably accountable for their actions... which is a pretty clear breech of Jobs' stated intent with the policy change.

"Get that picture of ten year old waste in the stream to crucify them!"

You're pretty clueless here as well. Apple's original green press release "A Greener Apple", says that "Dell has proposed a simple measure - assume a seven year product lifetime, and measure the percentage of the total weight you recycle each year compared to the total weight of what you sold seven years earlier. This makes sense to us, and has the added advantages of clarity and simplicity."

Apple then proceeded to base *all* their goals and projections for personally recycling e-waste on that criteria, with the goal of being in charge of the bulk of their product stream's recycling, in order to verify that it is recycled in an environmentally friendly way.

If you want to say that Greenpeace is playing favorites with their photos of e-waste, it helps to not have other brands held to similar scrutiny... or for Greenpeace to also provide courtesy images for news stories, showing Apple dissembling and recycling its products responsibly.

"Find a way to take the fuckers down a peg."
Perhaps your obvious "fucking" skepticism here has something to do with this story being about Apple?!
posted by markkraft at 1:44 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I'm not sure at what point they really get off the backs of everybody."

Here are a few questions for you:

1> Assume that Apple's gross revenue reflects their total number of products that eventually need to be recycled, and that could find their way into the environment, producing pollution, waste, and a depletion of increasingly scarce resources.

Given that Apple's gross revenue in 2000 was $7.98 Billion, how much greener will Apple need to have become between 2000-2012 to maintain a consistent level of environmental damage, given that Apple's most recent gross annual revenue was $142.36 Billion?

2> What percentage of this goal has Apple actually met?

3> How sustainable is this?
posted by markkraft at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2012


Or Greenepeace could do their job properly. They're just using the whole exercise for attention because it's not really sexy to say Apple has/is doing good work.

What job? Greenpeace has no power, no ability to do anything. The only thing they have any power to do is to yell as loud as they can, which they do.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:20 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


They've reversed course on this decision, calling it a "mistake".
posted by glhaynes at 10:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, someone who's better at this stuff than me: Greenpeace vs. Apple Feud Fueled by Strange Math.

The meat of it is exactly this:
In its initial report in April, Greenpeace estimated Apple’s power use in North Carolina at a whopping 100 megawatts. The group has reduced that slightly to 81 megawatts, dismissing the company’s disclosure that it expects draw about 20 megawatts at full capacity. Strangely, the Greenpeace report notes that Apple currently has state permits for backup generators providing up to 41 megawatts of power – a data point that suggests Greenpeace’s estimate is significantly off base. Greenpeace’s math assumes that Apple is providing only enough backup power to support half of its total power requirement, a configuration inconsistent with industry practices.
And then they blame their own unresearched but strangely always overblown mistakes on "lack of transparency".

Perhaps your obvious "fucking" skepticism here has something to do with this story being about Apple?!

No. I'm more anti-Greenpeace. They're useless shitstains of environmentalists just looking for attention. Their anti-nuclear stance has helped pushed industry into the arms of coal and other fossil fuels for the last four decades which has caused untold amounts of environmental damage when we could have been mitigating things.

What job? Greenpeace has no power, no ability to do anything. The only thing they have any power to do is to yell as loud as they can, which they do.

Greenpeace have never heard of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Every time they try and twist something adversarial like they do they chip away another piece of their credibility. In fact every time Greenpeace cries wolf, [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE].
posted by Talez at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2012


Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (MC975) - Gold
I don't get it. Everyone thought they pulled it because the MBP with Retina would fail to make the grade. But it comes through with flying colours?

Why start this shitstorm in the first place if none of your products are failing it?
posted by Talez at 11:00 AM on July 13, 2012


Why start this shitstorm in the first place if none of your products are failing it?

Good question. I think the answer lies in paragraph 5 of Bob Mansfield's release:
We think the IEEE 1680.1 standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like these. This standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, is an important measuring stick for our industry and its products.
I think what this means is that in their famously close-to-the-vest way they had internal discussions about the best course going forward, and identified 2 viable courses of action:
  1. Cease to pursue EPEAT and simply ignore it, on the assumption that Apple customers would value the Apple brand above environmental concerns;
  2. Change EPEAT to make them look better.
[2] would obviously be harder and iffier. I think they picked [1] in the genuine belief it wouldn't cause much of a problem. The response when it did was unsurprising -- they've more or less always been lousy at responding to public criticism, and that they've never learned to improve at that suggests they don't even understand that about themselves. So now they're falling back to [2].

I don't keep up with Apple's relationship to standards bodies, but what I can remember makes me think they don't have a very fruitful track record. This time could be different, of course, but a bad start like this will put them behind the game a little until they can rebuild their credibility.
posted by lodurr at 11:25 AM on July 13, 2012


> I don't keep up with Apple's relationship to standards bodies, but what I can remember makes me think they don't have a very fruitful track record. This time could be different, of course, but a bad start like this will put them behind the game a little until they can rebuild their credibility.

They are getting better, in a way, since it is more a Post Steve Apple thing if anything. Tim Cook has recently done a lot more in terms of changing Apple's policies than what would have happened under Steve (i.e., donation matching, stock buy back, etc). Jobs was very much his way or the highway, whereas Cook appears to be more reasonable (he got there managing supply chains and inventory, collaboration is more successful there than ruling by decree).
posted by mrzarquon at 11:32 AM on July 13, 2012


Also, from my experience working with the Enterprise and Sales teams at Apple, they really weren't prepared to be this big and have these many issues to deal with.

So things like their "everything goes through the App store" decision never really consulted with the people internally about how that would effect the enterprise customers. In terms of who is in the inner circle of how decisions are made there, the enterprise and education leads are definitely not on the list.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:37 AM on July 13, 2012


And, they're back.
posted by juiceCake at 3:02 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the reason it's gold is because it's self rated. Wow. That takes some balls.
posted by Talez at 11:26 AM on July 14, 2012


...self rated.

[brow wrinkle /]

can you expand a little? is there a platinum level or something? so 'gold' is actually not that hot?
posted by lodurr at 1:18 PM on July 14, 2012


You can self-rate your products as compliant with the standards. But EPEAT can revoke the certification. A revocation would be a huge embarrassment so it's pretty clear you can't just claim a gold standard without backing it up.

EPEAT has "conformity assessment protocols" based on IEEE standards, and a Product Verification Committee. Most manufacturers would already have certification of basic standards like energy conservation, materials, etc. under a variety of protocols, from EnergyStar to EU directives. The standards are Bronze, Silver, and Gold, depending on a product's level of compliance with the standards, as well as the corporate performance overall.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:42 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Talez, what's your concern about the self-rate? I'm curious. I'm not crazy about a self-rating regime, but I think it's probably a practical necessity.
posted by lodurr at 5:14 AM on July 15, 2012


Just to clarify juicecake's links here, Apple has returned to EPEAT, calling the decision to leave a mistake. But this part makes me think Apple has just decided that working to change EPEAT standards from within is probably the better strategy:

According to Mansfield, Apple's relationship with EPEAT "has become stronger as a result of this experience, and we look forward to working with EPEAT as their rating system and the underlying IEEE 1680.1 standard evolve."

In a statement on the EPEAT website, Frisbee said "we look forward to Apple's strong and creative thoughts on ongoing standards development. Our relationship with Apple is based on our natural alignment – as Apple drives innovation in product design, EPEAT drives innovation in standards design..."

A challenge for EPEAT, Frisbee said, is to apply standards "that are fixed at a point in time" with products that are constantly evolving. Discussions about this point "led us to the path to our strengthened relationship with Apple," he said.


I wouldn't be surprised to find glued-in batteries suddenly part of EPEAT-approved practices sometime soon. I hope I'm wrong.
posted by mediareport at 11:50 AM on July 15, 2012


Talez, what's your concern about the self-rate? I'm curious. I'm not crazy about a self-rating regime, but I think it's probably a practical necessity.

Because it really doesn't deserve a gold rating. Apple is deliberately subverting the system at this point.

I wouldn't be surprised to find glued-in batteries suddenly part of EPEAT-approved practices sometime soon. I hope I'm wrong.

So long as methods for easily recycling are publicly released in service manuals or the like I'm really not that fussed. There's no real difference to having a screwdriver or "x solvent" around if you're doing something repeatedly and in large batches.
posted by Talez at 11:57 AM on July 15, 2012


Beyond Foxconn: More Dirt on the Factories Making Your iPhone
posted by homunculus at 4:21 PM on July 21, 2012


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