All Apple is doing is slowing people down and aggravating them.
January 21, 2011 2:46 PM   Subscribe

 
I thought this was overcome by events? The screwdrivers are for sale on several web sites. I agree in principle that I should be able to open up and monkey with any gadget that I own, but this is much ado about very little.
posted by fixedgear at 2:49 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


/me sells his MacBook Pro, iPhone, Gen3 iPod, and the wife's iPhone too

Thank god you told me about this! HAMBURGER
posted by Fezboy! at 2:52 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah that's a real screw job, innit
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:53 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apple is more secretive about its supply chain in China than almost all of its rivals, according to a new report by anti-pollution activists who accuse the company's products of degrading the environment and poisoning workers.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:53 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you have to go to the trouble of buying a custom repair tool, this hasn't been overcome by events. But I don't see it as that big a deal either. Apple sells a solution that isn't really intended for user maintenance, and I expect they probably get a number of problematic returns where people tried to fix something and failed. It wouldn't affect my decision to buy or not buy Apple products one way or the other.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:54 PM on January 21, 2011


this is an important issue that deserves mainstream media coverage, write your congressperson everyone
posted by nathancaswell at 2:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like what Gruber had to say about this tempest in a teapot: "To solve this grievous problem, you can buy a $10 screwdriver set from the people reporting the problem."
posted by killdevil at 2:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [27 favorites]


Apple products are basically intended to be disposable, so there is no need for the user to be able to repair them.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:55 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Who wants to give me an over/under on how long before someone tries to assert a DMCA circumvention claim against people selling copies of a proprietary screwdriver?
posted by enn at 2:55 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wondered if this would turn up here. It's such a load of bandwagon-apple-hating over-hyped crap. Suggestions that it is designed to make it 'impossible' to open the products is vastly inaccurate. The tools for removing these new style heads are already available and will be widely available within weeks.

There was none of this fuss when Torx were introduced, nor when tamper-proof versions were brought in, and the concept is the same - try and preserve your maintenance market to ensure accurate warranty claims (ie make it unlikely that someone went in and broke something) or provide a small step to make sure that only the very determined will get in there. Often, that extra step/tool requirement means the likelihood of them knowing what they are doing increases (using effort as a barrier to the mildly curious).

It's really not that big a deal and certainly ineffective in terms of preventing self disassembly. Apple aren't stupid enough to think this will prevent people taking their machines apart, so I think we can safely remove the idea that they are from the equation.

Using non-standard fasteners is not really any more 'evil' than the water sensing paper in the iPhone that prevents a lot of false warranty claims. But, because it's Apple, it's obviously just EVIL AND DESIGNED TO BE MORE EVIL. I wondered if there was even some assembly advantage in the new head style as the cross-heads that are currently used gall up pretty easily.
posted by Brockles at 2:56 PM on January 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


Apple is more secretive about its supply chain in China than almost all of its rivals

Is that really a surprise, though? I don't see that as a bad thing - that they're trying to hide corporate offenses - as much as that they tend to rely on cutting-edge hardware features to push product sales: "retina" displays, etc.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:56 PM on January 21, 2011


I'm confused. They are comparing Apple to Ford in the following scenario:

1. Robertson makes an efficient screwdriver and refuses to license it to Ford, because Robertson doesn't want Ford to lock down the market.
2. Ford licenses the Phillips screwdriver instead, and locks down the market for a time
3. Over time, everyone is using Phillips Screwdrivers

Moral of the story: Just like nobody to this day except Ford can use Phillips screwdrivers on their cars, nobody will use the pentalobe on their iPhone?

Do you see why I'm confused?
posted by honest knave at 2:58 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Henry Ford found that he could save two hours of assembly time per car, and wanted to protect this advantage by licensing the screw. ... But Robertson thought the market was bigger, and was not willing to give up control. The world was his oyster. So Ford licensed the less effective Phillips screw and the rest is history."

"The Robertson failed because Ford and Robertson both wanted to own it; open source won."

I don't understand this. In what sense is the Phillips open source? Didn't Ford licence it? In the first segment, isn't Robertson resisting a closed, proprietary use of his screw?
posted by brenton at 2:58 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Could this be driven by a regulatory requirement somewhere? When dealing with consumer electronics, especially things with RF tranmitters in them, some regulations require the use of non-standard antenna connectors, non-standard screws, etc - so that it's clear to the public that you weren't meant to just pop it open and do what you want with it. The idea being that if you put something that can be opened with a standard household screwdriver, it suggests the company is okay with you tampering with the innards - and when it comes to RF regulations, you ain't supposed to.
(Maybe this was Japan?)

Given this will increase production costs and won't actually prevent anyone who really wants to from opening them up, this is most likely a regulatory requirement.
posted by TravellingDen at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three types of technology consumers:

1. The plug-and-players that want their product to be simple and work.
2. The geeks that fume about being locked out but will figure a way to fuss with the product anyway.
3. The geeks who don't give a damn and use something else.

Apple has (intelligently) made it's fortunes based on the first group. It doesn't surprise me that they would say "screw it" the other two groups.
posted by quadog at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was none of this fuss when Torx were introduced

Plenty of people justifiably hate Torx too.

See also this awesome almost prescient previous discussion and especially the enlightening comment by ryanrs.
posted by kmz at 3:00 PM on January 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


iHaters gonna iHate.
posted by Bummus at 3:01 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apple products are basically intended to be disposable, so there is no need for the user to be able to repair them.

It truly saddens me that people can express this idea without a second thought given to the damage it causes to the economic health of our society, not to mention the environment.

Personally, I believe small business and open competition are critical for a functioning economy. Apple doesn't like the sound of that. That's bad.
posted by Chuckles at 3:03 PM on January 21, 2011 [19 favorites]


It doesn't surprise me that they would say "screw it" the other two groups.

High-5!
posted by nathancaswell at 3:03 PM on January 21, 2011


1. Company does something manifestly customer-hostile
2. Customers complain that hostile thing is hostile
3. Stockholm Syndrome sufferers complain that customers in #2 are complaining and IT'S NOT REALLY A BIG DEAL GUYS WHY ARE YOU EVEN BRINGING IT UP
4. Repeat
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:05 PM on January 21, 2011 [68 favorites]


Company is using special thing that only a special tool can do something to... Terrible company... But... we have that special thing for sale at only $9.99!!

This is how I read this "news" announcement.
posted by njohnson23 at 3:06 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


But wait. If the [Robertson] screw was superior, why do you not find them outside of Canada?

They are superior and I'm mystified why they are not found in the US.
posted by Neiltupper at 3:07 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who wants to give me an over/under on how long before someone tries to assert a DMCA circumvention claim against people selling copies of a proprietary screwdriver?

Not DMCA, but a EULA on a piece of woodworking equipment from eight years ago....
posted by morganw at 3:07 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the 12 people in the country who actually want to open their iPhone are inconvenienced and have to spend a few bucks for a new screwdriver? Big whoop. Hey...iTunes still doesn't play ogg either. Horrors!
posted by Thorzdad at 3:09 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just enough to set up a bit of a roadblock. Apple has always done this.

If you have the expertise to fix an iPhone invest in the tool.

You guys should try opening a gamecube someday.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:11 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


3. Stockholm Syndrome sufferers complain that customers in #2 are complaining and IT'S NOT REALLY A BIG DEAL GUYS WHY ARE YOU EVEN BRINGING IT UP

Right, because the customers in group #2 have never, ever freaked out unnecessarily about the sky falling, and been wrong.
posted by fatbird at 3:11 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm always impressed with defenses of Apple that boil down to "I'm [dumb/lazy/incurious], what's your problem?"

Of course I'm also amazed when people post John Gruber, since the sum content of John Gruber's comments are going to be some variation of "What Apple is doing is fine, and naysayers are just jerks who shouldn't be listened to." He's less a pundit and more an external mouth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:13 PM on January 21, 2011 [22 favorites]


It never even occurred to me that I would want to open my iPhone.
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


why. why is this news. for all i care steve and larry were smoking a tremendous amount of hash one day and they started rambling on about how beautiful cherry blossoms were. you see. it is not that they are anti consumerist it is that they are so goddamn zen. you cant even see it how zen they are. cherry blossoms everywhere.
posted by boo_radley at 3:14 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


quick, someone get the Doctorow phone!
posted by nathancaswell at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


This confirms everything I've always felt about Apple.
posted by found missing at 3:18 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I haven't tried to open my iPhone, but I will say this, I have seen more than my share of things I was supposed to fix rendered unopenable by people using the wrong sized Phillips head.
posted by advicepig at 3:19 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


fatbird: "Right, because the customers in group #2 have never, ever freaked out unnecessarily about the sky falling, and been wrong."

while you are enjoying your stay, why not see the Riksdag, the parliamentary building of Sweden and the home of the Swedish monarchy? You may also enjoy a tour of Gamla Stan, the Old Town or a whirlwind visit to the city's many museums. The Moderna Museet is Sweden's premier modern art museum! You may also enjoy a trip to Gröna Lund to experience the many rides and restaurants of this world-class amusement park.
posted by boo_radley at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


This might be terribly unpatriotic but I'm not a huge fan of the Robertson. They're ok for general construction but they do seem to strip really easily, leaving you with a round maw in which your tool can get no purchase.
Mainly though I guess I just think Phillips screws look better - the X seems to speak about turning - so in my projects I always spend more to use Phillips screws.
Now the pentalobe, that's a real pretty screw. Wonder if they'd make those in a stainless steel #12?
posted by Flashman at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure sure, this is just another step by Apple that seems to lock customers out of glimpsing behind-the-scenes. How rude. But that's pretty consistent with their philosophy on user-experience since their birth, and hardly prevents the motivated tinkerer from doing anything.

I remember buying a Torx set to mod my first gen Xbox years ago. So, this is kind of like that. Which was nothing new then. So, meh. Moving along.
posted by crasiman at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It never even occurred to me that I would want to open my iPhone.

You do it to let the evil spirits out.
posted by elizardbits at 3:21 PM on January 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


Joe Beese: Apple is more secretive about its supply chain in China than almost all of its rivals, according to a new report by anti-pollution activists who accuse the company's products of degrading the environment and poisoning workers.

You mean, Apple, one of many major tech companies that relies on a company with over a million people. Foxconn, the same giant whose largest factory has over 300,000 people?

Yes, Apple chooses to use Foxconn, but it's not a company created by or for Apple products. Foxconn is HUGE. A company big enough that two or three suicides is a mere statistical blip.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:22 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Company does something manifestly customer-hostile

How is this "customer hostile?" It is not meant to be taken apart.

(Waiting for the inevitable cry of "But if I can't take it apart, I don't really OWN IT, MAN.")
posted by Ratio at 3:23 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Almost every Canadian has a collection of Robertsons

This is the sort of reason some of us love you guys up there.
posted by interrobang at 3:23 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyone remember the guys who put up a website with a video of them going around spraypainting iPod signs with a stencil that went something like "The iPod battery is not user-replaceable"? And then you found out that one of the guys had bought a DIY iPod battery replacement kit, killed his iPod when he tried using it (I successfully replaced the battery on my first iPod twice, myself), and then went on his little vendetta?

Yeah. I respect iFixit for their DIY spirit, but saying that this is "evil" and that Apple is "sabotaging" its own product is sheer dumbassery.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:26 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


iDon'tCare
posted by bwg at 3:26 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It never even occurred to me that I would want to open my iPhone.

You do it to let the angry birds out.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:27 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


I kind of like the looks of that Pentalobe screw. It's like a little flower. All these sharp 'n' pointy screw heads and then this little soft edged marvel of beauty. I'm all for it. "Flathead", "Phillips", "Robertson", "Torx" - all so laced with testosterone and aggressiveness. You can almost smell the cigar smoke, can't you? Then along comes the Pentalobe. Pen-ta-lobe... just rolls off the tongue, like a good name should. What a pretty, calm, gentle little screw.
posted by gyusan at 3:29 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


How is this "customer hostile?" It is not meant to be taken apart.

They previously had other more generally-used screws which seemed to be holding the things together pretty well - I haven't seen anyone's iPhone fall apart in their hands recently. And if the device wasn't meant to be taken apart, epoxy would be a lot easier to manage than some finicky screws.

What you mean is "it is not meant to be taken apart by anyone but Apple" so they can be sure to charge you their price for replacing a battery rather than you snagging a $10 battery off eBay and installing it yourself with tools you can actually buy in a store. That's customer-hostile.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:29 PM on January 21, 2011 [35 favorites]


Apple has always done this.

No, they haven't. In the original Apple Computer days the user manual included full schematics to the motherboard as well as full assembly level programming instructions. Their computers opened without any tools at all. You just needed hands. The case itself was designed to have easy access for viewing or modifying the internal components - the entire lid just pulled off and left the internals completely exposed in a way few computers since have ever managed.

You were strongly encouraged and warmly welcomed to hack on their hardware. Your hardware. Because you bought it. You own it. And nothing should stop you from tinkering with it.

Which lead to an explosion in software, expansion cards and peripherals because anyone could build a device to connect to an Apple I or Apple II. Because they gave you everything you needed to know included in the documentation that came with the computer.

It's a huge reason why they succeeded where so many other personal/micro computer companies failed from the 70s on through to today while Apple was a world-shaking tsunami of success. They actually were "user friendly" meaning that the user had full access to the machine.

Because of this, Apple I and II computers are still in active use today. Outside of embedded computers like the venerable 4004 or 6502 processors, no other personal/micro computer has had that kind of life span before or since.

Today Apple resembles none of these values, and it's a crying shame. There's so much (more) that people (and especially kids) could be learning and experimenting with on their iPhones or Macbooks if they had that old Apple attitude and permissiveness back.
posted by loquacious at 3:29 PM on January 21, 2011 [79 favorites]


To all of those stating that this isn't a big deal: these screwdrivers aren't widely available, in fact, they are virtually unavailable. iFixit has a star-shaped screwdriver that can pull out the oddball pentalobe screws so you can replace them with regular Phillips screws. iFixit even has a specific warning that their screwdrivers don't fit exactly into these screws and takes no responsibility for damage caused by using this screwdriver. There are a handful of supposed pentalobe screwdrivers on eBay, but none of those eBay merchants have been willing to show an up-close view of the screwdriver tip. That is a likely indication that they aren't the same shape and are probably regular 5-point star-shaped screwdrivers. That is not availability by any definition.

There is a not-insignificant number of people who do repairs of Apple equipment outside of Apple. I know a few people who make a living repairing iPods, iPhones, iPads, etc. These people are likely to lose customers because they can't get a screwdriver. Think about that for a second. A five-point screwdriver that is unavailable to them will knock out a chunk of their business. If you don't think there is a market for people who drop an iPhone and don't want to pay the replacement/repair cost to Apple you are sorely mistaken.

The (so far unfounded) fear is that Apple may have actually patented a pentalobe screwdriver already, and could potentially file suit on anyone selling the only type of screwdriver that will open their equipment. No one has yet found or reported (to the best of my knowledge) a patent on the screw type or screwdriver, but if Apple pulls a lawsuit like this it means only Apple will be able to repair the equipment, eliminating all repair competition. The question of eliminating repair competition could also be a monopolistic scenario, but I'm not getting into that.

In even the best circumstances that none of the potential patent issues come around, anyone who gets a device with these screws will have only one repair option for at least a few months until the right screwdriver gets in the supply chain: Apple. For a matching screwdriver to be designed, equipment made to make the screwdriver, and transport including customs time takes quite a while.

There really isn't a legitimate reason for Apple to do this other than to make more money than they already do.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:31 PM on January 21, 2011 [47 favorites]


Cept you can take it apart, if you don't want to pony up the 10 bucks melt a piece of hard plastic and hold it in the screw head until it hardens. I like to use the back end of pens I steal from from work. Or are these screws too small?
posted by Ad hominem at 3:32 PM on January 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Apple products are basically intended to be disposable, so there is no need for the user to be able to repair them.

Huh? How is this different from any other portable electronic device?

Look...I'm still as pissed at Apple about their draconian app store policies as much as the next guy, but let's not go projecting negativity on them for something that the entire industry has done for several decades.

I also have a long enough memory to remember that the Apple of the pre-iPhone days also occasionally made inexplicable design decisions. Accusing them of deliberately screwing over their customer base may be giving them a bit too much credit. Comments like "This confirms everything I've always felt about Apple" are unhelpful to the discussion.

Repairing apple stuff may occasionally be a pain, but it's almost always possible. Try saying that about some of their competitors. You could also complain that the Macbook Air is difficult to disassemble. Although that may be true, it's also virtually a requirement of that form factor, and is a tradeoff you make when you choose to purchase an ultraportable device.
posted by schmod at 3:32 PM on January 21, 2011


There was none of this fuss when Torx were introduced

Way back in the 1980s, the original Macintoshes were all held together with Torx screws. In contrast to the Apple II, which had an array of convenient expansion slots that you could plug various peripherals into, the Macintosh was intended to be a non-upgradeable appliance unit.

I was more surprised when Apple started building hardware using ordinary Phillips screws than I am by this apparent return to their long-time closed-box pattern.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:32 PM on January 21, 2011


U MAD BRO?
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:35 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Today Apple resembles none of these values, and it's a crying shame. There's so much (more) that people (and especially kids) could be learning and experimenting with on their iPhones or Macbooks if they had that old Apple attitude and permissiveness back.

Holy shit loquacious, you have actually formulated an argument more sophisticated than "LOL APPLE SHEEPLE STOCKHOLM SYNDROME."

I'm dead serious, this is probably the first reasonable argument I've seen in 5+ years of horrified browsing of Mefi grar Apple threads like someone slowing down at the scene of a bus accident just staring at the crap and bile splaterred everywhere.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:35 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay. This is such manufactured "outrage", it's ridiculous. Do we as a society, not have actual, more pressing concerns?

Chuckles, you could of at least made an effort, maybe pad the post out with some history of fasteners in modern manufacturing. Something.

I expect everyone thinks this matters, and who also has a car made in the last 30 years to be distraught. Your going to need special tools for that as well.

And really, the fundies* over at ifix it don't really need any more attention.

*No really, literally.
posted by -t at 3:36 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


So say the incremental cost is something like $2.00 for all the additional screws (I'm pulling that number out of my ass, strictly hypothetical here). Do you think that Apple will eat that cost, pass it on to consumers as a straight $2.00 increase, or pass it on as a % markup and increase the price by $20?

From a repair / replace standpoint, they aren't doing this to decrease their proffit margin.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:38 PM on January 21, 2011


but let's not go projecting negativity on them for something that the entire industry has done for several decades.

Jesus, how would I ever have any fun on MetaFilter?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:39 PM on January 21, 2011


I expect everyone thinks this matters, and who also has a car made in the last 30 years to be distraught. Your going to need special tools for that as well.

Your argument here is invalid. I can take my car (made in the last 30 years) to a very large assortment of mechanics, or get tools myself to do repair. With this happy little screw, I can't even buy the correct tool.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Comments like "This confirms everything I've always felt about Apple" are unhelpful to the discussion.

Strange that you read that as negative.
posted by found missing at 3:40 PM on January 21, 2011


I didn't want to open my iPhone 3GS until I broke the screen. I decided to try replacing the screen myself (and was successful), but let's be clear: you have to want to be in there, what with the suction cup and the spudgers and the heat gun and the teeny cables and the picking out the broken glass and the gluing it back together without dust on the LCD. A little test of your determination isn't such a terrible idea, really.

And actually I had to buy a new micro-Phillips driver for the job.
posted by Songdog at 3:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Today Apple resembles none of these values, and it's a crying shame

I dunno about 'none.' They do still include a free IDE and a raft of programming languages and libraries with the OS. That's a fair bit more hacker-friendly than, say, Microsoft. And although they put the kibosh on clone makers, they haven't actually done anything about the OSx86 project itself so far as I know, so they're not as anti-open-hardware as they could be, for what that's worth.
posted by jedicus at 3:41 PM on January 21, 2011


Apple is more secretive about its supply chain in China than almost all of its rivals

Really? My employer has a billion-dollar supply chain that no one even knows the existence of. Apple's product leaks routinely come from its supply chain. Real tech journalists like the guys at EETimes routinely call Apple's suppliers to find out stuff on upcoming products.

So no, not really.
posted by GuyZero at 3:41 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]




Also, woe be to whatever American busy my house after we leave because it's chock full of my leftover Robertson screws I brought from Canada. HA HA!
posted by GuyZero at 3:42 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


With this happy little screw, I can't even buy the correct tool.

$7 on Amazon.
posted by jedicus at 3:42 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is a difference between a Phillips head screw and a square drive or a torx drive that is glossed over here. A Phillips head is pointed, and is designed to "cam-out," so that when it gets tight enough, the screwdriver tends to be pushed out of the screw head. This is useful if you don't have some other method of preventing over-tightening. The downside is that when the driver is pushed out it has a tendency to damage the screw head. Modern (power) screwdrivers almost all have clutches that control the amount of torque, and so if you are using a square head or a star head without sloped sides, you rely on the clutch to slip when the torque is right, and there is no worry about breaking the screw head off of the screw. As a result, I think we are going to see Phillips head screws disappear for the most part.
posted by Killick at 3:42 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are superior and I'm mystified why they are not found in the US. -In reference to the Robertson screw.

There are square socket screws a plenty in the U.S. In my job I often have to go out of my way to insure that the screws I get aren't square sockets.
posted by Max Power at 3:44 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


With this happy little screw, I can't even buy the correct tool.

$7 on Amazon.


Same pointed star-shaped type of tool that iFixit has. The pentalobe is a rounded screw hole.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:45 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I do think this is minor in that the set of people who tinker with their computer hardware and the set of people who use Apple products has a very small intersection. If you want to tinker, you use Windows or Linux. Apple is explicitly for non-tinkerers (one reason I don't use Apple stuff).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:46 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


lazy thinking, everywhere. (excluding ifixit)
posted by vrogy at 3:48 PM on January 21, 2011


This is not just iPhones, right? Like, if I take my 2007 macbook to an apple store to get a new hard drive installed, it will come back with these fancy flower screws? I would be so pissed.

One of the things I love about my macbook is that it runs almost as nicely as it did four years ago. Still, hard drives die eventually, and 120 gigs is getting a little claustrophobic. I've been thinking about going up to two gigs of RAM for a while. I can't do that if apple effectively locks me out of my own hardware.

I like the mac I have, but I don't think I would buy another one.
posted by wayland at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2011


You do it to let the evil spirits out.

Don't do that, the spirirts are what makes them work! That and the despair-energy contained in the tears of the worker. It's not a funny screw, it's a binding sigil!
posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apple has always done this.

No, they haven't


I stand corrected, the first Apples I encountered used torx and requred a special tool commonly refered to as a "mac cracker" to open.

I was more surprised when Apple started building hardware using ordinary Phillips screws than I am by this apparent return to their long-time closed-box pattern.

I'm pretty sure the first iMacs went back to philips. When it came out the company I worked for got one to see how it rendered web pages and some idiot (the CTO) took it apart, rendering it an unuseable pile of junk. If they had used Torx that iMac would probably still be running.

That's a fair bit more hacker-friendly than, say, Microsoft

Wha? Microsoft gives away VS.NET express. You can also link against many many of the DLLs included in windows including IE, most if not all of this stuff is fully documented on MSDN. There is also VBA and WSH if you want. And if you want to be hardcore all you need is csc.exe to compile your C# apps

I Really Really like apple products, but lets not say Apple is any more hacker friendly than Microsoft
posted by Ad hominem at 3:51 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I believe I read the Maker's Manifesto here on the blue not too long ago but it belongs in this thread and fucking everywhere:


if you can't open it, you don't own it. Screws not glue.


seems to me that Apple and many other manufacturers are keeping to the letter of the agreement but shitting on its spirit.

If America is ever going to regain it's footing in worldwide industry it will be because of this mantra. I don't call any machine my own until I fix even the smallest aspect of it. American cars were without equal when guys could spend a Saturday rebuilding their tranny and hear that baby purrr when you finished the last of a six-pack. Bring back American pride - make fucking machines that are built to last!
posted by any major dude at 3:52 PM on January 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is not just iPhones, right? Like, if I take my 2007 macbook to an apple store to get a new hard drive installed, it will come back with these fancy flower screws? I would be so pissed.

It's unlikely. The only time Apple pulled anything like this before was when some MacBook Air products had the pointed 5-point star-shaped screws. If they do repairs they will put in factory-original screws.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:52 PM on January 21, 2011


Holy shit loquacious, you have actually formulated an argument more sophisticated than "LOL APPLE SHEEPLE STOCKHOLM SYNDROME."

I'm tech-agnostic. Currently in front of me is a G5 iMac running 10.4, a WinXP netbook and a half-broken Acer laptop running Ubuntu.

But it's alarming I have to reiterate that the whole point to hacking has nothing to do with money or computer security. It's about learning and exploring what is possible or not possible with a given set of tools or parts. It's about access to tools so people can do things and experiment.

The really sad thing about tech companies like Apple doing shit like this is that they're forgetting their roots. Apple computer never would have happened without Wozniak-as-obsessed-hacker. It never would have happened without the California Computer Club or the Homebrew Clubs of the 70s where people freely exchanged knowledge, where Apple was born.

By treating customers merely as dumb consumers, a company like Apple is shooting itself in the foot. How many future electrical engineers do we lose when we don't give them free and easy access to experimentation and learning? How many future engineers and great new products is Apple cutting itself off from in the name of short-sighted profits?

It's not just about the end users. It's not just about Apple. It's about an entire culture and ecology of knowledge and experimentation that gets thrown away as unimportant. It's about giving kids a reason to see why math and science are so cool, and allowing them to experiment on their own with their own radically new ideas about how things should work.

But, no. Now Apple wants to sell apps and music and place people in a walled garden. Apple wants to cut costs on product warranty claims. "Hacker" is now a bad word, instead of the description reserved for a hero who goes the extra mile and really learns something new about a system. We even have guerrilla computer repair technicians such as myself who will void your warranty, but who can fix your broken gear at a fraction of the cost.

In the end the cutthroat business acumen of Steve Jobs is winning, and Wozniak lost the ideological fight with Jobs decades ago and bowed out, and I can't say I blame him.
posted by loquacious at 3:53 PM on January 21, 2011 [50 favorites]


Microsoft gives away VS.NET express.

Gives away, yes, but it's not included with the OS. The Express editions are also crippled in certain ways compared to the commercial versions.

There is also VBA and WSH if you want

A joke compared to perl, python, the GNU toolchain, etc all included with OS X.
posted by jedicus at 3:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the iFixit article: The EPTP5PS is just another sign of the closed ecosystem attitude that Apple has that at some point is going to drive away its best customers.

All those best customers who inexplicably weren't driven away by the Mac App store, the introduction of OSX, and indeed every other change Apple has made over the past fifteen years, despite scaremongering articles convinced this was the death knell for Apple's market share. But THIS TIME DAMMIT!

(Nobody ever tried to take apart an early Mac back in the days of the annoyingly deep screw sockets normal screwdriver wouldn't fit in? This isn't even new...)
posted by Catseye at 3:55 PM on January 21, 2011


This is such a non-issue. Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something to be outraged over.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:57 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


[Robertson screws] are superior and I'm mystified why they are not found in the US.

I won't say they're common but neither are they unknown: you can't easily find the normal wide assortment of sizes and tools, but I've fastened down more Hardibacker than I care to have here in California -- still barely part of the United States -- with Robertson screws (they provided a bit). They're also not uncommon in specialty woodworking stores.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:58 PM on January 21, 2011


$2.35.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:58 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1906 a travelling salesman, Peter Robinson of Milton, Ontario, Canada cut his hand when a slot screwdriver he was demonstrating slipped. He went off to the shop and came up with a screw with a square socket in it, that almost never slipped. He was modest about it, saying "This is considered by many as the biggest little invention of the twentieth century so far."

The more intriguing question is why an immodest fellow called Robinson called his screw the Robertson.
posted by Rumple at 4:00 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Cept you can take it apart, if you don't want to pony up the 10 bucks melt a piece of hard plastic and hold it in the screw head until it hardens. I like to use the back end of pens I steal from from work. Or are these screws too small?

This is fucking brilliant, and I will be trying out this technique the next time I encounter a weird screw. The MacGyver flair alone will likely blow someone's mind in the future. I know just the plastic to try and use, too. I wonder if I could make a makeshift bit out of molten solder or tin, too?
posted by loquacious at 4:01 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


But wait. If the [Robertson] screw was superior, why do you not find them outside of Canada?


How's that imperial system working out for you?
posted by Space Coyote at 4:03 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


$2.35.

Ah, yes. Let's go with a direct quote from the website selling the screwdriver for $2.35.

sw-box.com is the world's leading online Professional Pentagram Screw Driver Opening Tool for iPhone 4 website for high quality and great prices.

Here, have my credit card!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:03 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is fucking brilliant, and I will be trying out this technique the next time I encounter a weird screw.

Aaaaand this sentence could also be used to describe my (lack of) sex or dating life. Hrm.

posted by loquacious at 4:04 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops, forgot the link.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:04 PM on January 21, 2011


But wait. If the [Robertson] screw was superior, why do you not find them outside of Canada?

They are superior and I'm mystified why they are not found in the US.


What? You can get square-drive screws and drivers in just about any US hardware store.

This might be terribly unpatriotic but I'm not a huge fan of the Robertson. They're ok for general construction but they do seem to strip really easily, leaving you with a round maw in which your tool can get no purchase.

What? I've driven thousands of them, usually with a clutchless Milwaukee drill, and never stripped one.
posted by nicwolff at 4:06 PM on January 21, 2011


Try saying that about some of their competitors. You could also complain that the Macbook Air is difficult to disassemble. Although that may be true, it's also virtually a requirement of that form factor, and is a tradeoff you make when you choose to purchase an ultraportable device.

This is not true. I've repaired several of my Windows ultraportables: screen replacement, HDD/SSD replacement, etc. Sony Vaio U and UXs, oqo 02s, etc. I have plenty of those. I also have an MBA - with the drive physically attached to the board. That said, I love my MBA and am not too broken up about not being able to do this.

A joke compared to perl, python, the GNU toolchain, etc all included with OS X.

It's too bad you can't get those for Windows. Seriously, who cares that it's included in the OS if it's trivial to download and install?
posted by me & my monkey at 4:08 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seriously, who cares that it's included in the OS if it's trivial to download and install?

Have you ever used Cygwin? It's such a mess to get a POSIX-compliant toolchain working on Windows. Microsoft locks down their development kit on purpose — to lock you into their ecology. At least scripts written on a Mac OS X have a pretty good chance of running on Linux unaltered.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2011


In 1906 a travelling salesman, Peter Robinson of Milton, Ontario, Canada cut his hand when a slot screwdriver he was demonstrating slipped. He went off to the shop and came up with a screw with a square socket in it, that almost never slipped. He was modest about it, saying "This is considered by many as the biggest little invention of the twentieth century so far."

The more intriguing question is why an immodest fellow called Robinson called his screw the Robertson.


In his defense, it was only 1906.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2011


(Nobody ever tried to take apart an early Mac back in the days of the annoyingly deep screw sockets normal screwdriver wouldn't fit in? This isn't even new...)

I had to open an all-in-one Mac (may have been a skinny Mac) when I was in college, or maybe grad school. I remember having to find and buy the special extra-long screwdriver. Of course, this was long before Apple stores, so I had to find it in the bins at the equivalent of Fry's back in the day. It was a real "five miles barefoot in the snow uphill both ways" kind of thing.

I'm pretty sure there are still Apple Authorized Service Providers outside the Apple stores after a quick glance at Apple's web site. Those guys will have to get these new screwdrivers, as well as Apple's own repair depots. I don't see why the operating assumption is that nobody else will get the screwdrivers just because nobody has them yet.
posted by immlass at 4:14 PM on January 21, 2011


iHaters gonna iHate.

feels good man
posted by Trochanter at 4:15 PM on January 21, 2011


I've got a massive collection of Torx screwdrivers. I've been inside of nearly every Apple product I have owned (which has to be approaching 3 dozen after -- gulp -- 23 years; I bought my first Apple computer in 1987 and the first thing I did was open it up!).


This is silly. Another screwdriver for the collection.
posted by spitbull at 4:16 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Express editions are also crippled in certain ways compared to the commercial versions.

There's some features they don't have, yes, but "crippled" is very much overstating it.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I threw away very Philips screw I had in my house a decade ago. If something comes with Torx fasteners I immediately remove them, and replace them with Robertsons.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:17 PM on January 21, 2011


I can buy Torx at any hardware store. Can I also buy one of these magic screw Happy Meal screwdrivers at same?
posted by gjc at 4:18 PM on January 21, 2011


I saw this in the article:

And it doesn't even work; with 3D printing, people can mould and cast driver heads in minutes.

Is this really true? Maybe i am out of date with my 3d printing knowledge but the stuff 3d printers were making back in my day (a few years ago) were in no way stable or hard enough to be used as screwdrivers. Also the tolerance couldn't have been good enough for this screw hole.
posted by neustile at 4:21 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least scripts written on a Mac OS X have a pretty good chance of running on Linux unaltered.

Who cares? That doesn't have anything to do with "Microsoft locking down their development kit" and everything to do with OS X and Linux both being derived from Unix. And if your goal is just to use Perl or Python on Windows, they both work fine - at least Python does, in my experience. "Hacker-friendly" doesn't require cross-platform tool support, does it?
posted by me & my monkey at 4:23 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


So let me get this straight:

The elite badass hardware modders that are determined to open up an iPhone - and do what with it? - are all foiled by a fucking screw because they have to buy a new screw driver? Seriously?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:24 PM on January 21, 2011 [17 favorites]


"Hacker-friendly" doesn't require cross-platform tool support, does it?

It does to me. It means I can write a program that will run on another workstation I own with minimal or no unnecessarily extra work. If I want to run a program on Windows, I have to spend time porting it to the special way Microsoft does things, if I'm using Microsoft's tools. That's not hacker-friendly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:26 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The elite badass hardware modders that are determined to open up an iPhone - and do what with it?

My reading of the article would suggest "fix it" as the most common goal.

- are all foiled by a fucking screw because they have to buy a new screw driver? Seriously?

My careful reading of the article, the FPP title and the FPP link text suggests that it is not so much foiling them as slowing them down and annoying them.
posted by Artw at 4:27 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Hacker-friendly" doesn't require cross-platform tool support, does it?

Developer friendly most certainly does. So if you're a young kid and you can use your family computer to learn Ruby, Rails and jQuery you can immediately put that knowledge to work out on the web. That's the spirit of hacking that people claim Apple is trying to kill.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:29 PM on January 21, 2011


I think we may very well have just discovered a new depth of stupidity in Apple supremacist arguments.
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's some features they don't have, yes, but "crippled" is very much overstating it.

The C# and C++ Express are not too bad, but VB Express is crippled: supports only SQL Server Express (itself crippled) and Access, no integrated support for ASP.NET, no Crystal Reports (which is a lot of what VB gets used for), no mobile development. As mentioned, SQL Server Express has some pretty severe limitations too: only one physical CPU, 4GB database size limit, no data mirroring or clustering, etc.
posted by jedicus at 4:31 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


if you can't open it, you don't own it. Screws not glue.

Fine as long as you don't whine about voiding the warranty.
posted by Ratio at 4:31 PM on January 21, 2011


How many future electrical engineers do we lose when we don't give them free and easy access to experimentation and learning? How many future engineers and great new products is Apple cutting itself off from in the name of short-sighted profits?

I've heard from everyone know that has a 2-5 year and an iPhone or iPod Touch that their kids figure out how to use them practically instantly and become fascinated with them. How many future engineers do we gain as a result of computers becoming accessible to 2-5 year olds? If you are interested in touchscreen devices at 3, what do you do about your curiosity by the time you're 7? I can't say definitively, but making the pool of kids interested in devices at super early ages will probably yield more engineers.

Really, though, I've found the "Apple is destroying the future tinkerers of the world" argument flawed in a much more basic way, in that other computers and devices exist. Nothing is stopping the future Wozzes from just opening up a Dell or Droid X.
posted by ignignokt at 4:33 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


The effect was that of a Cyclopean device of no architecture known to man or to human imagination, with vast aggregations of night-black plastic embodying monstrous perversions of geometrical laws, encased though they were in a neon-green rubber case. [...] There were composite cones and pyramids either alone or beside the volume buttons, and occasional fluted screws suggesting curious five-pointed stars. All of these febrile structures seemed knit together as if by sullen slaves in distant cities, and the implied scale of the whole was terrifying and oppressive in its sheer proprietariness. Also, it could not play OGG.
posted by No-sword at 4:34 PM on January 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


They modeled the shape of the pentalobe on that of Cthulhu's face tentacles
posted by milkfish at 4:36 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


My reading of the article would suggest "fix it" as the most common goal.

Well, I consider myself pretty handy with stuff and electronics (I just put in a new pickup in my guitar the other day) and if ever my iPhone was broken, I'd go to the Apple Store and have somebody else do that for me.

So about that guitar, guess what! I had to get a really tiny, like, holy shit microscopic! allen wrench to adjust the action, since the bridge was a little buzzy. I had to go and buy one, just to do that. In addition to the soldering iron to replace the pickup.

But I didn't put up a blog post about how evil Fender is for making a Jazzmaster this way, I got the fucking allen wrench because that's the tool I needed to fuck with it. I could have gone to a guitar shop and had them do this, but I CHOSE to be a "hacker" so I dealt with what I had to do in order to be one.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:36 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


"It never even occurred to me that I would want to open my iPhone."

They're full of candy!
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's too bad you can't get those for Windows. Seriously, who cares that it's included in the OS if it's trivial to download and install?

To go back to loquacious's comment, WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

Don't you remember how cool it was, back in 1986, turning on your Commodore or Amstrad and seeing a BASIC prompt? The ability to program and make it do things from the very start? For an 8-year old kid turning on a computer nowdays, whatever the OS, what hint to they receive that it's even possible make it do what you want? Makes me sad, that's all. I don't have a horse in this race in terms of whether Windows or OSX is better, because they're both pretty shit, and as far as I'm concerned they should all come with a simple, fun, interactive development environment sitting on the dock or in the start menu when you boot them up the first time. Something where you can type PRINT"HELLO WORLD" and watch what happens.
posted by Jimbob at 4:42 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Something where you can type PRINT"HELLO WORLD" and watch what happens.

Totally true. In the mac os x terminal you have to type 'echo' instead of 'print'
posted by device55 at 4:45 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


i'm a fan of torx.
posted by rainperimeter at 4:47 PM on January 21, 2011


I wondered if this would turn up here. It's such a load of bandwagon-apple-hating over-hyped crap. Suggestions that it is designed to make it 'impossible' to open the products is vastly inaccurate. The tools for removing these new style heads are already available and will be widely available within weeks.

I'm missing the logic here. Since it's trivial to circumvent almost immediately, why bother with ineffective minutiae in the first place? Why inconvenience everybody who wants to disassemble their own phone?

If we're going to call this "bandwagon-apple-hating over-hyped crap", maybe we should provide reasons why introducing yet another type of screw was ever a good idea in the first place. Clearly it won't keep anyone out who would have gone to the trouble to buy a Torx, since like you say there's going to be plenty out there soon. And anyone who isn't buying special heads must not want in anyway given the trivial cost. So...we're left with keeping out the tiny subset who have a Torx set, but aren't willing to spend a few bucks on another type of screwdriver?

As the title suggests, this is just another needling bit of aggravation, like DRM, that isn't terribly objectionable solely because it isn't terribly effective.
posted by Phyltre at 4:47 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


How is this "customer hostile?" It is not meant to be taken apart.

Meant by whom? Apple? Why should I care? I bought it, so it's mine, not theirs. What it's meant for is whatever I want to do with it.

I'm not OUTRAGED by Apple's move in some operatic sense. I realize it's not the Holocaust or cancer. But it's still dishonest bullshit.

You sell me a red chair and tell me that if it ever breaks, you'll fix it.

I love the chair, but decide to paint it green.

One of the legs breaks.

I give it to you to fix. You fix it, but you also paint it red again, because "it was meant to be red."

You have no right to do that! You sold the chair to me. What was the meaning of that transaction? What does it mean that YOU sold it to ME? What did I pay for? Did I pay for the right to borrow your chair? No. That wasn't our understanding. Did I pay for the right to use the chair only in the way you meant it to be used? No. That wasn't our understanding, either.

When I gave it to you to fix, did either of us really, honestly believe that our arrangement was for you to repair the leg and do anything else that you wanted to do to it? No. It was for you to fix the leg.

Your act of painting it green is vandalism.

When you give your device to Apple for repair, why do they not say, "We'll repair it for you if you want, but please note that if you give it to us, we reserve the right to do things to it you didn't ask us to do?" THAT would be the honest thing to do. And if they did that, I might not like it, but I'd have no outrage at all. As a consumer, I could make an informed choice. Apple is purposefully not informing their customers of what they're doing.

I hope that the people here who are saying "it's no big deal" mean that while this is wrong -- while it IS vandalism and while it is dishonest (Apple didn't say they were going to fix the battery AND replace the screws) -- it's the normal, everyday sort of dishonesty and vandalism that you should expect if you're going to be a consumer.

I hope they're not saying that it's not vandalism or that it's not dishonest.
posted by grumblebee at 4:48 PM on January 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


$ python -c 'print "hello world"'
hello world


Close enough for me.
posted by milkfish at 4:50 PM on January 21, 2011


AFIK the only way Express is crippled is that it won't target x64.

computer to learn Ruby, Rails and jQuery you can immediately put that knowledge to work out on the web.

there is a windows one click install for the entire rails stack. Perl, Python,Ruby code will run unchanged unless you exec shell commands or use COM or something.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:51 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This post made me laugh because my iPod's name is Chuckles
posted by youngergirl44 at 4:56 PM on January 21, 2011


$ python -c 'print "hello world"'
hello world
Close enough for me.


Would love to see statistics on how many 8-year-olds have managed to do that on a Mac, by their own devices, compared to how many managed to do it on their Commodore in 1985.
posted by Jimbob at 4:56 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Would love to see statistics on how many 8-year-olds have managed to do that on a Mac, by their own devices, compared to how many managed to do it on their Commodore in 1985.

Literally the only reason I dug up the AppleSoft BASIC book out of the bottom of the IIGS box was because I got sick of playing damn Math Wizard that my parents thought would keep me entertained for weeks. If Apple's sin is that you can do too muc hwith the computer out of the box that kids don't learn programming out of sheer desperation, I think that's raising the bar a little too high.

That said, Apple could probably do a lot with Automator + Applescript in terms of an education-focused way to get kids into thinking like programmers that they aren't doing, but that's neither here nor there in the 'is Apple crushing the spirit of discovery' non-debate.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:00 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


It does to me. It means I can write a program that will run on another workstation I own with minimal or no unnecessarily extra work. If I want to run a program on Windows, I have to spend time porting it to the special way Microsoft does things, if I'm using Microsoft's tools. That's not hacker-friendly.

Oh ffs, it's not a "special way." Windows is not Unix. Many things are not Unix. OS 9 wasn't Unix. OS/2 wasn't Unix. I couldn't run bash scripts on OS/2, and likewise couldn't run REXX scripts on Linux. Had OS/2 taken over the world, would it be a valid criticism of OS X to complain that it doesn't include a REXX interpreter and a SOM-based desktop shell?

So if you're a young kid and you can use your family computer to learn Ruby, Rails and jQuery you can immediately put that knowledge to work out on the web.

And you can do this. On any desktop or laptop you can go out and buy today.

Really, though, I've found the "Apple is destroying the future tinkerers of the world" argument flawed in a much more basic way, in that other computers and devices exist. Nothing is stopping the future Wozzes from just opening up a Dell or Droid X.

To the extent that Apple provides the dominant paradigm for computing, it's less likely that the future Wozzes will be exposed to these other devices. Apple's a long way from doing that with desktops/laptops, but not so much with other devices like the iPad. If iPads replace laptops for a lot of people, people will get used to the different - and limited - functionality as "what a computer does."

None of that has anything to do with this screw thing, though, which is almost completely inconsequential.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:01 PM on January 21, 2011


When you give your device to Apple for repair, why do they not say, "We'll repair it for you if you want, but please note that if you give it to us, we reserve the right to do things to it you didn't ask us to do?"

When you give a device to Apple you have to sign off on a service agreement. I've never read one too closely but I imagine it contains language that amounts to that.
posted by jedicus at 5:03 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This seems completely consistent with Apple's market position. People who like to tinker with their gadgets and think they should be entitled to use them in off-label ways have absolutely hated Apple's guts for a long time. I suspect Apple is 100% okay with that, just like they're 100% okay with alienating that small portion of the market that demands certain technologies in their laptops due to some theoretical performance boost even though the real-world benefit is almost nonexistent.

Point being, if having proprietary screws – proprietary screws – in your cell phone is a deal-breaker to you, then Apple would happily concede you should buy someone else's product.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:07 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't you remember how cool it was, back in 1986, turning on your Commodore or Amstrad and seeing a BASIC prompt?

Yeah, let's totally go back to that.
posted by Ratio at 5:10 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


We are compaling that C# locks you in to special tools? Objective-c isn't exactly a ticket to freedom. I can program in ruby all day on windows (in visual studio) if I want.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:12 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


3. Over time, everyone is using Phillips Screwdrivers
Yeah, not to derail but it's been a while since I used anything else at home, and when I'm stuck working with Philips, well, that's such a pain.
posted by ddaavviidd at 5:12 PM on January 21, 2011


By treating customers merely as dumb consumers, a company like Apple is shooting itself in the foot.

I wish all the companies I've invested in would shoot themselves in the foot like Apple has.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:17 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


They are superior and I'm mystified why they are not found in the US.

This was kind of a poor example because they are actually found in the US. We call them "trim screws" because of their use in trim carpentry, cabinetry and woodworking. I think Alter had noticed that they were less common in household use, and didn't realize that tradespeople use them all the time and you can get them in hardware stores.
posted by nangar at 5:20 PM on January 21, 2011


I expect everyone thinks this matters, and who also has a car made in the last 30 years to be distraught. Your going to need special tools for that as well.

I don't need a special tool with a patented design that I can only officially buy from Mazda* to open the hood of my car. Hell, most car repairs don't require anything fancier than a torque wrench, and you can get away without that if you're feeling frisky.

This is Apple saying, "Oh, you want to replace the battery in your laptop yourself?** No, you bring it to us and pay us to do that. You don't want to do that? We don't want you as a customer." And that's fine. There are plenty of other perfectly good computer and smartphone companies out there.

It's just, we keep being told that Apple products are superior in every possible way. I would have thought that means we hold them to a higher standard than those other companies. I would have thought repairability would be one of those standards, and that deliberately making their products harder to repair on purpose would be a breach, however minor, of the lofty standards one would expect from the premier company of computing technology. Apparently I'm wrong, and Apple should be held to a lower standard on specifically this issue, and if one tries to hold them to a higher standard on specifically this issue, one is being a whiny little baby. So be it. Lesson learned.

*Yes, this pentalobe thing is almost certainly patented, and the "pentalobe" screwdrivers are almost certainly not the patented design. In fact, iFixit explicitly says theirs only "mostly" works.

**A 10mm wrench and maybe some dielectric grease for my car. Literally just my fingers for my laptop and smartphone.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:28 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


There was none of this fuss when spanx were introduced.
posted by newdaddy at 5:32 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


so, who wants to be the first to receive a pentalobotomy?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:32 PM on January 21, 2011


I can't imagine when I would choose anything other than Robertson or Torx. The rest all suck hard.

Don't you remember how cool it was, back in 1986, turning on your Commodore or Amstrad and seeing a BASIC prompt? The ability to program and make it do things from the very start? For an 8-year old kid turning on a comp

Imagine if you could buy a touchpad that was just a basic tool construction set. Maybe a Forth + media and internet widgets, with which to make your own tools and games. Old-school creativity and computer programming exercises.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:32 PM on January 21, 2011


I'm willing to concede this is not a big deal, as long as I don't have to hear "hurf durf, so much for 'don't be evil'" because Google doesn't want to support your favorite video codec.
posted by Gary at 5:33 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Been working in the AV business, here's two red Lincolns:

On a basic note, it's ridiculous that I have to carry around a bunch of proprietary adapters because Apple won't accept VGAs and doesn't always like USBs. New VGA adapters for every computer? I work in a lot of schools which use macs because they're old-teacher friendly. I also talk to a lot of IT directors who are pulling their hair out trying to keep track of all those adapters.

In a similar vein, Blue Ray Disks and their players are the devil, imho. Media that will actually shut you down if its firmware senses you're using too many monitors.

I can't imagine buying a movie and then not being able to display it anyway I want. Utter bullshit.

I hate having products I can't open up or tweak either. This is why I'll always be a PC, of course, even though I like Mac products.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:34 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


A joke compared to perl, python, the GNU toolchain, etc all included with OS X.

I remember when bundled installs weren't considered a good thing. When a manufacturer loading your install up with their stuff was a mark against that manufacturer.

Well, I guess it doesn't matter. Today, the only thing that matters is whether a bash script runs natively. Wonder what'll be the only thing that matters tomorrow?
posted by kafziel at 5:41 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's just, we keep being told that Apple products are superior in every possible way. I would have thought that means we hold them to a higher standard than those other companies. I would have thought repairability would be one of those standards, and that deliberately making their products harder to repair on purpose would be a breach, however minor, of the lofty standards one would expect from the premier company of computing technology.
You (and many other people in this thread) keep muddling "hard for someone without a particular tool to open" with "hard to repair." "Repairability" is not the same as "user serviceability."
Apparently I'm wrong, and Apple should be held to a lower standard on specifically this issue, and if one tries to hold them to a higher standard on specifically this issue, one is being a whiny little baby. So be it. Lesson learned.
Has anyone here actually said that? Or are you just being weirdly passive agressive because every Apple thread has to be a drama fest?
posted by verb at 5:42 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry to have to play the heavy here, but there are SO SO MANY aspects of the design of an iPhone that are entirely inaccessible to consumers. PROM and firmware, compilers and assemblers, microcode, schematics, netlists, hardware description language models. Give me a break you guys. Go and buy the screwdriver on Amazon if you want, but dont kid yourselves that it's going to give you some insidery knowledge of the thing. Or especially that you're going to 'tune that baby up, and its going to purr like a six-pack.' Take my word for it, there are millions of engineering effort embodied in that device.
posted by newdaddy at 5:46 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yes, this pentalobe thing is almost certainly patented

I can't find any such thing in the USPTO database. In any case, the clock is ticking. Apple started using it in mid-2009, so they had a year from that point at the latest to file an application, and 18 months after that the application would publish. So we'll know within a year.

However, given the existence of various 5-pointed security screws (e.g. Bryce Penta Nut, Torx Plus) and hexalobe screws, I think there'd be a heck of an obviousness challenge to overcome.
posted by jedicus at 5:51 PM on January 21, 2011


When a manufacturer loading your install up with their stuff was a mark against that manufacturer

I'll take Apple installing GNU over Microsoft's vendor partners installing spam, adware and spyware any day of the week. You can have your adware and spyware.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:52 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't need a special tool with a patented design that I can only officially buy from Mazda* to open the hood of my car. Hell, most car repairs don't require anything fancier than a torque wrench, and you can get away without that if you're feeling frisky.

You use a torque wrench to repair your car electronics? When you finally managed to disassemble the dash—it's a good thing you bought the $700 shop manual, it's a tricky bastard—which wrench head did you have to use: a Philips or a Torx? And having popped it open, did you find user serviceable parts?

I guess you could fix an iPhone, then. And without fucking up the microwave shielding that's required to meet legal cell licensing terms.

I built parts of the computer I used in 1980. Soldering of chips. I built simple electronic circuits, actually hands-on mimicks of parts of the circuits that made the early CPUs tick.

Whatever it is you are romantically remembering—probably dicking around with RAM sticks and video cards, as if that's "hacking" a computer—ain't happening with these devices.

There are no user serviceable parts inside. You're not going to bung in a UART to interface a primitive modem. You aren't going to swap in a larger drive. You sure as hell better not fuck up the microwave transmission power, what with it being held right beside your brain.

tl;dr: These are not what those were. Get over it.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:53 PM on January 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


I remember when bundled installs weren't considered a good thing. When a manufacturer loading your install up with their stuff was a mark against that manufacturer.

Well, I guess it doesn't matter. Today, the only thing that matters is whether a bash script runs natively. Wonder what'll be the only thing that matters tomorrow?


I assume this is a sarcastic suggestion of hypocrisy. But there's a big difference between a company with an operating system monopoly bundling its own proprietary software to compete unfairly and a company with ~5-10% marketshare bundling a wide variety of open source tools primarily made by others.
posted by jedicus at 5:59 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


You're not going to bung in a UART to interface a primitive modem

To be fair, if you jailbreak you can rig a simple serial adapter to an iPhone / iPod Touch. But you don't have to open the case to do it.
posted by jedicus at 6:01 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be fair

Hey, being fair has no place in an Apple thread.
posted by kmz at 6:04 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


This guy doesn't understand the Robertson screw which was invented by Peter Robertson (not Robinson for God's sake) in 1908, not 1906. Ford wanted his own private screw so he offered to take over the Robertson and give Peter a royalty on all screws sold. Robertson turned them down and instead created a company town in Milton, Ontrario that he envisioned as a workers' paradise. Folks who lived there have no bad memories of it and it was never the scene of a nasty strike put down by Pinkertons or other professional strike-breakers, industrial peace being part of Robertson's vision. The Phillips screw was invented by an engineer at Fisher Body Works ("Body by Fisher" used to appear on a number of GM vehicles) who was specifically trying to outdo Robertson. When Fisher opened up their licensing a bit, Ford bought in and Robertson screws suddenly became explicitly Canadian.
Robertson screwdrivers are vastly superior to slot heads. You can put in a screw one-handed since the square head centers and holds the screw while you twist the handle. The screwdriver itself is of a two-piece construction and the hardened tip is inserted into a tubular steel shaft. Robertson is long dead but his corporate heirs are now busy selling Robertson screwdrivers in China. It would be nice to sell these in the States but, Like metric, only a few Americans get it. (10% of screws sold in the US are Robertson.)
Anyway, the Apple analogy don't work. The important thing is, odd-type screws prevent toilets from being stolen.
posted by CCBC at 6:06 PM on January 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


> In my job I often have to go out of my way to insure that the screws I get aren't square sockets.

Yeah, I've heard of US square socket screwdrivers. I hear they're called "crowbars".

In my industry, we use pentasocket bolts to secure transformer cases. I'm damn glad we do. I don't think I've worked on a plant where we haven't had to chase someone off from trying to break into a transformer (or worse, take an axe to an underground cable). Those transformers might look pretty, but there are 27600 good reasons you don't want to open the door when they're energized.
posted by scruss at 6:11 PM on January 21, 2011


Having a vehement opinion about it will shorten your lifespan, or at least degrade your QoL.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:20 PM on January 21, 2011


Personally, I find that I prefer some Apple products, but the recent tendencies against user serviceability definitely go in the negative column for me, though, and the battery replacement hassles in particular. And I've noticed it isn't just a fact for a given model, it's a trend. My recent MacBookPro is harder to get open than my last three PowerBooks, and the newer MBPs look even harder.
posted by weston at 6:30 PM on January 21, 2011


Square drive screws are common in construction these days in the U.S. ... People use them to build decks, for example. It has all the advantages mentioned in the story -- positive drive, no camming out, no burring the hole ...

You can get them at Home Depot, and you can get the driver tips for them there also. Or True Value. Whatever. I got a bunch of them, although for some reason whenever I have to unscrew a square drive screw I have the cross tip in my gun, and vice versa. My karma has a contrarian bone I guess.

The penta-whatsit screw, now, I can't help you there. That's like a five-leaf clover.

Let's go back to arguing about ice in our La Frog.
posted by pressF1 at 6:32 PM on January 21, 2011


Trochanter: "feels good man"

hey trochanter i hear you pull your pants down all the way to compile.

In re: toolkits on windows, if you're not using powershell and relying on wsh or vbs to do scripting then I dunno about that. Maybe you still compute in octal or something, I dunno. psh is delightfully powerful, and although the syntax is bizarre sometimes, it's pretty awesome to work with.
posted by boo_radley at 6:33 PM on January 21, 2011



There are no user serviceable parts inside. You're not going to bung in a UART to interface a primitive modem. You aren't going to swap in a larger drive. You sure as hell better not fuck up the microwave transmission power, what with it being held right beside your brain.

All the more reason to let the idiots poke around inside and get daunted and close it back up.

Aren't the screen, antenna, speaker, battery and other fiddly little bits replaceable?
posted by gjc at 6:38 PM on January 21, 2011


Screw this candy ass issue, I want a HyperCard update.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


The battery in an iPhone lasts longer than your interest in owning it. So that's not an issue. (in terms of duty cycles, not one charge)
posted by GuyZero at 6:42 PM on January 21, 2011



The battery in an iPhone lasts longer than your interest in owning it.


What if you wanted to put in a battery that holds more charge*.

*I know this is possible with the Zune (and downright easy to do with a Phillips-head screwdriver), not sure with Apple products.
posted by drezdn at 6:53 PM on January 21, 2011


What if I want a liver that processes alcohol faster? Apple is deified and we take what they give us and don't ask such questions.
posted by GuyZero at 7:00 PM on January 21, 2011


When I was a kid, my parent got a cheap tiny phillips-head screwdriver from some giveaway. I proceeded to start taking apart all of my electronic toys with it. I loved looking at the circuit boards and try and figure out what was going on. While I didn't learn much about electronics from doing it, it a little seed of an interest in electronics. Now I spend much of my free time building circuits, and hope to one day make money designing them.

I have electronic devices now that use proprietary screws (gameboys), but it's disappointing to not even have the option to peak under the hood.
posted by drezdn at 7:01 PM on January 21, 2011


In my industry, we use pentasocket bolts to secure transformer cases. I'm damn glad we do. I don't think I've worked on a plant where we haven't had to chase someone off from trying to break into a transformer (or worse, take an axe to an underground cable). Those transformers might look pretty, but there are 27600 good reasons you don't want to open the door when they're energized.

This is a very good argument for Apple not pulling this crap, actually. Since popping open tamper resistant containers has become a routine task for any tinkerer, the useful warning off feature tamper resistance might have had is denuded.

Anyway, lots of other companies are doing this. Linksys uses tamper resistant torx nowadays. Roomba uses this wierd triangular thing. It doesn't make Apple the worst company in the world. It just sucks is all.
posted by Chuckles at 7:22 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


What if I want a liver that processes alcohol faster?

Is there a screwdriver that will do that? Because I've got some orange juice...
posted by dirigibleman at 7:29 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


It doesn't make Apple the worst company in the world. It just sucks is all.

And it makes the people who loudly declare that Apple is the BEST company in the world look suspiciously like Scientologists or Palinites.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:43 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I dunno. psh is delightfully powerful, and although the syntax is bizarre sometimes, it's pretty awesome to work with.

psh is a legit step forward. Microsoft has been making strides with stuff like PLINQ and the proposed sugar for asynchronous programming 5.0. I tell all the haters I work that the good thing about Balmer is that he will cater to the market with stuff like ASP mvc, F#. The lock in people lost a while ago. Maybe I am biased though since being an "expert" in ms tech keeps me in miller light and Jamesons
posted by Ad hominem at 7:48 PM on January 21, 2011


And it makes the people who loudly declare that Apple is the BEST company in the world look suspiciously like Scientologists or Palinites.

Oh yeah, you've totally got one over on all those people in this thread who've said Apple is "the best company in the world". All zero of them.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:50 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


And it makes the people who loudly declare that Apple is the BEST company in the world look suspiciously like Scientologists or Palinites.

The only people saying that are the people saying that.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:54 PM on January 21, 2011


You can have my Mac case-cracker tool when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:11 PM on January 21, 2011


All the screwdriver talk reminds me about Phillips vs Pozidriv, augh. Does anyone actually own Pozidriv screwdrivers? It turns out that Phillips is designed to cam out and that Pozidriv fixes that if you use a Pozidriv screwdriver, but boy it sure feels like Pozidriv cams out easier than Phillips if you use a Phillips screwdriver.

Also: To make a driver that will work in any Torx variant of N petals, take a security Torx driver and grind off five of the six points.
posted by mendel at 8:12 PM on January 21, 2011


Of course I'm also amazed when people post John Gruber, since the sum content of John Gruber's comments are going to be some variation of "What Apple is doing is fine, and naysayers are just jerks who shouldn't be listened to." He's less a pundit and more an external mouth.
posted by Pope Guilty


Eh, I disagree. He's obviously a fan of Apple products and I'm sure that annoys the hell out of those that hate apple. But he's not beyond being critical about the company. His predictions have been pretty accurate, and he obviously has sources in the company. I'd say he's pretty much at the top of the heap when it comes to pundits. Compared to someone like paul thurott he's freaking shakespeare.

And it makes the people who loudly declare that Apple is the BEST company in the world look suspiciously like Scientologists or Palinites.
posted by oneswellfoop


If I could only get tech gear from one company it would be apple. Considering recent history (iphone, ipad) I don't really think it's even necessary to defend that opinion. Best company in the world? That's a strawman that lives only in your head.
posted by justgary at 9:06 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


While accepting a "Crunchies" award this evening (I'm running the live feed to keep me awake), John Doerr cited Steve Jobs, when asked if he did market research for the iPad: "It's not the consumer's job to figure out what they want."

That's the Apple Attitude that is so easy to hate.

(and also why it's not just Apple Haters who think Apple Lovers are mindless cultists. Apple management counts on it.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:07 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I could only get tech gear from one company it would be apple.
And that's NOT the same thing as calling Apple the Best Company in the World?

Name one you love more.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:09 PM on January 21, 2011


nicwolff writes "What? I've driven thousands of them, usually with a clutchless Milwaukee drill, and never stripped one."

There are some cheap ass screws out there that are either under or over sized and are a total PITA to drive. I threw away 15 pounds of deck screws once for this reason. Never a problem with screws that come in a Robertson box though.
posted by Mitheral at 9:13 PM on January 21, 2011


And that's NOT the same thing as calling Apple the Best Company in the World?

Well, no, it isn't—as a moment's thought should make clear.
posted by kenko at 9:13 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Way back in the 1980s, the original Macintoshes were all held together with Torx screws.

And, they required a thin shaft about 7 inches long. I remember trying to open one of those, buying the torx driver, and then having to build a wood fire to burn off the plastic handle, to get a long enough reach. I recall feeling all cutting-edge modern as I fed sticks to my little campfire.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:16 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


sorry, I overstated, it's the same as calling Apple the Best TECH Company in the World.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:17 PM on January 21, 2011


I'm surprised that no one's noted that Apple uses Torx screws because their products are filled with worms. Really, something like that you'd think would have been mentioned earlier in the thread.
posted by JHarris at 9:36 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I threw away 15 pounds of deck screws once for this reason.

The green-clad cheap deck screws are horrible. The coating they use sometimes over-fills the driver hole. The bits don't purchase well and tend to cam out because their taper. Stripped heads are a common problem. I've switched entirely to silicon brass for deck screws, damn the cost. Without the coating issue, they seem to work great.
posted by bonehead at 9:41 PM on January 21, 2011


Dudes, wait till they figure out that they can just slam the things together with pop rivets or plastic snaps that totally break when you open them - like any modern automobile. You'll wish they had pentalobe screws.
posted by Xoebe at 9:56 PM on January 21, 2011



There will be more of this as Apple turns into the brushed aluminum version of Sony.

Apple sells user experiences and part of the user experience is not doing anything to the device that Apple doesn't want you to do it. You can't install Flash. You can't change the battery. You cant open the case. You might own the device, but they own the experience and by Jove, you will have the same experience The Steve has decided you should have.

I am a sort of superciliously obnoxious douchebag, though, and it really rubs me the wrong way when corporations I do business with treat me like I'm stupid.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:12 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


sorry, I overstated, it's the same as calling Apple the Best TECH Company in the World.

No, it isn't even that. Saying "given a choice I'll always take Coke over Pepsi" is not the same as saying "Coke is the best soda company in the world," it's saying "I uniformly prefer Coke to Pepsi".
posted by fatbird at 10:17 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just came in to say that I think the new screws are prettier.
posted by mazola at 10:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, though, I've found the "Apple is destroying the future tinkerers of the world" argument flawed in a much more basic way, in that other computers and devices exist. Nothing is stopping the future Wozzes from just opening up a Dell or Droid X.
This can't be repeated enough. From the time Apple was founded until now, there have always been outlets for tinkerers. The nature of them has changed over the years - anyone play with kits from Radio Shack or Heathkit? But there have always been outlets.

Is there a fear that as Apple closes up their electronic products, so too will other manufacturers?
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:53 PM on January 21, 2011


Apple sells user experiences and part of the user experience is not doing anything to the device that Apple doesn't want you to do it. You can't install Flash. You can't change the battery. You cant open the case. You might own the device, but they own the experience and by Jove, you will have the same experience The Steve has decided you should have.
You will have the experience you voted for with your pocketbook.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:58 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, this is terrible. But - exactly how terrible is it?

It's IBM-PC terrible1. It's PSP terrible2. It's DS & Wii terrible3. It's XBox 360 terrible4. It's Gameboy terrible5. It's Roomba terrible6. It's Playstation 3 terrible7. It's IBM PS-2 terrible8. It's Nokia terrible9. It's Garmin terrible10.

Though, I guess because it's Apple, it's actually more terrible than that…

-----

1) Torx and tamper-resistant torx. BTW, torx drivers were difficult and expensive to get until after the patent expired in the early 90's…
2) Yup, PSPs use Torx screws too.
3) Tri-wing.
4) Damn near impossible to open without damaging the case unless you use the clip-releasing tool.
5) TP3.
6) TP3 again!
7) Modified Bristol.
8) Line head - similar, but not the same, to Torx.
9) Tri-wing and tri-groove screws.
10) Security slotted screws.

While Torx drivers may be common enough nowadays, TP3, Bristol / Modified Bristol, Line head, Tri-groove, and security slotted drivers aren't the sort of thing you can generally pick up at your local hardware behemoth…

posted by Pinback at 12:25 AM on January 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dudes, wait till they figure out that they can just slam the things together with pop rivets or plastic snaps that totally break when you open them - like any modern automobile.

Or just glue them with the sort of glue that actually melts the pieces together, like they do with the Mighty Mouse. Which means you have at most a couple of months of use of the innovative scroll ball before enough skin oils accumulate in there and it stops working because you can't open it to clean it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:01 AM on January 22, 2011


Pinback: "Yes, this is terrible. But - exactly how terrible is it?"

For mine the story is Apple retrofitting these to phones that come in for repair that didn't already have them. That would probably miff me a little if it were my phone. Those other products (and more recently purchased iphones) came with those fasteners, so the buyer has the opportunity to avoid them.

Someone up thread said that the battery would outlast your interest in the phone. Has something changed such that Li-ion keep a decent life beyond 3 years or so? It wasn't the case on the gen 3 ipod I had, which I swapped the battery on. And since most people get an iphone on a 2 years contract, an additional year isn't ridiculous.

Anyway, who cares? This thread has amply demonstrated that Apple's customers are happy to pay Apple for any repairs rather than seek out cheaper options. Good luck to them.
posted by markr at 1:31 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Proprietary, you say...

Why didn't Apple in its infinite wisdom, actually utilise the meta abilities of the mp3 format when they (or their third parties) created iTunes and encoded all that music?

They could have embedded liner notes, lyrics, hell - the instruments, timing and all the other components that make up a piece of music. Then all these meta could have been searchable within the iTunes client.

Why?

Is it because they placed market share over usability in their race to market? I now pay as much as I did for a pressed CD/LP minus the tangible components, and the extra cash doesn't go to the artist.

I'm no hater, I'm just cranky.
posted by a non e mouse at 1:34 AM on January 22, 2011


1. Company does something manifestly customer-hostile
2. Customers complain that hostile thing is hostile
3. Stockholm Syndrome sufferers complain that customers in #2 are complaining and IT'S NOT REALLY A BIG DEAL GUYS WHY ARE YOU EVEN BRINGING IT UP
4. Repeat
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:05 PM on January 21 [49 favorites +] [!]


When I read this sort of idiot stupid, I wish people on the web were forced to use their real name.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:40 AM on January 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


For mine the story is Apple retrofitting these to phones that come in for repair that didn't already have them.

According to members of the Apple Brigades, being upset about having your hardware modified in ways you didn't ask for and don't want makes you stupid.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:44 AM on January 22, 2011


Yes, getting upset about the type of screws used in a device does seem a bit small.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:30 AM on January 22, 2011


They are very small screws.
posted by fixedgear at 4:25 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Though, I guess because it's Apple, it's actually more terrible than that…

Welcome to Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:58 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


IBM PC used Torx? IBM PS2 used torx? It has been a while since I opened one, but that does not fit with my memory. PS2 used tool-less cases, I thought.
posted by gjc at 5:17 AM on January 22, 2011



Yes, getting upset about the type of screws used in a device does seem a bit small.

Not nearly as small as a corp going through all that trouble about screws. If it is no big deal, why did they do it?
posted by gjc at 5:18 AM on January 22, 2011


My best friend in HS had an original IBM PC---it was DOS 1.1, so that's 1982. I'm quite certain that it had regular Phillips screws on the case. We had that thing apart more often than we had hot meals.
posted by bonehead at 5:26 AM on January 22, 2011


gjc, I honestly don't know why they replace the types of screws after servicing. If only there was an actual story about that, instead of the usual "Apple is trying to control us!"

I don't think it's a big deal 'cause I don't want to tinker with my iDevice, yet if I felt the burning desire to do so, getting one of those nifty screw drivers wouldn't be hard. This "issue" is utterly unimportant to me.

Now, can we talk about putting an orientation lock on the iPhone? Drives me nuts how easily the screen shifts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:53 AM on January 22, 2011


can we talk about putting an orientation lock on the iPhone

Tap the home screen twice and scroll over the app bar. There's an orange orientation lock button you can tap to lock the screen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:10 AM on January 22, 2011


Home button, sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:10 AM on January 22, 2011


I honestly don't know why they replace the types of screws after servicing.

What, really? It's to make it harder for you to open the device and service it yourself. Don't play dumb.

I don't think it's a big deal 'cause I don't want to tinker with my iDevice, yet if I felt the burning desire to do so, getting one of those nifty screw drivers wouldn't be hard.

From what people are saying upthread, while five-notched screwdrivers are available, these screws have some kind of rounded shape to their notches which makes them very difficult to work without the intended screwdriver, which is unavailable. Of course, I knew that because I read the thread.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:22 AM on January 22, 2011


which is unavailable

The same people who made a big deal out of this are selling you a screwdriver, if you want to buy one from them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:33 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blazecock- wish there was a hardware button, like the iPad.

Pope Guilty- *shrugs* Still not a big issue IMO, so the drama over this way out of proportion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 AM on January 22, 2011


I don't think it's a big deal 'cause I don't want to tinker with my iDevice, yet if I felt the burning desire to do so, getting one of those nifty screw drivers wouldn't be hard. This "issue" is utterly unimportant to me.

Then you don't really have a horse in this race? If you don't care, you don't care, and that's absolutely your right. But why argue against people who DO care and ARE affected by this?

Small example: I have a Blackberry. The mute button is the unlock button. It quit working. I got my tiny torx screwdriver set, which I was able to get years ago at Sears, took off the case and blasted the button with contact cleaner. Problem solved.

I can't wait for a Blackberry Genius appointment or pay $20 for a FedEx of a $5 screwdriver that still won't show up for at least a day- if I couldn't fix it, I was going to buy a new phone.

THAT is what Apple is doing. At some cost, they are scraping the margins of the people who would be inclined to do the above to save a few bucks, and asking them to spend more time or money to solve their problems. The question isn't why shouldn't they use these screws, but why ARE they?

What problem are they solving? (And end-users opening phones and ruining them isn't Apple's problem. They have, and still will, tell these people to pound sand.)


(Note to the "batteries will last longer that my interest in the phone" person: that may be true for people who buy new phones all the time and are lucky enough to get good batteries. But batteries die prematurely, and many silly people still use their stuff until it is worn out or broken. These people often don't consider batteries to be sufficient reason to call something worn out.)
posted by gjc at 7:19 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coming back to this post to say, is it possible there's a lawyer who told them to do this? As someone (or someones) mentioned upthread, if you go in there screwing with the innards of this thing you could go frying your brain. Perhaps this could lead to some non-frivolous products liability suits. One could argue that given the prevalence of electronics that are hard to open, it's a design defect to make one that's trivially easy to open, which is functionally an invitation to anyone with a Philips screwdriver to open it up and, hypothetically, fry his/her brain.

Just a thought.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:20 AM on January 22, 2011


Small example: I have a Blackberry. The mute button is the unlock button. It quit working. I got my tiny torx screwdriver set, which I was able to get years ago at Sears, took off the case and blasted the button with contact cleaner. Problem solved.

Torx is proprietary. What problem is RIM trying to solve by using Torx? Why should I be forced to buy a just-as-expensive Torx driver when my flathead screwdrivers are just fine? Why is it okay for RIM to use Torx, while Apple gets grief for Pentalobe?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:24 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Today Apple resembles none of these values, and it's a crying shame. There's so much (more) that people (and especially kids) could be learning and experimenting with on their iPhones or Macbooks if they had that old Apple attitude and permissiveness back.

Less of the "today": as noted above the Macs shipped in 1984 needed a special case cracker.

I'm also not convinced about how much kids could be learning by turning their iPod into a pile of bits; at least compared to looking at pictures of what's inside on iFixit.

You learn to fly in a Cessna, not by going straight to a 747. Happily, budding EEs now have two decades' worth of Cessna PCs out there to tear apart and break, some of them going for a few bucks. The brand-new $2000 laptop is not the best place to start.

I don't call any machine my own until I fix even the smallest aspect of it. American cars were without equal when guys could spend a Saturday rebuilding their tranny and hear that baby purrr when you finished the last of a six-pack. Bring back American pride - make fucking machines that are built to last!

Have you got your own chip fabrication plant, then? Because that's the smallest aspect of any modern electronic device.

As for made to last: Moore's law is in charge here. Sure, I'm pissed that Apple won't replace the battery on my original iPod because it's "obsolete", but it's little more than sentiment on my part: for the price of the battery I can buy a new iPod with twice the storage, four times the battery life and a touchscreen.

Anything else is like the Cubans with their 50s cars. It's amazing and laudable that they've kept them going, but modern engines are more efficient, cleaner and more powerful. They and their economy would be incomparably better off with modern machines, just as you'd be better off not trying to keep that 486 as your main machine.
posted by bonaldi at 7:32 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's a peculiarity of the Canadian market, but almost all cell contracts are three-year here. It's possible to get two or one, but they're more much expensive on the front-end and not well-advertised. The last few phones I've had, and my wife's last phone have all needed new batteries 18 mo to 2 years in. All I've needed to do was make a purchase on eBay for ~$15 to $20 bucks to replace them and the phones are good through the end of the contract period. Being able to replace the battery cheaply and easily is important if you're locked in for three years.
posted by bonehead at 7:52 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really don't get all the invective on the matter of platform. I'm an Apple guy, I guess, in that I've used Apples from my still-operational 1979 Apple ][ plus with its beautiful opening hood that laid everything joyously bare to my sealed box SE/30 (need a long, long Torx to get in) to my Mac Mini, which I've never bothered to open, though I may crack it to drop in a newer Core2Duo dealie and more RAM. I've had my sojourns in-between, like my lovely Commodore years (because the C64 kicked all kinds of Apple 8-bit ass), my Kaypro II & CP/M (how I loved writing on those big NASA control panel keys), and a few fraught attempts to go Linux, but I continue to use Apple stuff because it works.

I'm a bigtime tinkerer, but I'm happier when things just work. I used to go on stage with a gigantic sampling keyboard and my SE/30, pulling the rig out of a rainbow-colored carrying bag to the amusement of the people from the computer music department at Peabody, who had grants, and therefore Powerbooks, but I never once got stuck, mid-performance, with a blue screen. I'm happy to have a set of iPods that all work, even long after I'm apparently supposed to have disposed of them, because I've just opened them up, upgraded HDDs with flash cards, changed out batteries, and fixed a jittery headphone jack or two, which, apparently, is impossible, at least according to the Apple-is-Satan contingent.

I'm a tinkerer with software that's like a gigantic set of musical Lego blocks, Meccano, and Fischer-Teknik, and I've installed Linux on a touchbutton iPod that's a generative ambient sound machine for my apartment, and I use tools on my iPod Touch that aren't available for other platforms. I rarely need to mess with the hardware, but if I need to get inside, I go online, find instructions on how to do it, and then do it.

Should I throw a fit, buy an Android, and stop making music on my device because I'm mad because a big corporation is doing what big corporations always do?

People seem to get all butthurt because they think that corporate press conferences, product demonstrations, and organizational philosophies actually mean something. Apple makes a big hoopty-do about how great and original they are? Really? A company would do that? How unacceptably gauche. It's almost like they're trying to sell a product or something.

We also get all in a tizzy because Apple fanboys are fanboys, but frankly, being an Apple fanboy, or a Linux fanboy, or whatever other kind of fanboy you are is what you do when you have the drive to be a sports fan, but don't give a crap about sports. I'm not the biggest fan of Apple, particularly when they get all glossy monolith on us, but I watch the keynotes and giggle. Apple makes some nice products. I like to celebrate cool things. Apparently, I've been guzzling the Flavor Aid for saying so, but I've had mp3 players from other manufacturers, all of which are broken or otherwise unusable now. I can open them up with an eyeglass screwdriver, so now what do I do? Just a bunch of surface mount ASICs I can't do anything with. Does my empirical experience with Apple products deny the popular opinion that everything else is just as good?

I'm starting to ramble, but I'll take issue with one common misconception:

Apple did not start out as a purveyor of machines for tinkerers.

Sure, the Apple I was a kit. The Apple II was not a kit. You could open it up, work with it to some extent, but what made it sell and sell big was the fact that it was an appliance—a machine that worked as described, right out of the box. You didn't have to build it, or burn EPROMs to use it, or hand-code chunks of operating system to make it work. You didn't flip brightly colored switches on the front of the box to enter binary instructions or wirewrap accessory boards. You paid out your thousands of dollars, brought it home, put in your Disk ][ controller card, hooked up your drive and slotted in a disk, turned it on, and played Breakout for hours. Instead of being a hardware hacker, you were mostly a software hacker, or even just a user.

Unlike the other big two machines of 1977, it didn't sit on your desk like an embarrassing lump of engineering shortcuts (except for the Woz hacks to get get color graphics, sorta). Mine still works as well as it did back in my wayward youth, though the Disk II has largely been supplanted by a Compact Flash-based drive card for when I want to play Aztec. For disposable tech, it's doing awfully well.

The criticisms, particularly when we claim that there was this golden age of hackable computer hardware ten, twenty, thirty years ago just seem off. Sure, my Apple ][ manual has a schematic. My Commodore 64 manual has a huge schematic, too. Does a Dell come with a schematic? How 'bout a Zune? Sandisk? Anyone? Would a schematic help me out with my easily opened Diamond Rio? If I had a schematic for my Mac Mini, I could do...what, exactly?

The thing is, we're in an absolute golden age, the real deal second one, of hardware/software hacking. There's hardware tools everywhere and shared, pooled expertise available on your fucking telephone. People are building amazing things and doing amazing things and I can take my iPod, a little keyboard, and my box of wonders and ride to a gig with it all strapped on my scooter instead of filling a whole van. If I need to open my iPod with some weird plastic tong when battery replacement time comes, am I really supposed to be standing up against the man?

At the same time, my techno-phobic mom can send email, go geneology, scan, edit, and print photos, and share annoying memes with her friends, without constantly calling me up to ask me how to get a virus off her computer. She should probably stop doing that, and supporting the world of evil as we know it, I guess.

Everything's out there. You can hack molecules or talk on a Jitterbug or a bit of both.

Is that really not good enough?
posted by sonascope at 8:05 AM on January 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


When you give a device to Apple you have to sign off on a service agreement. I've never read one too closely but I imagine it contains language that amounts to that.

I suspect Apple is obeying the law. But I don't care. Whether what they're doing is legal or not doesn't interest me. What they're doing is immoral, and I'm betting most Apple employees and executives would agree with that, if you put them in an analogous circumstance. (E.g. if they sent their broken Wiis to Nintendo and, upon return, found that Nintendo had "fixed" all sorts of things that weren't broken.") If I'm right, then Apple is violating The Golden Rule.

Apple also knows that people in stores don't stand there and read through long service agreements. Maybe they should, but they don't. If you say, "Sure, I'll fix your car. Just sign here," and somewhere in small print it says you get to keep 30% of my salary for the next ten years, do you feel totally fine taking 30% of my salary, because -- hey -- I signed the document?

I don't have a copy of an Apple service agreement, but here are some relevant passages from Apples's iPhone Warranty. Caveat emptor!

[Apple will] (1) repair the hardware defect at no charge, using new parts or refurbished parts that are equivalent to new in performance and reliability, (2) exchange the product with a product that is new or refurbished that is equivalent to new in performance and reliability and is at least functionally equivalent to the original product, or (3) refund the purchase price of the product. Apple may request that you replace defective parts with user-installable new or refurbished parts that Apple provides in fulfillment of its warranty obligation. A replacement product or part, including a user-installable part that has been installed in accordance with instructions provided by Apple, assumes the remaining warranty of the original product or ninety (90) days from the date of replacement or repair, whichever provides longer coverage for you. When a product or part is exchanged, any replacement item becomes your property and the replaced item becomes Apple’s property.

So they can replace the screws with new screws that are different from the original, as long as the new ones are just as reliable as the old ones.

Actually, depending on your interpretation, the new screws aren't as reliable as the old ones. The new and old ones are probably equally reliable at keeping the cover on the device. But the old ones were MUCH more reliable at being unscrewed using a standard screwdriver.

And if Apple wants to claim, "Yes, but that's not what they were meant for," I'd say that's misleading. If you don't want something to be unscrewed, don't ship it with standard, unscrewable screws in it. That's like shipping something with a zipper and saying it's not meant to be unzipped.
posted by grumblebee at 8:13 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


When a product or part is exchanged, any replacement item becomes your property and the replaced item becomes Apple’s property.

What tech company -- actually, what company, period -- provides warranty support where you keep both the old, broken item and the newly repaired item? This isn't anything specific about Apple, is it?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:26 AM on January 22, 2011


Has something changed such that Li-ion keep a decent life beyond 3 years or so?

I don't know if the tech has quite made its way to the iPhone yet, but the current MacBook batteries have substantially improved lifetimes compared to ones from a couple of years ago. Anyway, Apple will replace the battery for $79, out of warranty. That's not particularly excessive pricing, if you look at what a high-capacity cell phone battery costs. In-warranty it'll replace it for free if the performance degrades beyond acceptable limits (<8>If you say, "Sure, I'll fix your car. Just sign here," and somewhere in small print it says you get to keep 30% of my salary for the next ten years, do you feel totally fine taking 30% of my salary, because -- hey -- I signed the document?

Contract terms like that in a car service agreement would be unenforceable as unconscionable.

Apple also knows that people in stores don't stand there and read through long service agreements.

Virtually all companies use form contracts, and I'll guarantee you that you can find questionable language (what you might call immoral or Golden Rule violating) in the Terms of Use of almost any website and the service agreements of almost any hardware company.

The new and old ones are probably equally reliable at keeping the cover on the device. But the old ones were MUCH more reliable at being unscrewed using a standard screwdriver.

Given that opening the device voids the warranty, a court would probably say that keeping the cover on is what the screws are for.
posted by jedicus at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2011


Given that opening the device voids the warranty, a court would probably say that keeping the cover on is what the screws are for.

As the owner of the device, aren't I entitled to break the warranty if I choose to do so?

Again, I suspect Apple is on firm legal ground. But they're standing in moral quicksand. Unless they are in denial, they know this.

What if Apple orders a bunch of harddrives from supplier X? When the drives arrive, it turns out they are defective. So Apple returns them to X for repair. X fixes them and ships them back. When Apple gets them back, it discovers that while X fixed the drives, they also replaced the screws -- screws that formerly would have allowed Apple to easily open the drives with new ones that don't allow that. My guess is that Apple would think of that as a dirty move. Not illegal. Dirty.

If that's so, then they're assholes to do the same thing to their customers.
posted by grumblebee at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I doubt Apple has the time or interest to open up millions of hard drives, let alone worry about the screws used on the hard drive case. A company on the scale of an Apple probably just cares that the parts operate to specification.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2011


But it's alarming I have to reiterate that the whole point to hacking has nothing to do with money or computer security.

Unfortunately, MeFi is not a tech audience. True, there are a handful of technical people here who understand what you're complaining about, who have opened up and fixed their own hardware, who know how to use an oscilloscope, who know how to code and can recognize good from bad, but most of the people here are just consumers. They consider themselves part of the technically savvy because of their purchases. Just like how the asshole in the new BMW thinks he's Mario Andretti.

Notice, they're not assholes just because they got a new BMW. They're assholes because they try and drive it like they know what they're doing when they don't. In much the same way, hardware consumers aren't assholes just because they enjoy trying to outspend each other on shiny things. They become assholes only when they start spouting their woefully uneducated opinions about the technology they consume as if they were the developers themselves. If you've never opened up a piece of hardware in your life your opinion on this matter is worthless noise. Worthless because it is backed up by nothing in the form of education or practical experience, noise because you are a distraction: screaming children running into the middle of a bunch of adults trying to have a discussion.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


mendel writes "Does anyone actually own Pozidriv screwdrivers?"

I've got several posidriv bits but I've never actually seen any screws that would use them.

Blazecock Pileon writes "The same people who made a big deal out of this are selling you a screwdriver, if you want to buy one from them."

The wrong screwdriver that sort of works.

Blazecock Pileon writes "What problem is RIM trying to solve by using Torx? Why should I be forced to buy a just-as-expensive Torx driver when my flathead screwdrivers are just fine? Why is it okay for RIM to use Torx, while Apple gets grief for Pentalobe?"

Torx screw heads are superior to slotted screws in significant ways. They don't cam out and they fit into the drivers at 60 degree intervals instead of 180 degree intervals. Both of which are important for maching assembly.
posted by Mitheral at 8:59 AM on January 22, 2011


The wrong screwdriver that sort of works.

If they are selling a broken product, people should be outraged about that. That would be like an antivirus software maker getting caught releasing a virus into the wild.

Nonetheless, iFixIt is not the only redistributor of a working screwdriver, by any means. And it does remind one of antivirus software makers raising hype about a new computer virus. The source of outrage over this issue is an important part of the discussion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 AM on January 22, 2011


Torx screw heads are superior to slotted screws in significant ways

Torx was initially used by GM to keep unsavvy car owners from messing with what's underneath the hood of the car. I'll bet RIM is using Torx for the same reason, just as nearly all other electronics vendors use proprietary fasteners.

RIM doesn't sell to hobbyists, it sells to enterprise and to customers who want to look like they are in the enterprise market, and RIM certainly has no reason to design its products to meet the needs of the hobbyist market. Neither does Apple.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:10 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I doubt Apple has the time or interest to open up millions of hard drives, let alone worry about the screws used on the hard drive case. A company on the scale of an Apple probably just cares that the parts operate to specification.

You took what I said more literally than I intended. Sorry, my fault for not communicating my ideas more clearly.

I think it's basic human nature to feel ownership of something one has paid for. We've certainly been primed for this by growing up in a capitalistic culture. And it's not like Apple is opting out of a capitalistic framework. They are in the business of selling things to people who then think of themselves as the owners of those things. And Apple KNOWS they think of themselves that way.

What does "a feeling of ownership" mean? That's a complicated question. It means many things, and probably not exactly the same things to different people. But one thing it tends to mean is that the owner gets to choose what gets done to the things he owns. Granted, most of us allow for exceptions to this. We agree that just because we own a stereo, that doesn't mean we're allowed to blast it full volume at 3am. But in general, it's "my stuff, my rules."

Do you honestly believe that the PEOPLE who run Apple don't feel that way about the stuff they own? When Steve Jobs hires someone to fix his boiler, is it okay with him if the fixit guy padlocks the door to his basement without his permission?

If your response is that Jobs is so wealthy (or sick) that he doesn't care about boilers, then, again, I've somehow communicated something more literal than I intended.

How about this?: if Jobs decides to get a facelift, do you think he'll be totally cool with if, while he's anesthetized, his doctor decides to give him a nose job, too? Without asking Job's permission, first? What if the doctor does that, Jobs wakes up and gets upset, and the doctor points out that, on page 26 of the legal document Jobs signed, he gave the doctor the right to do anything he wants? Does that make it okay?

Most people who own things DO allow other people to tinker with the things they own. But, as owners, they expect to be able to set boundaries. I contend this is basic human nature, and, as such, Apple employees and managers are prey to it just like the rest of us.
posted by grumblebee at 9:15 AM on January 22, 2011


What really astounds me is that Apple could have done this in a much more ethical way without losing out much. They could have just used these screws in FUTURE iPhones. They could say, "Hey, if you bought a phone prior to 2011, you'll have the little phillips screws, and we won't replace them. But be aware that our new phones will have our special, tamper-proof screws."
posted by grumblebee at 9:17 AM on January 22, 2011


True, there are a handful of technical people here who understand what you're complaining about, who have opened up and fixed their own hardware, who know how to use an oscilloscope, who know how to code and can recognize good from bad, but most of the people here are just consumers....If you've never opened up a piece of hardware in your life your opinion on this matter is worthless noise. Worthless because it is backed up by nothing in the form of education or practical experience, noise because you are a distraction: screaming children running into the middle of a bunch of adults trying to have a discussion.

Since you've broached the topic of people's worthiness to speak on this issue: I've opened up and fixed hardware, right down to jumpers and DIP switches. I have used a soldering iron to fix computers on mulitple occasions. I know how to use an oscilloscope and have done. I can code in multiple languages and have done so professionally. I have two degrees in computer science. I've used PCs (from the original IBM PC through today) and Macs (from the G3 PowerPC era to today), and I ran Linux for several years.

So there's that, just in case there was any confusion as to whether someone who was worthy to speak on this issue could still hold the opinion that it's not a real problem. I don't want to open my iPhone because there's nothing for me to do after opening it except break it. And you know what? I don't care. I'd much rather have a hard to open phone that is small, lightweight, highly capable, and works well than a bulky, heavy, not-so-capable, hard to use phone that happens to be easy to open and has user-replaceable parts inside.
posted by jedicus at 9:18 AM on January 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


When Steve Jobs hires someone to fix his boiler, is it okay with him if the fixit guy padlocks the door to his basement without his permission?

I think your analogy is not a good one, to start. It makes no sense as it has no relationship with the subject matter here. (Locking doors in someone's house is like putting different screws on a phone? Doesn't this seem like hyperbole to you?)

I'd think that all Jobs, or most people really, care about is that the boiler works. Nonetheless, if you have the chops to fix boilers, you wouldn't hire a repairman in the first place, nor would you buy a boiler that locks random doors in your home.

Bad analogy. Try again, maybe. A better analogy might be a computerized control system on the boiler that the repairman has tools to access. But locking doors in the house? Come on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2011


jedicus, I agree with you. I've been a very vocal voice in this thread against what Apple is doing, but, like you, I would prefer a phone that works well to one I can open. And I've personally never opened my iPhone and don't plan to do so.

But you and I are talking different things. You are saying it's an okay decision for Apple to make phones that are hard or impossible to open. I 100% agree.

But I am talking about Apple surreptitiously altering a pre-existing phone without the owner's permission (other than via a legal technicality). Just as a matter of principle, are you really okay with that? I realize that they HAPPEN to be altering it in a way that doesn't bother you, but don't you agree that's just lucky?

It's like if a robber broke into your house, stole a thousand dollars worth of stuff from you, but accidentally left behind three-thousand dollars. Would you be totally okay with that? Would you not feel that, yes, you got lucky, but the theft was still wrong?
posted by grumblebee at 9:30 AM on January 22, 2011


Since we're deciding who gets to comment and who doesn't, I'll note too that I have built some of my own electronic music instruments. I have built and repaired too many PCs to remember (and have the scars on my thumbs and fingers, cutting myself on the sharp innards of cases and logic boards to prove it). I can program in several languages, I use Windows, OS X and Linux on a daily basis, and I have a masters in computational biology. So I would call myself reasonably technically proficient and intellectually curious, even if I don't need to open my iPhone. My phone works, others (like iFixIt) crack open these kinds of devices for me to satisfy my curiosity, and I'd rather spend my time working with my less expensive and, frankly, more fun technical projects.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


bonaldi: "for the price of the battery I can buy a new iPod with twice the storage, four times the battery life and a touchscreen"

You're overpaying for your batteries. A 2200mAh for 1st gen runs around $20.
posted by meehawl at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2011


Just as a matter of principle, are you really okay with that? I realize that they HAPPEN to be altering it in a way that doesn't bother you, but don't you agree that's just lucky?

I think your counterexamples abstract too much and are too extreme. These things have to be considered on a case by case basis. And as you say, in this case I'm fine with it.

Here, the case can still be opened by those who really want to do so. The screws don't interfere with the advertised functionality of the device, nor do they affect its aesthetics in any significant way. The replacement is done as part of a voluntary maintenance process. The replaced parts were original equipment (so not replacing something the user installed).

Even putting on my lawyer hat I can't think of a reasonable counterexample that basically fits these facts yet that I wouldn't be happy with. At least one of those facts would have to be different to irritate me, I think.
posted by jedicus at 9:42 AM on January 22, 2011


I think your analogy is not a good one, to start. It makes no sense as it has no relationship with the subject matter here. (Locking doors in someone's house is like putting different screws on a phone? Doesn't this seem like hyperbole to you?

You and I have a VERY different idea of how analogies work. Yes, even if what Apple did was wrong, locking someone out of his basement would be much, much, much, much more wrong. I'm aware of that, and I was aware of it when I made the analogy. But, due to differences between the way you and I understand the function of analogies, I didn't think the difference in degree would matter to the point I was making.

When taking the SATs, didn't you ever come across analogies like this?

Brain damage is to humans as bad sectors are to hard drives.

When you read things like that, do you think, "What the fuck? They are likening something that happens to a machine to a horrible, devastating thing that happens to a human??!???"

They're not. They're not saying the two things are alike in every respect. They are saying that in one salient way, they are similar.

Your (correct) accusation of hyperbole is interesting to me. What if someone steals a dollar from you and I liken that to bank robbers stealing a million dollars from a bank. Okay, there's a big difference. But does my hyperbole make what happend to you NOT a theft? It's still a theft, right? You might get over it quickly -- it's just a dollar -- but isn't the person who stole the dollar from you still guilty of doing a wrong? The bank robbers are guilty and the petty criminal is guilty. The former may be guilty of something way worse than the latter, but both still ARE guilty, no?

I am trying to understand your rules. Forget Apple. If you own something, is it okay with you if people do stuff to it without asking your permission? I know it might be okay with you if people do SOME things to it without your permission. You don't care if people breathe on your windows without your permission. But as a general rule, are you okay with people altering your things in ways you didn't authorize?

It's totally cool if you are. Then there's nothing more to say. You're okay with it. I'm not. Agree to disagree.
posted by grumblebee at 9:45 AM on January 22, 2011


If you own something, is it okay with you if people do stuff to it without asking your permission?

No, but if I give them permission to fix my stuff, I can't make hyperbolic claims when they fix it and make it the same or better. And changing the screws is hardly a reasonable basis for claiming the repaired item is technically worse off. You brought the item in for repair in the first place -- the screws are there for them, not you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2011


But, due to differences between the way you and I understand the function of analogies, I didn't think the difference in degree would matter to the point I was making.

Without meaning to reopen the grand Grumblee's Take On Analogies And Metaphor debate (see countless Mefi passim), It is still a bad analogy under your definition, because it doesn't accurately capture the relationship it is analogising. It is saying "pimple is to human as head crash is to hard drive"

Door is not to house what screw is to iPhone.
posted by bonaldi at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2011


As the owner of an iPhone 4 who currently has pentalobular bolts, I was alarmed by the suggestion that apple was ripping out the philips screws and replacing them.

I had a launch day iPhone 4 that has been exchanged under warranty (twice -- one for a pee spot on the launch phone and once for a seemingly rare paint failure). As mentioned, my phone currently has pentalobular bolts. How did that happen? Apple doesn't work on phones in store, in my experience. They hand you a new/refurbed phone. Do they do battery swaps in store? I doubt if Apple is replacing screws so much as replacing phones.
posted by polyhedron at 10:00 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a Touch fail. They sent a fedex box to my door. Two days later I received a working Touch. Not the same Touch.

I believe that if you ship a personalized (engraved) Touch, you don't get it back.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Door is not to house what screw is to iPhone.

Okay. Lock is to house as screw is to iPhone. Right? The lock keeps you from opening the door until you unlock it. The screw keeps you from opening the iPhone until you unscrew it.

So a better analogy would be a repairman fixing Job's bioler (which he requested) and also changing the lock on his boiler-room door (which he didn't request).

All those arguments that say things like...

"Yes, but the screws are there for Apple, not you -- they're there for Apple to use when they repair the device"

... are making interesting claims about ownership. As the owner of the device, I claim that the screws are there for ME. Everything about the device is there for me, because I own it. Maybe (almost definitely), Apple didn't intend to put the screws there for my use, but when they gave up ownership of the device, their intentions no longer mattered. I think that's a pretty basic understanding in a capitalistic society. If you sell me your house, I get to turn the dining room into a library if I want, even if you built the house and didn't intend that room to be used for that purpose. It's no longer your room. It's mine.
posted by grumblebee at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2011


Lock is to house as screw is to iPhone.

Not quite. Screws are not *inherently* security devices in the way locks unquestionably are. The closest I think you can take this one is "Doorhandle is to house as screw is to iPhone".

So in the case the engineer comes to Job's house to fix the boiler under warranty, and fits an odd childproof handle to the boiler room door. When challenged he says "we've had a lot of claims after boilers were broken by meddling children so we now fit this as standard."

Sure, certain homeowners will be pissed off at this, but a great deal of people wouldn't mind. At any rate, it's a long way from the total opprobrium you'd get bolting the door or fitting a new lock.
posted by bonaldi at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2011


It's just a poor analogy. You'll spend more time haggling over the analogy than actually addressing the fact that a different set of screws requiring a different tool to leverage doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the repair work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on January 22, 2011


Y'all are silly. Anyway, look for the proper tool to be sold for like $0.99 here soon enough (so long as you don't mind waiting for the slow boat from China to get it).
posted by Burhanistan at 11:47 AM on January 22, 2011


Torx is proprietary. What problem is RIM trying to solve by using Torx? Why should I be forced to buy a just-as-expensive Torx driver when my flathead screwdrivers are just fine? Why is it okay for RIM to use Torx, while Apple gets grief for Pentalobe?

FFS. Despite the links people have thrown on here, there is no actual pentalobe screwdriver on the market. It does not exist to purchase. The links that have appeared have been for screwdrivers that are the 5-point variety and are not actually pentalobe drivers. Comparatively I can buy a Torx set or a Torx Security set and have it shipped next day for a reasonable price.

Nonetheless, iFixIt is not the only redistributor of a working screwdriver, by any means. And it does remind one of antivirus software makers raising hype about a new computer virus. The source of outrage over this issue is an important part of the discussion.

iFixit openly admits they are selling a screwdriver that is a workaround, not an actual solution. Again, not a pentalobe.
Also, if a new virus comes out the antivirus companies can distribute an updated definitions list within hours. Designing and mass manufacturing a new type of screwdriver, which inevitably will be made in China, shipping it across the ocean, getting it through customs, hauling it to distribution warehouses and shipping it to customers will take weeks or months.

As for made to last: Moore's law is in charge here. Sure, I'm pissed that Apple won't replace the battery on my original iPod because it's "obsolete", but it's little more than sentiment on my part: for the price of the battery I can buy a new iPod with twice the storage, four times the battery life and a touchscreen.

Moore's Law does not apply to batteries. AA batteries in my Game Boy in 1989 lasted about six hours. Doubling that every 1.5 years would imply that a set of AA batteries purchased in 2010 would last 98,304 hours or 4096 days or 11.2 years in a Game Boy on a single charge.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2011


Then you don't really have a horse in this race?

I can't take part in the discussion?

If you don't care, you don't care, and that's absolutely your right. But why argue against people who DO care and ARE affected by this?

Because it's Saturday? The internet? Their argument sounds silly?

It's the iPhone 4 for god sakes, it's shouldn't be a surprise that Apple isn't catering or even caring about the tinkering market. That should have been obvious years ago.

NEWSFLASH: If you want have absolute control over the software and hardware of your computing device, you don't want Apple products. No matter how shiny they look, the tinkerer isn't going to be happy with them.

We now return you to the regular back and forth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:06 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's an analogy for you.
Blazecock Pileon : Apple threads :: Joe Beese : Obama threads
:: Me : D&D 4th Edition
posted by JHarris at 12:07 PM on January 22, 2011


*sigh*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on January 22, 2011


Oh, and the proliferation of security screws is terrible whether it's Apple or Nintendo or Western Digital putting them on an external hard drive I bought myself to try to prevent people from using the case after the drive inside failed those jerks.

But it IS true that Apple is slightly worse than the others for putting them into a product in which they were not originally included. If you ignore that fact but are still are participating in this thread as if this were somehow of no account, then I'm sorry to tell you this but you have blinders on. This is regardless as to whether Apple products "just work" or supply GNU tools or are design geniuses or revolutionize computing or Steve Jobs is swell.

But it is ALSO true that, compared to the obnoxious pervasiveness of security screws in general, that this is fairly minor. It's got an Evil Index* of 23, instead of just 22.

But it is ALSO ALSO true that the abuse of the patent system to protect security screws as some kind of legally defensible secret is an evil that outweighs all the others, for making those lesser evils possible.

* Evil Index: The pain caused x the number of people affected.
posted by JHarris at 12:17 PM on January 22, 2011


es_de_bah : In a similar vein, Blue Ray Disks and their players are the devil, imho. Media that will actually shut you down if its firmware senses you're using too many monitors.

Rip once, play anywhere.


Blazecock Pileon : No, but if I give them permission to fix my stuff, I can't make hyperbolic claims when they fix it and make it the same or better. And changing the screws is hardly a reasonable basis for claiming the repaired item is technically worse off.

When done for the sole purpose of denying you, the owner, access to the inside of it? That sounds like a pretty solid claim, IMO.

You brought the item in for repair in the first place -- the screws are there for them, not you.

BS. The screws belong to, and exist for, me and only me. If you don't care about yours, fine, but that opinion ends with your property. Particularly when you have people paying for a half-assed driver and replacement Phillips screws, Apple has no place stealing those replacement screws every time you need a new battery.

Now, if they gave the owner the original screws back in a small paper envelope, along with a complementary crappy single-use-quality pentalobular driver, I'd call this annoying but not a big deal. But they don't.


bonaldi : Sure, certain homeowners will be pissed off at this, but a great deal of people wouldn't mind.

I agree that makes a better analogy - But I still can't imagine anyone not minding a random appliance repair person changing your door handles.
posted by pla at 12:44 PM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's just a poor analogy. You'll spend more time haggling over the analogy than actually addressing the fact that a different set of screws requiring a different tool to leverage doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the repair work.

I don't know if it's worth discussing any more, given the amount of talking past each other we're doing (and I include "me" in "we"), but I never said anything about the quality of the repair work. If I ask Apple to fix my cracked screen and they fix it, that's good repair work. If I'm pissed off that, while doing that good repair work, they replaced something else that I didn't ask them to replace, it's still good repair work.

So in the case the engineer comes to Job's house to fix the boiler under warranty, and fits an odd childproof handle to the boiler room door. When challenged he says "we've had a lot of claims after boilers were broken by meddling children so we now fit this as standard."

Much better analogy than mine. And, yes, this would royally piss me off. I would say, "Why didn't you inform me ahead of time that you might do that?" THIS is what I don't get. Why not just be upfront about it? "Thank you for bringing your phone to Apple for repair. Please note that while we're fixing your cracked screen, we reserve the right to make other changes we deem necessary."

I guessing they don't say that because people would complain.

Which is selfishly dishonest.
posted by grumblebee at 12:50 PM on January 22, 2011


When done for the sole purpose of denying you, the owner, access to the inside of it? That sounds like a pretty solid claim, IMO.

If you want warranty repair, you're not supposed to be in there in the first place. Otherwise, you just buy a tool available from many different sources and then you do what you want, at your own risk.

That's not just Apple, that's pretty much every hardware company under the sun. No major hardware vendor will fix the damage you cause, if they find you're responsible. So that risk has always been present. If you want to DIY, you need to shoulder the risk and not demand that other hardware buyers indirectly amortize the cost of your repairs, through higher prices to cover warranty support.

And if iFixIt is really getting away with selling a defective tool, you should be outraged at them, not Apple, for trying to make a quick buck off of people's easily provoked emotional, irrational outrage. And it's not like it's hard to get a Torx driver, so the notion that a Pentalobe tool will always be impossible to get is silly -- not to mention false, since you can buy a driver today, right this instant.

The lengths this tiresome single-link op-ed piece go to smear Apple -- and by extension, the people who repost this link and agree with its debunked premises -- requires a certain level of ignorance and knee-jerk hatred. There's nothing stopping you from getting into your phone, if you really want to get in there. But there's no obligation for other customers like me to shoulder the extra costs when your explorations break your phone and you bring it in for in-warranty repairs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:01 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Volvo floated an idea a few years back of a car that literally had the hood locked shut. It was not to be user-serviceable, likely also not third-party serviceable, though that was never made clear. If you broke down in the road, you were supposed to call Volvo and arrange a repair. The plan was shouted down loudly and withdrawn quickly, never to be mentioned again.

Apple is following this model with its phones and has tried it in the past with its computers. Apple-only techs are to work on their equipment. Apple, unlike Volvo, seems to be able to get away with this in the phone market. It's an interesting contrast. Like cars, it's possible with most phones (or computers) to either do repairs/battery swaps yourself, or, more likely, take it to one of those kiosks who will do the mod on the spot for $20 or what ever. But Apple consumers, and possibly other smartphone buyers don't seem to mind this.

Maybe this is more palatable to phone buyers because they don't ever repair their phones, they just replace them. A $500 disposable item. One that gets replaced every 18 to 24 months anyway. It's a little mind-bending for me to get my head around that.

It seems irrational to me not to care about the option for self- or third-party repair. I was raised not to call a plumber, but to fix the tap myself. But even so: if my car needs new brakes, I don't need to take it back to Toyota, I can take it to my friend Bill, a former Toyota mechanic, who has shop fees less than half that of the dealership. He can buy factory parts, used parts or third party-ones depending on how critical that is.

Still, a disposable $500 piece of kit. Maybe that is the future. Wow.
posted by bonehead at 1:19 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This thread stands as a pinnacle of overwrought "first-world problem" hysteria.

Please do not purchase Apple products if you have an issue with velvet handcuffs. Opt for the Microsoft golden handcuffs, or the plain iron handcuffs Sony, Nokia, LG, or whomever.

Or hammer out your own product out of Open Source and DIY. Turns out that they're inevitably cuffs of some sort: you'll be limited by formats or lack of software or non-interoperability, or battery life, or…
posted by five fresh fish at 1:28 PM on January 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


"For mine the story is Apple retrofitting these to phones that come in for repair that didn't already have them."

It looks like Philips were replaced with pentalobe screws after the initial manufacturing run - all the ones I've seen in Aus have had pentalobe screws, and this gibes with overseas reports. To be honest, as a technician instilled with an ethos of Doing The Job Right while growing up, and Doing The Right Thing By Customers when I was working, I'd be much more outraged to find they weren't replacing used screws with new when doing repairs.

(And I'd question how accurate the reports are of Apple maliciously replacing peoples screws actually are, given Apple mostly does exchanges rather than repair. Faulty units are then set back for remanufacture, where you'd really expect them to use new parts - they replace the external case on many, if not most or all, Mac refurbs, so I'd expect the same for iProducts. Most likely they got a refurbed phone back, not their original.)

"IBM PC used Torx? IBM PS2 used torx? It has been a while since I opened one, but that does not fit with my memory. PS2 used tool-less cases, I thought."

The original PC used Torx (normal & tamper-resistant), and the PS-2 used line-drive, screws on the PSU - the most user-serviceable part in them as it can actually be repaired, not merely swapped.
posted by Pinback at 3:33 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I'd question how accurate the reports are of Apple maliciously replacing peoples screws actually are, given Apple mostly does exchanges rather than repair. Faulty units are then set back for remanufacture, where you'd really expect them to use new parts - they replace the external case on many, if not most or all, Mac refurbs, so I'd expect the same for iProducts.

That's a really good point. And Apple is pretty up front about the fact that if you give them a broken iPhone, they will often "fix" it by giving you a whole new iPhone.

If this is, in fact, what's happening, I take back everything I've said. In that case, I can't find any fault with Apple's approach.

Then it just becomes a debate about whether it's better to have toys you can easily tinker with or toys that you can't. And my view is that either is okay, as long as the company is up-front about which type of toy it's selling.
posted by grumblebee at 5:08 PM on January 22, 2011


Or hammer out your own product out of Open Source and DIY. Turns out that they're inevitably cuffs of some sort: you'll be limited by formats or lack of software or non-interoperability, or battery life, or…
I work in open source, full time. I also use a MacBook and an iPhone. I don't see any contradiction, because my Open Source work is pragmatic rather than ideological. I don't believe that "hackability" is a moral imperative; rather it's one of many design priorities that can shape a product. Surface manifestations like the type of screws used in iPhones are simple reflections of the underlying choices.

As products -- especially physical products -- get more mature, they tend to become more complex. Features and functionality don't come for free. Automatic transmissions are more complex than manual ones, GUIs are more complex (from an architectural standpoint) than command line interfaces, and so on. This makes the tinkering harder to do without messing up the device itself. There comes a time when a non-expert simply mucking around and looking at the innards is likely to damage the device -- so you announce that you won't support the software if any modifications have been made, or you won't repair the table saw if the owner replaced the motor with a more powerful one, or you put stickers over the screws and you say that opening the device voids the warranty, and so on.

At the same time, as products reach a broader audience, and break through to non-tinkerers, the complexity of use needs to be reduced because most of the new (much larger) audience has no interest in the fussing and tinkering. They just want a thing that works. Eventually there comes a time when most companies and products choose which crowd they're going to go with. Steve Jobs made his choice in the early 1980s: he's been pushing for the 'tinkering is a dead end, these need to be appliances' future of computing since before many of today's iPhone users were born. I think that's short sighted in some ways, genius in others.

But once that choice is made, issues like using one odd type of screw versus another are simply ripple effects. It's like asking why Chuck E. Cheeze franchises don't offer deeper ball pits for the adults. Because that's not the market they've chosen, XKCD readers be damned.
Then it just becomes a debate about whether it's better to have toys you can easily tinker with or toys that you can't. And my view is that either is okay, as long as the company is up-front about which type of toy it's selling.
Indeed. With its iOS products, Apple has always been pretty upfront about this. Not in the sense that they will tell a shopper at the Apple Store, "Oh! Just to let you know, we're using Pentalobe screws, so if you want to void your warranty, you'll need special screws to do it." Rather, in the sense that they are manufacturing products marketed to non-tinkerers, advertising the benefits of not having to tinker, offering no affordances for tinkering, and tons of public statements explaining that their key product differentiator is the integrated, seamless, no-tinkering experience of using the product.

If someone doesn't want that experience, either they don't understand what they're purchasing (in which case they are unlikely to have the technical understanding to not fuck the phone up once they open it) or they are attracted to the sheer perversity of hacking on a hardware platform that wasn't designed for it.

There is a broader discussion to be had about whether Apple's philosophy ("Buy this device, it does what it says on the tin") is good or bad, but the Pentalobe screws issue is just an echo of every complaint I've ever heard about any product that stopped catering to hardware hackers. See the bits about product complexity above.

posted by verb at 6:11 PM on January 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, HTML.
posted by verb at 6:15 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The lengths this tiresome single-link op-ed piece go to smear Apple -- and by extension, the people who repost this link and agree with its debunked premises -- requires a certain level of ignorance and knee-jerk hatred.

It has been pointed out repeatedly that while 5-prong screwdrivers are available, the pentalobe screwdrivers required to work these screws are not. Please stop lying.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:42 PM on January 22, 2011


the most user-serviceable part in them as it can actually be repaired, not merely swapped.

Power supplies are not user servicable. It is a FRU.

I've been inside both the PC and the PS2, and I really don't remember any torx being needed. Are you sure these things you speak of weren't installed by some university or workplace to keep curious fingers out?

Torx is proprietary. What problem is RIM trying to solve by using Torx? Why should I be forced to buy a just-as-expensive Torx driver when my flathead screwdrivers are just fine? Why is it okay for RIM to use Torx, while Apple gets grief for Pentalobe?

Blatcher, quit being an obtuse dick. Torx is not proprietary; you can get them at any hardware store. The WHOLE FUCKING POINT is that this screw, in contrast, does not. And that the change is being made mid-stream. And that they are paying their people to take out existing screws and replace them with the less accessible ones. Why?
posted by gjc at 8:45 PM on January 22, 2011


I can't remember if our IBM-PCs had Torx screws or not, but it definitely wasn't a problem to open them up - we did it all the time, adding data acquisition cards and such. IBM also published a tech manual that contained the complete assembly listing of the BIOS - with comments. That's pretty damn open.

All of the technical engineers where I worked used IBM-PCs and compatibles because they were so easy to program under DOS for special hardware projects. The only people who used Macs were the flip-chart engineers.

Also, I had an old garden tractor made by AYP (American Yard Products - they used to make Sears mowers, too) that used a rounded five prong star point for the mower blades. They were a real PITA because if they ever got loose they would chew up the star and you would have to replace the entire spindle.
posted by rfs at 8:49 PM on January 22, 2011


Blatcher, quit being an obtuse dick. Torx is not proprietary; you can get them at any hardware store. The WHOLE FUCKING POINT is that this screw, in contrast, does not. And that the change is being made mid-stream. And that they are paying their people to take out existing screws and replace them with the less accessible ones. Why?

Wrong Apple partisan. That was a traditional Blazecock false equivalency.
posted by kafziel at 9:35 PM on January 22, 2011


"Power supplies are not user servicable. It is a FRU."

So … just like an iPhone then? ;-P

"I've been inside both the PC and the PS2, and I really don't remember any torx being needed. Are you sure these things you speak of weren't installed by some university or workplace to keep curious fingers out?"

Yup, absolutely sure - that's the way PSUs came from IBM, both in machines and as replacement parts. The only thing I won't swear to is that they were used for the original IBM-PC (Model 5150) - but it certainly was the case with the Model 5160 aka IBM-XT. I do know that, since they were still patented in the mid-80's, it was damned near impossible to get Torx (let alone Torx TR) drivers - I eventually got a driver set from a friendly IBM tech. In fact, I dug it out of my old toolbox earlier - it's IBM P/N 93F2830. T15 and T15 tamper-resistant are the worn ones, so that'll be what the PSUs used…

Later, the PS/2 used line-head screws - somewhat similar to Torx, but not the same - to hold the PSU together. By then, IBM were getting so paranoid and micro-managing that my friendly techs couldn't get me a tool of my own, so I 'borrowed' one for a afternoon and got our toolmakers to make a copy.
posted by Pinback at 3:32 AM on January 23, 2011


Blatcher, quit being an obtuse dick.

I did not write the quote you're attributting to me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:31 AM on January 23, 2011


I love apple threads around here.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:10 PM on January 23, 2011


School requires students to own iPad

posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2011


School requires students to own iPad

Or they can rent one for $20 a month.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:16 AM on January 24, 2011


iPads are what, $500? At $20/mo that's 25 months of school, which at nine months a year is two and a half years. Throw in the security deposit (and oh boy, you'd better believe there's going to be a security deposit on those things) and anybody who's going to be a sophomore or lower is going to end up spending more money renting than buying- and of course the people who rent instead of buy are going to be the people who can't afford a lump sum of $500 up front. As usual, it's expensive to not be rich.

Now, you might say hey, it's a private school, they can afford it. And yeah, I'm sure most of the families can. But most private schools are a mix of wealthy parents for whom the cost isn't a big deal and working-class families who view the cost of tuition as a worthwhile sacrifice to give their kids a better chance (or a religious education), so I'd bet there's a number of families who are going to get boned on the "we can't afford a $500 lump sum so we'll have to cough up several times that over the years" plan.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:08 AM on January 24, 2011


It was for a private school, grades 4-12. iPads are nifty gadgets but they really won't teach kids much more than how to navigate available content. Kids should be learning how to make logic gates and simple programs, rather than just interact with high-level apps. And they should definitely get the hell off my lawn.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:11 AM on January 24, 2011


Fraser Speirs, has been managing an iPadded-up school in Scotland and blogging/tweeting about it. Very interesting.
posted by Grangousier at 8:23 AM on January 24, 2011


But most private schools are a mix of wealthy parents for whom the cost isn't a big deal and working-class families who view the cost of tuition as a worthwhile sacrifice to give their kids a better chance (or a religious education), so I'd bet there's a number of families who are going to get boned on the "we can't afford a $500 lump sum so we'll have to cough up several times that over the years" plan.

If it's worth it, then an extra 500 bucks shouldn't kill'em. Anyway, here's more on the school and their website.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:29 AM on January 24, 2011


How is requiring a $500 ipad any worse than students buying their own $500+ musical instrument to join band? It's not like I had intention to own a saxaphone when I had kids but somehow here I am.
posted by GuyZero at 11:39 AM on January 24, 2011


Because the use of a musical instrument is kind of fundamental to being in a band, while an iPad offers relatively little to a grade-school education?
posted by kafziel at 11:49 AM on January 24, 2011


I hear you can't graduate from second grade nowadays unless you know how to Tweet.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:52 AM on January 24, 2011


If it's worth it, then an extra 500 bucks shouldn't kill'em.

Just because a family can afford private school tuition doesn't mean they can afford an extra $500 lump sum.

How is requiring a $500 ipad any worse than students buying their own $500+ musical instrument to join band? It's not like I had intention to own a saxaphone when I had kids but somehow here I am.

Is band mandatory now?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:27 PM on January 24, 2011


All I'm saying is that even "free" public schools hit up up at random for all kinds of not-very-optional expenses. Your opinion of any given expenses' optionality may vary. This is more a comment about school in these let's-cut-the-budget-times than the ipad. I'm sure everyone is all ready to fire up the GRAR but some public schools simply tell you to staple a $500 cheque to your kid on day one or to find another school already so it just seems like another drop in the bucket to me.
posted by GuyZero at 1:37 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is band mandatory now?

I like this idea.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


But wait. If the [Robertson] screw was superior, why do you not find them outside of Canada?

They are superior and I'm mystified why they are not found in the US.
posted by Neiltupper at 3:07 PM on January 21 [1 favorite +] [!]


This made me think of the metric system...

/Canadian
//typing on an iMac
///loves Robertson-head screws
////slashies!!!
posted by hamandcheese at 3:28 PM on January 25, 2011


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