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#947: Stress Testing; Computer Longevity; Spring Fever


Hello Fellow Technophiles,

We have all made mistakes in our lives, but for most of us the consequences are relatively minor. Maybe you forgot to pay a bill and it accrues some interest (such as when I forgot to pay my $5 dental co-pay and they tacked 50 cents onto the bill…price gouging!!).

Maybe you didn’t get an oil change and your engine seizes up and now you are out several thousand dollars (I always get my oil changed on time, so I have no idea why my engine failed).

Or perhaps you sold your 10% share in what would go on to become one of the most valuable companies of all time and now you are out BILLIONS of dollars.

Unfortunately for Ronald Wayne, the last example is not a hypothetical scenario. In 1976 Mr. Wayne, who worked at Atari with Steve Jobs, helped found Apple Computers. He drew the first Apple logo, wrote the original partnership agreement, and wrote the Apple I manual. For his assistance, he was awarded a 10% stake in the company. Less than two weeks later, he sold his share back to Jobs and Steve Wozniak for $800 as he was worried that the new company would go into debt and he had assets that creditors could potentially seize.

I hope this makes you feel better about whatever mistakes you have made lately! I know a little schadenfreude always helps me.


  The Sadistic Technician  

WARNING: Doing what is described in this tale tail does have the potential to FRY YOUR SYSTEM if not done correctly. Caveat emptor!

Sometimes in diagnostics it is hard to re-create the issue described by the customer, so you find yourself having to push different components to their limits. Knowing which is the best tool to stress a particular component is important, so here is a list of my favorite free tools:

Black Magic Disk: This is advertised as a tool to measure disk performance for high quality videos, but to do this it will perform a write test on your hard drive, and if your Mac has a mechanical hard drive, this will help you to determine mechanical failure.

GpuTest: This is a very lightweight and simple GPU stress test. If you think your onboard graphics processor is glitchy and is causing weird graphical issues, then stress test with GpuTest. This tool works well and is simple to use.

Yes: The yes command is built into your Mac via a Terminal command. This command runs each core of your CPU at 100%. This is a great tool to see if you CPU is having issues. More on the yes command can be found here.

Just for science, I decided to run all three to see what would happen. I used an app called HWMonitor, and Activity Monitor (a built-in app; Applications > Utilities) to watch sensor temps and make sure I wasn’t going to overdo it and melt the Mac into a puddle of aluminum and circuit board. I was able to push all cores on the Mac to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit and the GPU peaked at around 180, all while writing large data blocks to the hard drive.

The computer was extremely unresponsive to while trying to run any other apps while under this stress test. Even opening a Safari window was painfully slow. After the test I rebooted the machine and immediately started to run diagnostic tools across the whole spectrum to see if I had started a slow death of the components and, to my surprise, the machine withstood a 2 hour onslaught of pure technical agony and was fine. That certainly says something about the quality of hardware in my 2011 MacBook Pro i7 15 inch.

  How Long Do Computers Last?  

I am often asked how long computers should be expected to last. My usual answer is that depending on what you typically use your computer for and whether you upgrade it, a personal computer should last about five to seven years before it should be replaced. If you have the computer pictured to the right, for example, you may be just a bit out of date!

To continue using modern websites and applications, a computer’s operating system must be updated periodically. The operating system is the base layer of software in a computer that allows other applications to function. Many applications will not be compatible with an operating system that is more than a couple of years out of date.

Each new operating system release introduces new features, and requires more computing power to run. If a computer’s operating system is updated without upgrading its hardware, there will be a slight performance decrease on the newer operating system. If a computer undergoes several major operating system updates over the course of its life, the performance decrease can be significant.

Approximately seven years after the release of a computer, it will no longer have the ability to run the latest operating system. At this point, it may not be long before major websites will no longer work with the computer.

Apple stops selling parts for its computers after five years, in most areas. After this point, if the computer has a major hardware failure, a used part will have to be found from a third-party parts dealer if the repair is to be performed.

The bottom line is that if a computer that is already five to seven years old is having hardware or compatibility problems, it may be more economical to forego repairs and save the money to buy a new computer. No one likes spending money, but in most cases it just does not make financial sense to spend hundreds of dollars to put a computer back onto its last legs.

  Spring Fever  

We’re all starting to chat the itch to spend some more time outside around the office. Most of us enjoy winter activities throughout the winter months, but we are coming out of one of the worst winters in a long time. There was little snow and many winter activities were cancelled over the past several months. To help get us out of the winter funk, we thought it was appropriate to celebrate Spring Fever in our stores by putting together some great deals for accessories that you can use to enjoy the warmer weather that is upon us.

Recently we have brought in products from several new manufacturers of speakers, headphones and iPhone accessories. One of my favorite new items that we have brought in are new Bluetooth speakers from Cambridge Audio. These portable speakers come in a variety of colors, they easily sync to both your computer and iPhone (though not at the same time) and they have an auxiliary connection if you wish to plug the speaker directly into your device. We’ve all been impressed by the ease of pairing the speakers as well as the sound quality. These speakers normally sell for $99.99 but we have the titanium colored ones on sale for 79.99. They are an excellent quality at this price point. Last week I introduced new Bluetooth headphones from BlueAnt and we’ve decided to bundle these headphones with a FREE Belkin armband for iPhone 6/6s. We are really liking these new headphones! Check out these great Spring Fever deals and more.


  Spring Fever! Save $20 on Cambridge Audio Speaker  

Spring Fever! Save $20 on Cambridge Audio Speaker



  Spring Fever! Save 30% On All Speck SeeThru Cases  

Spring Fever! Save 30% On All Speck SeeThru Cases

$ 34.99


  Spring Fever! Save $25 On Fody Weather Station  

Spring Fever! Save $25 On Fody Weather Station