I am Jealous of My Sister’s Technology Footprint

Over the last year, I have become increasingly interested in low-cost technologies. I have explored the potential of $50 smartphones and am currently researching sub-$200 computers. The capabilities of these devices amaze me. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on phones or laptops anymore. In fact, you can get similar functionality from thousand dollar technologies for fractions of the cost. This is how my sister’s technology footprint has inspired me

Currently my youngest sister is using a smartphone and laptop that cost her less than $300…combined! Specifically, she has a Blu Vivo XL that she got for $99 on its release weekend sale and her laptop is an Asus C300 Chromebook that she got for $199 from Amazon. So, $298 covers all of her technology needs as a college student. This blows my mind! When I think about all of the students who spend $2000+ on Macs or windows PCs and $700+ on iPhones or Android phones. (Not to mention if said student owns a $300+ iPad or Android tablet.) Combined, this technology bill easily approaches $3000, ten times what my sister is currently using. Thinking about this reminded me about what Jessie J & B.o.B would say about the money:

Now, I understand my sister is a special case. Some students require expensive laptops to run specialty software such as AutoCAD, Photoshop, or Final Cut Pro X for their coursework. And studying programmers need to setup virtual machines or use their iPhones to test apps they are creating. But, how much longer will costly computers be required to complete these tasks?

When thinking about this question, I am reminded how we are moving toward a cloud computing world. Company’s like Amazon, Google, & Microsoft are aware of this and investing in cloud-enabled futures where users do not necessarily need the most powerful equipment to be productive. In this world, individuals only require devices that can communicate with (and are assisted by) other computers across the web. Chromebooks are increasingly common examples of these technologies at work; and they are opening new possibilities for what users can accomplish on a budget—more people doing more!

This is why I am jealous of my sister. Not only is she operating on under $300 worth of equipment, but her technology footprint is more aligned with what I believe to be the next era of computing. Her familiarity with future productivity tools and workflows keeps inspiring me to reconsider what technologies I use in my own life. So, thank you Bee for keeping technology in perspective for me!

The featured image is provided CC0 by Vadim Sherbakov via Unsplash.

My Last Apple Computer Upgrade

I just finished upgrading my last Mac. My wife’s early 2011 MacBook Pro was really starting to show its age. The full 320GB hard drive was making this computer inoperable and needed to be replaced.

The Upgrade

To breathe new life into her MacBook Pro, I added a massive 960GB SSD. I wanted to kill two birds with one stone here: triple her total storage and increase her computer’s performance.

Before I started the upgrade, I used this USB 3.0 to SATA cable to setup the SSD. Unfortunately, this cable was not backwards compatible with the USB 2.0 ports on the 2011 MacBook Pro (which was weird). That meant I had to use another Mac to go through the following setup process:

  1. Download the El Capitan installer from the Mac App Store.
  2. Install El Capitan to the SSD (using the mentioned cable to mount the SSD).
  3. After the installation is completed, setup OS X on the SSD. I used the Migration Assistant to move all of the data from the original hard drive to the new SSD.
  4. Replace the old hard drive with the new (now identical) SSD.

To replace the hard drive on the 2011 MacBook Pro I followed the guide from iFixit since it was straightforward and provided a video demonstration:

Anyways, here are the photos to commemorate this upgrade:

After the new SSD was installed into the 2011 MacBook Pro, I booted up the machine to make sure everything was working properly, then immediately enabled TRIM for the new SSD since I wanted this hard drive to perform optimally for the next few years. The guide from OSXDaily provided me with clear instructions on how to do this.

At this point, I was finished with her 2011 MacBook Pro, my last Mac to upgrade.

Why is this my last Mac upgrade?

Mac upgrades have always been a big part of my life. Lots of Macs have seen RAM upgrades (more appropriately: maximizations) by my hands over the years.

But, we are at a turning point. We are coming to the end of the era of (easily) upgradable Macs. Many of the newer Macs do not allow access to internal components like they once did. In most cases RAM and SSDs are soldered directly onto a Mac’s mother board. Combine this with several Apple computers that are difficult to upgrade, and there are now very few Macs that are upgradable by non-professionals.

As the few remaining serviceable Macs are aging, I wonder how much longer these computers will be supported by Apple. Very soon, the components of most Macs (possibly excluding the Mac Pro) will have to last for the entire life of the device.

There is a tradeoff in this new era of non-serviceable Apple computers. No longer will I have to worry about upgrading computers, but at the same time, I will lose the valuable learning experience of servicing a Mac. Not to mention having to pay a premium for the permanent parts of any Apple computers I purchase upfront—I hate to imagine the price of a 960GB laptop SSD in 2011….

This moment is rather melancholy. Although I am excited to bump my wife’s spinning hard drive to a newer solid state drive, I am saddened by the fact that I may have just finished my last Mac upgrade.