iPhone 8

Last year, I had picked up an iPhone8 plus for my wife at $198 which was (and still is) a steal. I periodically keep my eye out for bargains – sometimes its just a matter of waiting. There was nothing wrong with my iPhone 7 but if the deal is right – might as well grab it. I snagged this deal and thought I’d be getting a cracked iPhone. Oddly, I couldn’t see any cracks on the the posting pictures. Surprise surprise, the phone had no cracks! I don’t know if this is a dealer goof or what. But the phone is in amazing shape.

The iPhone 8 retailed at $699 back in 2017. 3 years later I got a $550 discount. My wife’s plus was $799, so her phone was a $600 discount. Used tech is worse depreciation than used cars! Yet this phone still supports the same IOS that the 12 uses.

Zoom hates my graphics cards

I landed a dirt cheap Dell Optiplex to use as for my multimedia designs, however I haven’t had luck with any of the GPUs I’ve used. My problem is that I need a PCIe low profile with split screen capability, yet all these cards seem to crash on Zoom – which is an important necessity these days. It is literally my single point of failure. But thus far I suspect the ATI driver to be the real problem

I’ve burned through three cards thus far, and waiting for a fourth to arrive. I only paid $50 for the optiplex, but these cards are chewing through and profit I achieved! Grrrrr!

Wasting my $$$$ on GPUs that can’t handle Zoom

The crashes are pretty serious, too. Its a blue screen of death. My laptop never had issues , I know its because these accelerators are having problems with the Zoom frame rates – but turning the GPU off in Zoom doesn’t fix it. My next move is to bypass ATI all together and see if a different chipset fixes this. This whole experience has me hating ATI. It shouldn’t be this hard – I’m not playing games! Jesus, my 2011 iPad can handle zoom!

Insanely Low Prices on Apple Watches

Stacy Mizrahi

Ebay strikes again with some good tech bargains. I got 2 apple watches. The first was a series 2, which I scored for $80. I honestly didn’t think I’ get it at that low a price, but the Ebay Gods were good this day. The best part about this win was that this person misposted the watch size, it was actually the 42mm, not the 38mm. Getting more than I paid for was icing on the cake.

As I was waiting for that bid to come in, I saw another series 1 watch so I bid on that one. To my shock, I landed it! I gave the series 2 to my wife and kept the series one as I liked the stylish leather strap. I looked up the strap online and it costs more than I paid for the phone!

Neither of these watches had physical wear to them. I’ve been wearing mine every day without issue. It took about 5 minutes to set it up. You can answer calls through it and track your heart beat and health, as well as access your calendar and various apps like my bank. But the coolest part is the mickey mouse face, which talks to you when you tap on it. I always wanted a mickey mouse watch when I was a kid, so I feel like I’m finally living my 10 year old dream.

Replacing my Iphone SE with a 6s

So I’m hiking with my brother-in-law and, while navigating a steep slope, I slip and land on my hands. The impact didn’t feel that terrible, I’ve honestly had harder falls in my own front yard. But I just so happen to have my treasured Iphone SE in my hand. And the damn thing shattered. I was upset, my perfectly functioning $70 ebay find was now badly cracked. I can’t tell you how much I loved that phone, its tiny profile fit perfectly into the palm of my hand and was ideal for jogging. Unfortunately, that ideal hand size also meant I was more prone to palming it everywhere rather than putting it in my damn pocket!

I ordered a replacement screen for it. I had done this sort of repair before, once on a 5c and another time on a 3s. But, alas, the process broke me. The screws are so damn small and the my patience is only so strong. I was 45 minutes into fumbling around with the parts when I finally gave up – recognizing that my labor hours had far exceeded the value of the phone. My mind had also started to ponder if I could get a better value on ebay again. It was this exploration that was unique, for the timing of my phones demise paralleled the release of the SE2020. Oddly enough, the quantity of SE 1st gen phones had gone down since my purchase on ebay. Getting a 64gb in that same price range was difficult. I could have gotten a 32 gb for $30, but decided going down in memory was the wrong direction. After a week of stalking SEs, I finally resigned myself to looking elsewhere.

Then, the thought hit me. My brother-in-law, who’s hike invoked my phone’s demise, was a notorious iphone user. I remember that he had just upgraded to the 11, which meant his old phone was likely sitting around in a junk drawer. I called him up and asked him if he would sell it – he said yes! He had a 6s 128gb, which I was a bit reluctant to buy at first. But when he took $50, I couldn’t really find fault in the decision. At that price, its hard to critique a phone purchase. The phone was case kept and was like new. The battery health was at 78%. I had no issues using it, and it ran find under IOS 13.

I reflected on this in terms of market consumption. Had I gone out and gotten the new 2020 SE, I’d be set back a modest $350. Sure, that phone has a better camera and processor. But this phone is the same size, with the same OS, and performs fantastic with all the stuff I use it for. This cost me $50, I saved a great phone from a future land fill journey, and I am utilizing it to my fullest potential. I sound like a broken record at times, but I cant find any fault in using 3-4 year old tech. Why break the bank on a new phone – which will likely include an insurance plan, when you can swoop up other people’s discards and capitalize on THEIR wanton consumption. I don’t need a $69 Apple insurance plan. When my old iphone breaks, I can go get another for the same (or lower) price. That’s not just good sense, it’s good cents!

The County Schools are Terrible at LMS

I have an graduate certificate in instructional design and have been around a great deal of Learning Management Systems (LMS) systems. I’ve seen good deployments, and I’ve seen poor deployments. But never have I seen the cluster f*$% that our county is working with during this COVID 19 crisis. The LMS (Canvas) had been online long before Covid, but hadn’t been widely used until the the crisis started. I’m sure the county was panicking when they were forced to use it, or at least that’s what this mess resembles. Some teachers use the calendar function, some don’t. Some use modules , some don’t. Some use tasks, some don’t. The end result is that this dad is praying for death every time he has to interact with the system – and I work with these damn things for a living! My daughter has the fun of watching be click a thousand different areas to try to find out where her assignments are at. And then when she’s complete, we have to hunt down a one answer quiz asking if the task was complete so that she can get credit.

It baffles me, as an LMS guy, that this was even allowed. I get that this was rushed, but the end product is the most unintuitive mesh of links one can possible think of. The landing page has links to 3rd party apps that children as expected to use without any guidance. The home room landing pages lack any consistency in design for easy navigation. The process for completing assignments differs between courses. The calendar is only used to indicate live meetings but the coursework deadlines can only be discovered either though the assignments or modules on the respective course. And this county is filthy rich! Like, one of the most wealthy counties in the nation , rich! They likely could have spent money on a few consultants to get this right, but they didn’t.

I think this quarantine situation is likely going to lead to a new era in distance learning, but first all the educators out there are going to have to get a crash course in learning how to use this tech. Everyone got-by when e-learning was the novelty model for online colleges. Now, every school is going to be forced to assess their own ability to support remote learners. Each student can be a potential e-learner if the next Corona comes around. And with this canary in the coalmine situation, I would expect then next renditions of our county’s LMS to follow one basic premise: KEEP IT SIMPLE!

A Question of Value

The notebook Left is a Macbook A1534 circa 2015. A friend gave it to me because keys were stuck. I had to buy special tools to crack it open because Apple doesn’t believe in standard anything. It worked for a short time but then stopped booting. According to eBay, I can still sell this thing for parts at around $200. For a 5 year old laptop!

The notebook on the right is a Dell Latitude 3350, also circa 2015. I bought this online for $26 used a few months back. It was missing a key, other than that it was fully functional and was in great shape. I replaced the missing key for $4. This laptop has handled tasks such as video production that I hadn’t really planned on using it for, and has been surprisingly rugged. Oh, and I didn’t need any special tools to access the the case.

So tell me, why exactly is the Mac valued more over the Dell? Does the Mac do anything better than the Dell? Is the build quality really that much better? The Mac broke down first! Is the Dell some kind of under-performing mechbeast? Despite it having half the memory of the Mac, it actually boots faster! Grant it, I have Ubuntu installed on the Dell, but it flies!

I love Apple products, but when in comes to Macs, I just do not understand the value position. I’m going to sell that thing for scrap and make a pile of coin, and could buy three perfectly working used Dells for the price of the Mac parts. This isn’t my first time down this road, but when you have two models from the same year side-by-side and have the eBay receipts to value-compare, you have to wonder what type of cult Mac fans are. They certainly aren’t value-conscious consumers. Oddly enough, the Macs are the only apple devices that hold up this insane retail value. I’ve posted earlier that I’m always able to get great value deals on old Apple tech. It’s the Macbooks that make no freaking economic sense to me.