Commodore 1541 vs clones

Commodore 1541 vs clones

The battle of the Commodore 1541 vs clones existed because Commodore’s early track record was rather imperfect.

Commodore’s 1541 floppy disk drive was the first consumer disk drive that cost less than $300, so it has an important place in computing history.

What some people forget is that while it broke new ground, its early owners loved to hate it. It was slow, it was loud, and ran hot. Early units were unreliable too. And to add insult to injury, in 1982 and 1983, Commodore couldn’t build them fast enough to keep up with demand. Even though it had problems, people were eager to buy it. (Disk drives for other computers tended to be problematic too, in this young industry.)

The 1541’s problems led to a number of clones that tried to be a little bit better.

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The freedom to fix our stuff

This week the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial about the right to fix our gadgets. It was surprisingly pro-consumer. The author wrote about a friend whose Samsung TV broke due to $12 worth of capacitors and how he fixed the TV, with no experience, in a couple of hours. I can relate, though I took the easy way out.

He lamented the throwaway of gadgets being unethical on several levels, and I agree. I also remember a time when it wasn’t this way.

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A reasonably cheap fix for a Samsung LN-S2338W LCD TV

Last year I got a Samsung LN-S2338W 23″ LCD TV at an insanely low price. The catch was that it didn’t behave very well–the buttons didn’t always work, and the TV liked to turn itself off randomly, or sometimes it even turned itself on.

It wasn’t haunted–it needed a power supply. Samsung TVs of this era had a recall due to defective capacitors in their power supplies, but either this one never got fixed, or wasn’t fixed completely. But it’s not too difficult to fix it yourself.

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Buy as much computer as you need

Veteran IT journalist Guy Wright advises not to buy any more computer than you need. Wright was a prominent Commodore journalist, so he’s been thinking this way for literally decades. I grew up reading the magazines he edited in the 1980s and 1990s–yes, really–so it’s not surprising that I would agree with him.

I saw a couple of points worth clarifying.

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Tinkering isn’t dead, but it is changing

When Radio Shack announced its bankruptcy, I read more fears that the age of tinkering is dead than I read laments for the store.

I follow the logic, because Radio Shack was the only national store chain that ever tried to cater to tinkerers. But I don’t think people abandoning Radio Shack means tinkering is necessarily dead. I have plenty of indications that it’s still very much alive, but it’s also very different from how it used to be.

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How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

My son’s Asus Memopad 7 HD would not power up or charge, and my earlier non-invasive solution wouldn’t fix it. Here’s how I opened it up to disconnect and reconnect the battery.

Always try holding the power button and volume down button first because that’s easier (see the link above for details), but if that doesn’t work, proceed to open the case.

While you’re in there, you can also fix an issue that may be causing the power or volume buttons to be hard to press or malfunction entirely. Dropping the tablet a lot makes this happen. If you have young children, you probably understand.

Another malady these tablets can develop is a battery with a question mark when charging. This will sometimes fix that issue as well.

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Improving Garmin GPS units

We’ve had a pair of Magellan 1420 GPSs for several years, but they’ve grown very unreliable. I suspect they have some bad capacitors in them, but I hear a lot of complaints about Magellan hardware quality even today. Recently I was able to buy a couple of 3.5-inch Garmin units for less than $20 apiece. I prefer the Magellan user interface–I think it’s easier to learn and easier to use–but for that kind of money, we’ll learn to use the Garmins. And I’ll note these Garmins are every bit as old as our Magellans, but have held up fine. Read more

Beware the Black Friday electronics

Ars Technica ran an aptly timed article today called How to talk your family out of bad consumer electronics purchases. It’s definitely worth a read, to steer you away from bad Black Friday electronics.

There’s a great tip in the article. If a doorbuster item has a model number that isn’t available the rest of the year, you don’t want it. That’s a good rule.

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