The first “personal” computer I ever used was at CNN’s original Washington, DC Bureau in what we called “Upper Georgetown.” At that time (likely 1983) we still typed on IBM Selectric typewriters to write our scripts. We also had access to dumb terminals connected to a central server – running a news program called “Basys” that allowed us to send internal text messages and check the wires, rundowns and other information (CNN was the first to use it, if I remember correctly).
But I still went in every morning at 3 A.M. for years and pulled stories for the morning shows from the teletype machines so my writers could write their stories on the Selectrics.
One day I noticed that our assistant bureau chief was trying to work with a computer called an Apple ///. She was actually taking it home to learn how to use it. I’m not sure how that went, but I happily ended up with it when I started doing the intern program for the bureau. That initial experience ultimately led me to purchase my own Apple ///, an external hard drive and a set of ten floppy disks – at $10.00 each! I could have purchased an original Macintosh instead for about the same price – but since I’d worked with the ///, I felt I would get better use of it – and I did for many years.
(Updated 3/16/2011 to fix photo links)
When I first started working with computers – my old Apple /// (like the one at
left right) back in the early 80s – computer users groups like Washington Apple Pi had already sprung up across the country. Their motto at the time was “Users Helping Users.” WAP was a club whose members wanted to learn more about how their computers – Apple II series, ///, and increasingly, Macintosh – worked. They really wanted to know what made them tick – not just how to upgrade them by adding memory, a new, larger hard drive, new graphics or other internal cards. They were willing to spend the time, effort – and money – to do that.
Today, computers have, for all intents and purposes, become appliances. They are SPECIAL appliances of course, but most folks are not interested in opening the hood and tinkering. They just want to turn them on. They expect them to work.
Users today still may want to add memory or a new hard drive, but Apple has made it pretty difficult for the user to do much of that except for their higher-end MacPro models. At the Clinic, we usually suggest external drives when that’s possible – they come in a wide range of sizes, USB and Firewire are on virtually every Mac – and the price is reasonable. But we do have the tools and expertise to dig into the internal workings when necessary.
The question is – when should you replace what you have? When is it time to spend the money for a new Mac? We get those kinds of questions all the time and each answer is really tailored to the individual owner.
But in general, If you have an older PowerPC Mac you are a prime candidate unless you are happy with what you have and the programs continue to do what you need them to do. Apple and most vendors no longer support the PPC platform, but most of the later-model machines – towers and laptops – remain highly capable and able to do what you need. If there’s a problem, we have the tools and expertise to help (that’s us working at left). If we don’t we’ll tell you up front.
The Macs of today are Intel based and OS X continues to grow in power and ability. Macs can run both Windows and OSX easily at the same time. In the future, OSX may well morph together in some form with the iOS we all know from the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad. There are rumors Apple will stop including optical drives in all their machines as well. If that happens, third party vendors will be making lots of money because folks will still want those peripherals. I certainly do even with the App Store.
So while the decision about when to buy a new (or refurbished) Intel Mac is a very personal one, there will come a time when:
- Your old machine just won’t work anymore;
- When you are really ready to move up for the power, speed and improved graphics;
- You want a Mac but still need to run Windows;
- You need to run the latest version of Office or other software;
- You need to do video editing;
- You want a better computing experience.
As one of the volunteers at MacRecycleClinic I can tell you we have a group of folks who are passionate about helping you keep your Macintosh working – but we are also happy to provide suggestions about your next step should you want to upgrade to a new computer.
(From an original post to Tumblr)
I joined Washington Apple Pi or WAP for short) in 1983 or so. Like many, I needed some support from fellow users and WAP was the answer. (That’s me second from right with a group of SARAsaurs as we were called – the /// was named after the designer’s daughter.)
A group of us started holding tech sessions on Tuesday nights – folks would bring their sick computers in for repair help, to ask questions, get upgrades – you name it. Some left old machines behind. And that was the start of our recycling efforts.
Early-on, the focus was on the Apple II – Apple’s first real success story. We tried to recycle many donations to schools that did not have any – like the two elementary schools in West Virginia in 1996.That’s a picture at left of all the computer equipment ready to be set up in a lab.
As Apple moved from IIs to Macs, we slowly made the switch ourselves as the mix of donations changed. The passion was still there – we just had a different machine to work with. There is a real challenge in taking a donated machine and turning it into a tool that is useful again. But for most of us, there is just great satisfaction and joy watching the faces of those who receive our donations.
Updated and edited from an earlier Tumblr post:
My Entrepreneurial Journalism class at the University of Maryland has a ton of passionate folks – passionate about everything from Broadway plays to birding. Even the “Frat Lifestyle.” Me – I’m passionate about the causes I volunteer for. Thus the genesis for this blog:
- My involvement with a group that works to help folks repair their Apple Macs as well as recycling Macintosh computers back into our community.
The recycling effort goes back to the early 1980s when I purchased my first computer – an Apple /// (the first computer actually made by a company called Apple). Over the years, I worked with a computer users group called Washington Apple Pi — focusing on support for the ///, later serving on the Board of Directors. Finally, getting involved with what we called the “Tuesday Night Crew” that helped folks with sick Apples and Macs and also took in computers to recycle.
WAP as we called it, has suffered from a loss of membership over the years – primarily because computers have become such appliances that they are really no longer a hobby – folks don’t really want to open them up and see what makes them tick. So the TNC lost its space and began looking for a new home. And that’s how MacRecycleClinic was born! More on that in a later post.
Note: I am consolidating my RecyleYourMac blog to WordPress from Tumblr. This original post was actually on TwitWall.
Originally published: September 9, 2010
It’s exciting to tell you that we are finally back in business – helping Mac (and even Apple) users in the Washington, DC area with their Mac problems. MacRecycleClinic is the new name for the old “Tuesday Night Crew” that was hosted by Washington Apple Pi in Rockville for many, many years.
As fewer folks joined user groups, WAP downsized to the point where we no longer had space to work so we took a step back, put our tools into storage and started looking for new space.
It took awhile – but we have found a new, welcoming home at Marvin Memorial Methodist Church across from Blair High School in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring. This is an ideal location for us and working with the church, we have big plans on a number of fronts.
1) We are going to establish a Mac lab for Blair students to use for after-school homework.
2) We hope to establish ties with Blair to train students to repair and help us recycle Macs.
3) We have already established some ties with various Veterans groups and will work to recycle Macs into the hands and homes of our Wounded Warriors. These are special men and women and we look forward to honoring them by helping them have the tools they need to move on to productive lives.
4) We will continue to work with Mac (and Apple) owners in the Washington region who need a little one-on-one help in a friendly atmosphere. As a non-profit, all fees are tax-deductable as well.
5) Clinics will now be on Monday nights from 7 until 9 PM or so.
Please check out our website for more information, instructions on how to get to Marvin Church, hours of operation, fees and more. And if you’re interested in working with us, let us know!
From time-to-time, we’ll post blog entries here to let you know what’s going on, some of the challenges with repairs we’ve faced (or are facing!) and maybe even to ask for your help or suggestions.
Directions to Marvin Church: http://www.gbgm-umc.org/marvinchurch/directions.asp
You can leave a message on our new phone at: 301-593-4004 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org