By Rick Sutcliffe
Record breaking heat in numerous parts of the world has been a staple of the news for several recent years, including 2018. Shifting weather patterns and a steady general temperature increase have combined to see some locales with record-breaking heat waves and produce devastating wildfires, most notably in Canada Greece, and the western U.S.
But weather and fires are not the only hot topics. Apple has a long history of heat problems with its devices. The switch from the G-series chips (RISC chips with a yet-to-be-matched state-of-the-art design) over to Intel CISC chips was driven by excessive heat in a chip that IBM saw as the heart of its server line–an arena where excessive heat is neutralized with equally massive doses of air conditioning. Such chips simply could not be used in a laptop, and IBM as co-owner of the design was uninterested in mitigating the heat issues.
The whole line of G-5 Mac Pro towers was given to runaway heat management issues–including false alarms that led to a brain freeze announced by the fan ending up sounding like an aircraft engine warming up (only solution: reboot). Even the subsequent Intel-based Mac Pro towers built in the same enclosure still have occasional heat issues, especially when fully loaded with disk drives and cards, and the power supply finds itself labouring under the load.
Mind, this is nothing compared to the endemic problems with the much more cheaply-built low-quality power supplies employed in the PC world, which are prone to failure at a phenomenal rate, and which are often so underrated that adding a single card to the back plane can result in system failures.
One of the reasons Apple’s Airport models were discontinued was their high heat failure rate, especially in the time capsule version, where the server-rated drives they contained generated too much heat to handle in a confined fan-less box. There have also been heat and battery issues with the iPhone.
Ditto the current line of MacBook Pro machines, where since April, Apple has been offering replacements for swollen batteries in some 13-inch models. Ahem. The Spy has a 15-inch machine whose battery is now so swollen that all for legs cannot touch the desk simultaneously and the keyboard is impinging on the screen when closed. Fortunately, the trackpad still works, as often in extremus, such swelling would mean it cannot be clicked. But, how about it Apple? Going to acknowledge that BookProHeatGate is a bigger problem than previously admitted, or will you adopt the usual routine of denial and delay until it becomes a major scandal resulting in yet another class action?
In any case this 2015 machine (no touch bar) is about to become the very first of countless Macs the Spy has ever owned or had in his department to need repair for any Apple manufacturing fault. He’s only ever had two repair incidents total. One was the time a student dropped a diskette in the mud, then put it in the Fat Mac’s drive despite being expressly ordered not to.
The silly fellow paid for that repair, not the department–and he was banned from using any university-owned computers for the rest of his time as a student. The second involved the replacement of a failed hard drive–ironically one of a batch Apple purchased from IBM in the early days. All other failures of his equipment have involved third-party peripherals–often for inadequate power supplies.
But, as the Spy noted last month, Apple’s general stewardship of its computer line in recent years has been sub-inspiring. Cupertino’s focus has become so fixed on squeezing maximum profit from premium smartphones (even at the expense of market share–watch out!) that the computers which made the company what it is is have been ignored.
The latest incremental upgrades come with the usual hype, but professionals whose work depends on their computers are increasingly unimpressed, and Apple, though still owning by far the best, most robust, and most secure OS, can no longer be said to be a leader in the computing hardware world. Sorry to beat the drum once more, but as noted last month, this eroding mindshare will inevitably lead to dramatic loss of marketshare.
The political and social world have their own heat problems and they are more troubling than merely the normal exhaling of hot air that one expects from the world’s capitols.
As also noted here last month, too much effort is being expended by both “left” and “right” on implementing hot-air ideological maxims, and too little on understanding and addressing society’s real problems, including the great divisions in society–ultra rich vs poor, two camps of elites vs each other and the rest of the population, urban vs rural, a rapidly changing (many would say deteriorating) society, etc etc.
Now, supposedly, we are living in what for decades the Spy has termed the Fourth Civilization–that era when information itself becomes society’s stock-in-trade, the currency of the economy, the generator and provider of most jobs, blah, blah, and so forth–all this enabled and driven by high technology, as the agricultural age was by the plow, the industrial by the steam engine.
So, would not one expect that the elected representatives of a nation that was until recently the world’s technology leader include among their number a significant percentage of qualified scientists? Yet, Bill Foster (D-Illinois) is the only one in the U.S. Congress. Canada’s much smaller House of Commons has a slightly less pathetic two members with Sci-Tech PhDs–one each in Science and Engineering.
To be sure, there are reasons for this. Working scientists who move into a non-science career can rarely continue to pursue or ever resume the research that makes their science career relevant. They can legitimately worry that they will lose credibility with their colleagues merely by entering politics, and that their loss of reputation will be exacerbated when their party whips them into voting for political positions that are not only non-evidence-based, but unscientific–one of many ways in which people of faith have more in common with people of science than either sometimes realize. Who, after all, wants to deny what they are certain to be the truth for the sake of mere party solidarity?
Still, as the Spy has repeatedly warned, decision making on technology adoption and deployment has traditionally been uninformed, the consequences not only not thought out, but not thought about, much less discussed. Technological changes and the consequent alterations in the social fabric (and our physical environment) just happen–without any attempt to consider the relationship between the two, much less to plan for a desired future.
We know from all historical experience that scientific advances and technology use do both re-shape society in dramatic fashion and alter the very planet upon which we live. Does it not seem wise to have a few qualified people involved in the decision making process? For that matter, does it not seem wise just to have a decision making process?
Seems obvious to the Spy that if scientists and engineers are going to complain about the heat, they outta get into the kitchen and help develop some cool-headed recipes.
A three-decades colleague of the Spy recently announced he is stepping down from three decades as of academic life as teacher and research chemist (and two years into his five-year term as Dean of Science) to become pastor of a small-town Baptist Church.
Given that both he and the Spy have been at the heart of administering such churches for years, we both fully realize this is not only not an instance of “if you can’t stand the heat…” but of “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. But if this is where he is being led…
However, no choice is independent of time or isolated. Rather, every action is connected to both its reasons and its consequences–one reason why decisions relating to the adoption of technology cannot be divorced from its consequences. One of the latter in this case is that the Spy now becomes the University’s Dean of Science at least for the nonce, until a search committee decides whether to bring in a superstar or take away the “interim”–thus in part explaining both the tardiness of this column and excusing the likely brevity of future ones. Ain’t life interesting, sometimes?
And as iSteve used to say–There’s one more thing:
The Spy’s tenth novel Paladin was released this past week. A 450K word blockbuster, it resolves all the mysteries, settles (or kills off) all the characters, concludes all the plot lines of The Interregnum, continues the stories of The Throne from 1492 to 2001, tells what really happened at the Devereaux manse after the First Battle of Glenmorgan, and describes Apocalyptic and long-expected Second Battle of Glenmorgan that ended alternate-Ireland’s 2000-2001 civil war. Whew! Viciously cross-genre, the Spy’s award-winning novels are Irish, Christian, Alternate History and Science Fiction. IHHO, this one is a barn burner. A hot item at Amazon. Happy reading.
—The Northern Spy
Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics, Associate Dean of Science and Chair of the University Senate at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level.
He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His articles, columns, and papers have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals (dead-tree and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972.
Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick’s SF? Check out the Arjay blog at http://www.arjay.bc.ca/blog/
URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
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General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher’s Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html
*** Paladin on Amazon ***
Author Site: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07FXML8ZW?tag=geolinkerca-20