Push Eject needs a new MacBook Pro because his old PowerBook is old. he wants to know how he can sabotage it so it looks like is borked, kaput, done in a way that is hard to fix. the fix cannot be “sink it with your coffee” because then it’s intentionally damaged. 

note from John: this is all in fun. but here’s the thing. old hardware is old hardware. there’s a point at which it needs to be upgraded. it’s costing everyone time. and we all know what time equates to. but even more important is that new hardware makes employees happy. that thousand dollar MacBook or HP Envy is lots cheaper than giving raises. and new things are taken care of while old things are just the target of abuse. run a happy company and stuff doesn’t “just break.” just sayin.

most of the time the company you work for won’t upgrade your computer as long as it’s working. never mind that you’ve used it for the last 5 years. never mind that it’s 3 versions back. hell Vista has come and gone since you got your last computer! the problem is that you’ve tried to justify a new shiny but your “they” won’t budge. so you’re stuck with it until it just doesn’t work anymore.

the computer can’t look like it was done in by the likes of you. it has to look like it “just gave up.” it’s old so it’s possible. but you also have to be aware that some companies can easily justify getting something repaired but getting something new is impossibly hard. 

there are two ways that this can go down and you have to pay attention to this because IT people are smart people. you may have enough computers in the company where people are on staff who’s JOB is to fix problems. or you may have a “computer guy” who does stuff who is really busy with lots of problems. he won’t try very hard to fix your machine so you won’t have to go to great lengths to get new hardware. but the other guys aren’t so easily tricked.

I had to deal with an employee that wanted a new PowerBook. the person complained about it being slow, it crashed for no reason and it was a constant problem. the problem was that when it was tested none of the problems seemed to actually happen. one day it showed up broken. the screen was separated from body. it was pretty clear that it had been intentional dropped. it might have been when he gushed about how a backup had just been made that gave him away. he used one of the desktop Mac’s while I figured out what to do. instead of ordering a new Mac I got parts instead. new screen clutches got purchased from eBay that day and I made the repair soon after. the screen metal on G4 PowerBooks is epoxied together rather then screen so it wasn’t a clean replacement. it required JB Welded to get it back together. but it matched the color of the metal so it wasn’t completely ugly. the Mac worked seemed to work much better for the person after that.

in either case you need to know one thing: what happens to the computer? is it is going away, away, is it used for parts, do machines get fixed instead of replaced. even if you might get to keep using it for something else don’t act too interested in it’s future. but knowing it’s future will help you determine how drastic you have to get with it’s demise.

you can start by complaining. show a clear case that against the hardware: it crashes, it’s slow, I can’t run XXYYZ, the version I need to run doesn’t run OS installed but the new OS doesn’t: support my hardware, video card, PCI bus. show that it’s costing the company money. or make a case that new hardware will help you do your job better. “I’d like to take an online class but my hardware doesn’t support it.” “if I had After Effects CS5 we could save 5 hours a week.” “I’m late on this because the render time is really long.” old hardware can cost your company money. so it’s in everyone’s interest to keep employees happy with newer hardware.

so let’s say that making a case for new hardware didn’t work. it’s time to consider more drastic actions. the worst thing you can do is show up for work after you’ve been bugging about a new something with a borked something. everyone will assume that you dropped it (like my story above) or some other intentional malicious action. you need to be smart about what action you do take. DO NOT try to take apart a computer if you’ve never done it before. DO NOT let somebody else try to do it for you if they don’t do “computers” for a living. you will do more damage than you intended.

a better option is to be invisibly careless with how you use it. plug it into the wall at a meeting even if the battery working. be sure to sit in place where everyone has to step over the power cord. eventually somebody will trip over that cord.

here are some non-damaging ways to make a Mac (or Windows) slow. there are few that we know.

    load up on Fonts with no manager. install as many as you can find. Word and Illustrator are two programs that load so incredibly slow when overloaded with fonts. so slow it will drive you nuts.

    make the hard drive 99% full. OS X and Windows use virtual memory for performance. it the disk is space starved performance will greatly suffer. the machine will run slower and slower and it might even kernel panic.

hardware hacks that to make your hardware look like its running but will make it go away:

    replace the hard drive with one that click, clicks.
    the power supply connector is always a weak link. especially on old notebooks. this can be bent off the circuit board.
    cut just one of the VGA lines.
    use clear nail polish to cover one of the critical connectors.
    super glue a bad battery. “yeah, it was falling out all the time so I did that.”
    make real kernel panics with bad RAM. but RAM can be replaced.
    make one of keys or more keys not work by cutting the rubber dome slightly. which key? try offing one of the keys in your assigned password.
    iron filings.

remember you are doing this for the greater good of the company. but you DO NOT want to get caught in the lie that you are trying to pull off. you could get fired. you might have to pay for the damage. it will go down on your permanent record. we do not condone damaging hardware intentionally that can still do real work. we did not tell you it was okay to damage company property. it’s not yours to destroy.

[ad#720 bottom banner]

3 Replies

  • just make an arrangement with your boss that you get ‘his’ old computer when he gets a new one, that way you get last year’s top of the line MacBook Pro, and it will be in perfect condition because it was only being used for email and spreadsheets showing how much money can be saved by not upgrading computers used by people actually doing the work

  • Hi, I’m listening to this episode right now. I know it’s kind of tongue in cheek, and I do see that you give a disclaimer at the end. I wanted to share my experience.
    I used to work at a huge computer company, and I had an old ancient laptop, that needed to be upgraded. It was the same story – the only way the computer could be upgraded was if it had an ‘unfortunate accident’. My boss basically told me to break it, but without explicitly telling me to break it.

    I thought about it for a bit, and I couldn’t get over the fact that I would be “Destroying Company property” – something that would get you fired, instantly, from nearly any company. I realized that even though I had been basically given permission, if my manager’s manager ever found out what happened, or in this case if the IT guy figured it out, they would have had no choice but to fire me. Immediately. Regardless of my excellent job performance.

    Bottom line all joking aside, you would most definitely get fired for destroying company property, even if you’ve been given implicit permission. Spend some more time writing up a business case for an upgrade.

    To end my story… I didn’t destroy my laptop. 3 months later the powers that be decided my laptop needed to be upgraded. I got a brand new top of the line laptop. One week later, my cat knocked it off of the counter and destroyed it… I was honest and it was replaced immediately (big difference between OOPS and purposeful destruction of company property).

    I love the show, I just wanted to chime in with a bit of a ethical reality check.

  • good story. everyone should always question their PHB. especially when then say, “take it out. go ahead…” as he’s likely to have fingers crossed behind his back!

Leave a Reply