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Bug Businesses Apple Hardware

Apple iBook G4 Design Flaw Proven 252

empaler writes "Apple has long denied service on iBook G4s whose screens went black after just over one year of use, denying that there was any error. But now, the Danish National Consumer Agency has released a report proving that the error is due to a design flaw. So far, the only news site picking this up is The Register (unless you understand Danish). The Danish Consumer Complaints Board says that Apple needs to get a grip and acknowledge this error in the rest of the world. The NCA also has some photos from the report (explanations in Danish, but easily comprehensible from context)."
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Apple iBook G4 Design Flaw Proven

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  • by Hsensei ( 1055922 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:40PM (#18974473) Homepage
    It is a feature. Next thing you know people will say the Ipod Batteries dying after a year is a design flaw too.
  • Fix (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:41PM (#18974493)
    Push that button in the upper right corner of the keyboard, the one with the circle and a vertical line -- then the screen lights up again, and you get the happy Mac face.
    • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:27PM (#18975227)

      Push that button in the upper right corner of the keyboard, the one with the circle and a vertical line -- then the screen lights up again, and you get the happy Mac face.
      If you stare at that button for a while you will realize that the circle-and-vertical-line symbol looks a bit like a hand that is flipping you a bird. This realization becomes especially irritating right after you have just lost a significant amount of work or to a kernel panic or a crashed window manager.
  • It's a dry joint. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:42PM (#18974511) Homepage
    Reflow the solder. Simple.

    Incidentally, with the introduction of RoHS-compliant lead-free solder, you will see this more and more. Consumer-grade lead-free is so crappy that it's almost impossible to make a single working board without at least some reflow work. Oddly enough, military- and medical-grade equipment are exempt from needing lead-free solder. Wonder why?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tmshort ( 1097127 )
      Exactly... It's NOT a design flaw; low quality solder joints are a manufacturing defect. As systems heat up and cool down, joints expand and contract, and can lead to cracked joints. The lower the quality the solder joint, the sooner it will happen.
      • Re:It's a dry joint. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:19PM (#18975125)
        It's an engineering defect. Whether you look at it as a design problem or a manufacturing problem depends on the constraints (and perhaps also on your point of view). If they are constrained to use particular materials, then the design needs to be such that the system, when made of those materials, doesn't fail prematurely.

        Understanding the constraints and setting specific definitions around terms like "prematurely" contribute inputs to the engineering process. In the end, if you release a product that breaks too soon, you messed something up and have a defect.

        All of which is fine, if you then respond by revising either the design or the manufacturing process and fixing people's broken computers, which is not what Apple has tried to do.
        • by jevvim ( 826181 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:40PM (#18975431) Journal
          In the end, if you release a product that breaks too soon, you messed something up and have a defect.

          And all Macs come with a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects. Any other measure of "too soon" is just personal opinion. I expect that Apple repaired all iBooks that failed within the warranty period. Apple makes no statements on the useful life of their products beyond their warranty statement, AFAIK.

          All of which is fine, if you then respond by revising either the design or the manufacturing process and fixing people's broken computers, which is not what Apple has tried to do.

          Got any proof of that wild accusation? Remember, Apple contracts board manufacturing to third parties. I doubt that Apple has sit idly by and done nothing, but that doesn't mean that Apple would have been successful in anything they tried either. Sometimes technique changes (like lead-free solder) give some manufacturers headaches.

          Besides, have you heard about this issue on the new MacBook or MacBook Pro systems, which have been in the market over a year now? Seems like Apple had some improvements made, then, if bad solder joints were the root cause of the iBook issues.

          • So you should just expect if you buy an iBook that you will have to replace it shortly after a year. Just like when you bought an iPod and had to have the battery replaced after a year...
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by v1 ( 525388 )
              That does look like a manufacturing defect, but it's not common. I have worked on hundreds of macs this year and I have only seen maybe one or two ibook G4s that had dead displays. It's not anywhere near the scale that I would say deserves a recall. If every 1 unit in 200 is bad, the model is not defective. Now if we are talking 1 in 10 maybe we can start saying there is a problem.
      • by Divebus ( 860563 )

        I guess lead in solder gives the joint a little flexibility and tolerates expansion and contraction cycles.

        I miss the good old days where you can find a bad part by following the burnt wiring harness right up to it. My current favorite is the chip that overheats, unsolders itself and falls off the board.

    • Re:It's a dry joint. (Score:4, Informative)

      by monkbent ( 856056 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:14PM (#18975037)
      You don't even need to solder. Just disassemble the iBook (challenging enough!) and put some sort of filler on top of the graphics chip. I used a 3M rubber foot. Close everything up and the bottom of the case will keep the chip in place. I haven't had a problem in the 6 months I did this repair, and have continued to tote my iBook all over on my scooter.

      That said, it's clearly a design defect, and should have been fixed by Apple just like the G3 iBook.

    • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:22PM (#18975149)
      Perhaps people here are not acquainted with the product engineering process.

      Engineers take *every* component of a product into account during design, including the types of solder to be used and the methods of soldering to be employed.

      Indeed, they may select higher quality solder in order to reduce the requirements and hence the cost of other parts, or they may specify lower quality solder in the knowledge that the rest of the components on their bill of materials can still be assembled to spec and will still work together reliably for the normal lifetime of the product.

      In this particular case, either Apple engineers did not consider the effect of their design on the solder joint in question (it should probably have been a far more substantial joint), or they did not specify the right type of solder given the requirements of their design, or else the subcontractors who made the unit used a type of solder different to that specified by Apple. (In the latter case this would be an Apple testing/QA problem, since you *ALWAYS* check what your subcontractors are doing, no exception. If you value your brand name, that is.)

      So whichever way you look at it, this is entirely Apple's fault. Design and/or testing engineers get paid for doing a good design and/or testing job, and in this case they haven't. Get the message to them, and they'll fix it --- engineers are always happy to fix problems, on principle.

      As for Steve Jobs and Apple Customer Services .. the less said the better.

      There's a problem. Get it fixed.
      • Shhhhhuuuussssshhh, keep quiet!

        Don't you know your not allowed to criticize Apple here. Next you'll be claiming you've found a bug in the Linux kernel!
      • by SeaSolder ( 979866 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:10PM (#18980349) Journal
        What do you know about electronics manufacturing? 1. "Higher Quality Solder" There is no such thing as "higher quality Solder". There are two industry recognized solder alloys out there. SnPb 60/40 and SAC305. SAC305 is used on RoHS compliant assemblies, and is mandated by the EU. From the photos, it is obvious to me that this solder was SAC305. (Yes, I can tell. From the side-cuts, you can see that the solder is very grainy and dull. This is the hallmark of lead-free solders.) Again, due to the idiotic RoHS legislation, manufacturers are REQUIRED to use a lead-free alternative, among which the SAC305 is the best. (The proverbial winner of the special-Olympics.) 2. "A far more substantial joint". The solder joint in the photos EXCEEDED IPC610-D Standards for even Class 3 medical devices. This is a SURFACE MOUNT DEVICE, and as such, there is no other way that you can get a more "substantial" joint, unless you went to a TH DIP package, if it was even available, and if you could even fit it into the design. 3. "Right type of solder" See number 1. 4. So no, it is NOT entirely Apple's fault. I'd bet $100 that if this chip were removed, and a new one were installed with SnPb solder, then it would not fail. Period. But since Apple isn't allowed to use the right solder, this happened. Have you ever designed something? Can you say that you tested EVERY POSSIBLE point of failure? No, didn't think so. It's because it's impossible to do. There is a problem, and it's the knee-jerk reaction of the EU to blindly ban the one substance that has been fully responsible for allowing the computer revolution to occur. Way to go!
        • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:25PM (#18980549)

          But since Apple isn't allowed to use the right solder, this happened. Have you ever designed something? Can you say that you tested EVERY POSSIBLE point of failure?

          So... an engineer is told to design a ship. He's told that the material to be used is wood, but designs it as if it were to be made of steel (because that's the right material!). The ship fails. How is it not the engineer's fault for not designing the system to the intended specifications? If the specs said that a non-lead solder was to be used, then the board should have been designed so that it would not fail with a non-lead solder.

          Maybe they swapped out the solder after the design was finalized and it's not the designing engineer's fault. But you can't blame the failure on the solder (unless it was not the correct composition). It's not as if this lead-free solder is some mysterious substance. Someone, somewhere along the line, failed in the design of this system.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Maybe we shouldn't use solder any more? Micro sized wires were routinely welded on older model (VERY older model) IC's internally. Micro-miniature spring clips into copper plated holes? It could be made to work. Mind you, using present knowledge (or to be honest, my present lack of knowledge) any prototype laptop I built this way would cost as much as your car and would probably also need wheels, but hey -- this is theory, right?

            Getting only a little more serious -- is there any alternative to the old fa

    • i can't tell if you're hinting at a conspiracy theory or not, but the non-conspiracy answer to why lead isn't allowed in consumer grade equipment is that lead is very harmful to humans and the environment. personally, i think that worrying about lead in solder is missing the forest for the trees, but i suppose anything that's more green is better in the long run.

      the big problem with lead free solder is tin whiskers []. this is why lead solder is most likely allowed in military and medical grade equipment.

    • by basic0 ( 182925 )
      Ah ha, not so fast mon frere...

      I have a G4 iBook with this exact problem. So far I've:

      1. Done the "shim" method, taking the case apart and sticking a non-conductive material between the metal shield and the logic board where the IC in question is located. This got the computer booting, but it still freezes randomly.

      2. Had a microwave/TV technician reflow the solder points around the IC in question. It still wouldn't boot without the shim. It still freezes randomly even with the shim inserted.

      3. Replaced the
      • A lot of ultraportables are in the $2k US range. It's not just for the cool factor, there is always a cost for miniaturization. The ULV chips are the biggest one, they are fabbed & binned for extremely low leakage current. The smaller hard drives cost more per unit of storage. Smaller optical drives are more expensive too. Tighter tolerances and higher strengh materials needed for a more compact case are also a factor.
      • I've got my fingers crossed that Apple unveils a new Intel based sub-notebook (that isn't seriously flawed) for about oh, maybe $1000 Canadian, then I can wash my hands of the iBook and it's problems once and for all.

        You shouldn't have had to take that computer to anyone but Apple to get it fixed. Whether it's a manufacturing or design defect, it's still a defect on Apple's side and therefore it's Apple's problem to fix. Did you take your computer to a microwave/TV technician because Apple denied yo

    • by Jake73 ( 306340 )
      This is not entirely true. While lead-free processes are posing challenges, the industry has been catching up with improving alloys. It's certainly possible to make working boards without rework. (we've made thousands) Defect rates are higher and the process needs to be more careful, but the defect rate certainly isn't as high as the o.p. suggests.

      Military and medical are exempt because it doesn't make much sense to switch horses mid-stream. They're right to be careful about new technology when the con
    • by Wansu ( 846 )

        Incidentally, with the introduction of RoHS-compliant lead-free solder, you will see this more and more.
      ... and not just open circuits. The lead free solder promotes the growth of tin whiskers which cause short circuits. If memory serves, this was the cause of the iBook G3 logic board recall.

  • bah (Score:3, Informative)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:43PM (#18974527) Homepage
    My G3 ibook did the exact same thing, and it was also a logic board failure. Apple has had lousy QA for several years now, and as someone who actually LIKES Apple products it's extremely frustrating.
    • Re:bah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:49PM (#18974631)
      Yep. Same here. Late 2001 G3 iBook developed this problem after about 2 months. Over the next year it went back to Apple 3 times. It was only on the final time that the problem was actually fixed. Had they not taken care of it then, I would have been eligible for a full refund under California's lemon laws. Oh, and the second time it came back to me it had obviously been reassembled by a chimp--one screw was so loose it fell right out, the plastic clips on the case hadn't been snapped back together, and there was a nice scratch on the screen. I love using Macs, but it will be a long time before I buy another one...

      • i the g3 ibook screen problem (which was due to a logic board issue) was a known issue []. i had a friends ibook g3 in for repair, but the recall period had expired. i spent quite a bit of time on the phone with apple, and got them to halve the price of the repair ($200 instead of $400).

        it is getting to the point where it's not worth it, tho. g3's are gettin' pretty long in the moore's law tooth.

        it sucks, but you have to remember that apple's market is not super broke people. if you want apple products, y
    • indeed (Score:3, Insightful)

      I also had one of the flawed G3 iBooks. The worst part was how many people recommended the machines, on the basis of how well built they were, even when they were getting theirs repaired just as regularly as mine.

      If someone speaks highly of Apple's quality, but they do so whether or not the quality is good, then it doesn't really give me any information. Therefore, I tend to regard customer reviews with a fair amount of skepticism. If there's a pattern of downplaying problems, then even Consumer Reports and
  • by delire ( 809063 )
    My little iBook has been singing along for over a year with _no problems_. This is clearly just another attempt at spreadi ww W()(())()*** 111||||ww
  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:45PM (#18974559)
    although it may be a manufacturing fault. It's a solder joint which has broken. Were these computers built with RoHS mandated lead-free solder? There is a lot of concern across the entire electronics industry that the changes required by RoHS will lead to reduced reliability.

    This is ONE computer. Is this failure present on others with similar symptoms, or are their other faults modes which can cause the same problem?
    • by phasm42 ( 588479 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:52PM (#18974699)
      It's a design flaw in that the board was allowed to flex every time the power button was pushed, leading to a broken solder joint.
      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:02PM (#18974887)
        where this component is located. Comments here talk about using a C-Clamp (which is also shown in the Danish photos) as a workaround to the problem. A quick bit of searching produces this site, [] which shows that the chip is nowhere near the power button, as you claim. In fact, it appears that the power button mounted to a small, completely separate PC board, in accordance with good design practice.
        • Not to mention that the Power button is not all that frequently used on an iBook - most people just open and close the lid to turn the computer on and off (yes, I know it's just going to sleep). If it were caused by the power button, the failure wouldn't be so time-coincident on so many iBooks.
    • I think the iBook design predates the RoHS requirements.
      • is more a matter of material specification rather than design.

        Many component manufacturers have been, over the past several years, replacing existing components with RoHS compliant ones in advance of the actual date on which compliance was required. Manufacturers have similarly been changing over to RoHS compliant components and assembly processes (i.e. lead free solder) in advance of the actual requirement.

        In the case at hand, it appears to be an issue with a solder joint failing on a single chip. Might
    • What's the point of all these "not a design fault" posts. The customer could care less about what part of Apple's process screwed-up.
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        That _is_ the point. You are blindly blaming Apple, without knowing the cause.

        The root cause may be related to a Euro-government mandated change, and not anything Apple did or didn't do. The long term effects of RoHS requirements on the reliability of electronic equipment are largely unknown, but there is a good deal of evidence that reliability will suffer severly. (see here [], or here []) That's one of the reasons WEEE/RoHS exempts military and medical electronics. Might those pictures show Kirkendall void
        • If Apple wishes to market devices in the EU, it needs to abide by it's laws and if it can't make reliable products that way, than it shouldn't be in business there.

          RoHS may be a bad idea as you suggest, but that doesn't relieve Apple of its fundamental responsibilities.
          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            We'll see how RoHS affects other consumer electronics companies over the next few years. Check back then if you still want to bash someone.
            • I'd say the same thing about all of them. Every company is responsible for the quality of their products.

              We've already seen some posts describing home-brew solutions to the problem, so I suspect that if people complain enough Apple will "discover" the problem and fix it without too much trouble.
  • by Whalou ( 721698 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:45PM (#18974567)
    I have a problem with my dårlig lodning, I think it's all skruetvinge.
  • by Knara ( 9377 )
    I guess my first reaction to this was "iBooks? Who has only had a new iBook for a year? Is that even possible?", but admittedly I dunno...
    • by Sparr0 ( 451780 )
      Many people bought them 2-3 years ago and they failed after a year, but then Apple refused to cover the failure under the warranty. So they still have the iBooks sitting around on bookshelves, waiting to be ressurected.
  • 1) E-mail Steve Jobs
    2) Get new iBook + all your data hand-transferred
    3) ??????
    4) Profit!
  • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:51PM (#18974675) Homepage Journal
    Can anyone identify where on the logic board the photographed chip/connection is located? Also, can anyone confirm that the connection shown at the center of the photo showing the chip, which would be the bottom right most connection on the chip from that perspective, is the one in need of repair? This doesnt seem completely evident from the zoomed in photos of the joint/trace. My roommates have a number of iBooks that have suffered what is likely this fault, and I would love to get them working again.
  • by rbanzai ( 596355 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:56PM (#18974777)
    I support Macs for a living and haven't encountered this one. My own iBook G4 is about three years old now without any failures, but that's just one.

    Is there a place where we can see some numbers on how widespread these failures are?
  • Guess the Danes better drop a polite e-mail [] to Steve, and maybe he'll just drop off a new computer.

    Just send that note to [mailto]
  • With the lead free solder and halogen free IC packaging materials, this kind of faults are happening everywhere, in all brand. Welcome to a brave new not so well tested electronic world.

    BTW, anyone knows any regulation of lead for the fishing weight or the bullet? they are everywhere.

  • Powerbooks? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:10PM (#18974981) Journal
    About the same thing happened to my Powerbook, and it still hasn't been fixed. Apple refuses to fix it, because it was dropped about a year ago, and if there is any physical damage at all (so much as a dent), the warranty is void. Since they will only do complete and total repairs, it would cost $1200 to fix.

    So, my question: Does this also happen with Powerbooks? And if so, is it something I could easily fix by cracking it open and soldering something? Any step by step instructions on how to do so?
  • With product cycle getting shorter all the time, is it any surprise that products are no longer designed for durability? How else could companies compelled upgrades required to produce 'record breaking' revenue quarter after quarter?
  • Screen went black after 14 months (ie. just outside the warranty period). Apple quoted £300 ($500) to fix it, which was almost as much as the thing is worth. For various reasons I didn't pursue this further (work bought me a laptop at the same time, was very busy, etc.) but really I should have gone to the small claims court - any judge would have told Apple where to get off.

    The good news is it looks easy to fix. Does anyone know of where this joint is -- the article only shows a very small par

  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:18PM (#18975107)
    I don't know why this seems so hard to accept. On one hand, there are some die-hard Mac people that seem to refuse to accept that Macs have problems, and refuse to accept that PC's are sometimes actually worth money.

    And on the other hand, there are anti-mac people that are excited about this sort of news. That's stupid, too.

    But really, the anti-MS and anti-PC and anti-Mac stuff gets really old after a while. Macs have problems, PCs have problems, MS software has problems; I have to say that with this particular instance, Apple supporters seem much more worried about admitting that there is a problem than PC supporters or MS users.

    Modding something flamebait for pointing out an inconsistency in how problems with company X are accepted is... hmmm. Silly.

    • I think it's fairly well accepted that all these products have issues. The problem here is that Apple isn't claiming responsibility. I am a Mac admin and we have one such G4 iBook. We sent it to Apple TWICE to get it fixed, both times they said, and I quote, "When it arrived here it was working properly. No warranty work performed" and returned it to me. This even though the unit's serial number fit a list posted on claiming it had faulty hardware that needed to be replaced.

      Come the fuck on, Apple
  • Photos are down, so I can't confirm this is the same item in question, but a few months ago someone with the same problem [video failing due to the solder-ball seating] - had a remarkable fix.. BURN IT WITH FIRE - and it worked again! te-ibook-logic-board-repair []
  • I have a G4 iBook and its been fine, I was under the impression the flaw was only on the G3 dual USB ones, and was corrected on the G4.

    I know I myself had 2 G3s fail.

  • they're just as good if not better than some of the ones used in my NASA-STD-8739.3 class. Of course that was a through hole class.....
  • I have a G4 ibook, i demand to be compensated, i demand a new macbook/pro replacement immediately. What ? Well yes my G4 is working fine.. that is not the point...
  • by Snowtide ( 989191 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:43PM (#18976531)
    Every company has models of computers where some or many of them share the same flaw. The motherboards on Dell GX270s fail often enough I had to replace five out of the twenty or so in my office in the course of a year. Dell knew about the problem didn't even question me about sending new boards after the first one.
    Of course this was Dell coprorate support, home user support is generallly junk.
    iMac PPC G5 computers had a high rate of video failure from a certain group of capacitors failing. I have swapped out dozens of iMac G5 motherboards.
    Companies also tend to drag their feet about admitting these problems. From a tech's perspective with thousands of Dells, Gateways and Apples on campus you can see some patterns pretty damn clearly, getting a company to admit it is something else.

    It happens with every mass manufactured brand of computers. Denying that any certain company has these problems is silly.
    I hope all computer companies get called out on this more often. Especialy on laptops, they are difficult to design and build well.

  • Translation (Score:5, Funny)

    by RoloDMonkey ( 605266 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:45PM (#18976569) Homepage Journal

    explanations in Danish, but easily comprehensible from context

    Das machine is nicht fur gerfingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der Springengwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit Spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das Dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken Sightseeren keepen Hands in das Pockets, relaxen und watchen das Blinkenlights...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:53PM (#18976705)
    Just ask them!
  • From the pics it looks like a solder joint "failed". Now there are many possible reasons for a solder joint failing. I have no idea which one or combination of these are responsible:
    • The affected chip is one that normally gets quite hot in normal use-- the thermal stresses built up and mechanically failed the joint.
    • The chip is on a part of the PC board that flexes under normal or abnormal use. The joint flexed a few times and finally failed.
    • The board was improperly wave-soldered-- either too low
  • ...and it was so expensive to fix, I bought another (used) iBook. With Applecare. And of course, this machine had a similar (if not exactly the same) problem about eight months after I got it. Thank God for Applecare.
  • The lab report (in english) can be found here []
  • were a Toshiba 4600.

    (Insert -1 Flamebait here).

    I have an old Toshiba Satellite Pro 4600 that originally came with Windows 98. It then ran Windows 2000 and now runs Windows XP. Can an iBook of the same era even run OS. =)~

  • I've been out of a laptop since less than a year after I bought it. Apple refused to fix my G4 iBook after sending it to them twice. It's now more than two years old (maybe three?). If they fix the one I have it is old technology and pretty much useless to me now anyway. Are they required to refund my purchase? Or replace it with modern comparable equipment? Even a fully functioning G4 iBook is pretty crappy by today's standards.
  • by swisswuff ( 601270 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @05:15PM (#18979469)
    We love Apple for their design flaws, don't we!!

    The SE/30 featured an shielding cardboard that was coated with metal on the bottom; the motherboards pins would at time poke through, and if the machine was sitting vertically for a while, suddenly it could go - blam - and stop working and go into some type of hangup or crash. For two models, I could repeatedly get them going by shaking the machines upside down, but neither Apple, nor Apple dealers, acknowledged the issue. It may be that having parts installed - and having people disassemble and reassemble parts of the Mac - may have played a role.

    All of the compact Macs featured floppy disk drives that, over a working period over more than 6 hours, would reliably and predictably cause floppy disk errors. So I'd start using a new OS floppy after 5 hours, and things would be o.k., or not do it and consistently get crashes from 7 hours on upwards. They had built in a bright CRT, and obviously, shielding was some issue there. Nevertheless, this was an obvious design flaw.

    Or the iPod mini. The iPod mini featured some weird shielding problem whereas crackling noise would occur. It would disappear as soon as the components that are stuffed together (battery, main board, micro disk) were pulled from each other - then, no crackling noise would occur even when mechanically straining the 3.5mm jack. Another design problem where capacitor- and shielding-related issues determined the outcome.

    Or, take the Powerbook G4 Aluminium "Narcolepsy" model Apple built and sold! A design flaw classic. Not admitted by Apple, ever. I guess they switched to Intel partly because there were so MANY of these sold, that switching to Intel may have been the only way to give the Powerbook G4 owners a good reason to buy a new Apple laptop rather than attempting to force Apple to fix their old one. Maybe one day, we will hear the insider story of that botched up piece of hardware?

    Also, there were a number of Powermac G5 computers that all had severe logic board problems that I laid hands on - two of them DOA (Dead On Arrival), and on another one I just got it repaired for the cheap sum of around 800 dollars.

    So, I think if anything is newsworthy it'd be publishing that Apple actually managed to assemble some parts without design problem. That'd be what Slashdot may want to focus on, not that Apple "yet again" was shown to have screwed up something we all knew they couldn't get right to begin with.

    Anyone believe that they can get the iPhone right, at all?
  • by SeaSolder ( 979866 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @05:31PM (#18979723) Journal
    Disclaimer: Both myself and one of my coworkers are IPC-610D certified inspectors of electronics. For those of you who aren't in the know, IPC-610 is the industry standard that dictates how all electronics assemblies are supposed to be put together. I spend considerable time inspecting fine pitch surface mount devices. I am also the manager of the assembly department at my company, where we make class-2 commercial grade electronics.

    To say that I spend a lot of time looking at soldered joints is an understatement.

    So, what's the problem here?

    The Danish government is just as culpable as Apple is on this one.

    The solder used in this joint is obviously (to me at least) a lead-free solder. (Lead free solders are exceptionally grainy and dull in appearance compared to leaded solder that is smooth and shiny.) The switch to lead-free solders was mandated to occur last year on July 1st by the European Union. Any electronics shipping into EU member nations must comply with this new standard, which is called RoHS, or "Reduction of Hazardous Substances". (Look it up in Wikipedia.)

    Due to complexities in maintaining parallel manufacturing lines, most companies simply switched to the Lead-free solder for their entire product line. (As did my company). This means that most all new electronics you by are going to have lead-free solder holding them together.

    So, why is this a problem? Plasticity.
    Leaded solder alloys (SnPb 60/30) are extremely ductile. This means that they will flex a considerable amount before fracture occurs. With electronics that experience heat cycles, or any kind of motion at all, this is an extremely beneficial trait to have. Lead-Free solders on the other hand (like the most common SAC305 SnAu3%Cu0.5%) are incredibly brittle. What is obviously happening here is that the heat cycling from the laptop turning on and off is stressing this solder joint, and causing the joint to fail. Had this been leaded solder, I can almost guarantee that this problem wouldn't exist.

    So what does this mean? Exactly what the electronics industry has feared. The EU made a dip$#!t move. Industry experts believe that the average lifespan of an electronic device has been significantly diminished. Down to an average consumer product lifespan of 5 years. There have been early reports of serious quality problems, including SWATCH having over 10,000 watches fail within a month of shipping. You can expect to see a drastic shortening of the lifespan of your electronic goodies. This is just the beginning people. If you see a device that is labeled as RoHS compliant, do not buy it if you expect to use it for more than a few years.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle