Vol. 22, #39 - September 25, 2017 - Issue #1150
WServerNews: On the extraordinary difficulty of repairing washing machines
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- On the extraordinary difficulty of repairing washing machines
- Send us your feedback
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- IT Pro Fitness Corner
- Factoid of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- This Week's Tips
- Active Directory - Securing privileged access for administrators
- Exchange Server - Blocking NDRs
- SQL Server - Migrating to Azure SQL database
- Events Calendar
- HOT! Register for IT/Dev Connections early and save!!
- More upcoming events
- New on TechGenix.com
- Recommended articles from TechGenix.com
- Tech Briefing - Enterprise Mobility
- Simplifying transition from Hybrid MDM (ConfigMgr+Intune) to Intune standalone
- EMS Partners: Microsoft Intune – mobile application management and proofs of concept
- ConfigMgr 2012 SP1/R2 RTM: Support for Hybrid Mobile Device Management Ending Soon
- Windows 10: Intune + Windows BitLocker management? = Yes
- Microsoft Intune provides support for iOS 11
- Other Articles of Interest
- AWS hybrid cloud tools that beat setup barriers
- Tensor Processing Units were purpose-built for machine learning: Pros, cons
- Demand for cloud computing skills continues to outpace supply
- Justify the costs of multicloud for higher availability
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- Bugatti Chiron World Record: Zero to 400 kmh to Zero - 42 Seconds
- Incredible Magic Trick: The Lottery Illusion
- Most Costume Change Illusions In One Minute - New Guinness World Record
- Hello - It's Me!
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- New Microsoft Exchange Monitoring Free Tool
- New Microsoft Exchange Monitoring Free Tool
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
From the Mailbag
Back in Issue #1148 WServerNews: Should we end large IT projects? I talked about large-scale IT projects and why they often fail. In the following week's issue we published some reader feedback on this topic, and since then we've received some additional comments from readers. A reader named John in particular shared some stories we thought worthwhile to pass on to our readers:
Then there's the big opposite, which was a rollout, of an end-point encryption product. This was a bit different than what I had done before. The problem we had was infighting between the different 'orgs' as they were called. I was the lead administrator at the Burlington hub, but reported back to the California office. The Burlington hub is also the largest of all the satellite offices and the team-lead heading up the project in California had no clue how many users were involved, and everything started falling apart because he used a scatter-gun approach to tackle the users. This worked well in the smaller offices, but with nearly 700 users in Burlington at the time, I had to do things differently. Using his process, we were running around like confused chickens and not getting anything done.
With me being a process and procedures guy, I came up with a game plan, which I shared at the weekly Wednesday team meeting. It's a long story here and subject perhaps of another blog/newsletter article for you. I got involved in documenting procedures way back in my early days. With that "reputation" on my resume, I got tasked with writing up the how-to-do stuff with quick and easy steps.
Back to the point though...
The managers in the group were quite pleased and offered support to our hub, however, the team lead fell very silent. The reason is he didn't like that I had taken the bull by the horns, and started putting up firewalls when we asked for support. It wasn't that I was working against his wishes, it was that we were given a very specific deadline and we had to meet it, and also we had a much bigger and more complex location. I offered a "quick" procedure to the group, but he binned it, scoffed at it, and wouldn't accept it. Initially I thought it was just me, and started self-doubting my abilities, then I noticed he was doing this to everyone no matter which office who offered up ideas at the meetings.
After two weeks of this balking and excuses, he was pulled from the position, and things flowed our way as needed such as backup devices which we requested because we manipulated the user's hard drives.
In the end we completed our hub close to on-time. There were 4 remaining users which were not done due to being out of the office. Two were on maternity leave, and two were on vacation. What we didn't need is stress. If we had full cooperation from the beginning, we would have finished on-time without the stress.
So we can add lack of team member cooperation and egos getting in the way of finishing projects. When it comes to projects, we all have to work to get the project out of the way rather than fight about how to go about doing it.
Great stories there, I especially like the point of making daily phone calls to vendors/providers involved in a project you're implementing. Be on their back continually, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.
And now on to this week's main topic…
On the extraordinary difficulty of repairing washing machines
So the other day we had the washing machine repair guy over to fix our Maytag washer which had been making funny rumbling sounds and wasn't emptying properly on the spin cycle. We had him over a couple of years ago to replace the transmission in our 15-year old washer and were happy he could fix it because it's a reliable machine that works well and which my wife is comfortable using. Replacing the transmission cost more than half what a new machine would have cost, but we felt that newer machines were probably less reliable and we were used to the controls on our present machine so we opted for repair rather than replacement.
Anyways, as our repair guy had previously diagnosed over the phone it was the belt that was giving out and it took him only half an hour to replace it and check to make sure everything was working properly. But he ended up hanging around for an additional hour as I asked him questions about what it was like these days in the appliance repair business and he responded by telling me story after story, some of which I'm now going to repeat here as I feel there are probably some parallels with what's been happening in recent years with IT hardware.
One thing he kept coming back to is how washing machines have changed. In the old days when he started out you could open up a machine and basically figure out how it worked and fix almost anything that went wrong. But nowadays things are different. Take the controls for example. In modern washing machines everything is touch panel operated, and when a pressure switch fails or something doesn't work properly you basically have to replace the whole circuit board after performing a few basic multimeter tests on it to verify something is wrong. He told me how one customer had a control switch failure and he came in and diagnosed that a circuit board replacement was needed and the new board would cost around $300 which is about a third of what the machine itself had cost. The customer agreed so he ordered the new board and when it arrived he came over and installed it. Two weeks later the customer phoned saying that smoke had come out of the control panel and the machine had stopped working. Unfortunately replacement circuit boards were accept-as-is non-returnable parts so the only options were either to order another board or replace the entire machine. The customer was not very happy!
Our repair guy also told us that modern machines had a lot of their internal parts secured with plastic clips instead of metal fasteners or screws. He said this made it quite time consuming sometimes to perform certain kinds of repairs because of the additional finicky work that would be involved in carefully removing the clips without breaking them--if they could be removed at all. In fact he said it seemed more and more like modern washers were designed in such a way as to not be easily repairable--or repairable at all! This change combined with the declining reliability of modern washing machines compared with their ancient 20-30 year old counterparts obviously made good economic sense to the manufacturers who wanted to maximize profitability but had the opposite effect of adding more financial burden to homeowners.
Another place manufacturers were skimping back on to boost profitability was that they no longer provided detailed manuals describing the operation and different parts of their machines. He said that in the old days when he first started out repairing appliances they always came with a manual that explained every part with detailed drawings. Appliance manufactures also used to host in-classroom courses whenever they released a new type or model of a machine and invite repair people to come and attend them to learn how to properly repair and maintain the new machines. He said they no longer do that and instead just post a 15 minute video to YouTube or somewhere similar that basically just shows the new features but doesn't go into detail how they work or how to fix something that goes wrong.
This probably means that the appliance repair industry is basically headed towards being dead in the water. Our repair guy is only a few years away from retiring and there are few young people wanting to do this kind of work. He also says he often turns down repair work if it sounds like it will be too difficult and therefore too unprofitable in terms of hourly earnings for him. For example, he says a lot of the washer repair calls nowadays are from customers who live in condos, and whoever designs these condos always seem to be trying to squeeze the most usable space out of a unit. As a result the customers often purchase washer/dryer combos where the dryer sits on top of the washer, so to repair the washer one first needs to lift off the dryer and then be able to put it back up on top again. Well, this takes two people, he says, and most of the time he works alone because with two repair people the money for each will be less. So he won't take on such jobs unless the customer takes the dryer off from atop the washer before he arrives for his service call. But that usually can't happen because most of the people living in these condos are older people who can't perform such physical tasks. As a result apparently condo owners often have a heck of a time trying to get someone to fix their washers even when they are still under warranty!!
Even when a machine is repairable he has started to see his profit margins erode. For example, when he orders a replacement part the vendor now typically charges him for shipping instead of covering it from their end. There's also a huge markup for parts ordered from the USA for repair jobs in Canada. He told me for example that he had quoted a replacement circuit board as being $240 for one customer here, and the customer had said "I'll get back to you." The customer then searched various websites and was able to order the part directly from the USA supplier for only $35 and have it shipped for free to a friend of the customer who lived in the USA. The customer's friend then reboxed the part and mailed it to him for $5 so it only cost the customer $40 bucks in total which is less than 20% of what it would have cost had our repair guy have ordered it himself for the customer! All this reminds me how in tough economic times everyone gets tougher and wants a bigger slice of the pie so they can keep up their profit margins or boost them so high they'll be able to laugh and cash out before the whole thing crashes down…
Anyways, I could tell you some more things I learned from talking with our repair guy, but as he talked I kept thinking and thinking about my own IT profession, both on the business side and the consumer side. On the consumer side Apple is probably the biggest culprit with their unrepairable laptops, tablets and phones endlessly piling up in landfills, their extremely high profit margins, and the high cost and exclusivity of their peripheral accessories. But even server and networking hardware seems to have less and less quality and reliability in recent years, and finding replacement parts for a system only a couple of years old may mean getting something refurbished from eBay. And our recent purchase of several HP laptops, well I still can't find a manual that explains all of the symbols I can see on some of the keys of the keyboard. And networking cables? What's a good brand these days? Every batch I've bought recently seems to have a few turkeys in it. Then there's that patch panel where I pulled out a cable and the whole female adapter came out with it! And that server I need to use a pencil to push the broken power button, and so on and so forth.
All I can say is, I'm sure glad I'm not in the washing machine repair business--or the PC repair business. What say our readers? Email me at [email protected]
Send us your feedback
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]
Recommended for Learning
DevOps with Containers
Want to learn how container technology can help in improving the DevOps experience? Check out this Channel 9 video series by Pam Lahoud that explains topics like containerization of applications, continuous integration and deployment of containerized applications using Visual Studio Team System, Azure Container Services, Docker Swarm, DC/OS and monitoring containers using Operations Management Suite and 3rd party tools.
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Windows Server 2016 Security Features
Factoid of the Week
Last week's factoid and question was this:
When a pope dies, his seals are defaced and his ring is split in two. What movie begins with a scene showing this happening?
Several readers correctly said that the movie I was thinking of was "Angels and Demons" starring Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor, but one reader from Australia named Allan suggested "The Shoes of the Fisherman" starring Anthony Quinn. Now I recall seeing that movie many years ago but I can't remember whether there's a scene where the ring is broken after the pope dies. Any movie buffs out there who can confirm this?
Now let's move on to this week's factoid:
Question: What's the rudest, snobbiest sales staff behavior you've ever personally experienced?
Email your answer to us at: [email protected]
Until next week,
GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
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This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
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Incredible Magic Trick: The Lottery Illusion
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A funny 14-second clip featuring a parrot, a cat and the song 'Hello' by Adele:
WServerNews - Editors
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7www.mtit.com.Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.