Thursday, October 6, 2011

In honor of Steve Jobs: An Apple flip revisited...

Dude's Note: In honor of Steve Jobs, I am re-blogging a great Apple Computer flip from the past.

I use an Apple computer to manage my far reaching Website, Twitter and blog accounts. I was the last holdout in the family, but my kids finally dragged me over to Team Apple a few years ago. Now our house is all Apple: iMacs, iPhones, iPads and even an iTouch. I am glad I made the transition. Apples are more user friendly and have a near zero chance of crashing with a bug or virus.

So last Fall when I came across this Apple IMac-G4 at a garage sale I grabbed it. A women sold me this eight year old computer for only twenty five dollars. This thing sold new for $1800 back in the day. It had an awesome Apple design with a 15 inch LCD flat screen that could pivot around like the famous Pixar lamp! I brought it home and my youngest son checked it out for me. He owned this same model a few years ago and knew his way around it. Sonny Boy began doing some Apple housekeeping, deleting some old files left by the previous owner and other geeky-tech stuff. But when I asked him to upgrade the software to make it run faster, he ran into a major roadblock. The operating system was password protected! I never thought of asking for the password when I bought the computer-who would? But no password-no getting into the operating system to upgrade things. It's sort of like not having the key for your car's may not need to get into it right away, but eventually you will!

I implored Sonny Boy to scour through the files and see if he could find the password hidden somewhere. To his credit he found a password clue. It was a seven digit word and the clue was "Dad's nickname". He also found the owner's name in some documents: Paul Smith. (My fictitious name to protect the innocent) We assumed the dad was Paul and went to work. Like Wheel of Fortune contestants during lightening round, we tried a string of different nicknames: PaulDad, Pops123, Daddio1...all with no success. The situation was looking hopeless!

Seeing my potential profits slipping away, I decided I would try to find the lady who sold it to me. But without getting into the truck and retracing my steps how could I track her down? I am pretty good at remembering where I buy stuff, so I began by using Google maps. Because her house sat on the corner of two streets, I was able to locate it and figure out her house number. Now I had both the street address and their last name. I typed both in the Google browser and up popped the women's full name and her home telephone number! Scary right?

It had been four months since I bought the computer-that's a long time in garage sale years. But I had to break the code to get into the Apple! I looked over at my son in desperation, "That's it, I have to call her!" He agreed and sat back and enjoyed the show as I dialed the number. After a couple rings, the lady actually answered the phone! I began to explain how I was the guy who bought her computer back in the Fall. Trying my best not to sound like a cyber stalker, I told her I was now in need of her password. There was silence on the other end then she asked suspiciously, "How did you find my number?" Using the friendliest tone I could muster, I explained that between remembering where she lived and finding her husband's name in the computer files, I was able to track her down using Google. She seemed somewhat satisfied with this explanation, especially when I mentioned that my 14 year old did most of the detective work. With her now reassured I wasn't a wacko, I again asked her for the password. She paused then responded, "Oh I doubt I could remember the password, that was years ago."

At this point I turned into a TV game show host, "I can help you with that. Can you remember a seven digit nick name for your husband?" She paused and thought for a minute, then excitedly blurted out "Oh.... try Big Paul!" I shouted over to my son, "Big Paul!" He quickly typed it in and clicked the mouse. Like computer hackers, we waited anxiously while the iMac processed Big Paul. A second later my son yelled victoriously, "We're in!" The password worked! I thanked the lady and again reassured her we would wipe the computer clean of any leftover family files. After she hung up, I thought she was going to have a very bizarre story to tell Big Paul!

Once in, Sonny Boy was able to upgrade the software, making the Apple run faster and smoother. With his work complete, I posted the computer on Craigslist for $125. I could have seen $150 or more for it if I sold it on eBay. But like other bulky items I've sold, I didn't want the hassle of shipping the huge box. It took about a week, but I ended up getting my $125 from a Dad who bought the computer for his kids. I also made sure I gave him the password! Once paid, I forked over $25 to my son for his tech support work, leaving me a profit of $75 dollars.

This was a cool flip, combining my son's computer tech skills with some Internet stalking...whoops, I mean detective work! Sonny Boy and I had fun seeking out the previous owner on the Internet and cracking that pesky password code. It also illustrates the scary reach of the Internet and how you should make sure your computer hard drive is wiped clean of personal files before you sell it. Unless you sell it to me and my son!
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  1. Great story! Thanks for reposting it! My 16 year old techie daughter got an older ibook for free. $200.00 later, she got it going with a newer O/S, new battery, more RAM. It was a long and tedious process, but now she has a cute small laptop for school. And it's an apple!

  2. Love this story--thanks for reposting it! I always look forward to your posts about what you get at yard sales. By the way, I appreciated the post about not including batteries in your ebay listings. I've now accumulated a number of extra batteries that I can use to test out future yard sale purchases and I also keep shipping down because of the lighter weight of the item. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Hey,We are: Clamco....Thumbs up on your daughter's rebuilt Apple iBook! These kid's know what they're doing when it comes to getting them up & running don't they? Now she's good til graduation!

    Thanks Diana, glad you like my yard sale adventures. You're welcome for the battery tip. Let me know if you have some good stories or tips and I'll pass them along...we're all in this together! : )

  4. You know dude, I read your post yesterday and really didn't have anything to comment. The only thing I could say is that my hubby battled the Apple Vs. PC for a LOOOOOOONNG time. First he had an apple on one side and a PC on the other (best of both worlds). Then he said forget the PC, and went with the Apple, but then he wanted everything Apple.. the iphone, Apple laptop, etc. But my son (who is 12 and who has had his own computer since he was 5 yrs old -no lie) and myself both have PCs. I personally cannot adapt well to change and changing computers, would be a drastic ..well.. change! I have had the same computer for over 9 years! I know time to get a new one! But, I hate change! Anyhow, back to hubby's story..So, when he would work on our computers for various reasons, he would always say, you know Windows is so much better. So he got rid of all the Apple stuff. Since then he never went back to Apple. He has begged for the iphone back because he just loved it so much better than the regular "non-smart-phone" that he has now. It's like what?? I got to pay to use AT&T's cell service and then on top of that another monthly fee because it's a smart phone??? NO WAY! (well, my opinion). Anyhow, to add to the beginning when I said "I had nothing to write in comment." Well, I woke up this Sunday morning to my emails. Everyday a very smart friend of mine sends me a "daily quote" and Some are good, some are silly, and some, well I can't understand. LOL But, this quote that was sent to me this morning, was written by Steve Jobs. So, in honor of Mr. Jobs and in honor of your post, I leave you with Steve's quote:

    "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."

    "Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

    -Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple

  5. GSA- Awesome quote from the great Steve Jobs. I watched some TV specials on him over the last few days. The one above he gave at Standford at commencement, after he had his first brush with his illness. He gets right down to the essentials, doesn't he? Wow!

    I am Apple user all the way now. I have to say I've had nearly zero problems with the iMac that I am using, so I doubt I'll ever go back. There was a small learning curve, but it's was well worth it.

    Thanks for sharing about Mr. GSA and your thoughts on Jobs!