Dale Brugh

Dale Brugh

Available Storage Space in Yosemite Versus Mavericks

Before downloading and installing OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) I used Disk Utility to check the available storage space on my Retina MacBook Pro running the latest version of OS X Mavericks (version 10.9). Disk Utility reported that the SSD had 143.59 GB available out of a total 250.14 GB with 106.55 GB used.

Available storage space in Mavericks

After installing Yosemite and restoring the MacBook Pro to the same level of functionality it had before the upgrade,[1] I checked the SSD's available space again. This time Disk Utility reported 153.13 GB available out of 249.77 GB with 96.64 GB used.

Available storage space in Yosemite

Installing a new operating system gave me roughly 10 GB of additional free space. That's a good deal. This update may have been the most effective way to free up additional storage space on a two year old computer.

The table below summarizes these numbers and the change in going from Mavericks (10.9) to Yosemite (10.10). Interestingly, the capacity of the SSD decreased by 370 MB during the upgrade. I'm not sure where that space went.

10.9 10.10 Δ
Capacity (GB) 250.14 249.77 –0.37
Used (GB) 106.55 96.64 –9.91
Free (GB) 143.59 153.13 +9.54
Files 1,682,553​ 1,622,776 –59,777
  1. I use MacPorts which must be removed and installed again after an OS upgrade. I made sure to install the same ports I had installed under Mavericks using the migration procedure provided by MacPorts. Thus, this should not account for the increase in available storage space.

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Selling an iPhone 5 to Apple's Recycling Partner

Like millions of others, I pre-ordered an iPhone 6 and had it delivered to my doorstep on September 19, 2014. Prior to this I had arranged to sell my iPhone 5 because an Apple iPhone typically retains sufficient value after two years to recoup about half the upfront cost of a new subsidized iPhone. During past upgrades, I had sold my older iPhone to Gazelle. This year I decided to compare Gazelle to the Apple Reuse and Recycling Program before choosing a buyer.

There were two ways to take advantage of the Apple recycling program. I could take my iPhone to an Apple retail store, have its value assessed by a store employee, and receive immediate credit toward the purchase of a new device. Alternatively, I could ship it to Apple's recycling partner1 and receive an Apple store gift card as payment. Because I had pre-ordered the iPhone 6 online, I could not take advantage of the in-store exchange.

After a few clicks on the Apple website, I was taken to a page at Brightstar where I was asked to supply some basic information about my iPhone 5, including its storage capacity, color, condition, and carrier. This was similar to the information requested by Gazelle; although, Gazelle's website is better designed and easier to use. At the end of this, Brightstar offered me $205 for my phone, provided I delivered it unlocked. That was $35 more than Gazelle had offered me. The extra $35 seemed worth it.

Brightstar and Gazelle both offered to provide me, free of charge, a return pack2 that I could use to ship the iPhone 5 to them. Both offered to pay for return shipping. Brightstar offered to return my iPhone to me free of charge if I did not want to accept their assessed value once it arrived at their facility. I do not believe Gazelle makes this guarantee. A knock against Brightstar was that they only deliver payment as an Apple store gift card. Gazelle offers several forms of payment that are not tied to a particular retailer. I did not perceive this as a significant negative because I had an Apple store purchase to make that was going to be about $200 anyway. I decided to sell my iPhone to Apple's recycling partner, Brightstar, and I ordered a return pack.

When Brightstar received my iPhone 5, they assessed its value at only $62. This was not because the market value of the phone had changed. The quote of $205 was guaranteed for 14 days, and the phone arrived at the Brightstar facility within that 14-day window. Brightstar claimed the reduction in value was due to the display. Brightstar did not provide an explanation of the problem beyond saying the display was not in good condition.

Assessment of iPhone 5 condition by Brightstar showing a problem with the display

This was surprising to me because my electronic devices are generally in excellent condition. Every iPhone, iPod, Mac, and MacBook I have sold has been accepted without modification of the original offer. My devices are in good condition, and I do not try to sell them if they are not. This particular iPhone was in very good condition with the screen and display being in excellent condition. The glass screen had no scratches or chips, and the display was uniformly illuminated with no color variation.

Brightstar did provide four photographs with their assessment.3 The first was a photo of the packing slip. The second was of the front of the phone. It appeared to show chipping on the upper left corner and perhaps some damage around the hole for the speaker above the screen. The third photo showed the back of the phone, but the resolution was not high enough for me to confirm that this was really my phone. The fourth photo showed the screen with the phone turned on. The photo showed an obvious Moiré pattern, but one would expect that when photographing an iPhone display. The existence of a Moiré pattern in a photograph does not, by itself, indicate display damage.

I rejected their offer and asked them to return my phone. In a few days I was able to inspect my iPhone 5 display. Just as when I shipped it to them, it appeared to be in excellent condition. I tried to compare my phone to the photos provided by Brightstar. I could not make them match. Either the photos were not of my phone or the lighting and resolution were so poor in the photos that it was impossible to tell. If the photos were intended to be evidence of a display defect, I could not convince myself it was an honest assessment of my device.

I then set up a sale to Gazelle. They again promised a sale price of $170. Within a few days I packed up my iPhone 5 and shipped it off for them to assess its condition. A few days later I was informed that my iPhone 5 had been accepted in good condition and that they would pay me the full offer price of $170. They found no defects or any reason to reduce the promised value of the phone.

I'm not sure what Brightstar found that convinced them to reduce the offered price for my phone by $143. I suppose it is possible that the wrong phone was associated with my account number, but in that case I would have expected the wrong phone to be returned to me. Is it possible that a poorly trained technician believed the Moiré pattern in the photograph of the iPhone 5 screen indicated a defective display? I suppose that's possible. A less charitable hypothesis is that they reported a display problem because they know that some fraction of sellers will just accept the revised price without complaint. In other words, I felt that Brightstar lied to me. Even if they did not, the experience left me with that impression. Whatever the reason, I will not use Apple's recycling program to sell my older devices. I'll always go with Gazelle until such time as they give me reason not to.

Regardless of the truth of the matter, I had a poor experience as a customer. My phone was clearly in good enough condition for Gazelle to accept it; the same should have happened at Brightstar. The poor experience arose not just from the loss of $35 but from the extra time required to keep track of the sale, the need to send it to a second place, and the nagging sense that Brightstar had lied to me. On top of that, Brightstar's website was not well designed and the return box was needlessly complicated. I had only considered using Brightstar because Apple had partnered with them. I had assumed that Apple would select a recycling partner that met their own standards for service. This was an incorrect assumption.

And that leaves me wondering why Apple doesn't partner with Gazelle for their recycling program. Gazelle is very Apple-like in the customer experience they deliver. It seems like it would be a good match.

  1. Apple's recycle partner at the time was Brightstar. It still is at the time this article was published.

  2. A return pack is a box designed to securely hold the device, some tape to seal the box, and a pre-paid shipping label. Gazelle's return packs consist of a cardboard platform covered in a plastic sheet. When the device is slipped under this sheet, enough force is applied to hold it in place during shipping. The Brightstar box was less elegant and required considerably more time to figure out.

  3. I have not put the photos or links to the photos in this article because Brightstar owns the copyright to the images and probably would not grant permission for their use in an article critical of their service.

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105,600 Calories

This display at a local Meijer presents 66 containers of Lofthouse frosted cookies sealed with a label having a Valentine's Day theme. The total cost is $132. This is a discounted price because Valentine's Day was three days ago. Each container holds 10 cookies. A single cookie provides 160 Calories according to the nutritional information attached to each package. A little math indicates that this display offers for sale a total of 105,600 Calories at a cost of one-eighth of a penny for each Calorie or one penny for eight Calories.

The total caloric content of the cookies is enough to provide 52.8 adults with 2,000 Calories each. The cost for those 2,000 Calories is a mere $2.50. If you are willing to eat 12.5 Lofthouse frosted cookies to supply your daily caloric needs, you can live fairly inexpensively until the overall lack of nutrition catches up with you.

Converting nutritional Calories to Joules, we find that the total energy in these cookies is 442 megajoules (MJ). According to the Wikipedia entry for gasoline, a gallon of gasoline provides approximately 35 MJ of energy per liter (L). This display of cookies is therefore the equivalent of 12.6 L of gasoline. In Imperial units, that's about 3.3 gallons. AAA's website reports on February 17, 2013 that the national average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.714. If the energy of the cookies were provided as gasoline, the total cost would be $12.26, which is considerably less than the $132 for the cookies. In my car, which can travel about 38 miles per gallon, those 3.3 gallons would take me about 125 miles.

This analysis taught me two things.

  • Traveling 125 miles in my car is the energetic equivalent of feeding about 53 adults for a single day.
  • The cost of nutritional energy is greater than the cost of gasoline even when the nutritional energy is provided in a highly undesirable form.

This is why it takes me a long time to finish shopping. Every display makes me think of things like this.

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