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At work I develop iOS applications on a late 2012 Mac Mini. With it's 4GB of RAM the computer has gotten progressively more laggy over time, particularly after I upgraded the operating system to OS X Yosemite.

I have suggested a memory upgrade to my boss but it's being delayed for various bureaucratic reasons. One of them is the fact that the memory will have to be ordered from abroad. My boss is adamant that buying on eBay is risky, despite the fact that there is a money back guarantee.

It's not worth purchasing from local Apple representatives because they are ripping us off. They are charging four times the eBay price, asking for a 50% downpayment and what's more telling us it will take 2-3 weeks.

Right now I have a big project on my hands and I'm expected to deliver it in October. The fact that the iPhone simulator sometimes takes 5 minutes to startup up isn't helping me much.

Is it worth buying the memory myself? And would any of you have chosen this alternative? Apart from the productivity gains, I am thinking that it could still serve me if I'm changing jobs. I could use it to upgrade a laptop computer for example (I don't own a laptop right now).

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    If you upgrade your own machine then I wouldn't expect to be able to take the upgrade back whenever you leave the company, e.g. you would have to donate this upgrade to the company machine if you really wanted to do it – Brandin Jun 10 '15 at 22:01
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    Do you time sheet. Can you make explicit the time you feel is wasted? – Nathan Cooper Jun 10 '15 at 22:02
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    Are you concerned with the apple store pricing or is your boss? If it's just you, stop messing around and get the memory through proper channels, ie the apple store/rep – Bill Leeper Jun 10 '15 at 23:20
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    Ebay?! Your boss is right to be concerned about the quality of products, and the real cost of buying them, on an auction site. Have you considered Newegg instead - which deals in used computer parts and offers good rates? – Zibbobz Jun 11 '15 at 17:00
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    "Is it worth buying the memory myself?" - Do you change the oil or replace the tires on a rented car? – alroc Jun 11 '15 at 18:57
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Short answer: You should not be required to upgrade work equipment at your own expense.

Make a better case to your boss as to why you need it, and if it's convincing they will do it. If it's that important, the extra dollars from your local Apple representative will be more than covered by the extra productivity lost in time waiting for something to arrive from overseas.

Remember, it's their deadlines, if they see enough of a business impact by poor hardware specifications, they will break through the red tape.

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    agreed. In order to put this in terms the business can understand, the OP should come up with some rough estimates of the time difference between old and new hardware to perform the same task, and show that as cost in dollars (against billed rate) over an extended period of time. Essentially -- right now the business is paying the OP a lot of money to sit and wait for the hardware to respond. – mcknz Jun 10 '15 at 21:41
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    You need to be quite forthright. You are being asked to deliver a product by a certain deadline, but the company won't invest in the money to make it happen. Either they upgrade you (and I mean really upgrade you, we are talking MacBook PRO top of the line) or you won't make your deadline. You can't build a skyscraper with a hammer and nails, you need cranes, welders, girders. – Bill Leeper Jun 10 '15 at 23:19
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    @BillLeeper I agree but many times management just doesn't get it -- they think the developers just want new toys, or don't really believe the performance affects deadlines. That's why it's important to break it down into cost/time terms. – mcknz Jun 10 '15 at 23:52
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    @Jane S as I mentioned the local Apple representative doesn't have the RAM in stock and want us to wait three weeks (as from the point we make the downpayment). They could even be buying the memory from some online store for all I know. – seggaeman Jun 11 '15 at 6:38
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    @seggaeman That may be possible but it's still your employer's responsibility to provide it however they believe is most appropriate. Just raise your concerns in writing and leave it to them to manage their own risk :) – Jane S Jun 11 '15 at 6:55
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You should never bring your own hardware upgrades to company owned hardware unless you get a written permission. In many companies it is forbidden because it can void the warranty (and companies usually pay extra for warranty) and if anything breaks it is your responsibility and you can loose your job.

Show your manager how you are working at this time and explain clearly that this is putting the project at risk so he needs to make a decision whether to:

  1. Buy expensive locally
  2. Buy on the web
  3. Delay the finish date
  4. Reduce the content of the project
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  • Ok those are some good points. Actually the mac mini is already out of warranty for more than a year. The Apple Care protection plan was never subscribed for. – seggaeman Jun 11 '15 at 15:53
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Never do your own upgrade on a work computer, hardware or software. The following list only begins to show why it's a bad idea:

  • You may invalidate any support contract or warranty that your company has
  • You may violate company security laws by simply opening the casing of the computer
  • You are leaving yourself responsible if this vital computer breaks down during this project
  • You are risking the company by installing unsanctioned hardware (what about third party spyware etc)
  • What do you do if the boss decides you do need a faster computer and trades it in without your knowledge?
  • What do you do if you get fired ("excuse me security man, can you let me go whilst I open this work resource to get my memory back, it really is mine")
  • If you are not certified to replace hardware you may stop an insurance pay out if the machine fails.

Etc.

What you do is get some metrics on how long this is holding you up for each day, how much that will cost the company, and the long term effect on delivery of your project. Prepare a report and make sure you have a record of sending it to your boss. From this it should be a no-brainer for your boss to sanction more memory (or a better computer), even from the expensive local company. If he reads that and still says no, then you have a bigger problem than just a slow computer, so keep delivering as best you can, but start looking for something new.

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  • Your list is a bit on the paranoid side. The OP is NOT "risking the company" by installing memory modules. He is risking the memory modules and, if he does it wrong, the embarrassment wrecking a useless 2012 mac mini. – teego1967 Jun 11 '15 at 18:37
  • Really? Given the main development machine is a 3yr old mac mini, I'd doubt there is source code management etc, so if the machine goes pfft, so too will the project and maybe the company. And if you install spyware as part of the upgrade maybe your 40bn WhatsApp killer is leaked – The Wandering Dev Manager Jun 11 '15 at 18:56
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    The first and most important thing to rememeber is that you do not own this machine. You have no right to change it without approval. Most companies that are larger than a startup witll fire you for this crap because while you may not think your are putting the company at risk, they will. Mostly because it has happened to them before and caused problems. – HLGEM Jun 11 '15 at 19:54
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    @TheWanderingDevManager, I can't tell if you're being sarcastic about the introduction of spyware via ddr memory modules. I suppose it is possible in a science-fictional sense, if your company is a target for the NSA or Chinese state-sponsored hacks ! – teego1967 Jun 11 '15 at 20:34
  • @teego1967 - what I'm serious about is if you put your own personal hardware or software on a work computer and it ends up hacked or with spyware YOU will be the first person blamed, and the (impossible) onus will be on you to prove you DIDN'T cause it. Seen it happen, so just don't do it. – The Wandering Dev Manager Jun 11 '15 at 20:43
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Sometimes work just won't help you out no matter what you try. Assuming you have gone through all the normal channels and the answer is still "no" - think about it this way:

Suppose you can pay $100-$200 to magically increase your productivity. Would you?

That's essentially the question you are trying to answer. You are trading your own money to make yourself faster at work. The fact that work is supposed to pay for it is irrelevant. If you don't make the deadline, your boss is not going to blame your computer. He is going to blame you.

Definitely try everything you can to get work to pay for it, but you personally have the most to gain and the most to lose out of this, not anyone else.

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    @JaneS That is how it is supposed to work. In reality a lot of bosses are not logical or reasonable. – Bowen Jun 11 '15 at 0:55
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    I guess you just need to avoid an environment where it becomes expected that the developer will pick up the slack for poor infrastructure management. What happens when you have the same problem again? Guess who will have to pay for it again, because management then perceives it as a developer's issue when it is clearly not. – Jane S Jun 11 '15 at 0:57
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    While I could totally see myself doing this, I don't like this answer at all. What if the RAM was manufactured incorrectly and fries the computer? Okay, maybe not likely but, you could use the same logic to buy yourself a fancy new keyboard that is suppose to increase productivity. That keyboard could be full of nasties (viruses, etc that get installed when plugged in). – mikeazo Jun 11 '15 at 1:12
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    Never bring your own hardware to plug into a company hardware, if anything happens it is your responsibility. – Sigal Shaharabani Jun 11 '15 at 15:13
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    -1 - This is extraordinarily bad advice in so many ways. – The Wandering Dev Manager Jun 11 '15 at 17:00

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