As part of iFixit’s Community Survey, we collected some amazing stories about how you use, break, and fix your stuff. The stories were too good not to share. So, we started a series of blog posts—The Amazing Break—to document your collective awesomeness.
Of course, Memorial Day is just around the corner. To mark the day, we’ve compiled all the best stories we got from the servicemen, servicewomen, and veterans in our community.
Thanks for doing what you do, fellows. Read the rest of this article »
Yesterday, TechNews Daily ran an article insisting “you don’t need Congress to unlock your phone.” Their reasoning: “You can unlock your phone today, illegally, and feel confident you won’t end up in jail.”
It’s true. If you have the audacity to unlock your phone, the unlocking cops won’t drag you and your phone off to jail. TechNews is right. In all likelihood, nothing will happen. At least, not to you.
But the engineers and software developers who write the unlocking programs that you download can face some pretty serious ramifications: up to 5 years in jail and $500,000 in fines. Just the threat of prosecution has historically been enough to persuade developers to shutter their sites and kill the program.
It happened to Sina Khanifar. Back when he was a college student, he wrote and sold unlocking software. In 2005, he received a cease and desist letter from Motorola informing him that he was in breach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—a massive copyright law written in 1998. “At the time, I was an undergraduate student studying Physics. The prospect of 5 years or more in prison was devastating,” he writes of the experience.
Still, Sina didn’t cave to Motorola’s demands. He fought them. Now, he’s the most vocal DMCA-reform activist on the web.
But even if you’re not interested in unlocking, there’s a better reason to support reform. The DMCA is a hugely complicated law, and it has had a lot of really bad unanticipated consequences. The anti-circumvention provision in the DMCA that makes unlocking illegal also makes a slew of other things illegal: it has hindered academic researchers, made it difficult to repair and modify hardware, and even hampered voice-to-text programs that help the blind read ebooks.
So sure, you won’t be arrested for unlocking your phone—but cell phone unlocking is a symptom of a much larger problem. The anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA is poorly written; it doesn’t reflect how we use technology today. And the law has been manipulated by corporations to limit your right to do what you need with the things that you own.
Explore the helpful primer above for more reasons why fixing the DMCA is necessary, then go to FixtheDMCA.org and demand Congress take action.
Around here, we’re big fans of William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s 2002 book Cradle to Cradle. McDonough (an architect) and Braungart (a chemist) completely re-imagine the manufacturing process—from design to end-of-life.
The book espouses smart design, without the use of materials that are harmful to environment or to living creatures. After that, re-manufacturing, recycling, and re-using continually reintroduce materials back into the resource stream.
Here’s the best part: when you read it, you get the feeling that McDonough and Braungart are onto something. That this crazy idea could actually work.
And we’re not the only ones who think so; Cradle to Cradle is up there with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in terms of influence. Concepts from Cradle to Cradle have found their way into think tanks, like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and into EU government policy.
Naturally, when Braungart and McDonough published a follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainbility—Designing for Abundance expands on ideas introduced in the first book. Braungart and McDonough even address electronics manufacturing—something we are particularly interested in.
Here’s a much-abridged version of what they had to say on the topic: Read the rest of this article »
Lately, we’ve been combing through data from our community survey and collecting stories for the Amazing Break series. All those stories have taught us a thing or two about the way people go about fixing things.
We firmly believe that it’s always best to use the right tool for the job. But, sometimes, time is really of the essence. When you’ve just dropped your iPhone in a glass of Sprite or your motherboard is on fire, you probably don’t have time to wait for a box of shiny new tools to arrive in the mail.
In these cases, you may need to resort to some improvisation. Here are a few tricks we’ve collected from our own experiences and those of our users:
We’re all about getting the knowledge and tools for repair into the hands of as many people as possible. So when Timothy Warner asked us to collaborate on his upcoming book about fixing and maintaining iDevices, we jumped on board and helped out.
The book—The Unauthorized Guide to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Repair: A DIY Guide to Extending the Life of Your iDevices!—was just published and is now available for purchase in all the usual places.
A combination of Warner’s experience as an Apple Certified Repair Technician and loads of full-color photos, The Unauthorized Guide is an awesome resource for amateur and professional fixers alike. It’s filled with step-by-step repair instructions for nearly every iDevice, info on recovering from water damage, and tips for sourcing, repairing, and reselling broken iDevices.
We’ve thoroughly reviewed the book for technical accuracy, and are proud to give it our full approval and backing.
A funny thing happened on the way to Congress yesterday. For once, lawmakers introduced a common-sense bill — the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013.
If passed, the bill would give Americans freedom to do what they need — unlock, repair, maintain, modify — with the devices they own, whether cellphone or car. “Own” being the operative word, because, as I’ve argued here before, it’s no longer obvious who owns our stuff when we live in an age where physical objects are also digital and require access to information (such as service manuals).
With such a common-sense bill, you might assume that Congress will make a rational decision to guarantee our rights — especially when introduced by a bipartisan coalition of representatives: Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Jared Polis (D-CO).
But don’t kid yourself: this is an uphill battle.
Technology advocates don’t have a great record of legislative wins compared to the deep-pocketed carriers and content lobbyists who are masters of playing the long game. The most likely course of action is a stopgap solution — like a Leahy bill that scores political points but fails to solve anything — so it’s important that we voice our support, now. Read the rest of this article »