Computers have fans that clog and slow long before the computer fails. A small tear in a jacket is not a problem, until the rip catches on a branch and suddenly you’re standing in a feathery nest of down insulation. A phone battery holds less charge before it holds no charge. To be a conscientious fixer is to recognize that repair is an intervention that must occur between functioning and complete failure.
I admit it. I’m one of millions of Americans sporting a slick, wafer-thin cell phone. And, like so many others, I’m rarely (if ever) without it. But if we all knew a little more about our beloved smart phones—found out where they come from and how they’re made—we might discover a tarnish in the gleaming surface of our phones. Our smartphones actually aren’t all that smart: they’re harming workers, poisoning critical ecosystems, and challenging the premise that technology makes the world better.
Keurig’s decision to release a coffeemaker that won’t brew “unlicensed” coffee is the most spectacular corporate blunder we’ve seen in some time. After their CEO let slip that the company is working on a coffee bot that won’t accept off-brand K-cups, the internet exploded in a hot ball of righteous fury. And Keurig’s parent company Green Mountain Coffee rode the wave of public vitriol with all the grace of a warthog riding a surfboard.
Keurig is releasing a new coffee-brewing system later this year that the company says will give users “game-changing performance.” And the system is, indeed, game-changing—but for all the wrong reasons. The new coffeemaker will have the unique ability to lock owners out for using off-brand coffee pods. Well, that’s one way to deal with the reusable, third-party coffee pods that have been nipping at Keurig’s bottom line.
During one of the most anticipated evenings of (male-centric) American sports, little girls everywhere stood up and demanded attention. GoldieBlox—a start-up company that designs engineering toys for girls—won Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game challenge. After beating out the large pool of 1,500 contestants, they received a coveted 30-second-spot during the Super Bowl XLVIII (a reported $4.5 million PR value).
“Girls—to build a spaceship. Girls—to code the new app. Girls—to grow up knowing that they can engineer that.” And thus, came the new feminist anthem that rang across the internet. Over the last several months, a whole ‘lotta fuss has been circling around a viral commercial from GoldieBlox—a startup toy company with a line of products designed to encourage female engineers.
You’ve played old arcade games. Maybe you’ve even played old arcade games on your tablet. But have you ever played old arcade games with all the components of your tablet? Martin Spengler and his friends from LAB BINÆR disassembled two tablets—the iPad Mini and the Nexus 7—and made a fantastic stop-motion animation with all the components. Martin confirms what we discovered in making our Tablet Repairability Guide: the iPad Mini is much harder to disassemble than the Nexus 7.
iFixit is combating the Pentalobe screws of iPhones by having Liberation Week from July 1st-5th! We will give out two iPhone Liberation Kits to the first 1,776 freedom fighters to sign up. But why two? We don’t think that freedom should be contained—it should be spread. So when you sign up, you will be gifted a kit for yourself and a kit to pass on to a friend. We are enabling you and your comrade during this fight for freedom! Because if you can’t fix it, you don’t own it.
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. 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” expands on ideas introduced in the first book. Find out what they had to say about electronics manufacturing on iFixit.org.
Take an inside look at what Todd McLellan calls “fifty design classics,” ranging from the everyday (mechanical pencil) to the forgotten (push lawnmower). McLellan painstakingly photographs an orderly mess of internal components—each piece arranged and displayed like some form of object archeology. Add five essays on repair and disassembly from various voices in the repair world, and you have a book that finds a unique way to advocate for the importance of disassembly, investigation, and reuse.
Slim electronics might look great, but there’s a major problem with their design: battery accessibility. The growing trend in electronics is a seamless device that keeps the owner from replacing the battery. Instead, owners are forced to buy new products—when their old device is still running smoothly. If you own the product, the battery should be yours to change.
Considered the first airplane, the Wright Flyer III—built by Orville and Wilbur Wright—was a huge step towards modern flight. Of course, the Wright brothers were not the only ones to tackle early aeronautics, but their innovative techniques in engineering—including the Flyer III and first wind tunnel—came from their hands-on experience in repair. Check out the story on iFixit.org.