If my phone were a person, it would be the Bionic Woman. Its body has been broken and rebuilt more times than I can count. Its brain has been modified, tinkered with, and improved. It is the phone that will not die—at least not if I have anything to say about it.
A group of young female students sit around a table, laughing and talking. But they’re not discussing school, boys, or music. Instead, they’re talking how to replace a dead hard drive, how to install a case fan, and how to salvage a water-damaged motherboard. This isn’t a new topic of conversation for the young women of St. Joseph’s Academy. These young women are computer repair experts—and they’ll run IT circles right around you.
The other day, I came home, walked through the door, and found my cat sleeping on my couch. He yawned and sat up—and underneath him I spotted a vinyl record. And not just any vinyl. My Fleetwood Mac Rumors album. The album that I listened to over and over again as a teen. The album that sang me through countless hours of physics homework and hopeless teen love. My cat’s butt warped my favorite album. But I’m a fixer in spirit—so I learned how to repair it, and I’m teaching you how, too.
Outside a grocery store in Zurich, Roland Roos is fixing a broken sign. The cracked sign that once said “Denner” now reads just “Denne.” Roland gets up on a ladder and replaces the cracked plate with a fixed one. An employee steps out of the store and nods approvingly: “Oh, finally there’s someone here to repair it! It’s about time.” But Roland doesn’t work for Denner. He isn’t a repairman, just an artist. He isn’t getting paid. He hasn’t even asked for permission to fix the sign—he just did it.
When something breaks, most people run through the usual gamut of emotions—disappointment, frustration, a feeling of helplessness. But over at the Fixers Collective in Brooklyn, they’re teaching people to approach broken stuff a little differently: with curiosity. For the master techs that make up the Fixers Collective, repair is the new Rubik’s Cube. It’s a puzzle that must be teased out by trial and error—a Sherlockian game of wits that pits man against machine. Can you outsmart entropy?
Back in October, we told you about maker and friend-of-iFixit, David Lang. At the time, David had just written a book for novice makers called Zero to Maker. In the book, David writes about trying to fix a Magic Bullet, a handheld blender with spotty repair documentation. Well, one of our favorite community members read about David’s struggles, found a Magic Bullet, took it apart, and posted a teardown on iFixit. Just because he wanted to help. Gotta love fixers.
Confidence comes from the comfort. But that comes with years and years of experience. I think that a lot of people who are new to the idea of repair have a little bit of fear—as opposed to calmly saying, “okay let me sit down and try to learn it.” I would say to those people: Repair is really not as intimidating as you might think. If you sat down and just took apart one piece today, then maybe you can move on to the next piece tomorrow—then the next and the next.
Out in the wild, it’s our gear that we depend on most. And since my gear has always been there to support me during those grueling hikes and long backpacking trips, I decided iFixit should be there for it, too. In partnership with Patagonia, iFixit is now launching new guides on how to repair your outdoor gear and tactical equipment. Learn how to repair your tent, use your emergency sewing kit, and more on iFixit.com.
I’m in the heart of Big Sur—a massive region of mountain and forest in Central California—and it’s my first time backpacking. And I’m prepared. I have a hodgepodge of belongings including a tent, a water filter, and an extra pair of socks. But also strapped to my back are three packs of sugru. Despite my novice efforts to trim every unnecessary ounce off my pack, I brought the self-setting rubber for two reasons: A) I wanted to put some of sugru’s wilderness hacks to the test, and B) working at iFixit has taught me that when things break—which they inevitably do—it’s best to have a tool around. Here’s the tale of my 20-mile, weekend backpacking trip—and why sugru made me a backpacking boss.
When there’s a laptop on every desk and a smartphone in every pocket, it’s easy to forget that about one-third of the world’s population doesn’t have access to the internet. About 1.2 billion people around the globe don’t even have access to reliable electricity. So, the amazing educational resources that come hand-in-hand with technology are cut off from many of the world’s children. OLPC makes a rugged laptop that gets these kids online and learning; we are helping them repair it.
Since I announced to the world that I’m a Female Fixoholic back in September, my inbox has been pretty full. Apparently, people think I’m a repair expert. I don’t know how to fix everything, but I don’t think that makes or breaks me as a fixoholic. I’m a fixoholic because I learned not be afraid of fixing. I’m a fixoholic because—even when I fail—I’m not afraid to try, try again. Judging by the anxious emails in my inbox, I think that lack of fear is something most people, well, lack.
It was Black Friday. A day of crowds. A day of clearances. A day of consumerism. But I was not in a line. And I would not be fighting through crowds for a big screen television. I didn’t spend a dime. Instead, I spent my day at a Patagonia store—not to buy, but to fix clothing. But stitching up a torn library bag isn’t the part that matters—it’s the story worn into that item from years of use and love that matters. Each one of these items has a story: Repair means they can have even more.