Disposable electric toothbrushes have built-in batteries that can’t be replaced. Sometimes stuff that seems convenient is a big pain in the long run—it breaks, and it can’t be fixed. Buy something more durable and repairable instead.
Sometimes, repairing electronics requires more than just swapping out the offending parts. Sometimes batteries are soldered to the motherboard. Other times, the connectors themselves need to be replaced. And that means you’re gonna need to be break out the soldering workstation. Fear not, intrepid repairer! We get it: Waving a molten lava wand over your prized possessions can be intimidating, but soldering is actually pretty easy. And it’s an essential skill to have in your repair toolkit.
Thinking about buying a FitBit? Our suggestion: don’t. Online reviews are full of complaints about devices that die, fast. And the FitBit Flex is among the least repairable things we’ve ever torn down. Save your money for something fixable.
For more than a decade, the visually-impaired have been locked in an excruciatingly slow and circuitous battle against US copyright laws. And it’s left the visually-impaired with few options but to hack their way around digital barriers—just for the simple pleasure of reading a book.
What does it take to turn the lights on in poverty-stricken, rural communities? According to a group of researchers from IBM, the solution just might be e-waste. And they’re proving it by turning old laptop batteries into new, low-cost lights that can power homes and shops in the developing world. They are calling the project UrJar—and, sold cheaply, they hope UrJar will light up the world.
It lives in your home. It’s always listening. It’s the Amazon Echo, a voice-controlled smart speaker, and it’s the closest device yet to the computer in Star Trek. The Echo’s auditory assistant, called Alexa, seems more responsive than Siri—and it’s about on par with recent Apple fare on the repair front, too. But the Echo’s tricky construction makes disassembly a tad difficult without a manual, so the Amazon Echo earned itself a reasonable 7 out of 10 for repair.
My husband and I have a set of two classic iPods, and they’ve come along on grueling runs, incredible hikes, and long road trips for almost six years. But when both headphone jacks broke, the soundtrack to my life suddenly went mute. Since then, our iPods have been sitting in a drawer, collecting dust. The hundreds of songs on each were left trapped inside their digital prison, dying a peaceful death—never to be thought of again. Then I figured out how to fix them.
In August, President Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, a law ensuring that US companies and consumers have the right to unlock their own cellphones. Now, just a few months later, the American people are petitioning the Librarian of Congress for that same right again. That’s politics, folks.
Strap in, folks—because we’re about to talk copyright law. I’m aware that as soon as I string the words “copyright” and “law” together, eyes start to glaze over. I get it. Copyright law doesn’t break the internet. But important things hardly ever do. Believe it or not, copyright law is shaping up to be the next big battleground in technology. And it’s fundamentally redefining ownership.
Christmas is the high-water mark of new stuff—and a lot of that new stuff is going to be electronic. As Wired’s Christina Bonnington pointed out yesterday, the mounting influx of shiny, thin devices is an environmental catastrophe just waiting to happen. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. If we’ve got any shot at meeting the e-waste challenge head-on, manufacturers are going to have to start giving a product’s end-of-life a lot more consideration.
The air is crisp, the evergreen bedecked, and we’re all blissfully shoveling sweets into our mouths unchecked. It’s Christmas time! But we know the holiday season can also be the most stressful times of the year. All those pounds to gain! All those decorations to hang! All those gifts to find! We can’t help you with those first two—but we’ve got your gift quandary covered. We’re celebrating Fix-mas! We’ve got plenty of gifts that no fixer, hacker, or crafter on your list will be able to resist.
We recently set out on a journey to shed some light on basic repair skills with a series of videos on iFixit’s Youtube channel. Our first video centered on stripped screws: how to avoid them and how to deal with them. We made several suggestions—some more common than others—and the tutorial was met with generally positive feedback. Our second video about thermal paste, on the other hand, kicked off a lot of debate in the YouTube comments section. Welcome to PasteGate, people.