In a Reno warehouse, Patagonia team members sort through boxes of garments. Weather-beaten windbreakers, jackets with melted zippers, and ripped pants are placed in tidy piles: a kaleidoscope of crumpled colors and textures.
Since 2012, Patagonia’s repair department has mended 65,000 of these wounded warriors. Some of the repairs are simple—a missing button or a busted seam. Others are not. Every once in awhile, a customer sends in a pile of ripped fabric that used to be a jacket, says Delia Martinez, head of Patagonia’s repair department. It’s up the repair team to put the pieces back together again.
By the time a garment makes its way to Patagonia’s repair center, it has usually been on an amazing journey. The gear is, after all, designed to endure rugged environments—climbing up El Capitan, hiking into the Grand Canyon, rafting the Tatshenshini River. Your jacket becomes part of your memory, Delia explains, and people tend to want the exact same jacket back. It’s too precious to just throw away. Read the rest of this article »
I knew little about the “Maker” movement when I first stepped into the World Maker Faire in New York last month. It felt kinda like going to Disneyland and not knowing about Mickey Mouse. From the first moment I walked into this celebration of creative tinkering, I was awed and overwhelmed by wandering robots, a life sized game of mousetrap, and machines I couldn’t even begin to describe or comprehend.
Suddenly, I spied a banner that read: “Zero to Maker.” I knew where I needed to start.
A neophyte maker, I met a new hero. David Lang, author of Zero to Maker, was giving out his introduction to the Maker movement—a crash course Maker ideology, jargon, and (most importantly) enthusiasm. Best of all, the book is David’s story of going from zero to maker.
Being a fixer at heart, I was amused by David’s experience trying to fix his Magic Bullet blender. Enjoy the excerpt below—it mentions iFixit, so I was morally obliged to share. And check out David’s book on Amazon: Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything. Read the rest of this article »
The sprawling metropolis of Black Rock City doesn’t emerge overnight, but it doesn’t take much longer than that. Built from the ground up every year for Burning Man, a festival celebrating “radical self expression and self reliance,” the city is a hodgepodge of geodesic domes, yurts, and stories-tall steel sculptures. Assembled in a circle, the city is clustered around a 100-foot tall effigy of modern man.
Building a city from scratch is a monumental task, beyond the reach of mere human strength. But that’s what we build machines for—big, honking machines. Burning Man has an entire camp dedicated to housing the metal beasts. But maintaining and operating those machines in the middle of the abrasive Black Rock Desert is something else entirely.
Rick Rea is the mechanic that keeps these big beasts barreling along the desert. He’s been working on heavy machinery as long as he can remember, and he knows his stuff. Exploring the maze of equipment, I found him ambling between two large cranes, tending his herd. Weatherbeaten and grisled with a cigarette dangling between his lips, Rick wears workboots and grease-stained jeans like a badge. He’s not a hippy and he’s not a stoner. He’s not pierced or costumed. Rick’s a local and he stands out in this desert.
Well, thanks to the government (or lack thereof), NASA has been shut down. So what does iFixit do? Talk about how awesome NASA is, of course.
Dropping a tiny screw into the carpet can be a headache when working on a repair. Dropping a screw while working on a repair in space can be deadly.
Of course, most of us have heard of the miraculous repairs to Apollo 13 or the Hubble Space Telescope’s unforgivable mirror blemish. But these repairs, while amazing, aren’t really exceptional. Repair happens in space all the time.
And while every repair has its challenges, in space those challenges are amplified a thousandfold.
When your car breaks down you just take it into a service station, but when the International Space Station (ISS) breaks down, you can’t exactly pull over for a peek under the hood. There are a lot of reasons we should be at least a little impressed with out-of-this-world repair technicians: Read the rest of this article »
We’re lucky. I mean, really lucky. We live in a global culture of makers, imaginers, and inventors. Every single day brings with it amazing, new technological advances. But somewhere between the constant innovation and endless product releases, we forgot something important. We forgot how to fix. Worse, we started to fear it.
When did people start believing that stuff was too complicated or too far-gone to repair? Why would a society of creators fear the things it creates? The answer lies in design. Under the guise of sleek and sexy branding, manufacturers seal things up with glue. They make products that are disposable and unfixable. Consumers get psychologically bullied into thinking that repair is beyond their capability.
And we are compliant. We agree to purchase $600 phones every year. We accept that our clothes fall apart after a couple of washes.
But when we don’t fix our things, we risk something far more vital than just the money in our wallets. We risk losing the ability to be thinkers.
Fixperts, a social project in the UK, is based on one simple idea: Fixing is thinking. It’s a simple idea, but one that is more important now than ever before.
“We tend to forget that fixing is really a gateway to creating, making, building, and imagining beyond fixing a cracked drawer in a fridge,” says London-resident and Fixperts’ co-founder James Carrigan.
What do you get when you combine planes, pilots, and aerobatics? The Reno Air Races! This weekend I took a road-trip up to Reno, Nevada. I brought along 3 friends, 1 camera, and 0 knowledge about planes.
And I learned a lot. I got to spend time with the top pilots in the country and the best pit crews ’round. These folks work with massive pieces of machinery. They tinker, fix, and repair. Naturally, I’m going to tell you all about them. But before you get the full repair story, here are some teaser photographs of this year’s Reno Air Races—just a few of my favorite moments!