Servers were the size of refrigerators and a single CPU chip had about $300 of gold when Montreal-based electronics recycling company FCM Recycling started harvesting precious metals from computers’ circuit boards and memory. Last week, I chatted with FCM representatives Chris and Andrew about the the work they’re doing and the e-waste climate in Canada.
Ralph Myrick, known as rj713 on iFixit Answers, has been repairing computers since the very beginning. In 1960, he had just graduated from a 9-month Navy radar repair training school on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. While on hold waiting for transfer, Ralph was asked to help out with some of the Navy’s top-of-the-line equipment: a new, room-sized computer. “It was one of those early ones,” he explains, “just chock-full of tubes and a big refrigerated room and a raised deck with all the cabling under plates on the floor. I had an interesting job—I checked tubes.” A lifelong love was kindled in that cold room. Read the rest of this article »
Image credit: tschörda on Flickr.
I made myself some tea earlier this week, but when I went to drink it, I felt a couple drops of near-boiling water land in my lap. My mug had developed a sizable crack, and it was leaking. So I dumped out my tea, filled the mug with soil, and put a plant inside—now the leaky mug is a pot with drainage. I turned the crack into a feature. But there are even better ways to make broken porcelain whole again.
The Japanese art of kintsugi, which means “golden joinery,” is all about turning ugly breaks into beautiful fixes.
Can you guess what this is? Tell me in the comments. I’ll update Monday morning with the correct answer.
UPDATE: Lots of great guesses—it definitely does look like a martini glass. But Chris Cummings (who said, “The base of a CRT screen?”) takes it! This is a photo from a CRT remanufacturing shop in India, where workers were cutting off the electron guns from the backs of computer CRTs to remanufacture them as televisions. Here, a CRT in the process of being remanufactured cools on a rack.
I’ve seen the future, and not only does it work, it works without tools. It’s moddable, repairable, and upgradeable. Its pieces slide in and out of place with hand force. Its lid lifts open and eases shut. It’s as sleek as an Apple product, without buried components or proprietary screws.
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This post was originally published in The Atlantic.
That big hole in the ground? It’s a pit mine at the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California’s Mojave Desert. Metals mined from pits like that were used to make the cell phone in your pocket and the computer screen you’re staring at right now. I visited Molycorp two weeks ago, as part of our investigation into the sources and consequences of consumer electronics manufacturing.