Sing O Muse, of the terrible furniture that once adorned my college apartments. Sing of the pockmarked TV stand made of the heaviest particle board. Of the back pain my father and brother have endured with (not so) quiet humility thanks to their heroic lugging of said TV stand up shaky apartment stairs. Sing of my bookshelf with the unpronounceable Swedish name that warped with the first rainstorm of the season.
As a recent graduate school grad with limited funds, I’ve been known to head to superstores that allow me to furnish my apartments with lower-priced furniture, oft-fashioned out of manufactured, disposable materials like particleboard or medium-density fibreboard.
I’ve been drawn to disposable furniture for reasons I hear echoed by others in my age group: Read the rest of this article »
Time is running out. Last October, the Librarian of Congress—the established arbitrator of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s execution—issued a temporary exemption to legislation that outlaws the unlocking of cell phones. The exemption allows for phones owned or purchased before January 26, 2013 (that’s tomorrow!) to be legally unlocked by the user. After the deadline, users will have to request permission from their carriers to unlock handsets, or be in violation of a federal law.
Before we get into the implications of the law, here’s a quick lesson on terminology: unlocking your cell phone disables the SIM lock that limits your phone to operating on a specific network provider. With few exceptions (such as an iPhone 5 from Verizon and Google’s Nexus 4), most cell phones come locked so that they can only operate with a single service provider. Unlocking your phone allows you to take it to a new provider. It’s especially useful for international travelers, who need to use their phones overseas. Unlocking can be accomplished in several different ways, with or without the knowledge and consent of the carrier. Read the rest of this article »
Calling all tech-heads and chip-heads! It’s that time of year again: Macworld and DesignCon are practically upon us. iFixit will be at both events. So, if you’re in the Bay Area between January 29 and February 2nd, you should drop by and see us.
Our co-founders Kyle Wiens and Luke Soules, along with the rest of the iFixit team, will be hosting various tech talks, meet-ups, teardowns, and having an all-around good time. We’d love to answer all your burning questions about sustainable design, repairability, and tinkering.
Here’s our full schedule. Click each title for more information: Read the rest of this article »
GoPro recently released the Hero3, a Wi-Fi-enabled, 4K-resolution-capable camcorder that can be submerged into almost 200 feet of water with its protective case. Yet all that tech is housed in a teeny-tiny package that measures 59 x 41 x 21 mm. What kind of hardware is required to record 4K resolution? Does it have fairy dust inside? We know of only one way to find out.
Once it submitted to our screwdrivers, the GoPro earned a very respectable 7 out of 10 repairability score; the housing disassembles easily, the components are mostly modular, and the screws are non-proprietary. And as a bonus feature, the lens is a separate unit, so it’s quite replaceable if you decide to use the GoPro without its protective case (and are misfortunate enough to drop it onto its lens).
Embarrassing, but true: I owned my Baby Taylor for three years before I learned how to change its strings. I had friends change the strings for me, I didn’t pay attention, and suddenly I’m that girl who’s mooching off my friends. And I’m getting the side-eye from guitarists who know what they’re doing.
All real guitarists know how to change guitar strings, I thought. It’s like, the first thing you learn at Guitar School. Followed by the various iterations of the Power Stance. When I finally learned how to re-string my Taylor (many thanks to my ever-patient uncle), I felt like I had finally passed Guitar School 101…even though my power stance was still severely lacking.
And, as cheesy as it sounds, I felt connected to my instrument in a way that I hadn’t before. Learning how to fix something simple—a broken string—on an instrument that I use and love felt good, like it was really mine. As it turns out, other musicians feel the same way. Read the rest of this article »
Earl Kaplan stands near a wood table scattered with assorted screwdrivers and a package of oatmeal cookies. He surveys the half-a-dozen other retirees, each one tinkering with a computer in various states of repair.
From across the small workshop, someone heckles Earl about the stress that comes with his job.
“I give ulcers; I don’t get them,” he says with mock sternness. “It’s better to give than to receive.”
There’s a palpable air of cheerfulness in the backrooms of The Exploration Station, a youth science museum and technology center in Grover Beach, California. Computer towers stand with their guts exposed; PC fans hum placidly; the refurbishers cajole each other lightheartedly. One computer lets out a long, impatient beep. Earl glares at it.
“Tell her about our lunch,” one man shouts over his shoulder.
“Oh! Our annual lunch? Our annual no-host lunch,” Earl says. “Once a year, we go out to Round Table Pizza and we vote ourselves a percentage raise.”
Everyone laughs. The joke, of course, is that a percentage raise of zero is still zero. Earl and company are unpaid volunteers—part of the 25 regular volunteers that keep The Exploration Station running. Almost all the volunteers are retired. Some have been donating their time here for more than a decade.
But the work is rewarding. Most of the volunteers at The Exploration Station collect, recycle, and refurbish computers as part of the organization’s Computers 4 Youth program. The goal: get technology into the hands of those who need it—and do it for free.
“People need computers,” says Deborah Love, the Exploration Station’s director. “We underestimated [the degree of need], because as computers started becoming cheaper and more user-friendly, we did anticipate that the need would taper off. It has not.” Read the rest of this article »