Here at iFixit, we promote only the healthiest of lifestyles. We eat our vegetables at least once a week, and we never eat pizza two days in a row (unless there are leftovers, of course). One might go so far as to call us health freaks, and we would not argue. But we are iFixit, and we’re ready to sacrifice our fitness ambitions for science. That’s why we ripped into Fitbit’s newest pedometer/heart rate monitor/sleep tracker wristband to answer an all-important question: What kind of a diet helped this thing fit into its tiny jacket?
Don’t expect to repair your Flex anytime soon… or anytime at all. The device was designed for action, not repair. It’s well-nigh impossible to open the wristband without destroying it—so once the battery dies, so will the device. Consequently, the Fitbit Flex earned a 2 out of 10 on our repairability scale.
Heads up — Nexus 7′s up! We didn’t get enough Google yesterday with the Chromecast, so without even waiting for our spudgers to cool down, we eagerly dove into the deep, dark depths of their newest tablet.
Even though the new Nexus 7 opening procedure is identical to the previous model’s — and even though we were quite careful while opening it — the rear cover managed to crack in the lower-right corner. Although that was a not-so-fun start to the teardown, we managed to power through the non-proprietary screws and removable battery with no other snafus, and arrived at the fitting 7 out of 10 repairability score.
Ding, dong, the dongle’s here! Google knows that cat videos are more entertaining when viewed on a 72-inch HD display, so they packed Chrome into a compact dongle, threw an HDMI output on it, and provided the world with the cat videos we deserve! Join us as we tear down the Chromecast to find out how Google squeezed so many cats into one small package.
Unlike a lot of devices that end up on our teardown table these days, the Chromecast takes very little effort to open—just a little prying from our plastic opening tool. Of course, there wasn’t much to tear down. There are exactly two components in this little device: a motherboard and a heatsink in a tiny, tiny coffin.
We’ve decided not to assign a repairability score to the Chromecast. There’s just nothing in it to repair. The Chromecast is essentially a luxury item with a limited use. It’s a throwaway gadget. Best hope for this little guy: after a long, fulfilling life of streaming kitten videos, the Chromecast is responsibly recycled.
“Fixing is a way of thinking,” say James Carrigan and Daniel Charny, founders of Fixperts. A new social project based in the U.K., Fixperts has taken fixing to another level in only a matter of months. And we love it.
Fixperts opened their doors just last September with a pilot idea: Designers, called Fixperts, go out and find ways to improve people’s lives. It’s simple—and it works.
Individuals, called Fixpartners, share certain problems they face on a daily basis—anything from a broken violin case or trouble putting on jewelry to feeding the neighborhood cats. Then the Fixperts go back to their studios and come up with innovative designs to improve the quality of that individual’s experience.
Does your grandmother have a hard time reading the crossword puzzle? Do you and your neighbor want to send goodies to each other through your apartment windows? How about a floating garden in your cramped studio? Well, the Fixperts are interested in designing fantastic solutions.
This is a young project with a big mission: “We want everyone in the world to feel that they can fix stuff and solve problems. We believe that the design process applied to small fixing challenges has the potential to give people the insight and confidence to find solutions for themselves and others.”
As an organization that practices repair, we couldn’t be happier to see other fixers making their world better, one project at a time.
Let me shoot you a couple questions: Is it possible for a single book to pull off the word “thy”? And have a cartoon of a headless zombie? And prove that an iPod can be easier to fix than a cabinet? Why, yes, such a book now exists.
iFixit is thrilled to announce the Tech Writing Handbook. Written and designed by the iFixit team, the Handbook covers key strategies for writing an effective manual. We also have chapters on how to write great work instructions, and how to write clearly and concisely.
Let’s face it: Writing a manual isn’t easy. We think the sheer number of horribly written instruction manuals in junk drawers around the nation proves that much. But early in our history, we learned that bad writing does more than fill drawers. It has serious consequences. There were times in the olden days when our poorly written instructions led users astray and people broke their devices. Ahem. Sorry about that.
We’ve learned a lot about writing manuals and instructions in the past 10 years. And we wanted to share what we’ve learned. Because good writing is our job. Good writing is our passion. Good writing is key to our mission.
The Handbook has been almost a year in the making, and it’s finally done. It’s online, for free, for everyone.
Of course, version 1.0 of any project is never perfect. But we consider everything on iFixit.com to be a collective effort between us and readers. When you’re reading, if you notice any mistakes or have any feedback, please drop us a comment below. We will roll out changes as needed. Thanks so much for helping us make the Handbook even better.
Happy writing and happy reading,
The iFixit Team
Visit the Tech Writing Handbook
“Who here has ever taken something apart?”
I stood in front of 20 sixth- and seventh-grade students at the Engineering Possibilities in College (EPIC), a summer camp hosted by California Polytechnic State University. Asking this question always makes me a little bit wary. After all, this is a generation of instant gratification. Kids these days get their first iPads before they can walk. Their pockets are lined with devices meant for digital play, not physical exploration. So, I thought, how many junior high students would actually spend their time learning about the inner workings of electronic devices? How many even care?
But a dozen hands shot up.
Over half of the young, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, aspiring engineers had taken apart home electronics. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I was certainly relieved.
Discussion ensued. We shared disassembly stories and repair adventures. A handful of students had taken apart broken computers, radios, and cellphones. Others had put things together. One student had even opened up his mom’s working desktop. He installed a wireless mouse receiver in order to remotely control her mouse—an awesome prank.
Sharing stories got the campers excited. They were ready to take some things apart. Read the rest of this article »