The Semester Bicycle, a Kickstarter project in the “Black Belt” of Alabama, is creating a fresh future for the small community of Greensboro. Spear-headed by Professor Lance Rake and community organizer Pam Dorr, the Semester Bicycle project has been helping this Southern community out of growing economic struggle. The bamboo they use grows a mere three blocks away from their bike lab, so you’ll regularly see men and women walking down main street carrying shafts of bamboo on their backs. Talk about independence. It’s hard work, but they’re slowly and surely creating a self-sustaining, local business. Thus, this project is on our cool-cats list, because they’re taking the love of building and repairing bikes to a whole new level. And actually building up their community—one bamboo bike at time.
I’ll be honest. I never dreamed that I’d be lecturing at a university.
I’m a technical writer, a solar physicist, a masseuse. But I never thought I’d be a teacher until I came to iFixit. I direct iFixit’s technical writing project—a service learning tool to help students write real repair manuals so they can learn technical communication.
A thousand thoughts raced through my head during my first day in front of a classroom: “I have no idea what to say to them,” “I’m pretty sure engineers hate English,” “Is that student actually texting during lecture?”
I was 90% deer-in-the-headlights and 10% panic. I wasn’t helping students with math, but I’ll tell ya, that equals 100% terrified.
It’s been over a year since I began that classroom journey. And things turned out a little differently than I expected. As the Director of Education Services at iFixit, I’m now waxing poetic about my classroom visits. Although my job requires that I do a plethora of things (send out toolkits, talk to instructors, email students), nothing gives me the perspective I need to facilitate the program like face-to-face sharing with students.
I need to be in the classroom. It keeps me grounded.
Don’t get me wrong, being in the classroom is complicated. There isn’t a foolproof method for teaching. A lecture that works with one group of students could fail miserably with another. An assignment that excites one group of students might elicit crickets from another.
Being in the classroom is hard. But I love it, because amazing things happen when instructors and students come together in the classroom.
True confessions: here is what I learned about the students I was so nervous to meet.
After being acquired by Google, Motorola took a fresh look at smartphone design — from the inside. Among the usual suspects (cameras, chips, display) in the Moto X are some interesting design decisions that we’ve never seen before. Motorola’s design team is paying the kind of attention to detail we usually only see from Apple. Instead of making another cookie-cutter copy of the competition, Motoroogle took the time to innovate new ways of constructing their flagship smartphone.
The Moto X earned a solid 7 out of 10 repairability score. Modular construction allows you to replace components economically; everything’s held in place with Torx T3 screws and some mild-to-medium adhesive — nothing crazy that will break someone’s tinkering heart. Folks will have to replace the glass and LCD as one whole enchilada, which is standard practice nowadays.
Sometimes we get really nifty things in the (electronic) mailbag: Recently, a video we got from Nathan Hanson and family has given the whole office a pretty serious case of the smiles.
We met the Hansons last year when Nathan—an intrepid fixer—successfully replaced the battery in his daughter’s iPhone. Whitney has a rare genetic disorder, 1p36 deletion syndrome, which makes hearing and speaking difficult. Whitney relies on her iPhone 3GS, and an app called Proloquo2Go, to help her communicate. The new battery gave Whitney’s iPhone a new lease on life.
“Everything was going great until that summer when Whitney’s poor battered old phone got dropped in the driveway during a visit to grandma and grandpa’s house,” Nathan explained in his blog. “The screen was shattered and we figured the phone was a goner.” Read the rest of this article »
No, no these aren’t trailers for I, Robot, the sequel. But they could be. Gael Langevin, a French sculptor and model-maker, has been working for over year on this open-source, 3D-printed robot. Soon the robot will be shown at this year’s World Maker Faire in New York (September 21-22). But you can see all of Langevin’s progress on the InMoov Project—a blog for his DIY printed robotics. We think this is a sign that the robot uprising is on its way. Bring it on.
We’re celebrating 10 years of yummy repair-goodness. Our community grows with every contributor and every fixer, and we’re incredibly grateful for all the support you’ve given iFixit over the years. But who the heck is iFixit, anyway? Who are the crazy people behind the teardowns and blogposts?
Well, let me introduce you. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about iFixit:
1. iFixit was originally named PBFixit (PowerBookFixit). Our website back then was a little…different than it is now.