Big Bird and the gang instantly transport me back to my childhood—in footie pajamas, singing along to Sesame Street’s familiar theme song. Since its premiere in 1969, Sesame Street has taught millions of kids around the globe to count, read, and sing. But Sesame Street also teaches kids something that can’t be taught in schoolbooks—the value of caring for themselves, their community, and the world. What better way to teach some of life’s greatest lessons than through repair?
My boyfriend Andy and I are hiking, camping, and backpacking enthusiasts. But if there’s one thing we love as much as outdoor adventures—it’s literary ones. We both own Kindle Paperwhites full of stories about other adventurers. Kindles are simple, light, and portable. Which makes them convenient companions for backpackers who love to read. The thing is—Kindles aren’t completely outdoor-proof. So when Andy’s Kindle broke, I decided to fix it for him.
Repair can be a rather male domain: women make up just 7% of computer repair techs, and only 2% of car repair techs. But we know a lot of fixy women, some of whom we’ve featured before: the micro-soldering mom (Jessa Jones-Burdett of iPad Rehab), grandma the fix-it girl (Jodi Spangler of Lakeshore Mac), and the women behind the nomadic repair service Pop-Up Repair (Sandra Goldmark, founder, and workers like Flora Vassar). Today, we’re highlighting a few more repair-savvy women.
9-year-old Katie is a bit heartbroken. You see, Katie has a pet robotic dog, called Zoomer—and Katie is very attached to her little robo-dalmatian. Like real dogs, Zoomer is capable of learning tricks, wagging his tail, barking, and rolling over on command. Zoomer even wanders off and “pees” in the corner when you’re not paying enough attention to him (that scamp!). Except, lately, Zoomer hasn’t been doing much of anything. He’s broken. Time to figure out how to repair this little dog.
Old playlists are instant time capsules. Rediscovering an old playlist is like digging into the sedimentary layers of your past—an emotional excavation, track by track. Ah yes, that’s what it felt like to be me back then. Of course, there are way fewer CDs and mix-tapes in circulation now than in the days of my misspent youth. We’re digital playlist people now. And it’s a lot harder to rediscover your old music if your playlist is trapped in a broken device.
Geoffrey Fowler has a friend with a Samsung TV that inexplicably stopped working halfway through a movie. Geoff’s friend thought she had no other option than to replace it. Geoffrey—a writer with Wall Street Journal—wondered what it would take to fix the flat screen TV. And so, he went down the repair rabbit hole.
My boots have been through a lot—weekend hikes, snowshoeing in high country, and dozens of backpacking trips. And it looked like they’d hiked their last. I feel like I owe it to them to have another chance. So instead of just hosing them off and tossing them by the door, I decided to have a second look. The damage wasn’t really that bad. A bit of peeling in the left toe and some torn webbing that holds the laces on the right. Here’s how I fixed it.
Sixteen years ago, Sony released the first Aibo—an adorably lifelike robot dog. Just like real dogs, Aibo responded to commands, played fetch, did tricks, interacted with owners, and had its own personality. Some owners grew very attached to their surrogate pets. But, it turns out, robot dogs can die, too—just like real dogs.
I love my Hubsan X4 107L—a 30-gram micro-quadcopter that is supposedly built to take all the abuse you can throw at it. But a series of bad crashes left my poor little drone in shambles. I was determined that my X4 would fly again. So, I did what any determined tinkerer would do: I pulled my tiny drone apart and broke out the soldering iron. Things did not go as planned …
You can’t miss the engineering marvels when you walk into the hangar at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. When I was at the facility, I saw various vintages of aircraft scattered throughout the hangar. Cranes scuttled about. Staff hustled along marked walkways, running tests and preparing instruments—a beehive of activity. What you can’t tell at first glance, though, is that these beautiful machines—new and old—aren’t just marvels of engineering. They are also masterpieces of repurposing.
Jason Kingsnorth does a bus-load of repairs. Like, a school bus-load. He’s a Technology Aide/Coordinator at Bradley Schools in Bradley, Illinois—and half of the IT team that manages maintenance of the district’s technology fleet. All told, Jason helps keep 300 MacBook Pros, 250 iMacs, 150 PCs, and over 300 iOS devices running under what you might call … challenging circumstances (school kids, after all, can turn iPads into juice boxes before you can say “recess”). Read his story on our blog!