We need to Own our Technology Again!

When I was a kid, Radio Shack was the coolest store. I didn’t understand most of what I saw, but there were parts for electronics and computers and stereos all over. You didn’t have to buy a computer, you could BUILD IT. Keep in mind, this was the late 70’s and early 80’s when the homebrew computer movement was still alive to a degree. People just knew how to do things like solder and measure amps and volts and manipulate them to make LEDs glow.

Quick, how many people under 50 do you know, who even own a soldering gun?

Sad isn’t it? I know the world has changed and computing has changed, but look at what’s happened to us! 30 years ago, if your radio broke, you either fixed it yourself or took it to someone who could. If your phone breaks today, what happens? Judging by the number of people I see with cracked screens, you suck it up and live with it till your contract is up. There are places that will do the repairs. often for a sizable amount. We’ve chosen to either live with it or dispose of it.

I ran into this decision last week when my iPhone stopped charging. Paying $600 for a new one was out of the question. I could get my old 3G up and running and have a phone for the next 6 weeks. I could do without. I could get the charging port replaced for about $100.

I didn’t like any of these. So I hit up YouTube and found this video.  Wow…that looked so easy!    I hit Amazon for some parts, new charging port for $5 and a new batter for $20, plus the tools.   For less than $30 I’d have the parts to replace my charger AND my 2 year old battery that never seemed to last long enough.   But, could I do it???

Yup.   Took about an hour, but the phone was back up and running and working just as it had been.  Charges, has a better (still not great) battery life, and reaffirms to me that our electronics should NOT be disposable.

There’s movement out there:  The Makers.  In a lot of ways, it reminds me of what I thought Radio Shack was…a bunch of people buying cool looking parts to make their stuff do even cooler stuff.  What it really is, though, is owning their technology and not being afraid of it.   Most of us took basic electronics in school, and promptly were encouraged to forget it because Mom and Dad were NOT going to let you crack open the VCR or brand new computer running Windows 3.1.  Schools don’t offer much more…unless your on a vo-tech plan.

Heck, if it weren’t for my Dad and 7th grade wood shop, I wouldn’t know how to use a table saw, router or drill press.

Ok, I’m trailing from my point.    Not everyone has the courage to crack open their phone and fix the insides.   But more of us should.  It’s not difficult; the internet makes it easier that it would have been 30 years ago (no circuit diagrams to figure out.)  If you don’t want to, you should know someone willing to.   There used to ALWAYS been that guy who could fix radios and toasters, etc.   Where are they now?

Break the upgrade cycle.  Break the disposable device cycle.  Break your device and learn how to fix it.   You’ll be a better person for it!

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under geekery, tech stuff, Uncategorized

2 Responses to We need to Own our Technology Again!

  1. Nice posting Sean.

    For the record I own both a soldering iron and a case opening tool. Oh, and my record for device repairs is about 10 wins and 1 loss, something far better than my batting average for, say, job postings.

    In any event, I agree completely with your premise.

    For my next tech project, I have three old computers and I am going to see if I can somehow salvage the HDs to come up with some kind of big stationary drive (something with about a 10th the capacity of and 10 times the size of a new flash drive)…it will not be very useful, but it will be very fun.

    Regards,
    – Steve

  2. Sean

    Thanks, Steve. I’ve seen cases that make HD’s into portable drives. I’ve also used a HD dock to salvage files from a drive with a corrupt windows install. Windows wouldn’t boot, but everything was readable. That was about as difficult as plugging an Atari game in.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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