Browser – issue 115

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Lance Turner’s regular ReNew column on useful websites

Many readers of ReNew will have an interest in what makes their various electrical and mechanical devices tick. Whether it’s your mobile phone, PC or car, knowing how it works and even how to fix it can save you time, money and reduce your environmental footprint by making your devices last longer.

With the resurgence of DIY interest around the globe of late, there’s been a lot of websites springing up dedicated to those willing to have a go fixing things themselves. Ifixit is one such site. Touted as “the free repair manual you can edit”, it is a bit like an specifically for repair information.

New online repair manuals can be created (really just a series of pages of information, with photos) covering a range of subjects, including phones, PCs/laptops, home appliances, cars and many other day-to-day devices. Existing manuals can even be edited online to improve the information they contain and correct any errors, so the manuals are continually evolving.

The other sections of the site include troubleshooting guides, complete teardowns of equipment (great when you want to know what’s inside your new laptop but are too scared to open it up) and there’s even a parts and tools store.
If you have a gadget or device that needs fixing and don’t know where to start, try this site. There’s a good chance someone has already fixed it and posted the information, saving you from having to buy a replacement device.

We live in a world where ‘stuff’ (everything you use, every day) has never been cheaper. Indeed, many devices we use every day are so cheap it costs more to fix them, if they are even repairable, than it does to buy a new one. In effect, cheap products have created a throw-away society.

Despite their price, devices such as mobile phones, computers and TVs are more complex than they’ve ever been, so why are they so cheap?

The answer to this can be found at the Story of Stuff website. Here you will find an animated movie that explains the many hidden costs in the lifecycle of the average electronic device, and who really pays for those costs.

Despite a few small technical inaccuracies, the movie and related information on the rest of the site is a real eye opener and should be mandatory viewing for anyone who buys ‘stuff’. There’s download areas and ‘get involved’ info too, and also their own YouTube channel.

The site has five separate subsites: electronics, cosmetics, bottled water, cap and trade and ‘stuff’. While the site is US-based and talks about the US, Australian issues are pretty much the same—we buy the same products, we keep our stuff for around the same length of time before throwing it out, and we have just as few recycling systems as the US.
So if you’re a consumer (and we all are, no matter how hard we try not to be), then this site is a must see.

This article is from ReNew 115

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