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(Police officer interrogating woman) Oh, sure you'd never DREAM of voiding your warranty by fixing your devices yourself. So just what are you doing with a Torx wrench in your pocket?!

Screwed

Screwed published on 1 Comment on Screwed

“If you can’t open it, you don’t own it.” That’s the rallying cry for the Owner’s Manifesto. There are more and more devices and gizmos in our lives that we can’t open and fix, though, at least not without consequences.

And that’s not just because they’re using some weird-ass fasteners. Many warranties self-destruct the moment you crack the case. Manufacturers refuse to sell replacement parts or disclose software repair codes. They have a vested interest in keeping you shopping — and paying wildly inflated prices — at the repair-and-upgrade company store.

So this cartoon goes out to the folks speaking up for the Right to Tinker and the Right to Repair.

In particular, a big shout-out to the good people at iFixit. Their whole raisin d’être is to turn you into a self-sufficient device-fixing electronics-upgrading whiz. They couple very-reasonably-priced tools with free tutorial videos showing you how to fix a dazzling array of gadgets and gizmos.

This isn’t a paid plug; I’m just a raving fan. Why? Well, I’m not saying one of my kids pushed a coin deep into a SIM card slot of one of our older iPhones last year, and I’m not saying they didn’t. I am saying that thanks to iFixit, disassembling the phone to get that coin out and then reassembling it held no fears for me. (Also, did I mention that it worked afterward? Important detail.) That’s a powerful freakin’ feeling in these days of walled gardens and little sealed boxes.

And my thanks to Tod Maffin, who suggested I draw something about this and caught a typo that would have ruined the cartoon. Fortunately, I was able to open it up and fix it.

1 Comment

The worst is that more and more, devices seem to be not only nearly impossible to open (screws, even of the torx variety, are apparently so 20th Century), but the cases are actually *glued* shut. My experience with JBL/Erikson/Harman (which is ultimately owned by some shadowy multinational controlled by the Masons/Illuminati) went like this: my charging port is broken. Do you have an authorized repair facility in Vancouver or do I need to mail it in? *Hello! We’re really really heartbroken that your bluetooth speaker is not working, but unfortunately this device cannot be serviced*. Really? My $200 gadget is landfill now because you can’t swap out a $2 miniUSB connector? *We’re sooo sorry.* iFixit gave me step-by-step instructions on how to crack the case, and remove the charging port from it’s slot. I’ve done all that, now I just need a new connector re-soldered to the board. *We’re really really sorry, etc., and we’re especially despondent to find out that your warranty is expired. Can we offer you accommodation pricing on a refurbished unit?* Your good old Main Street electronics repair stores are long gone, so if you can’t convince an phone repair guy to do the work (cracked screens are the money-makers with them), you’re left either with DIY YouTube tutorials, or buying a new one and recycling the broken one, which is short-hand for having your device picked over by Chinese or African children in one of those nightmare e-waste villages. We are really taking two steps back for every step forward when it comes to dealing with consumer waste in North America.

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