Tag Archives: apple

How to fix e-waste: a repair manual?

What happens to your old electronics once you’re finished with them? Most of us don’t really like to think about it.

We know it’s not pretty. We know ‘recycling’ is probably not exactly what happens.

If you watch the news, you may have heard of Agbogbloshie, or any of the many other e-waste dumps around the world.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution, because this is what ‘recycling’ really means:

Even when a phone is recycled through more ‘official’ means, up to 40% of the metals are lost during the smelting process. So recycling is hardly the solution.

So what is the solution? Well, there are so many problems on so many levels of the entire international electronics industry it’s overwhelming. But the most practical initiative I’ve found so far is iFixit.

iFixit’s purpose is to help people repair their electronics, rather than throwing them away. If you visit their website, you’ll find that they have lots of facts on figures about e-waste, but also lots of manuals on how to repair various electronic devices yourself. They believe that repairing and reusing/passing on electronics is not only sustainable, it’s cheaper and creates jobs. They believe recycling should be a ‘last resort’.

And when you think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense. Planned obsolescence is a problem not just with electronics, but a problem with lots of consumer products. So if we know how to repair/make our products last longer, isn’t this a good thing?

I would say ‘yes’.

Unfortunately, companies like Apple (surprise, surprise) disagree.

Take this example: iFixit publishes many manuals detailing how to repair various Apple products. However, in 2011, Apple began releasing products with brand new ‘pentalobe’ screws, which, naturally, could not be unscrewed using traditional screwdrivers.

In effect, they were purposefully making it difficult for people to repair their products, encouraging them to instead buy a brand new product when their original one could just have needed a part swap. Some companies have even gone so far as to sue and shutdown small businesses and individuals that offer repair manuals

Typical.

Lots of companies believe that repair information is ‘proprietry’ and therefore owned by the company.

This type of mindset is just unsustainable. It should not be more expensive for me to buy new ink than replace the printer altogether!

This is not ok!

Ultimately, if a company sets up an affordable, convenient parts replacement and repair system, doesn’t it mean increased chance of loyalty to the brand over a longer period of time? Companies like Dell and Lenovo are already on board.

But in the end, it’s really up to us. 

So next time your laptop starts to run a little slow, maybe take it to a repair shop, or have a look online for repair tips. It’s cheaper for you, and better for the environment.

It’s only baby steps, but it’s a start.

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Open vs. Locked: who has the key?

Lock - South Street
Lock – South Street (Photo credit: kchbrown)

The progression of convergence has seen several important choices made. Most significantly, we now have competing ideologies based around how much interaction a user of a technology or media platform should have.

In a nutshell, this is the battle between OPEN and CLOSED.

If we look at earlier technologies, we can observe that they were all but entirely closed systems. For example, television. Viewers had no choice over when they could view a program. Televisions were also fairly expensive, which limited who could view. In addition, what shows were available to the consumer was entirely at the discretion of the broadcaster. Television was made to be consumed, not interacted with in any way.

Therefore, television is a CLOSED system.

If we compare this to Twitter, an OPEN platform, we can see the difference in user interaction. Twitter’s entire existence is based around the motto: “broadcast yourself”. However, as Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, pointed out in “Listening to Twitter Users”, the users themselves reshaped the platform. They ‘invented’ the hashtag and so the platform became not just a way of ‘self-broadcasting’ but a way of interacting with people with similar interests.

One of the most prominent battles between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ operating systems is that of:

APPLE vs. ANDROID

But which way is right?

When Apple came into being, a conscious decision was made to follow the ‘closed’ ideology. This means it has the following qualities.

  • All apps are only available from one place and are subject to Apple’s approval.
  • There is NO option to modify/access any part of the system.
  • There is only one hardware manufacturer.
  • This means, Apple has closed appliances linked to closed ecosystems.

Android follows an ‘open’ ideology, and so has these features:

  • Apps can be uploaded by anyone without approval and there are multiple app markets.
  • Connectivity IS the product, and the aim is to facilitate the flow of content, rather than control it.
  • Anyone can access and modify systems, and it’s free.
  • There are 84 companies that are part of the Open Handset Alliance, which means greater competition, and a better outcome for consumers.

JR Raphael looks at this comparison in “Apple vs Android

What does it all mean?

Well, with Apple, what you see is what you get. There is no option to modify to your own preferences, but there is little risk of accidentally downloading a malicious app, or your system crashing.

Android gives you the power to completely control the way you access and interact with technology and media platforms. However, that means you take responsibility for any negative consequences of your free choices. Take a look at an article released when Android was initiated: “Breaking: Google Announces Android and Open Handset Alliance

Which is better at empowering users?

Well, Android is certainly the answer for that. But is empowerment always a good thing? Apple would disagree.

It really seems to come down to the individual. If you like the idea of being within a safe, enclosed media bubble, where harmful media content is kept at bay, then Apple, or closed systems, would be your preference.

However, if you like to engage with your media, on your terms, with the freedom to make your own choices and mix and match your options, then Android is the one for you.

The choice is up to you.