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Is a computer with nine lives just a pipe dream?

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In this post, we’d like to share Anne’s story, which brilliantly highlights an effective way to fight obsolescence—repairing!

A few weeks ago, my faithful work companion—my laptop, not my cat—suddenly stopped and the screen went black while I was right in the middle of a project.

I’ll spare you the details of my violent reaction.

But if you really must know, it was something like this: “@$#%?%?&**! Where am I going to find the money to replace this darn machine? It's only three years old! It can’t have given up the ghost already!” You get the picture.

Once I’d calmed down, I decided to explore how I could go about fixing my laptop without spending too much. What a mission! I pedalled off enthusiastically to the nearest library so I could browse the Internet for repair tips.

A successful search

The best place to start is the Facebook group Touski s’répare. Thousands of people hoping to fix things before scrapping them help each other out here. It’s a treasure trove of information and resources! Ask a question or peruse the archives to get practically all the information you need to fix something yourself. People will help you find ways to give new life to objects, too. You’ll find recommendations for cobblers, all kinds of repairers, mechanics who accept used parts and much more. This community brings to light just how many initiatives encouraging repairs are under way.

I found valuable information here, as well as from other resources, including La Remise tool library in Villeray, Montreal, La Patente collaborative workshop in Limoilou, Quebec City, and La Fabrique co-op in Sherbrooke—collaborative spaces where you can share tools and DIY/repair expertise.

As I continued to scour the vast landscape of the Internet, I discovered all kinds of tutorials for home repairs. Go to ifixit.com for free tutorials on how to fix just about anything, from cell phones to cars, or commentreparer.com. You’ll find many other similar sites on the Web, too. If you’re not into DIY, but would like to extend the life of your computer or electronics, a repairathon, or restart party, organized by Insertech is for you. Another option is to go a Repair Café, where you can take all kinds of items. Experienced volunteers will help identify the problem and if possible, fix it. And it won't cost you a penny.

A few days after my laptop broke down, I found myself with high hopes at an Insertech repairathon along with 120 others who wanted to get something fixed or learn how to do it themselves.

I took a number—just like at the health clinic, but without such a lengthy wait time. When it was my turn, Lucas, an enthusiastic electronics volunteer, asked me to describe the “accident.” He nodded knowingly, opened up my laptop and smiled. The fan was full of dust, which caused the laptop to overheat and eventually stop working. After a thorough cleaning, the computer emerged from its forced hibernation. Thanks, Lucas!

Okay, so this was an easy case. But how many others may also be? According to European studies, most people don’t get their electronics repaired when they break. Instead, they get rid of them and buy new ones. Repairing a computer means one less new computer starting another life cycle. Plus, it doesn’t put a dent in your bank account.

Like to see electronics being brought back to life? Don’t miss the next repairathon, on May 24 at the Centre for Sustainable Development!

Next post: Repairing, Part Two!