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Macworld Expo 2011: iFixit wields their magic in person

David Winograd

On stage at Macworld 2011, two of our friends from iFixit, Kyle Weins and Luke Soules, attempted to fix broken Apple stuff right in front of an audience. The session was moderated by Chris Breen, who asked the audience to bring up their broken gear in the hope that it could be fixed right on the spot.

iFixit, for those that don't know, is a firm that not only posts teardowns of popular Apple products, but strongly believes in empowering users with the ability to fix their own Apple equipment, and sells replacement parts and tool kits to allow people to do it. As Luke attempted repairs, Kyle described exactly what was going on. Unfortunately, they weren't successful at any repairs during the session, but they were working under some impossible conditions. People in the audience had a lot of different broken things, and iFixit was only able to bring in two boxes of parts, which limited them dramatically.

While Luke worked on a 2007 White MacBook, and a couple of iPhones, Kyle explained that tossing away broken Apple gear is very wasteful and inefficient. It's perfectly okay to send non-working computer equipment overseas for harvesting of the chemicals and minerals, and this is amazingly non-green. A typical Mac contains 17 times more gold than raw gold taken from a gold mine. Getting at it is the problem.

iFixit has been creating repair manuals for everything Apple for quite some time and has recently branched out to gaming consoles. One of its big sellers is the iPhone 4 Liberation Kit, which for US$9.95, lets you remove those nasty five-sided pentalobular screws that Apple repair and new iPhone 4's contain (instead of the usual user friendly Phillips screws). The kit contains all you need, including replacement Phillips screws and the required screwdriver.

Fairly recently, iFixit created a wiki where people can edit its repair manuals to add steps and make things easier. All submissions are fully vetted, so bad information doesn't get passed around. All the repair manuals contain the needed experience level and how long the average repair will take.

The guys from iFixit decided to hang around after the session to fix an iPhone's broken screen for one lucky guy. After all, it was his birthday.

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