Inside NYC's slowly-vanishing repair shops

Photo of a camera repair shop in NYC, by Stan Horaczek

For Popular Science, the photographer and journalist Stan Horaczek took a deep dive into NYC's repair shops -- places that repair cameras, musical gear, lighting fixtures and even jeans.

Horaczek does a short writeup describing each shop he visits, including this description of the camera-repair shop depicted above:

Husks of vintage film cameras and lenses litter this workbench at Camera Doctor. Owner and technician Frank Rubio has scavenged many of their components for repairs because manufacturers have either disappeared or no longer make replacement parts. When a piece like an odd-size film spool is so scarce that even the secondary market is out of stock, Rubio might hire a specialist to build one out of carbon fiber. The Midtown NYC shop fixes digital cameras, but an increasing share of its work is servicing classic shooters.

His photos are an amazing record of a repair scene that is slowly vanishing, as more and more modern devices are engineered for disposability, sometimes built literally to be antagonistic to repair. It's a loss not just for the environment (we generate tons of e-waste when we toss gadgets into the trash) and for the pocketbook (we buy new stuff instead of being able to fix what we own), but as Horaczek shows, it's a loss for culture. There's something magnificent about these repair shops, filled with decades of experience, byzantine domain-specific knowledge, and raw ingenuity.

(Thanks to Horaczek for permission to use his photo here!) Read the rest

Most US eighth graders have taken apart a gadget to fix it or see how it works

From the 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress: "In 2018, fifty-three percent of eighth-grade students reported that they believed they could perform a variety of technology- and engineering-related tasks such as taking something apart to fix it or see how it works." Read the rest

The MNT Reform: a modular, open source hardware, blob-free laptop inspired by classic PCs

Lukas F. Hartmann grew up on PCs like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amiga 500, and while he appreciates the power and portability of modern laptops, he missed the character and invitation of experiment in these classic PCs. Read the rest

Independent repair guy on the planned obsolescence of Apple products

Louis Rossmann is an independent service technician in New York City who has repaired Apple products for years. Read the rest

Senate passes phone unlocking bill

The Senate has approved a bill (which already passed in the House) that makes it legal for you to unlock the phones you own so you can choose which carrier you use. Read the rest

Hard drive in slow motion

The Slo-Mo Guys -- a YouTube channel filled with fast things in slow motion -- have a go at a hard drive. It's pretty amazing on its own -- seeing that blurred, too-fast-to-follow arm slowed down is like kung-fu bullet-time for electronics. But once they start splashing water on the mechanism? Woah.

How a Hard Drive works in Slow Motion - The Slow Mo Guys

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Yachting team uses staple-gun to fix up slashed sailor, completes race

Nat sez, "You're on a racing yacht, 650 miles from the finish line of the fifth leg of an around-the-world race. Your mast breaks, you send a team member up to cut free the sail. He slashes at the rigging but also himself, and blood drips down the mast. He comes down white with blood loss and with a massive wound. What do you do? 'After talking to our team doctor we decided to staple him together. We took out the staple gun and put five staples in him and now he's as good as new, I think.' Nope, that's not what I would have reached for either. I wonder whether the team doctor is also the ship's carpenter?"

Groupama completed leg 5 last night with 20 points for third place, ensuring they remain in contention for the overall prize.

The French boat leapfrogged leg 5 winners Puma into second place overall, 20 points behind Telefonica, who are facing a hearing into allegations they carried an extra sail on leg 4 into Auckland.

Yachting: NZ sailor aboard Groupama seriously injured Read the rest