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Amy Chan
Amy Chan

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My intro to tech through Macbook & the Right-to-Repair culture

My trackpad stopped working. For a while, I thought the pad simply just broke from overuse or something got stuck underneath - my Macbook was quite old after all. Then one day, I noticed my Macbook is not standing evenly flat on the table.

That's very strange, even considering how old it is.

I took my trusty iFIxit screwdriver kit and unscrewed my Macbook for a quick peek. Good that I did - the battery had swollen.

The swollen battery. OMG.
The swollen battery. OMG.

I immediately shut down my laptop, unplugged it, took out the battery, and rush-ordered a new battery from iFixit. The moment it came, I reopened my Macbook and replaced the battery. I also did some cleaning of the inside - so much mini dust bunnies!

My self-repair setup
My self-repair setup!

The whole thing probably took less than 30 minutes. Once I re-screwed the Macbook and turned it back on, it run so smoothly. I even got a bunch of free iFixit stickers with my purchase!

Gosh, I love iFixit and the old Macbook Pro.

Every time I do this, I get a flashback to the day when I first took apart my Macbook. It was back when I was still studying architecture (the building kind, not computer kind) at Cal Poly. Macbook was still white back then - and they still had an internal CD drive! However, mine drive broke. Our design assignments was submitted via CDs, so that was bad - but so was the cost to have Apple repair it! My Macbook was old - it had a cracked corner and one of the RAM slot no longer works. Money was tight, and it didn't seemed to make sense to spend so much when my Macbook could expire at any time. My sister had a techie friend, but he only known PC. He didn't want to risk repairing a Macbook.

Thankfully, Macbook was still repair-friendly back then. For all the changes they did that made their products difficult to self-repair in recent years, its co-founder Steve Wozniak was a known advocate of right-to-repair. Mac was initially easy to open up, and he encouraged tinkering with it.

I was at San Luis Obispo, the city where iFixit was located. iFixit is an online community that encouraged self-repair, and it had a rich array of documentations and repair tools for sale. So, I ordered a CD drive and screwdriver kit from them, printed out their documentation, rolled my sleeve up, and started working.

It was mind blowing. My sister's tech friend couldn't do it. It costed so much to hire people to do it. I did it in less than an hour. I had no hardware or any computer experience. My habits back then were watercoloring and gardening!

It change my perception of computer technology. It would be years before I learned programming, even longer before I got my first developer job. But, the idea that I can be tech savvy started at that moment.

To this day, I still had the screwdriver I brought back (it's the one with blue-grey handle in the photo). Needless to say, I am a huge proponent of right-to-repair, not just because I like repair things, but I think it helps to drawn in and empower creative and curious individual into the technology industry.

Do any of you have a special moment when you realize you can be or you are a programmer?

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