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I remember when the black and white TV that my parents bought in the 60s finally died. It was well into the 80s, and my first experience with color TV. The thought that a television I buy today will last 20 years boggles the mind (and don’t get me started on RoHS compliance). I get dead pixels and color shift on LCD monitors less than five years old. Are there ever repair shops out there? Usually it’s cheaper to replace your dead machine than it is to repair it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Shhhh! Many dead machines can be brought back to life — in some shape or form — pretty easily. Repair manuals and instructions abound, from downloadable PDFs to step-by-step videos. Parts are available on eBay. There’s no reason not to at least try. If you can’t fix it? REPURPOSE IT! Strip it for parts! At the very least, snip off the cord and keep it in your junk drawer until the day you vacuum up a lamp cord. Swapping cords is one of the simplest tasks that anyone can do.

A little more practice and experience and LCD panels, motors, belts, connectors, circuit boards and plastic cases become the foundation of stuff that’s customized for how you want to use it. It’s not a tough job to add a USB port to the clock radio next to your bed so you can charge your phone. Most people with a modicum of eye-hand coordination and some basic tools could add  a headphone jack to said clock radio.

Go ahead. Open it up. See what’s inside. See what makes it tick. Figure out how to upgrade the tools in your life to make them more useful to you. You’ll probably void the warranty, but f*%& it. You’ve probably already gone past your 30 days already. And the worst case? You’ll just need to get a cheap replacement for the thing you’ve just killed–but you’ve probably learned something in the process, too. Consider it the cost of education.

Go ahead. Void your warranty. You’ve got my permission.

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