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The Dutch Repair Cafe Versus the Throwaway Society 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-it-ain't-broke dept.
circletimessquare writes "Everyone in the modern world has thrown away at least one thing that was perfectly good except for an easily fixed defect, because it's just easier to buy a new one. In the Netherlands, in the name of social cohesion, and with government and private foundation grants, there is a trend called the Repair Cafe (Dutch). People bring in broken items: a skirt with a hole in it, an iron that no longer steams, and they fix each other's stuff and meet their neighbors. Now that's an idea worth keeping."
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The Dutch Repair Cafe Versus the Throwaway Society

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  • by DoubleSandwich (2637131) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:13AM (#39966441)
    When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people. The same is true for Asians and Australians too. And the American people introvert culture isn't a new thing that came with computers - they did this before geeks too. Sitting in front of TV watching mindless shows and eating TV dinners, alone.

    One great geeky example about Americans making artificial social walls around them is how quick companies were to replace LAN gaming with online gaming so that you could sit alone and not interact with people. I live in asia and when people play games, they go play them with friends to internet cafes. There's a place near me where there is always young guys gaming together. There's a huge cultural difference between US and the rest of the world.

    As the saying goes - "We have the technology, we can build anti-social walls around us!"
    • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:21AM (#39966537) Homepage Journal

      One great geeky example about Americans making artificial social walls around them is how quick companies were to replace LAN gaming with online gaming so that you could sit alone and not interact with people.

      I'm pretty sure that's not why it was done. It was done because it offers you the ability to play with people in either scenario, no matter how far away they were. You get more people in the game and a wider variety of them.

      When you're playing a LAN game in a cafe, you play with your neighbors. The guy across the country can't play with you.

      • LAN to online-only (Score:5, Insightful)

        by naroom (1560139) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:28AM (#39966655)

        It was done because it offers you the ability to play with people in either scenario, no matter how far away they were.

        No. Local play was replaced by internet play because it was seen as more profitable by the games industry to enforce DRM online.
        If it were truly about adding features, LAN / local play would still be enabled on Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, and Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 games.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Wrong. Internet gaming arose in spite of the Gaming industry, who latter got behind it. DRM was after that.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            It's OK, his user ID betrays his age. I don't think he was BORN when we first started getting internet gameplay.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Yep. I'm sure.

          Doom had dial-out support because it was more profitable. You're right. You win the prize. ... or not!

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          This shouldn't be modded up. This is only correct if you ignore anything before, say, 2004. We've had internet gameplay since DOOM. DRM wasn't even a wet dream yet.

    • Oh man, that pisses me off so much. Nothing worse than having 4 people in a room gathered around an Xbox, realizing that we can only play games while we hang out if half the people go home and jump online there.
    • by Eraesr (1629799) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:42AM (#39966863) Homepage

      When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people. The same is true for Asians and Australians too. And the American people introvert culture isn't a new thing that came with computers - they did this before geeks too. Sitting in front of TV watching mindless shows and eating TV dinners, alone

      Sounds beautiful, no really. But I live in the Netherlands and you have no idea how wrong you are. For the past 30 years (at least), the Netherlands has been "individualizing" at an alarming rate.

    • Not at all true (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:43AM (#39966887)

      When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people.

      I've lived in America and the Netherlands, Americans do that just as much as the Dutch. Go into any large city and visit bars and restaurants, you'll find them plenty crowded with people socializing.

      What is somewhat true is that the Dutch watch less TV, but they do other things around the house too.

      People in general are social and like to go out. People with families stay in more because it's harder to go out with children. That does not really change much across cultures.

    • I think that US official policy is officially against socialism last I checked so this makes good sense in order that they might keep ahold of their cultural identity.

    • by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:54AM (#39967027)
      Amurrikunz iz fat n lazy, I kan haz mod points nAo?
      • by mediocubano (801656) on Friday May 11, 2012 @12:15PM (#39968083)
        This is partially true, but what it looks like is that nobody around here is "handy" any more. People just don't get the practice of tearing things apart and fixing them. I get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to fix things, but many people don't.

        I picked up a huge snowblower that my neighbor was throwing away (his answer? "duhhh doesn't work") and it just needed to have the carburetor cleaned out - total cost was about $10 in parts, and a couple of hours or my time. To top it all off I learned something. I also loved it because I had nothing to lose except some tinkering time - the thing was already broken, so if I made it more broken no big deal. However if I got it working then it was like winning the jackpot. (BTW the thing has enough power to throw snow across the street!)

        Other neighbors had a combo stereo that just didn't work. And they had no clue of what to do. Didn't power on, so I popped the cover off and found the fuse blown. One trip to the hardware store later and I now have a great garage stereo with CD changer and even a remote control!

        I could go on and on about my brother in law and his fixit dis-abilities, but maybe I'll save all of those "no common sense" stories for a book. (It has been a complete blast to fix things for my inlaws, they look at me like I'm some sort of magician or technological priest.)

        Maybe that's what the problem is, either people think their time is too valuable (thanks marketers), or they just don't feel like learning anything. All of this takes common sense and a thirst for knowledge, something that people seem to be really short on any more. They'd rather sit in front of the idiot box for hours, or piss away hours with angry birds.... it is just too easy.
    • by Eil (82413)

      That's a nice broad brush you have there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it...

      When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people.

      Where exactly did you get the impression that there are no bars, coffee shops, restaurants, user groups, meetups, or hackerspaces in America?

      One great geeky example about Americans making

    • by Rui Lopes (599077)

      Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people. The same is true for Asians and Australians too. And the American people introvert culture isn't a new thing that came with computers - they did this before geeks too. Sitting in front of TV watching mindless shows and eating TV dinners, alone.

      pretty much my experience living in San Francisco (I'm European, btw).

    • LAN vs online (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phorm (591458)

      Actually, I think that the rise of internet gaming VS LAN gaming has several factors, few of them due to being antisocial. I still do LAN game but play online as well at times
      The bad...
      a) Convenience: Pack up your oversized gaming PC, monitor etc. Drag them to somebody's house, possibly popping a few vertebra hauling crap around. Plug into power for 3 daisy-chained power bars and an ethernet cable that is just a bit too short. Pop a few breakers until you figure out who plugs in where. After an hour you mig

    • by mjr167 (2477430)
      That's pretty cool that I use the internet to play games with my friends and families on the other side of the country in order to be less social... Would you also argue that by letting my daughter skype with her grand mother who lives a thousand miles away I am discouraging the relationship?
  • by Tyr07 (2300912) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:15AM (#39966457)

    I'm more than happy to do pc repairs and exchange services with friends, right now one friend helps with mechanical issues with my car and I take care of their computers.

    It's a great idea.

    • by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:39AM (#39966823) Homepage
      While I don't exchange services for automotive work (I do my own) I still help out my next door neighbor with some of his yard work (currently putting in a good retaining wall) and in exchange I get access to his phenomenal collection of tools. I have a lot, but things like spring compressors, professional scan tools (much more functionality than even a high end OBDII reader), gear pullers, compression tester, etc that I don't use very often but are essential for some repairs. I also like the things that people put out just after trash day with free signs on them that if they are still around the next trash day get hauled off. That is how I got my mower, snow blower, trimmer, and compressor. None of them worked when I found them but only required relatively minor fixes. The most complicated one was the snow blower as the carb needed a really good cleaning, new fuel hoses, the engine needed all new gaskets, and a new kill switch. The snow blower was $18 in parts to get working and was by far the most expensive. The mower and trimmer needed a carb cleaning, fuel hoses replaced, and new spark plugs. The compressor had a bad switch.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GunSheep (982756)
      At this point friends and family are the only PC's I work on. They at least understand the concept of returning the favor in some way/shape/form. I stopped doing that for anyone else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      They exist. Just because something isn't the 'norm' over here doesn't mean it doesn't exist. (And I want to know what % of Dutch use these services).

      Lexington, KY has the BrokeSpoke [facebook.com]. A not for profit bike repair shop. You can rent bench time, volunteer or pay an annual fee. You get access to all their tools and knowledge. Craigslist has become a boon for people looking to sell stuff second hand. My entire apartment is furnished with second hand stuff. Be it my surplus projector and printer or my good will 5

  • by vawwyakr (1992390) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:16AM (#39966477)
    We throw away perfectly working pieces of tech. Thing accumulate around the house and just become clutter to be picked up and tossed during a spring cleaning. The problem is that newer tech makes it so that almost no one even wants old laptops and such. Then there is the risk that there is something person stuck somewhere inside and you have to spend extra effort clearing it completely to be safe if you want to give it away. I have an old laptop sitting around that I have run some clean up tools on and I'm still not quite ready to put it up on Freecycle. We really need better recycling programs for old Phones, batteries, etc. People are going to just want something new when the new thing is 100x better than the old thing even if the old thing still works.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GNious (953874)

      I have a simple solution: Give it away.

      I've got a pile of tech-stuff that I no longer need, but instead of throwing it out, I'll give to anyone who wants/needs it.
      (was surprised to find someone who had never had a DVD player - well, she does now!)

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      I generally keep repairing the older stuff as it's sturdier, but I find there comes a point with many electronic or electrical items where the power consumption is far higher that newer models, and at that point I will break down and replace it. Part of my reasoning for repairing things is that it's cost effective, and sometimes I take things a little far. I re-sharpen disposable utility knife blades.

    • by plover (150551) * on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:55AM (#39967039) Homepage Journal

      Complementary to your comment, we have a lot of tech that was created so long ago that it's terribly inefficient and should best be retired. Consider an old machine with an Athlon 1200 CPU, drawing 330 watts of power while an Intel i5-2400 based machine draws only 75 watts. Consider an old hard drive that draws 30 watts to spin at idle, compared to a modern drive that uses 8 watts to do the same, or a SSDD that draws 0.14 watts. Or consider a CRT monitor drawing 120W compared to a newer LCD that draws 22W.

      Yes, I get that obviously there are things that people can't afford to replace today, and when repairing them for free is an option, it'll happen. But these old devices still cost them tremendously on their electric bills. I believe the Dutch pay somewhere around $0.40/kWh, meaning that an old PC there would cost over $4 per day to run, compared to a new efficient machine that would cost less than $1 per day. And that new machine would certainly have better performance, more capabilities, and likely better security (not that I want to get into a big debate about it, but running Windows 7 and IE 9 instead of XP and IE 6 would be a big improvement for most home user's security.)

      Some working things should be retired.

  • Quality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:18AM (#39966499)

    Things are generally made extremely cheaply these days, and are not designed for repair, so it does make things a bit more difficult than it used to be. In many cases there are tear-down videos and instructions for things available on the internet, so I think this balances out nicely. It's a great chance to learn how things work and teach other as well. I'd really like to see this done in North America, perhaps as a school fund-raising project or something.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bigby (659157)

      Don't forget that you might actually get arrested for repairing something.

    • Agree on the quality thing but there is still a lot of quality stuff made it is just 3-10x as much as the cheap crap. Tools are where I have had the most experience with this. I will break tools, even the "best ones" like snap-on, because I don't see a problem with putting an 8' steel pipe on the end of a wrench to break a bolt free. The difference is that cheap wrenches and sockets will break when I am just using wrench or ratchet without the pipe, also when good tools fail they don't shatter like the chea
  • by phonewebcam (446772) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:21AM (#39966535) Homepage

    The Americans have had a go but just made things worse. Any chance some of this Dutch magic will help?

  • by Guppy (12314) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:26AM (#39966615)

    This would be a great idea for a Makerspace trying to attract more people/funding.

    You've already got tools and a core of tinkerers that know how to fix stuff -- if you could draw in a broader audience from the community, you could make some extra money selling them drinks and munchies, and possibly convert some people to the hobby.

    • I've got a vision for something similar for motorcycling. Lots of people travel to my home state to ride. Since it's about 2000 miles through Canada to get to Alaska from pretty much anywhere else in the U.S., and since many of the roads in NW Canada or Alaska are kind of tough on tires, many of those people who arrive here need new tires when they arrive, and/or need to replace tires before they leave. Additionally, lots of people like to add gadgets and accessories to their bikes (known as "farkli
      • by plover (150551) *

        I have a buddy I used to go riding through the Black Hills with back in the 1980s. He had a Gold Wing that he added every chrome-plated light fixture to that he could find on the aftermarket. It had these chromed spikey posts in the back, with glowing red jeweled tips, lights running along the bags top and bottom, around the crash bars, on the fenders, everywhere. I'm not sure what look he was going for, but we all gave him sh!t for it.

        Anyway, we were driving along, and he honked his horn for some reason

        • That's why I swapped out the lamps in my driving lights and my tail lights with LEDs -- from ~120 watts to ~20 watts, IIRC. As for why your buddy wanted his bike lit up like the Vegas strip, I'd assume he wanted to make sure he was seen. I ride as if every cager out there is trying to kill me (and from time to time, it certainly seems that way), but knowing that I'm not always at 100%, I try to stack the odds in my favor by being as conspicuous as possible :) Still...sounds like your friend may have over
  • This is a problem that only the heavily industrialized societies have. Travel, discover the world, "get out of your rut, open your mind, there is a whole universe waiting"*. (*Isaac Asimov)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:29AM (#39966667)

    The real problem is with lifecycle sustainability.

    If raw material sourcing is sustainable, and disposal is as well, then there is no problem with the "throwaway" culture. The "throwaway" culture frees up repairmen to pursue more useful or enjoyable things by using machines to alleviate their burden.

    Technology is a separate issue. As technology gets better and better, why should we spend so much repairing it? The recent advances in reducing power consumption and doing more processing in hardware is a good thing. Getting rid of a several year old computer is like getting a gas guzzling junker off the road.

    The ecological aversion to the "throwaway" culture comes from a time where reuse and repair was seen as necessary to the inherent unsustainable sourcing and landfill disposal. Once those problems are addressed we must reexamine our assumptions about the value of reuse and repair.

  • by Ameryll (2390886) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:30AM (#39966681)

    It's a sad fact of life that in the U.S. it is often cheaper to replace something than it is to repair it. With electronics you have the added penalty that you're often repairing something that's now slower than the replacement.

    A sign of our times

    I was babysitting a 5 year old in high school and she had this alphabet book of professions. U = upholsterer. She asked me what that was. I told her it was someone who repaired or replaced the fabric on your couch. She asked me why you didn't throw it out and get a new one. That it didn't even occur to her that someone might want to try to fix something rather than just dump it in a landfill somewhere really struck me.

    • by berashith (222128)

      I worked with man who had grown up fairly poorly in India. He was absolutely shocked when he had a dent or hole in his garage door, that someone wouldnt come out with a welder and some scrap metal who could do a decent repair of the damage. The only fix available was to throw the entire thing away and replace it. The talent or interest just isnt there in the US.

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday May 11, 2012 @11:57AM (#39967825) Journal

        The talent or interest just isnt there in the US.

        Well, first, he probably didn't look very hard. There are plenty of people who will do things like that, the best way to find them in my experience is to call you local junkyards -- if they don't have someone, they'll know someone who'd be willing to do it.

        The other issue is that our labor costs are very high. This is what really drives the throw-it-away culture here. We buy things that are made with cheap overseas labor... which is why repairing them using costly local labor is not price-competitive, usually.

    • by FlopEJoe (784551)
      Makes me wonder what they can use when Upholsterers completely out... Urologist and Union Thug is all that comes to mind.
    • by fl!ptop (902193)

      U = upholsterer. She asked me what that was. I told her it was someone who repaired or replaced the fabric on your couch. She asked me why you didn't throw it out and get a new one.

      I recently inherited my Dad's couch, which was originally purchased in 1965 and has been reupholstered 4 times. I'll never get rid of it.

      Of course, the piece-of-crap "modern" couch my wife bought 7 years ago that I thought was the most uncomfortable thing ever was burned at last year's bonfire party.....

      • by martyros (588782) on Friday May 11, 2012 @11:21AM (#39967337)

        Of course, the piece-of-crap "modern" couch my wife bought 7 years ago that I thought was the most uncomfortable thing ever was burned at last year's bonfire party.....

        ...thus contributing to "survivor bias", reinforcing the future's views that things made in the 2000's are a heck of a lot better than the things made in 2045.

        Not saying the new couch wasn't crap; just saying, you didn't see couches of that quality made in 1965 because they were all burned by 1972. :-)

    • Philip K dick had a story where this was essentially part of the plot line -- a man from the past arrives in the future and is able to actually...fix things (The Variable Man [wikipedia.org])

      In one scene, children are playing with a toy and it gets broken. The main character starts to fix it and the kids are wondering what he is doing and why he doesn't just throw it out and get a new one.

      The book is free on Project Gutenburg here [gutenberg.org]

  • Creating a new item on an assembly line is generally cheaper than trying to repair it.

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      Creating a new item on an assembly line is generally cheaper than trying to repair it.

      Not exactly. If you consider the amount of energy, resources and environmental impact that goes int into producing a toaster:

      Steel parts: mine ore, haul ore, melt it (blast furnace), machining
      Plastic parts: crude oil, refining, pelletizing, melting, extrusion and molding.

      In the end, you need to package and ship everything to a warehouse, then ship it to a store or directly to a customer which takes fuel and produces more greenhouse gas. A simple repair eliminates all of this. People just don't consider the

  • The dutch are insanely thrifty people. Americans and wasteful people in general have a lot to learn from them

    No, I'm not dutch.

  • by ryzvonusef (1151717) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:34AM (#39966755) Journal

    I remember a slashdotter telling about something similar in germany, where you can come into a shop where the rent you the tools, and you fix the stuff there and then. It also acted as an edutainment, with people coming in to watch and learn.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Its been done here in the USA as well. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of the Car Talk radio show on NPR [wikipedia.org] had (have?) a do-it-yourself garage in Cambridge, Mass. that rents workspace and tools to people who fix their own cars.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        That's great and all. If you're within a 10 mile bubble around that specific location, sure.

        The US is pretty damn big.

      • Ah, that's nice, but the thing I remember was less cars and more like take some spare wood, borrow a drill there, screw the pieces together and voila, a cranky stool.

        It was about making and repairing "hardware" rather than electric, IIRC.

        If only remember the name of the darn shop, I could google it up.

        BTW, you Americans just love tinkering with your cars, don't you? :P Like every tv show I see, there is at least one guy with a 60's or 70's car constantly repairing it, why not just sell the damn thing and bu

  • A missing button, a broken vase, a bent prong on a plug - sure. But most of the things we throw out are broken beyond repair. A white shirt with a large coffee stain that won't bleach out is pretty much over and done as a shirt, and can safely be downgraded to "wipe rag." The last pair of jeans I gave up on had an inseam that had split right down the middle. Even with a patch, even with me re-sewing the seam, they were still structurally degraded. Ever have a seam split in public? It's pretty embarrassing. That said, I didn't actually throw the jeans away - I cut the panels free and saved the scraps without holes in them for quilting.
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      You're not throwing them away, so you're already ahead. Wipe rag? How many people would just toss it, and not even consider a wipe rag?

    • White shirt with coffee stain becomes a black shirt with a dye soak. Have one like that myself
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:45AM (#39966915) Homepage

    Take for instance an electric iron. It might just be clogged up from hard water deposits that could be removed with some solution like CLR or LimeAway. The problem is, in order to get to the parts that are clogged you have to deal with sonic welding, adhesives and fasteners that were designed to be one-way. The only way to disassemble the unit is to break it and glue it back together, which is not very elegant nor safe when dealing with mains current plus heating elements.

    Same thing goes for about 90% of small electric appliances today. They are not designed to be repairable.

    Most of this is not so much cultural as others have pointed out but it all comes down to the cost of labor. At one time in the US decorative scrollwork in homes was hand-carved. The craftsman doing the work made maybe $0.25 a day which for the time wasn't all that bad but it was by no means extravagant. It would be comparable to what any common laborer would get paid or someone clerking in a store.

    Today, to have someone skilled in wood carving come to your home and do some work would be easily $200 an hour. An experienced technician wouldn't be getting that individually, but you can figure a company in the business of appliance repair is going to be charging at least $100 an hour. Which makes a $30 electric iron absurd to even consider repairing - it would cost $30 for someone to spend 20 minutes on it. Even larger appliances begin to reach the point where it makes no sense to repair them simply because of the cost of labor. Why spend $200 to fix a washing machine that cost $250 to replace?

    Where things get really confused is in the 1800s and early 1900s the US saw significant immigration from Europe of craftsmen and skilled workers. Someone that spent 20 years making fine furniture would come to the US and could find immediate work basically doing the same sort of thing for at least as much money if not more. Today, we have huge low-skill immigration which skews the wage scale in interesting ways. In some parts of the country it is cheaper to hire more people (immigrant labor) using hand tools to do a job than it is to use power tools or other modern assists with fewer people. This only works in low-skill areas, though. If the US had a huge number of immigrants coming in that were skilled electronics technicians or computer programmers it would be quite different.

    What we have now is it is cheaper to hire five people to use hand tools to do landscaping work than one person with a power mower. But it is also cheaper to replace a $800 TV than it is to bring it to a technician to look at it because his labor is incredibly expensive. The US today is a confused mess of labor rates that will end up sorting itself out in the end, but likely as not things will shift to the low end of the scale.

  • This seems like a great idea, but does anyone else see the possibility that the repairs will be vastly slanted to a handful of products that are 1) plentiful 2) expensive to replace, and 3) have inexpensive parts?

    I can see a cafe that has a line out the door for people want to get their iPhone glass or batteries replaced, or their laptop hard drive swapped out while the person who can repair shoes, sew (a skirt with a hole in it), carve wood, machine parts, or repair a mechanical device (iron which no longe

  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:55AM (#39967035) Homepage

    If you repair some electrical device for someone else, and at some point down the line it starts a fire or electrocutes someone, you could easily be held liable here in the US, whether your repair had anything to do with it or not. And half-assed repairs done by well-meaning but untrained people are just BEGGING for trouble. From the NYT article (emphasis mine):

    When Mr. van den Akker put the iron back together, two parts were left over â" no matter, he said, they were probably not that important. He plugged the frayed cord into a socket. A green light went on. Rusty water poured out. Finally, it began to steam.

    Actual repair shops carry insurance for such eventualities, but random folks at a "repair cafe" wouldn't.

  • Hmm, I don't really want to take a chance on having my iron or clothes or computer repaired by my hobbyist neighbor. I'd rather have them repaired correctly by somebody who does those repairs professionally all the time, while also having the side effect of keeping those repair people in business.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      There aren't enough of them to cover all the diverse things that might need repair for this to be a practical business model anymore, at least for most things. Bicycles and cars are notable classes of exceptions.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday May 11, 2012 @11:02AM (#39967107) Homepage
    socializing with my friends, but the truth is after two jobs and 14 hours of work im too tired. my second job, customer service, makes me cranky and irritable by the time i get home and honestly ive spent so much time sitting under fluorescent lights and talking to people about their medical bills id rather stay in anyway.
    on the weekends i normally get stuck with TPS reporting, and its not like i can duck out of that because im a salaried employee. besides, this is building equity. i hope.
    sometimes on holidays i get off, christmas or the occasional tuesday morning im not working at the baltimization plant, i go to this cafe down the street. the cafe i go to has lots of people in it, but the unspoken rule is that we all have to be quiet and we have to drink their coffee to use the wireless for exactly one hour. I mean, nobody is doing any meaningful work at a cafe its all mostly facebook and minecraft but the possibility still exists that someone is working out a spreadsheet on their ipad and so we're all quiet.
    wednesday when i go back to work and realize i also picked up a bartending shift to help pay down my college loans and the loan for the dental work i had done, i get a chance to socialize with people that are drunk. so i guess that counts. by 4 am though im still tired.
    ive tried planning things with my friends, but they spend most of their time at work too.
    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      Hoping this is tongue in cheek, but really you're doing it wrong. Salaried people willing to put in obscene hours greatly distorts the job market. Doing the work of two people for the price of one means that not only are you working yourself to death, but somebody else is sitting there unemployed.

      That, and you need to find a better cafe - it sounds like the one you patronize kinda sucks ;)
  • What? Help each other? Avoid buying the new and shiny things? Continue to use things even after there is a perfectly good reason to throw them away? Go through extraordinary lengths like actually lugging stuff out and meet actual other human beings and fix each other's gadgets for free? What kind of anti-corporate attitude is that? No wonder job creators are fleeing Europe. What is the big point in having a society or government or laws if it does not create more profits for the big banks and corporations?
  • This comes off as another one of these "Europeans are great and Americans suck" articles. I know plenty of Americans, who are averse to throwing away old stuff. And if we're going to start comparing societies and their inclination to throw away perfectly good stuff I suggest visiting Asia.

    It's also really easy to promote social cohesion when 95% of the population is of a single nationality. Institute a program like this and the odds are high people will participate. It's easy to conduct social engineering w

  • by tekrat (242117) on Friday May 11, 2012 @11:28AM (#39967399) Homepage Journal

    Because to repair an item, you would have to first reverse engineer the item to understand how it works. This is specifically prohibited by the DMCA, and you could face a civil lawsuit, criminal penalties and jail time/fines.

    In the USA it is ILLEGAL to understand how a product works. You're not allowed to fix stuff, only to consume, and obey.

    Remember what country you live in folks, we're just trying to protect you. Now, please strip naked so you can board the subway.

  • A lot of items made for sale in the U.S. can not be economically repaired. Welded plastic components that can't be dis-assembled to gain access to the interior. Components that press together with an impossible to separate interference fit or spring retainer that is not designed to be removed. Cheap parts designed to be disposable. They're everywhere.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday May 11, 2012 @11:52AM (#39967723) Homepage

    As a hobby, I repair old Teletype machines [aetherltd.com], from the 1920s and 1930s. These machines were designed for a long life of nearly continuous operation and to be repairable. I have 70 and 80 year old machines running. Everything unscrews (and every screw has a lock nut), everything is interchangeable, and all parts can be reached without dismantling too much. The detailed repair manuals still exist. If one of these machines hasn't been seriously damaged and has all the parts, it's usually repairable. This is as good as it gets in repairability.

    The price of this is weight, bulk, and routine maintenance. The frame is cast steel. A printer weighs about 75 pounds, about twice the weight of an electric typewriter. There are over 500 oiling points to be oiled annually, plus about 50 points that require greasing. Every few years of operation, a full cleaning is required. This involves removing the two electrical parts, the motor and the selector electromagnet, and soaking the entire machine in solvent. Western Union did this to their machines routinely.

    Then there are adjustments. There are spring tensions and clearances to be adjusted. A spring scale and a feather gauge are required. After any part replacement, there are adjustments to be performed according to the manual.

    Nobody would put up with that bulk, weight, and maintenance today to get a machine capable of decades of operation. That is the price of repairability.

  • by mpol (719243) on Friday May 11, 2012 @12:14PM (#39968065) Homepage

    While this repair cafe is a single cafe in the country, there's a whole community of second hand shops called Kringloopwinkels. I my town of 116.000 people there are about 9 shops like that. The one I worked at was the biggest, with 2 physical shops and more than 1.000.000 Euro sales. They employ about 85 people, of whom maybe 45 or 50 have a paid job.
    It's quite a big business, and even with a recession it's a growing business.

  • by doston (2372830) on Friday May 11, 2012 @01:09PM (#39968793)
    In the US you've got a society that's designed from the ground up to benefit big business. The US is also unquestionably the most powerful country on earth and (practically) owns the world. The US is also one of the most open societies in the world and one of the largest, geographically. The predominant school of thought among social engineers and social planners in the US, is that the population must be highly indoctrinated (and the US population IS higly indoctrinated). The Netherlands really only compares to the US in the openness of its society. Given those facts, you can't compare the US and Dutch people. If you think those facts shouldn't affect people's socilization, you're just not giving the subject enough thought. One example, and this will be a tad controversial; there's a reason the Netherlands enjoy ten political parties and the US has only two (that are basically the same party); What the people of the Netherlands think doesn't matter outside of the Netherlands. What the people in the US think matters a lot.

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