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Hacking My Stuff


Years ago it was common for individuals to fix (or hack) their own stuff. DIY became less common as the things people own became more customized (rather than using standard parts), and harder to work on, partly because everything is so small and partly because the needed exhaustive documentation no longer comes with every device. It became more and more common to see No user-serviceable parts inside, and for most folks to believe this whether or not it was actually true.

Until recently there was less and less alternative to having a professional handle every fix. But it was often slower and significantly more expensive than doing it yourself would have been if that were possible. Fortunately the internet has made DIY fixes possible again, making it easy to find tricks of the trade, step by step instructions, documentation, and parts. Just a little web searching will usually turn up everything you need; often the key to finding things is as simple as the model number.

Here's a collection of mini-projects I've undertaken myself, illustrating several different useful techniques:




At my age I no longer have the astuteness nor the dexterity to undertake these sorts of project that I used to do. At some point projects began to take much longer. And as to physical movement, first I could no longer kneel for very long, then I couldn't crane my neck into tight spaces, then my balance got so bad I couldn't even change a ceiling lightbulb, then I couldn't handle stairs without a railing, then I couldn't get into my attic, then getting down on the floor was difficult, and now simply bending over leaves me breathing hard.

Shortly after this dimming began I gave away most of my power tools, then later stopped doing all plumbing projects, and finally discarded almost all of my hand tools too. But then I moved into a different house, and wound up replacing several tools so I could undertake the many needed small repairs. Soon though I had so much difficulty with even household chores that I gave up doing them myself, and instead focused on obtaining handyman help whenever necessary.

This diminution somewhat surprised me, as I hadn't expected it to be so severe. What surprised me more though was finding the change a threat to my very identity. I've always been Mr. Fixit, and having that identity ripped away from me left a big hole that hasn't been easy to fill.


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