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Community Workshops News

We’re getting ready to BitFIXit again!

Hello again, our fellow fixers and readers! We are excited to share some good news to everyone here, following news of lockdown restrictions easing throughout England; our regular computer repairs workshops at Abbeyfield Park House will be back in service and ready to begin fixing computers again! Workshop sessions will resume from Saturday 17th April 2021 at the usual time of 12pm to 3pm.

The safety measures and precautions we adopted for our workshops at previous sessions that we were able to operate when restrictions were last eased, will remain broadly the same. But this time, we will operate a kiosk service using the community room entrance leading from the park. The way this will work, is that people can book in repairs for their broken computers from outside the building, and collect their items after repairs have been completed.

Because it has been quite a few months since we held our last workshop sessions, it will take some time for us to get back into the swing of things, and we will review how the new sessions progress, so that we can serve local communities to the best of our abilities. We very much look forward to seeing you all again at our regular workshops!

Categories
Hardware Articles

Glaring foul-ups, tech pet hates & other things that irritate techies

Hello fellow fixers & readers! With the country in lockdown at the time of writing, we hope you’re all keeping yourselves safe and well! We talked about, among other topics, different ways of fixing and repurposing computers and other devices and whether or not upgrading certain parts in a computer is a good idea.

But today, we want to discuss about something else; mistakes that can happen to us when we try to build or fix computers, things that can confuse or irritate us when we’re shopping for new or refurbished gadgets, and other general technology-related things that can literally drive enthusiasts up the wall. So here are just some of the things that can really annoy us one way or another, and ways to deal with them.

When a new computer you just purchased comes with a lot of pre-installed bloatware

We have all been there when we decide to splash our hard-earned cash on a shiny brand-new computer; we pick which make and model we want, we buy it (obviously), we take it home or have it delivered, we unpack and set up the unit, and we power it on for the first time and set up a user account.

Then onto the Windows desktop, we find that there is a lot of bundled software that came installed with the operating system; OEM software, trial versions of different software, productivity software, services for playing video games…you name it. While some of the apps can be quite useful to be fair, many others just serve no useful purpose than to needlessly clog up free storage space that be used for better and more useful apps, utilities…and updates! Lots and lots of updates!

The whole bloatware malarkey can be avoided by buying new computers assembled by system builder boutiques, replacing the pre-installed copy of Windows with a fresh copy of Windows or a GNU/Linux distro on the new computer you just bought, or if you feel confident and have some computer assembly experience, try building a new computer yourself. (After all, by building your own computer, you’ll never have to deal with third-party bundled crapware again!)

When you finish building a new computer from scratch, only to find you made mistakes when you try to power it on (or during the assembly process)

Here’s one case where even experienced computer assemblers can sometimes find themselves making beginner mistakes when building computers from scratch. Obviously, this can happen when you bought all the components you need for a desired build (whether it’s a gaming PC or just a basic machine for working on documents or browsing the internet), put all the parts together in the case, and when you try to turn on your shiny new computer, something’s wrong.

Now, this can be the result of simple mistakes like forgetting to connect the power switch to the motherboard during assembly or trying to use the bundled SATA cables that are too short for connecting the hard drive or SATA SSD to the motherboard, or more glaring mistakes like fitting a PSU with a rated wattage that is too low to power the whole build.

If you are looking to upgrade from an old computer, and you fancy having a go at building one yourself, it’s worth thinking over what you intend to do with a new machine, and doing research on what parts you will need to put together a well-balanced build for your needs. It’s also a good idea to read useful articles online about the common pitfalls and mistakes that a computer assembler can make during the whole process; with this knowledge, it helps make the whole assembly process less stressful and less costly.

Before committing to building a new computer though, it’s worth looking at the specs of your current computer, particularly if it is a fairly recent model or build; if it still performs well for your needs, then you are probably better off just upgrading your current machine instead.

When you buy a refurbished computer from a physical or online retailer, but notice that it came with one or more parts missing

So far, we mentioned mistakes and annoying issues that can happen with brand new off-the-shelf and custom-built computers. However, mistakes can occur with refurbished and second-hand computers as well.

One example of this is where you buy a refurbished or second-hand computer online or in-store, but when you take it home (or have it delivered to you), you find that there is something odd happening that turns out to be the result of a missing part. A case in point, was that in the past, we came across a refurbished laptop that our client brought into our workshops after purchasing it from a retailer; the problems the laptop was experiencing turned out to be caused by a missing caddy for the hard drive, which can become loose and inadvertently disconnect itself from the internal SATA connector.

If you find this happening to you, you can choose to return the machine to the retailer or seller you purchased it from, where you can exchange it for something else or get your money back. You could try finding a replacement for the part that was missing from the machine, whether it’s looking at places like eBay, or just scavenging from whatever spare parts you have at hand. Or if that fails, you can always get creative with fixing the problem just by using whatever everyday items you have lying around.

When you order a replacement part to fix a problem with a computer or mobile device, only to discover that the part you received was for another device

Many of us who fix computers and mobile devices as a hobby or for a living can experience problems with repairs in one way or another, just as computers and mobile devices can develop faults in the first place. Faults that can occur on devices range from minor problems like faulty optical drives or dead built-in webcams, to more serious issues such as faulty sticks on RAM or faulty/dead motherboards.

When a device needs a replacement part for a component that died (or at least became faulty), you typically find the make and model of the device in question, and then search for (and buy) the correct working replacement part for the device in question. So when you receive the replacement part and get round to repairing it, you start the repairs, only to find that the part in question was actually for a (slightly) different model! So you end up having to return the part to the seller and start again, while the device continues to languish in a broken state.

So although mistakes like this can still happen even with plenty of research and diligence, it’s still worth making a note of the make and model of your computer, laptop or mobile device if you want to try repairing it yourself (jotting down the model number of the device helps as well). That way, you can more easily find out if the replacement part for the faulty component in question will be compatible for your device. It’s also a good idea to look for guides on how to replace a faulty component for a given device, particularly if it is a smartphone or a tablet; sites like iFixit are good resources for repair guides.

So those are just some of the ways that can annoy us when we goof up on repairs and assemblies, and when we find something that can really drive us up the wall. Feel free to share your stories in the comments for this article, on your tech-related pet hates, as well as mistakes that have happened to you regarding computer and mobile device repairs, computer builds and upgrades. Stay safe and well, everyone!

Categories
Hardware Articles

Have a stash of old USB drives lying around? Let’s make them great again!

Hello once again fellow readers and fixers! We hope you’re all keeping safe and well during quite a difficult time. We have shared quite a number of ideas about reusing and repurposing computers and different hardware components, but this time we want to share some reuse ideas about something that has of late become increasingly unloved in an era of a myriad of streaming services; USB drives.

Chances are, we have a stash of USB drives that are left in drawers, in drawers, or otherwise just left on the side, relegated to becoming mere magnets for dust and other kinds of debris. So, why not dust them off and start making use of them again? Here are a few ideas to eke the maximum possible useful life out of old USB drives.

Fancy some entertainment on the go?

Try loading up your USB drive with some games! There are a range of portable versions of games that you can try out on your computer, ranging from racing games to puzzle games – and keep hard drive/SSD space free for essential applications and updates. Just plug in the drive, fire up whichever game you want to play, and then unplug it again when finished.

You can also load your USB drive with your favourite music, videos and movies, and play them while you’re out and about, whether on your phone, your laptop, or even in your car.

For extra security for your computer…

…why not use your old USB drive as a security key? The way this works is that when you unplug your USB drive from your computer, the system automatically locks itself, so other people cannot gain access to your files and other data without your USB drive. This can be useful as a way to protect sensitive personal information from unauthorised access, or otherwise to stop other people from looking at embarrassing videos and photos that you don’t want them to see!

The same principle can also be applied as a form of parental control, where you can set limits on how much time your kids can spend on your computer, and block access to site that contain inappropriate material.

Damaged casing? Why not improvise?

If the casing for your USB drive is looking worse for wear, but the drive itself is still working fine, then it is worth protecting the circuit board by creating new casing for it. The easiest way to do so is to use mouldable adhesives like Sugru’s mouldable glue or Loctite’s Kintsuglue; these can be found relatively cheaply online or at arts and crafts brick-and-mortar retailers. Simply open up a packet of mouldable adhesive of your desired colour, gently mould it around the circuit board, smooth out any rough areas, and leave it to cure for a day.

If you’re looking for extra inspiration, there are numerous ideas for DIY USB drive casings that other people have shared to the world; you can browse their creations and choose one that you like. Or if you are really creative, you can try turning whatever suitable small everyday objects you have lying around into a casing for your bare USB drive. The possibilities are endless!

Dead or defective USB drive? No problem!

If your USB drive doesn’t work anymore, then there are still other ways that you can use it for something else. The casings from dead or defective USB drives can be used for various things, such as labels for plant and herb pots and storage containers, and decorations like wind chimes and ornaments. The flash chips can be turned into different kinds of jewellery, such as pendants, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

If you prefer to part with the old USB drive instead, then rather than simply throw it into the bin, you can send it in to a local computer IT and recycling facility or programme, which processes old or broken various computers and IT equipment in ways that help reduce the amount of electronic waste to ends up in landfill sites. It’s worth making sure that any data stored on the USB drive is completely erased if possible before doing so, to prevent potentially sensitive data from being retrieved.

Those are just some of the ways you can repurpose and reuse old USB drives. It’s worth maximising the useful life of USB drives, just like with computers and other IT equipment and accessories, since doing so is better for the environment, and better for communities as a whole.

Categories
Hardware Articles

Breathing new auditory & visual life into a tired old computer (Part 1)

Hello once again fellow readers and fixers! Here is another way of getting more use out of an old computer; if you find yourself getting fed up of spending ages waiting for an important application to load in order to get something important done, or constantly fighting against a seemingly never-ending tidal wave of junk data and huge software updates clogging up you spare storage space, then why not turn your old computer into a media hub?

The great thing about a media hub is that you can be flexible in the way they play different kinds of multimedia. If you have more music, video clips, movies and video games than you know what to do with, you can install a large hard drive just for your media collection. If streaming is more your cup of tea, then you can get by with an SSD with a more modest storage capacity, and simply connect an external hard drive for your media collection if needed.

Now then, if you want to use your old computer just for playing music, video clips and movies, there is a dedicated operating system called LibreELEC, which is essentially a minimal GNU/Linux distro that is specifically built to run Kodi for media centre use. It has a collection of add-ons that are crafted to provide a television-like experience to users, and provide access to various different features and services, from internet radio to video streaming. In addition, it can be run as a live session from a bootable USB stick, be run directly from the USB stick with settings saved to the pen drive, or be installed directly onto the hard drive or SSD (any existing data stored on the hard drive/SSD, including partitions, will be deleted if going the installation route, so back up any essential files beforehand!)

Of course, for those who don’t yet feel confident in making the switch completely for their old computer, or who needs to use other software applications for various activities, Kodi itself can be installed as a separate application on Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux, and on Android devices. However, for the purpose of this article, we will assume that the users in question are already using a more powerful and/or recent computer for any other activities besides playing media files.

Next time, we will try out LibreELEC on a range of old laptops that we have spare in our workshops, and see how well they run, along with how well they can play various kinds of media.

Categories
Miscellaneous Articles

Upgrades on a Shoestring: Power Supply Units

Hello again fellow readers and fixers! Last year, we covered solid state drives with regards to upgrading parts in a desktop computer or a laptop on a shoestring budget, since those parts have reached a point where achieving a performance uplift through faster internal storage for little outlay became viable. But which other computer parts do upgrading on a shoestring budget makes sense?

Today, we look at power supply units, which are one of the core parts a desktop computer needs in order to function. Power supply units are designed to turn alternating current drawn from the mains socket, into low-voltage direct current, and then feed that low-voltage direct current to the other internal components (including the processor, storage drives and any peripheral devices) to enable them to function.

Modern power supply units are designed to be energy efficient, based on different levels of power load; this means that they consume less power drawn from the mains and in turn, produce less heat. This also means that they can also operate quieter, since the fans inside the power supply units do not need to spin up as much; in fact, some high-end power supplies are designed to operate silently at low loads, or generate sufficiently little heat that enables them to be cooled passively. They also commonly have built-in safety features that help protect against excessive temperatures, loads or currents, short circuits and over or under-voltage problems that can cause damage to the power supply unit itself, or potentially to other hardware components.

Of course, even now, there are generic power supplies that are manufactured at such low cost that they are marketed at people who are looking to build or upgrade their desktop PCs, but cannot afford to buy a good quality unit from a reputable brand, such as Corsair, Seasonic, be quiet! and Thermaltake. They usually tend to be lighter in weight than with reputable units, due to fewer internal components and thinner metal casings.

Unfortunately, because these generic, no-name power supply units are often poorly-designed and assembled, they lack the extra safety features built into units manufactured by reputable brands. With metal cases as thin as cornflakes cardboard boxes, they are perhaps the one kind of computer part where you absolutely do not want to scrimp and save on. After all, the last thing anyone wants to see happen to their computers for the power supply unit’s internal components to snap, make the whole unit itself crackle, and potentially cause the other hardware components to go pop, with the end result being a possible electrical fire and the replacement of any other hardware parts damaged by such a power supply failure.

In summary, the power supply unit is one computer part where it is better to spend that bit more and get a decent quality unit than a generic one. We would recommend buying a power supply which has a wattage capacity that is appropriate for your computer or build, with around 25-30% headroom to take into account ageing and efficient operation.

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Community Workshops News

BitFIXit is now BitFIXing again!

Hello fellow readers and fixers! As the upheaval resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak is starting to settle up and down the United Kingdom, we noticed that various places throughout the country have recently started to open up again as the lockdown relaxes. We have also recently heard from another local community group based in Abbeyfield Park House that members of the local community have been asking about when our usual repairs workshops will begin running again.

Well, we have some good news to share with everyone here; we are looking to restart our repairs workshops for the community, starting from next Saturday, which will be the 27th June 2020. There will, however, be some measures that we will put into place to help protect our volunteers and the community against contracting coronavirus; here is a list of some of the measures that we propose to implement;

  • Providing hand sanitisers, wipes and gloves at the repairs workshops
  • We will be trialing having a small reception area just inside the door to the park where customers can drop off their computers. We’ll take contact details and then ask you to leave and we will contact you when the repair is finished.
  • Where possible, we will carry out repairs in separate rooms to help volunteers maintain social distancing during workshop sessions
  • As this is a trial we will review how it goes and may change our procedures as we get better at this

We very much look forward to resuming our regular service which has been operating continuously since 2004.

Categories
Miscellaneous Articles

Stuck for things to do during the lockdown?

Hello again fellow readers and fixers! We hope you are all keeping safe and well in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing lockdown which, sadly is continuing for a while longer. But that in no way means that you should wallow in boredom at home if you absolutely cannot work as a result of the lockdown; there are still many ways that you can entertain yourself and pass the time in the meantime.

We have put together a list of just some of the activities that you can do while the lockdown is still ongoing, some conventional, others more on the wacky side.

Bring an old computer back into use

Chances are, when you buy a new desktop PC or laptop, or a recent refurbished machine, your old machine is still lying around somewhere, gradually gathering dust. So if that old computer still works, then instead of throwing it away, why not use it for something else?

For example, if the old machine still has CPU and graphics horsepower left, then it is worth turning it into a media hub for playing music, games, videos and movies. Many music and video players, games and other media-focused software applications, as well as media streaming services, have cross-platform compatibility, meaning that you can use your favourite operating system with your favourite media apps!

Try out different GNU/Linux distros

If you feel that you are becoming fed up of using the same operating system day in, day out, that it is getting really slow to use even after trying to optimise it, or just fancy trying out something else, then there are numerous different GNU/Linux distros, from mainstream distros like Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora and Gentoo, to less well known distros like Trisquel, Tiny Core Linux and MX Linux.

With a spare USB drive and utilities for creating a bootable USB drive, you can then run the chosen distro as a live session, so that you can find out how it will be used when it is installed, and whether or not the distro will work correctly with all of the components in your machine. So if you decide that the distro you tried is not the right fit for your needs or device, you still keep the operating system you currently have installed on your machine, along with all of your documents, software and media.

Learn how to fix common problems with computers

Encountering problems with different items of hardware and software is a fact of life in the world of computer repairs. Particularly, if you are working from home while the lockdown is ongoing, having something go wrong while getting important work done can be more problematic than usual without the support from local computer repair shops to fallback on.

That said, it is worth spending some time reading through a wide range of articles and blog posts, and watching videos on YouTube about a wide range of hardware and software issues, and how those problems can be fixed. You can use a notepad or some spare sheets of paper to write down notes on any tools or other items needed, and the steps taken to fix a problem, if you feel that this would be useful for you.

If you prefer to learn by practical means, then you can use a spare machine to practice fixing hardware and software problems, so that you know what to do if those issues arise on your primary machine.

One important task that you need to remember, is to regularly back up all of your important files to your cloud storage, or to an external hard drive or USB drive – that way, your data will be safe should the worse comes to the worst, where something goes badly wrong with your computer.

Give the insides of your computer a clean

Just like many everyday items, your desktop PC or laptop naturally attracts dust over time, and too much dust clogging up the heat sinks of critical components such as your CPU means they can’t cope with the resulting excessive heat being trapped under the layer of dust.

Modern CPUs in particular are designed to throttle (reduce its clock speed) to keep themselves within a certain temperature threshold to prevent heat-related damage; if they do exceed that temperature threshold even while throttling, then they initiate what is akin to a safety cut-out, which completely shuts down the computer as a last resort to protect the CPU from damage caused by excessive heat.

With that in mind, it is definitely a good idea to get into the habit of periodically cleaning out the inside of your computer to get rid of as much dust and debris as possible. Getting into most desktop PCs is just a simple matter of removing a couple of screws or thumbscrews from a side panel and sliding the panel off the case. An air duster works wonders for removing dust from hard to reach places, and especially from heat sink fans on laptops, though if you don’t have one at hand, then alternatively you can use cotton wool swabs or soft brushes to sweep the dust away.

Those are just some of the things that you can do to keep yourself occupied while the lockdown continues. Just remember though: make sure to stay safe and well, and we will pull through together!

Categories
Hardware Articles

We tried a different kind of SSD upgrade…

Many of us who have had a small capacity SSD in our computers will have encountered situations when it suddenly stops working one day and takes all of your precious documents and other data with it, or it gets clogged up with so much junk data over a period of time that there’s not enough room left over for that all-important Windows update.

Now, at a time when SSDs are so cheap nowadays that a 240GB+ SSD can be picked up from your favourite online retailer on a shoestring, our typical idea of an SSD upgrade would be to replace an SSD that has kicked the bucket or is getting too small in storage space to cope with a big Windows update, or to replace a slow or failing hard drive with an SSD. But what if we take an SSD with such a small capacity, and tried to upgrade its capacity while still retaining its original case?

Today, we attempted this possible approach to an SSD upgrade with a 20GB Intel 313 Series SATA-II solid-state drive that we recently found rather cheaply on eBay. This SSD originally came from a HP machine, and would likely have been used as a cache drive alongside a mechanical hard drive, intended to be utilised through Intel’s proprietary caching mechanisms.

And here’s the SSD that we were looking to use its casing to house our bare SSD!

As you can see in the above photo, the casing of the SSD was held together with four small screws, one on each corner. And so, it took just a Philips screwdriver to open up the casing by removing the four screws on the corners and simply prising open the casing itself.

And there’s the PCB that makes up the internals of the SSD! It occupied the whole of the inside of the SSD, and will have been held secure by the same four screws that kept the casing held together. No moving parts here, so much easier to take apart than a mechanical hard drive. We had a 240GB bare SSD at hand in its anti-static bag, so we tried installing it into the original SSD casing and…

…well, that was where things were not going according to plan here. The trouble is, the holes on the bare SSD did not align properly with the screw holes on the inside corners of the casing, so it would not have been secured in place when the casing would be closed up. The same was also true when seeing if wedging it with screws against the recesses that would be where the screws would go to mount the SSD to a 2.5″ drive bay in a computer would work as a workaround.

Also, the shape of the SATA connector area on our spare SSD differed to that on the original PCB of the Intel 313 Series SSD, so even if the holes did align and we were able to secure it in place with the screws, we would not have been able to fully close up the unit without risking damage to the casing and/or our bare SSD. We did consider cutting a small opening into the top cover as a workaround to this, so that the SATA connectors would sit flush with the casing this way, but we decided against doing so.

So what we have learned here is that such an approach to SSD upgrades can plausibly be done, though it does depend on the design of the SSD casing and where the screws are, so while this SSD upgrade attempt on the Intel 313 Series SSD did not work out as planned on this occasion, we may have better luck doing this with other makes and models of SSDs.

And this proves that you can’t win them all, but we did learn something in the process. We’ll keep our eyes open for a 2.5″ case that would fit better.

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Community Workshops News

From specialism to generalism – a workshop trial

Since we began the BitFIXit project in 2004, we generally focused our repairs work more on computers and mobile devices at our pop-up repair workshops at Abbeyfield Park House in Pitsmoor, and on Verdon Street in Burngreave prior to the move.

Having worked alongside the dedicated repairers from Repair Sheffield since 2016, we are now collaborating with them to begin a trial, involving monthly general repair workshops at Abbeyfield Park House. The initial session at our repair workshops will run on Saturday 1st February 2020 at the extended times of 10am to 4pm, in line with Repair Sheffield’s repair cafe sessions at Heeley City Farm and Strip the Willow.

You can find out more about Repair Sheffield at their website here: https://sheffieldrepaircafe.callpress.net/

On the day, we can repair computers, phones and tablets as we normally do at our repairs workshops, but you can also bring along a plethora of other kinds of everyday items such as small furniture (e.g tables, chairs), general electrical items (e.g kettles, radios, digital TV recorders), clothes and footwear, and even antiques!

If all goes well at the initial general workshops session and there is enough interest to make these sessions viable, then we will hold the general repair workshops on the first Saturday of every month at Abbeyfield Park House. We hope to see you there!

Categories
BitFIXit General

Forging ahead into the future

We hope you have all had a great Christmas and a happy new year. With the BitFIXit project running community workshops and engaging with events run by other groups for over 16 years now, we feel that now is a good time to set out how we can move the BitFIXit project forwards, going into the future.

  • Encourage reuse, repair and repurpose

As new and upcoming iterations of computers and mobile devices are becoming increasingly locked down in terms of specs and repairability, and the business models of ingrained planned obsolescence on the part of manufacturers become evermore unsustainable, we believe that being able to reuse, repair and repurpose IT equipment and hardware components are more important than ever before.

While reusing and repurposing computers, mobile devices and other IT equipment goes a long way in reducing the amount of e-waste we produce, we feel that we can further reduce e-waste by finding other different (and creative!) ways of reusing and repurposing individual parts that make up the equipment. We already shared some repurpose and reuse ideas here on this site, but we are interested in being more ambitious and creative with reuse and repurpose by working on various different projects, based on ideas we discussed during recent workshop sessions (and of course, finally giving Gareth a good reason to make use of all the laptop batteries he has been hoarding all that time!)

The overall gist of promoting reuse, repair and repurpose is to encourage people to be more resourceful by maximising the useful life of technological products through refurbishment, upgrades and optimisation. And where those items could no longer be used for their original purpose, their individual components can still become parts of other useful items, instead of just becoming e-waste.

  • Collaborate with other community groups

Collaboration is going to be important going forward, as we are better able to promote sustainability by working together. We understood that this can be done as demonstrated in March 2019, when the fine folks at Repair Sheffield and People’s Kitchen Pitsmoor came together with us for the relaunch of Green City Action’s Community Tool Bank at Abbeyfield Park House. What is in the pipeline right now, is for collaborative events to take place around every three months.

We currently work alongside Repair Sheffield at their repair cafe sessions at Heeley City Farm and Strip The Willow, and we will be working alongside them more frequently at Abbeyfield Park House. We’re starting regular Repair Sheffield sessions every month, on the first Saturday of the month. Combining our IT-oriented workshops with their more generalised repair cafes will result in a more unified community repairs hub that is capable of fixing a broad range of everyday items and sharing advice, tips and ideas.

We would be especially interested in collaborating with other community groups and repair cafes from further afield. What would also be great is to be able to work with the folks at Access Space again; we regrettably haven’t been able to maintain contact with them since they were unable to keep repair cafes going there last year.

  • Reach out to the wider public

We do have a lot of people from within the local community come to our Saturday workshops since we first started, but attracting interest in folks from further afield is something we believe can only help in the long term.

At present, Gareth and myself have been running the community repair workshops as mostly a two-person operation, with a few other people dropping by to help us out from time to time. What this means is that we can only do so much ourselves in the 3-4 hour workshop sessions while also taking on full-time work commitments elsewhere. And so going forward, we want to encourage more people to join us and help out at our workshops in Abbeyfield Park House, as well as repair cafe sessions held by Repair Sheffield at Heeley City Farm and Strip The Willow.

To attract interest in what we do at our workshops, we will aim to work with organisations such as Voluntary Action Sheffield, the Doit.Foundation and the Sheffield Students Union to advertise volunteering opportunities, as well as make better use of social media platforms to spread the word about what we do at our workshops. We will also aim to spread the word out to local communities and advertise the volunteering opportunities at our community workshops at Abbeyfield Park House, and at repair cafes run by other groups we are working with at present.

  • Evolve the repairs workshops

At present, we focus primarily on diagnostics, repairs and clean-ups of desktop PCs and laptops, along with some work on phones and tablets. The potential is there, though, to diversify the pop-up workshops and make it into more than simply a computer repair cafe; as well as developing it into an inclusive community repairs hub where anyone can come in and learn how to fix their tired and clapped-out everyday items, why not offer a pop-up internet cafe for example?

Internet cafes were once quite popular in the days before tablets and smartphones became ubiquitous; you could have a coffee and a bite to eat while watching online videos, catching up on the latest news or applying for jobs in the local area. Nowadays, people find that they could simply do just that on their phones, tablets or laptops in a typical chain coffee shop, which meant that over recent years, internet cafes have been gradually dying out across the country.

We believe internet cafes still have a place in local communities, where there are people who can’t afford access to home or mobile broadband services.

These are just a few different ways we can take to develop the repair workshops and inspire local communities to fix their items and help others do the same.