• Posts Tagged ‘repair’

    The Cost of Having Nice Things

    by  • May 17, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Shoe Repair

    Expensive, But Necessary

    May has inadvertently turned into a month of “Getting Things Done.” While I would ordinarily begin doing a type of spring cleaning (although let’s be real, I’m obsessive compulsive and every week is spring cleaning week in my apartment), the fact that we are being moved out of our apartment (for renovation purposes) has had a compounding effect on the number of spring-related errands I’ve been running and, as a result, my bank account.

    This past weekend, for instance, I had a list to complete. It’s finally getting warm up here, so I decided I could take my coats in to be dry-cleaned. My boots won’t be worn for another few months, so now is a great moment to take them to a cobbler and repair all the damage I’ve done as a result of wearing them essentially daily in horrible weather. I have a couple of summery dresses that I’ll need for upcoming weddings that fit me not-quite-right in a few areas, and I’ve been putting off doing anything about them for a while. So boots and coats in hand (and arms and bag), I went off to drop everything in its respective location.

    First up, the coats. It will cost $20 per item for them to be cleaned. That’s a bit of a hit to the wallet, but unavoidable considering how many things I’ve spilled on myself/sat in while wearing these coats. They’re good, sturdy items, and I’d like to keep them for a while, so a cleaning once or twice a year to get the stale, dried beer off of them (thanks to a clumsy moment in a bar) is worth it.

    Next, I marched to the cobbler. I had three pairs of shoes with me: a nice pair of black leather boots that I’ve worn away after a year of scraping my heels (a terrible habit, I know); brown Timberland boots that are one of my greatest joys, and whose lining has been super-glued by me I don’t know how many times; and a pair of dainty, pointed heels that I consistently scrape against staircases as I go up them (I can’t avoid this, no matter how diligent I try to be). The total came to $75 for repairs and shining. The cobbler tried to talk me into replacing the heels on the brown boots as well, but they’re not terribly worn down and I’m fairly certain I can get another year out of them before incurring that $40 cost. It’s expensive, but do you know what’s more expensive? Replacing really nice boots. So down went the credit card in my attempt to keep my nice things nice.

    There are net positives to this kind of seasonal overhaul. I went through my wardrobe and found a number of clothing items to consign locally, which should mean a nice-sized check in my future. I’ve gotten to reassess what I own, and take care of items that need it so that they look like new (because nothing helps with spending than getting a pair of repaired/cleaned boots and clothing to make you feel like you have something new when you don’t). It’s money I don’t mind spending.

    What kind of costs are involved with your clothing upkeep? Does a big event like a move prompt you to take care of neglected items?

    image: David Harris

    A Tale of Two Electronics

    by  • November 10, 2011 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments


    Electronics are cool. Except when they break.

    image: aaltonen

    In the past month I’ve had bad luck with electronics. Last week Her was using her computer to look up some stuff, and then turned to me and uttered those dreaded words, “I think that the internet is down.” If you’re a home networking amateur like myself, you know that finding the problem of the internet outage is equavalent to taking the Mensa exam. Is it the router? Is it the modem? Is it the network settings? It it only the wireless connection? Is it the ISP?

    Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to find out what was wrong: the wireless bridge (Dlink DAP-1522) was not working. After whacking it a few times and plugging it into different outlets, the thing would not start up.

    Begrudgingly I bought another new one online for $70 after seeing nothing equivalent on Craigslist or eBay. While I was waiting for it to arrive I read that someone else had the same problem and that it was because of a faulty power supply. When the new wireless bridge arrived, I grabbed the power supply, plugged it into the old wireless bridge and, lo and behold, it was the power supply after all. A quick search on eBay resulted in me finding and purchasing a $7 power supply replacement; the “new” wireless bridge is now on its way back to the retailer. It’s a nice feeling to be able to salvage an old, working piece of electronics for 10% of the new purchase price.

    My second problem with electronics didn’t go so well. I’ve had a nicely specced, refurbished iMac in use for almost the past 3 years. I never powered down the machine, but it did go to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity. One day I went to wake it up from its slumber, but I got nothing. I tried holding down the power button. Nothing. I unplugged all of the peripheral devices hooked up to it and then tried the power button. Nothing. I begged it to wake up. Nothing.

    Oh no.

    I took the poor iMac to nearest shop and awaited their $29 diagnosis. I then received a call that no Mac owner wants to hear: the logic board is dead. The cost to replace was going to be $859, labor included. There’s no way I’m going to fix a 3 year old computer for that much money. I opted to have them salvage the hard drive for $99.

    The irony of this situation is that if I had purchased AppleCare, I would have had about a month remaining until it ran out. I bought a MacBook a few months ago, and will be purchasing AppleCare for that.

    How do you deal when your electronics break? Buy new ones? Go without? Let us know in the comments.

    Modern-Day Recession Era Skills

    by  • March 2, 2009 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    If you’ve paid any attention to the media, you’re aware that we as a country aren’t doing too well financially. Much has been written that compares our situation today to the Great Depression that began in 1929. To that end, many are taking lessons learned from the Depression era and are applying them to today’s life. For example, Depression era cooking is now chic, darning socks is the new black, and being frugal is the lifestyle of the moment.

    Unlike the Depression era, we have tons more electronic gadgets and toys that have become intertwined with our everyday living. Computers, televisions, and even IPods are commonly found in most peoples’ households. In the last few years, we’ve been condition to think that electronic gadgetry is more often easier and economic to replace rather than repair. But is this always the case?

    Our TiVo has been on the fritz since at least last summer. The first sign was intermittent audio drop outs. I thought it was just a fluke – maybe our satellite signal wasn’t up to snuff. After we returned from our honeymoon, the problem was increasing worse. We started missing crucial dialog on our favorite shows. More annoyingly, we were missing what ingredients Gordon Ramsay was putting in his dishes when we were watching The F Word. The final straw that broke the camel’s back was this past weekend, when the TiVo spontaneously restarted itself numerous times.

    Her and I had to make a decision: do we blow $100 on another non-TiVo DirecTV DVR? Because we love our TiVo so much, I was determined to make it work. I researched what could possibly be wrong with the TiVo and tried all of the non-invasive troubleshooting techniques. None worked. It seemed that I had no choice but to replace the hard drive in a last-ditch effort to save the ailing DVR.

    Weirdly enough, replacing the hard drive wouldn’t have cost us any money – I had an external hard drive laying around that I dismantled and appropriated for the repair. After commandeering our main computer for the whole day, I went to work, diligently following the directions on my laptop. After 10 painstaking hours, I put everything back together and plugged in the TiVo.

    It powered up…that’s a good sign. I waited for what seemed like an eternity for it to get to the point where I could watch TV. When the signal was coming in, I tuned to a channel. Audio! And it didn’t drop out! Holy crap! The next step: were our recordings saved? I furiously clicked through to play a recorded show…success!

    Doing this saved us at least $100 and gave me the skills to fix our TiVo should this ever happen again. What modern-day recession era skills are you most proud of?

    Saved My Watch, Saved Some Money

    by  • October 2, 2006 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    A few years ago my parents became empty nesters – then decided to embark on a European vacation to celebrate. During their travels they stopped at the home of Swatch in Switzerland, and bought me a watch. When they gave it to me, I was excited to be the proud owner of a Swatch watch directly from Europe…except that the watch isn’t anything that you can’t get in the USA. You can even buy it from the Swatch website. Anyway, my parents haven’t been known for their gift giving so getting a nice watch from them is kind of a big deal.

    I tend to really beat up the things that I own, and the crystal (the plastic/glass that covers the face of the watch) was littered with scratches and other gouges. A few days ago the bracelet (note: if the watch band is leather, it’s a strap; if it is metal, it is a bracelet) of my watch broke, leaving the watch to fall off right into the litter box that I was cleaning at the time. Yuck. I was bummed because the watch was really nice, and I didn’t really want to spend money on a new watch.

    Fortunately for me, I happen to work with a watch connoisseur. He suggested that I check out a store which is not too far from our work.

    When I arrived at the store I showed them my watch and they knew exactly what needed to be done. They had about half a dozen replacement bracelets for my watch – which they replaced and sized for me. They told me to hold on to the extra links, because if I had the old bracelet links I could have just used one link from that – good to know. Also, since the crystal of my watch is plastic and NOT glass, they buffed out all of the scratches and gouges from the crystal – for free. The people told me that it was normal wear and tear, and that I can come in anytime to have it rebuffed. When everything was finished, my watch looked brand new and all I had to pay for was the replacement bracelet – a reasonable $20. Not bad.