We have an excellent July continuing in the Laptop Upcycle lab. Our Introduction to Computing class for prior recipients of laptops from our program, those who GET laptops, is now in the middle of its third week and the 5 High School students are spending the week learning Android Studio. Next week they will be working on developing an app for us to track our laptops as they are received, worked on, and then distributed to students in our schools. We have also enjoyed the volunteer work of other interns as we work through the large GIVE (donation) from our partner the Electronic Access Foundation. Today, Ben is combining three nonworking models into one functioning one and after class we'll image some laptops, make some cat5 cables, and take apart an iMac to clear it of the dust that's causing it to overheat.
On Common Sense -
We like to pride ourselves on our savvy technical skills. We're proudly geeks in may ways. If we don't know something, we will seek out that knowledge and then apply it to the task at hand.
So it was frustrating to us when the refrigerators in our lab kept failing. We run on a tight budget, so our equipment is generally something we obtain from donation or trolling Craigslist. If you doubt us, come by and look at our mish mash of chairs here. Anyhow, we had a large full size fridge we picked up in Glen Ridge a few months back and a dorm size one for water a friend had donated. With our activities (above) and the other meetings we host such as the Northern NJ Wordpress group, we need to keep beverages cool.
We would come in to the lab, open each fridge, the lights would be on, but they wouldn't be cool. Finally, the Wordpress folks lost patience with us and they bought their one fridge. It was used and beat up, so when even it wouldn't keep their beer cold, I threw up my hands and called "a guy". The day before he was set to stop by we had a Board meeting where the topic was discussed and we lamented our poor choice in equipment.
It was then that our co-founder John Wisniewski mentioned that he knew what the problem is. He walked over to the light switch for the lab, turned them out and the opened the fridge door. You guessed it - no light. The power outlet we had been using for the refrigerators is switched and tied in to the lab lights circuit. So when ever we turned out the lights and left the lab, we also were turning off the fridges. It's not obvious, but we felt pretty dumb and were humbled. Sometimes it pays to think "outside of the box".
We switched to a different non-switched outlet and we are all cool.