I’m tech support at my house. I replace batteries in remote controllers, trouble shoot buggy computers, and figure out why the TV suddenly has no audio. I taught my daughter how to reboot her buggy cell phone, gave the home wireless network a boost with cardboard and aluminum foil, and reprogrammed my car’s wireless key remote by rhythmically opening and closing the door.
So I guess I shouldn’t be amazed when solutions to high tech problems are extremely low tech. Still, I can’t seem to shake my initial skepticism whenever I hear about these bizarre cures—and how impressed I am by the collective knowledge online when they work. (I never can tell who first thinks of these things; wish I could give them credit.)
The latest such fix has gotten a lot of press—using a scrap of duct tape to fix the iPhone antenna problem. Love it; so simple, and everyone has duct tape (as heavy duct tape users, we’ve got at least 5 colors on hand in my house, so we could even make a fashion statement here).
My duct tape is handily stored next to my hot glue gun (on what I’m going to stop calling the craft shelf and rename the consumer electronics service center). A couple of months ago, that hot glue gun kept me from tossing a Flip video camera into the recycling box. It was a slightly older Flip model, passed down from one of Spectrum’s other editors, and I was trying to use it for video blogging. However, the simple, on
e-touch record was proving to be not so simple—I’d have to push the button 10, sometimes 20 times, before it would start recording, then another 10 or 20 times to get to stop. This rather significant glitch made it impossible to use the Flip for what it is meant to be best at, quickly catching a video-worthy moment.
Turns out, like the iPhone antenna problem, the Flip button problem has an easy, low tech fix—a drop of glue in the center of the button. This apparently works by making sure the button gets pushed in its sweet spot. As usual, I was skeptical, but couldn’t see that it would hurt to try. I heated up a glue gun then dabbed a blob of glue onto the center of the red button. And I haven’t had a problem since.
Got a favorite low tech fix to a high tech problem? Let me know in the comments below; include a link to a photo if you have one.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.