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Restarter Profile: Meet Panda


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am known as either David or Panda. I moved to London from Paris twenty-one years ago. I have studied computer science and criminology, and worked as a software developer, a technologist and a journalist. I am autistic and have been described as ‘calm, almost too calm’.

When did you start repairing electronics and electricals?

Before the web had been invented. A lot of my early repairs were telecoms related: RS232 cables, modems and phones, and computers as well.

Why do you attend Restart Parties?

To empower others to regain control of their devices. For more than thirty years I’ve been demystifying new technologies and software development, initially, and how to reclaim our civil liberties, later. The collaborative repairing going on at Restart Parties are occasions to demystify repair and to empower participants to fix their electronic and electrical devices. It is for this transformative process, when people realise that many repairs are accessible to them, that I am involved with the Restart Project.

What is your favourite kind of repair?

The variety is interesting, but what is most gratifying is when someone arrives hoping for a free fix and leaves having fixed their device mostly on their own. It is the process of discovery, when they realise that they are already knowledgeable: that if they have changed a fuse they likely understand the need for electric continuity; that if they have ever touched a lit lightbulb they likely realise that electric devices get hot. Fixing their device is a small step from that knowledge: when a device stops working, first steps are to check that everything is still connected, that electricity flows, and that there’s no dust or crumbs blocking any fan so the heat is not trapped inside. The next realisation is that some simple tips go a long way: how not to end up with a pile of screws, use a pill box or an egg carton to store them so it’s easy to find which screws are used at which step when time comes to reassemble things. The skills needed for such repairs are a lot of common sense, some limited experience (learnt in the process), good research skills and access to a few tools.

What do you do when you are not Restarting?

Learn, research, occasionally write. Check on the welfare of the detained persons by making unannounced visits to the custody suite of police stations. Write (too many) Freedom of Information requests. Walk.

What frustrates you (in life)?

Injustice. Noise. Surveillance. Crowds. Deaths in custody. Cars. Waste.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Restart Parties, Qi Gong, police custody visits, mornings of mindfulness, conferences. Though mornings are difficult and best avoided.

What’s the first thing – one material thing – that you could not live without? (besides oxygen, food, water, and shelter and medical care)

In this weather, a hat.

Share something cool with us [preferably a link]

The Horse is Technology, by Thich Nhat Hanh

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