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Restarter Profile: Meet Ten


This is the first of a series of profiles of Restarters. Our volunteer Restarters in London make our work possible, and have powered our project since day one. Some now freelance for us in our workplace services. In future we will profile Restarters in other cities and countries.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m known as “Ten”, which is short for “Tenyen”, a pseudonym I chose for myself a long ago when I was making my first steps into what now might be called “Digital Culture” (Or to put it another way: I wanted to be a hacker). I was “Born and Bred” in South-East London, my second language is Polish and I play extended keyboard.

When did you start repairing electronics and electricals?

I can’t remember. I like to think of it as a more nuanced “transition” from being just a “consumer” to being on a journey as an “enlightened tinkerer”. I think really liking Lego as a kid (born in the late 70’s, so I’m too old to be a “Digital Native”) was important, “developing” patience and a systematic and modular approach to building and problem solving. Also more generic repair would have come first.

I have a memory of being frustrated by a red ball Panasonic R-70 transistor radio, possibly I was allowed to play with it because it was already broken or erratic? In a similar vein of fighting frustrations with “consumer” electronics: I learnt BASIC on my first computer (ORIC-1) because I couldn’t work out how to load programs (most importantly games) off tape (it was probably a case of not having the right audio lead). What I think of my first most notable or “serious” repair was “restoring” a Sun Microsystems server I found in a skip: I soldered a button cell onto contacts of an NVRAM chip which I had filed off the epoxy as per instructions from an ASCII diagram in a text file I had downloaded from an FTP site.

Why do you attend Restart Parties?

I detest waste and have an affinity (a “yen”?) for technology and knowledge. The changing venues are interesting and sometimes there’s an interesting problem or opportunity to learn something in a friendly social setting…

What is your favourite kind of repair?

One where the item’s owner is really engaged and invested in the repair and I learn something new or re-inforce an existing skill. Ideally it’s a sunny day, I have ready access to all the tools and information I need and someone’s donated delicious comestibles to the effort.

What do you do when you are not Restarting?

Fail miserably at trying to avoid defining myself by my “work”: which is best described as transient ph-un-der-employment. When I’m not on the internet, and/or fixing something I’m quite often cycling around checking out skips and bargain bins. I should dance more often and regret not doing yoga in any meaningful way. . .

What frustrates you (in life)?

waste, cruelty, bogus authority, in-equality, hatred and procrastination.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Ideally an adventure with an alternative twist, but more realistically; cruel necessity aided by at least two separate alarms (one out of reach) and something caffeinated. I’m not really a morning person, staying awake is a lot easier than getting up for me.

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

Bicycle: technology as it should be: simple as possible and truly enabling. (But I have to rail against the concept of “Not being able to live” without something. There must be a better way to ask that question without supporting the consumerist-“growth”-based society we live in, which is probably taking us “to hell in a hand basket”…)

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3 responses

  1. thats me that is!

    I had preferred the “drawing” on page 11 of the annual report here.

    with my favourite t-shirt (bonus points if you know what that means . . .)as the image. that one is from the E&C Mini Makerfaire, and I think I look “puffy” (it was sooo hot). whose next?

  2. The one with your favourite t-shirt was taken at TEDx Brixton last year:

    (and I claim the bonus points!)

  3. @David has a hoody in the same design, so he gets the cool points, and the insider knowledge points, but not the bonus points . . ;P

    The thing I totally forget to put in “What frustrates you (in life)?” is “top-posting” and “not trimming”.

    A: Because it fouls the order in which people normally read text.
    Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
    A: Top-posting.
    Q: What is the most annoying thing on usenet and in e-mail?

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