The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 11, 2013

Joe Hadsall: Working on kid's iPod causes worker sympathy

JOPLIN, Mo. — Foxconn, the Chinese plants where iPods are made, was the focus of plenty of news coverage last year when stories about its miserable working conditions -- including crammed living quarters, long shifts and safety nets to alleviate suicide attempts from workers jumping off the roof -- got out.

After working on my stepson's iPod Touch last weekend, I kind of see the point.

I've written before about the wonders of the Internet in obtaining repair manuals for electronic devices. I have repaired lawnmowers, cars, laundry appliances and bathroom fixtures thanks to Internet resources.

That has extended to working with small electronics: I have replaced the screen on a netbook and the battery in my 30-GB fifth-generation iPod.

Seeing the inside of a netbook is stunning enough -- the way the components are wrapped around the motherboard in a way to make everything fit inside the space of a keyboard is absolutely incredible. Same with the iPod, when I changed the battery. It was hard for me to believe that my entire CD collection and more was in a chip about the size of a stamp.

But fixing Duncan's iPod Touch drove me crazy.

Duncan loves his iPod because he saved his own money for it and bought it himself (I have pictures). He uses it everywhere he can find a WiFi signal and saves up his money for games and apps.

His iPod is a symbol for a lot -- namely, his entertainment and my pride over his responsibility. He took care of that thing, keeping it clean and protected. He took better care of it than his cellphone, and the kid is awesome with his cellphone. How many 12-year-olds do you know who save up for their own iPod? Duncan is awesome.

So, when the iPod broke, we both felt like we'd been punched in the gut.

It slipped out of his pocket while he was adjusting a ceiling fan. It hit on the corner where the power button is, and the corner dent sent cracks across the screen like a glass door featured in a caught-on-video TV show.

Ouch.

The iPod still worked, it was just cracked. So, Duncan paid for a new glass screen (with his own money -- proud stepdad here) and trusted me to replace it.

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