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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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     as well as [[List of all comics]], which is obviously not a comic page. -->
 
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remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
 
remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
 
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Revision as of 15:36, 20 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 6 xkcd comics, and only 2027 (100%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

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Go to this comic explanation

Repair or Replace
Just make sure all your friends and family are out of the car, or that you've made backup friends and family at home.
Title text: Just make sure all your friends and family are out of the car, or that you've made backup friends and family at home.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOY - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This comic compares the repair of cars with that of computers or other similar electronic devices.

Cueball, likely representing Randall, is in his car. He says that there is a weird sound, so Hairy, representing a car mechanic, asks him to lift his hood, exposing the engine, to further identify the cause of the problem. Cueball then says that his hood latch, the lever used to open the hood, is also broken. The solution, according to Hairy, is to "replace" the car with a new car. In reality, fixing the catch on the hood is a simple task for a skilled mechanic and would not justify writing-off the car.

When a car is malfunctioning, the usual response is to attempt to repair it. A car is designed so that many of the parts can be replaced or adjusted.

By contrast, when a computer or electronic device is malfunctioning, it is often judged to be difficult to repair, and the usual action is to purchase a new device. Most parts are not designed to be replaceable, and if they fail it is normally cheaper to replace than repair.

It would be extremely inefficient for a car dealership or mechanic to simply "replace" a car when there is a problem with it. Likewise, Randall asserts that it is also inefficient for electronic devices to be thrown away at the first sign of a problem, and not repaired.

The title text refers to data stored on a computer or electronic device. Before replacing the device, it is recommended to remove and/or backup all your personal files, so that you have future access to them. Randall likens this to having your friends and family exit the vehicle, or making backup friends and family.

The economics

Cars are much more expensive than computers or other electronic devices, and become obsolete less quickly. The point at which it becomes cheaper to purchase a new computer or phone rather than repair an old one comes much more quickly.


Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Cueball sits in a car arriving from the left while Hairy stands in front of it and points to a big black hole on the right behind him.]
Cueball: My engine's making a weird noise. Can you take a look?
Hairy: Sure, just pop the hood.
Cueball: Oh, the hood latch is also broken.
Hairy: Ok, just pull up to that big pit and push the car in. We'll go get a new one.
[Caption below the frame:]
I'm sure the economics make sense, but it still freaks me out how quick companies are to replace computing devices instead of trying to fix them.


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