“There’s nothing college can teach you that you can’t learn yourself, if you really want to learn it.”

Posted Sunday, August 10, 2014

There’s nothing college can teach you that you can’t learn yourself if you really want to learn it.”

My boss, Roy Hendrickson, told me that, at Avatar Studios when I was 17. These words inspired me incredibly. I kept them in mind when I dropped out of college for the final time.

This quote came back to me after a user on youtube asked for advice on learning basic motherboard repair. I do most of these repairs at our business, and wanted to provide some insight into how you can learn them. Many people require the structure of school to learn anything, just like many adults require the structure of a JOB to be productive. Most lack the discipline and the motivation to dive in head first to something, with no idea where it may take them, with one goal in mind; to advance themselves, to try and learn and accomplish great things on their own. They look at the textbook or the business challenge ahead of them, make up some nonsense excuse as to why they cannot figure something out.

My reply may help others, so I’ll paste my reply below.

Most forums suck because it’s the blind leading the blind, and you have a lot of people all screaming for answers and no one answering.

A decent way to start is with a board that has a very basic issue. Have another board that is working of the same model next to it and get to measuring. Since you have a reference of what you SHOULD have, it makes it a little easier.
Learn how to break down the elements. It isn’t a 72 page diagram of random shit. Look at the power diagram. First power goes here, then here, then here. Look at those points and see what’s supposed to be there. Follow along on a working board and on your fucked board, and see what’s missing on the bad board(or what’s there that shouldn’t be).

This will be useless if you don’t get the basics. At the very least, know what a voltage divider is, know what a transistor does, how it opens, where the power goes to(source, drain, collector, emitter, etc). If you’re not familiar with this having a schematic is pointless.

Without a schematic or a boardview, you will be confused shitless on Apple boards, especially if you have never worked on them before.

In the beginning there will be a lot of issues you do not even have the tools to diagnose. Maybe your multimeter cannot measure capacitance, or you can’t replace an LVDS connector, or a BGA chip, or even a QFN.

Set basic goals for yourself so you do not get discouraged. Start out with the absolute basics, so you can celebrate the most basic of victories. In education the reason we set things up in such steps is so that we do not become discouraged. Did you ever look at the end of a math textbook in 1st grade in awe, like, “how the fuck am I ever going to get this? I’ll be dead before this makes sense!” Then you get to 3rd grade and that shit you thought you would never in a lifetime understand is basic long division.. which you can probably do drunk & high now.

It’s the same thing here. You look at all this shit and it seems so insane, that you give up before you even start, and make excuses for why you can’t get it. You have to jump into it, immerse yourself in it, and look to learn as much as possible. You also have to make a curriculum for yourself. You have to immerse yourself around people who are doing the same thing. Find them, locally, or across the country, or on an online forum. Stay up until 2 AM reading everything they have to write. Understand their methodology, how they think, and you’ll slowly start to form questions. “Why did they look for this? What about this makes it keep coming up? Why do they always use X to test Y?” Whatever it is,the important part is having the right questions. Learning is easy when you know what to ask. The hard part is not knowing where to start.

Roy Hendrickson at Avatar Studios told me this when I was 17 –
“There’s nothing college can teach you that you can’t learn yourself if you really want to learn it.” I agree with this. I’ve never had an electronics course in my lifetime, or any engineering, or computer science course. I failed chemistry and pre-calculus in college before I dropped out to start a freelance business repairing studio gear, and I had a 72 average throughout high school.

Everything I’ve learned to this point was as a result of learning my specific way. Ask a lot of dumb questions. Never be afraid to show how stupid you are, while simultaneously showing a great motivation to hustle up information on your own, and people will help you. They’ll want to help you. People who know what they’re doing have egos, they like to reinforce that they know their field by showing & helping you.

Most people fail at starting. People are great at coming up for excuses as to why they can’t succeed, or learn something new. It’s hard to live with that, so people come up with excuses for themselves. Start. Fail. Be ok with failing, over and over and over and over again, and don’t let it get to you, and you’ll eventually learn something. That moment when you solve even the most basic problem, you will feel like the world’s biggest success. Ride that to the next one.

Good luck.