I've posted elsewhere (http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=93&t=90276
) that I personally believe some level of basic technical and mechanical aptitude is a valuable skill to cultivate now, before any signficiant disaster occurs. Even if it's just knowing how to patch a bicycle inner tube.
So I'm attracted to articles like this one, which discuss how some newer cellphone and tablet devices are being purposely engineered to be recyclable and repairable by the end user, rather than forcing the consumer to rely on expensive repair services (or worse, entice them to simply trade up to the newest, bleeding edge model).http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/business/cellphone-cases-can-imitate-their-makers-digital-domain.html?_r=1&ref=technology
Please ignore any real or imagined bias you might read into this article re: anti-Apple, pro-envronmentalism, etc. The nuggets here for me are:
1) basic repair of consumer electronics, appliance and cars are often within the grasp of ordinary consumers, affordably and with far less downtime, if you have the right instructions and sometimes, the right specialized tools.
2) iFixit (http://www.ifixit.com/
sounds like an amazing website, and probably deserves a place in your bookmarks page along with internet gems like http://www.instructables.com
3) The idea that certain companies are discovering value in designing open-source, user-accessable devices and products means that the DIY/maker/fix- rather-than-discard-and-replace ethos is starting to go mainstream, which I think is a very, very good thing.
Naturally a lot of these web and celluar dependent devices could become useless in a SHTF scenario. But the skills you can develop learning to repair them are directly transferable to other items you may need to keep functioning if things ever get truly bad.