[nSLUG] Selling Used Computers

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Mon Mar 29 11:57:18 ADT 2010

On 3/29/10, Richard Bonner <ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:
> On Thu, 25 Mar 2010, George N. White III wrote:
>> Computers shouldn't be going to landfill -- they are supposed to be
>> disposed
>> of in an environmentally sound way
> ***   Send working ones to Lakecity Woodworkers. They refurbish even
> older ones for needy persons.

Thanks for the pointer.

>> After hearing about the problems for funding of CAP sites, I suspect there
>> are people who don't have the money for a current windows PS,
> ***   Your suspicions are correct. I know persons (both poor and
> handicapped) that cannot afford new computers.
>> I have friends who tried installing linux on older computers for
>> their kids, but the kids "would just die" without iTunes, so linux
>> was abandoned and they ended up buying new computers.
> ***   Are the "iTunes" people or any independents considering
> developing or porting the program for non Windows machines?

The key issue is digital rights management.   I can't see Apple porting
iTunes to linux, but if you want to use an Apple ipod for free content
or music acquired on CD's there are programs (gtkpod, gpodder, etc.)
that allow you to add them to your ipod and update the database.
I assume some reverse engineering was needed so at any time Apple
could change the database and break all the linux stuff.   If read that
some other mp3 players can rebuild their own database using the
tags in mp3 files.

>> In the past I know there have been efforts to make older computers
>> available, sometimes connected to a trade school where students
>> "refurbish" older computers.  One problem is that old hard disks are
>> too failure prone and should be one of the first components to be
>> replaced with new, so you need some real cash for new disk drives.
> ***   There are plenty of newer, but used, hard drives around from
> those upscaling for bloatware or excessive media storage.

I've had too many drives fail within warranty, and many drives that
failed shortly after the warranty expired, but I generally buy drives
with 5-year warranties.   My guess that drives are build to last 3 or
5 years but with a pretty high rate of premature failures, so you can
sell them at a discount if you offer 1-year warranty, so a 2-year old
drive could be expected to last a year (more if it is lightly used) if
it passes the vendor's diagnostics.

My main concern over disks is that a disk failure can be very disruptive
for someone who relies on a single computer, has no real backup
capability, and lacks the technical background to distinguish between
disk problems and other issues, and has very limited access to technical
support, and will have to wait months to get a replacement if they can't
afford to buy a new disk, and will have trouble finding someone to reinstall
and configure linux.   A dead fan or failed memory can generally be fixed
without having to reinstall and reconfigure.

There are two categories of people who would benefit from low or no cost
computers: those who have temporary needs (e.g., home or workplace
destoyed by natural disaster or fire with inadequate insurance) and those
with chronic needs (disabilities, inadequate pension).   For the latter the
program that provides a computer should do life-cycle management so
the majority of systems are refurbished or replaced before hardware fails.

While there is no substitute for having your own computer, there is certainly
a role for CAP.  From the recent news reports, I gather that CAP sites could
benefit from life-cycle managed computers.

>   Richard
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George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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