PDA

View Full Version : Second Hand Computers



mnickels1
August 28th, 2005, 10:33 AM
Companies dispose of their computers for many reasons - sometimes because they aren't up to running current versions of software, perhaps there is a replacement policy that means that PCs are changed every two or three years or some design guru has decreed that a battleship grey PC goes far better with the new furniture than the 6 month old beige box.
Whatever the reason, it means that there are thousands of unwanted and unloved PCs out there that could potentially still be in active service.
Responsible companies won't just be chucking them into a big skip though - and from next year the wonderfully-acronymed European WEEE Directive (standing for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) won't allow them to do that anyway - it'll be the producer's responsibility for financing the management of consumer electronic and electrical waste.
Some will be using recycling collection companies to take them away for refurbishing - checking them for safety and reliability, cleaning the hard drives, installing new operating systems, upgrading memory, ultimately selling them on to new users - or dismantling and reclaiming materials from those that are too old to warrant reuse (you may have seen mouse mats, coasters made from old circuit boards - see www.reactivated.co.uk/circuit_boards.htm). Others will be passing them on to employees or donating them direct to pet charities.
Any organisation short of money is going to be tempted by the idea of a free or low cost second-hand computer. If you are currently attempting to run your organisation's administration on a first generation Pentium PC with a 75 Mhz processor, 500Mb hard drive, 8Mb of memory running (or maybe crawling is a better term!), and Windows 95, then replacing this with a used 3-year old machine is going to seem like heaven. But, before going down this route, it's important to ask yourself a few questions...
• Has the PC been refurbished to acceptable quality and safety standards? Many refurbishers operate to the ISO 9002 quality standard and almost all carry out electrical safety tests.
• Does it fit in with your organisation's IT strategy or the organisation's policies? If you have strong environmental house policies, for example, it almost certainly will - but make sure you're not sacrificing usability for politics.
• Will it run the operating system (OS) that you are using? The more current the operating systems, the greater the system resources required - check with the OS manufacturer for desired hardware specifications.
• Does it come with an operating system and license? It may be supplied with an open source Linux OS which doesn't require you to have a license - but if you want Windows 2000 you'll probably have to pay extra for an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) license which the refurbisher should be able to supply you with - you won't be able to buy an OEM licenses from your usual software supplier, and a full price Windows OS even at charity rates is expensive. If it's being donated to you then make sure it still has the correct Windows OS license sticker on the computer box.
• Is there a warranty or any after-sales service? Some refurbishers will offer up to a year's warranty for parts - with others it may be as little as a month. Accepting a donated machine means there probably won't be any warranty so you'll need to make sure your IT support contractor will support it.
• Are the PCs name brands or "clones"? Some refurbishers only refurbish Compaq PCs and IBM and Dell laptops. With others you'll take your chance on the type of machine…
• Does the PC come with the hardware you require? Will it have a network card to enable you to join it to your network? Do you need a modem?
• Are you able to specify particular needs? If you want to run the machine for certain memory intensive task, can the supplier install 512Mb of RAM, for example.
• Does the PC come with a monitor, keyboard and mouse? Or can you buy the PC without these and reuse your existing kit if you already have them?
• If you want a laptop, can you be sure it's not been dropped down the steps at Bank tube station?
If you can satisfy yourself that these questions have been answered and that the PC on offer will do the job and the price is reasonable, then you probably have a bargain on your hands. If not then think again.
Computers Shopper are a local supplier of refurbished computers anywhere in the UK, contact the Computers Shopper and maximise access to IT resources. They can also advise on the best way of disposing of unwanted equipment. See www.computersshopper.com or call them on 07786542448.

CP/M User
August 30th, 2005, 03:01 AM
"mnickels1" wrote:

> Companies dispose of their computers for many reasons - sometimes
> because they aren't up to running current versions of software, perhaps
> there is a replacement policy that means that PCs are changed every
> two or three years or some design guru has decreed that a battleship
> grey PC goes far better with the new furniture than the 6 month old
> beige box.

> Whatever the reason, it means that there are thousands of unwanted
> and unloved PCs out there that could potentially still be in active
> service.

What gets me is while all these companies update their computer terminals, the network their still using is about 20 years old. I mean sure, their good for what they were for, but for some stupid Windows XP computer terminal, they can only run as fast as this system allows.

This is highly annoying, since some admin jerk can't get his hardware in full gear. I mean sure it's good for a old system, but there are reasons for all this new hardware.

If the Schools & Businesses I know of are still into this practice, then how many more of Schools & Businesses are still using stuff this old?

CP/M User.

Mad-Mike
August 30th, 2005, 07:57 AM
I just think upgrading for the sake of upgrading is a waste of time. Most of the time, when these companies upgrade, their users become quite confused with the changes because most of the time, things have been moved around or changed in some way that differs from what their normal routine is used to.

I never understand why, but it seems to me that many network admins and IT departments are more anxious to get their hands on the latest technology for the sake of having it rather than a benifit that it can bring the company. I've figured this out though knowing quite a few, and most of them that I talk to, when I tell them that I still use a 286 or 486 for some task, they tell me that I "need" to upgrade. Why? Because the beige is not as attractive as a silver color (which I have heard as a reason for upgrading an office to P4 machines before I sadly admit, because they go with the decor better than the old beige PII systems they were using).

E-waste is just an exponent of a capitalist society that is controlled by trends the way I see it. It's the same with anything, just keeping up with the Joneses so as not to loose face. If people would start exercising the good common sense that they were given, they would just put in a few smart upgrades and only replace their computer every 10-12 years instead of every three. Case in point, our each school in our school system has 4 old IBM PS/2 model 25 computers, they are all 8086 based, and use a DOS based database program to find books in the school library? Why are they still there after all these years? Because they work and do the job. I remember when they first put those in when I was 6 years old and in 1st grade! They could have just as easily thrown a set of new machines in there with P4's and then had to get the entire student body to re-adjust to a Windows XP based card catalog database.

The way I see it, those old computers can be upgraded to be useful. I'm a guy with a 286 based computer with 15MB of RAM and I do use it to surf the internet and download programs and drivers from time to time, and after reloacting, I will be putting it on a CABLE internet connection via Minuet. And this is just a little 286/10 PC running DOS. I watch people dump PIII's running Windows 98, and I think they are nuts, I'm currently TYPING this on a PIII, and so far I have the latest of everything except games on it, as well as 2 copies of Linux.

Oh well, maybe I'll start a new trend, the collectable PC, we already have people going after IBM's, maybe some people will take interest in White Box clones some day.

Terry Yager
August 30th, 2005, 08:16 AM
I never understand why, but it seems to me that many network admins and IT departments are more anxious to get their hands on the latest technology for the sake of having it rather than a benifit that it can bring the company. I've figured this out though knowing quite a few, and most of them that I talk to, when I tell them that I still use a 286 or 486 for some task, they tell me that I "need" to upgrade. Why? Because the beige is not as attractive as a silver color (which I have heard as a reason for upgrading an office to P4 machines before I sadly admit, because they go with the decor better than the old beige PII systems they were using).

Marketing is really sort of a Black Art, and we mere mortals are not intended to understand it, otherwise, we might be less suscepible to it.
I'm thinking that somebody somewhere musta did a study, and found that customers spend an average of 8% more money when in the presense of a black-and-silver PC than when confronted with a plain-vanilla box (or something along those lines).

--T

vic user
August 30th, 2005, 08:35 AM
I wonder if there were studies done to see what the threshold of frustration of customers is towards new products being buggy?

With my experiences with HP large format printers, it amazes me how many firmware upgrades there are.

I can't shake the feeling that many of the models I have used, (HP 5,500 as a perfect example), were sent out before rigorous testing were done on them, and that HP decided to let customers "beta test" the products, and after so many complaints, then release firmware upgrades, based on the feedback they get.

I have spoken with several HP reps. and of course they deny that they ever send out new products before long testing.

Trust me, they are full of it.

Chris

Mad-Mike
August 30th, 2005, 10:42 AM
I wonder if there were studies done to see what the threshold of frustration of customers is towards new products being buggy?


My thought is that they should not release something that's buggy (up to a point) in the first place. I've had to re-install the drivers for my ultra-modern $50 brand new scanner more than I've EVER had to reinstall Windows 98 SE. I understand not all the bugs can be worked out, but a bad design is a bad design is a bad design if you get my drift.

Funny thing is HP has not gone down hill that long ago. I remember my first printer I bought in 2001, an HP DeskJet 841C! That sucker has USB AND standard Parallel support, and will work with anything as far back as a 386 SX according to the box (though I think I could possibly get it to go back to an XT system). It's been dropped, kicked, and practically abused, and still looks, runs, and acts like it just came out of the box. I compare that to the printer I got my mom (a $50 USB only HP from 2003), and it's a piece of junk in comparison, it occasionally sucks in 3 sheets of paper at once for no obvious reason, and has been known to jam when placed on anything other than perfectly level, and only this year has it been trouble free.

As far as the computers themselves go, I don't like the masssive integration as expense of expandability going on these days. I always make it a point to have a motherboard with 3 expansion slots free at least, and preferrably 5, so when something on the board dies, I can replace it with a suitable replacement.

Terry Yager
August 30th, 2005, 02:08 PM
I wonder if there were studies done to see what the threshold of frustration of customers is towards new products being buggy?

Chris

Of course they have...and they discovered that as long as the product is 98% bug-free, then they can afford to lose the 2% market share, since it's cheaper than hiring good programmers to shake out the remaining pesky lil' bugs.

--T

vic user
August 30th, 2005, 03:25 PM
yeah Terry, i should know better,

i mean, for goodness sakes they hire child psychologists to help make better commercials aimed at kids :(

and not all HP printers i have used are buggy.

just the 5,000 series.

the 1055's are amazing workhorses!

but i do find that HP service sucks.

chris

CP/M User
August 31st, 2005, 01:24 AM
"Mad-Mike" wrote:

> I just think upgrading for the sake of upgrading is a waste of time.

It is especally when they don't even update their networking system. I mean even a Pentium II or III based Networking system used on the current IV based machines are you notice a drop down in speed.

Haven't networks gone anywhere in the last 20+ years? It's just the same old everyone clicks on the same program at the same time & wonder what's going on. USB Memory Sticks are great, I can easily get the files onto my stick & load them much quicker that way - rather than going to the network drive. The programs are on the network though & are really bad to load at the same time. HD's are big enough nowadays you'd think they'd be better just being on the HD itself!

CP/M User.