We rely heavily on technology and so do those less fortunate. How long do you keep a computer? What do you do when you no longer need it?
Upgrade ScheduleWhen do you upgrade? My timetable is every two years. I might delay a bit if there's a new operating system on the way. Vista wasn't worth the wait but Windows 7 was.
The new equipment is high quality and generally made for business. I'm writing this on a ThinkPad X200 tablet with multitouch, pen support and a silent hard drive with no moving parts. A month after I bought, the X201 was launched … that's another story. The point is that the equipment will last. We cascade within the family and then donate.
Here's what we just gave
- two Pentium 4 desktops, each the size of a large loaf of bread (QBIC, Shuttle XPC 20th anniversary edition)
- two 15" LCD monitors (Samsung 570)
- a flatbed scanner with a sheet feeder (HP Scanjet 6250)
- inkjet printer (never used)
- assorted wireless keyboards, wireless routers, etc
reBOOTSearch online and you'll find many places that accept equipment. We picked reBOOT, with locations across the country. This national charity sends refurbished equipment to charities and nonprofits across the country and abroad. One shipment of 60 computers is destined for schools in Afghanistan but the Taliban are blocking delivery because girls would also be educated.
Worried about identity theft? Me too. So I wiped the hard disks at home. reBOOT does too using RCMP standards. That's important for peace of mind and a key reason I'm careful about where equipment goes. If you're really worried, you can remove the hard drive and smash it to bits with a hammer. Extreme but effective.
Thanks to Microsoft, all computers come with Windows XP and Office XP (Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, PowerPoint, Access and FrontPage).
You can buy equipment there too.
New HomesSince we upgrade regularly, I wasn't sure that what's obsolete for us would be useful to anyone else. It is. Here are the likely destinations.
Mini-desktops to UNESCO?Aid organizations want small, light, reliable equipment because space is at a premium. Our computers are ideal. They can be turned into servers after adding 2 TB hard drives. Our computers use low power, which is also a bonus.
LCD monitors to UNESCO?A 15" LCD with 1024x768 resolution is still usable. The smaller size helps with portability. Our monitors might accompany the mini-desktops.
Scanner to Seniors?Seniors have old photos and slides and other things to scan. Our scanner has a slide adapter, a sheet feeder, a white light and the character recognition works with text as small as 4pt. So it's still useful.
The RestThe future of the rest of the equipment isn't known. It works and will likely find nice homes. Now that we know that old equipment can be reused, I'm happier about donating more and sooner.
Your TurnSome computers — especially Macs — were almost old enough to vote. We saw a Mac donated three weeks ago that's now a door stopper.
You probably have stuff to donate and causes you care about. Why not give while the equipment can still be used? You may get a tax receipt. You'll also clear up space at home … for more gadgets.
- Protecting against identity theft
- Is the PC a buggy whip? (Stanley Bing's blog)
- Saving paper, time and space
- How to leverage your philanthropic gifts
- Donation guidelines from Warren, Bill and Melinda
- The three key questions for your charitable giving
- Donating: do the reasons matter?
Podcast Episode 82 (4:29)
direct download | Internet Archive page
PS Back to School time is a great opportunity to give.