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May 2001

Spring Cleaning
by Brian Dunning

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I finally did it...after all these years, I actually physically threw away eight old computers and untold obsolete boxed software packages.

Before my email inbox fills with flames for throwing away the hardware and not donating or recycling it, allow me to state my defense. First, the reason I didn't donate it to a school. A Quadra 800 with blown SCSI and ADB and two Mac Pluses with dead monitors are of even less value to a school than they are to me. It was oppressive enough to keep them on hand in my closet and garage. Most of these computers have moved four times with me to different homes and have occupied an estimated 35 cubic feet of storage space. Schools need their valuable space to store unused metal detectors.

The worst offender, an Apple Network Server 700, has never worked or served either a network or a useful purpose. It was scavenged for parts at least six years ago, weighs over 100 pounds and is the size of a small refrigerator. Only one of the casters was still present at last examination, and there are permanent scrapes in the wood floors of at least two of my former residences. To add insult to aggravation, I was the sucker of someone else who finally made their move and got rid of it by dumping it on the first person who would accept it. Why did I bend? I have no idea to this day. Maybe I was enthralled at the prospect of being the first to actually use AIX.

I never did test a Mac Plus as a boat anchor, despite repeated oaths sworn that I would one day try this.

Other computers disposed of included a Centris 610 with no drives or faceplate; an Apple IIGS with no keyboard, monitor, or mouse and thus no way to use it; two Power Computing machines that wouldn't run current software, crashed incessantly, and sucked; and last of all, a Color Classic whose screen image filled a parallelogram the size of a postage stamp in one corner of the screen (last time I checked it in 1994).

If you can come up with a persuasive reason to donate any of the above to a school, then flame away. I believe it would make more sense to give the schools a wild ferret, a minor geologic disaster, or responsibility for investigating presidential scandals.

Which brings us to the second alternative: recycling. True, much of this equipment could have been usefully recycled, or so I saw on television once several years ago but have never encountered in the real world. Allegedly, there is a company in Silicon Valley that takes obsolete or broken computer equipment and recycles it, recovering those 256K SIMMs and beer can-sized capacitors for use in Russian space station modules. Rather than launch that debris into space to have it fall on my head three months later, I concluded it would be simpler to throw it up on the dumpster. I would love nothing better than to be enlightened and convinced that there is a compelling reason to recycle Steve Wozniak's prototype Apple IIGS. At least the landfill guys don't laugh at me when I roll it into their facility.

Once the hardware was securely arranged in the dumpster, I packed it all tight with 4.1 million floppy disks, from System Tools 6.0.1 to hundreds labeled "Important documents" or, in most cases, unlabeled. Most of the rest provided 50 free hours with the new AOL version 2.0. Once these arrive at the landfill, the Earth's magnetic axis will probably shift about a half degree. But that's the price of sparing thousands of Bangladeshis a death by toxic fumes from Dupont's local disk melting facility.

The next layer I added to the dumpster was boxed software. This included a historical tour of various ClarisWorks versions, all still shrinkwrapped from the day they arrived new with each of the aforementioned computers. It also included all the free FileMaker boxes I got from attending Developer Conferences, also still shrinkwrapped. Then there were a few boxes of various applications that I'd been given to write reviews. There used to be a lot more of these, but over the years, I'd scalped most of them to friends for $20 each.

I then rejoiced in my newfound open space. It was like Julie Andrews on a hilltop in Austria. Spare Porsche parts are already starting to accumulate though; I may need the dumpster again soon.

Browse Mode
Jan 10 Solving Performance Emergencies with FileMaker Server
Aug 06 Top Ten Sessions Cut from the 2006 FileMaker Developer Conference
Jul 06 Who's Driving This Thing, Anyway? Or, How Marketing and Engineering Buried the Hatchet (Warning: Contains a Curse Word)
Nov 05 Shingle Grandiloquence
Oct 05 In Celebration of Geek Magnetism
Aug 05 A Rogues' Gallery of Devcon Attendees
Mar 05 Lies, Damned Lies, and Project Specifications
Feb 05 Pick the Right Tool for the Job
Oct 04 Home Media Server Requirements
Jul 04 Leveraging Your FileMaker Lingo
Apr 04 Technical Support Redux
Mar 04 Enforce Seats in FileMaker 7/8/9 Commercial Solutions
Feb 04 Reinventing the Wheel
Oct 03 WAP: The Technology That Wasn't
Aug 03 Brian Dunning's California Governor Election Platform
Jul 03 Sex and the Single Software Developer
May 03 XSLT: Creeping Out of the Closet?
Feb 03 A Consultant's Guide to Traveling
Nov 02 Adventures of Bat Magnum, FileMaker Consultant
Sep 02 FileMaker at Area 51
Aug 02 FileMaker Terminology
Feb 02 Computer Shunts
Dec 01 Aquabase Alpha & the Consultant's Challenge
Aug 01 It IS the Size That Counts
Jun 01 On the Trail of Sasquatch
May 01 Spring Cleaning
Feb 01 FileMaker Mobile Survivor Challenge
Jan 01 Letter from Nürburg
Dec 00 Performance Anxiety
Nov 00 Objection, Your Honor
Oct 00 Leveraging Convergence: Jargon for the 21st Century
Sep 00 Top Ten Things to Do at Devcon
Aug 00 Aesop's FileMaker Fables
Jul 00 Ten Commandments of FileMaker Pro
Jun 00 Explats Cross Examined
May 00 iMac, Therefore iServe
Mar 00 Valley of the Dollars
Jan 00 Are You Up for a Review?
Nov 99 Tales from the Script
Sep 99 Tech Support Revisited
Jul 99 Moderns vs. Classicals
Mar 99 Nashoba, We Hardly Knew Ye