For many years, I have been interested in re-using old but still functional technology rather than trashing it. This is one of the reasons for more stuff in my basement than I need. Free Geek Twin Cities refurbishes and recycles unwanted or unneeded PCs. This gives volunteers experience in building PCs and installing Ubuntu Systems . Volunteers can earn a free PC. This provides technology access to many who normally have limited means. This year, I have helped out every Saturday and teach an introductory class on PCs and Ubuntu Linux.
How I found FGTC
I inherited a RAID hard drive system that still worked but was clunky and small compared to today’s disk drives. I was never going to use it, but I did not want to just drop it off at the hazardous waste center. Sometime in November 2010, I checked around at a few stores that dealt with refurbished equipment, but they were not interested. After that, I finally got the search right on the internet to find organizations looking to recycle technology. Free Geek was looking for donations of old hardware and were hosting a garage sale that weekend. We attended and found out they were not interested in my computer equipment, but were interested in me volunteering to help with training. The family has now all taken the orientation, and we have earned about 50% of a PC.
The next week, I took apart the RAID system and scrubbed the disks with magnets. I loaded the pieces into a box and drove to the hazardous waste center. As it really was not a personal computing system, they could not take it. I did locate a new metal recycler who was willing to take for free if we dropped it off. I opened up the trunk, he grabbed the case and tossed the raid system on to a trolley. In that one satisfying clunk the system became its reality in my mind; just plastic and metal, not even ones and zeroes.
Hanging around Free Geek has brought to life memories of many years ago working in Malaysia. My friend, LC Chen, had a consultancy where I could have a desk as I tried to develop contracting connections. The hot item at that time was providing office PC solutions and maintenance contracts. If there was a problem PC, typically, the tech would take parts from working PCs at the office to fix the customers’ PCs. I was reminded of this the other day as we built our first PC at FGTC. Back then, I needed to print a proposal and asked if there was a PC available. They gave me a case with a motherboard / cpu and a box of various peripherals to install. When I finished that, I installed Windows and Office from the CDs. Lastly, I connected the printer, inserted my diskette, and printed my proposal. I made two copies, just in case. I still have the notebook PC from those days. With 4 Meg memory and 20 Meg harddrive it still runs MS Dos, Windows 3, and yes Linux.