I don't always get emotional when I see old, forsaken computers, but this time I did. For any lover of technology, the sight of an old computer exiled to the corner of an office or garage -an upside down keyboard on a big, antiquated monitor with old, dirty cables tangled and stuffed on top like a nest -is truly a sad sight.
I had to retire my old computer not long ago. I shut her down for the last time, moved her to the other side of my office and then set up my new computer in her place. A sick feeling of electronic infidelity
took hold of me -it felt like I was cheating right in front of her -and making her watch as I ogled at her sleeker, younger, black replacement.
The feeling was unmistakable; my old computer looked at me from within her pathetic, scuffed, beige, metal case. We both knew she had served me well. Her CD ROM door boasted a speed of 4x. That was super-fast back when I spent extra to upgrade from 2x. Now my old computer glared at my new computer's 52x CD Rom 16x DVD +/- RW combo burner and I think I heard the word "hussy" come out of her floppy drive.
I tapped out thousands of keystrokes every day for years and her keyboard wore many shiny, bald keys to prove it.
Up beside her Num Lock key a thin coffee smear looked more like a sad eyebrow the longer I stared at it. I bit my knuckle and turned away quickly -blinking back tears.
She and I wondered what I would do with her. I thought of the trash. But in California it is illegal to put computers (or any electronics containing a circuit board) into your trash. If you have ever tossed a computer or monitor into the trash you should be aware that many landfill operators retrieve them, extract owner info from the hard drive and then receive a handsome commission for any monies collected as a result of your prosecution. OK, that last sentence is not true, but still, you shouldn't toss your old computer into the trash. It is environmentally harmful and illegal.
There are two better options: Recycle or legal disposal.
If your computer is still functional, there's a good chance it could be used by a school or charity. A number of organizations, including lashares.com, accept used computers for distribution to schools in the Los Angeles area lashares.org.
If your old computer is useless, then you can be rid of it with the help of LA County's Dept. of Public Works' HHW (Household Hazardous Waste) collections. These one-day drive-through collection events invite residents to a specific location to drop off their hazardous waste. Check ladpw.org to see when their HHW schedule offers a collection near you.
If you want to get rid of an old computer immediately, then taking it to a S.A.F.E (Solvents/Automotive/Flammables/Electronics) center is a good option. They have many locations, including one in Sun Valley at (800) 988-6942. More info on S.A.F.E. is available at lacity.org.
After my emotional computer transition, I opted to donate my old, dejected computer. I packed her into the trunk of my car and then made the mistake of pausing to take one last look at her. She took a cruel parting shot, saying, "She'll never type your Technology Triumphs articles the way I did."
I slammed the trunk closed.