Building up Old Computers..is it worth it?

Bought a HP Pavilion 7960. This is a Pentium 4 machine about 1.3 GHZ.  By the time I replaced the power supply, got a used hard drive, and this funky RDRAM memory.. .. had $90 into it,  and still a slow machine.  On the other hand, the power supply is new, the hard drive is new.  It’s fun working on it, if you can get it to work. I put a old GeForce FX 5600 Video card into it, and it will do what I want (go on the net, use it for emails, and play videos).

For $200 or so, I could have a miniITX machine that is more cutting edge.  So .. unless it is just a gimme, I would say thumbs down on this.  Even if it’s got CD and DVDR on it.  Old Fred is always scrounging them out of dumpsters.. BUT..many of them use strange, proprietary forms of RAM, for instance.  Many need power supplies.  The cheapest power supply I could get for the HP was $18.  I got a 80GB Seagate Barracuda drive for $15.  You might spend $50 just to get it running, even more.

I got a couple of USB audio devices for old machines from China.  These take the place of a sound card, and just plug into a USB connector.  I also order PCI USB cards that have lots of ports on them, from China.   I always use USA sellers if I can, if it’s only a couple bucks, ‘cos they are closer.  Some Chinese products have been VERY good, superior.  Some, have been junk, such as those spy cams.. the MD80 and the RD52.  I consider them junk now.  The DO11 is a very good little cam.  The wired cams are also good.

Cheap used peripherals abound.  You can get a flatbed scanner for $15, even less. Look for the Canons.  Cheap, and very useful. My computers are all out of date.  I have AGP machines, if that will clue you in, and the fastest I have is a SEMPRON 1.6GHZ.  BUT.. they do the trick.  DO NOT BUY A USED INKJET PRINTER.  The damn ink cartridges cost more than the printer, and the re inking kits can be tricky, even worthless, with sub standard ink that clogs the nozzles.  A USED LASER PRINTER.. now that’s a different story.

One thing useful about old HP’s- they have a Intel Chipset, the HP has the 850, which works well with the cheapo PCI Survelliance cards.  I am well pleased, and feed my computer lust without breaking the bank, and make them do useful things for me.

It was sort of fun to build it up.  I might use it to tutor other people in my apartment, I MIGHT..(but none of ’em wanna pay around here).  What people WILL pay for around here is DRUGS, I hate to say this.  Or booze. UGGG. People with advanced degrees are often surprisingly lame.  I have tech school certifications, and consider myself kind of a .. low life I suppose. A worker bee, who has to hustle to make himself useful.

I’m a average Joe.  Tried and tried to get on at IT departments, but just got a CDL license and drove around until I was burnt out, then got injured.  I don’t know WHAT I am gonna do now.  I love this art, and I love to write more than anything else on earth.  There is something that is wonderful about the way language is.. the way things can be put.

Anyways.. these old machines are a crap shoot, especially with USB 3.0 coming out.  You will NOT be able to get a old machine to run USB 3.0.   However, this one will be useful.  It runs Win XP fairly good.  Puppy Linux (Debian Linux, or Ubuntu), is VERY snappy on it.  Yeap.  I’ll show others how to use these machines, if they can behave themselves and not rip me off!

I’ve often thought of a little inner city school teaching the bare necessities.  Many things are not explained in schools. How to use deal with images to send them in emails.   How to use a web browser.  Many people who have been to hardware schools are quite lame when it comes to using the machine.  It’s complicated really!  There are so many dials and switches.

The libraries here are packed with kids that are waiting in line to get on the computer.

Update: I just got the USB audio devices from China.  Thumbs down.  One made a LOT of line noise.  You can get PCI cards cheap on ebay, some of them very high quality like Creative Labs or Turtle beach.  I recommend these.

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