Recycled Computing

Old Macs in the New Economy

- 2008.11.25

This may seem a bit off topic, but given this site's commitment tokeeping old tech going, just give me a little time and I will tie thewhole thing together.

Like many Americans, I am a bit mystified by our recentfinancial crisis. We were cruising along, paying $4 a gallon forgas, when suddenly Wall Street brokerage houses, insurance companies,mortgage companies, banks, and Lehman Brothers wereall going belly up.

These bastions of the free enterprise system immediately ran to thegovernment for a handout.

Near as I can figure, some people thought that it would be good to"open up" the mortgage market to some other people who hadtraditionally been "closed out" of the market because of low creditscores. (These were the same folks who thought it would be good idea tooffer federalflood insurance to home owners who live in flood plains.)

The debt that was incurred was then traded around the world'sfinancial markets.

There are supposed to be risk managers around to prevent things likethis, but they must have been out to one of those three martinilunches. Faster than you can say "House of Cards", the whole economywent to pieces. I don't care what anyone says, we are in for a periodof belt tightening.

Old Macs in the New Economy

What does this mean for us here at Low End Mac?

We are in our element, folks. We always use it up, wear it out, andthen recycle it. We are the kings of making our computers last, last,and last some more.

A case in point, my beloved sage green iMac. I was using it asa print server in my wireless network, and I finally realized thatperhaps it would be a better idea to use my sons' Dell XPS 200 as theprint server, since it was always on (I can't even get in to run somemaintenance programs on the darn thing).

I think I wondered for a while what I would do with this old iMac,since I really use my Pismo as my main computer. Iwas in the middle of recording my vinyl Steely Dan albums to iTuneswhen it hit me: Why not turn the iMac into a digital jukebox? I couldhook it up to my home stereo witha stereo mini-jack-to-RCA cable and have any song in my collectionavailable to listen to. I could even use the iTunes database tocustomize song selection. And, of course, there is always shuffle.

The first step was to clone theiMac's drive to an external hard drive. With Carbon Copy Cloner, this wasa snap. Then I wiped the iMac's drive and reinstalled OS X 10.4.11with every option I could possible turn off disabled. I ended up with a2 GB installation, and although my iMac only has a 20 GB harddrive, I should be able to put my music collection on it. ( I currentlyhave filled up my iTunes Library with 7.35 GB of music.)

Next, migrate my iTunes library from my Pismo to the iMac.Fortunately, both computers have FireWire. I hooked up a FireWire cablebetween the computers, put the Pismo into Target Disk Mode, and imported the library intothe iMac. (Memo to Apple - count me as another curmudgeon to whomFireWire is a deal breaker. Just gotta have FireWire on mycomputer.)

I then disconnected the iMac, with it's many tentacles, and perchedit on the top shelf of my stereo cabinet. I also recycled an old iMac"hockey puck" mouse and havebeen listening to my iTunes collection all over my house eversince.

Old computers can serve new purposes - and save you money has well. LEM

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