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Old Computers Vs. The Environment 158

VValdo writes: "Salon is running an interesting story about the dangers of throwing old computers into landfills. According to the story, the American Electronics Association is trying to block a European Commission proposal that would make manufacturers responsible for the environmental damage that occurs when lead, mercury, chromium, etc. leaks into 'the life cycle.'" One interesting factoid: "Lead constitutes approximately 25 percent of monitors by weight, and the estimate of 5 to 8 pounds per unit is based on 14- and 15-inch monitors." (Which author Jim Fisher points out is no longer the typical display size for current systems.)
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Old Computers Vs. The Environment

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  • The true source of the problem is the monitors themselves. On these monitors, filthy pornography [page3.com] and violence [guns.com], and blasphemy [timecube.com] are continuously displayed, 24 hours a day, in libraries and schools around the country. We must put a stop to monitors at any cost!!
  • What's wrong with paying when you get rid of the device?

    After it becomes cost effective to recycle old PCs then maybe I get paid by the pound to drop off my PC.

    Your last remark answers your question...

  • Gee this is typical of the way of thinking only with part of the numbers (usually the easy ones). The problem in you reasoning is that you leave out all the 'hidden' costs.

    • you assume that the disposing of the cheap things that is broken is free (which is the topic of this post, I think).
    • you completly neglect the changing factor. True, buying a new car every two weeks might make sense in some economical logic, but you'll end up doing a lot of shopping and setting up. Think about computer, how many days do you loose when you have to change your computer and set up a new one.
    • You neglect the safety factor. You assume that the failure of the cheap object will have no consequences. Usually things break down when you need them not to break down.
      True, housing is much more expensive in europe, and even more so in switzerland. On the other hand, the roofs to not cave in or fly away when there is a little to much rain. I don't know the price of not having a roof and having all you things destroyed. Personnaly I would rate this as expensive.

    In general, things that make sense for the economy are not always good for me or even the people in general. I'm sure many wars made sense for the economy... But then again I'm one of those commie europeans... :-)

  • It isn't always true that old machines burn lots of power, not PCs anyway. 386 and 486 processors run much cooler than the Pentium or its successors, and it looks to me as if other parts like memory also use less power. Old hard disks are much thirstier than their modern equivalents but that doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

    For example, I have a PS/2 Model 55SX which powers 16 megs of RAM (including eight SIMMs on an expansion card), a 1987-model 3c523 Ethernet card, XGA-2 accelerated video and a 120Mbyte ESDI disk all from a 90W power supply. It's because none of these older components need much power - the only heatsink is on the video card.
  • Well, I used to have a 486 laptop that must have been 6-8 years old, and I recently got rid of it because the monitor was getting pretty worn out.
    (Unfortunately, I don't know anything about toxins and such things in LCD monitors, so I can't give you any answers there...)

    Mikael Jacobson
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, it all depends on how you've been indoctrinated. Americans are brought up to respect the free market, so anything that infringes on efficiency is considered bad. European and Asian countries lean towards a more sustainable approach, so citizens of those countries tend to pay more importance to recycling (much like throwing garbage in the street is considered unsustainable even to Americans).

    I've even seen some Americans complain that recycling is BAD, because it's leftist/greenie/socialist.

    There's also another viewpoint - that heavily populated countries are to blame for environmental degradation. The reality is that the US alone causes 25% of the world's pollution. It's a matter of conjecture as to what will happen when China, India, and other countries catch up. It'll be really interesting to see how this gets worked out. There will probably be some kind of ideological compromise on both sides. Everyone wants a better standard of living, but that comes with greater environmental damage.

  • I suppose I had better stop shooting them then :) It seems to be a great draw for my site geekswithguns.com [geekswithguns.com]
    I feel that it is my land and my ammo, and my hadware. It isn't like I am licensing the use of the Hardware like I am with my software (I shoot software CD's too though). What are they gonna do? Take my Old Hardware away from me?
    Wil - Head Geek in Charge
    Geeks With Guns [geekswithguns.com]
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @05:21AM (#772634) Homepage Journal
    The HP manager they quoted said "The cost of recycling -- because there is a cost, it doesn't happen for free and it doesn't generate positive revenues -- has never been a part of the commercial equation." The problem is that disposal has never been part of the equation either. The standard model is this: pass the cost onto the consumer, who passes the cost onto the municipality, who passes the cost onto future generations. The problem is that this has been going on so long we are the future generation.

    Paul Hawken, the entrepreneur and environmental thinker, suggests that appliances such as computers, TVs, washing machines and the like be leased rather than sold, with the manufacturer. The retailers would become leasing agents. At the end of the lease period the manufacturer would have to take the appliance back. The reason for this is that because the manufacturer has to deal with the waste, it would have incentive to engineer their products to be more recyclable. Even for things like circuit boards which are hard to recycle, the physical concentration would increase the economic viability of investing in the technology to recover the materials.

    If a fraction of the emphasis that is placed on styling and packaging were placed on recycling, much more of the materials, including toxic materials such as lead and cadmium, could be recaptured from the waste stream and turned into products.

    The problem with this scenario is that its hard to change business models; although many businesses currently lease computers, they retain them at the end because after a couple of years a computer is essentially trash. Perhaps the rising disposal fees for computers will incent consumers to prefer a lease and give-it-back program. However I doubt dumping fees will ever truly reflect the true cost, for one thing because they must be small enough to make risking illegal dumping not worthwhile. Perhaps if businesses are hit with a $200 disposal fee for a computer, the lease and give it back option would be more attractive.

    Sustainability is a tautology. Businesses will adopt environmentally sustainable models because not to do so is, well, unsustainable. But this is a lot like saying if there is a fire in your house, eventually it will burn itself out. The question remains is what will our environmental quality of life be? The key is to take steps now when the problem is small enough that liquidating our environmental assets doesn't seem economically rational.

    For more information, I recommend visiting the Natural Step [naturalstep.org] website. The Natural Step is an organization promoting a business friendly environemntal practices based on least common denominator scientific positions.

  • my friend and i are in preliminary stages of finding cool ways to turn old computers and their peripherals, including monitors, into artwork...
    anybody have parts for us / urls / ideas? anything would be appreciated, no matter how obsolete... we're not looking at a mass-production kinda thing, but a custom, work-by-work approach...
    seriously, if you have old hardware, please contact me at probably@innocent.com or my coartist:) at therealbean@yahoo.com
    if it's something cool or just a lot of generic stuff, we'd be willing to pick it up or possibly pay shipping, even though we are artists who are pretty near starving:)... thanx in advance
  • Use it to watch old demos which either won't work, go insanely fast, or get out of synch on any Pentium or higher?
  • I would like to thank all of the responders to my original post. Their well reasoned responses opened my eyes to the fact that there are other possibilities. I hadn't realized that I was being so U.S.-centric. (I hate it when people do that).

    Thanks again to all the well thought-out responses.

    Curious George

  • Cost, cost.

    Retrofitting old computers is expensive; the shoeleather cost in making them work is considerable. Given that they are heavy (c.f. lead in monitors) I can well understand how shipping them isn't cost effective.

    Basically, old computers are so cheap and bulky that if you have to "process" (ship, configure, fix) them in any way, they are no longer worth the measly performance they deliver.

    This is why road paving makes sense; it is a uniform (==cheap) process to melt and extract the gold from PCBs, and the resulting slag is at least a bit more compact than before.

    Tho I don't know if I want my road's paved with lead. I perfer good intentions. Where does that road go, again?
  • Yes, I agree that Europe has it correct on this front.

    We have no leadership in this area either, just the tiring, suppressive forces of an inefficient, bloated government that is bullied and manipulated by powerful, efficient, self-serving corporations.

    Our weakened masses are easily herded by the billion dollar marketing/advertising research agencies. Many, it seems, have chosen the unimpeded right to consume as an outlet, and a way to "turn off and tune out", rather than deal with reality.

    The end result is a country that ultimately consumes itself to death, relegating problem solving to the "next" generation.

    This is a bit of a rant, but there is a little truth in all ranting.

    jim
  • grr. grammar (getting alot of this lately)

    s/road's/roads/
  • They could plant flowers in them. That would be nice. Good for the environment too.

    (my doctor says playing up to amuse myself is an awful habit)

  • This EXACT claim was made in Scientific American awhile (year?) ago - monitors contain X pounds of lead that can leak into the environment. A few people shot back that this statistic was WAY off mark. The problem is that people are being mislead and not bothering to FUCKING THINK. The article was simply misworded. Actual lead by weight vs material (by weight) that can leak lead over time; 2 separate creatures. The entire piece of monitor glass can be a source of lead leaking into the water table - but that does NOT mean that the amount of lead (by weight) is 25% of the weight of the monitor.

    Often wrong but never in doubt.
    I am Jack9.
  • So what? I'm willing to pay more if it makes the manufacturers more responsible. Not necessarily by forcing a payment for dumping things to landfills, but making recycling a temptating option (cost wise).

    ______________
  • by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @10:53PM (#772644) Homepage
    In Switzerland you pay a "recycling tax" up front when you buy computer equipment.

    It's fairly low, maybe somewhat in the 5-10$ range for an entire PeeCee.

    You buy the right to dump your equipment at designated areas (set up in every major city) from where it's recycled or disposed off environmentally friendly.

    The same system applies for other items which threaten the environment. I.e. 5-20 cents for a battery, ~40$ for a fridge, 1.20$ for a garbage bag etc...

    Of course I hear the corporate greed freaks and the relentless absolute capitalists yelling about anti competiveness and hurting businesses and people driving to france to get the stuff (which doesn't happen, since the VAT is 3 times as much) and then dump it in the woods.

    The problem with a totally free market however, is that it has a tendency to socialize costs - especially hidden costs like killing off the environment - but to privatize profits.

    In this light I think it's a very fair system where he who dumps pays and there is an incentive to dispose of stuff relatively environmentally friendly.

    Incoming...

  • There is some interesting research going on now at the Univ of Tennessee sponsored by USEPA's Design for the Environment program that is evaluating the comparative life cycle environmental concerns between CRT monitors and flat panels. Lead is clearly the main issue with CRTs, but the flat panels are made from a semiconductor like process that uses many highly toxic chemicals and also uses more energy throughout the life cycle. Final results have not yet been published, but if anyone wants more info, let me know and I'll get it to you. Ted Smith Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition tsmith@svtc.org
  • This has been a bit of a pet peeve with me for some time; I don't see why the government lets companies get away with ignoring external costs to their products.

    As it is, only production costs are taken into acocunt by the market, as the good mr. Smith defined it. It makes perfect sense to let the market also factor in environmental costs; however, the only way the market will do this is by having these costs imposed on the goods that create them.

    Hence, higher gas taxes to reflect greenhouse effects. Monitors would reflect the negative effects of lead, and CFCs would be really expensive. This might seem horrible, (how can I be advocating higher gas prices at a time like this!) but we're all paying these costs anyway; we might as well make it explicit. And the higher prices would incite (is incent a word?) a move to better methods.

    c.f. personal power generation being cleaner per KWh, due to lack of transmission fees. I want to see this reflected in pricing of natural gas and electricity.
  • So why scrap them? Sell them off as factory seconds at a deep discount (maybe 5% to 10% of normal). Getting ANY amount of money is better than a 100% loss.

    I'd buy a 17" LCD monitor with 25 or so dead pixels in a heartbeat if I could get it for a reasonable price -- I can think of lots of applications where the advantage of having a flat screen would more than outweigh the aggrivation of having a couple of dead pixels.


    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • it killed the romans
  • Why not recycle?
  • That is *really* a good idea. Plus, there is a large community of "retrocomputing fans" (not convinced? check the bids for old computer stuff on eBay!)
  • From the: It's-too-darn-cute-to-throw-away! dept.

    There has been for awhile an effort to create "Computer Shelters", lists of people willing to take in and house computers that were no longer wanted by others. This is still a large effort, and I urge you if you have interest in this to sign up at one, or all of, the shelters available. It doesn't mean that you have to take any computer offered, but it does get your name and contact info out there to people looking to give computers to a better home.

    Some of the shelter members use the computers themselves around the house, others clean them up and repair/upgrade them and then give them to charitable causes, relatives, etc. Apparently on the east and west coast a lot of shelters have given away compact Macs to a lot of kids who think they are the greatest! It's good to think that this older hardware is up to something good.

    Here is the list of available resources that I know of dealing with Abandoned Computer Shelters, etc.:
    Jessicat's JMUG Shelter List [jmug.org], although this is down right now, you can view the cached copy HERE [google.com]
    Tarsi's Abandoned Computer Shelter List [binhost.com]
    California Computer Recycling [microweb.com]
    Share the Technology [sharetechnology.org]
    No good reason to throw them away when they're wanted! :)
  • Aren't there companies these days that buy computer parts in bulk and separate the precious metals out of the circuitry? I wonder if anyone can come up with a creative use for monitor and other peripheral leftovers..

  • I see lots of comments about recycling and about donating computers to charity. Recyling is good, yes, but a good part of the problem falls on the shoulders of the consumer. How many computers have you bought in the last ten years? How many times have you upgraded your video card? How many times have you bought a larger hard drive?

    Upgrading can be good, but I think we're in a bad cycle of upgrading and not getting solidly tangible results from the upgrade. Okay, a bigger hard drive will let you store more stuff. But at the same time, the average game is taking 500MB to install. A video card may be faster, but are developers really taking good advantage of that card, or is it that developers were only taking 40% advantage of the previous generation, so you upgraded to make up the difference? When you look back at the amazing stuff being done on the five year old PlayStation--which has specs that aren't even up to the Voodoo 1 level--and see games that frequently look like high-end PC games, it makes you wonder.

    About donating to charity: you need to be careful not to use this as a way to justify your consumerism. The Salvation Army and other charities gets heaps of junk dumped on them that they often end up having to pay to get hauled away. Mattresses hard difficult to recycle, so mattress stores often talk about how they'll give your old mattress to charity for you. It's common for charities to not know what to do with thousands of old, stained mattresses, so they just dump them. You can't funnel the castaways of hundreds of millions of people down the much smaller charity pipe.
  • This kind of measures may seem bizare to many Americans, but its actually very common in Europe to hold the producers of throwable goods responsible for the recycling. I know that in Germany, at least in some landers (states), the manufacturers are forced to take back their packaging and dispose of it, but they have taxes on private companies using landfills, so they are basicly forced to recycle and reduce it. What really surprised me in this article is that they weren't already responsible. For the monitors, it may favorise their export/resale to poorer countries.... Where they can easily be thrown away, that's one of the known ways to get around the law
  • Aren't there people who take old computers and extract the gold, lead, and other materials and sell the stuff after they've collected several hundred computer's worth? I recall reading that someplace. That would be one way to get rid of old machines.

  • It is well known that the consumption of refined sugar is linked with the development of degenerative illnesses. As long as you're covering your health insurance, eating crap or smoking anything you like is fine by me, but don't doubt the long- (& short)- term effects of the substance.

    Sugar is the end of a complex refining process that takes away every trace of minerals, vitamins and fibre from the beets/cane/other original vegetable, except for the calories. Eating sugar raises the level of your blood fats, putting stress on your pancreas as it tries to maintain blood sugar level. It can also contribute to atherosclerosis.

    Most of us in Europe/ North America/ et al. eat about 2 pounds (~1 kilo) of the stuff each week, providing about 20-25% of our calories. You can find it in almost every packaged food in some form, from baked beans to diet sodas. We have a natural liking for sweet (as well as fatty) foods. This comes from times when food was hunted and gathered, not loaded into a trolley, and we were (still are) hardwired to find substances to help us through lean times. Try switching to products with raw, unrefined sugar. Here the sucrose crystal is surrounded by a thin film of molasses containing 200 odd organic nutrients, many of them involved in breaking down sucrose in the body.
    Unsulphured molasses are very nice by the spoonful =)

  • Hoo boy. Here you can't even recycle cans for pickup- fuck if I'll be able to recycle monitors... we have this huge problem in the warehouse where my business is located with spare monitors. Most of them work (which I immediately take to my evil lab and use for evil projects) but what do I do with those that don't? I leave them, because I can't do anything with a 20 inch non working monochrome workstation monitor.

    Recycle it? Ha! Even if I could find a place, I;m sure they'd charge our building more than we could pay to get rid of the damn things.

    The environmental impact of so many discarded computer systems has been a problem that we need to deal with forever... but like all social problems in a nominally capitalist society, we won't deal with it until rich people start dying from it...

    --Perianwyr Stormcrow
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sample Ad: Hackers needed to "hack" apart monitors and remove lead from old monitors to recycle lead parts. No computer experience needed. $6.50/hr starting pay.
  • In Massachusetts, it's now illegal to dump a monitor, television, or other cathode-ray tube device without obtaining a permit. Last year, my PC class had to chuck ten ancient monitors; we just made it, because the deadline hadn't hit. However, I wonder how this will affect educational institutions and their tenacity to old hardware.
  • Since recycling is a negative-sum operation at this point (all involved end up with less than they started with) it's not feasible for the small organizations who take the machines to perform the eventual disposal operation.

    As time goes on, we're building computers out of little more than cheap, toxic crap- what can we do?


    --Perianwyr Stormcrow
  • by Yardley ( 135408 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @09:53PM (#772661) Homepage
    Apple Macintosh computers are considered the most environmentally friendly machines available. This is not a reason I use one, but it is nice to know. Though I expect Apple CRT monitors are no better than anyone else's, using lead to shield the radiation, I wonder if the new LCD, especially the 22 inch model are environmentally friendly.

    www.apple.com/about/environment [apple.com]

    On another topic, chromium causes cancer yet most vitamin manufactures insist on putting it into their formulas. Why I do not know.

    --
  • Well I do enjoy a good anal rodgering. Point taken.
  • I think your missing some points.
    First, companies still aren't held responsible for "[...]an irresponsible owner's disposal of his machine."

    Their held responsible for the legal disposal of your machine.

    "Making manufacturers responsible would just result in higher consumer prices."

    Which you had to pay otherwise, too. (Legal disposal assumed.)

    But now you can consider the costs of buying and disposal before you bought it. Forcing the companies to reduce the costs of disposal as it becomes the costs you pay.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @11:15PM (#772664) Homepage
    How could anyone possibly throw away a computer? There are innumerable reasons to save computers. Some examples:
    • Donate it to charity.
    • Send it to a third-world nation.
    • Use it to show kids what you grew up with, so that they will really believe that you walked uphill both ways through the snow to school.
    • Start a computer museum.
    • Install Linux on it and use it to (insert anything here)
    • Use it for a doorstop.
    • Use it for a small table.
    • Donate some processor cycles to distributed processes such as SETI@home (go Team Slashdot!)
    • Create an NNTP server to support the slowly fading Usenet.
    • Teach your kids how to be 31337 h4x0rz with it.
    • Install it in your car to play MP3s.
    • GIVE IT TO ME FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!
    • etc....

  • by Elvis Maximus ( 193433 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @11:15PM (#772665) Homepage

    I agree with the core idea of your comment, but...

    Now, leaving aside the expenses that these changes will add to your gear (because like a good envionmentuhlists, we all believe that any cost is justified "even if it saves one chiiiyuld")

    ...

    All that's changed in this wacky EU proposal is that the gummint gets to charge the company another ~10-20% as a penalty for making disposable crap - the company then passes the costs on to you.

    Why should you be able to purchase a consumer good and pass off part of the real cost oof that good on those who did not consume the good? There's this self-righteous get-your-hands-off-my-consumer-goods attitude in America that assumes that people have a God-given right to "cheap" fuel and other "cheap" consumables when the real cost of the production, use, and disposal of those goods are not figured into the purchase price.

    When the Dutch Government, as described in another post on this topic, forces manufacturers to add a recycling surcharge onto their goods, it is not as if a completely new cost is being added on to the good. It's a cost that already has to get paid one way or another; it's simply being charged to the actual consumer, rather than passed off on everyone else down the line.

    Inclusive pricing goes a long way toward motivating people to make the rational use and reuse choices you advocate. If I have to pay $75 extra on that TV to cover the hidden costs of the manufacture and disposal of that TV, might I not consider buying a more reliable TV so that I don't have to pay that surcharge again? Might I not repair it rather than replace it? If I have to pay the actual costs of motor vehicle use -- infrastructure, law enforcement, pollution abatement, etc. -- every time I buy a gallon of gas, might I not make a rational choice not to purchase an SUV?

    But instead we are shielded from the actual costs of this stuff, so it makes good market sense for manufacturers to make lousy, difficult-to-repair, disposable products covered in wads of packaging. And when the time comes to clean all this crap up, people whine and say, "you can't take my money! It's my money, not the Gummint's!"

    -

  • people call me a computer pack rat, and I suppose that's more or less true- I've got piles of old stuff that was state of the art years ago down in my evil lab, and a lot of it (most notably, the monitors!) is still in service.

    I'm afraid of what will happen if my house catches on fire. It will probably kill everyone in a block radius.

    --Perianwyr Stormcrow
  • I fully agree.

    at the same time, I think that companies should be responsible for alerting us to what's in their products so we are aware that we have to dispose of it properly. We can't be held accountable for not knowing if they don't take steps to make us aware of the dangers.

    -V

  • Donate it to the Stone Soupercomputer project

    http://www.cs.ndsu.nodak.edu/~xpan/beowulf/stone Soup/beowulf.html

    That's what I intend to do with my PC once it's no longer worth upgrading.

    Steven
  • Here here!

    Perhaps Americans could take a few tips from their neighbours to the north who subscribe more closely to the European model. As a Canadian living in the United States, I am shocked and dismayed by how much waste is accumulated here. For Canucks, it is de rigueur to recycle bottles, cans, aluminum, xmas trees, computers, and paper. (Paper is the biggest waste product and the most cheaply recycled resource). Garbage is an out of sight, out of mind phenomenon here. Computer waste is a toxic problem which must be addressed sooner rather than later - but this it is merely shit icing on a gross and unseemly garbage pile cake. The answer is voting for Green parties, and ousting these environmentally unconscious clowns.

    Yearning for a yankee-doodle-blue-box.

    p.s. we get our deposits back for our beer bottles and cans too!
  • I've had the same monitor and case for about 4 years, while swapping out the motherboard twice, and CPUs at least 3-4 times.
    My previous monitor (15") is about 8 years old, and is sitting on my wife's desk, along with the case from 8 years ago with (of course) new PS, MB, and etc.
  • Basically... why not?
    Personally, at home I have a few 386 boards, and a couple of 486 boards, including some really unusual ones (Ultra ATA or something, never seen it in a desktop. It was from a 486 server.) I also have a stack of hard drives from 300MB to 1GB.

    All of these parts were grabbed from work before they purged the storage room of old PCs. It also doesn't hurt to have some spare power supplies if you're building a sprawling monster-system. (4-8 more hard drives than you should have, extra cooling, etc...)

    On occasion, a friend who's interested in computing will ask for a board, and I'll give it to them, even set up a copy of DOS on it if they want (1 minute install process. Can't get much easier than that!)

    Also, one of the oldest computer stores in town here keeps a box of old motherboards from upgrades (pretty much anything pre-P200,) and if you want one, you can buy it as-is for $5.

    I'd say that this form of recycling works pretty well. While they're not the most useful things, they're definately not leaking materials into the water table, etc...
  • Actually the Romans got lead poisoning not from lead pipes but from lead cookware. It was common for the upper classes to have their food cooked in lead pots & pans. IIRC, the lead would react with vinegar used in cooking, producing small quantities of lead acetate -- which (while toxic) adds a sweetish taste to food. There are probably other lead compounds which have interesting flavors as well.

    This phenomenon was pretty well confined to the nobility; the middle and lower classes used tin, copper, and pottery cookware.

    As to the cause of the fall of the (western) Roman empire, it was mostly due to 2 reasons: collapse of the economy, and the Plague. Of course, the eastern Roman empire survived for nearly another 1000 years (as the Byzantine empire), until 1453 when Constantanople fell to the Ottoman Turks.


    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • That's for sure. Old PCs (and old hardware in general) make a great word processing unit (I have one 386/33 w/Win 3.1 and Word 2), a good Linux network PC and so on. There's still plenty of life in old computers!!
  • Mod this one DOWN big time.
    --.\\-H--
  • Hackers needed to "hack" apart monitors and remove lead from old monitors to recycle lead parts.

    Maybe by filling them with lead [tuxedo.org]? :)

  • In Switzerland, they still assume that people are more decent, thus you have to pay afterwards. In Holland they would assume one would dump the old TV's and Computers in a lake etc. to avoid the recycling costs

    If you have ever seen the canals in Amsterdam you would know that this is not such a far-fetched assumption :)

  • I think a partial solution about this problem would be letting people interested in retrocomputing grab everything they want for free. It would mean a lot of PCs not being wasted in our environment. I know it is not THE solution but you would get both more happy people and a better "tech garbage" situation.
  • Guess I'd better hurry up and invent the lead to gold converter then, I'll be rich I tell you, RICH =P

    Time to go back to the insanity ward.


    --
  • No, not moronic... (especially not in caps :) This is simply an application of a larger principle supposed to be in force in the EU. Manufacturers must think about how to get rid of their products up front, when they design them. This, the argument goes, will make it easier to recycle what's worth recycling and disposing of what needs disposing. It's been in force now for some time for cars, I think, and most car manufacturers put into their marketing broad hints on how much of the material in their cars is marked for proper recycling. In Germany, the Bundestag is discussing a regulation called "Elektronik-Schrott-Verordnung" (electronic waste regulation, approx.) which doesn't only apply to computer equipment but to all things containing semiconductors, circuit boards and such. This reg is a national application of the EU guideline or principle mentioned above.

    Will this make things cost more? Of course, but this should be viewed like safety regulations for motor vehicles, aircraft, power tools and pretty much everything else. Manufacturers will adapt, and cost to the consumer will even out over the long run: the choice would be between somewhat cheaper equipment and individually expensive disposal, or somewhat more expensive equipment but no worries about disposal.

    And for what happens when corporations get around safety regs, I propose taking a look at sport utility vehicles in the U.S. Classed as "light trucks", which mustn't be too expensive because they could be used by small businesses, they need not keep to the same safety (and emission) standards as passenger cars. And what are SUVs used for? Check any U.S. metropolitan rush hour highway at your leisure...

  • Oh my God....
    Companies are big bastards (excuse my language, kiddies!). I know some management types who hooked me up with some primo 386 servers their company had decided to throw out - my God, they are great for the old home network. The company was going to dump them, I gave my friend £20 and got them off him. He gained, I gained and the company(which is tiny) didn't lose out!
    Why do companies just dump their equipment? Another friend got a stack of Simms, a handful of processors and three colour laptops with batteries when he had a Summer job with a removal company - IBM moved its Irish offices and had just earmarked thousands of pounds worth of great hardware for dumping!! (He didn't give me any though!)
    I've also found lots of slightly damaged monitors and aging computers at the dump - with problems that are easily fixed...
    If I EVER see someone dumping out a computer, they are going to get an earfull from me - there are plenty of extremely poor people who could use them and plenty of geeks (like me) who just want them...

    I don't, by-in-large, give to charity, but I know one thing, if I ever saw equipment being dumped in a company (or university) that I worked in, I'd have the guts to ask for the stuff (or maybe come back when no one is around and take the stuff) and actually give it to a charity shop or someone who needed or wanted a computer.
  • desperate times, desperate trolls?


    --------
  • Read an interesting article about how the FBI/CIA/NSA used to deal with floppy disks with classified informations. First they burned them. Then they apparently break up and smash them into as many small pieces as possible. Finally, they try to mix them with other broken disks in a private landfill so that noone can piece together the contents.

    No joke.

  • This comment isn't about the article per say. Ok, it was a good article, however, why do things like this get posted? I submitted an article about some Windows ME bugs that never made it. I guess that stuff just isn't important. Maybe because its actually useful information that someone might care about.
  • After the consumer buys the product the company is no longer the owner and should have not have to worry what someone does after they buy it. Just more government waste that I would have to end up paying.

    You are paying higher gas prices because the arabs got together and jacked up the price. They know the world runs on oil, so people will have to pay. Its simple greed.
  • My 4.5-year old MAG Innovision 17" monitor serves 3 computers connected through the KVM-switch. The original computer is long gone, but this monitor still satisfies me.
  • I'll admit, I don't usually keep anything 386, but I'd love to drive down a road and think "Yep, my computer helped build this road..."

  • Two things made alchemy viable: 1: Whoever got it to work first would make a killing before the market got flooded with cheap gold. If they were smart enough to convert this newfound wealth into something more durable (like land or gems or such) more the better. 2: Back when alchemy was big, gold was a lot more useful than lead, and also much prettier. So, switching lead into gold (even if gold wasn't worth much more than lead) still had its value. After all, even when lead and bronze were about of the same value not many people wanted to decorate with lead. Virg
  • by garagekubrick ( 121058 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @11:56PM (#772688) Homepage
    Anyone who's done a fair amount of dumpster diving knows that people THROW COMPUTER S**T AWAY all the damn time, perfectly good usable equipment. It's incredible. Just a few months ago I scored three 17 inch monitors off the street that were off to the dumps cause an architectural firm moved to flat screens.

    Whether or not the lead leaks the fact is obsolence in this field is FAST and the result is that so much silicon and plastic and so on has got to pile up somewhere. Whether or not there is leakage from contaminants, these extremely non biodegradeable materials will have to take up some space because they get thrown away so often.

    The other thing to think about is that geeks often forget that computation is ubiquitious and therefore everyone has computers and doesn't know what to do with old ones. Most people wouldn't know how to jury rig old systems together with obsolete parts and find a use for them - and those are the majority of computer users today.

    For that matter, the computing industry as a whole is totally screwed by complete lack of ingenuity when it comes to recycling. Just recently I had a leftover case and p350 proc, and all I wanted was a very small, very cheap hard drive, new, to make a machine for my girlfriend. Since I'm in a small town in the US at the moment I can't go to my usual urban haunts with used parts, and my options are to basically buy a new 20 gig drive and that's it.

    And one other thing - laminated chipboard is some of the most durable stuff on earth. It's nearly frigging invincible to the elements. And it's already started to pile up, and boy is it gonna get worse. Whether or not you think computers are safe to dump without contamination to the environment, fact is that the landfill is land that could, say, be a park for kids to play in.

    Just some friendly idealism and simplicity from someone who considers outta sight outta mind to be one of the most dangerous attitudes out there.

  • by puppet10 ( 84610 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @12:07AM (#772689)
    Actually you can do this and many recycling facilities do to separate metals (including non-ferrous, or generally non-magnetic) from other materials. The way it works is you drop the material in a rapidly oscillating magnetic field which produces a force on any conductive (read metal) material in the waste stream. This force pushes the metal into a separate path from the rest of the material (here's [walkermagnet.com] an example of a commercial separator). The only problem I see is that most of the lead is IN the glass (CRT's are good quality moderately leaded ~20% glass) and I don't see the lead in the glass being separated except through melting.
  • Actually this may get really bad before it gets better. I find that most computers are not actually thrown away, but sit in basements closets and attics for long periods of time.

    Many people who purchased $2000 machines a few years ago find it is painful to throw it away with the garbage. I dont really blame them, but I would not find it hard to believe if most of the world's computers were sitting alone in the farthest corners of the average home.

  • It's supposed to be illegal to dispose of the old oil out of your car just anywhere too, but it seems to me that if I got caught dumping it DOWN BY THE RIVER -- it wouldn't be the Pennzoil corporation that would be held responsible!

    Actually, in Austria, for every liter of motor oil you buy, the shop has to take back a liter of old oil. This oil then needs to be disposed of by the shop in a legal fashion. It makes the disposal of the old oil very hassle-free for the customer.

    You see, not everything that seems unusual to your vision of the world is automatically moronic. Just different, sometimes even better. And no, I won't start another thread about the curious perception, that in order to live in peace one needs to arm himself with medium size artillery.

    Cheers,

    johi

  • Here is a list of current regulations in the USA for the disposal of electronic equipment including CRT's. National Recycling Coalition [205.177.140.48] EPA and the Display Industry [epa.gov] State of Massachusetts CRT Recycling [state.ma.us] Right now, it is the consumer's responsability to dispose of these electronics following national & local regulations. In the future, it will be the electronics manaufacturers' responsability.
  • I don't see why Man U. should be responsible. They're only a football team. O.K, they're an annoying football team with no real fans, but they still shouldn't be responsible for used monitors.
  • Same problem here in St. Louis. I had a hard time finding an environmentally aware waste disposal company to get rid of the 24 monitors I had laying around.

    I finally was put in touch with a reseller who gave me $10 each for them. I figured any price beats paying to have them hauled away.

    I wrote the serial numbers down on the bill of sale and had the purchaser sign it just incase they were found on a river bank or something.
  • This would suck all the car owners with a leaky oil reserve!
  • The stuff on the glass is the aquadag coating. It is only a carbon based conductive coating. It is on the inside and has the high voltage connected to it. It is also on the outside to make the tube a capacitor to filter the high voltage from the flyback transformer. The glass itself contains lead (especially the front face) to absorb the X-rays created when the electron beam accelerated by the high voltage strikes the target phospher on the faceplate. Monitors have more lead than TV's because they are designed to be viewed at closer distances. The X-rays from a TV exposure is limited because like light, doubling the distance from the source squares the area and therefore reduces the exposure by the square root of the distance viewed.
  • hehe, dump it off on a local charity, let them figure out how to recycle it.
  • Here's a link [computersu...outlet.com] for all your old parts needs.

    This is if you don't have an electronic surplus place (a useful resource if you need video cards, full height 5 1/4" 8" Floppy drives etc. for AT/AX or other old machines) in your town/city .
  • The problem with old computers is that they USE ELECTRICITY, and lots of. I wanted to grab hold of an old VAX server, but after checking its power consumption levels i deciced that with a year's electricity cost i could buy a significantly faster pentium or k5 which also would make less noise.

    And what to do with old 8/16bit machines which cannot run linux to save their asses ? Play a little with them and you will find them tooo slow for your liking (ever tried to use an 286 after using some almost-gigahertz machine ? the letters appear on the screen with a smaaal delay after you press the keys. When all i had was an 286 - i didn't noticed that, but now i do and after 10 minutes it becomes annoying)

    I am the proud owner of an 1987-or-something hercules monitor and video card, an 1985 vt100 terminal and lots of other old hardware which I use (cases, keyboards, floppy drives, controllers, arcnet network cards ...) and will use until the last miligram of magic smoke in them is out. But i thrown away the Z80, XT and 286 processor based boards as there was nothing i could do with them. (hint: most memory chips (256K*4) on 286 boards fit perfectly on old svga cards)

    Recycle/reuse as much as you can. Upgrade/repair as much as it's possible. Recycle what you can't.

    --
  • I've taken apart monitors. Sometimes with high velocity lead :) [I live in Texas, where such things are highly approved of] Other than the customary wave soldered PC boards, I can see no metallic lead.

    That cathode-ray tube (CRT) is _very_ heavy, especially the front face. My guess is they've mixed alot of Lead oxide into the glass to reduce radiation emissions from the monitor -- meet the specs. But AFAIK, this Lead oxide is totally immobile and insoluble except in strong mineral acids and alkalis. Shouldn't have any of those in a landfill :)
  • I live in Switzerland (in Geneva, to be exact), and after living in a couple of other countries, it's nice to be in a place where people don't just use trashcans because they're told to, but rather because they've taken consciousness of *who* is going to suffer from pollution and ultimately clean the mess (and pay for it): their kids.

    When I was a kid in the 70's and 80's, pollution wasn't an issue. Now you see thousands of ppl suffering from what we littered 20 years ago. HFC gas follows the same pattern (what's eating the ozone layer is what humans rejected about 30 years ago, wait for the big sun-tan).

    I was extremely suprised how new 'leaving a place clean' is to Americans. Some people there really thinkt the planet is a giant disposal bin and don't give a rat's ass as to *who* is going to suffer and clean the mess (your kids, folks).

    Yup, I think Europe is a bit ahead in that matter.

    Btw, we should all think about power consumption with our PCs. Heck, my oc'd PC with its big monitor must suck quite a lot. If only PPC or Transmeta CPUs and LCD panels were the rule, sure we could cancel building another electric plant...

    my 2 cents.

    /max
  • Down here in Oz, 2600, the "hacker" group has a mailing list for old hardware (see 2600 Australia [2600.org.au]). Anyone with old hardware is encouraged to post, a reasonable amount of stuff goes through the list. Most is free, some is traded for a few beers etc.

    What I'm wondering is, how can more businesses be encouraged to participate in this kind or recycling. Obviously they have the most disposable hardware, but its often hard to find it. They're probably prefer to give it away than have people take it from their dumpster......

  • Look, I like high quality items just as much as the next geek. But once you consider the time-value of money (compound interest), excessive quality just isn't economically efficient.

    Consider two items that basically do the same thing. One costs $200, and the other $100 because it's not as durable. Now if that $100 item lasts only a year, while the $200 item lasts forever, then I'm probably better off buying the quality item unless my personal interest rate is 100%pa.
    For some people it is, or they just don't have the extra money.

    Now change the numbers. The $100 item lasts two years, and you'll want to replace them both in 6 years for improved functionality. Now a 27% interest rate is the breakeven.

    For a concrete example, look at houses. European houses are built to last -- tile roofs & floors, thru-brick walls inside & out. But they cost 3-4 times a N.American house which might not last more than 20-60 years (asphalt shingle roof, wood fram construction, siding.) and that with more maintenance. But to payout the higher quality, you have to have an unrealistically low rate of interest (1-2%).

    I'm very depressed about this, but I cannot see any way out. Albert Einstein was right when he described the power of compound interest as miraculous.
  • What's wrong with paying when you get rid of the device? If I'm the one that throws it in the trash, then I pay the fee. If I take the time to take aluminum cans in for recycling I get paid the going rate for aluminum by the pound (usually enough to fill my gas tank). After it becomes cost effective to recycle old PCs then maybe I get paid by the pound to drop off my PC. Remember there' gold contacts and other metal in there.
  • And this lead leaches out of the glass in the landfill how?

    Good point. Glass is very stable chemically. Glass and pottery are found intact in archeological sites thousands of years old.

  • DMC Recycling [dmcrecycling.com] says leaded glass is only 8% of the electronics scrap they process. And that includes the glass; lead is probably around 1-2%.

    There are some mechanized plants for shredding old electronics and separating out ferrous scrap, nonferrous metallic scrap, nonmetallic heavy scrap (chips, ceramics, glass, etc.), and "fluff" (light plastic, insulation, etc.). The metallic scrap can be recycled profitably, but it's hard to find something useful to do with the nonmetallic stuff. DMC Recycling says they can recycle about 97% by weight of what comes in.

  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @12:57AM (#772718) Homepage Journal

    ...At least in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    We had 19 (count 'em) monitors that were just going to get tossed. Ordinarily we would have roof-disposed them (tossed them off the roof of our four-story building and watch them go *smash*; quite entertaining for a typical male geek), but I had just read how much toxic crud is in these things, and sought to get them recycled.

    It turns out there's only one organization even remotely set up to recycle monitors in the Bay Area (and, if I had my notes in front of me, I'd post their contact info). It took me a day to actually locate this organization, a few more days to actually speak to a live person, and even then I was informed that, unless one of their people just happened to be in the area, on-site pick ups were, as a rule, not something they did (since they didn't charge for the service).

    To make a long story short, they said they'd get back to me. The monitors languished in our hallway for two months, taking up space. They finally disappeared last week, but I have no idea where to. Frankly, I'm afraid to ask.

    So if you want to be environmentally conscious in the Bay Area with more than just soda cans and newspapers, you're going to have to work at it. No one's providing the service.

    Schwab

  • I lived in Switzerland for about a year and a half. I found it to be one of the cleanest places I had ever seen, and I was in quite a few small towns and a couple cities...

    Returning to Canada I was shocked at all the litter. I had grown used to people cleaning up after themselves and *gasp* not just throwing thier garbage into the street. Meanwhile I was also amazed at how hard it was to recycle things here. It's much better now where I live (we have "green bins" for garden waste and alternate weeks with garbage pick-up and "green" waste, etc). In Switzerland there were recycling bins EVERYWHERE, and garbage cops went through the trash to figure out if people were playing along with the disposal rules. It made you feel that the government, and people, of Switerland actually meant it when they said "Please recycle".

    --8<--

  • It's just that we pay them at repair time. Any time I have my oil changed, I pay a disposal fee. Same thing goes for tires. As long as this money is actually going to dispose of these things in an enviromentally sound way, I'm happy to pay it. So let me pay to dispose of my PC parts at the time when I'm finished with them, not at the beginning.

    Europeans seem to "get" the clean-earth idea more than we Americans do. Probably because they don't have thousands of acres of desert to dump stuff in. This country needs to make it easy to dispose of things the right way. Until then, PC parts, batteries, paint, etc. will simply go in the trash. :(
  • This sounds like a solid reason for manufacturers of components and systems to face their governments with facts about their products. NEC and other manu's should address the lead content in CRT monitors and suggest that the government make this information very public.

    This isn't to scare the public, but let them know the dangers of the contaminations of these products. We do this with batteries, asbestos, and many other toxins, why not with computers?

    Produce a special recycler/incinerator for a definite capita of that nation (like 1 for every 250,000 units/people), which would make regular runs (1st of the month?) in the area to pick up old monitors, batteries, etc., and take them to be disposed of properly.

    Instead of holding the manufacturers hostage to the contaminations, since we don't do this with television manufacturers even after all these years, this just makes the most sense. Or possibly there can be companies setup to do services like these for big businesses, since they probably waste more products per year than the general population (I'm not certain, just guessing).

    Anyone else think this would be a better plan?

    Dragon Magic [dragonmagic.net]
  • Hopefully corp America will see the light and the demand will force the price of thouse 21" LCDs down to $300 like they should be.

    The lead is for x-ray shielding so you don't get over exposed if the voltage gets a bit too high.
  • I once read that screens last much longer than computers. Many people tend to buy new systems but keep the old CRT, especially if the old one is 17" or larger. I know many people who do not want more than 17" on their desk because they claim it is less comfortable to work with.

    I wonder if there are some statistics about that. Also it would be nice to see if the same holds for the corporate world, or if the IS departments blindly upgrade screen and system (which I think is happening, and may not be the wisest thing).

  • by Baki ( 72515 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @10:12PM (#772735)
    It is common practice in Holland and Switzerland too. In Holland you pay even some extra (about $25 for a TV or Computer) when you buy it, to pay in advance to the recycling afterwards.

    In Switzerland, they still assume that people are more decent, thus you have to pay afterwards. In Holland they would assume one would dump the old TV's and Computers in a lake etc. to avoid the recycling costs :)

    The producers are responsible, but the consumer has to pay the costs the producer makes for recycling. The producers must do the recycling (i.e. they can't refuse to take used products back) for a set price.
  • <I>Instead of holding the manufacturers hostage to the contaminations, since we don't do this with television manufacturers even after all these years, this just makes the most sense. Or possibly there can be companies setup to do services like these for big businesses, since they probably waste more products per year than the general population (I'm not certain, just guessing). </i>

    Actually the TV companies have been forced to do it for years in Europe.

    I've read quite a few comments saying: "but there are recycling companies". This is true, but recycling of old computer partsd is getting less and less profitable because newer parts use cheapear material... aluminium instead of gold. And use less of it... So basicly they want to force the manu's to subsides recycling, this may again seem bizare to Americans, but its quite common in Europe. I know they at least apply it to cars and food packaging, if not all packaging in some countries...
  • I was just thinking of this! "Throw" computers away? Whah? I'd think it was some wierd Simpsons episode, if, for example, people weren't ACTUALLY using computers to pave roads [cjmag.co.jp].
  • Just an addition: Computers cannot be burnt, legally at any rate, since their emmissions have a dangerous amount of mustard gas, which is a highly potent mutagen and "extremely effective" carcinogen (ie. oxidant catalyst, if I remember correctly). Or at least, the 1980 counterparts of modern computers did, which I believe is what the issue here is with.
  • No, Europe is a bigger market population wise than the US, but the European Commission= European Union = smaller pop. wise than the US.

  • Any plumber can tell you about hard water deposits covering the inside of plumbing. Actually, many large cities used lead in the water supply until a few decades ago, but the old pipes are still in use. You can find assurances that the mineral coating is protecting us...
  • When you buy something you own all of it, not just select pieces. Since it is yours it is yours to take care of recycling it or whatever you are going to do with it when it no longer functions to meet your desired means. Holding the company who created it responsible really makes no sense since it is no longer their property. I hold this under the same notion as DVD ownership, if you bought it you should be able to make a coaster out of it, nuke it in the microwave, or DeCSS it. BTW: You are also responsible for disposing of the DVD:)
  • Dont worry, Apple just hides all their deadly chemicals in their new cube [apple.com]
  • by Curious__George ( 167596 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @10:18PM (#772761)
    It's supposed to be illegal to dispose of the old oil out of your car just anywhere too, but it seems to me that if I got caught dumping it DOWN BY THE RIVER -- it wouldn't be the Pennzoil Corporation that would be held responsible!

    It might be a good idea to make it illegal for dumps and landfills to take old computers (which would encourage you take it to the recyclers), but I don't see how the manufacturers should be held responsible for an irresponsible owner's disposal of his machine.

    Making manufacturers responsible would just result in higher consumer prices. (MFG would have to build-in the cost of disposal for trade-ins).

    "Yeah, in my day we used to collect computers from the ditches and take them back to the store for the deposits!"

    Curious George

  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is a lot of possible pollution in computers.

    However, lead isn't a likely one, it is dissolved in the glass at the time that is blown into the shape of the CRT bottle, and it isn't likely to come out until the glass dissolves.

    Considering that one of the prefered ways controlling the spread of radio active waste is to dissolve it into glass, I think this lead is fairly safe.

    I wish people would worry about real pollution problems, such as the poisons in circuit componets and motherboards, and not about the ones that aren't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2000 @10:22PM (#772763)
    So god said:

    • The food that's bad for people shall taste great.
    • The useful chemical elements shall be toxic.
    But why???
  • There are companies that do such things, but you have to pay them. It's more effort to extract the materials than the materials are worth. Yes, you can see there is gold in your computer but since the 1970s the amount of gold has been miniscule.

    When energy gets cheap enough, you could dump the stuff in an industrial-scale mass spectrometer, and get all the constituent elements dropped into buckets. But we'll need fission or fusion power for that, and there's not enough activity in either field now.

    [A mass spectrometer immolates a material with an electric flame or plasma torch, which tears apart most molecules into simple molecules or atoms. After electrically charging the material, it is thrown past a magnet -- lighter elements are deflected further than heavier ones, thus separating the various types of materials. Imagine dumping a truckload of junk into a rocket exhaust and ending up with a bucket of lead, a bucket of iron, a bucket of carbon, and tanks of hydrogen and oxygen...along with many more buckets of rather pure materials]

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @10:29PM (#772782)
    Umm, lemme get this straight, there's a whole lotta lead in a typical CRT.

    And this lead leaches out of the glass in the landfill how?

    And while we're at it, the talk of banning lead solder seems also to be a crock - the non-lead alternatives to solder have higher melting points, meaning changes to manufacturing processes for chip and board alike.

    Now, leaving aside the expenses that these changes will add to your gear (because like a good envionmentuhlists, we all believe that any cost is justified "even if it saves one chiiiyuld"), you've solved one problem, but created another one, namely:

    Crappy solder means higher failure rates, which means even more crap thrown into landfill.

    This is fine if you're a manufacturer - you get to sell the customer two $59.99 VCRs and a $150 TV every couple of years as the solder joints - already crap in most consumer gear as witnessed by the flood of complaints in sci.electronics.repair - go cold on you and the customer can't be bothered to get it fixed because the cost of "junk it and buy a new one" is less than the cost of "fix it".

    All that's changed in this wacky EU proposal is that the gummint gets to charge the company another ~10-20% as a penalty for making disposable crap - the company then passes the costs on to you. It's no skin off their nose when the consumer would rather have a $150 (or $150+$20 "green" tax buried in the price = $170) piece of crap than a $500 piece of equipment.

    You wanna really help the environment? Screw this "gummint oughta tax manufacturers who make products we don't like" crap. Just do two things:

    • Press manufacturers to build quality into their products the way they used to. Gear made in the mid-80s is still going strong - gear made in the mid-90s is mostly crap. Be willing to pay 15% more for a screen that'll last 5 years longer than its bargain-bin neighbor.
    • Reuse, don't recycle. My current TV is a 27" set that someone left out for garbage. The fault was a $0.25 capacitor that took out a $3.20 amplifier chip. Because the previous owner cut the AC cord on the thing (presumably they didn't want anyone trying to fix it - fsck that!), I spent another $5.00 on a cord from Rat Shack. The goddamn cord was my biggest expense.

    Now, not everyone can (or should!) fix their own gear, especially if it's a TV set. But that fix was trivial, and any repair tech would have recognized the failure instantly (vertical deflection failures are common on this model), and said "$5 for the new parts, $50 for knowing which parts you need".

    Hell, even if you don't want it fixed, consider giving it to a local repair tech. "Hey, if you can fix it, it's yours, find someone who wants it".

    Back to my set - that set was made in 1993, just at the start of the decline in consumer electronics quality. But it's still going strong a couple of years after I picked it up. I fully expect this set to last until HDTV renders it (and all our other sets) obsolete in 6-8 years.

    (And yeah, I'll be stocking up on lead solder, just in case it's banned by the time I need it to fix something!)

    Side note -- the real cause of failure in that set - and many monitors and TVs - was dust buildup. High voltages used in monitors and TVs mean lots of static to attract dust. The dust coats the components, trapping heat. The heat is what killed the capacitor, resulting in the failed amp chip.

    Practical upshot -- if you read a few FAQs (e.g. http://www.repairfaq.org [repairfaq.org]) and learn the basic safety rules for working in a monitor, you can probably save yourself a lot of headaches by just getting in there and cleaning out the dustbunnies every 5 years.

    Less heat. Less stress on parts. Less landfill. Happier planet.

    Or to borrow an old WWII slogan: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

    This ain't new, kids.

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @10:34PM (#772784) Homepage
    If you check out the About AEA [aeanet.org] page, you'll be confronted with some scary stuff:

    It's all about innovation. It's all about competition. It's all about productivity, efficiency and success.

    Is it me, or has Microsft permanently tainted the word "innovation"? As another /.er's sig points out, you can tell how desperate they are by how many times they say the word "innovate"...

    You save money and gain clout. Most importantly you have a voice in Washington...

    What do these guys do? They lobby for your needs and wants on the hill (trade association). GREAT!!! How do I sign up?... Us geeks need to get our voice into this channel to the whitehouse!
    Wait, I can't. Because I must be a corporation. So how do we get a voice in this org? Does anyone here know anything more?

Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue. - Seneca

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