Saturday, October 18, 2008

Recycling Electronics: Goodbye to the Mac 4400

One of the local waste companies held a computer recycling day today. Anyone was allowed to drop off any computer equipment and most electronic equipment for recycling, at no charge. We always have some old computer equipment lying around and I feel guilty just throwing it out to clog our landfills. So I loaded up the car with some old stuff and drove it to the event. In addition to the broken MicroTek scanner and the old Sun workstation I dropped off our old Power Mac 4400.

The 4400 brings back some interesting memories. Back in the late 90's we needed to replace our old and slow mac with something a bit newer and faster. I read about the 4400 and paid a visit to the local CompUSA store to see one for myself. Much to my surprise there was someone at the store that seemed knowledgeable about the machine and was able to answer all my questions. That has never happened to me in a CompUSA before or since. Turned out the guy worked for Apple and not CompUSA (despite the fact he was wearing a CompUSA shirt). My primary concern, of course, was the need for more memory. I'm convinced that every prepackaged computer on the planet is build with insufficient memory and it is always necessary to at least double the amount of memory after purchase. This was true for the 4400. So about a week after buying it I went back to CompUSA to get more memory. Unfortunately my friendly Apple salesman in disguise was no longer there. I went up to the "upgrades" desk and made my request, then was presented with two memory sticks and a bill for lots of money. I paid my money and brought them home, opened up the case and discovered that the sticks didn't fit. They were the right size but the notch on the board was in the wrong place. Further research revealed that I had been sold 5 volt memory when I needed 3.3 volt memory. So I went back to CompUSA to "discuss" the matter with them. After waiting in line at the returns desk I then waited in line at the upgrades desk. I explained to the salesman what I needed, he didn't understand, he sought help, he tapped away on his computer, he thumbed through catalogs, I thumbed through catalogs, and eventually we found what I needed. Whereupon he said "oh that. We don't carry that." So I did what I should have done from the beginning: ordered it on-line.

So now that the 4400 is in a recycling bin I am left with my memories and one lingering concern. Did I do more damage to the planet by burning fossil fuel to drive these things to the recycling center than I would have if I had just thrown them out?

No comments: