The year 2020 has been one strange year. There’ve been times when I thought “up” must be “down” and “left” must be “right”.
This is the only way I (“The Other Ken” – KN4DD) could explain to myself how a mostly respiratory disease could cause toilet paper, frozen pizza and bread yeast shortages. And, as I would soon find out, laptop shortages.
When I received a broadcast email from John (KG4NXT) back on August 22, asking for ideas on what to do with newly retired XP laptops, I didn’t think I could help. At first, all I could offer was this: maybe some recycler would offer money for the scrap.
And so, with the trap set, John sprung it. Would you look into this please?
Based on what turned out to be an outdated memory, I agreed. I had remembered a number of recycling facilities up and down Route 28. And so, I went to everybody’s favorite search engine to begin my quest. It turned out however, that there was only one local recycler. All of the others were out-of-state.
Not fully believing this, I spent a good deal of last Saturday driving up and down Route 28, Liberia Avenue, and Sudley Road, all to no avail. The out-of-state recyclers all had one thing in common. They wanted me to ship the laptops and then after receiving them, would forward payment for them.
I did not believe I would receive payment, and indeed, would be in the hole for the shipping costs.
I honestly believed I would have a better chance finding someone to give me a couple of dollars for scrap recycling, than I would if I tried to donate these. Who, I wondered, would even want XP machines, when Microsoft no longer supports Vista or Windows 7, both of which are newer?
My church has a ministry (a charity, if you would rather) called Gracing Spaces (https://www.gracingspaces.com) who provide basic housing necessities. From a single room, to whole house furnishing, they have helped 804 local families just last year.
I contacted them briefly about my task, and truthfully forgot about them, so focused was I on the recycling. So, I was quite surprised when they said they definitely wanted all the laptops I could provide. Somewhat dumb founded, I said sure, but asked how they could use these. I was told that they partner with Fairfax County social services and this is where the laptops could be used.
It turns out there is a bit of a laptop shortage, probably due to the “back-to-school” rush. What they intended to do, was donate any working laptop to social services. The children in these shelters have a difficult enough time getting laptops in normal times. However, in the age of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus), all classes are virtual classes. They will remain online classes for the foreseeable future. In this environment, any computer they can get to go on the Internet is sought after. Even our old XP machines.
This changed my task somewhat. I had intended to just drop off all 15 machines. Now I had to make sure the machines were usable. This means I had to boot them up, log in, remove any required credentials (login and password), remove any radio related software and files.
OVH was able to donate 11 laptops to Gracing Spaces, who in turn donated them to social services. At least 11 people will have an easier time this school year because of OVH.
What happened to the other four machines you ask? They will not just take up space in a landfill somewhere. They were donated to eAsset Solutions Computer and Electronics Recycling of Falls Church, VA.
“The Other Ken”’