Posts tagged ‘linux’
So it took rather longer than anticipated but I finally got to pay a visit to Free Geek Vancouver at the weekend for my introductory volunteer training session (and also to donate a trunk full of unwanted hardware of my own).
First impressions? Besides the rather unsavory neighbourhood (two blocks North of Hastings, just East of the docks). Bigger than I expected… a 60’x30′ receiving area stacked to the 12 foot high ceilings with cases and PCs, one person disassembling incoming PCs and cleaning them, another person testing the components and a third person disassembling the junk to be sent off for recycling. Then upstairs a 30’x10′ office that looks kinda like my study on a tidy day – components and part-built PCs everywhere! Four people in there building customer PCs and loading them up with Ubuntu (and presumably OpenOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird).
They also have a little thrift store where they sell surplus components – if you want a 3GHz Athlon Thunderbird or 256MB of PC133 memory this is the place to go!
Amongst all the cookie-cutter PCs that people donate to them, there’s also a lot of historical gems… in the hour I was there I spotted a Commodore Pet 2001 (Qwerty keyboard, not the original chiclet keyboard), TRS-80 portable, Apple IIe, an original Macintosh and, something I didn’t even know existed, an extremely late model 8000series Commodore Pet looking remarkably like this.
One thing I hadn’t realized about their business model: the majority of their output goes to non-profit organizations who fill in a hardware grant request and get whatever they want built for free. The rest goes for free or ultra-cheap to individuals who want to get online but can’t afford a new computer. As far as actual revenue to pay the rent, I think the majority of it comes from scrap sold for recycling and money from the thrift store.
I think I can be quite useful there – 15 years experience dismantling and rebuilding PCs for fun and 5 years experience in Linux. Now I’m ‘trained’ I can’t wait to get back there for a proper day’s “work”!
They’re a volunteer organization that takes people’s unwanted old computers, strips them down, ethically recycles the unusable parts, takes the reusable parts and builds them into fresh computers. Then loads Ubuntu onto them and sells them dirt cheap or gives them away to people who need access to a computer but can’t afford one.
Sounds like a damn fine organization to me. And, given that this is the sort of thing I do for myself all the time, it sounds like somewhere I should be able to do some useful volunteer work.
If the planets align, I’ll go down there next Wednesday and see what it’s all about.
I bought an apartment when I first lived here. I still have it now and rent it out. I was over there this morning doing some work and, as I left, I saw an enormous pile of stuff stacked up beside the dumpster.
On further investigation I found a full dinner service, set of speaker stands, a PC, keyboard and LCD monitor and a dozen mice (no – the ones with buttons on silly!). It’s amazing the stuff people throw out. I took most of it to the nearest thrift store (one block away…) but brought the PC home.
A spot more investigation revealed a Sony Vaio PII-400, 1.6GB, 192MB. OK, a heck of a long way from a powerhouse but fully functioning, neat mini case and a matching and working LCD monitor too with integrated speakers.
I’ve had to up it to 256MB RAM and I’m prepping a 40GB drive to put in there. We have a PII-350 which runs Xubuntu perfectly well for casual browsing and email so I think I should be able to do the same with this one.