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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by CdnGhost on November 3, 2011
"Anyone, with a little knowledge, can build a computer."

The Importance of Being a Knowlegable Dumpster Diver

If you know a bit about how computers are assembled, i.e., what a good computer will need in the way of hardware, finding all of the right parts doesn't need to cost much money. Time and a good eye, yes, but not a lot of money.


Check people's garbage. Your local Goodwill Center and the Salvation Army Stores dumpsters are also excellent "Shopping Centers".

As with all but my first computer, I've chosen to run a dual boot system. A dual boot computer consists of two Operating Systems: a Master Operating System and a Slave Operating System. I'd chosen Xandros Deluxe 3.0 (a Linux-based Operating System) as my Master because to any other Operating System it's invisible and Windows Millennium Edition as my Slave. Since Windows ME didn't require much in the way of hard drive space, I'd chosen to run Windows on my "C" Drive, a small "fractional" hard disk drive, with a usable capacity of 3.1GB, formatted in FAT32. Xandros, on the other hand, required a considerably larger amount of hard drive space, as it used a File Allocation Table shaped much like a Klein Bottle (the outside is the inside and the inside is the outside). I'd therefore chosen to run Xandros on my "F" drive, with a usable capacity of 9.8GB. There were other advantages to using Xandros as my Master OS. In the first place, since the actual Master Boot Record was on Xandros, infecting Windows' MBR would have no effect on the overall system. In the second place, only Xandros was capable of using the Central Processing Unit's full 1GHz clock speed.

I already possessed a 54X CD-ROM (removed from an otherwise totalled computer put out to the trash), a Hewlett-Packard 630i CD/DVD-RW (which required some software reworking to "talk" it into being happy running on Windows ME and Xandros, when it was originally designed to run exclusively on Windows XP), a 3.5" Floppy (formerly "Stiffie") Drive and a 5.25" Floppy Drive (you don't see many of those puppies anymore but they have their uses). The Desktop Tower case and heavy-duty power supply came out of two Desktop Towers that the previous owners couldn't be bothered paying to have repaired. The monitor was an Impression 5 Plus 13.5" that took forever to warm-up but the colour was superb and the external controls were top drawer. I don't think I'll ever forget the one mile walk home, through a blizzard, carrying that monitor. The only "hard to find" part was a brand-new Ethernet 10/100 Daughter Card. That took me three months of searching and finally "surfaced" on Boxing Day, 2004. The two Operating System Self-Booting Compact Disks, with keys, were a gift from the Proprietor of my local Computer Clinic, who'd agreed to become my mentor in the Art of Computer Repair.

With the exception of the Motherboard and the CPU, I built my entire system for $0.00. The Mobo/CPU combination (an ASRock K7VM3 and an AMD Duron) cost me $230 but the required 256MB of DDR RAM I "purchased" in exchange for four 32MB EDO RAM sticks obtained from junked IBM 1999 Desktops.

Currently, I'm looking for any size of EDO RAM sticks and four 10GB Hard Disk Drives as I know where I can trade them for a pair of 80GB HDDs. During the course of my searches I've found lots of two and three gigabyte hard drives, some of which can be used and some of which can be traded for more DDR RAM.

All of this may sound like a revolting way to spend your time but the benefits are huge. Not only do you get an almost-free computer but you also prevent dozens of junked computers from ending up in your local landfill site. You also get an aerobic workout the likes of which your local gym, if they could reproduce it, could cause you to take out a second mortage.

© CdnGhost 22 July 2005

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