Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Don't Throw Away Your Old Computers

By Dennis D. McDonald

Over the weekend I was again reminded why I keep old computers and computer parts around. (For example: I have two old Mac Pluses in the basement in storage along with the fax modem from a Newton Message Pad; you never know when they'll come in handy!)

Anyway, Number One Daughter's Acer laptop, purchased at Virginia Tech and the source of some misgivings this past years while she was away at school, refused to turn on here at the house. It finally made its way into my hands. I couldn't get it to start. When I pressed the "on" button the light would blink, I'd hear a slight fan noise -- then nothing. Dead.

She got a new charger a couple of months ago while at school so I assumed the charger was OK. I tried repeatedly to run the computer with and without the battery, and then finally I wondered if the charger was the problem. I took the machine to Number One Son's room (he also has an Acer) and, lo and behold, it started right up when I plugged in the other charger.

What to do, though? Number One Daughter's machine is covered by warranty but the maintenance shop is in Blacksburg VA back at school. I didn't feel like running out and buying another charger when she'll be returning to campus in less than a month.

Then I thought about my old computer collection. I must have converters and chargers going back to my first laptop, so I rooted through dusty boxes and located -- ta da -- a charger from an old Gateway laptop, the one that bit the dust when its mother board died. (The Gateway was already in pieces since I had already cannibalized the cover hinge screws for some Dell related repairs, and the hard drive had been removed to serve as a USB backup storage device.)

I read the fine print on the Gateway brick and, sure enough, the Acer and the Gateway chargers both output 19 volts. A quick check showed that the connector plug was also compatible, so the problem was solved. An added bonus: the Gateway brick has a light that glows when plugged in (the Acer brick didn't have the little light).

Now, if I could just find some use for those old Mac Pluses ...




Don't Forget Your Backup (Sump Pump, that is...)

Simplifyd Speling Wud Kil Serch Enjin Optimizashun