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CommsBlog Xmas Special – Repurposing old technology

December 19th, 2011 No comments
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Dear Avid Reader,

Yes it’s that time of year when we eat too much, drink too much and have unnecessary arguments with relatives over the pitiful TV that they laughingly call entertainment.

As one of my readers, you’re probably going to be in receipt of a number of gadgets, gizmo’s and techno-treats this year (despite the death of the British Pound according to my friend HERE)

The question is… what do you do with all your old tech? Well here are some ideas of how you could repurpose that equipment:-

 

Laptop’s

Despite your apparent need for 4Gb’s of RAM and Quad-core processing, that old laptop of yours seemed blisteringly fast a couple of Christmas’s ago… so what happened? Well ‘you did’ apparently… Most PCs and Laptops just get slower due to lots of unnecessary software, media and temporary files. Of course at this point you already have a nice new shiny one, so why don’t you format the hard-drive on the old one (or use the recovery disks) and give it to your Nan or Grandad so they can Skype you? One useful idea is to put Ubuntu on it as there is then little danger of Trojans, Viruses or Malware infecting your poor unsuspecting (and unknowledgeable) Grandparents.

Ubuntu Installation Guide: [link]

 

Old Net-tops, Notebooks and Underpowered PC’s

There is an excellent article on LifeHacker.com that details how to create your own Media Center PC from an old computer [link] or you could even turn it into a NAS (Network Attached Storage device) for your home network for the purposes of Backup (Pictures etc), Media (Music, Films) or for downloading .torrent files etc. Again this is detailed in a nice article from LifeHacker [link]

 

Mobile/Cell Phones

Yes… we all need the latest iPhone or Android (obviously the latter if you are a proper tech-head!), but that Nokia or Samsung you use to use for making calls and sending texts is still a perfectly functional bit of kit. Here are some ideas for that too:-

  • Stick a Pre-pay SIM in it (on a different network to your usual one), and put it in the boot of your car with a cigarette lighter charger for emergencies – e.g. Your phone is dead/lost/no signal and you have broken down.
  • Stick a Pre-pay SIM in it, enable ‘fixed dialing only’ (A mechanism that only allows the phone to dial pre-configured numbers), and give it to your young children to put in their School bag. They can’t call anyone or play games on it, but again, in the case of an emergency or missing a School bus…
  • Give it to Phone for Heroes – they use the sale of these old handsets to support the Help for Heroes charity

 

Televisions

Its patently ridiculous how many TV sets we are throwing away because they are Analog… You can purchase a Freeview box for about £20 and turn it into a Digital TV, so why not put it in the spare room for when the kids are home for Christmas or make sure that Granny can watch TV in the Kitchen and Bedroom?

If you still have no use for it, then take it to a charity shop as they can then use the proceeds to fund a good cause.

My Guide to Reusing old TV and HiFi equipment: [link]

 

Games Consoles

Its frightening how many games consoles end up at the local tip… Those old XBOX consoles are probably one of the most hackable devices out there. By making a minor internal modification with an xecuter chip, you can use XBMC (XBOX Media Center) software and turn your XBOX into a full-blown Music and Video media box. Marry this up with one of the old TV’s above, and you’ve created a Media box for your games room/summer house.

Installing XBMC on an XBOX: [link]

 

Surround-sound / All-in-one players

Well these are fantastic for enhanced the kids games-room – add one of these to their games console and they have a more immersive experience, and the volume levels tend to go down. Another good use for these is to add to the Media system detailed above and place in your Summerhouse/Shed for those garden parties. Its just a case of unwinding the speaker wires and you have a sound system in the Garden. Add an old Radio Receiver and you can pipe your favourite music station into the garden whilst sunbathing.

My Guide to Reusing old HiFi equipment: [link]

 

 

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