Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Tax-Free IT Repairs Proposed For the UK

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the financial-lubrication dept.

Earth 102

judgecorp writes "Removing tax from computer repairs could have a real impact on the IT industry's carbon footprint, according to a petition of the UK government. Old computer equipment often ends up in landfill, or in toxic illegal re-cycling centers in developing countries, because users think it is not cost-effective to repair it. Making repairs tax free could be a simple bit of financial engineering to encourage skilled jobs and keep electronics out of the waste stream, says the author of the campaign."

cancel ×

102 comments

Abused (1)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581298)

Oh how this could be abused to include TVs and VCRs and the whatnot. Abused in a good way that is.

Re:Abused (3, Interesting)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581396)

Retailers abuse the Sales of Goods Act. Products should be made to last a reasonable amount of time, retailers are responsible for 6 years.

Apple were happy to fix my 3 and a half year old iMac for free, Sony fixed my two year old (had a 1 year guarantee) monitor for free. Well, the guys at PC World refused to accept responsibility for a failed motherboard on a 1 year and 1 month old laptop, and wanted to charge me more than I paid for the machine when new just to repair it. Trading Standards told me to go back with a copy of the Sales of Goods Act, PC World promptly fixed it for free. Retailers need to understand this is an unreasonable time for a computer to fail and should repair it, even if out of guarantee, for free.

There should be no reason for tax free repair IMHO. If a machine fails in an unreasonable time, the retailer should fix it. If it is an old machine, the IT company should write it off for tax purposes anyway.

Re:Abused (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581616)

The trouble occurs specifically in the PC context. A substantial percentage of PCs that are "broken" are physically perfect in every way, except for a touch of dust and the fact that the magnetic fields on their HDD platters include 3,624 assorted viruses, trojans, pop-up spawners, and the like, along with the OS and user data.

Even if untaxed(as, de facto, a lot of this stuff is, because they end up paying someone's nephew who "knows computers" in cash under the table to fix the problem) cleaning these systems up can eat a lot of tech time. The user never has their restore media, and they always have some programs that they've either lost the CDs for, lost the licence keys for, or "got from work", so you can't just wipe and go, done in 30 minutes. And, of course, no backups.

It is at this point where you say(I've been the "someones nephew who 'knows computers"), "Ok, look: There is nothing wrong with your computer besides software. However, you don't have any of the disks you need, and properly disinfecting your machine will take hours and hours(even if you know what you are doing, and don't fuck around, there'll be so much malware doing disk access by the time they call you that even a basic scan will take ages to complete). I can either do that, and bill you for my time, at a very reasonable rate; but some hours of it, or we can just give Dell $300 and you'll have a computer that is faster and shinier than your present one, and running perfectly, and I'll copy over your documents when it comes. Since you got that copy of Office "from a friend", we'll throw in an extra $50 to have Dell install the OEM version."

And lo, a new computer is ordered.

Re:Abused (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581748)

Incidentally, if you really want to reduce the number of computers that get tossed due to the above, there are two things that the market needs:

1. More or less idiot-proof backups that occur by default.

2. The requirement that a restore .iso be one of the offerings on the OEM's driver support page for the models they sell/have sold.

Unfortunately, there is no particularly good way to ensure that these conditions exist. #1 would increase(substantially in the case of cheap systems) the base cost of a computer(either up front, as with a time capsule/Windows Home Server thrown in, or over time, as with a Mozy/Carbonite subscription). Plus, if it is bundled by default, people with multiple computers will end up buying way more backup than they need. If it isn't bundled by default, the people who need backups but don't know it yet will just buy the cheaper thing and skip the backup, then cry later. #2 would increase the OEM's bandwidth costs and, rather more serious, probably make MS a sad panda(which would be silly; because pirates can already get stock Windows Whatever Ultimate .isos, and have no interest in OEM restore crap; but they would object anyway).

I see no good way to make these things happen; but they would turn the hours-long slog of cleaning a machine with a borked OS into a "20 minutes of minimally skilled tech time, couple of unattended hours while the backups restore" process, which would make holding on to the hardware much more attractive.

Re:Abused (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581906)

>>>2. The requirement that a restore .iso be one of the offerings on the OEM's driver support page for the models they sell/have sold.

The HP desktop I bought for my brother doesn't even come with a restore disc. How stupid is that? They tell you to "burn your own restore CD" which sounds good in principle, but I've seen burned-CDs lose their dye (fade) and self-erase. This is not a solution.

The other option is to buy the CD for about $20. Lame. When you buy a computer, I don't think it would kill HP to include a 25 cent disc with Win7 on it so you can do annual "restore computer to like new" maintenance.

Re:Abused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31585220)

It is possible to initiate system restore from the BIOS [pctechbytes.com] . Just press F10.

Re:Abused (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31586402)

which only helps if the restore partition is still "valid" and of course the restore partition is back to factory
not to "patched with the last N months of patches"

Re:Abused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31581934)

Idiot-proof back-ups need something like Time Machine. If something equivalent were bundled with Windows, then new PCs could easily be bundled with a medium-sized back-up disc at moderate cost. 0.5TB would usually be big enough if the back-up frequency was pre-set to daily or weekly incremental rather than hourly incremental. That would make the back-ups only useful for recovering machine disasters, not user cock-ups, but that's probably OK in this context.

What you don't need is an over-priced, external disc with its own router.

Re:Abused (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582340)

The router is overkill, and "over-priced" is a vice in all circles; but I'd argue that the "network-attached-storage" bit is increasingly non-optional(though can, and should, be done substantially cheaper than the time capsule).

Now that laptops are cheap, more and more basic noob machines are laptops. Getting a basic noob to plug his laptop into an external drive daily, or even weekly, is going to be a bit of a trick. If there are software prompts, he'll click through them. If there aren't, he'll forget. Even if he isn't a noob, he'll probably still forget, and, in any case, we'll be wasting hours of his time, over the lifetime of the machine; because we were too cheap to include a $10-$30 ARM SoC with ethernet in the equation.

Direct attached is OK for desktops, and nice and fast for sneakernet; but if you have a laptop, you really want your backing-up to occur invisibly every time you connect to your wireless network, not on the rare occasions when you remember to plug in the drive.

Re:Abused (1)

iceOlate (1094287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31636960)

Windows 7 has a backup system similar to Time Machine...
As far as making it more fool proof and up to date, it could be pre-configured to make incremental backups on a separate partition of equal size, and just equip the computer with a larger hard drive. If they made such a method more user friendly, it would in turn save the computer manufacturer on support call time.

Re:Abused (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581850)

>>>just give Dell $300 and you'll have a computer that is faster and shinier than your present one

Precisely. The article summary about tax-free repairs making people more likely to fix their machines still ignores the basics of the computer industry - technology moves fast. I have a good reliable industry-grade laptop that I considered upgrading to Windows 7. And then I thought, "Why? For the cost of Win7 plus an extra $100 I can get a Win7 for free on a shiny new laptop with twice the speed, double the processors, and 3-4 times as much memory."

It makes little sense to upgrade or repair computers, unless you're a museum or nostalgist. It makes more sense to sell the old one on Ebay for ~$100 and then apply that cash to getting the current model.

Re:Abused (1)

JustNilt (984644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31585774)

That's exactly what I did to bump up to Windows 7. I picked up a nice i7 8 core system with Win7 for a song. I then sold the existing one (Core2Duo) to someone else. I actually ended up with about $20 left over after the deal was done; how can you argue? The value of all these "dead" virus infected rigs is incredible. Once Window sis reinstalled, even a 3 year old system can get $200 cash and still performs well for all basic needs.

I've often thought that instead of paying to have then "recycled" government(s) should be taking in these systems and giving them to schools or something otherwise useful. I know, a standardized platform is easier to manage but surely there's something useful that could be done with them if the previous owners don't want to refurb and sell them.

Re:Abused (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31587380)

Precisely. The article summary about tax-free repairs making people more likely to fix their machines still ignores the basics of the computer industry - technology moves fast.

The computer industry moves fast, but that doesn't mean everyone wants to hit the gas pedal. This has been shown with netbooks since netbooks aren't the fastest machines. More and more people are finding out they don't need the fastest computers on the block when their current one is more then capable of surfing the web, playing a few movie clips, checking Facebook and playing some Facebook game. And I've noticed that most people that state their computer is either not fast enough or must have a 'virus' really just have 50 small programs running at start up and thats all that is slowing the system down (granted you point that out and it's either they just don't want to bother removing those programs they don't use or like all the little things they do.) This is the biggest issue of why most people I know swear they needed that newer computer, because in reality it was the easier way to do 'spring cleaning' then it would have been to clean out the old computer.

Re:Abused (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581626)

What? The crappy 99p headphones I bought at the 99p shop are expected to last 6 years?

SOGA doesn't specify a time. The 6 year period is an absolute maximum based on the Limitation Act.

Items are expected to last a reasonable amount of time. If you can demonstrate the product was faulty when purchased, then you can expect it to be put right after that time but you don't get an automatic 6 year guarantee.

Re:Abused (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581922)

There is a time specified [consumerdirect.gov.uk] , but it's not that one. If you return the goods within 6 months, the onus is on the trader to show that the goods were not defective at the time of purchase. If you return them after six months then the onus is on you to show that they were.

Re:Abused (1)

James Durie (1426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582162)

You are correct that it states "a reasonable amount of time" and the interpretation of a reasonable amount of time is left up to the interested parties to decide.
The argument that PC hardware is reasonably expected to last a minimum of 3 years is easy to establish however as that is the time period that all companies I have ever worked at have used as the depreciation period.

I would say it is reasonable to expect things like Televisions, Washing Machines, Dishwashers etc to last a minimum of 5 years.

Re:Abused (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583082)

What would be interesting is if manufacturers were required by law to specify what they considered to be a reasonable lifespan for their products. I wonder how many would claim that just over a year is the natural point for their device to break if that information was available to consumers. Claim too short a time and your customers will flock elsewhere or demand lower prices, too long a time and you'll be eating up the support costs unless you make sure your quality is unquestionable. I like a law with a nice iornic twist.

Re:Abused (1)

Caged (24585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581744)

Then you should go talk to the manufacturer which only guarantees' the laptop for 12 months. Since you've just forced the retailer to eat $200-$300 on what was most likely only a $800 laptop and the sale came with a net profit of something like $100. Retailer doesn't make the unit, only sells them. Manufacturer would have charged easily 200-300 for the board, and if PC World has an in-store technical bay, a good hours' labour probably went into swapping it over.

Referring to your earlier example of your iMac; Apple, the manufacturer, has huge markups on their hardware (because they have full control over the platform) and can afford to have warehouses full of spares sitting around collecting dust. I highly doubt your Windows based laptop made even a quarter of the profit that apple does on a basic mac book. Of course, if you're happy to pay the premium that is incorporated into every piece of Apple hardware made & sold (including the iPhone), then you get the extra level of service that goes with it.

Laptops' have highly specialized components and its' not like you can just buy a laptop main board off the shelf that will exactly fit that particular unit unless they are an authorised service agent for that particular laptop brand that you have purchased. If you ever purchase a laptop and don't intend to throw it out in 12 months time, purchase extended manufacturer warranty (not store warranty - its' a ripoff).

Re:Abused (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581964)

>>> Since you've just forced the retailer to eat $200-$300

Not really. The retailer likely sends all failed laptops and computers (in bulk) back to the manufacturer. It's called a chargeback. So the retailer would only lose the $3 for halfhour of labor to pay an employee to fill-out the paperwork, pack the item, plus maybe $5 for shipping costs.

Retailers aren't dumb. They know how to work the system just as well as the customers do.

Shame on you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31581830)

for even thinking about buying from PC-World let alone actually doing it.

They are notorious for this sort of thing.
How about asking for a valid name & address when making a cash purchase for less than £10.00 and being offered the exact amount? Yep, PC Coventry tried that one on me.
They said it was company policy. Shame that PC-World in Brum don't know about it then. Yeah, shame on me but is was 7:00pm and I needed a USB key which stupidly, I'd left at home in London

Re:Abused (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581914)

If it is an old machine, the IT company should write it off for tax purposes anyway.

I presume that's what TFS is referring to by "Old computer equipment often ends up in landfill, or in toxic illegal re-cycling centers in developing countries, because users think it is not cost-effective to repair it."

Same applies for personal use too - I can see it being wasteful to ditch a whole working computer when it's only one component that needs failing, but most people don't have the knowledge or time to figure it out, and repair costs often seem extortionate.

But I think we also need to sort out the invasive and dubious practices that go on at many PC repair shops [pcpro.co.uk] . There's no way I'd let my hard disk anywhere near a PC repair shop.

Re:Abused (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583160)

I wonder if a better system would be something similar to the car scrappage scheme - take your old system in and you get a discount off the new system (or avoid tax on it or something) with the added bonus that if the equipment is repairable it could be used for good causes, going to schools or projects in poorer countries or local charities in need of IT or something. I guess the problem is this stimulates cash out of the system as most electronics manufaturers are oversees, but if you put more money in the pockets of technicians, the chances are they're going to just go buy gadgets with it anyway.

Re:Abused (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582274)

"Retailers abuse the Sales of Goods Act. Products should be made to last a reasonable amount of time, retailers are responsible for 6 years."

That's not quite true, they're responsible for 6 months with the burden of proof being on them to demonstrate it's not a warranty repair if they try and choose to do so, and after that for the reasonable lifetime of the product, it is up to you to prove it did not fail because of anything other than normal use.

You're right in that for many pieces of equipment 6 years would be classed as a reasonable amount of time, but it really depends on the product in general, and ultimately it's down to the court to decide if it goes that far, most people wont want to risk facing court and losing over it so the older a product gets, the less likelihood people will pursue it.

Certainly though anything like a computer failing after 2 or 3 years would be something people would be stupid not to pursue. Personally I'd rather take my chance in a small claims court if it got that far than pay a few hundred £ for an extended warranty on a laptop though!

I agree there should be no need for tax free repair, and on the contrary, I'd rather these laws were toughened up - i.e. make it illegal for a store to outright refuse repair and pretend the sale of goods act doesn't exist, if someone requests repair stores should be legally obliged to either accept the repair, or issue a challenge to the consumer that they do not believe it failed because of normal usage and let the consumer prove otherwise by getting them to get a 3rd party (most people know IT folk) to put their name and reputation behind it, because this is precisely what the law in the UK allows for. Outright denying a repair is just wrong, the store is literally lying about their obligations, yet it is not illegal for them to do so and most consumers are unaware. Further, if you keep the tax on repairs and fix the enforcement of the Sale of goods act then you could just ring fence those taxes for recycling initiatives for hardware that really is beyond economical repair.

Besides, call my cynical, but as is usually the case, I suspect this campaign is more a case of "Dodgy PC repair man seeks tax dodge, finds excuse" or at least something along those lines, but I'll admit I didn't RTFA.

Re:Abused (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581466)

New technology is typically smaller, faster, and requires less energy than older technology. The faster we can replace the old stuff, the better.

Re:Abused (2, Informative)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581624)

The faster we can replace the old stuff, the better.

That's true, but for the foreseeable future, it's still a cycle. I think the point here is: The less frequently we replace the old stuff, the better.

Re:Abused (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582000)

I don't see that it's a big deal.

Like old cars the old computers get passed down to the lower income brackets (or people like me who don't mind using a 600 megahertz machine). It's recycling. It's also providing an opportunity for people to get on the internet who otherwise would be too poor to afford a $330 unit.

Re:Abused (0)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582466)

I don't see that it's a big deal.

Like old cars the old computers get passed down to the lower income brackets

While I share your idea of turning old machines into miniature philanthropic endeavors, that's not what's being referred to here. I read a very eye opening National Geographic article about a year ago on this.

"Tech junk" frequently wanders its way through dozens of hands until it finally leaves the borders of the US or Europe, and then eventually ends up dumped, for very small sums of money, into the hands of third world nations. Once there, local people take the tech junk and "refine" it for salvageable, recyclable commodities such as copper and lead. They do this because, for example, the copper buyers will take wiring (think power supply leads) but only if the insulation has been removed. The common way to do that, of course, is to burn the wiring, standing over your acrid, carcinogen-belching brazier the whole time so you can pick the bundles out once they're ready for sale.

PCB's too are broken up and heated to extract lead, which can then be collected, poured out, and sold by the kilogram. There was a photograph of a man extracting lead from such PCB's using large pots and pans... the same cookware he uses to prepare dinner for his family.

It's a really ugly story, but the fact is that unscrupulous tech "recyclers" are able to offer the lowest disposal fees because they exploit this economy.

Re:Abused (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582620)

And your solution is take this "strip computer carcasses" Job away from them, so they'll have no income and starve?

Re:Abused (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583204)

Yes.

Hunger is a more directly solvable issue, and is much cheaper to treat than cancer.

Please quit being an asshole.

Re:Abused (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31589278)

The insult wasn't necessary. We're not college kids anymore.

And you're right that hunger is easier-to-solve than cancer, but that presumes that the U.S. has authority (or money) to enter a foreign country and feed the starving. It has neither. So by shutting-down those overseas recyling jobs in poor countries, you essentially leave the person with nothing.

Re:Abused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31581668)

While new technology does require less energy than older technology, the energy consumption during use is typically a tiny fraction of the total energy consumption of a product. Electronics have a high upfront manufacturing energy consumption (and other environmental impact due to the rare materials which are used in a highly purified form). The environmentally prudent thing to do is to buy long-lasting hardware (in terms of both time-to-failure and usefulness) and actually use it as long as you can. Unfortunately this often does not make fiscal sense, due to taxation rules or quickly changing business requirements. Junking working hardware to replace it with more "environmentally friendly" hardware however is often counterproductive (and not just in the IT sector either.)

Re:Abused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31582066)

>and requires less energy than older technology.

That is false for the case of the computer. Why do computers need 550W, 800W or 1000W rated power supply vs the on days 300W?

New top of the line graphic cards are to the point of breaking PCIe spec of 300W contrasted of the old AGP ones that have a small fan.
New top of the line 4 or 6 cores CPU can draw up to 120W of power

Please do some research before making a blanket statement.

Re:Abused (1)

psycho12345 (1134609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31589308)

Because your talking top of the line, which applies to what? .01% of computers? Also those power supplies are only needed for people who want a dedicated GPU, along with probably overclocking headroom. Most off the shelf stuff that companies buy en masse, DOES use less power. The stock voltage for RAM and CPU's keeps falling, IIRC Core i5 can barely go over 1V before it fries the integrated memory controller. RAM voltage is down below 1.5V on DDR3. So yeah the majority of newer standard desktops use less power by default.

Re:Abused (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582058)

I think you need a different word. Extended perhaps.

But it isn't cost effective! (4, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581330)

Look, I'm an avid dumpster diver and the only reason I do it, is because I get gear for free and it's fun. However, if you calculate in my time? No, not economic. That 2400+ Athlon XP with 1GB RAM I gave to a coworkers daughter? Cleaning it, assembling good parts from different cadavers, installing Ubuntu and "ready" it for normal usage[1]... This took hours... At my "work" rate, this computer is more expensive than a mid-range new machine which includes real warranty. Now, I *like* doing this and I don't ask a dime if I give away "recovered" machines, but this is in no way economical in the real sense of the word.

Also, if they just talk about "replacing" parts... That's good for RAM or a power supply. Still, you need some time to diagnose the problem which easily exceeds the cost of the parts. Heck if the hard disk fails, you're in a whole crapload of trouble. You lost your OS, your data and most likely the recovery partitions. You ain't getting a working system quickly that way. A dead harddisk is economically the same as a "total loss" for a computer, if you consider the working hours needed to repair it. With cheap netbook and nettop machines, which are most likely better than your older system (even though the Atom is really a weak chip as I can tell from my own experience), comparatively repairs are expensive.

[1] Make sure all media plays, make sure Flash works, make sure Java works, make sure that OpenOffice saves to .doc, .xls etc by default so she doesn't get into confusing problems when she starts to share school works, etc, etc, etc...

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581426)

so you're the one finding all those confidential documents on discarded government PCs !

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581484)

LOL... I once found a computer that was clearly previously owned by a lawyer. I noticed, and formatted the disk. I also met my doctor once at the recycling centre. He was ditching a perfectly functional AMD64. I showed my interest and he gave it to me. First thing I did when coming home was wiping the disk. I don't know what was on it, nor do I want to know.

The few times I had computers from unknown origin at which I actually looked at the content of the disk, it was usually pirated movies, personal documents like letters and recipes.... Most of the time, I don't bother, because it's usually the operating system that's hosed and not the hardware. I don't have the patience to wait for a borked OS to load (if it ever loads).

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581810)

The few times I had computers from unknown origin at which I actually looked at the content of the disk, it was usually pirated movies, personal documents like letters and recipes

pirated software, homework essays/term papers, music, and possibly homemade pr0n

The "elite" types like to think only other "elite" types have access to pirated s/w, but trust me, from researching the contents of "goodwill harddrives" the unwashed masses somehow have access to virtually every warez we have. Also the same people that claim they can't be bothered to figure out how to change their background picture and could we do it for them, seem to easily have the motivation and technical ability to install warez. I think feigned ignorance is more a matter of pride, at least for the average loser, so I don't feel so bad about carefully structuring so I can't / won't help. It never fails that the village idiot, despite proudly stating he knows nothing about computers, somehow has the worlds most complicated cracked warez installed and working. WTF?

Homework is uniformly bad. Not only is grade inflation increasing over the decades, but writing ability seems to be plummeting at the same time. So, what was a good "C" is now an "A" from the bell curve declining pushing it to a "B" and then some inflation pushing it to the "A". It is true that there are very few misspelled words, and the gross grammatical errors that word can find are fixed, but the essays are usually filled with homonym substitution and terrible paragraph construction. Most people are, for all intents and purposes, illiterate, and can't write because they have no experience of reading good writing. I read it for the LOLs.

The music I find is usually pretty interesting. I'll listen at least once. Rarely is it stuff I actually want to keep, but its interesting to hear one time. I've noticed that on average the great unwashed seem to be moving away from discographies and albums. You'll just find that "one good song" from a musician. Much more like a "stream ripper listening to commercial FM radio" than the traditional computer dude attitude of mirroring a complete directory because its no harder than copying a single file.

As for the Pr0n its surprisingly hard to tell if they just downloaded a collection of one person or if it was genuinely homemade. Unlike home decorating, most people have good taste in Pr0n selection so you can't strictly go on subject matter. If they're chubby its homemade as "most americans are now fat". Also homemade stuff has ridiculous hoarded junk in the background or terrible lighting, that no pro photographer would put up with. Also the homemade stuff has bad hair/makeup. Other than that, its difficult to tell... needs more research, much more.

Anyway, thats what I find on hard drives, rarely this "movies, letters and recipe" stuff you refer to.

I don't have the patience to wait for a borked OS to load (if it ever loads).

External USB hard drive enclosure. Plugged into a machine not running that O/S to prevent any contagion. Stereotypical windoze drive, in a $25 USB external enclosure, plugged into a Linux box. No problemo.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582078)

pirated software, homework essays/term papers, music, and possibly homemade pr0n

We're talking a bit alongs each other. I wasn't listing exhaustively what I found. My "letters and recipes" includes homework, essay, and term papers. I really meant "self-written stuff by the user", perhaps I should have said "letters, recipes and similar".

I agree with the Warez. Completely forgot how many Warez are to be found there.

My "pirated videos" implicity included "music". I should have said "pirated media".

I never encountered home made p0rn though.... Perhaps I didn't look hard enough. So, yes, except for the homemade p0rn, I found all of those. Basically we talked about the same crap, but I wasn't exhaustive enough to your tastes.

External USB hard drive enclosure. Plugged into a machine not running that O/S to prevent any contagion.

Yeah, I can do that. Frankly, I'm usually not curious at all. To me the most important is that the hardware works.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31588094)

Basically we talked about the same crap, but I wasn't exhaustive enough to your tastes.

Its a "UK" article, so I figured most of the people posting would be UK folks, in which case I was hoping we discovered some cultural differences or something. But, I guess people are pretty much the same everywhere, to a first approximation...

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (2, Informative)

barista (587936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581576)

The problem I see is "software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster." Try telling people with a P4 why they can't have Windows 7 running Aero and Facebook and Word and Outlook and 'The Twitter' and Yahoo and eBay and MTV and iTunes and antivirus and ZoneAlarm and Bejeweled and... and... they just won't understand. For every program that's running, it causes all the other programs to run a little slower. They'll insist they need to have all those programs running at the same time, yet they'll also complain about how slow their computer is running. Older computers with less drive space, less memory, and slower processors will have a harder time coping with newer software.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581822)

The use case you give, will work very fine if you make sure said P-IV has 1GB RAM and run XP together with for example Office 2003. (Or OpenOffice 3.x for the matter!)

Three years ago, I ran a P-III 600MHz laptop with 512Meg RAM, using Windows XP Pro SP2, AVG Free, iTunes, Thunderbird, Firefox and OpenOffice *at* *the* *same* time. Yes, starting up the programs was a bit of waiting but once in memory, there was no problem. Windows XP runs typically uses around 200Meg RAM with all drivers and an AV installed. With 1GB RAM you've got plenty to spare.

These days, computers are NOT restricted by CPU anymore. A typical P-IV does classic office work + casual games (the ones you described) perfectly well. The problem most often is simply memory size. A typical P-IV came with 512Meg RAM, which is not enough for your use-case. However, as a dumpster diver, I know: two "finds" typically make one good computer.

Also, for the record: Ubuntu 9.10 works just fine on exactly the same kind of hardware XP runs fine on.

Oh and before the naysayers come that XP Is outdated and I should get a newer operating system: I have news for you... Those computer typcially come with a license sticker, which means, I can use the operating system legally. Heck, even my three year old laptop has a XP license and I do not see why I'd need to upgrade it at all. Why would I spend money to have less performance? I really don't get it. Buying Windows 7 for outdated hardware is equally as uneconomical as repairing it.

However, many older hardware does the job just fine together with said older software. Computing for the typical end-user has come at a plateau. Most computer sales in the future (and I think now) will be driven by replacement and not the need for new hardware and/or software.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582046)

>>>Try telling people with a P4 why they can't have Windows 7 running [13+ programs]

I have a P4. You can do all that if you eliminate the hard drive thrashing (the true cause of slowdown) by upgrading from the standard 512 to ~5,000 megabytes of RAM. Not cost effective but possible. And it will run just fine.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583680)

Windows XP doesn't use anything beyond 4G (4096MB)
Also it needs to stuff the video memory overlay (and a few other memory overlays that I don't remember at this time) somewhere in there so if the video card has 256M on it, it reduces the memory available to the OS by 256M.

That said, 3.5G or thereabouts is -plenty- of memory for XP on a home user's box.

I focused on XP because that's the most widely used OS for machines in the P4 range over the past decade.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31587656)

Windows XP doesn't use anything beyond 4G (4096MB)

Windows XP x64 Edition [microsoft.com] does.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (0)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581714)

I agree with what your basic points, but the final cost using your rate isn't the same as what it would cost for someone else to do it. Here in California, for example, there's plenty of companies that make their money re-selling old computers on eBay. Walk into a typical operation and you'll see a large warehouse with pallets upon pallets of computers and peripherals, and a few guys doing repairs. Picture a Mexican labourer doing things like POST tests and swapping RAM and used hard drives, and you'll get the picture.

My personal interpretation of "recycling" is that if it can go in the garden, then it should be plowed under. If it can't, chances are high then it should never have been made in the first place. I say that to point out that while I deliberately make a (dishonest) exception for computer equipment, I'm both embarrassed and alarmed at the amount and kind of junk this industry generates, an industry in which I enthusiastically participate.

Eithe way, the entire subject is a complex one that involves everyone all down the supply chain to the customer. Government initiatives can be good, as are steps taken by the manufacturers. For my part, I find it difficult resolving simple questions like "Is it better to re-use old (and free) power-inefficient computers, or buy new ones?" If I can't resolve that, why should I object when the likes of Dell or Microsoft continue to sell and promote the "new shiny" and people want to buy it?

Over the last few years I've bought a number of Soekris boxes to replace aging PIIIs and P4s that I was using, but I did that mostly for aesthetic reasons. The trip to the recycling center certainly made me feel good, but it's highly likely that everything went either into a local landfill, or ended up somewhere in a slum in India.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581982)

Walk into a typical operation and you'll see a large warehouse with pallets upon pallets of computers and peripherals, and a few guys doing repairs. Picture a Mexican labourer doing things like POST tests and swapping RAM and used hard drives, and you'll get the picture.

The difference here is scale... The way I interpreted the article, it is the customer who goes to a repair shop to let fix the computer. There won't be piles and piles of computers being able to supply work to the few "Mexican" workers. (Why the fuck "Mexican workes", may I ask? Say "low wage workers" if that's what you mean... Could be College Students for all you know...)

Look, I'll try to make a parallel to past experiences: When I was a kid and the TV was broken, my parents called a repairman. He fixed it and the TV was good for another few years. (TVs back then counted as an investment, and I'm still thinking that way... My 2004 CRT is not as hell going to be replaced unless it breaks). At a certain point, the labour costs of getting the repairman home exceeded the price of a new TV. During a transition period, it was still economical to bring the TV to the repairman, but after a while even that wasn't true anymore. Now "TV is broken" means "TV gets replaced". No attempt is made to repair it, unless still under warranty.
You see where I'm getting at: Computers have already passed to the point where "replace" is cheaper than "repair".

My personal interpretation of "recycling" is that if it can go in the garden, then it should be plowed under.

Landfills are not a good idea, and there is plenty of stuff (raw materials) that can be recovered quite successfully from technology. However, I'll take your statement a bit further: if you really mean what you said, then metallic cans (from drinks) should be plowed under because you can't but them in the garden. However, metallic cans are the singlemost recyclable packaging we have.

Oh okay (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581962)

Netbook, 300 euro's new. Broke the screen. Official repair costs, 300 euro's. Did it myself by getting a screen from ebay for 30, 15 minutes labor. So that would be what 50 euro and you have kept a netbook alive for a 1-2 more years at least.

But I don't think just cutting taxes is going to do it. The whole repair sector is far to expensive. You would need laws that allow repair centers to operate near cost, not at "lets charge them so much that nobody is going to repair".

Re:Oh okay (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582238)

I see what you're trying to do there.

First you get it from eBay, probably second hand. If you go to a repair shop, it won't be and you pay new... If they have second hand stuff, it's unlikely the part you need will be there unless it's very generic. Those 30€ ain't going to cut it in the "normal user goes to repair shop" case. Let's be nice and count "only" 50€ for the part. For a new LCD screen very unlikely.

Second, you did that yourself... You have the skills to do so and you estimate the repair 50€. I agree, sounds like a fair price for the labour done. Just hope that you find a fair repair shop if you're a normal user.

Now the "normal user goes to repair shop scenario" spent around 100€ to get his 300€ netbook repaired. Presumably this netbook already is at least a year old and no equivalent is sold anymore. Netbooks, including Windows XP start at a frigging 229€ [alternate.de] (not affiliated, I'm just a happy customer. For about the double of the price the customer gets a better, new, under warranty netbook.

In certain technological sectors repairing makes no sense. I remember when buying a new battery for a cellphone made sense. Years later, the battery of my trusted Siemens S35i (a great phone for its time) died. I wanted to buy a new battery. 60€ they asked... For 120€ I had a brand new cellphone with more features.... What would you have done? The netbook example, from the viewpoint of the non-technical user who cannot do repairs himself, is exactly the same.

I know that from your perspective you did the right thing and from an environmental point of view too. So, more power to you. I'd have done the same.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582562)

Cleaning it, assembling good parts from different cadavers, installing Ubuntu and "ready" it for normal usage[1]... This took hours... At my "work" rate, this computer is more expensive than a mid-range new machine which includes real warranty. Now, I *like* doing this and I don't ask a dime if I give away "recovered" machines, but this is in no way economical in the real sense of the word.

Two things. First, it might be economic for someone with a lot lower work rate. Second, would you have worked longer and gotten paid more, if it wasn't for the computers you were putting together? Work rate doesn't count, if you weren't going to work anyway.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582802)

First, it might be economic for someone with a lot lower work rate.

True...

if it wasn't for the computers you were putting together? Work rate doesn't count, if you weren't going to work anyway.

Hey, it was in my spare time. Of course I wasn't going to work. I said I did it for fun. I wouldn't ever charge anyone anything close to my hourly rate for computer repairs. That's insane and unfair.

That said, saying that my spare time isn't worth my working rate is completely dependent on your view of life. In my opinion my spare time is worth a thousand times my working rate. Just saying...

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583516)

There are multiple views of what things are worth. My view though is that we find out what things are worth by looking at what choices people make. For example, if you decide to work a little late one day, then you've made a decision that a little more work was worth more than a little more time doing something else (leisure, sleep, etc, whatever got cut to make room). These things are, of course, non-linear. Loosing half an hour of leisure in a week time is not 1/80th the value of losing 40 hours of leisure time. From this point of view, choices are inherently optimal unless an external force is used to make you choose differently.

There's also regret analysis. If you regret making a choice, then that could used as an indication that the choice was suboptimal. The issue though is that you probably wouldn't have chosen differently (unless there's some sort of random element involved), so it's not a useful guide to what you think is valuable at the time you make the choices.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583638)

Damnit, did I really need to fall on the only sociology geek on slashdot? ;-P Just kidding, your post is Insightful and I agree. :-)

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31587574)

Look, I'm an avid dumpster diver and the only reason I do it, is because I get gear for free and it's fun. However, if you calculate in my time? No, not economic. That 2400+ Athlon XP with 1GB RAM I gave to a coworkers daughter? Cleaning it, assembling good parts from different cadavers, installing Ubuntu and "ready" it for normal usage[1]... This took hours... At my "work" rate, this computer is more expensive than a mid-range new machine which includes real warranty. Now, I *like* doing this and I don't ask a dime if I give away "recovered" machines, but this is in no way economical in the real sense of the word.

Also, if they just talk about "replacing" parts... That's good for RAM or a power supply. Still, you need some time to diagnose the problem which easily exceeds the cost of the parts. Heck if the hard disk fails, you're in a whole crapload of trouble. You lost your OS, your data and most likely the recovery partitions. You ain't getting a working system quickly that way. A dead harddisk is economically the same as a "total loss" for a computer, if you consider the working hours needed to repair it. With cheap netbook and nettop machines, which are most likely better than your older system (even though the Atom is really a weak chip as I can tell from my own experience), comparatively repairs are expensive.

[1] Make sure all media plays, make sure Flash works, make sure Java works, make sure that OpenOffice saves to .doc, .xls etc by default so she doesn't get into confusing problems when she starts to share school works, etc, etc, etc...

The cost in building the machine isn't economical as you've pointed out, but what about the learning you get from it? Doing this gives you in some respects the ultimate 'test lab' of parts that didn't cost out of pocket money that you can use to build computers, and you can pull apart and rebuild computers from scratch and have a LOT of experience doing it and no doubt feel very comfortable doing it. This is where you stand over many computer users/geeks. This would also make you quite resourceful and capable on a software level since you can also handle software drivers and compatibility issues, making sure things work and don't just do the job by the book. Many don't mind tampering with software because worst case you have to format the HD, but hardware doesn't have such a 'restart' switch. And if you are aiming for a job that involves computer (sales, repairs, ect...) you have quite a nice skill set that would help you. Cost isn't just money.

Re:But it isn't cost effective! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31588750)

Dumpster diving is one thing, but what about an otherwise decent desktop machine with bad RAM before it goes to the dumpster. It just doesn't take all that long to swap a few sticks and put it back in service. Installing Linux takes a little while, but most of that time is unattended (you should be doing something else during that part, not charging work rates to sit and watch).

Sure, it's not worth it except as a hobby if you're grabbing a CPU here, case there, etc etc, but that's not what they're talking about.

In general, there's a lot of nonsense talk about green this and that for consumer electronics and appliances when, in fact, things designed to last with easily replaceable (and even better, upgradable) parts are much greener. I know of several cubic feet of landfill full of lead that wouldn't be there if not for "special" parts you can't even order for less than the cost of a new VCR (or at all).

As for PCs, my old one did NOT go in the landfill, it just got a big HD and is now my backup server.

EU VAT rules will make this hard (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581336)

The EU VAT rules AFAIK are going to nobble attempts to lower existing VAT rates for a good or service (never mind the Treasury hanging grimly on to every penny at the moment), otherwise, way ahead of this is the queue is fixing the egregious higher VAT rates on building repairs than new build.

Rgds

Damon

Re:EU VAT rules will make this hard (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582366)

>>>The EU VAT rules AFAIK are going to nobble attempts to lower existing VAT rates for a good or service

The EU Parliament is quickly turning into a US Congress, with their fingers in everything. Here's a worth watching video (just over 1 minute): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRAhRY0qOSg [youtube.com]

Also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDiDs7vG0R4 [youtube.com]
EU takes over home affairs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38InlHzQUXA [youtube.com]

Sorry but (3, Insightful)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581342)

I don't think so. The reason people don't get their PCs serviced when they get infested with cybervermin is that they see the overall cost as too high an investment when they could just go buy a new system that will work 100% guaranteed as opposed to playing whack-a-mole with screwy software. Unless they're in the know that a wipe and reinstall can re-create that like new PC experience pain-free, then people will most likely always go for something new as opposed to shelling out more and more to fix their old systems. A tax break isn't going to change that.

Re:Sorry but (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581372)

It's the same story with used cars. At the first sign of a problem they want to buy a new one.

Re:Sorry but (3, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581508)

It's the same story with used cars. At the first sign of a problem they want to buy a new one.

When the cost of a new car that just rolled out of the factory is less than a day's charges for a mechanic and you get a fresh, new, faster vehicle... you bet the same thing will happen.

Re:Sorry but (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583928)

It has nothing to do with expenses. Very few people know how much is the running cost of their car. They just want a new excuse to buy something new.

Re:Sorry but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31592228)

It has nothing to do with expenses.

You'd pay someone $1000 to fix your used car if, hypothetically, you could get a newer, faster car for $500? This thread has everything to do with expenses!

Re:Sorry but (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581478)

My rough rule of thumb is that every hour the average Joe out there spends paying someone to fix their computer is roughly equivalent to one year of computer life. Unless the work involves data that you can't replace, it's typically not worth it if your system is more than a few years old.

It's sad, but the days of spending $3000 just to get a half-decent desktop system are over. Wipe your data (or destroy the hard drive) and throw it in the recycle bin. Your money is better spent upgrading and buying yourself a few more years of computer life along with it.

Re:Sorry but (1)

Caged (24585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581864)

I agree, having a tax break on repairing old PC's wont make one iota of difference when the labour incurred in performing even the standard virus removal/updates/windows repair totals about a quarter the cost of a new netbook or atom-based brand name PC.

In my experience I would say in 70% of cases if a major hardware component for a job >2years old - eg mainboard - then its' a total loss leaving the technical bay with a dead PC that will never be claimed (a nominal fee owing for inspecting the machine) but can't be recycled/resold as it still legally belongs to a customer.

Great story, doesn't seem to be true (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581376)

If you search the Number 10 website for 'Repair' [number10.gov.uk] , it does not show up (prove me wrong, someone!)

Re:Great story, doesn't seem to be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31581728)

FTA:

It will shortly be live on the Ten Downing Street site.

Emphasis mine.

(-1, Troll) Terminology like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31581402)

"Financial engineering", "social engineering" is just the lazy man's way of thinking about "financial incentives" and "confidence trickery"/

"Proposed" doesn't mean what you may think (4, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581416)

In this context, "Proposed" means someone's set up an online petition to ask the government to do something.

Seeing as there's a government-sponsored website where you can set up petitions asking for literally anything, this doesn't really mean a great deal. Some petitions which have been submitted include:

Force TV newsreaders to wear their underpants on their head. [number10.gov.uk]

Stop treating Charles Darwin with any form of respect [number10.gov.uk]

Introduce suitability tests for all supporters of Tottenham Hotspur who want to work with children [number10.gov.uk]

Re:"Proposed" doesn't mean what you may think (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581506)

Force TV newsreaders to wear their underpants on their head.

The best part was the rationale for rejecting this petition:

It was outside the remit or powers of the Prime Minister and Government

But if it wasn't!..

Re:"Proposed" doesn't mean what you may think (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581618)

Oh don't you have to simply love those guys from that island...

Re:"Proposed" doesn't mean what you may think (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31584734)

In all fairness to the second proposal, Darwin has never shown *me* any form of respect--so why should I reciprocate? Of course he has been dead for some time, but a lot of people use that excuse then, don't they?

"Repair Services" (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581496)

Does this include scams like PC world's "IT Repair" or "Tune up" service's which costs 15 GBP a month and is basically a virus scan?

cars too? Oh wait: scrappage scheme (2, Insightful)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581592)

Why not apply it to cars, too? Removing tax from car repairs would make a big difference to the environment (less new cars wasting resources, older cars kept in good condition and polluting less, less stuff going to landfill) and also encourage skilled workers.
Oh wait. Last year the UK government brought in the scrappage scheme that incentivised you to scrap your car for up to £2000 off the price of a brand new one, which has led to a huge number of perfectly adequate, working and environmental-impact-ammortised cars getting crushed, and loads of energy wasted in building, shipping and selling new cars - on the grounds that it'd help the economy.

Re:cars too? Oh wait: scrappage scheme (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31581958)

You forget that the metal in these cars are recycled.
And the scheme supposedly allowed car manufacturers to off-load their piled up stock rather than building new cars...

Re:cars too? Oh wait: scrappage scheme (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582846)

And the scheme supposedly allowed car manufacturers to off-load their piled up stock rather than building new cars...

not only that, but the vast majority of new cars sold in the UK under this scheme were foreign made so the money just went out of the economy into foreign hands instead of cycling round and round.

Re:cars too? Oh wait: scrappage scheme (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583538)

we have the same thing in holland, and it disgusts me..

The first car to use this subsidy was a 12 year old honda civic, the kind that would have been PERFECT for a single mom / low wage family / recent graduate to drive for years without high costs. I wept inside when i read that news headline, that car could have lived on for a decade fullfilling its purpose, and providing less wealthy people with a good means of transport. Instead it was taken to the crusher.. The stupidity of that case also was, that the market value for that car was well above the 1000 euro subsidy the owners incurred when buying their new fiat panda...

Any car that still runs reliably (i.e. isnt a technical total loss), should not be allowed to be destroyed, especially if the government then decides to subsidise the purchase of a fricking prius or whatever, which has a much bigger environmental impact

Re:cars too? Oh wait: scrappage scheme (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31584684)

I'm a bit of an enthusiast of the Mazda MX5/Eunos/Miata. We've lost loads of future little classics due to the scrappage scheme - perfectly functional cars in excellent condition that went to the crusher so that someone could get a discount they could have negotiated themselves off the price of some new car...

Re:cars too? Oh wait: scrappage scheme (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31584888)

i feel your pain, i myself am an Alfa Romeo nut, and i just feel bad when i think of how many perfectly good and future classic Alfa's will be lost to the crusher in these schemes...

I have a company car as a daily driver, but i also have an old alfa to tinker with, and i will undoubtedly replace it at some point with another model, however, the cars i tend to want to tinker with are also rather likely to get scrapped this way..

luckily alfisti tend to take good care of their stuff, and most will actually take a financial hit if it means their old love will get taken care off by a fellow alfist, instead of sending it off to the crusher

Re:cars too? Oh wait: scrappage scheme (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31584828)

Where are my modpoints when I need them? When I was in last year of University, I bought an 11 year old Audi 80. One of the best cars I ever had, reliable and no expensive repairs.

My current car is 10 years old (bought new 02/2000) and I'm not planning to replace it. I estimate it to be worth around 5000€, given it cost 35000€ new. Sacrifying it to any of the programs would be perfectly wasteful.

Checking on a second-hand car website (AutoScout24), typical asking price seems to be between 10000€ and 15000€ for similar build/age... That can't be right... People are out of their mind asking that much for a 10 year old car.

I actually wondered what kind of car I could get for 1000€ or a bit more... Seems that it mostly is 25 year old cars.... A bit longer and they qualify for the "oldtimer" status ;-)

Old parts cost more (1)

Pugwash69 (1134259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581602)

I decided to buy an old refurbished server last month, except the RAM I needed is so rare now it costs 4 times as much as the server. If I wanted to fit a graphics card, I'd have to pay over-the-odds to get one suitable. People replace old PC's when they break because new ones are cheaper and faster.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581946)

Indeed. When you have a 4-year old machine with a dead IDE hard drive and you try to get a replacement you end up buying another potentially faulty used drive on eBay because the only drives anybody has in stock new are SATA. It takes a lot of time and money for little confidence in the final repair.

The computer industry has a vested interest in continually-changing "standards" which make it less attractive to repair machines and more attractive to buy a replacement.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582172)

Big UK suppliers (VIP Computers, Ingram Micro) still stock PATA HDD's.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582320)

They all use the same "just in time" warehouses, so when one is out of stock they all are. Last time I needed a PATA IDE drive everybody had the same "Delivery in 3-5 weeks" estimate.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31584614)

I used to work for SCAN [scan.co.uk] and they have an enormous warehouse and don't sell JIT. I still buy from them because I live within a 15 minute drive, they sell things cheap, and I know the owner.

They stock PATA drives up to 500MB ; the prices for the capacities are a joke compared to modern drives but they are available.

Looking at that right now (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582210)

I'm in that situation, want a newer larger drive, but am still on pata/ide. I found they have an adapter for under ten bucks you can get for that purpose, so you can run newer hard drives or optical drives. Just run this in the search box at amazon "pata to sata adapter".

heh, I pretty much stay on the raw bleeding edge of five year old tech, or even older. Much cheaper that way, still usable with a few minor things. The biggest "must have" aspect I have found is having enough RAM when running modern software, processor speed, etc doesn't seem to be as critical. I don't do gaming or like run supercomputer exogalactic climate modeling programs (nor do I care for wiggly windows 3-d desktop effects), so for most "normal" purposes older computers are still useful.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582510)

SATA PCI cards are readily available and not expensive. Just saying... Bought two of them in the supermarket recently.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31590942)

The last time I had this problem it was actually cheaper to get a secondhand motherboard with a SATA interface and swap that out before fitting a SATA drive. (The motherboard only cost me £10, and it took the same processor and memory...)

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31583640)

it is 2010, my old athlon XP i bought in 2003 already has two sata ports, my GFs old Pentium 4 has SATA hard drives. I switched to only getting Sata drives in 2005. I really am curious where you found a 2006 machine with NO sata port...

besides, my fav computershop (actual shop with their own stock), lists 4 different IDE drives on their shelves (and in stock currently, the fifth type isnt), ranging from 80 to 320 GB.

Ram and VGA cards tend to be a bit more difficult, but if you dont mind paying a bit more per performance, AGP cards are still readily available, as is DDR ram.

I still agree with the GP though, restoring old machines (esp. servers) often isnt very economical once you need more then one or two spare parts, but for non-obscure hardware most parts are still available (come to think of it, i can still buy socket A mobo's new....)

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31591048)

"I really am curious where you found a 2006 machine with NO sata port..."

I didn't "find" it, it was brought to me to fix. Presumably because nobody else was willing to look at it. (Actually, as it was the end of last year, technically it was a 2005 machine.,.)

Even in 2006 it cost extra to buy a motherboard with dual interfaces. The guy who built this machine used the cheapest parts available at the time.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31594810)

hmm, i see, i suppose it would be possible to build a machine in 2005 with no sata, if you went for the cheapest available parts. Stupid practice though.. even when building to a tight budget, i will trade 100 mhz cpu speed for getting at least a half decent mobo. speed doesnt mean anything if the caps blow up in a year..

Re:Old parts cost more (2, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582476)

the RAM I needed is so rare now it costs 4 times as much as the server.

Have you tried Kahlon [kahlon.com] ? (Not affiliated, just a happy customer) A few years ago I had a multiprocessor system that required Registred ECC RAM. It could hold a total of 4GB RAM, but only had 1GB. When I wanted to upgrade the system to 4GB (so I needed 3x1GB), the stores in Europe asked around 300€ per stick. At Kahlon, I got three sticks of that price even after the horribly high import taxes. Now, I just checked and I could get those same RAM sticks for around 40$ each.

I do admit it was a pain to get them to trust me because they didn't take a credit card from my country (which is very small). I called them, said I would do a wire transfer and send them proof. A bit of a hassle, but it worked and I had my RAM.

I also used them ever longer ago when I needed 256Meg SIMMS (not DIMMS) for an old Pentium Pro 200 System.

It's the first place I go and look if I need "weird RAM".

I should check their RD-Ram prices.. I have a nice P-IV with 512Meg RAM with RD-Ram. Upping it to 1GB or more might make it desktop-usable again.

Re:Old parts cost more (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582610)

Now, I just checked and I could get those same RAM sticks for around 40$ each.

Actually, it's just 22$.... I looked in the wrong column ("Regular Price" vs "Web Price"... Regular price was 32$, which still is way lower than 40$ ) Next time, I'll cite the website appropriately ;-)

Upgrade cycle and junked-filled PCs... (2, Interesting)

hughbar (579555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31581650)

I have helped establish two computer drop-ins in the east end (the poor bit) of London using 'old' computers re-installed with Ubuntu (that's the one every seemed to like). In both cases the computer are often over five years old, but for browsing, a little bit of office work or homework and some games, they do just fine. One of the drop-ins has been problem free for two years (though I shouldn't say that aloud, should I?)

My neighbours change computers because they see the adverts on TV, because versions of Windows change, requiring more hardware and (unnecessarily) because they fill their systems with junk and malware by clicking on everything (oh my computer is really slow!). Norton doesn't help the 'user experience' either.

But, for example, they confuse 'slow' with 'broken' or 'old' and buy into the slick consumer dream. PC world with it's huge variety of sharp practices doesn't help either, because it's in their interest to encourage this particular confusion.

So I doubt that this will help, assuming that they do it (they haven't done anything on the petition site before, shame, we would have liked to see the underpants too).

Re:Upgrade cycle and junked-filled PCs... (1)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582156)

I'm wondering, I know we are talking London here, but what are your running costs a month?

Stop old technology (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31582168)

That's worse than abortion.

VAT loophole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31583938)

Interesting loophole they are opening up. Under this idea if I have my pc "repaired" with a new motherboard, processor and memory etc all the parts would then be vat free? Whats the difference between an upgrade and a repair? Almost all loose parts could then be sold as "for repair" and vat free?

As it is many small one man bands are probably under the £68,000 turnover threshold so don't have to charge vat on their time. Business's claim back the vat so don't pay it now anyway. It would mainly benefit people like pcworld who do lots of basic high priced repairs for their customers.

Houses now there is a good candidate for tax free repairs. Its ridiculous that repairing an old shack is taxed but building from scratch on a new site is tax free.

But think of the children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31584598)

Ah, a lovely idea to give a small group a favor via the tax rules. We all know it's for a wonderful cause (saving the environment, creating skilled jobs, minty fresh breath for all, etc...), but such a WRONG way to attempt good results.

If throwing out old PC's/electronics is bad, then make it expensive. (i.e. charge for the cost of safe disposal of all that lead, cadmium, and other nasty stuff) Then the owners of the gear will have the incentive to get it fixed. PLEASE let's not build policy based on handouts to small but vocal groups who can position their interests as in line with the public's.

Yes yes, figuring out the right way to collect the "disposal fee" from people won't be easy. And preventing people for cheating will require constant vigilance. But I'm on my soapbox at the moment and as long as I stay up here, I don't need to give any details on solving those details. :)

It's generally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31585494)

...NOT cost effective to repair a GOODLY deal of electronic equipment, especially given that in MANY cases replacement parts will simply no longer be available and/or the equipment is so "old" that it's failure/impending failure would turn it into an upgrade round. In the case of a good deal of older servers this would be a good thing from an efficiency standpoint.

I still have 10+ year old computers acting as file servers, and even used one as a router/web server for a goodly number of years -- an old SMP Tyan mb w/a couple of P-IIs, originally picked it up to see how BeOS would actually run in a SMP setup and initially had a couple "cheap" (at the time) Celerons with slotket adapters running in it -> linux + apache + 2 PCI ethernet boards -> router/web server.

Even for personal electronics this isn't such a great idea, as we go straight back to parts availability in which repairs generally would mean replacing entire motherboards + CPU + RAM, etc. which after a few years simply wouldn't be available, i.e. they'd likely end up with "free" upgrades costing the English a crapload of cash. The cost would be prohibitive to hire technicians to actually attempt to replace discrete parts hoping to fix a problem, and forget about it if it was something like a SoC CPU. Not to mention if it's anything like national health care systems the efficiency would be so awful v. the cost of replacement that I'd hazard that most people would simply opt to replace anyways.

The tax dogging fuck's. (2, Interesting)

vosester (1163269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31591910)

You want to know why is not cost effective to repair old computers greed, simple. I came to the town I now live in and I had a lot of time while I was getting my company of the ground. So I got a job in one of the high street computer repair shops, not a chain like PC World. I would rather stab myself in the leg with a fork than work at one of those places.

When I started it was like doing the time warp back to 1995. Every component was the oldest cheapest crappies piece of shit on the market and have a mark up of several times the actual price.

The owner even made sure that no mater what the problem was with the computer was, to some how justify reinstalling Windows so he could charge.

Every customer who would come in, spend at lest £100, for so little work mostly not needed.

Plus the crappy components he sold them would fail and they would be back, he would give them some techno-babble bullshit and they would pay again!!!

After six months I lost my rag with the guy and left.

Re:The tax dogging fuck's. (1)

vosester (1163269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31591974)

Having Dyslexia some time make's me laugh, The title was suppose to be "The tax dodging fuck's"

Take a guess what I been doing with my spare time.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...