The last windfall of 2010

One of the nice things about a hobby like this one, is that I am rarely at a loss for new toys. Sometimes I just mention what I do in my spare time, and people practically throw their junk at me.

That was the case earlier this week, and this was the result.

An offhand remark about putting old computers to use, and a Toshiba Dynabook Satellite J12 is mentioned as a castaway. It’s quite a nice machine as you can see, with no exterior damage and a clean surface all around.


In fact, the only visible shortcomings were a small nick in the lower center of the screen, and one missing foot.

The irony of those two points being, the nick was in fact just a smear and washed clean … and the weight of the system prevents the computer from rocking across the missing foot. So no loss on either point.

The guts are working great too. If you didn’t check the specs page, this has:

  • A 2.5Ghz Mobile Celeron, which will be lambasted by all the techy types out there for being slow and underpowered when compared to its Pentium equivalent. I can’t tell any difference;
  • 512Mb of PC2100, which is more memory than I will ever ever need;
  • A knuckle-busting 30Gb 4200rpm hard drive, which I promptly replaced just as a general principle. Now in place is a leftover 60Gb 7200rpm hard drive that is much quieter;
  • The video card is an Intel 852GM, which seems acceptable even though I haven’t tried out any real graphic-intensive stuff yet;
  • Intel e100-driven network port. My favorite brand;
  • Four — count ’em, four USB2.0 ports, two side and two rear;
  • A working battery; and
  • a CDROM, standard connections for a machine of this age, and — best of all — a floppy drive. What’s life without a floppy drive? :mrgreen:

In all seriousness though, the real draw for this machine was its external condition, a relatively giant 14.1-inch XGA screen and a speedy network port.

It’s been a while since I have had anything larger than a 12-inch screen to look at, and this is very clean and very crisp. Sure, it’s only 1024×768, but I really don’t care much for more refined resolutions. This is plenty.

When it was shown to me, I did my best to try and convince the owner to keep it, and it backfired slightly. After I talked it up as a clean and sharp computer, the owner said she would like to get a small sum for it.

Which of course, was way beyond the actual value of the machine. I understand sentimental value, but I had to remind her that the price she was putting on it was higher than a new netbook.

So in the end, we agreed on about US$60, which is probably high but I can spare it and she felt better to get a little something for it. I always feel guilty telling people that the machine they bought new for more than US$1000, six years ago, is just a yard sale special now.

So far I’ve tried Linux Mint Debian on it, as well as Arch Linux and a very quick test run with Slitaz. I can’t find anything to complain about, unless it’s the fact that I already have too many computers.

And now, let’s see … how can I put this one to use? 😐

15 thoughts on “The last windfall of 2010

  1. anon

    Gaming machine, audio playback, home theatre, guinea pig for the Thinkpad (similar hardware, and modern (i686) enough that you could plop it in)

  2. jraz

    Simply an awesome find. I wish I could find a deal like that. BTW I really enjoy reading all of your posts.

  3. ancientforest

    Congratulations… that was a nice find, indeed. I feel certain that your ingenuity will quickly find a use for it.

    Thanks for blogging. Your documenting your hobby, as many others have mentioned, is both generous and inspiring. I gave away a ten year-old laptop this holiday season to a needy friend, and continue to hack happily away on two others, in large part thanks to your tips and tales. Surely you have written a book by now? 😀

    Wishing you all the best in the coming year.

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