Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Living Light and Saving Money: Applied Recycling

Here at the Dougloid Papers, we are always interested in saving a buck or two and lightening the load on the environment from the things we do. This has led to the quest for ever lower priced used things that need some TLC.

To the latest expression.

The year before last we bought a TiVo digital media server on fleabay from some unknown character. It was advertised as new, was probably a factory refurb, and the power supply croaked after six weeks.

So after trying to get another power supply and failing, I put the machine in the basement and we got another from Best Buy, which has worked well.

Our local Tivo service center, Traviss Audio and Video on Douglas avenue, wanted $40 to diagnose the ills of the grey market Tivo. I told them, look, it's got a dead power supply, I want to buy one, can you order me a power supply? They said, no, we have to diagnose it and that's going to cost you $40 even before we answer whether we can get you some parts. Nice, huh? Buncha jerks.

Anyway, there was this box with a dead Tivo in it and I decided one day to pull it apart. Inside, I found what looked like a garden variety 80gb IDE hard drive from the Maxtor people, and a Panasonic DVD-R/RW drive. The hard drive was a nice upgrade for my standby IBM Aptiva and it installed and formatted with no problems. The DVD drive went on the shelf.

Fast forward. I've got a case right now that requires a lot of looking at security camera videos. So first I had to get the evidence from the DMPD, which was a VCR tape. That got converted into a couple DVDs for $70 and then I found out that the DVD ROM drive in my trusty Dell desktop did not work and probably never had, because I'd never needed it before. So I went and priced DVD drives, the cheapest was about $50 for a noname, which was about $40 more than I have right now.

On the way home, I remembered the DVD drive from the Tivo. After figuring out how to remove the existing Samsung DVD ROM drive (simple if you know how to release the front panel, impossible if you don't) I checked the jumpers, loaded up the drive I'd scrounged from the Tivo and with some trepidation about special firmware, drivers and the like, pressed the start button.

It worked like a champ right from jump street, easiest install in a Windows machine I ever did.

So keep your eye on those dead DVD recorders. You can save yourself some money and save the planet as well.


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