Greetings from David of The Laptop Elf Project

I’m a long time The Tech Guy podcast listener; still remember Leo from “Call for Help” on local broadcast TV here in LA. My first personal computer was an Osborne 1 grey case.

There are four of us in my area that offer free in-home tech help to seniors. A very popular service as you can imagine.

I ask via social media for donations of working but unwanted laptops, Windows and Mac. I wipe the drive and reinstall the OS. Then I donate the laptops to teachers and, through local non-profits, to low income families.

Win7 and newer Windows laptops I upgrade to Windows 10. Very straightforward. WinVista and WinXP get Linux installed. MacBooks that came with OSX Lion or later I can reload the OS, up to El Capitan if the laptop is new enough.

The older white plastic MacBooks are a challenge. I’ll be looking on the forum for ideas and answers about how to load them with Linux.

Anyway, that’s what keeps me busy most days. Glad to be in the TWiT.community

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That’s some great work you do. It’s a struggle for the elderly to buy and maintain a computer but arguably they have the most amount of time to spend on them so can get a lot out of them. It must take up a lot of your time, I know how much effort I need to put in maintaining PCs for only two parents.

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Welcome, love the work that your doing, thank you!

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Welcome to the boards and thank you for the work you do with seniors and teachers. It is a great thing you are doing.

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Howdy, and welcome from Texas!

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I heard you when you called in to The Tech Guy! I want to thank you so much for the generous services you provide. What a great recycling project and so needed for low income folks. I bet the schools really appreciate it too. So, THANK YOU!

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Thanks Pattylt. The teachers do appreciate the laptops. Many are surprised that someone out there cares to do this. The question I ask myself is: where do the big corporations send their old laptops after a tech refresh? There could be thousands of laptops available in in LA!

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I know companies will often sell their laptops and computers to employees for a pittance to reclaim some of the cost but those that no one want? I have no idea! I bet they just wind up in landfills…so sad and unneeded.

Have you ever sent letters to the IT depts of some larger corporations in your area letting them know of your work? I’d do a written letter and briefly explain what you do, some contacts to verify your work and, of course, a contact number. Even if you send out 30 letters and only a few respond, that could be hundreds of computers! They have to pay someone to dispose of them! Just a thought…

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Agreed. I spend much more time communicating about my project and following up on donation leads than I do on refurbishing laptops. In addition to big company IT departments there are also the big box stores who accept trade-ins. Only so much time in the day. I think I need a marketing and sales partner in this project.

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This is a worthy endeavor - well done Elf

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I can tell you that a lot of companies send them to companies that deal with data destruction and then if the “large company” requests they can be refurbished and sold to make money back on the devices. As far as when the devices are to old to be resold at a value that would be worth the effort then they have usable parts like hard drive and memory removed and the device itself is tore down to its basic components and those components are sold to companies that recycle them and use them to make new products. I work for one of these companies and the term for what these companies do is called ITAD (IT asset disposition) there are a lot of these companies some big and some small. Feel free to look them up. There are some really good ones out there that try to get the technology back in the hands of someone who doesn’t mind it being older at a reduced price or sometimes even free or for donation. Its a very interesting subject that I would encourage anyone interested to look up.
I don’t know if it would be okay to post links or names of companies that do this here or I would post some of them.

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Glad you are here too!

Thanks, glad to be here as well!

Wow! A big THANK YOU for helping me understand what happens to the IT assets after they are disposed of by the big companies. I worked for Hughes Aircraft and Boeing before retirement and I knew that managing the tech refresh was outsourced by them. Makes sense that the downstream supply chain (disposition chain?) does its best to harvest maximum value out of IT assets after disposition. I’ll definitely look up some of those online to see if there are any in my area (LA … there ought to be a lot of them here). Maybe I can get one of them interested in The Laptop Elf Project! Again, appreciate the insight into an industry I had wondered about.

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I’m glad to be of help, it is fascinating and I do believe you will find quite a few in that area. As I said there are multiple ones that get equipment donated to them in return for making sure that the data on them is erased or destroyed and in return they forward low cost or donation based purchases on to low income people. Free Geek is a popular one as well as PCs for People. Not sure what ones are located in the LA area. Good luck and you are doing a great thing to help others. I hope you find people willing to donate to your cause.

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