Used Electronics & Toilet Phones

Every time I hear about a new Used electronics seller offering to buy my old electronics, I check them out and usually find their prices are not very good. I knew the parts alone for my old iPhone were worth more than the pittance they offered over a year ago. The screen alone is worth about $50, and they offered less than that for the entire device with everything but the shrink-wrap. Instead of selling it, I offered it up on Craigslist. It didn’t sell, despite its great condition. So, I held on to it.

About 9 months later my girlfriend’s Blackberry Storm—which was buggy and unusable as a smartphone as hell for the 3 months she had it—decided to take a swim by falling out of her pocket in the restroom after a movie we went to on her birthday. After her friend’s quick thinking, we managed to “save” it using a combination of rice, a blowdryer and the Bernoulli principle. (Though it took an argument where a guy that works with lasers, asserted that because of his laser expertise there was no way someone could use a hairdryer effectively—basically calling me a liar—for me to realize that was why I was taught to aim the air stream over the surface of the submerged device.) Anyway, in the 3 days we let the device dry out in rice after the Blackberry’s styling, I lent her my old iPhone.

She initially purchased the Blackberry Storm because it had a keyboard and she said she always seemed to have problems getting touch screens to recognize her touches. I jokingly told her that’s because you need a soul for the capacitance to be disrupted on the screen. That and most touch screens she tried were probably the old resistive type that mis-registers frequently.

After using the iPhone for a few weeks, and finding the Storm’s touchscreen less responsive (there was a pinhead sized water bubble that managed to survive the 3 day dry off on the screen), she stayed with the iPhone, despite its slower Edge (2.5G) performance. We dubbed the Blackberry Storm “The Toilet Phone”—fitting because it always crashed during web browser usage, even after applying several updates. Though my own codename for it is “Crapberry.” It crashed so often, she gave up trying to use the web browser almost completely eliminating the whole point of a smartphone. At least the slow and pokey Edge network eventually might load if you stood still and sacrificed a few bits and time to the radio frequency gods that control Edge’s band frequencies.

Then the phone finally, after a good 3 years of heavy service, it died a noble death—or so we thought. She called me from her work’s landline, to tell me the touchscreen started glitching out, its home button became non-responsive and then would no longer power up. Because she was very dependent on having a working phone for work, I lent her my iPhone 4 that night and temporarily had all calls forward to it. The next day (December 31), we walking into an AT&T store and devised a plan that got her a new 4S and consolidated phone plans. She was going to just get a 3GS, but I told her friends don’t let friends buy soon-to-be-obsolete (unsupported) tech. I paid for the price differential, and told her to consider it a New Year’s or a Hanukah super 7 day “we don’t need no stink in’ new socks” gift. “Hell, toss in Winter solstice, Kwanza and Flying Spaghetti Monster day while we’re at it,” I told her. A few days after New Year’s, the old iPhone booted up just fine and wanted to know where its sim card was. We hadn’t the heart to tell it it had been retired. Not bad for a 4.5 year old phone.

The point? Well, I have found I get more “value” out of old electronics by handing them down and keeping them as backups. Something has to keel over before I toss it. and even then I might keep it for parts. I hand down my laptops, amps and other devices to my relatives that could use them. Currently, I am trying to find a way to afford a new MBP with a processor that I can’t peg for an hours at a CPU 12.x load (yes, I know I need more RAM). I wasn’t planning on upgrading this year, but my girlfriend’s HP netbook is a flaming pile of slow, buggy and intrusive crap that I keep offering to overhaul. She practically broke out into loud obscenities at the library a few days back when she thought it crashed. It eventually force quit a program, and she lost a few paragraphs of a missive she was working on. Meanwhile, I sat across from her and stared at my CPU’s load hoping it could finish the large audio processing job I gave it before the meter ran out and we had to move the car to avoid a parking ticket.

Incidentally, library WiFi kicks much ass in my experience. At my local library, I had a 1MB/s upload speed and a 200KB/s download speed. Weird, but whatever. I am going there anytime I need to upload a few dozen gigs from now on. Screw fighting for low latency to play an OLRPG at Starbuck’s! “Damn YouTube Hipsters! Soaking up all the bandwidth!” is the new “Hey you kids, get off my digital lawn!” war cry for me. Now If you’ll excuse me I think I see a high gain antenna sticking out of a car crawling by my place… “Slackers!” {ref: Back to the Future 2} It’s not easy living in the future and commuting to the past. ;) Until next rant, may all your bits be in parity.

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