With the advent of more powerful processors by the minute, cheaper RAM, and hard drives, many computers end up in the trash. If you are a grubby trash loving low-tech geek, this is a wonderful way to increase your supply of useless hardware.

If you live in a college town, I recommend checking the dumpsters behind the dorms as the students are leaving.

My best take so far: A fully functional 486 laptop, fully loaded (for 1992).

Good luck may be little more than an illusion created when a string of good things happens to you without any effort on your part, but it certainly feels pretty nice when it happens. Ever find five dollars laying on the ground? I did. I found it in the parking lot of a McDonalds I was walking near. I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable moment I've ever had that involved McDonalds. It went straight to my gas tank, and I felt energized by the event. I knew it was irrational, and that my chances of having something fortunate happen to me were not increased by this lucky find, but I felt some deep desire in my soul that probably stems from being part of a species that started out as hunter-gatherers to forage. It felt as if there were discarded nice things hiding in every nook and cranny, just waiting for me to take them.

I walked down an alley, puffing on a hand-rolled cigarette. My long, blonde hair was twisted and gnarled by this day. My neglected facial hair was in such a state that each individual hair could be seen jutting in a wildly different directions than the ones around it. Prior to this, I hadn't been having very good luck. I'd been ripped off by "friends", stolen from, and otherwise whittled down by this, that and my own actions into a twitchy, paranoid, depressed human being. But I felt good that day. I was happy. I gazed around me in the alley. Dumpsters. There were lots of dumpsters around. Dumpsters of opportunity.

The first dumpster was a Blockbuster. I saw that the only notable thing in the dumpster were empty beer bottles. Now those people know how to work retail! There was a pet food store nearby. Nothing of note. A barber shop. Lots of human hair...mounds of it, all in clear plastic bags. A shoe store with nothing of note to speak of was next to it. Then, there was the real-estate office. I didn't really expect anything, but I opened it, and there were two computers, just sitting there in the dumpster!

I was so happy. I knew that there had to be something wrong with these computers, or they wouldn't be thrown out, but I knew I could probably fix whatever was broken. I ran with glee to my car, which was parked a while away, my Drum Halfzware Shag-stained lungs not even bothering me. I wheeled it around to the alley, and quickly grabbed the computers to place in my trunk. A man with a suit, tie, and cell-phone nearby looked at what I was doing with disgust. If I had been any closer, I would have laughed in his face for his inability to see the value in what I was doing. Here I was rescuing something that costs time, money, and dwindling natural resources to create from being wasted, and all he feels is disdain. As it was, I just smiled, shook my head, dropped the boxes into my trunk, and took off.

When I came home, I plugged the best looking one in. No power. This baby had a nice Windows XP serial key printed on its case, and this was in August, 2005 so I knew it wasn't too terribly old. It was certainly a lot more recent than most discarded computers you'd find. I decided investing in a new power supply would be worth it. I found a decent one for a $30, which was quite a bargain. More good luck. It worked! I knew that the processor was an Intel Celeron, which could mean anything in terms of its clock speed, so I checked the Control Panel, and saw that it ran at 1.7GHz! I did a little dance. It was a nice little box, perfectly suited for the needs of my friend Leo, who worked long hours, and had to write papers and do research for school, but couldn't afford to buy a decent box.

Since he was in need of a computer, I called him up, and made him an offer. Since he's a good, trustworthy person who's helped me out in the past, I told him that if he'd pay me $20 a week until $100 was paid, he could have the computer. He jumped on it. Now, I get $100, and he doesn't have to go to the library to do his school-work.

As for the other computer, it was a fully-working Pentium 150 box. Not too useful, but it makes an OK router.

Never feel bad about sifting through the waste of others. Fortune may just smile upon thee!

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