January 14, 2005
Junk Servers

Every so often I receive those “global” emails from the office IT department announcing that there will be downtime on the office servers at the weekend in order to allow for upgrades, overhauls or server replacements etc. I have always wondered what they do with the old servers that are replaced.

This morning I caught Route 79 down to Alperton as usual and the “bus-hopped” onto Route 83 to get down to Ealing Broadway. On the way I gazed out the window at the back of the upper deck and happened to notice an old pick-up truck on the Hanger Lane Gyratory (one of the most “hostile” traffic roundabouts in London). It was loaded to the hilt with what looked like old servers. Piles of them in their full, beige-coloured, glory. Being exposed to the elements on the back of a truck like that implied, in my mind, that they were being scrapped.

Truck load of junk servers on the Hanger Lane Gyratory.

Posted by jag at January 14, 2005 08:54 PM
I saw a documentary recently about this giant computer "recycling" facility in the Far East (can't remember the exact location). It looked like a giant 'pooter and mobile phones graveyard and everything was striped and parts were "cooked" to recuperate the different metals. There were kids hanging about breathing the toxic fumes. A bit sad and slightly guilt inducing. Probably where your servers were going. Posted by: stroppycow on January 15, 2005 10:00 PM
Follow that truck and go skip-diving! I put together a distributed data entry system for a large charity event a couple of years ago using PCs recovered from skips running Linux and an old wide carriage dot-matrix printer found in the back of a warehouse. It worked magnificently, and the whole thing cost slightly under 50quid, including a new ribbon for the printer. Posted by: Chris on January 16, 2005 03:55 PM
(one of the most “hostile” traffic roundabouts in London) How about some video footage of this notorius roundabout with a Stinging Sitars sountrack..... Posted by: Fritz on January 16, 2005 05:01 PM
That's a criminal waste IMO. They should get in contact with www.computeraid.org They will take older PCs and refurbish and give to 3rd world countries. Posted by: Jon Allen on January 16, 2005 05:59 PM
I guess they will all RUST IN PEACE. Posted by: sat on January 16, 2005 06:54 PM
Strop: I didn't see that documentary programme - but I saw a news item on BBC News 24 which covered the story a few weeks back. And yes - it showed some backstreet in China where some guy was de-soldering computer circuit boards and breathing in toxic fumes etc. Very depressing. Chris: excellent! It's amazing what good apparent junk can be put to. Well done! Fritz: Perfect. Have made a note of that - now I just need someone to drive me around the Hanger Lane Gyratory a few times! Coming soon ... Jon: thanks for your comment. And thanks for the reference. For sure I will let my IT dept. know about that. Sat: I sure hope not - but sadly - it seems that they might have to. ;-) Posted by: Jag on January 16, 2005 08:34 PM
If you like to live dangerously I can drive you round hanger lane. I'll throw in a couple of rounds around the Chiswick roundabout in as well if you want. Just how scared are you prepared to be though? Posted by: stroppycow on January 17, 2005 04:24 PM
Strop - living dangerously is not a problem with me. I mean; I ride the buses - and many times that can be a scary experience! Ah - Chiswick roundabout: mild. But in order to take up your offer I'd need to know what kind of vehicle; a Citroen 2CV? Now that WOULD be too scary for me ... ;-) Posted by: Jag on January 17, 2005 08:35 PM
What most people have missed here is that these are not servers, but fully working PC's. This goes to show that home made engine management systems can sometimes be a little bulky. Posted by: Brom-man on January 18, 2005 12:30 PM
Almost 4 years ago I purchased a 1GHz Athlon PC, and recently I replaced it because the disk controller started acting up. But the fascinating thing is that it is still perfectly fine now for everything I do. It's a little slow rendering home movies from mini DV, but that's a little specialised anway. It browses the web, it does email. On the back of an ADSL line it plays video over the web as good as any other machine I've seen. It runs windows XP perfectly well, and I've had various Linux derivatives on it too. It has all the sockets to interface with my digital camera and DV camera. An inexpensive HDD upgrade means that it can store all our CDs in MP3 format, as well as all our photographs. It plays DVDs at better resolution than anything other than an HD TV could render. It doesn't feel slow doing any of those things. Does this mean that we are at the end of the upgrade cycle? Why would you need a PC that was faster than 1GHz unless you're playing 3D games or doing video editing? I think we are at an historic turning point in the PC market. Perfomance is largely irrelevant, and is becoming increasingly difficult to improve because of power consumption and dissipation issues. This means that the market will migrate to form and price. After 20 years of beige boxes people will start branching out and buying something that looks cool, sounds quiet and doesn't take up much space. If you're happy to go back to 1GHz, you can get a CPU that doesn't need a fan to cool it (ah - remember the good old days?), costs virtually nothing, and can be put into hip and small packages. Ironically we may see a return to the times when the screen was the biggest component in the price of a PC. Posted by: Rhys Lewis on January 18, 2005 03:27 PM
Jag - entirely off the topic.. just back from India. Wishing you & your family a very happy new year. Continue posting your fab snaps. Besto. Posted by: Chakra on January 18, 2005 05:58 PM
Not a 2 CV but a renault 5. I still think Hanger Lane pales into insignificance next to the monstrosity in Swindon. Never could get my head round it. Posted by: stroppycow on January 18, 2005 06:45 PM
Brom-man: how do you know that they are PCs instead of "servers"? Or am I missing something? :-) Rhys: couldn't agree more! I think the points you raise are extremely relevant; today it's all about looks, ergonomics and price. Chakra: Happy New year to you and your family too! I'm glad to hear from you - was getting a little worried at first - not sure whay - but the events in South-India/Sri-Lanka/Indonesia etc. left me with many such strange feelings. Glad to hear from you! Strop: Renault 5: very good. Also - the Swindon roundabout is VERY similar to the "magic roundabout" system in Hemel Hempstead - which I know and love very well having driven round it for several years a few years ago. Very easy when you know how! I think I need to take YOU for a spin! ;-) Posted by: Jag on January 18, 2005 11:35 PM
IT pro trivia fact #137: Servers never are beige Posted by: Maxx on January 19, 2005 10:48 PM
Maxx: well - you learn something new every day. Thanks! Posted by: Jag on January 19, 2005 11:26 PM
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