– 12 complete PowerMac systems went to the Cheverly (Md.) STEM Education Center located in the Cheverly United Methodist Church. The school provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) classes for area home schoolers.
– 6 additional towers went to the Chance Academy, which is located in the Michigan Park Christian Church in Washington, D.C.. This school provides the homeschool network in Maryland and the District of Columbia with academic programs in the sciences.
All of the machines (including monitors, keyboards and mice) from the MRC are donated Macs that are reconditioned to make sure everything is working properly. We have a “master” hard drive that we clone (copy) so that all machines have the same set of software when they go out the door.
Since all these machines were PowerPC Macs (pre-Intel chip machines), the software is all optimized to work with OS 10.5.8 – the last OS version that works with PPC Macs.
MacRecycleClinic has been working for a few weeks to get a number of PPC towers ready for a Washington, D.C. based non profit called Critical Exposure.
We found out about this non-profit that “teaches youth to use the power of photography and their own voices to become effective advocates for school reform and social change” through Bethany Swain, a former CNNer and current lecturer at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Bethany’s students have gone to Critical Exposure’s offices to mentor their students. One of the Merrill Journalists as they are called, Louie Dane, wrote a retrospective for the Merrill News website.
When we get a request like this – the first questions we always ask at the MacRecycleClinic is what do you want to DO with the computers and what software would you LIKE to have. The answers to those questions provide the focus we need to put together the “package” they receive.
In Critical Exposure’s case, their students want to do multimedia – video, photo and audio editing. So on top of the “regular” OS X install we do, there were some additional things to add. Since none of these machines can go higher than OS 10.5.8, we had to make sure that the software we included could work with the last PPC Tower from Apple before the company moved to Intel. We would have loved to provide Intel machines with Final Cut Express (donations welcome), but folks are holding on to their Intel towers these days because Apple has not come out with a new update in quite a while. And FCE is hard to come by in numbers (Apple no longer offers it in fact).
That said, these machines run a good, stable and powerful version of the Mac OS and are very capable computers for what Critical Exposures students would like to do. There may be issues with third party software – Flash, Adobe Reader, etc. but not enough to make that much of a difference. These machines are ignored by hackers as well – one less worry.
We’ve hit January yet again and MRC continues to move forward with its goal of recycling and refurbishing Macs. Over the past few months, we have started moving away from most of the older PPC models save the newest and fastest model G4s and G5s. Interestingly, one of the predictors here are Macs that use the original Airport card. Turns out they are becoming incompatible with newer wireless systems – they are not able to provide the higher level of security these new wireless systems demand and won’t let the Macs log into the network. That said – if you need an original Airport or Airport Express let us know – we have many for sale inexpensively!
We’re starting to see some Intels coming in finally but many have had hard use or were damaged when picked up. So we have continued to gather equipment and then try to make one good machine from 2 or more that are damaged.
We’ve continued to donate machines to local school students and families in the Silver Spring area and remain open to recommendations from school counselors or non profits. Recently, we gave a machine to a 6 year old who is being home-schooled. He and his mom took a cab and buses all the way over from Landover to pick up their iMac. We are planning once again to provide laptops to Montgomery County Schools in the Downcounty Consortium for their AfterProm/PostProm parties. We were able to provide machines to every school in the Downcounty last year!
Machines that can not be salvaged are now totally disassembled (to the extent that they can) and are recycled both to a third part recycling company or back to the Montgomery County Government’s Shady Grove Transfer Station in Derwood.
We continue our Monday Night Clinic at Marvin Church (Four Corners/Silver Spring) from 7 to 9 pm and tho we are not overwhelmed (a good thing!), we have had a steady stream of folks coming in for help. Some folks have sick Macs, others are looking for help transferring their data from an old machine to a new one. We’re here to help! And trust that we will tell you if we can’t repair something as well.
One frustration remains the Mac Lab we set up at Marvin for use by students or the community – it just sits there unused at the moment. We are hoping the folks at Marvin can find a way to get some adult supervision in the afternoon so the lab can be used.
Please let us know how we can help! We have folks with many, many years of experience who are willing to do things Apple and local businesses are unwilling to do (because it is not cost effective for the most part). As a non-profit, we simply ask for a donation for our time – all the money goes to MRC since we are all volunteers.
Time and again, we see examples of individuals really making a difference. The 7 year old who raises money to help the families of our Wounded Warriors. The cancer victim who walks with many others each year to raise research funds. The church members who individually volunteer their time at everything from soup kitchens to homeless shelters. Americans like to look on themselves as individuals but the fact is we work pretty well together when there’s a need. Recycling computers and other electronics is important and something we can all be part of. Whether you donate your old PowerMac G4, G5, iMac, eMac or Intel machine to a group like MacRecycleClinic to refurbish for others, take it to your local Apple, Best Buy or other store for recycling or your county or state recycling center, you make a difference each time you or your neighbor makes the decision to recycle rather than throw away.
(Updated 3/16/2011 to fix photo links)
When I first started working with computers – my old Apple /// (like the one at
left right) back in the early 80s – computer users groups like Washington Apple Pi had already sprung up across the country. Their motto at the time was “Users Helping Users.” WAP was a club whose members wanted to learn more about how their computers – Apple II series, ///, and increasingly, Macintosh – worked. They really wanted to know what made them tick – not just how to upgrade them by adding memory, a new, larger hard drive, new graphics or other internal cards. They were willing to spend the time, effort – and money – to do that.
Today, computers have, for all intents and purposes, become appliances. They are SPECIAL appliances of course, but most folks are not interested in opening the hood and tinkering. They just want to turn them on. They expect them to work.
Users today still may want to add memory or a new hard drive, but Apple has made it pretty difficult for the user to do much of that except for their higher-end MacPro models. At the Clinic, we usually suggest external drives when that’s possible – they come in a wide range of sizes, USB and Firewire are on virtually every Mac – and the price is reasonable. But we do have the tools and expertise to dig into the internal workings when necessary.
The question is – when should you replace what you have? When is it time to spend the money for a new Mac? We get those kinds of questions all the time and each answer is really tailored to the individual owner.
But in general, If you have an older PowerPC Mac you are a prime candidate unless you are happy with what you have and the programs continue to do what you need them to do. Apple and most vendors no longer support the PPC platform, but most of the later-model machines – towers and laptops – remain highly capable and able to do what you need. If there’s a problem, we have the tools and expertise to help (that’s us working at left). If we don’t we’ll tell you up front.
The Macs of today are Intel based and OS X continues to grow in power and ability. Macs can run both Windows and OSX easily at the same time. In the future, OSX may well morph together in some form with the iOS we all know from the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad. There are rumors Apple will stop including optical drives in all their machines as well. If that happens, third party vendors will be making lots of money because folks will still want those peripherals. I certainly do even with the App Store.
So while the decision about when to buy a new (or refurbished) Intel Mac is a very personal one, there will come a time when:
- Your old machine just won’t work anymore;
- When you are really ready to move up for the power, speed and improved graphics;
- You want a Mac but still need to run Windows;
- You need to run the latest version of Office or other software;
- You need to do video editing;
- You want a better computing experience.
As one of the volunteers at MacRecycleClinic I can tell you we have a group of folks who are passionate about helping you keep your Macintosh working – but we are also happy to provide suggestions about your next step should you want to upgrade to a new computer.