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Computers are good for many things -- I use mine mostly for listening to compact discs, playing that awesome pinball game, and checking the finishing times at -- but did you know they can be just as useful when they're broken? In all, I think I've burned through eight computers over the last three years -- one got crushed when my prized moose head fell off the wall, and I spilled various liquids on the other seven. Typically when I bust up one of my PCs, I just toss it on the burn pile with everything else, but then I got to thinking, "I bet I could tear this sucker apart and use the various pieces in all sorts of different ways."

For instance, discarded keyboards make great dog toys, and you can use those little gray mouse balls to build a sweet miniature billiard set. Now, I bet you're thinking to yourself, "surely you can't do much else with a broken computer!" Au contraire, mon amie. Check out these other ingenious uses for discarded computer pieces:

There's nothing that I love more than a summer sausage hot dog, but after two of three of those tasty monstrosities, I must admit, I'm usually feeling pretty full. Enter the compact-disc-player-summer-sausage-slicer! This handy little mod will allow you to slice up anything that's roughly the diameter and toughness of a summer sausage. Now you can share your sausagey goodness all over the land!

Not much to this one. Just break off the clickers from your old mouse, apply gorilla glue, and stick it anywhere that might benefit from having a little storage bucket glued to the wall. The shower is an obvious choice, as you can use it to store your toothbrush and/or nose hair clippers. I have a bunch of mice glued up in my workshop, which I use to store various nuts and bolts and nails and stuff.

When my fifth oldest boy brought home a baby squirrel last week, I thought to myself, "dang! Where are we gonna store that critter until it gets big enough to eat?" And that's when the wheels started to twist in my brain. I ran out to the woods, picked up one of my old monitors, busted out the insides, gorilla glued some chicken wire to the front, and VOILA! A fully functional squirrel cage!

My wife loves birds. Why? I'm not sure, but being the supportive and caring husband that I am, I thought I'd feed her unnatural appetite by building a custom birdhouse for her out of one of my old PCs. Not too much to this project -- just tear out all the wires and whatnot, and then use a hammer to knock out everything else. The keyboard on top was my own special touch. I put it up there in hopes of attracting some Blue "J"s. Get it?! GET IT?!

This one here is both the easiest to make and the one I use the most: the beer-bottle-spill-preventer. It's not really a "computer piece," per se, as much as it's just a compact disc jammed over the top of a beer bottle. As an added bonus, the disc also acts as a barrier between your nose and fingers, so if they stink, which mine often do, you won't have to smell them while you drink your brew.

And that about does it for my nifty computer inventions. You got any that are better? If so, let me know, because I got three more ruined PCs sitting in my backyard just begging to be used for something.

  • Whatsit

    Are you sure it's safe to use CDs and components with food? I'd think there'd be toxins that could contaminate the food.

  • gsnoorky

    I agree that PCs aren't necessarily disposable, especially if one builds their own desktop PCs (no proprietary parts). Now, certain parts can burn out such as power supplies, motherboards, memory, drives, video cards, and even fans: Unless one is a clever circuitry genius, complex broken electronic parts must be recycled (this is beyond the scope even of PC repair shops).

    Good cases and some other parts form a basis for rebuilding, often with some parts on hand from the dead system and other systems with damaged components or upgrades. Unix-based OSes such as linux distros or freebsd (usually "free") often run very well with very old legacy components which are too old for XP or Vista. Have some faith! Again and again, Phoenix arises from the ashes....

    I suppose some people don't want to use stuff once it's "broken." Unfortunately, others lack inclination to gather expertise for fixing and rebuild (all info for this is gratis on the web)--also, their circle of friends and acquaintances lacks knowledgeable friends, or they distrust these friends: So, they they decide to suffer the indignity of lugging the PC to repair shops at great expense. I think it's better for those who lack interest to find knowledgeable friends or friends whose relatives (say teenage children)--I really think this usually a more satisfactory experience than relying on "pro" repair: Perhaps replacement parts would be at cost, and labor may even be gratis-- such people are interested in new challenges, even in antique tech. (One example: Perhaps fixing software or Windows problems may not involve reformating (thereby deleting all files and necessitating tedious reinstall--reformatting often is a shortcut to thinking).

    If you don't want to take on rebuilding, and, you don't want expensive "pro" repair or a new sys, expand your circle of friends and acquaintances to some people who want to help you with PCs!

  • DieselTech

    Great advice, gsnoorky!

    I would like to point out that disposability is more of a cultural thing than an absolute rule nowadays. A hundred years ago, people kept things that could be either reused, repaired, etc.; in today's world not so much - people just "get a new one" - mostly because it's easier, or (perceived to be) cheaper than repairing what they have, or because the item is "old, outdated, and no longer useful". Hogwash.

    The laptop that I am using to write this reply is almost 4 years old (Sony VAIO, 10.6" XVGA, 1.1 Ghz Pentium M, 512Mb RAM, 40 Gb HDD, DVD/RW Drive), and has been thoroughly abused (been to the desert while in the Army, and recently blasted with water when a pipe broke upstairs and leaked onto my desk downstairs), and it's still working just fine. My main "home" computer is an old Celeron 500Mhz/Toshiba Mobo/512Mb RAM running WinXP - and though it is noticeably slower than my laptop, works just fine as a wireless print server/internet browser/NAS device/word processor.

    Just because it's old and doesn't run the latest software doesn't make it useless. Besides, sometimes the newer software sucks anyway. =)

    Dare to be different - "Old Skool Rules!"

  • mike

    that beersaver looks great. until you try to drink your beer.
    my advice DON'T SPILL YOUR BEER.

    like the cage very much. and the toothbrush holder

  • Brian

    Or, you could donate the computer to charity, where they can refurbish it and give it to someone who couldn't get one otherwise.

  • Dan Chilton

    Yes, that would be the responsible thing to do, Brian, but we're talking about hillbillies here.

  • Matthew

    On a normal day, yes, that's what I do (fix old computers and give them to friends and family who don't have one, or have an older one). I had one woman who was either ready to marry me or cry when I gave her one for her daughter. I've never been told so many times how good of a guy I am. She told my girlfriend at the time (she was in the car when I dropped it off) to "hold onto this one."

    I'm not tooting my own horn here, just making the point that sometimes small gestures can make a huge difference to someone. I even very heavily customized the computer to restrict her daughter's account, while creating and password protecting the admin account for her mother, so she can keep the computer clean and useable for her daughter.

    Lesson: Do good where you can, but don't knock creativity for the sake of creativity.

    This is a funny article, and all we need to do is help spread a good message at the same time, so thanks Brian.

  • Daz Cox

    nice work! but that looks like a guinea pig not a squirrel...great beer saver idea!!

  • elzafir

    i like the beer-cd thing..
    a truly work of a genius..

  • cJw

    "give it to someone who couldn't get one otherwise..."

    Like, perhaps, a hillbilly? :g:

  • Jon

    I tried to donate some old computers to a charity that specializes in giving computers to schools. And they would not take anything less than a Pentium III 800Mhz. And this was back in 2004, I'm sure the minimum has been raised since then.

  • info-meltdown

    Computers are not user serviceable items. They are disposable like Bic pens.

    Buy a new one. Even hillbillies can have high speed modern machines with internet access and solar power.

    In Beverly Hills, you probably shouldn't have a computer, people will just say nasty things about you.

  • info-meltdown

    Computers are not user serviceable items. They are disposable like Bic pens.

    Buy a new one. Even hillbillies can have high speed modern machines with internet access and solar power.

    In Beverly Hills, you probably shouldn't have a computer, people will just say nasty things about you.

  • info-meltdown

    Forget Beverly Hills.

    Go for Kentucky wireless. Get a laptop for your pick 'em up.


  • Ken Trough

    Why "hillbilly how-to"? Especially as the author seems about a million years away from a hillbilly lifestyle or anything approaching it.

    If you are going to do this kind of tongue-in-cheek article for digg exposure, maybe you should invent some sort of character for the supposed author. Dan Chilton is obviously no hillbilly. 8^)

  • Maureen Carter

    How does no one get the humor here? Its supposed to be funny. A squirrel cage, a meat slicer and an anti spill devise? Its silly, pure and simple silliness. Geez get a life.

    As for not being serviceable, I can't count how many times a computer has been in pieces and brought back to working condition in my home. Not serviceable my tiny hiney.

  • c

    Well I thought it was funny, especially the sausage slicer. Most comments came from humourless *!*@#*&$%"£*$!!! Get a life guys (or gals).

  • 17 Comments / 1 Pages

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