The Toshiba is running Doctor Who right now. 6GB of flash drive make her entertainingly close to useful. It's  a bit nostalgic -- my first computer, the first one that was actually mine-mine, had a 6GB hard drive in it. Quite spacious for Windows 98. I overran it quickly, of course, because I was in college, and I like music. I don't think I made it out of the warranty period before I took the lil' guy completely apart to clean him out and install a CD burner.

I also had a ZIP drive for a bit. Don't judge, it was cute and purple, I was doing digital art at the time, and CD-RW wasn't very reliable. (Still isn't very reliable, in fact, but we have thumbdrives and cloud storage now, so we care less.) I also bought and installed a DVD-ROM drive so cheap that one of the ways the manufacturers cut their costs down to the bone was evidently to skip the region firmware. Annoying as hell when I replaced it with a DVD±RW burner and had to suddenly figure out how to crack the thing, because God knows I can't not watch random foreign TV, and streaming things hadn't really got viable yet.

I feel a bit stupid, having two running laptops lying around at the same time as I'm scrambling to pay rent. But  I need the completely working one for, er, work, and the other one isn't worth anything, and frankly wouldn't be even if she were entirely fixed. There really isn't a market for 5-year-old laptops, particularly ones that lack a Windows installation.

All of my everyday electronics are like that. I admit to doing it partially on purpose, because these are the things I'd go insane without, and no one can argue that I should pawn them if they're not worth anything to the pawnbroker. Mostly, though, it's because I couldn't afford to buy the expensive version that might retain value even if I wanted to. I don't need an Alienware gaming rig for what I do, I don't need a 240GB MP3 player that does everything but tongue-bathe my pet for me, and as it happened the kind of Kindle I really wanted was the older cheaper version that lacked a touchscreen. My DS is a Lite, which predates the DSi and really predates the 3DS, and looks like it's lived through every minute of the extensive use it's gotten. Even my earbuds are worthless -- Sony makes a couple of cheap kinds that I prefer, because they fit in my ears, deliver decent bass, and have open drivers so I can hear traffic as I walk around.

Plus, strangely enough, I find that many kinds of inexpensive portable electronics are oddly resilient. I try not to actually buy "Sorny" counterfeit junk, but if you can find the rock-bottom name brand stuff, it's very basic but capable of absorbing a great deal of punishment. I had a stone-stupid Memorex portable CD player once that lasted eight years, and I finally had to get rid of it by giving it away. Sandisk makes virtually unbreakable portable storage cards and drives -- their MP3 players aren't quite indestructible, but I have to put a lot of time and effort into destructing a device that costs around $30 on Amazon, which amounts to the same thing. The Toshiba laptop that's survived long enough to be worthless cost a whopping $450 new.


  1. People who complain about poor folk having possessions have usually never been poor and certainly have never been poor and tried to sell things to make ends meet. Used electronics aren't worth all that much, and even if you have jewelry to sell(either inherited or from better times) you aren't likely to get all that much either. It's also just a one time cash infusion, and it doesn't fix the structural problem of not enough income coming in. Occasionally it is useful to sell something to meet an emergency expense, but, once it's gone it's gone. Pawning or using loans can be long term expensive, and are generally to be avoided; it's hard to dig out of a debt hole once you are in.


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