Homeless in Vancouver: Someone threw out a hole laptop today

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      The dangers of personal identity theft have been drilled into people’s heads—some more so than others, it seems.

      The person who threw away the Gateway laptop I saw in a Fairview Dumpster yesterday obviously took the warnings to heart because they made sure no one would ever use their old klunker laptop ever again.

      Actually, I think they were not only trying to make sure no one could use their old workhorse for nefarious ends but for any ends.

      No way this person’s garbage was becoming any scavenger’s new free laptop.

      Fair enough. The laptop was theirs, they could do what they wanted to it right to the bitter end.

      But gosh, I sure wanted a Gateway laptop. They leave Lenovo ThinkPads in the dust, right?

      How to overkill a laptop

      HAL, open the pod… Oh, that’s not HAL 9000.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      First they tore the screen clean off, then they took a power drill—a power drill!—and bored three fat holes through the RAM compartment, the hard disk, and the battery.

      This was overkill if the purpose was just to protect their privacy.

      They could’ve simply used a screwdriver to open the hard disk compartment and then removed the drive—I’ve seen that done more than a few times.

      That would’ve removed any fears of the laptop containing even a trace of data, but the hardware itself would still have been useable.

      Even if our resident took out the RAM, the hard disk, and the battery, a clever Brunhilda would need only pop in RAM and have the appropriate AC adapter and she could use a live image operating system on a CD or USB stick to boot the computer, test the hardware, or just use the laptop. If the laptop’s Wi-Fi worked, she could download files to a second flash drive.

      Funny how the computer industry will sell its wares to people on the one hand and on the other create the tools so that smart people without money can use the same wares for free. Almost as though the computer industry places nearly as much value in intelligence as it does money.


      And funny how much it gets under the skin of some people when they imagine a Dumpster diver making something useful of the garbage they throw away.

      Takes effort but sometimes people throw out real garbage

      Maybe the person throwing away this laptop was concerned about giving some Dumpster diver a freebie or maybe they were just unsure what goes on under the hood of a computer and wanted to make triple-sure their data was unrecoverable.

      For whatever reason, real effort was made to turn the Gateway laptop into a piece of truly unusable garbage.

      I will say that if your piece of mind demands you bork your laptop before you throw it out, then by all means do it. And you could do worse than follow this example.

      If you don’t have a power drill, I’m sure you could make do with a hammer and a nice four-inch 20 penny nail.

      Ha. Joke's on them. I could still boot this laptop if I was wearing my steel-toed boots.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer.


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      Jul 29, 2014 at 9:27am

      dumped the computer was also too damn lazy to take it to a recycler for proper disposal. These things contain metals that are harmful to organic life.

      Stanley Q Woodvine

      Aug 27, 2014 at 7:21pm


      Good point.

      If there was even a nominal recoverable deposit on laptops, this one and dozens of others I've left in dumpsters would have gone with me to an Encorp Depot.

      As it is, I've been paid by residents to take in TVs and VCRs and DVDs and I've freely taken in discarded cans of paint when the mood hits me.

      Electronics I find and keep for myself, go to recycling if I later decide I don't want them.

      No binner would haul in any of the big old CRT TVs they find -- for free.

      Scrap collectors will cut off the cords and gut the chassis particularly for the degausing and focusing copper. usually shattering the leaded CRT in the process.