Currently I have a screaming new laptop, I get a new one about every 2-3 years because an improvement of seconds per task in speed means additional hours per week and weeks per year that would have gone lost to processing cycles.
This isn’t always the case though.
When I started College Snacks which morphed into Campus Snacks which was rebranded as DCSnacks (we had 12 years and changes in partners and markets) we had more time than money.
One way to defray the costs of being a startup was, being efficient. My roommate worked for GW University IT help desk. His office was right next to the loading dock. Often, there were stacks of computers, Dell Optiplex computers that cost lots of money being thrown out into dumpsters.
To the university these were old and useless, to us the had tons of life left in them.
After waiting a few days to make sure it was really garbage, we took about 10 of them back to our dorm room, opened them up and maxed out the ram, as much as possible, I believe they had maybe 2 or 4gb max at the time, this was 2002, and build computers as best we knew how.
We didn’t need the bleeding edge computers for a delivery service, we need something that could run Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator and print a text document. When a deliver person was logging orders to be tracked, they were entering 5 numbers for maybe 10 orders (they used a scanner) sending 50 characters over the internet doesn’t need a lot of computing power or bandwidth, so we didn’t need the newest at all.
Had we gone out and purchased computers, 3 things would have happened:
- We wouldn’t need that computing power
- It would have taken money from other places
- We would be wasting resources
Waste drives me nuts, and I see it everywhere if I can avoid it, I absolutely will and do. This is also why the office had an abundance of Frito Lay shelves, they were a gift from our route rep, as well as IKEA garage racks and used warehouse steel shelving, which is in my basement 10 years after the sale of DCSnacks.
There are free or almost free things all around. There are times and places where spending money matters, but there are also places where the extra few seconds doesn’t matter.