Pack Rat

I’ve spent the last two days going through everything in my new office to determine what needs to be kept and what can be binned.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m the first person in the school to ever do this.

Right now there is a pile of junk in the middle of the room that is about a metre high and two metres in diameter. That’s just the stuff for the regular trash. There are another three boxes of equipment in the hallway that require specialist WEEE disposal, much of which has not been functional in years, plus a ten-year-old server and its CRT monitor. The entire back bench of the office was, on Monday, filled with box upon box of hoarded installation CDs, with all the paperwork that ever came with them. There was even a box of floppy disks dating back to the 80s. Today there are 15 discs in cases, and about 90 in an empty ‘cakebox’ that used to contain blank CD-Rs. The tiny fraction of paperwork that wasn’t needless is in the filing cabinet. I’ve thrown away about three to four hundred CDs that were either duplicates, superseded, or completely unnecessary.

So, after tomorrow, when I spend what will feel like forever carting my trash mountain to the bins, the office will be tidy.

I then have to make a start on the shelves next door, and after that, the storage room.

Initial indications are that the junk back there is even older. I know there’s a server hiding back there somewhere that pre-dates the one I’ve already junked . The previous NM extracted a Sinclair ZX81 from the collection just before he left, and I recently spotted a piece of hardware in a cupboard (that I shall reveal to you at a later date) the likes of which I last saw when I was 5.

Next week will be busy.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

15 responses to “Pack Rat”

  1. tmcd35 says :

    Hee Hee,

    I’ve been in my post just over 6 months and I’m yet to brave the sorting of the filing cabinet or cd rack. Though I do know nothing here dates back more than 10 years :D

    Can I guess what piece of hardware you’ve found? Audio coupler? Microdrive (for the ZX81)? Daisywheel printer? 5-1/4″ floppy drive? A Turtle (for logo programming)?

  2. FobbedOff says :

    Two years ago while on the search for a place to store a laptop trolley I came across a large locked store cupboard that no one appeared to be responsible for. The door was locked, there was no window, no one had a key or could even remember anyone ever going in the room. When the door was forced, did we find IT treasure? Nope. Just three very old TVs on stands, a couple of OHPs and stacks of multicoloured paper. I was very disappointed and so was the crowd who had come to watch. Hey! This counts as excitement at our place.

    My guess at your hardware find… an RM 380Z with the black case with silver handles.

  3. Mr T says :

    I went through our entire ICT suite last summer. Found 3 BBC B’s and their associated Cub screens, a suitcase full of old floppies, floor turtles innumerable, etc. We needed 5 trips with the flatbed van to shift all the junk, and that was without shifting the 40 10 year old PCs that had been stuffed under the desks.

  4. andyt31 says :

    380Z – if only!

    Im guessing the turtle. I so want one of those to go with my BBC B I have at home.

  5. Ellira says :

    I wish I got to find fun retro stuff this holiday. Instead I’ll be unretro-ing XP SP1 machines, which is far less fun. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find one with no service pack!

  6. Wallace says :

    Many years ago, Ben Elton gave a great ‘lecture’ on swing-top bins. He suggested that if everyone had two bins, they would simply store up twice as much rubbish.

    However, I confess, I have numerous cupboards, all full of crap too! I just don’t have the willpower to chuck everything out.

    (Ben was explaining why adding extra lanes to motorways was a daft idea for those who don’t remember)

    PS. I hope it is a Logo Turtle. £200+ and no-one ever used them in the classroom.

    • tmcd35 says :

      Hey, I remember using one in the classroom. First programming experience at school when I was 8 was Logo with a floor turtle on the beeb.

      FORWARD 100
      RIGHT 90
      REPEAT 4


  7. Giles says :

    If anyone wants to throw away a BBC B – please don’t! I really want one again! :)

    Plus, if there are two, I can use one for the Science/Electronics club that’s forming!

  8. MS says :

    My first two days of the ‘last school job’ were spent scouring the place for any hardware that was of relative retro use to sell on ebay to raise the funds for the WEEE disposal of the rest of the crap. Roomfulls of stuff that nobody had thought to get rid of. Taking up hideous amounts of potentially useful space. Space that was supposedly at a huge premium, at least that was what I was told when I wanted more of it for my office.

    (Actually I lie. I didn’t use ebay funds for WEEE disposal. More like beer disposal. I’ll refrain from making a pun about how this might also equate to WEEE disposal.)

  9. WG says :

    That ZX81 may well have my fingerprints on it. I remember great excitement when a member of teaching staff-still there-set up a computer club at lunchtime. Resources were few, but the ZX81 was joined by one of those printers that used rolls of silver toilet paper and, of course, a standard domestic cassette player. I would guess that this was in 1982 or 1983. Happy days!

  10. Karl says :

    Ohh..tell me about it. We’re shutting this building down, and the amount of shite that we’ve found is quite scary…

  11. andyt31 says :

    For all you BBC B fans, check this out…

    I will be there helping with the “The Centre For Computing History” and on the BBC micro gaming table.

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