Dec 2, 2016

Rebooting Costa Rica PC Rescue

Our kitchen-table charity, CRPCR, has been at an ebb, but not dormant, the last year or so. Some funds were collected via PC repair jobs, which contributed to refurbishing a handful of PCs, all of which have been donated to local families during that time. It's been a year where my time had to be spent on pressing family, farm and writing activities including a new book about how to earn money copywriting, which is in paperback and Kindle format.

A few weeks ago I received several boxes of computer parts and accessories including two desktop machines and a very old laptop via a third-party. Unfortunately, after a quick triage I found that all three computers were not repairable although I managed to scavenge some minor parts. The laptop had already been stripped of memory and a hard drive. It doesn't happen often that people use CRPCR as an alternative dump site, fortunately. These kinds of "donations" we don't need.

Anyway, that unpleasant episode turned out to have some real goodness to it. As the other activities that had kept CRPCR on the back burner were waning, processing those parts got me back in the shop and imbued me with inspiration. I was soon elbows-deep in the disorganized stacks of parts and untested machines that were threatening to consume all space in the shop.

old computer motherboard on the test bench
The last motherboard test - Celeron CPU/256 MB, circa 2000
Three weeks later of daily work, I'm polishing off the last system, which is a 500MHz Celeron board that maxes out at 256MB!

Imagine, that machine when new fetched well over $500! I thought I would have finished with it in half a day, but it has been challenging finding a Linux version that will even install with that little bit of memory.

During this time, I've also tested and organized all our spare parts into their own containers, which will make subsequent system builds a whole lot more efficient. I was also able to replace 3 broken computers of the 6 systems I'd orginally donated to the local elementary school back in March of 2015.

Apr 27, 2015

The Final Plea to Finish the CRPCR Monitor Drive

Before I retired, I donated to various non-profits frequently. I always had some mixed feelings about those donations, regardless of the cause:
  • I knew my address was being sold to other organizations as an easy touch
  • I knew half or more of my donation was funding their next marketing campaign
  • I was a little put off by them asking for a minimum donation of 100 bucks!
Well, here's one fundraiser in which you should have none of the above concerns. Our Monitor Fundraiser - So Far $422 of $500 has been raised

We have had this fundraiser running several months to raise money for computer monitors, which are rarely donated and are difficult to purchase here. If we complete it right now, we have a great opportunity to make bulk purchase of 12 monitors shipped to Costa Rica.

T-Rex bursting through a monitor screen
I hope this has never happened to you!

Prices here for used flat screen monitors are equivalent to the new cost in the States. 99% of them are at least a two hour drive away. To mitigate this extra trouble and expense, we began requiring donees to pay 20 mil colones ($38) for every monitor or laptop. Desktop units and peripherals by themselves remain free, of course.

That is how most of the $422 out of $500 of this fund drive has been accumulated. Roughly half has been spent acquiring monitors for the next donees when possible.

So, with 28 days left of this fund drive, we are short just $78, which is why I'm appealing to you.

It's also a timely request as we have arranged with an eBay seller who deals in surplus computer gear to make a bulk deal on flatscreen monitors:
  1. 8 17" HP monitors shipped to FL for $190
  2. 12 17" HP monitors shipped to FL for $260
Our shipper of choice, Lomaser Inc. headed by Mike Rappaport will make us a cut-rate deal on shipping these to Costa Rica as he did last time with our two-pallet load of used PCs, etc.

So, the total for option 1: $243, for option 2: $327

We have enough in the fund for option 1.
Completing our fundraiser allows us to do option 2. That's the bottom line.

Can you please help us acquire option 2 with a small donation, all of which goes directly to this monitor acquisition? $1, $2, $5, it all helps us reach the goal and get more PCs into the hands of the poorest Costa Rica families who have never been able to afford a PC.

Thank you so much!!

Apr 17, 2015

Latest PC Donation Went to Escuela Verde on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast

Many thanks to Ed and Pam Alkaslassy from Ojochal for suggesting a donation to Escuela Verde in Costa Ballena. I'm getting down to the tough cases for PCs, so I was only able to provide them an old small-form-factor Dell upon which I could not get any flavor of Linux to play nice, so had to resort to Windows XP (blechh).

Donated PC with office manager and students
Escuela Verde Office Manager and Students
At least it comes with a nice monitor, keyboard and mouse! I'll be on the lookout for a nicer machine for their next donated PC.

By the way, Escuela Verde is an interesting school here in Costa Rica. From their website:

Escuela Verde aims to prepare children to be resourceful and independent while inspiring them to give back to their community and the natural environment. The school, created by parents, teachers and children working together, recognizes that the people in a community must be supported to realize their own potential for growth.

Apr 12, 2015

CRPCR Is Now Performing Computer Repairs for Funding

Now that the crush of PC repairs/restorations is waning after processing most of the 40-odd computers donated last year, I'm reversing my position on receiving PCs for paid repair. We will now diagnose and repair computers for individuals at a $15/hour rate.

Repairing a desktop computer

That rate includes actual work, not gazing at a screen while a big download/install takes place <grin>. We will bill on a quarter-hour rate. I'll reduce your cost if you make an in-kind donation of parts, systems, monitors or advertising. If we cannot fix your PC nor provide a good diagnostic, there will be no charge. Do keep in mind that if parts are needed that we do not have on hand, you will either have to procure them locally and probably pay a higher price, or wait at least a couple of weeks for them to arrive from elsewhere.

All money made from our repair work goes directly to the charity to buy more PCs, parts, monitors, tools, etc.

Mar 16, 2015

We Donated Six PCs to the Local Elementary School

We have not had a lot of luck finding used monitors locally to go with the several PC desktop machines we have ready for donation. So, we thought to talk with the local elementary school in our village to see if they would want PCs without monitors.

students at matasanos, costa rica elementary school playing marbles
Do you remember playing marbles as a kid?

We spoke with the director and one teacher about this and they were thrilled to accept them. They said they could work with the community to complete the machines with flat screen monitors. This is a big deal for them as this school has never had computers on-site for the students.

delivering six donated desktop machines to matasanos school
Delivery day of six PCs to Matasanos Elementary

Now, they have two for each of the three classrooms. Two of the machines are Windows 7 and the other four a version of Lubuntu. We also donated a web cam and USB hub. If they get an Internet connection, we'll be happy to supply them with network routers so that all the machines are interconnected.

Matasano elementary school teacher helping unload PCs
One of the teachers helping unload
Thus, the shelves at CRPCR are getting a bit thin now. There are no more repairable laptops, only a few desktop machines working and maybe 6 or 8 machines that are in pieces. Not sure how many of those will be salvageable yet.

Please share this story on your favorite social media or with a local paper. Thank you!!

Feb 24, 2015

Pedregosito Kids Get a Laptop for School Work

Thanks very much to one of our expat neighbors, Shannon, who lives in a nearby puebla, Pedregosito for finding this wonderful family near her whose kids were in need of a computer. She paid the donation fee of 20 mil colones for them as well.

pedregosito family receives laptop from costa rica pc rescue
A local family with high school kids gets a laptop from CRPCR (older boy not pictured)
The daughter and the oldest brother (not pictured) will probably be the primary users as they are both attending colegio (jr/sr high school) where a personal computer for homework is essential. I'm very grateful to Shannon for finding this family.

Any donations of parts or money you can make to help us continue to provide the most deserving local Tico families who need their first PC are greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

Jan 31, 2015

This Was Girl's Week for PC Donations

Four computers went out to local recipients this week, three of which are shown below. The common denominator were that each family had one or more school age girls who can take advantage of these PCs to do schoolwork and develop skills required in today's world.

Family in San Rafael Norte

Cousins of the kids above

Kassandra lives in our village of Matasanos

Kassandra received the penultimate laptop, just one left to donate now. In fact, we're at a standstill repairing more PCs until parts arrive and we find more monitors.