Crays, SB1105, Texas state law (was: Re: Hardest to Find Classic Computers ....)

From: Tothwolf <>
Date: Mon Dec 17 17:52:34 2001

On Sun, 16 Dec 2001, Doc wrote:
> On Sun, 16 Dec 2001, Tothwolf wrote:
> > UT can't legally sell any old/surplus equipment via a private sale. I've
> > talked to people about this in the past. There are laws that force all
> > agencies that get funding from the state of Texas to sell old/surplus
> > stuff via an auction only. Prior to 9/1/99, all old/surplus computer stuff
> > was sold to dealers and the public via an auction.
> True. But anything bigger than a full-tower PC is VERY likely to get
> designated, and sold as, scrap.

I guess it depends on which location/warehouse stuff is located at. UT
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center seems to auction off some of their older
non-pc stuff. UT Houston Health Science Center sends *everything* that
remotely resembles a computer to TDC. UT Medical Branch at Galveston also
seems to take no chances with SB1105 and sends nearly everything to TDC. I
haven't been to many UT Austin auctions, so I don't know what the normal
practice is there. I've never been to any of the UT San Antonio auctions,
but it sounds like they do a better job of sorting than most of the other
locations. Each location is run more or less independently from the
others, so this isn't surprising.

> > Since 9/1/99, UT sends anything that fits the definition "Data Processing
> > Equipment" to TDC. Most divisions of UT I'm familiar with include old
> > Sun/VAX/Mainframe gear in the lots they send to TDC.

> Because of the TDC regs, UT will generally do backflips to avoid
> outright retiring large IT equipment.

Likely also due to SB1105 explicitly stating TDC will not pay anything for
the equipment that is transfered to them. Prior to SB1105, state agencies
could at least get some money to cover the costs of storage and handling
of old equipment before it was auctioned.

> There is some leeway as to what is designated DCE. If the unit is
> suffciently outdated and slow (OK, by THEIR standards), it's likely to
> be sold as scrap at auction.

I've saw a few IBM rackmount systems that were sold as "scrap" at the last
M.D. Anderson auction. I wish I'd met someone from the list there, as they
had some interesting stuff that someone here would probably have liked to
acquire. I generally have to pass on the larger items (rackmount), due to
a current lack of space and no means to transport.

> They can also donate equipment to approved entities. The angle I'd work
> would be that, to donate the stuff to a museum. The "approval process"
> is a little murky.

Approved entities according to SB1105 seems to only include state
agencies. There may be another law that gets around this, but I'm not
aware of it. I have no idea what kind of procedures would be involved in
getting old equipment "donated".

> > Based on what I've heard from various warehouse personnel, they
> > generally tend to interpret 'Data Processing Equipment' to mean the
> > monitor and cpu/computer. They don't send TDC any keyboards, mice, or
> > cables. I always wondered what TDC can actually do with this many (10s
> > of 1000s+) incomplete/gutted computers?

> The absence of peripherals is mostly due to the fact that a wide range
> of state-supported agencies, including ISD's and other UT departments,
> can claim any surplus before it gets shipped to TDC. The number of
> viable computers that make it through that gauntlet is more in the range
> of a few hundred a year, and working keyboards, mice & monitors are
> premium fodder.

The locations I mentioned above always have at least 2-3 pallets of
keyboards, 1 pallet of mice, and 4 or more pallets of cables in their
auctions. Any of those lots (they group the pallets) generally go for
about $5-$35.

> > UT is required to remove all data from the machines they send TDC. Most
> > warehouses wipe the drives in the PC machines (only drives with
> > fat16/fat32 format), and remove and scrap any drives that don't fit that
> > profile. Some warehouses simply remove all drives and scrap them.
> Uh-huh. I grabbed a PowerMac for our Imaging & Photo guy once that had
> been in the UT clinic. There were psych profiles, legal petitions filed
> because students had sought counselling for home situations that
> involved harm to minors, case records, including names & addresses, you
> name it.

They don't seem to worry about internal people getting data, but before
something is sold or transferred to an outside agency, they almost always
wipe or remove the drives. I've found much worse kinds of data on machines
I've picked up from thrift stores. One particular 386 EISA box I bought
came right to life after a little maintenance, and had a company's entire
payroll and corporate information on it. Some old IBM gear I ended up with
had old data on them from some oil company. I forget which company it was,
as I didn't archive the data.

> > Scrapping always means rendering the drive completely useless. Some
> > warehouses drill holes in the drives, and some run them thru an
> > industrial chipper. Even worse, they never remove the mounting
> > brackets from the drives before scrapping them.
> I saw a lot of drives with lead solder dripped into the cable
> connectors. I saw a lot more that were simply left in the machines,
> especially the old workstations/servers. I don't think the people
> responsible could really believe that anyone might want to power up a
> unit that didn't say "Pentium".

Well, I envy you. They don't let the drives go that easily down here.

> > What I would really like to know is how TDC is supposed to reuse/resell
> > these machines with no keyboards, no mice, and no hds/mounting brackets?
> A whole lot of people, including the ones getting that crap, want to
> know the same thing. What kills me is that they would tenderly
> palletize, wrap, and ship P90s worth ~$25, and use the forklifts to
> handle the 7013 RS/6000s, the old TI mainframes, and stuff. Microsoftian
> evaluation all the way.

As I mentioned above, the keyboard/mice/cables are all being auctioned
off. Maybe that is UT's way of "getting back" at TDC?

If there is ever any interest in getting the keyboards/mice/cables at
auctions down here, I'd be willing to store/handle a fair amount of the
stuff. After walking thru the M.D. Anderson warehouses, it just made me
sick seeing 1000s of perfectly good machines piled up on pallets soon to
be scrapped and or sent off to TDC.

Received on Mon Dec 17 2001 - 17:52:34 GMT

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