5 Uses For Your Old Computer / Laptop
If you are anything like me, there always seems to be an unused computer or laptop sitting around, maybe in a closet or under the bed. Why not put it to some other use in your house?
Even in the age of Alexa and Google Home, there's still a few things that a full computer or laptop can do best.
1. Create a Family Calender
It's helpful to have a centralized calendar for your family, showing the various important dates for kids' appointments, work schedules, what's for dinner, etc. It's even better to make this electronic, so you can update it from anywhere.
Get the best of both worlds by having your spare computer in a central location (like the kitchen), set to always display a Google Calendar, Team Up calendar, etc. This add-on for Chrome (and there are others like it) will auto-refresh your page every 15 minutes, or whatever timeframe you set.
2. Use It as a Development Server
Linux servers are magically light-weight things, compared to Windows. A Windows system with only 2GB of RAM will be sluggish and horrible, but the same specs for a Linux web server can also run MySQL/MariaDB, PHP, Apache, etc. just fine. Install your favorite flavor of Linux (mine is Ubuntu) and stash your computer in a closet or laundry room, then connect to it using SSH like you would any remote server.
Excellent for development before you go and spend money on a cloud server. Just make sure your backup routine is sound, in case your old computer dies on you.
3. Security Monitor / Video Surveillance / Baby Monitor
If you have cameras in or around your home, why not create a station just for monitoring them? Even an older PC will have no trouble loading video streams for live viewing. Sure, modern security cameras and baby monitors usually have phone apps you can use, but it's always nice to see footage on a large screen.
4. Media / Emulator PC For The Living Room
If your computer has HDMI out, store it in your living room and use your television as a monitor. This way you can watch downloaded movie files (ex: mkv, mp4, avi, etc) which modern smart TVs might not be able to handle. Plus, you can grab your favorite Nintendo, Sega, etc, emulator and *legally* obtained games for retro gaming. Pretty much any computer made within the last 10 years should have no trouble playing the classics on an emulator.
5. Guest Room PC
Finally, you can always set up your PC in a guest room, and make sure your guests know that it can't do much more than check email and some light web browsing. Your guests will appreciate being able to use a full screen instead of just their phones when they come to visit.