This is a Guest Post by Jeff Saporito from our partner blog site TestFreaks.com.
Few things on this earth become as cluttered, dirty and full of mysteries as the desks where we work all day. From shriveled lettuce fragments from a 2005 sandwich still stuck between the keys, to a curious 5” floppy disk full of unknown data that has been rolled over by the chair wheels a dozen times, there are all sorts of things buried within and around our workspaces. This is particularly true for most who work from home – as the desk constantly serves not only as a place for getting work done, but often as a table, shelf, pantry, and sometimes, a bed.
Every now and then, people bother to actually clean out their desks and get rid of all the miscellaneous bits of computer parts and office supplies for which they have absolutely no use. Massive trash bags, big enough for Dexter Morgan to fill with a dismembered 32 year-old man, get filled to the brim with random work-related bits of forgotten importance. But why junk all that stuff? There are a bunch of things you can do with all those pieces-parts – and this article aims to provide you with a few ideas. And no, I wouldn’t suggest re-shingling your roof with plastic jewel cases and gelatinous bottles of White Out. Come on, you at least have a little bit of class.
CDs may be the most common throw-away item. Everyone has a spindle worth of discs they forgot to label, discs that burned improperly, or a drawer full of leftover AOL free trials they got in the mail once a week from 1997-2001. Here are some technical, geeky, crafty, practical and stupid things to do with old CDs or DVDs:
- Detach large Christmas lights (the old school fat ones like your grandpa still uses) from their string, put on the CD, and then reattach the light. It makes a neat glowing/reflecting effect.
- Trace a guitar pick onto a CD and cut it out. Brand new guitar pick.
- String a few together and hang it outside for a quality hillbilly prism ornament.
- Stick them on fence posts to scare away birds from your garden – they hate the reflection.
- There’s always the good old coaster and Frisbee options.
- If they have printed labels on one side, cut them up and make a mosaic.
- Smash your mosaic, and glue the pieces to a Styrofoam ball. Disco away.
- Practice your ninja skills by throwing them like a shuriken at friends and family members.
- They make pretty cool candle coasters.
- Install a clock mechanism in the center hole, Sharpie on some numbers and you’ve got a sweet nerd clock.
- Use your nerd clock to gauge when your frozen pizza is done baking, and then cut the pie with a disc edge.
Floppy & Zip Disks
No doubt you’ve got a few floppies still lying around, too. If you don’t, I have plenty, and you can have them. You could back up your hard drive or something, 1.4MB at a time, if you wanted to. The Zip disk could still be mildly useful, if only any computer on earth actually had a Zip drive…
- Tile the floor in a small room with them, you nerd.
- Go to this site and learn how to make a bag/purse/man sack out of floppies (http://www.instructables.com/id/Floppy-Disk-Bag/) – Just don’t give it to your mom for mother’s day.
- Pop out the little metal circle part from the middle of a bunch of disks, string some cord through it (or some SATA cable if you want to be super geeky) and make a belt. Or a necklace. Or a noose.
- Zip disks make great props for under the leg of that wobbly chair or table.
- Fashion a bunch of them together to make a square box – you can put pencils in it! Hey, it’ll help with the clutter. We’re cleaning here, after all.
- Same concept as above – but make a photo cube.
- Use them to scratch food out of a casserole dish. It works. I swear.
- If you have a 5” floppy, use it as a mount for some sort of art project.
- Make a bracelet out of the insides of a 5” disk. Then, down a bottle of Hello Kitty pills and head to a rave in the most dilapidated building you can find.
Aside from taking old laptops to sit on and keep the chilly bleacher metal off your bum at your son’s tee ball game, there are a handful of things you can do with them that are less ridiculous.
- Make a DIY digital photo frame. Start by taking the LCD off of the rest of the laptop (which usually only requires removing one ribbon cable). Remove the plastic around the LCD, assemble a mounting board and mat around it, then glue it on. Reattach the cable to the rest of the laptop. Attach something to make a stand. If you have a screensaver program that links to Flickr or some other photo source, it’s all that much easier because you never really have to touch the thing. It’s boss.
- Screw with it. Replace the case with a wooden one. Do something silly.
- If it’s not a total pile, turn it into a file server. It costs less to power all day than a desktop.
- Turn it into a hotspot and boost your router signal. The method depends on your OS, so look it up yourself.
- Put some wheels on it and use it as a skateboard. Wear pads, you’ll get hurt.
- Create a DIY hobo digital projector. Get the screen, a cooling fan, and an old style overhead projector. Check the bottom corner of the supply closet for one of those, behind the mop and Janet from accounting’s underwear. Strip down the LCD until you’re left with just the screen itself (just the black sheet and its attached VGA/DVI components). Lay it on the glass top of the overhead projector. Attach it however you need to along with the cooling fan. Connect the inputs to a video source, and you’ll have a big, digital-ish projection.
- Use it as a second monitor.
- Put it on your stove top and use it as a skillet to fry an egg. Only if it has a metal shell, though. I mean, you can melt it everywhere if you want…
Okay fine, there is only one suggestion for printers…
- Hollow it out and plant flowers in it. They become excellent planters, especially the all-in-ones.
- Make a little fence for your plants in your printer planter box. Or in an actual planter box.
- Glue a bunch together side-by-side and make a placemat or trivet.
- Apparently moths hate pencil shavings. Grind them all up and put them in your closet. They will work like moth balls – but with a different, less offensive, but still unappealing odor.
- Support a small plant.
- The graphite in a pencil is a dry lubricant, so if you have a small motor, lock, latch, or other mechanical object that is stuck, rub the graphite all over it to loosen it up.
- Clean out the junk in your keyboard cracks with the sticky end of a Post-It.
- Use Post-Its as cable wraps for all the cords under the desk.
- Be one of those creepy old people in a dark room full of decaying Asian home furnishings and antique radios that hordes every piece of garbage they’ve ever possessed.
- Repeatedly stick and remove any form of tape to a laptop keyboard that has hand soil marks. It will slowly lift them without you scratching away at your hardware. (That’s what she said!)
- Insulate something with mouse pads.
- You can tie up just about anything with a computer cable.
- Got a bunch of old computer pieces? Here are some examples of insanely cool computer art: http://royal.pingdom.com/2008/04/18/geeky-computer-part-art/
- Use paper clips as Christmas ornament hooks, or as a zipper pull. Then go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Pop your collar while you’re at it.
- Large pencil erasers are great door stops.
- An old mouse or crappy computer speaker makes a good key hider.
- An old iPod makes a swell cigarette case.
- The circuit sheet from a keyboard can make a very snazzy wallet.
- You can melt old crayons and make nice art that will look much like oil painting. Touch to flame, dab on paper. Touch to flame, dab on paper. Touch to flame, dab on paper. Touch to flame, dab on paper. Touch to flame…
Clearly you can find a use for anything if you try to. It’s certainly easier to throw everything away, but when you can have mildly tacky things all over the place that you created with would-be trash, people just may think you are the most clever Jenny on the block. You may even be able to fashion yourself something useful, which is the true spirit of DIY. Though most of the ideas on this list were small, they are all feasible. Try some out, put your innovative mind to work and see if you can’t transform some of that desk clutter into a more creative form of clutter.