Couple of things have happened recently that once again reminded me of just how inexpensive advanced technology is. Of course 'inexpensive' is a subjective term, but I think for what you get, computers (and parts) are incredibly affordable.
A client of mine that works out of his house tried to upgrade the memory in his system all by himself. Usually, this is not a hard thing to do, and even most beginners can do it if they take sufficient care and don't become impatient. However, it looks like he tried to jack-hammer the memory in and he cracked one of his memory slots. Ouch. Blew out his power supply as well. I have the computer up and running again on a single memory bank and a spare power supply I had laying around. When I was at his office diagnosing the problem, I told him that we would probably have to replace the motherboard, CPU, and memory. He has a Pentium III CPU, and you can't just find P3 motherboards as inexpensively as the newer ones supporting P4s and AMD chips. In fact, he could get an ECS K7S5A and Duron 950Mhz Processor for $92 before shipping. Add on an inexpensive CPU fan for $10, and $57 for 512MB of RAM and you have an almost completely new system for less than $200. I just looked at an ad for a local computer store for an 80GB hard drive for $89. Well, you're starting to get the picture. Computers have become throw-away appliances like VCRs and Stereo equipment. Cheaper to buy new than to get fixed or upgrade. Maybe James should just get a refund on his broken Dell and buy a newer, faster, and better system.
I just built myself a new computer and this makes me want to upgrade it. My youngest needs a new system as hers is becoming quite out-dated, maybe I can use these prices as an excuse.