Saying Good-bye to the Reseda Computer Fair
For all the time I have been hardware geeking (I co-built my first x86 machine in 1997) I have been visiting the monthly Computer Fair put on by National Productions at the Sherman Square Rink in Reseda, CA. If you have seen the movie "Boogie Nights" or heard the song "Free Falling" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, you know the town I speak of. I think that the Sherman Square Rink even appeared in "Boogie Nights" if my memory serves me right.
Anyway, the rink's gonna be torn down, and National Productions is more interested in less financially challenged suburbs of Los Angeles like Burbank and Santa Monica for future Computer Fair venues. National's rival, Megashows, recently moved its computer show to Reseda High's gym from its former digs at Cal State Northridge's Student Union, so there really isn't much of a net loss. But still, the fact that bulldozers have moved in where once skaters, pickup roller hockey games, and hoards of geeks found a home made the final day at the Sherman Square Rink a bittersweet one.
Computer fairs/shows/swaps are great. Otherwise obscure screwdriver shops and traders in used desktops and laptops get together and sell their stuff. You can usually find some really amazing bargains there, but you have to be careful. The old counsel "caveat emptor" applies, as always.
I suggest you don't buy items like OEM CPU chips and plain, unboxed RAM at a computer show - you really have no idea what you're going to get. Hard drives are also dicey, but if you can find factory wrapped hard drives, you have a fair shake at getting a good one. Also be careful of complete systems unless you get a nice warranty and the vendor is fairly local to you. Then again, I rolled the dice on one sight-unseen and lucked out.
My haul at the last Sherman Square show was unremarkable. a couple of Teac floppy drives here, a couple more mobile hard drive racks there. But going there for the last time was way more important than picking up a few spare parts. I had a couple of birthday parties at that place. I bought the parts for my first hand-built computer there. I've spent a lot of time and money under that roof. When I was waiting in line, someone told me the bulldozers were coming the next day to start the demolition. Oh well.
I suggest you contact your local Linux User Group to find out where your local computer fairs/swaps/shows are.