So, just a week to go until Christmas. Either you've made your pile this year as a dealer or, like a modern-day Rumpelstiltskin, you're in the throes of grinding your heel through that outdated pile of PC garbage, whose prices are dropping quicker than knickers at a staff Christmas party.
Sorry, I didn't mean that last remark. I meant quicker than Santa's bells freeze off as he steers his sleigh through sub-zero skies.
The problem, as you know, is that computer hardware, especially at chip level, is improving far faster than dealers' ability to buy the latest stock and shift it before the next technological wave sends prices crashing.
Moore's law was right - chip performance has doubled every 18 months.
What Gordon Moore, ex-Intel engineer, didn't explain was how dealers at the sharp end of the business are to keep pace without losing cash on existing stock.
In fact, if you ask the experts - the Semiconductor Industry Association - the pace of change this year was faster than even they thought, with expected product cycles cut from 36 to 24 months.
By 2003, it reckons your average Intel-like job will run at 1,500MHz and contain 18 million transistors.
Dealers that have been astute enough to organise 90-day stock rotation deals with suppliers, or have negotiated wrapping discounts in their contracts if the kit isn't bought, won't be too bothered. But many others will be badly burnt, having optimistically ordered stock that becomes obsolete even before it's unwrapped.
So what's to be done? Fear not - I have tidings of comfort and joy.
It's at this time of year that some dealers' thoughts turn naturally to bright, glowing fires - especially if it's the warehouse. But I don't suggest you go that far.
You could, more legitimately, apply for an Arts Council grant and build some nouveau Expressionist artefact, perhaps a rubbish tip of PCs covered in inflatable sex dolls. Call the exhibit something like 'Tomorrow's Typing Pool' and with a bit of luck the Tate Gallery will pay through the nose for it.
At the rate PC prices are plunging you might even be able to sell them to the construction industry as a viable alternative to breeze blocks.
And if you can get a thermal insulation rating for the PCs from British Standards, so much the better.
If all that fails, there's always China. In its desperation to get a handle on birth control, it will try any new method of contraception.
Just give husbands the task of installing Windows 95 from floppies before bedtime, and come dawn they'll still be at it - sex will be the last thing on their minds.
With luck, you'll shift not only all those old pre-MMX Pentiums, but you'll win a medal of honour from the Beijing government.
Dave Evans is Features Editor of Computing.
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