I confess - I love dumpsters.
All sorts of good things appear in certain dumpsters. In this case, the good thing was a Dell 1.8Ghz Pentuim 4 machine. It appears to work and I'll be setting it up over the next few days as a replacement for the machine I'm typing on (a Compaq Deskpro Pentium II) which also was obtained out of a dumpster (and came with 512M of memory installed).
How can you beat free? They say there's no free lunch, but sometimes I wonder about that. The thing is, most people look at a dumpster and think garbage. Is this really a valid assumption? Not always. Dumpsters are full of stuff that someone didn't want. This doesn't necessarily mean it is useless or junk -- just that someone didn't want it or didn't have the patience, knowledge, or creativity to put it to use, keep it running, or see that it might have uses other than its nominal one when it was new.
I look at things and see them for what they currently are, but I also look at them and see what they may become or otherwise be capable of beyond nominal use. This sort of multi-perspective view is key to attaining maximum utility out of any given object. Even if something is truly busted hopeless "junk" there's another perspective that may still render it useful -- does it have any scrap value in what it is made of? Is there some scrap metal content that can might be worth salvaging? There's a lot of heat sinks in PC's these days -- that's aluminum (sometimes brass) content. Desktops all contain at least a little bit of copper wire. Dead hard disk drives usually have a aluminum housings. Plastics, while not worth anything at a scrap yard are usually recyclable, which is better than parking them in a landfill somewhere.