Once upon a time I was a NeXT developer. For quite a few years actually. It was one of the more educating periods of my career (NeXT developers, as a group, are some of the more disciplined programmers you’ll run across.) But that’s beside the point.
Long after I stopped working on NeXTs, I kept an old hard drive from a NeXT cube that had all my work from that era on it. I eventually burned the contents to CD, but it occured to me that it would be nice to have a memento of some sort. And being inclined to tear stuff apart, I did just that. ‘Turns out that a) hard drives have all sorts of cool stuff in them, like super-strong magnets and b) a lot of the bits are really pretty and shiny; most notable among these are the data platters themselves – in this case, nice 5″ diameter glass platters coated with some mysterious reflective compound with a slightly brown tint to it.
A little judicious woodworking (using a scrap piece of cherry wood found on the sidewalk by 17th & Capp in SF’s Mission district of all places!) and I had a lovely holder for these platters. And, voila, instant drink coasters!
The only downside is that I haven’t determined if the chemical coating on the platters is toxic. My best guess is that it’s a cobalt alloy of some flavor. The health effects of Cobalt appear to be mostly benign unless exposed to large quantities… but, as an alloy, there are other trace elements which may be of interest. I’ve got an email into the folks at Maxtor (the drive manufacturer). We’ll see if they’re willing to cough up the information.