Earth Hour 2011 is nearly upon us and it’s time to decide if you are going to participate. It’s pretty easy to shut off the lights and power down your electronics for a single hour. Geeks have never done anything halfway, though, and this should be no exception. There are several other ways you can show your support for this fantastic event, as well as many ways you can make some serious life changes.
At 8:30 PM on Saturday 26th March 2011, lights will switch off around the globe for Earth Hour and people will commit to actions that go beyond the hour. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has lent his voice to Earth Hour’s global ‘lights out’ action calling on citizens of the world to use the moment to make a commitment to one ongoing environmental act: “Switch off your lights and switch on to the meaning of Earth Hour. Join this global call by the people, for the planet.”
How can you take part other than turning off the lights in your home? Why not consider turning the lights off on Twitter? By signing in with your account and choosing your time zone, you’ll be ready to join what could potentially become millions of others in showing solidarity across the popular micro-blogging platform. Once signed in, the application will automatically send out a Tweet to show your support. Then, when Earth Hour hits in your time zone, your avatar will change to a darkened one automagically.
Please note: your avatar will NOT change back! You can either manually change it yourself or click here to put the old one back in its place.
How can you go beyond the hour in your own life? There’s more to it than simply shutting off lights, folks. You can find many ideas on Beyond the Hour, including:
Cutting down the use of plastics.
Rollerblading, biking or walking to work instead of driving.
Switching bulbs to more energy-efficient ones.
Recycle products whenever possible.
… and the list continues. You can even add your own pledge and suggestions to help others.
You may not think that it’s such a “big deal” to work on saving this Earth, but I’m pretty sure your kids and grandkids will thank you for it.
Over on Lockergnome, a user was wondering what is the best way to get rid of old, unwanted electronics and devices. Several people chimed in with suggestions, most of which are excellent ideas. The problem is that while getting some cash back is tempting, most e-waste recyclers aren’t compliant with healthy & safe recycling practices. There are, thankfully, several reputable – and excellent – organizations out there.
InterConnection is right here in Seattle, and donates your old computers to organizations who may not otherwise have any. Electronic Recyclers International is in the process of becoming certified. There are any number of clubs, assisted-living complexes and companies right in your hometown who could put your old machine to good use, as well.
Be smart, and make sure you properly erase all of the information off of your device before handing it over to anyone.
I was asked on the live stream the other night if I keep the boxes when I buy new electronics or gadgets. I keep them for a while, to make sure that there are no issues that would cause the item to need to be returned.
I also hang on to them if I know I might resell the item later. For instance, I kept the box and all of the inner packaging for my iPhone 3GS. When I gave that to Kat a few months ago, I was able to safely pack it away in its original box prior to shipping. If you’re going to sell something, you’ll always get a better price if you have the original packaging.
I have a storage room that I keep the boxes in, and I likely need to clean it out to recycle stuff. There’s very few boxes I will ever use again. There’s no point in holding on to all of them.
Do you keep your boxes?
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This is Brennan Jones’ submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:
Do you have an old computer lying around your home somewhere, and are you thinking about throwing it away, or sending it to the recycling depot? Before you do that, read this top five list on useful things that you can possibly transform your old computer into.
Please note that this is not necessarily a how-to article; it only suggest things that you can transform a computer into, it does not instruct the average computer user how to transform an old computer into something new. If you want specific instructions, search Google, or even try searching Lockergnome.com or Geeks.Pirillo.com for instructional articles or videos.
A jukebox. If your computer was capable of playing music when you used it as one of your main machines, what makes you think it can’t play music today? If it has no operating system, install a distribution of GNU/Linux designed to run on older machines (Xubuntu, Damn Small Linux, etc.), install music software on your machine if it does not already have music software (try out either Songbird or Amarok), upload your music library onto that machine, and let it play on loop and on shuffle. If it has a CD drive, pop in one or more of your favorite CDs, play them, or rip the tracks into your music library. If your old machine has an internet connection, play some internet radio, or even XM or Sirius radio if you are subscribed to one of those services.
A personal video recorder, or a PVR. You can take an old machine (so long as it’s capable of playing video and audio), connect a TV tuner/capture card into it, connect your television cord to the tuner card, buy a media center remote for your PC (or any other similar remote), and install the software necessary for it to act like a PVR. The software you might want is a distribution of GNU/Linux called Mythbuntu, because it contains preinstalled PVR software on it called Myth TV. If your machine has a DVD drive, you could view DVDs on it as you would on any regular DVD player. If it is connected to the internet, you could also use your machine to view internet videos from sites such as YouTube, Google Video, and Vimeo, or even to view live internet streams from sites such as Ustream.tv, all on your television. You could also use your homemade PVR to listen to music from CDs, a music library, or even internet radio.
A home server. Do you use more than one computer around your home or small business centre, and are you tired of constantly emailing files to yourself or transferring files with a USB thumb drive? Then why not turn your old machine into a home server. If you have Windows on your machine, you can install FTP server software onto your machine (try Cerberus FTP Client), and set it up for transferring files between computers. If you have GNU/Linux, or if you plan to install GNU/Linux on your machine, you can obviously do the same thing with your machine. Since GNU/Linux is among the best operating system for server use, it is recommended that you install GNU/Linux on your machine. You could set up your home server to transfer files between computers at your home, business, or you could even set it up to be accessed on any computer in the world that is connected to the internet.
Refurbish your PC to be used as a kid’s computer, or a grandparent’s computer. You could take the machine, install a distribution of GNU/Linux, or even an older version of Windows on it, and give it to your kids or your grandparents for games, office work, emailing, browsing the web, or listening to music.
Set up a globally accessible home web cam system with it. Buy one or more web cams, a USB splitter, and install some web cam software onto your machine. Connect the web cams to your machine, and place them all around your home so you can view all of the different rooms in your home at once. Use the system as a security system, or even allow your web cams to stream across the internet so you can check up on your pets or kids while you are away from home. If anyone robs your house when you are on vacation, you can record the footage, and use it as evidence.
John sent an email to me the other day, with his tips for what you can do with old computers. Don’t send them to a landfill to rot! There are many other options.
Donate it to the local school district. The school district uses old computers for parts to refurbish and maintain their current computer stock. If it’s a new enough computer, they may even use it to replace one of their older ones.
Donate it to City Hall. Again, if it’s in good enough shape, they may use it as is. Or, they may use some of the parts to maintain their emergency service department units.
Send it to an Electronic Recycling center. They will strip out all the useful chips, gold and silver and resell them. Normally, they will pay the donator of a unit a nominal fee.
Give it to your local homeless shelter, or Women’s shelter. Some shelters allow the less privileged among us a chance to use computers for job searching, and Emailing family.
Your church. They always know of some one who needs a good computer.
Keep in mind that if you donate your computer(s) to anywhere other than a recycling center, you can then write the donation off on your taxes the following year. Being generous really does pay off!