Posts Tagged 'laptop'

Window Shopping

My laptop has been sitting around, naked and unprotected from the dangers of her surroundings.  Alone most of the day, completely exposed to the ravages of…well, wayward photons.  I guess.   You see, I’m trying to rationalize my desire to buy an awesome laptop case.  I do need one.  One day, I’d like to be able to leave the house with her.

I’m hoping that my need to protect my investment justifies the amount of time I spent looking for laptop cases today.  Recycled material, fair trade, sustainable fibers, and proper laptop padding are apparently all quite compatible.  I have at least four favorites.  There’s a vertical bag made from recycled mosquito netting at Peaceful Valley, in green and red.  It’s big enough for a 15.4 laptop, but it doesn’t say how the laptop pocket is padded.  But hey, if it’s not padded, maybe I could put it in this slim red leather case with fake purple fur lining from bronwenhandcrafted, at etsy.  Man, with that wrapping, I could stick her in anything and she’d be safe! Or at least fabulous.

But if it’s not a red leather and purple fur day, I could use this inexpensive, recycled plastic bag from Verdant Computing.  It comes in black, sky blue and orangish, and it looks way useful and unassuming.  Like, if useful and unassuming is your thing.  And one I keep going back to is this reclaimed plastic case that’s made from fused waste materials in India, and fairly traded.  The company that makes them, Conserve, has some really gorgeous bags, but the laptop cases come in less exciting color combinations right now.

As much as I liked them all, I don’t like any of them enough to commit right now.  And I’m hoping that, after this weekend, it won’t matter.  I have the sewing machine all set up, and some extra strong canvas and soft fleece, so I could make my own, and that’d be pretty awesome!  Or I could knit a case for it with some of my yarn stash.  Or maybe I should stop looking through etsy and getting ideas about what can be done with my extra fabric and yarn.  But I’m envisioning a canvas case with two shoulder straps and a carrying handle, a medium-sized top flap, an internal divider…

I need a case for real though, so if inspiration hasn’t made my hands swift and seams tight this weekend, I need to buckle down and pick something.  I’m leaning to the mosquito net thing right now.

Hippie Hamlet sums it up:  To buy, or DIY?

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Right, That Laptop

Let me help you up off that cliff. Where were we? I bought a laptop. I thought it would be difficult to balance my not-so-demanding computing needs and my wish to shop earth-consciously. It turned out to be pretty simple. The steps:

1) Set a target price. I didn’t want to spend more than $750, based on some tooling around a couple of online retailers and my personal financial goals.

2) Asked the Gentleman Friend for recommendations on brands, and tech websites. He’s quite into this sort of thing, so it was tough reminding him that I need a lot less machine than he does. A lot like trying to buy bike gear from an Intense Biking Person, when really you just need a Huffy.

3) Waded into the Green-Tech rankings. I checked EPEAT first. This was a bit of a mistake, since EPEAT rates individual machines. Greenpeace rates manufacturers overall, so i should have started with them. The model I ended up with is actually not rated at the EPEAT site yet, but the manufacturer has gotten silver and a few gold ratings for all of their rated products. The EPEAT Criteria are here. Models are rated on how well the company reports materials used and avoids some hazardous chemicals, among other things. Manufacturers have to mreet 23 basic criteria to get Bronze, all the basics and 50% of the 28 optional criteia. Gold laptops need 75% of the optional criteria as well as the basics. Toshiba, Dell, HP, and Lenovo all make has Gold-rated laptops. My price limit eliminated a good deal of the gold models. Not that they’re expensive, it’s just, $750 is not very much to pay for a laptop.

I checked Greenpeace next. Apparently, they do much more than harass whaling vessels. Their rankings deal with chemicals, reporting on materials, and takeback recycling options that companies offer. Toshiba gets top rankings, along with Samsung. Dell, Lenovo, Nokia and Sony come in “second”. Greenpeace found room for everyone to improve, though, of course.

Given how many different machines EPEAT needs to review to get their rankings to be really useful, I think Greenpeace might have the better idea ranking by manufacturer’s overall practices. So I decided to decide by that. Toshiba, Dell, and Lenovo seemed to rise to the top of the rankings where I was looking. Toshiba and Dell turned out to be a bit much for my budget. Plus, I’m no tech snob, but I’m a tech snob about Dells. They’ve got Linux models now, and they are doing good work with ecoing-up the ante, but I’m a tech snob about Dells.

4) I decided. I found out the good things about Lenovo just in time. After some research at newegg, I had picked an Acer and a Lenovo. Seduced by the 17 inch screen, I almost opted for the Acer- until I saw the Greenpeace rankings. Ah-ha! Thank you Greenpeace, for quantifying my principles for me. I opted for the 15 inch Lenovo. It was no longer for sale. What? I had to look around again, but I found a less-expensive, and less fast (2GB vs 3GB RAM) Lenovo Y510 at MicroCenter, which is a less-ubiquitous kind of Best Buy, as far as I can tell. And I pick up my new little $620 friend tomorrow morning, since he was in stock.

I’m excited, but I’ve also decided to switch to Linux myself this time around. So I’m anticipating a few glitches before I get the hang of Ubuntu. I’ll keep my old computer around for a few days while the helpful GF gets me through that. Which is really just a way of saying that you’ll have to find out how I’m eco-disposing of my old rig in a couple of days! Back over the cliff, now. Hang tight.

I Bought A Laptop

I’ve been waiting for six years to say that.  I’m still using the desktop and CRT monitor that I took to first year of college.  I’ve gotten used to the hum of the CRT, the whir of the fan, and carrying that sucker up flights of stairs in the 14 times I’ve moved since then.  But she’s starting to object to opening web pages, so it’s time for a new beginning. 

So computers are even worse than the fashion industry for engineered obsolesence.  At least we know that every twenty to forty years, what we wore last year will be fashionable again for a bit.  Not so with computers, or phones, or music players- stupid Moore’s Law, making stuff all faster and more powerful.  Now, I’m no luddite.  Catch a luddite blogging!  (Then call them a hypocrite.)  I just don’t demand very much from my technology.  I’m not a power user, I don’t play computer games. All I want is a speedy computer to check email, write some things, and keep my photos on.  Fortunately, the toasters they make nowadays can do all that, so I’m golden.

I think we’re pretty inured to the idea that a computer is just funl, or just work- a complicated tool- and forget their environmental impacts.  They draw tons of power (especially as much as they’re on now, even if they are getting more efficient) and are manufactured from plastic, chemicals, toxic stuff, and all sorts of hard-to-reuse-or-recycle items.  What did you do with the last machine you got rid of?  Did you throw it out, or recycle it?  Was there a program available from the manufacturer to take it back?  As early as 2002, Wired was writing about the need to prevent computers frrm sitting in landfills, here or in China, leaking mercury and lead.

Fortunately, manufacturers and regulators have gotten on that problem, and now with the whole “green” thing, there’s even a host of ratings systems that compare how companies design, manufacture, ship, and recycle their products.  I wrote about the EPEAT ratings a while ago, and Greenpeace scores manufacturers (Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo) on cradle-to-the-grave machine management.  Verdant Computing rates products they offer on a few different sustainable criteria.  Greener Computing is an industry-oriented website with some interesting articles on ecologically sound IT, including on the burdens of recycling programs for manufacturersSoftchoice is also more for IT professionals, but it links EPEAT-certified hardware for sale.  There’s plenty of information out there if you want to find out how your computers are made, and what options you have when they’re obsolete.

Maybe that’s why it took me 8 months to research this purchase.

So chew on that, and I’m going to leave you with a cliffhanger tonight what I decided, and what I’m going to do with my old one.  Dun dun DUN!


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virescent.blog (at ) gmail.com

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