Budget Tips: Everything Old Is New Again

emacI don’t know about you, but one of the hardest things for me about navigating these tough economic times is keeping my gadget spending in check. I have a problem, or more accurately, many problems, and they are all shiny, new and electronic. It’d be nice to say that I have enough willpower to forgo these things when the budget isn’t there, but that’s not at all true. I still have to scratch that itch, so I’ve come up with some ways to do so on the cheap.

Closet Excavation

It may not be quite as satisfying as unboxing something brand-new, or buying a big ticket item at retail, but digging around in your closet for old, nearly forgotten hardware and gadgets can actually be pretty satisfying. Especially if you haven’t looked at them in many years, since you’ll often be surprised with what recent software updates or new peripherals can help you do with older devices. Read More about Budget Tips: Everything Old Is New Again

What Do You Do With “Retired” Macs?

laptop_recycle

What do you do with your old Macs when you upgrade to a new system? Many folks sell their old computer on eBay or locally, but that’s something I’ve rarely done. I mostly either keep them as “B-team” units, or hand them off to other family members.

My Mac laptops are tools of my trade, and I would feel pretty vulnerable if I didn’t have a spare — or two — on hand, with the most likely candidate for understudy usually being the machine most recently replaced as No. 1. For example, when my WallStreet PowerBook’s processor died without warning in August 2002, the 1.5-year-old Pismo PowerBook 2001 I’d acquired nine months earlier got promoted to No. 1 workhorse without my suffering even a day of computer-less downtime. Read More about What Do You Do With “Retired” Macs?

Trash Talking Green Design

In the world of tech, there’s a lot of talk about design. Mostly, we talk about user-interface design or the kind of sleek ‘n’ sexy looks that have skyrocketed Apple’s products to the top of the heap for the tech-chic crowd. But design matters when it comes to Green IT, too — and I’m not just talking about bamboo boxes and less packaging.

France’s Recupyl Grabs Cash for Recycling

French recycling company Recupyl, which uses hydrometallurgy to recycle batteries, displays and other materials, said yesterday that it raised €14.5 million ($18.4 million) in financing (hat tip Green Car Congress). Recupyl joins a long list of recycling companies taking in funding this year, but unlike those startups, Recupyl, founded in 1993, already has more than a few years of experience under its belt.
The fresh cash for Recupyl comes from new investors led by AGF Private Equity, as well as original backer Aloe Private Equity. Recupyl said INPG Enterprise, which provided seed funding for Recupyl, still holds a stake in the company, but did not disclose if INPG Enterprise participated in this latest round. INPG Entreprise is the research, development and investment arm of France’s Grenoble Institute of Technology. Recupyl was started by Grenoble Institute researcher Farouk Tedjar, who serves as CEO of the company.
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Apple’s New Manufacturing Process

Along with all the other technology that Apple announced today, there was quite a bit of time devoted to showing off the innovative manufacturing process in the new 15″ MacBook Pro. Previous versions of the MacBook Pro were made from pressed aluminum parts held together with screws and fitted with plastic gaskets to cover the seams. The new MacBook Pro enclosure is milled from a single “brick” of aluminum. This approach allows for a seamless enclosure with no visible screws and a few other innovative features.
Apple is referring to this new approach as a unibody enclosure. They employ CNC machines to carve the unibody from a solid block of metal that starts out weighing 2.5lbs and ends up as a .25lb top enclosure. The other 90% of the original piece is recovered during the manufacturing process and recycled to make new aluminum blocks. The result is a thinner and lighter enclosure that is simultaneously stronger and stiffer.
The aesthetics are affected as well. Gone are the screws along the side and the opening for the sleep light to shine through the case is actually perforated by laser so that it’s virtually invisible to the naked eye. The only breaks along the edge of the new MacBook Pro are from the various ports on the left, the superdrive slot on the right, and the IR port on the front.
The screws holding the top case and the bottom together are found along the back edge and underneath the new access door along the front. The new access door covers the battery and the hard drive. The battery is not part of the bottom case anymore and is entirely covered by the access door. Because the battery is otherwise covered by the access door, the battery indicator lights are visible through perforations in the side of the enclosure. This gives the new MacBook Pro a very clean look along the bottom as well.
Improvements to the manufacturing process go beyond the new unibody construction. Apple has also dropped a number of harmful chemicals by using LED backlighting (no Mercury) and removing BFR and PVC from the logic board, cables and connectors. The unibody enclosure also means fewer extraneous bits and pieces to hold the enclosure together that would have gone to a landfill before. The packaging has also been reduced by 37%, which means less paper products and decreased environmental impact from transportation. The significance of all these changes is a new laptop that is almost entirely recyclable and has earned the highest rating of EPEAT Gold.