Archive for June, 2007

Zonbu – Green Computing Alternative

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Zonbu A great new affordable and green computer planned for September 2007 from Zonbu.com

As more people embrace a green lifestyle, they will also embrance computer makers that put their environmental responsibility in the forefront. Great Green Gadgets has been fortunate to be invited to review a Zonbu beta version of a new addition to this green computing movement.

In case you haven’t heard of the Zonbu before it’s an ultra low-power mini computer. The Zonbu leaves a small footprint on your desk, about the size of a paperback. It has no moving parts, no fan so it is completely quiet, nice when you are using it to play your music files or videos. It uses a 1.2GHz intel-compatible low-power processor chip, has 512 MB of RAM and a 4GB flash drive that holds the Linux Operating System (Gentoo Linux) Currently, you will need your own keyboard, mouse, monitor and a cable to connect with the router for your internet connection. (has Ethernet built-in) It has 6 USB ports and
should work with most USB devices but I have read that there may be problems getting scanners and webcams to work. Here is a link to a Gizmodo article that looks at the device hardware more in depth.

I was struck by the simplicity of it all. I just put in my user name and password and I was good to go. Except it took me a week to find a cable to connect it with a router, but I can’t put that on Zonbu! Finding and using the software was very straight forward, setup for email was easy, all very similar to a Windows XP box. Less computer savvy users might need a little more help getting around – especially if that is Zonbu’s target audience. A simple video tutorial might be useful for each of the major applications and overview of the OS.

Try WiFry Anyone?

Monday, June 18th, 2007

WiFry 2
Enhance your USB WiFi with cheap Chinese cookware

Tired of excessive consumerism? Some people are sick of buying expensive computer hardware when more simple solutions can suffice? Here is a link from a New Zealand site that shows some ingenious ways people have found to make and dramatically enhance a Poor Man’s WiFi. Here is a link that clearly explains what you need to do to make one of these (shown above) I have a pretty fast connection already and I don’t work from a coffee shop so I haven’t tried this myself but I like the funky angle of this and I am happy people are finding ways to make computing more affordable and accessible. Just make sure you aren’t using any trans fats!

Save Your Computer’s Energy with the CO2 Saver

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

CO2 saver
CO2 Saver a free power saving utility

Depending on how many computers you use, how much you use them, and what ways you use them; your annual computer power usage could be causing thousands of pounds of CO2 to be pumped into the atmosphere. A great article in today’s New York Times, Putting Energy Hogs in the Home on a Strict Low-Power Diet, By LARRY MAGID discusses ways to reduce energy usage in the home and talks about computer power use in depth.

Eventually, many computers should become far more energy efficient but right now many of us can dramatically reduce our energy consumption with just a few simple measures.

The easiest way to save power is to simply turn off your computer when you aren’t using it. But if you need your computer to quickly be available – and you don’t want to wait for slow boot up times then configure your machine to go into a low-power sleep or suspend mode. You will need to tell Windows XP in the power options in the Control Panel to set the amount of time before Windows will turn off the monitor and hard disks or put the system into standby or hibernate mode. If you are using a Mac then just go into the system preferences and choose power options – the rest should be self-explanatory.

If you’d rather a sexier way of configuring your computer’s power usage then check out the new CO2 Saver for Windows XP and Windows Vista. It is a small program that will adjust your power savings for you, it stays on your desktop and tells you how much power and CO2 you have saved by using this program. It seems to be a free program put out by the search engine Snap.com,in part, as a way to promote it’s presence as a search engine.

If you want to read more on this topic, a previous post here, Turn it off! (when you’re done) also discusses this topic in more detail.

MacBook Pro goes LED

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Macbook Pro 15"
Apple’s new MacBook Pro 15″ laptops replace LCD with new mercury-free LED backlit monitor.

Apple begins their transition to using LED (Light-emitting diode) instead of LCD screens. Today most LCD screens are lit with a type of fluorescent bulb (called cold cathode fluorescent backlights) that contains mercury. LED bulbs don’t contain mercury, and also provide a more even light. The LED backlit screens are also more energy efficient and is reported to increase the battery-life by an extra 30-60 minutes over older models. IPods currently use this technology and Apple has revealed their plan to have these LED monitors replace all their LCD monitors eventually. However, at the present time larger screens are more expensive and problematic to manufacture so we may have to wait awhile, currently only the newest 15″ MacBook Pro model has the LED offering, the 17″ model still has the conventional LCD screen.

There has been increased concern recently over mercury in landfills from LCD screens and the many other mercury containing products such as fluorescent lights, batteries, electrical switches, barometers, thermometers, some toys with lights and older latex paints. The mercury in our landfills have the potential to evaporate into the air or leach into the groundwater. After mercury is buried in the landfill, it can be converted by the landfill bacteria into a more toxic form, called organic or methylated mercury. This mercury can be a potent neurotoxin that can affect the brain, liver and kidneys, and cause developmental disorders in children. Young children and developing fetuses are especially at risk.

Flashlight with No Batteries

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

Forever Flashlight
Forever Flashlights $24.99 at ThinkGeek.com

If you can handle shaking this flashlight for about 30 seconds then you can get up to 5 minutes of light. As you shake the flashlight, a magnet runs over a metal coil which then generates electricity. If you need to use it for longer it can be shaken for 10-15 seconds every 2 or 3 minutes. For optimal usage, try persuading someone else to do the shaking for you!

This waterproof flashlight uses no batteries or bulbs. It does use a bright LED visible up to a mile and lasts for thousands of hours. In fact, their website states it doesn’t burn-out like a typical light bulb – it should never need replacement.

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