Monthly Archives: April 2008


As we become more dependent on electronic products thus making life more convenient, the stockpile of used, obsolete products continues to grow. Although used electronics represent less than two percent of the municipal solid waste stream, as we continue to replace old or outdated electronic equipment at our current rate, that percentage will continue to grow.

Computer monitors and older TV picture tubes contain an average of four pounds of lead and require special handling at the end of their lives. In addition to lead, electronics can contain chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, zinc, and brominated flame retardants. When electronics are not disposed of or recycled properly, these toxic materials can present problems. Extending the life of your electronics or donating your most up-to-date and working electronics can save you money and saves valuable resources. Safely recycling outdated electronics can promote the safe management of hazardous components and supports the recovery and reuse of valuable materials. This site offers

1: Basic Information about reducing electronics waste
2: Frequent Questions and answers about electronic waste
3: Regulations/Standards for handling electronic equipment
4: Publications that offer valuable information about electronic waste
5: Related Links that include resources for recycling and donation programs

Do the PC Thing: Donate
Pass It On!
A working computer is a terrible thing to waste. Donating computers to those who need them is a win-win situation for business and the community. Reusing computers benefits communities, helps us use valuable materials wisely, and keeps working PCs out of the trash.

Do the PC Thing for Businesses:

Do the PC Thing for Consumers:

Finding a Local Program
Our own MASS DEP agency has a full list of companies offering recycling resources.

Earth 911
Earth 911 is a comprehensive communication medium for the environment. Earth 911 has taken environmental hotlines, web sites and other information sources nationwide, and consolidated them into one network. Once you contact the Earth 911 network, you will find community-specific information on eCycling and much more.

My Green Electronics
Provided by the Consumer Electronics Association, this site is a resource for consumers wishing to purchase green products and/or searching for local opportunities to recycle or donate used electronics.

Electronic Industries Alliance’s Consumer Education Initiative
The Electronic Industries Alliance’s eCycling Central Web site helps you find reuse, recycling and donation programs for electronics products in your state.

TechSoup has compiled a comprehensive body of information to promote computer recycling and reuse. This site provides resources for those who would like to donate hardware, those who would like to acquire recycled hardware, and refurbishers.


April Showers Bring… Thunder Storms

Get Ready, Electrical Surges are on the Way!

As we move steadily towards spring and summer’s increased threat of violent thunderstorms, it’s time to talk about protecting your computer equipment from the damage caused by power fluctuations. This primer will help you choose the correct uninterruptible power supply (UPS) device for your system.

There are a number of potential electrical problems to be aware of and protecting your computer equipment against surges, brownouts, over voltages, and blackouts should be your goal.

Power Surges
Power surges are an increase in the voltage that powers electrical equipment. Surges often go unnoticed; often they are quick (1/20th of a second) and absorbed by the power supply of a device. Stronger surges will go through a power supply, damaging any circuits as it moves along the grounding line.

Surges come from utility power systems that have become unstable or unreliable. Power grids often generate surges as they switch between sources to generate power. Local surges can occur when power is suddenly added or taken away from a local area. Good examples are if someone starts up an electrical motor or a fuse blows. In the case of a fuse blowing, for a moment there will be more power available to the rest of a house. This sudden excess power can cause a surge.

Lightning can send a spectacular power surge along any conductive line. This is more than just a standard surge — no surge suppressor in the world will survive a direct lightning strike. By choosing the right power protection, your surge suppressor will take the hit, ending up melted, but your equipment will stay protected. Don’t forget that telephone lines are also highly conductive.

Brownouts are periods of low voltage in utility lines that can cause lights to dim and equipment to fail. Also known as voltage sags, this is the most common power problem, accounting for up to 87% of all power disturbances. Brownouts can also be caused by damaged electrical lines, or equipment that draws massive amounts of power (hair dryers, air conditioners, laser printers).

When line voltages are lowered, electrical equipment pulls more current to compensate and generates more heat in the process. Over time, this can contribute to equipment failure.

Brownouts are often caused when utility companies must reduce their voltage output to deal with high power. Demand for power exceeds the supply of power. Brownouts are also referred to as undervoltages; there is power, just not enough to meet the demand of equipment using it. Brownouts place undue strain on power supplies and other internal components, forcing them to work harder in order to function. Extended brownouts can destroy electrical components and cause data glitches and hardware failure.

Overvoltages (spikes)
Undervoltages are often followed by “spikes,” which are also damaging to computer components and data. Voltage variation can be the most damaging power problem to threaten your equipment. All electronic devices expect to receive a steady voltage (120 VAC in North America and 220/240 volts in many other parts of the world) in order to operate correctly. Overvoltages burn out power supplies and other components and can cause massive damage to electronic hardware. Extended overvoltages can even cause fires as electronics “fry” in the extra electricity.

Power failures, also known as blackouts, are the easiest power problem to diagnose. Any temporary, or not so temporary, interruption in the flow of electricity will result in a power failure which can cause hardware damage and data loss.

Blackouts can be caused by many things — weather, overburdened power grids, or the severing of a power line. Power failures are more than simply inconvenient and annoying. Because most computers use a volatile storage method (writing to memory prior to saving on to a hard-drive), information is lost when power is removed. Data can become corrupted, and some devices can be damaged by the sudden loss of power. Just as overpower occurs with brownouts, when the power comes back, spikes can occur that may cause even more damage.

Line Noise
The term “line noise” refers to random fluctuations — electrical impulses that are carried along with standard AC current. Turning on the fluorescent lights overhead, a refrigerator, laser printers, working near a radio station, using a power generator, or simply working during a lightning storm can all introduce line noise into computer systems.

Line noise interference can result in many different symptoms depending on the particular situation. Noise can introduce glitches and errors into programs and files. Hard drive components can be damaged. Televisions and computer monitors can display interference as “static” or “snow,” and audio systems experience increased distortion levels. Noise suppression is stated as Decibel level (Db) at a specific frequency (KHz or MHz). The higher the Db, the greater the protection.

UPS Sizing
To correctly size the proper UPS for your needs, all you have to do is add up the total power draw of the equipment and select a unit from the UPS technical specification page that can support that load for the amount of time desired.

First, which pieces of equipment need UPS support. Typically, only the CPU and monitor are supported to cut down on power draw to the UPS, but you may wish to include peripheral systems like modems or inkjet printers. Laser printers should never be plugged into a UPS.

List the nameplate wattage ratings for all supported equipment. Manufacturers vary in how they express draw so you may have to convert numbers to determine VA load.

If the power draw is expressed in AMPS multiply by your nominal line voltage (North America = 120, Europe = 230, etc.)

If the power draw is expressed in WATTS , multiply by 1.4 for VA load


Computer #1 –

230 watt power supply (x 1.4) = 322 VA load

Monitor #1 – 0.7 amp (x 120) = 84 VA load

Computer #2 –

2 amp power supply (x 120) = 240 VA load

Total: 746 VA


Once you have calculated the total VA draw of the equipment, look for a UPS that is rated equal to or higher than the number generated. Do not overload UPS systems! UPS systems that attempt to support excessive loads will pop their circuit breakers and provide no runtime at all.

UPS Runtime
To determine runtime, calculate the total VA required by your equipment and compare against the full- and half-load run times listed for the UPS. Fully loaded, you can expect any UPS to give between 5 and 10 minutes runtime.

The VA rating of a UPS is considered full load. Half load is simply a VA load that is half of that figure. Smaller UPS loads lead to ever longer runtimes. And since most equipment doesn’t pull its full VA load all the time, your run times may be significantly longer.

One or Several UPS’s?
There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach. You should first determine the proximity of the equipment to the UPS. Running extension cords to power remote equipment will affect warranty and may be against local electrical codes.

Some people feel there is a pricing advantage in purchasing a single, large UPS, but this is becoming less and less the case. Price competition in the 400 – 675 VA range has driven prices down to the point that multiple UPS systems are now within everyone’s price range.

MySpace Launches New Music Service



Social networking site MySpace is launching a new music service backed by three of the world’s biggest record companies. Users will be able to listen to songs and watch videos free and buy downloads from the site.

MySpace Music has done a deal with Universal, Sony BMG and Warner. EMI, whose artists include Robbie Williams, Coldplay and KT Tunstall, is not part of the deal though.

The service will make money through music download sales, advertising and sales of concert tickets, artist wallpaper, t-shirts and ringtones.

MySpace users will be able to customize their chosen content into playlists and will be able to buy tracks from the MySpace Music home page, on each of the site’s five million artist profile pages or on individual user home pages. It can’t get mush easier or more interactive than this – you see the artist, watch the video, listen to the tracks and buy just the ones you want.

According to MySpace, the music will not have copy protection on it which means you should be able to load it onto your MP3 player. The company has not said yet whether ALL the music will be copy protection, or DRM, free. That will most likely be up to the music label or perhaps the individual artists

Launch this year
MySpace CEO and co-founder, Chris DeWolfe, said: “Today represents the beginning of a new chapter in the story of modern music.

“We’re proud to announce the marriage of the world’s biggest collection of music content to the world’s most popular music community.”

The move is likely to worry Apple whose iTunes store is the market leader and currently, eight out of 10 songs sold online are purchased through iTunes.

The MySpace entry could mean cheaper downloads as competition heats up. MySpace has a readymade market of more than 100 million users and is likely to be more popular than services like SpiralFrog.

MySpace Music will be launched later this year.

Here’s the current link to MySpace Music where you can listen to music tracks and watch the videos – keep checking the site for changes coming later this year.

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