Green Geek: Post Office Offers Free Tech Recycling by Mail

I always feel a twinge of guilt when I throw away an empty inkjet cartridge or broken electronic gadget. If you’re the same way, this program might help ease the pain of tossing your tech junk.

The United States Postal Service recently announced a program for free recycling of inkjet cartridges and small electronics, including PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players. The Mail Back program is being piloted in 1500 Post Office branches around the country, but could go nationwide this fall.

Participating Post Office locations offer free, postage-paid envelopes for consumers to take and use to mail back their recyclable items. The postage is paid by Clover Technologies Group, which refurbishes and resells as many of the devices as possible. Pieces that cannot be reused are broken down for parts, or into recyclable components. Clover boasts a “zero waste to landfill” policy, which means “it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.”

I think this program is a great idea. Most people will not go to the trouble and expense of recycling, unless it is cheap and easy. You can bet I’ll bet checking my local Post Office lobby for those Mail Back envelopes. I have an empty inkjet cartridge on my desk right now.

Give this pretty pendant to your favorite geek

Fuze quartz LED pendant

Well, it may be too late to get this pretty pendant for Valentine’s Day, but you don’t need a holiday to shower affection upon your favorite geek, right?

These unusual pendants are made from quartz crystals embedded with color-cycling LED lights. You can choose your preferred shape, and give your sweetie a luminous, wearable symbol of your heart light. Anyone else thinking E.T.? Sorry…

Seriously though, I would totally wear one of these. I think they are beautiful and unique. If you’re curious, you can get more information on the Fuze Necklace at ThinkGeek.

Make your own Mii, without a Wii

Harry Potter Mii

A few people have asked me how I made my blog header, so I thought I would share my secret. Okay, it’s not a secret at all. I can’t draw, and I didn’t do anything particularly clever to come up with those cute cartoon faces of my family.

As you might know, I love our Wii. I’ve “invested” more hours than I care to admit, honing my Wii bowling skills, and am now the proud user of a super-sparkly “Pro” ball.

But maybe you don’t have a Wii, and you have no idea what a Mii is? Well, a Mii is just a Wii avatar. And you can make one, even if you don’t have a Wii. I’ve used a couple of online Mii creators, but my favorite is this one. [EDIT: As of April 11, 2008, I found that this site is no longer active. Here is another Mii creator for you to try.]

It is very easy to use, and you can create your own mini-Mii (or mini-you) in just minutes. When you’re finished, you can save the source file and re-load it later to make changes. Or, download your image to your computer (you choose the size and format), and use it as you like.

You can see my own Mii family in my blog header, and here is one I made of Harry Potter, just for fun. If you make a Mii you’d like to share, please leave the location in your comment! Have fun!

You might also enjoy:

Nintendo-Controller-Backpack-linkNintendo Controller Backpack

Great Gadget: Water Powered Clock

water clockThis water-powered clock is so cool! Not only does it run on water (or any electrolyte liquid), but it can even do bud-vase duty.

That’s good news, because not only will it tell time for two to three months on a single fill of the reservoir, but looking at flowers in the morning can help you feel better. It’s true. (You can read more about the Harvard study on flowers here.)

So this clock can help you use fewer batteries and help improve your mood. Sounds like a winner! Too bad it doesn’t make breakfast too… Get more information at ThinkGeek.

Declare your Geekiness in style with this video watch

videowatch.jpgRemember those super cool calculator watches from the 1980s? Well, if you had one of those back then, you will definitely want one of these new video watches now!

The one pictured here is available from ThinkGeek for about $79 US. Features include:

  • A 128 x 128 pixel full color OLED screen (better picture and uses less energy than LCD)
  • 2 GB flash memory
  • Built-in microphone
  • Audio and video playback
  • Leather band and sleek metal case
  • Charges by USB, and plays for up to 7 hours on a charge (4 hours for video play)

Oh, and it also tells time. No calculator, though. Get more information here.

Calling all Gadgeteers: Here’s an idea for your next invention

womanusingcomputer.jpgI am addicted to my computer. And the Wii. And my kids are becoming total gamers too.

Think I’m just exaggerating? Well, how about this for proof that I spend too much time at the computer? My wrists are tired and my hands go numb. Also, my eyes barely focus on anything that’s not 24 inches away from my face, because that’s how far away my screen is.

And then when I’m done working at the computer, I love playing on the Wii. It is so much fun! And of course, it’s the kids’ favorite indoor activity, and it’s what they want to do as soon as their chores are finished. Between the Wii, and games on the PC, they will play for hours, if we let them.

Now before you blast me for allowing my kids to spend too much time in front of a screen, let me admit that I know it’s a problem. Isn’t that the first step toward recovery? I don’t know. I’ve never been in rehab. And it’s not like we live in a broken down shack full of rubbish and filth. Our home is fairly clean, the kids are well-fed, they make honor roll at school, and we read to them every day.

We do turn off the machines and interact as human beings, but sometimes it’s difficult to tear everyone away from the games. That’s where I need some help. Now you brilliant inventors out there, here is my idea. This is going to make someone very rich, and I’m giving it away for free!

I want a bank that I can attach to my gaming devices. For instance, I attach this bank to the Wii, the kids put in some coins, and it plays for however many minutes I decide each coin is worth. Then, I can open the bank, collect the coins, and recycle them into the allowance or reward system (or use as Mom’s Mad Money!). How brilliant is that?

The coin system makes the play time easier to regulate, because there’s no arguing with the machine’s timer. Also, I think it would be helpful in teaching the kids about work and rewards. They do chores to earn money, and then they can decide how much of the money to spend on gaming, or whether they would rather save it for something else.

So, does such a product already exist? Anyone out there going to make one for me? Please? 🙂

It’s Wafer-Thin: the New MacBook Air

MacBook AirHave you seen the new ultra-thin laptop from Apple? It looks amazing! Even when it’s all folded up, the MacBook Air (sounds kind of like a shoe by Nike) is just 0.76 inches wide. I was trying to visualize that, and I stacked up a couple of CD jewel cases on my desk and got out the ruler. Although my old-fashioned wooden ruler is not exactly a precision instrument, I would guess that the two cases put together are wider than the MacBook Air. Wow, that’s thin.

Is anyone else having a Monty Python flashback? “It’s wafer-thin.” But I digress.

I won’t list all the features here (read the specs), but I will tell you that this is no 3.0 pound weakling. The MacBook Air comes with a 13.3-inch widescreen LED display, full-size lighted keyboard, built-in iSight camera, and the latest suite of Apple’s user-friendly software.

We’ve been a mostly Mac family for a long time, and I’d love to add this beauty to our collection. I might have to make a trip down to the Apple Store to see it in person. If you’ve already had a chance to try it out, please share your thoughts!