Disposals, repairs and quiet evenings
Bob's Tech Talk
August 1, 2017
Q. How do I dispose of a smartphone?
A. These guidelines apply to most electronic devices, everything from smartphones to PCs. There are two concerns, protecting your privacy and proper recycling. If the device is only a few years old and still operates, you could sell it, extend its life by passing it along to a family member, or donate it to a charitable organization. The longer the device can be used, the less impact there is on the environment.
Eventually, every smartphone reaches the end of its useful life. No matter what, do not dispose of it in the household trash. Electronics are packed with hazardous chemicals that should never be discarded in a landfill.
Recycling options will depend on where you live. Many stores that sell new devices accept old ones for disposal, even if it was purchased somewhere else. If you are lucky, they might offer a gift card in exchange.
When stores are inconvenient, do a Google search for a local e-waste recycler. Generally these businesses accept electronic waste without charge, but check first to make sure. There may be one affiliated with your local municipality or household waste collector, so check their Web sites also. Businesses that charge disposal fees will sometimes offer free collections once or twice a year. Chances are with a little research, you will find several options nearby.
Before you dispose of any device, give some thought to your privacy. Our devices know a great deal about our lives, and the information on each one should be erased before disposal. Once your new device is set up, erase and reset the old device to its factory settings.
On Apple devices, go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings. On Android devices, search Google for “Android Factory Reset” along with the model name to find the correct steps.
Q. When I plug in my computer I can see that it is getting electricity, but it still does not come on. Help!
A. Two things I would check first. Confirm the video screen is connected to the CPU and plugged in to an electric outlet, and make sure the brightness level has not been reduced to zero. Beyond that, unfortunately, there are a dozen different things that could cause this behavior, far more than I can cover here.
My advice for anyone whose computer breaks, if they are unable to fix it themselves, is to replace the computer entirely. PCs are too complex and they require an unreasonable amount of skill to troubleshoot, especially when things go wrong. It is like buying a musical instrument to fill your house with music. For most people, the better choice is to buy a radio instead.
When it comes to personal computers, the better choice for nearly everyone is an Apple iPad. The entry level model is priced at $329, which is often less expensive than a computer repair bill. Go to an Apple Store if at all possible. They will help set up your new iPad, show you how to use it, and they might be able save the important files from your older device as well.
I admire people with the talent to play a musical instrument, but it is not for everyone. Often, simpler is better.
Q. My husband has a new habit, watching Netflix on his tablet before going to sleep. His hearing is not perfect, so the volume is too loud for me to ignore. Any suggestions?
A. Get your husband a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones. A great set of headphones can cost hundreds of dollars, and stores tend to put the expensive ones on prominent display. But the good news is you do not need to spend anywhere near that much to get a good night’s sleep.
Decent headphones with good sound can be found for as little as $20, and they will allow your husband to enjoy his late night video binges without disturbing your sleep.
There are two different types of Bluetooth headphones: over-ear models and earbuds. The choice is mostly about personal comfort. Some people like the lightness of earbuds that fit inside the ear canal, whereas others prefer the larger, padded over-ear models.
If headphones appear too cumbersome, try a Bluetooth headset. Although they are usually connected to a smartphone, these single earbuds are good enough to listen to the audio on a tablet.
Wander the Web
Electronics Recyclers: This site offered by the Consumer Technology Association is full of information about safely using and disposing of household electronics. Enter your zip code into the search engine to find local e-waste handlers. http://www.greenergadgets.org
One Exposure: In order for images to appear in this site’s gallery pages, the photos have to pass through a curation process that tends to promote unique photographs. There are tutorials and community forums for photographers, but the heart of the site is focused on galleries. It is a great place to view high-quality fine art photography. http://www.1x.com
National Park Service: The NPS Web site has detailed information about the over 400 locations under its care. You can search for a specific park, or activities, or for general information. Of special note this year is “Eye on the Sky,” a section on viewing this summer’s total solar eclipse from a prime vantage point. http://www.nps.gov
A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.