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6. Eating Green: It's Not Just Spinach Anymore

Nancy Conner O'Reilly Media ePub

"Eat something green every day" is age-old motherly advice. Generations of kids have heard it as they scrunched up their faces and downed a forkful of spinach or broccoli.

Today, Mom's old advice has gotten an update: Eat everything green every day. You don't have to become a vegetarian (although, as The Meat Industry's Environmental Hoofprint notes, you'd reduce your carbon footprint if you did). Eating green means saying no to farming practices that harm the earth and treat animals as assembly-line products; choosing foods that aren't drenched with synthetic insecticides, weed-killers, and other potentially harmful chemicals; and, if possible, growing your own fruits and veggies to get the freshest, healthiest food possible.

This chapter looks at current farming practicesthe good, the bad, and the unappetizingand how they affect the food you eat so you can make informed choices. You'll also learn all kinds of tips for growing your own foodeven if you're a city dweller.

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Chapter 8 The Critical Element of Separation

Tom Szaky Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Chapter 8

© Kasia Bialasiewicz/Shutterstock.com

© Kongsky/Shutterstock.com

In nature the waste of organisms is typically spread out in small quantities over a wide area. Unlike humans, animals in nature don’t head to the same spot every time they have to poop. They don’t preserve their dead, place them in caskets, and later bury them in designated areas. And they certainly don’t have any garbage, let alone put it all into a big pile.

When outputs are mixed together as they are in a landfill, it is harder for them to become useful inputs. Putting even useful outputs into the garbage will render them useless outputs. While this is partly because they will not naturally decompose in a landfill, it is also because it is very hard to recycle a soda bottle (#1 plastic) when it is squashed together with a banana, a yogurt cup (#5 plastic), and a used rag.

Any one of these outputs could be recycled or composted individually. A soda bottle could be melted down into plastic, as could a yogurt cup. A banana could be composted, and a rag could be shredded and made into paper or new fabric.

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26. Power Supplies

Robert Bruce Thompson O'Reilly Media ePub

Power supplies lack glamour, so nearly everyone takes them for granted. That's a big mistake because the power supply performs two critical functions: it provides regulated power to every system component, and it cools the computer. Many people who complain that Windows crashes frequently understandably blame Microsoft. But, without apologizing for Microsoft, the truth is that many such crashes are caused by low-quality or overloaded power supplies.

If you want a reliable, crash-proof system, use a high-quality power supply. In fact, we have found that using a high-quality power supply allows even marginal motherboards, processors, and memory to operate with reasonable stability, whereas using a cheap power supply makes even top-notch components unstable.

The sad truth is that it is almost impossible to buy a computer with a top-notch power supply. Computer makers count pennies, literally. Good power supplies don't win marketing brownie points, so few manufacturers are willing to spend $30 to $75 extra for a better power supply. For their premium lines, first- and second-tier manufacturers generally use what we call midrange power supplies, better than the Pacific Rim junk used by some garage shops and low-end assemblers, but not nearly as good as what you can get on the aftermarket. For their mass-market linessuch as those sold at Circuit City, Best Buy, and Targeteven name-brand manufacturers may compromise on the power supply to meet a price point, using what we consider marginal power supplies both in terms of output and construction quality.

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15. Cases

Robert Bruce Thompson Maker Media, Inc ePub

In This Chapter

At first glance, it might seem odd to suggest upgrading a system by replacing the case. When you think about it, though, there are some good reasons to replace your computer case, including:

Older and inexpensive cases were designed with little concern for noise level. Many modern cases are engineered to reduce noise levels, with features such as sound-deadening panels, unobstructed air intake vents, large fan grills, and rubber drive mounting blocks to isolate vibration and noise. By itself, a good case can't make a loud system quiet, but it can help reduce the din. When combined with other "Quiet PC" features such as a quiet power supply, quiet CPU cooler, quiet case fans, and so on, a well-designed case can help you build a nearly silent system.

Modern processors, video cards, and other components run hot. Older cases, designed in a time of 30W processors and 10W video cards, don't cope well with the heat load produced by modern 130W processors and 100W video cards. Modern cases are engineered with unobstructed air flow, shrouds, and other features designed to maximize cooling efficiency.

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11. CD Writers

Robert Bruce Thompson O'Reilly Media ePub

CD writers use one or both of these media types:

CD-R discs record data permanently. Data written to a CD-R disc cannot subsequently be deleted, which may be an advantage or a drawback, depending on how you use the drive. If you partially fill a CD-R disc, you can add more data to it during a later session, but once that disc is full, no more data can be written to it. CD-R discs are cheap$0.20 each in bulk, and sometimes almost free after rebatesand are a cost-effective means to archive data or to transfer large amounts of data to someone else. CD-R discs can be read in all but the oldest CD-ROM drives, and in most consumer CD players made in the last few years. CD-R discs may be written to in audio or various data formats, and can be read by any CD-R, CD-(M)RW, or MultiRead-compatible CD-ROM drive.

MultiRead and MultiRead2 are OSTA standards for CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives and players. A MultiRead-compatible device can read pressed CDs (CD-DA and CD-ROM), CD-R discs, and CD-RW discs, and can read any disc written using fixed- or variable-length packets. MultiRead2 extends the specification to include DVD-ROM and 2.6 GB DVD-RAM devices. All MultiRead-compatible devices are also multisession-compatible, but the converse is not true. For more information, see http://www.osta.org/specs/multiread.htm.

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