103 Slices
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3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Nancy Conner O'Reilly Media ePub

Your great-grandparents lived by the saying, "Waste not, want not," which means that if we don't squander what we have, we won't lack for it later. That's a far cry from today's throwaway mentality, isn't it? Whether it's clothes, a cellphone, or a DVD player, many people find it easier to replace something that's old, worn, or broken than to fix it. The amount of trash people in developed countries produce is staggering, as you'll see in this chapter. And it piles up fastjust how fast might surprise you. What happens to all that junk? And how can we scale back the literal mountains of trash that go into landfills?

Everyone has to do their part. You're no doubt familiar with the phrase, "reduce, reuse, recycle," which is an updated, eco-conscious version of the "waste not, want not" philosophy. By now, most people have heard these three Rs so much that they seem obviousof course we should be doing all those things to ease the toll we take on the planet. But it's worth pondering whether you actually follow all three Rs as much as you could.

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11. Getting Involved

Nancy Conner O'Reilly Media ePub

One person can change the world, and if you've made some of the changes suggested in this book, you've already made a difference. But there's strength in numbers, so this chapter explains how to join forces with others to make changes on a local, national, or even global scale. You'll learn how to get started, but then you have to take it from there.

"Think globally, act locally" has long been a rallying cry of the sustainable-living movement. When you walk instead of driving, enjoy a cup of fair-trade coffee, or replace energy-wasting light bulbs with CFLs, you're making changes that contribute to a better world for all. Small changes add upthe more people who live gently on the earth, the bigger the benefit.

One way to make those good deeds multiply is to get together with other, likeminded people and work for a common cause. There's power in numbers, whether it's half a dozen people picking up trash in a local park or an international organization with millions of members working to conserve natural habitats. After you've made adjustments in your own life and home, look outward. There are lots of ways for you to get involved in ongoing efforts to save the planet.

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A. DIY LEDs

Sal Cangeloso Maker Media, Inc ePub

One of the best ways to learn about LEDs is by tinkering with them. While encased in lamps, LEDs might be tiny, sensitive, and hard to understand, but when out in the wild they are affordable, easy to use, and rather simple devices. This makes them ideal for experimentation and a great way to learn the basics of electronics.

The previous mention of do-it-yourself LEDs covered the Throwie, the simplest of the LED circuits. It combines a battery and an LED into a easy to understand device that anyone can make in minutes. The next step up from that two-part project is adding a resistor to the mix. This will allow you to adjust your circuit so that the proper amount of power is going to the LEDs which will, in turn, ensure they get the maximum lifetime possible as well as the optimum brightness. Without a resistor, its easy to send too much power to the LEDs and shorten their lives significantly, or simply break them.

To figure out the resistor you need in your LED circuit, some basic math will be required. The formula is based on Ohms law, where V = voltage across the resistor, I = the current through the resistor, and R is the resistor value. Here are three ways of stating Ohms law:

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1. Getting Started

Robert Bruce Thompson Maker Media, Inc ePub

In This Chapter

If you find the thought of doing your own repairs or upgrades to your PC a bit intimidating, you're not alone. Nearly everyone feels that way at the beginning, but there's really nothing to worry about. Working on a PC is no more technically challenging than changing the oil in your car or hooking up a DVD player. Compared to assembling one of those "connect Tab A to Slot B" toys for your kids, it's a breeze.

PC components connect like building blocks. Component sizes, screw threads, mounting hole positions, cable connectors, and so on are standardized, so you needn't worry about whether something will fit. There are minor exceptions, of course. For example, some small cases accept only half-height or half-length expansion cards. There are important details, certainly. If you're upgrading your processor, for example, you must verify that your current motherboard supports the new processor. But overall there are few "gotchas" involved in repairing or upgrading a PC.

Nor do you need to worry much about damaging the PCor it damaging you. Taking simple precautions such as grounding yourself before touching static-sensitive components and verifying cable connections before you apply power are sufficient to prevent damage. Other than inside the power supply or CRT monitorwhich you should never openthe highest voltage used inside a modern PC is 12V, which presents no shock hazard.

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7. Building an Appliance/Nettop System

Robert Bruce Thompson Maker Media, Inc ePub

In a strict sense, we define an appliance system as a small, quiet computer that is dedicated to one task or a group of related tasks, such as a home server, a network-attached storage (NAS) box, a media center front-end, or a home-automation controller. In a broader sense, an appliance system may be a general-purpose computer that is particularly small, quiet, and unobtrusive. By that definition, the archetypal appliance systems are the Mac mini and the many models of ASUS Eee nettop systems and all-in-ones.

But we dont have to buy a Mac Mini or ASUS Eee. We can build our own system based on a 6.7 square Mini-ITX motherboard with an AMD or Intel processor and run Windows 7 or Linux on it. Because were designing and building it ourselves, we can optimize our system for our own needs and budget.

For example, we can build an inexpensive, nearly silent appliance system with moderate performance around an Intel Atom motherboard and processor, or we can build a system with mainstream desktop performance around an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor. If we want both silence and high storage performance at the expense of storage capacity, we can install a fast, silent solid-state drive (SSD). If our priorities are low noise and high storage capacity at the expense of disk performance, we can install a quiet, high-capacity 5,400 RPM laptop drive. Or we can strike a happy compromise between noise level, capacity, and performance by installing a 7,200 RPM or faster laptop hard drive. Those arent options with the Mac mini or the ASUS Eee.

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