Computers

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

Sustainability is at the core of everything Dell does

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As consumers our top considerations when buying a new device are specs, performance, value for money, and design. We rarely think about the impact we and the technology we use have on the environment. The only time we probably ever do is when we need to dispose an irreparable phone or a dinosaur laptop. When that moment comes, we also don’t know exactly what to do or where to bring our old devices.

Fortunately there are companies like Dell that think ahead and consider the entire lifecycle of their products — from sourcing materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and recycling — and beyond. This approach is called a circular economy.

In a traditional, linear product cycle, recycling or refurbishing is thought of at the end of the product’s life, if at all. In Dell’s circular economy, the concept of waste is designed out of the system. This means sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. Here are some ways Dell is minimizing their footprint as a company while helping us consumers reduce ours as well:

Trade-in and recycling programs, not just for Dell products

Through Dell Reconnect, you can take that old computer sitting in your attic to a Goodwill store for recycling or refurbishing. The program also provides green jobs, and ensures that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to landfills.

If you’re due for an upgrade, the company can also recycle your old laptop for you, no matter the brand. You may also trade in any eligible piece of electronics, including smartphones and consoles, to earn a gift card that you can use to buy yourself a shiny new Dell laptop.

Packaging made of bamboo, mushrooms, ocean-bound plastics

Photo from Dell

To solve mountains of packaging problems we face after unboxing a new device — large fancy boxes, plastic, and foam — Dell has come up with the 3Cs packaging strategy, which stands for cube (size and shape), content (material choice), and curb (recyclability).

For Dell, wasted space inside any packaging is just that — wasted — so the company is continuously finding ways to minimize the amount of material needed to create packaging, as well as reduce box sizes so as to fit more products in storage and during shipping.

More importantly, Dell uses the best possible material to protect the product, and consider that which makes most sense for each region by using what’s locally available. In 2009, Dell was the first to use packaging made from bamboo. Not only is it a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived foams, the bamboo they used also grew near their manufacturing facilities.

In 2011, Dell developed cushion packaging made of mushroom, which has a smaller footprint compared to the usual protective foam, and is compostable. Recently, the company also started taking ocean-bound plastics back to the economy where they can be reused to make the trays found inside Dell boxes.

The company reuses boxes up to 7 times before they are recycled. So when you buy a new laptop and the box is not in its most perfect form, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain markets, Dell also rewards customers for returning packaging that can be refurbished and reused.

Ink made of smog

Photo from Chakr Innovations

Here’s an unexpected way Dell is putting waste back into the economy and using locally available materials at the same time. Traditionally seen as a pollutant, the company is using ink made from smog in India to print some of its packaging.

A startup called Chakr Innovations developed the device called Chakr Shield which captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators. The captured soot is then turned into carbon black, which is used to make ink. Dell is the first to use the ink on a larger scale and it works just as well as regular ink.

Backpack made of recycled windshields

Photo from Dell

Dell doesn’t just make computers and printers, they also make a whole array of accessories, and some of them are made with sustainability in mind. The Dell Pro Backpack 15 is made with a more environment-friendly solution-dyeing process. It’s also water-resistant, which is made possible by a layer of coating that’s made from reclaimed windshields.

Jewelry made of used computers

Photo from Dell

In its effort to reduce waste dumped in landfills, Dell also reclaims gold from motherboards through its recycling programs, reuses them to make not only new motherboards, but jewelry as well. So that old laptop you’re going to trade in for a new one? Parts of it will end up on someone’s finger or ears at some point, not in a developing country that becomes a dumpsite for other companies and countries.

Photo from Dell

Vivian Tai, Head of Global Environmental Affairs for the APJ region says the company is integrating sustainability efforts not for Dell’s benefit, but to provide better value for customers. She says sourcing and bringing what many consider “waste” back to life is challenging but is important to the company. Just this year, Dell already reached two of its 2020 goals: recover two billion pounds of used electronics and use 100 million pounds of recycled-content, plastic and other sustainable materials, one full year ahead of schedule.

Next time you need to buy a new laptop, take sustainability into consideration, too. Technology plays a big role in making our lives easier, and the good that it can do should not end at that but also extend beyond its usual lifecycle. It’s not just big companies who benefit from minimizing our ecological footprint — it’s also us, consumers, and the generations that come after us.

Computers

This is how Apple envisions the next iMac

Made out of a curved sheet of glass

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Image by GadgetMatch

We all know the Mac Pro has been transformed from a trash bin to a cheese grater, but Apple has been using the same design language for iMac for years. Even the latest iMac Pro isn’t excluded in that list.

If you’re too worried about Apple’s design conformity, the official patent gives us a preview of what the next iMac might look like. It was already filed last year, but was recently published last 23rd of January, 2020.

Opening the document will surprise you with a series of patent figures. It is said that they will use a curved sheet of glass instead of the usual aluminum closure. The figure below shows how you can place a Magic Keyboard on top of the glass. It will then have a dedicated place for the trackpad beside it.

Animated image by GadgetMatch | Sourced from USPTO

There’s another figure which shows how you can insert the Magic Keyboard through the opening between the display and the glass. Unlike the first one, the display doesn’t extend below the glass edge.

Another figure gives us a hint that the future iMac may become an extended display without the use of other accessories other than the MacBook’s physical keyboard and trackpad — all by sliding the MacBook into the opening.

Sourced from USPTO

The problem with old AIOs is putting up all that power in such a limited space. Apple has defied the limits with their powerful iMacs. To further solve the heavy (and bulging) rear panel, they might consolidate all the powerful parts inside its stand. There’s also an option where you can dock your MacBook just above it.

Image by GadgetMatch | Sourced from USPTO

Lastly, there’s a figure that shows how the iMac can be partially folded. It might be useful to keep the trackpad and keyboard area clean when not in use.

Animated image by GadgetMatch | Sourced from USPTO

Ever since the departure of Jony Ive, we’ve been unsure about the design of Apple’s upcoming devices. One thing we all know (and wanted to happen) other than the redesign of the iPhone and its aging notch is for Apple to focus on making their existing computers more innovative while still offering a powerful punch in such a space-saving form.

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Computers

Report: Avast is selling your browsing history

Be careful what you install

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If you use Avast antivirus software for your PC, then you might not like the recent discovery regarding its data collection. A joint investigation by Vice and PCMag discovered that Avast is collecting browsing history and selling them to various companies.

Avast’s subsidiary — Jumpshot — has been collecting browsing history without user consent. The collection happens in the background as part of the Avast’s Web Shield feature. The collection of data extends to Avast’s browser extension as well. The subsidiary collected users’ full webpage URL, page title, referer, as well as resulting links from search engines.

Worse, Avast even approved the selling of collected data to various third-party companies. These companies include Google, Microsoft, and others willing to get their hands on your data for profit.

In its defense, Avast stated that it anonymized the collected data. In theory, the data cannot be traced back to users. However, researchers found out that a third-party company can easily build a profile of you just by corroborating with other data.

Mozilla and Google already removed Avast’s browser extension last December after a security researcher found out about Avast’s illegal practices. Recently, Avast shattered Jumpshot and promised not to collect anymore data.

For the time being, you should avoid installing Avast antivirus software for your PC. There are many alternatives out there, but the main takeaway here is that you should read the fine print before installing any software on your PC.

After all, many “free” software today is too good to be true. Some freeware come with malware that harm your PC, while others — like Avast — violate privacy by selling your data in exchange for profit.

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Computers

3 tips for proper gadget care against volcanic ash

Better safe than sorry

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Yesterday, the potentially destructive Taal Volcano in the Philippines erupted after almost 20 years of inactivity. The eruption belched out steam, rocks, and other volcanic materials. Most importantly, it belched out ash, which caused ashfalls as far as 100 kilometers from the volcano.

Volcanic ash impacts and disrupts society as a whole. It doesn’t only pose a threat to our health, but it also presents risks to our gadgets. Since they are less than 2-4 millimeters in diameter, they block openings, limit functionality, and even corrode our devices.

Needless to say, you need to look out for you and your family’s safety first. Afterwards, you can think about your other belongings like your gadgets and appliances.

To ensure the best proper care for your gadgets against volcanic ash, we came up with three tips that you can follow. Remember, an ounce of protection for your devices is better than a pound of expensive repairs.

1) Avoid direct exposure

Avoid exposing gadgets to volcanic ash as much as possible. Soon after a volcanic eruption, be cautious of any ashfall alert. If ash begins to fall in your area, relocate any gadgets indoors

When outdoors, place gadgets in the safety of a bag or cover them if necessary. Limit the use of phones or tablets, especially when it is raining ash hard.

2) Seal off any sensitive gadgets

Some of our gadgets are sensitive to dust particles. Since ash is comparable to these dust particles, they can enter our devices and cause problems if left unchecked. One of these problems is electronic short-circuit.

It is proven that ash can contaminate insulators in power lines, causing flashovers and triggering a short-circuit. Plus, ash can corrode equipment in the long term.

Sensitive gadgets are susceptible to these damages also. Seal them off during an ashfall to prevent ash from reaching critical components. Some sensitive gadgets that you need to seal off during an ashfall are generators, power supplies, servers, and the like.

If you can’t seal these sensitive gadgets, then it is recommended to shut down them.

3) Clean any opening in your gadgets

Last but not the least, you should clean any openings in your gadgets before, during, and after an ashfall. Ash accumulates around the openings of our gadgets, including laptops and smartphones. The tiny particles present in the ash can block the openings of some gadgets, preventing them from cooling down. As such, these particles limit the functionality of these gadgets.

Cleaning the openings is simple but goes a long way in ensuring proper care. A can of compressed air will do the trick, as do a soft brush.

However, do not excessively rub ash-covered surfaces as tiny particles present can scratch or cause static discharge, which is harmful to our gadgets.

These three tips will go on a long way to ensuring that our gadgets function properly, even in an ashfall event. As with any hazards, take necessary precautions when operating gadgets to avoid hazards. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

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