postheadericon TECH TALK: On Going Green Tech-Wise

While technology and “going green” are given much lip service in the media and by marketers, in practice, energy savings using high-tech devices is not happening as fast as one might think.

Take electric cars for example, where some governments are providing incentives for their purchase, and as in the case of the Greenwhich Village Council UK - even that providing special parking spaces with chargers, consumers are not biting the electric bullet and making a green purchase. Electric car parking spots can be found worldwide – empty! However, electric cars can’t help us here in Nepal; with our loadshedding schedule, we would just go nowhere fast.

However, all is not lost if trying to go green tech-wise in Nepal, as there are things that you can do that will reduce your energy footprint and perhaps save you a rupee or two – or even more!

One of my favorite tips is to truly go paperless in the office and at home. There is so much software that allows for this, I am surprised that most Nepalese I work and play with have no clue about using new software to save paper, time, and energy. For example, everyone should be sharing PDF files instead of printing documents. There is just no excuse for printing to paper these days, even for mission-critical docs with signatures and stamps and such (which I know we all love here). Stamps can be digitized, and secure electronic signatures are easy to do. Just see Adobe Acrobat X on the web, if you haven’t already.

Another way to go green tech-wise is to replace aging hard drives in servers and desktops with energy saving green ones. My favorite drive these days is the Western Digital WD10EARS, a 1TB unit that has automagic spin rotation and other green features that are less of a drain on your inverter for sure. They are priced in town at about NRs.5,000 - which is even cheaper then you can find online in America (in most cases). I suspect why these drives are so cheap in Nepal is because most folks in the west don’t want to use them, just like they don’t like to use electric cars – high power performance is more important to most westerners then saving a few pennies, or saving the planet, so it seems.

Besides replacing aging power-sucking hard drives with newer, greener, and larger ones, we can also go greener by using better printing devices for those odd bits of paper that we absolutely must print. All-in-one printers save energy by consolidating many devices into one unit (printer, scanner, fax machine, etc.), as does networking home and office devices together for shared use by family, friends, and co-workers. Less devices running mean less power used – something we can all appreciate here in Nepal in a very tangible way, eh?

Another way to use less gadget juice in the office or home, is to make sure your gadget’s energy saving options are turned on and working. Screensavers, drive spin-downs, and even the off/on switch on can be scheduled on desktops, laptops, and even smartphones. I have my iMac scheduled to go off at night and come back on in the morning when I need it (according to loadshedding schedule of course). My laptop goes to sleep after 10 minutes or so of non-use. If I ignore my phone for a minute or so, that too goes nighty-nite. This concept can also be applied to office equipment; ya just gotta find the power-saving options buried deep down in the menu systems.

One last tip for going tech-green is to find yourself a USB AC Adapter, where instead of recharging a USB device (like an iPod) from your computer, you can do that from a wall socket. The savings here could be in the hundreds of watts, as using a power-hungry computer to charge an iPod or mobile phone makes little sense anyway. I recently went to Thailand and found that most power strips sold there (like the VOX 4-plug surge suppressor) go for about Nrs.700, and have one or more USB jacks built in – great for charging my iPhone when I want to leave my computer off.

Well, those are my ideas - but perhaps you have some tips as well (please add below). In general, I think Nepalis are more conscious about energy saving then most – out of necessity – although when it comes to high-tech greenery, I feel we have much room for improvement...so perhaps we can start reducing our energy footprints in our living rooms and office spaces - right away – by following a few of the tips above.

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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