I took a look back at this blog and realized we’re closing in on six months since we got RecycleMac started. MacRecycleClinic was reestablished earlier than that, of course (after a two year hiatus). But it feels like we are really only now getting everything finally back together. It’s taken awhile to get the word out – we are finally starting to get more customers (guests/patrons/Mac aficionados) and making some progress on some other projects like the Mac Lab at Marvin and making community contacts.
We have added more shelving to the office space to get our refurbished computers off the floor. We donated a Mac laptop to the Blair High School AfterProm Committee for senior Daniel Naval to take to college. And we’ve helped some wonderful people get their Macs working again. Our agreement with the county to take Macs that would otherwise be recycled at the Shady Grove facility is also starting to bear some fruit – we find there are parts we can use if nothing else. The other day, a machine came in that had no memory or hard drive, but the Airport Extreme wireless card had been left in! It was easily the most valuable part.
We continue to look for ways to work with the Silver Spring and Montgomery County communities to get computers into the hands of folks who don’t have them. We remain open to suggestions and will gladly take referrals from non-profits who feel someone they work with could use a computer. In many cases, we can also provide a printer so there’s a complete solution (just provide the Internet and ink cartridges!)
We look forward to the future as we are able to make more alliances and get the word out that MacRecycleClinic can, in a small way, make a difference in our community.
Update: Congratulations to the Huskies for winning their third national championship tonight (Monday, April 4) over Butler.
UConn and Butler are in the men’s NCAA National Championship game Monday night. Both are excellent basketball teams. But how do those schools match up where recycling is concerned? The University of Connecticut is a large school located in Storrs, Connecticut – closer to Boston than New York. Butler is what’s called a “mid-major” – a small school located just outside Indianapolis, Indiana.
RecycleMac has been getting some positive feedback so thanks to all of our readers out there. This is really a long-term project that tries to build a quality voice in a room filled with many folks who are passionate about the environment and recycling. We’ll keep working at it with your help!
So here are the questions:
- What’s different about recycling Macs than other computers?
A Mac is a PC – that is, it is a personal computer or a personal appliance or a personal electronic gadget. So essentially you would recycle it the same way you might any other computer. All the folks we’ve talked about – from Apple to Dell – will take your computer and many times other electronic equipment and recycle them.
Unfortunately, Apple has taken some heat in past years because its computers were not made of materials that were easy to recycle or were toxic. To its credit, Apple has made some major changes and is much greener these days. I won’t go into depth here but you can read all about it on their website. If you’re interested, you can also see what Greenpeace says these days – it has an entire website devoted to the issue.
Please know that the Macs that are donated to us are thoroughly checked and cleaned. Hard drives are securely wiped of all data and an appropriate version of the Mac OS is installed. If the machine can not be made to work (and we get some that just don’t want to work no matter what we do) we will take out any reusable parts – hard drives, memory, batteries, sometimes the power supplies and optical drives – and send the hulk to Montgomery County’s Processing Facility and Transfer Station in Derwood (Gaithersburg), Maryland – which is the closest county recycling center to us. Here’s a map:
Many years ago, I was getting ready to leave for work when the neighbor next door came out with an old Apple /// and propped it next the the telephone pole. He was throwing it away because at that time, there were few options for folks to recycle their used electronics. Now any of you who have been around for awhile and know what an Apple /// is, you will also know it was a really heavy computer. Steve Jobs HATES fans – and tho he’s mellowed in his old age, there was a time he never even allowed a fan near any of his computers.
That’s why the /// didn’t have a fan – and in fact, was “anchored” literally by a heat sink manufactured in a Midwestern auto engine factory. It made a great boat anchor once its useful days were over.
The first “personal” computer I ever used was at CNN’s original Washington, DC Bureau in what we called “Upper Georgetown.” At that time (likely 1983) we still typed on IBM Selectric typewriters to write our scripts. We also had access to dumb terminals connected to a central server – running a news program called “Basys” that allowed us to send internal text messages and check the wires, rundowns and other information (CNN was the first to use it, if I remember correctly).
But I still went in every morning at 3 A.M. for years and pulled stories for the morning shows from the teletype machines so my writers could write their stories on the Selectrics.
One day I noticed that our assistant bureau chief was trying to work with a computer called an Apple ///. She was actually taking it home to learn how to use it. I’m not sure how that went, but I happily ended up with it when I started doing the intern program for the bureau. That initial experience ultimately led me to purchase my own Apple ///, an external hard drive and a set of ten floppy disks – at $10.00 each! I could have purchased an original Macintosh instead for about the same price – but since I’d worked with the ///, I felt I would get better use of it – and I did for many years.
(Updated 3/16/2011 to fix photo links)
When I first started working with computers – my old Apple /// (like the one at
left right) back in the early 80s – computer users groups like Washington Apple Pi had already sprung up across the country. Their motto at the time was “Users Helping Users.” WAP was a club whose members wanted to learn more about how their computers – Apple II series, ///, and increasingly, Macintosh – worked. They really wanted to know what made them tick – not just how to upgrade them by adding memory, a new, larger hard drive, new graphics or other internal cards. They were willing to spend the time, effort – and money – to do that.
Today, computers have, for all intents and purposes, become appliances. They are SPECIAL appliances of course, but most folks are not interested in opening the hood and tinkering. They just want to turn them on. They expect them to work.
Users today still may want to add memory or a new hard drive, but Apple has made it pretty difficult for the user to do much of that except for their higher-end MacPro models. At the Clinic, we usually suggest external drives when that’s possible – they come in a wide range of sizes, USB and Firewire are on virtually every Mac – and the price is reasonable. But we do have the tools and expertise to dig into the internal workings when necessary.
The question is – when should you replace what you have? When is it time to spend the money for a new Mac? We get those kinds of questions all the time and each answer is really tailored to the individual owner.
But in general, If you have an older PowerPC Mac you are a prime candidate unless you are happy with what you have and the programs continue to do what you need them to do. Apple and most vendors no longer support the PPC platform, but most of the later-model machines – towers and laptops – remain highly capable and able to do what you need. If there’s a problem, we have the tools and expertise to help (that’s us working at left). If we don’t we’ll tell you up front.
The Macs of today are Intel based and OS X continues to grow in power and ability. Macs can run both Windows and OSX easily at the same time. In the future, OSX may well morph together in some form with the iOS we all know from the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad. There are rumors Apple will stop including optical drives in all their machines as well. If that happens, third party vendors will be making lots of money because folks will still want those peripherals. I certainly do even with the App Store.
So while the decision about when to buy a new (or refurbished) Intel Mac is a very personal one, there will come a time when:
- Your old machine just won’t work anymore;
- When you are really ready to move up for the power, speed and improved graphics;
- You want a Mac but still need to run Windows;
- You need to run the latest version of Office or other software;
- You need to do video editing;
- You want a better computing experience.
As one of the volunteers at MacRecycleClinic I can tell you we have a group of folks who are passionate about helping you keep your Macintosh working – but we are also happy to provide suggestions about your next step should you want to upgrade to a new computer.
(From an original post to Tumblr)
I joined Washington Apple Pi or WAP for short) in 1983 or so. Like many, I needed some support from fellow users and WAP was the answer. (That’s me second from right with a group of SARAsaurs as we were called – the /// was named after the designer’s daughter.)
A group of us started holding tech sessions on Tuesday nights – folks would bring their sick computers in for repair help, to ask questions, get upgrades – you name it. Some left old machines behind. And that was the start of our recycling efforts.
Early-on, the focus was on the Apple II – Apple’s first real success story. We tried to recycle many donations to schools that did not have any – like the two elementary schools in West Virginia in 1996.That’s a picture at left of all the computer equipment ready to be set up in a lab.
As Apple moved from IIs to Macs, we slowly made the switch ourselves as the mix of donations changed. The passion was still there – we just had a different machine to work with. There is a real challenge in taking a donated machine and turning it into a tool that is useful again. But for most of us, there is just great satisfaction and joy watching the faces of those who receive our donations.