44th Ward Electronics Recycling

I use a lot of technology and end up having a lot of unused or broken electronics and I have to figure out what to do with them.  The 44th Ward is having a electronics recycling pickup day on September 11, 2010.  This is what the alderman had to say about it in an e-mail blast:

On Saturday, September 11, our office, in conjunction with PC Rebuilders and Recyclers, will be conducting an electronic recycling pickup day. Anytime before 8am, residents can place electronic equipment in front of their homes to be picked up and taken to a recycling facility. Items to be collected include computers and computer equipment, TVs, DVD Players, VCRs, MP3 players, video equipment, and mobile phones. Additionally, residents can drop off electronic recyclables on this date between the hours of 8am and noon at the 44th Ward Streets and Sanitation office (1501 W. School St.).

I go to school at Northwestern University who also has an e-waste recycling program for students.  The city also has a drop-off facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street.  But, if you have functioning computers, I think the best place to donate them would be FreeGeek Chicago, a “not-for-profit community organization that recycles used computers and parts to provide functional computers, education, internet access and job skills training to those who want them.”

While it’s probably better to recycle computers than to send them to the landfill, I just saw a photo essay in the New York Times Magazine that showed the reality of what happens to e-waste at one site in Ghana.

Additional information

Photo by Mosman Council via Flickr using a CC-BY-NC-ND license.

linuxing the imac

There’s an old imac under the table at bz’s house that’s gathering dust and I was going to try to put Linux on it. I’ve had a good experience with xubuntu running well on older hardware and having good, easy-to-use features (and it’s debian based), so I’m going to try that and document my experience here.

I had a little trouble finding the iso for PPC xubuntu, but eventually found it at http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/ports/releases/7.04/release/

This article gave some information on installing xubuntu on various platforms, and said that the firmware needed to be upgraded on the iMac before xubuntu could be installed. I found the firmware for this particular iMac (slot-loading, 350 MHz, 128MB SDRAM) at http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=88010 (or maybe at http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=75130) and instructions for installing the firmware at http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60385.

The machine ended up being bricked, but I thought I’d post this for future reference.

public comment on downtown parking

This is my comment for the city’s request for public comment about parking:

I was unable to attend the public meeting asking for comments but would like to submit my thoughts on the future of parking in Bloomington.Parking is an important issue in our community because, as we can see in the present, it has huge implications for how the downtown is used, how the downtown will grow, and whether Bloomington moves in a direction towards a more sustainable, ecologically conscious community, or in a more consumptive, less beautiful and liveable direction.

Since moving to Bloomington 3 years ago, I have already seen a number of parking garages and other parking facilities created. I am disappointed at the trend towards building these structures as it not only changes the visual character of the downtown, but it also encourages irresponsible automobile use in a city which has its small size and the easy pedestrian access that such smallness affords as one of its greatest assets. What is the point of making the downtown more accessible if the result is the more beautiful and historic buildings being overshadowed by new construction, or the enjoyment of walking around downtown Bloomington, dining at outdoor restaurants, or enjoying the many downtown public spaces is tarnished by increased automobile traffic. I think that new parking construction should be seen as a failure in the imagination of our community to seek solutions to an accessible downtown, especially when many alternative visions exist.

First, I think it is important to understand whether parking scarcity is a physical reality, or a perception. If it is largely an issue of public perception, then even if more spaces are created, the public may not actually feel an improvement in their downtown parking experience.

So, regardless of the final parking solutions developed by the city, education of people using our downtown must be a primary component.  I recently attended a workshop in downtown Bloomington at the city center building on 7th St. Parking was a concern for many of the attendents as nearly all of them drove, and most of them were somewhat unfamiliar with parking in the downtown area. All were able to find parking eventually, but the stressfulness and confusion of finding parking was mostly due to lack of knowledge as to the location of parking (garages, metered street parking, parking lots) being unclear and the regulations regarding parking (for instance, time limits, street sweeping days). Many of the perceptions about parking in downtown could be addressed through really simply measures like making less ambiguous signage designating no-parking zones and regulations on street parking.

Also, parking maps locating and describing downtown parking options, their restrictions, and pricing, could be erected in downtown Bloomington, especially at high-usage areas such as the Monroe County Public Library. Such signs would help users of the downtown more easily find parking options. This knowledge would easily be spread through word of mouth, making a fast and dramatic change in how people perceive the difficulty in finding parking downtown.

Growth in the city of Bloomington is happening, inevitable, and, as some would argue, desireable. This growth, however, demands solutions that are scaleable and sustainable with future growth. Considering car-centered solutions to downtown use puts the city in a dangerous cycle. As it becomes possible to have more cars in the downtown, it becomes more difficult, less pleasent, and less desireable for people to use non-automobile transportation in the downtown. More car traffic undeniably effects the experience that cyclists, walkers, and public-transportation riders have in their travel. If these transportation options become less desireable, or possible, these transportation users will have to resort to driving, thereby increasing any parking crunch that is felt by the city. The city must seriously pursue efforts which will reduce the number of cars in the downtown.

Bicycle parking is not a huge issue, but the accessibility of downtown streets to bicycles remains a challenge, and a deterrent for many who would otherwise consider it as an alternative to driving downtown.  More bicycle lanes and other efforts to make cyclists more visible, safe, and comfortable riding downtown would be one way to reduce the load on existing parking infrastructure. BT ridership is at an all-time high, but still restricted to certain segments of the population. Keeping parking space limited, but expanding bus services would be a good way of directing transportation users towards more sustainable transportation options. Forcing and enabling Bloomingtonians to challenge their perceptions and prejudices about public transporation is important for building a community-wide, diverse transportation infrastructure. Finally, the city could encourage car-sharing businesses to start operation in Bloomington. This would allow an increasing number of downtown residents to have access to cars, but in proportion to their actual usage needs. Alleviating parking issues has been one of the documented effects of car-sharing availability with one study showing that each shared car eliminated 14.9 privately owned cars! As downtown residence becomes more prevalent in Bloomington, this becomes a neccessary factor to address.

With so many options for improving access to downtown Bloomington available beyond new parking construction, it would be irresponsible for the city to choose to implement only construction-based solutions.

These solutions would be less costly, have environmental benefits or lessened environmental impact, and preserve the character of our downtown. Pursuing such options should be our transportation priority.

Turn off your lights to draw attention to the release of the IPCC’s much awaited latest report on climate change! 7:55 – 8pm.

From a Yahoo! news article:

“By turning off lights and also electrical gadgets that are in stand-by mode, “citizens, the media and decision-makers will get the message about energy waste and the urgent need for action,” the Alliance for the Planet said on Friday.”

The Alliance for the Planet is an umbrella of about 50 green associations, including the local branches of Greenpeace and WWF, and professional organisations connected with the environment.

The UN’s paramount scientific authority on climate change meets in Paris from January 29 to February 1 to hammer out the first volume of a long-awaited report on the state of global warming today.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is widely expected to declare that climate change is already on the march, many years sooner than expected, and the consequences for humans and biodiversity could be dire.”

Link to the article on turning off lights
Link to Climate Crisis Coalition website with more info on climate change