“Recycled” computers shipped overseas

The San Jose Mercury News just published a very disturbing and eye-opening story called Where Computers Go To Die which tells the story of how waste computers are being exported to China, where their improper disposal is a major toxic waste and human health catastrophe in the making.

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition first documented this in their report Exporting Harm.

Want some things you can do about it? For starters — buy greener computing gear. You can also endorse SVTC’s “Electronics Take It Back! Platform” which calls for manufacturers to take more responsibility for post-consumer electronics waste.

Monorail! (What nerds think about transit)

Well, it looks like the Monorail won — by 800 votes out of 200,000 cast. (If I ever hear “My vote doesn’t count again….”) More amusingly, even Slashdot covered the story. Some pretty interesting comments from the high-tech crowd… worth reading if you’re interested in understanding techie attitudes towards transit (suprisingly favorable). My favorite comment:

[Anonymous Coward] I hear those things are awfully loud.
[Article] It glides as softly as a cloud
[Enginerd] Is there a chance the track could bend?
[Article] Not on your life, my Slashdot friend
[Frequent poster] Why Seattle, those braindead slobs?
[Article] There were only so many Starbucks jobs
[Oil Companies] Were you sent here by the devil?
[Article] No, good sir, I’m on the level
[Cowboy Neal] I feel attracted to a man.
[Article] Go outside and get a tan!
I swear it’s Seattle’s only choice
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
Monorail!
What’s it called?
Monorail!
Once again!
Monorail!
[Poster] But our educational system’s all cracked and broken
[re;] Sorry, man, the mob has spoken
[All] Monorail! Monorail!
Monorail!
Monorail!
[Homer] Mono- d’oh!

The case for Open Office?

The Case for OpenOffice is a pretty interesting and balanced account of why OpenOffice, might or might not be a feasible alternative to Microsoft Office for some users.

Quite a few nonprofit techies are starting to perk up their ears about this. I’ve tested it out a bit and found that it works pretty darn well. Not sure I’d strongly push groups towards it, but I’d definitely use it for personal stuff, and if a small organization was interested in experimenting at the leading edge, I’d go for it.

Phoenix — a nice, fast Mozilla-based browser

Phoenix is a great little browser. It’s based on Mozilla, but is much faster because it jettisons the add-on email, HTML editor, chat modules, and focuses exclusively on a fast, feature-rich browsing environment. And because it uses the core Mozilla code, it will keep pace with Mozilla’s impressive development. Definitely worth checking out as an IE alternative.