One of my many vices is “The Reg” –Britain’s _The Register_ site and its e-news bulletins. I subscribe to several, among them the one for green technology and environmental news.

Somewhere at the back of my brain lurked the awareness that the Internet, once text-based and frugally accessed by telephone lines, hid the exponential growth of its costs as it became the all-singing, all-dancing medium it is today.

As a longtime “tree-hugger”, I try hard to “tread lightly on the earth.” I’ve never owned a car, take public transport only when going too far to walk, gave up meat in 1970, rarely buy packaged goods. Having bought clothing for durability rather than style, I see my closet as a time-capsule: it contains enough of different eras that I’m presentable whichever way the fashion turns.

But I do rely on technology a lot. My modest home is something of a tech museum since I haven’t found an affordable way to recycle my oldest equipment ecologically and hate the idea of trashing usable old Mac gear to pollute a landfill. Given the vagaries of my freelance gigs, I keep at least three generations of working computers and accessories (not to mention all the old storage media) and the netbook I’m now writing on is the only one I’ve ever bought new. Most of my software collection is open source or freeware.

Despite this, I was horrified to realize just how wasteful I have become in recent years. This came in from The Reg on the 18th: IT now 10 percent of world’s electricity consumption, report finds New analysis finds IT power suck has eclipsed aviation
and though most of that electricity is consumed by others, I have acquired some very bad habits myself.

Unlike my old serial printers, the newer HP inkjet with the USB connection was *designed* to be wasteful, which I didn’t realize when I got it for cheap. If you turn it off, it insists on reprinting the test page when turned on again and demands to be realigned. There’s a sensor in there somewhere which says it is out of ink when it isn’t, checks that the replacement cartridge is from HP, and refuses to print if it has been refilled. Instead of chucking it out, as I should have done, I cut back on printing out drafts and left the @$#% machine on standby to avoid the test-sheet-and-realignment nonsense.

In other words, in trying to be ecological about it, I did the opposite, adding my little contribution to the unnecessary waste of energy. That my electricity is hydro-powered doesn’t make it excusable.

Worse still, the HDTV and indoor antenna I needed when Canada went digital-only are on the same power bar and their little LED lights are always on, too. Since I’ve succumbed to the charms of late-night comedy in bed now that I have a remote, I can’t see how to remedy that. I would have to move to a place where I can get reception with the gear right beside my bed, or give up the laughs I need so badly after a day of trying to write decent stuff and cursing at Canadian politics.

If anyone out there knows how to hack an HP 2050 to make it fly right, *please* let me know. Without that–or a USB-to-serial connection that will make Win7 work with an HP Deskwriter for old Macs–I’m in a cleft stick until I can buy a new printer. Which could be a long time, given slow-paying and non-paying clients.