Electronic Gadgets and E-Waste

A while back, I confessed my laggard nature in adopting new technology. I mean I was late in adopting the iPhone. I have a ton of excuses. Like many of you, I’ve been pretty good at making excuses since I was a kid. But my batting average for success is not very high.

Long, long ago, there was a debate on which gadgets to carry when you go out. The major contenders at the time were the cell phone and the PDA. In the IT field, many gadgets come and go. I wonder if the younger generations know what a PDA is. I may ask my younger colleague whether he knows what a PDA is. I remember at one of the Svforum meetings, a famous entrepreneur who came to the US from France with $100 in his pocket gave a talk on what to carry when you go out. He was quite successful and left his first venture then. He was Philippe Kahn and his first venture was Borland. His second company was named Starfish Software. In his talk, he emptied his pockets and took out about seven gadgets, including a cell phone and a PDA. I do not remember what the others were.

Time passed and many gadgets died away. I bought them and threw them away as they began to disappear from the market radar. I do not remember whether I buried them with honor, as in proper ewaste processing. There was no strong push or mention of ewaste processing at the time. It is only in the past several years that people have started talking about how to properly dispose of them. I wonder how much ewaste I personally produced. Proper burial with honor for my gadgets is not straightforward. I still have three or four old cell phones and several laptops and desktops with separate displays.

One thing is that I do not know how to erase all the personal and business information on the storage devices, such as the hard disks. If a computer is functioning, you can install a program to wipe out the disk contents completely. But if the computer is not alive (I mean if it’s physically dead), what can you do? My solution is to remove the hard disk and physically destroy it. That way, no one can restore the contents. I then put it back and take the computer to a nearby ewaste center, thanks to Apple computer. Then, why do I still have three desktops in my office? Well, I cannot get the hard disks out of the chassis. I can use brute force, but if I completely destroy it, will the ewaste processing place take it as a computer? So when I have time, I try taking it off. No success yet. I can take displays separately, but it is cumbersome to make extra trips.

Now am I to blame for my ignorance or my procrastinating personality? Do I need to be prosecuted by the Green Police? Since I cannot afford to hire an expensive attorney to defend me, I will defend myself. Here goes.

If I have violated anything that is not compatible with environmentally correct behavior, it is because:

  1. Electronic gadgets manufacturers have not developed products that last longer.
  2. Electronic gadgets manufacturers have not developed products that could be easily disposed of properly from the environmentally correct and security/privacy perspectives.
  3. Society at large did not warn or educate me about environmentally correct behavior.
  4. Some of my alleged violations are nullified by now because of statutory limitations.
  5. If I am guilty, most of you are also guilty.

Am I convincing enough, Your Honor? Probably, #5 is a good argument because we need more prisons to accommodate the large population of violators.

Finally, I confess that I am computing-holic. I get depressed when my Internet connection is down, my PCs break, my iPhone does not reboot, and/or my email server is down. I need to be online at every minute, if not second, of my waking hours. Is this a disease or a crime?

It got much worse after I acquired an iPhone. Maybe I should blame Apple for my behavior.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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