No Tech Reader #35

The Merits of Obsolete Technology

old mobile phone“Sales of books are eclipsing digital alternatives, while vinyl records, Polaroid cameras and even simple mobile phones are enjoying a resurgence… The appeal is only partly faddishness. For the old phones actually do what phones used to do, which is to make and receive phone calls, without depositing your whole life in cyberspace where it can be stolen and used to embarrass you before the entire world. According to the New York Times, one of the main attractions of the retro-phone for celebrities is that it helps keep their secrets safe. And, as rocker Iggy Pop says, “You can drop it and it doesn’t break.”

“Even typewriters are bouncing back. Spooked by the WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden affairs, intelligence agencies and political groups are reportedly returning to Cold War technology to keep their secrets safe. The glamour is back, too. Movie star Tom Hanks recently published a “love letter” to the typewriter, declaring: “The tactile pleasure of typing is incomparable… there is a sheer physical pleasure to typing.” Dr Mike Evans, a theoretical physicist at York University, believes that the appeal of high-technology is being undone by its constant quest for what he calls “sterile perfection”…”

Read more: Why low-tech living is back.

Games on Disc More Energy Efficient than Downloads

videogame 2

Assasin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

“This research investigates the carbon footprint of the lifecycle of console games, using the example of PlayStation 3 distribution in the UK. We estimate total carbon equivalent emissions for an average 8.8-gigabyte game based on data for 2010. Two delivery scenarios are compared: the first examines Blu-ray discs delivered by retail stores, and the second, games files downloaded over broadband internet.”

“Contrary to current consensus that downloaded data will result in lower carbon emissions than distribution by disc, producing and distributing an average-sized game by Blu-ray disc in 2010 resulted in approximately 50 to 90% less emissions than downloading. The estimated carbon emissions from downloading only fall below that of Blu-ray discs for games smaller than 1.3 gigabyte. The study findings serve to illustrate why it is not always true that digital distribution of media will have lower carbon emissions than distribution by physical means when file sizes are large.”

[Read more…]

Portable Low-tech Scale Accurately Weighs Small Items

Portable Low-tech Scale Accurately Weighs Small Items

“Designed primarily for weighing letters in order to determine postage, this non-digital, non-electronic, and barely even mechanical little gizmo is nonetheless accurate enough that its use has been approved by the US Postal Service. Besides its role as a letter-weigher, the ‘Personal Post Office Scale’ has reportedly also found use in fields such as home brewing, field biology, cooking, and police work.” Read more / Order. Thanks, Rasmus.

Designed For The Dump

The Story of Electronics: Why ‘Designed for the Dump’ is Toxic for People and the Planet” (video). Related:

A Low-tech Trick to Eliminate Standby Power Consumption

Standby power use is the electricity consumed by appliances and other equipment when they are switched off or not performing their primary purpose. It is responsible for 3 to 12 percent of residential electricity use worldwide (source, pdf). Freelance journalist Robert Buzink has a low-tech solution for this – all you need is a pair of scissors and a screwdriver. The text is in Dutch but the pictures speak for themselves.