Save the world one byte at a time!
So there are enough tree huggers out there that are bent on recycling and saving the world and certain things in it like the rain forest, ozone, star-nosed mole, etc. I’m not necessarily against all of that, I’ll rant about how we spend our money later. What I wanted to share is a concept of saving the world one byte at a time. Divulge my inner-crazy for a moment and read on…
If there are less bytes floating from computer to computer the world would be a little happier and a little cleaner. The more bytes your computer has to crunch the more power it needs so the more power the power stations need to produce therefore more pollution. Our current solution for dealing with this is making more energy effecient computers. Well, energy efficient means slow. Computers need power to do their thing. The more power you can give a computer the faster and better it does its thing. Period. If we make slower computers, we’ll all go crazy waiting for things to load then we’ll want fast ones again. Think about your day to day tasks that you complete on a computer. If you cut your work load in half, your computer would have to work half as much therefore effectively saving about half as much power (which in turns requires less power to be generated).
Don’t believe me? Download something that will cause you computer to compute and crunch. Try the SETI@Home app from http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/. This is a little app that downloads data from a server and processes it in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Whether or not you believe in aliens, this app will use your computer’s resources to crunch data. This will make your computer work hard when you’re not on it. Now monitor your home’s power consumption, or at least your monthly bill. It will go up, and noticebly. Why? Because your computer needs power to do its thing.
So how can you help stop this energy consumption crisis? There are a few things you can do which will help minimize how much crunching your computer will do, and in turn minimize its power consumption. Also, by minimizing what your computer does the services that serve your computer will be minized as well.
Check your email
Unsubscribe from e-newsletters. Take a look at your junk e-mail folder in your email system and read through and manually unsubscribe from newsletters that you are apparently not even reading. Important note, some of your junk e-mail might be legitimate spam (oxy moron I know). Basically, there will be emails in your junk e-mail that are spam, not newsletters. Unsubscribing from these might open you up to more emails. Pay attention to what you’re looking at and unsubscribing from.
Stop receiving your “important” alerts. Very similar to unsubscribing from newsletters, but instead check out the emails that do make it to your inbox. Do you really need them? Do you need an email alert everytime someone comments on your Facebook? You go to Facebook daily, why waste bytes on email alerts? Update your profile and stop receiving these emails.
There may be some alerts that may be real important like from your bank or work. Keep these, but look at the data being sent. Can you configure your alerts to send less data? Why receive an alert from work that is 2 paragraphs long, when all you’re going to do is log into the system and read through it anyway? Can your alerts be reduced to a sentence or two? Can the alert be sent via SMS to your phone instead of email?
How this helps: If you use an email client like Outlook, unsubscribing will minimize the amount of bytes your computer downloads and crunches. Also, each email that is downloaded is also processed by your antivirus scanner, yup, that means more crunching. Unsubscribing will also minimize the amount of bytes sent to your email server, and other network devices like your home modem, router, your ISP’s routers and firewalls. And finally it will minimize the crunching the sending server has to do as well. Unsubscribing from that one email that you never read will reduce the bytes from the source all the way to your home. Easy enough!
Really Simple Syndication
Also known as RSS, really simple syndication allows people to subscribe to a feed, like a blog or twitter, and read a summary of the item. If there is interest, then they can click to read the full article. So instead of going to your favorite news website and blogs, get a free RSS reader and subscribe to the lists and sites you love most.
How this helps: Using this blog post as an example, if you were to read it through an RSS reader, you would get a summary, a small portion of the article, and then a link to read the entire thing. This allows you to choose whether or not you want to go to the site and read the article. Also, because the RSS reader is only downloading the content, there is no wasted bytes on the site images, ads, and other stuff that clogs up the internet. You simply download text and read text. Pretty sweet!
Chances are your computer is talking to the internet more than you know! Windows, Antivirus, iTunes, Quicktime, Rhapsody, Instant Messengers, Adobe Acrobat, Logitech, Dell and more all connect to their associated servers periodically to check for updates and statuses. In most cases this occurs behind the scenes and you only find out about it if there is an update available. Go through your installed applications and disable the automatic updating. Important note, do not disable automatic updates for Windows or your Antivirus. These two components are critical to remain as up to date as possible.
How this helps: When your computer starts up, shuts down, is idle for a period or whenever else it wants, your applications check for updates. They crunch some bytes on your computer, then send these bytes to their server (over several routers/firewalls/etc) and then their server crunches the bytes and returns more bytes. In most cases, this transaction results in nothing, there is no update available but your computer is checking anyway. By disabling the automatic updates (again, do not disable them for Windows or Antivirus) you are limiting the amount of automatic crunching by your computer. At any point in time you can manually update your applications when you want to. Why upgrade when it isn’t broken?
Do your part
If we all contribute and reduce the amount of crunching our computers need to so, we can and will reduce the amount of power needed. Some of the side benefits will be faster internet browsing speeds since the internet connections aren’t all clogged up with useless bytes.
If you have other ideas on how to help reduce your computer’s power consumption, let me know!!