Computer Recycling Tips

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Monday, April 19, 2004; 12:00 AM

I'll have my usual Web chat at 2 p.m. ET today -- between Sunday's column on Apple's iTunes Music Store and the interview I did two weeks ago with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, there should be plenty to talk about. Stop by at at 2 p.m., or submit your questions ahead of time.

In last week's newsletter, I promised more info on ways to recycle or safely dispose of old computers and electronics. I'll start with the District, which is having its own electronics-recycling event this Saturday, April 24 (aka, Earth Day). It will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the parking lot of the Carter Barron Amphitheater parking lot, at 16th and Kennedy Sts. NW. More information is online here.

Fairfax County residents can take advantage of a similar event on the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College (8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day.

Anne Arundel is next on the calendar, with a computer-recycling day set for Saturday, May 8 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the county landfill, 389 Burns Crossing Road, Severn.

Loudoun County, in turn, will have its annual recycling event May 22, at a location to be determined.

Charles County had a computer recycling event last June, but none has been posted for this year yet on the relevant page.

Elsewhere around the region, dead computers and gadgets are accepted year-round at designated locations.
* Howard County
* Montgomery County
* Prince George's County
* Prince William County

(I couldn't find any info on active computer-recycling programs at the Web sites of Calvert, Howard, St. Mary's and Fauquier Counties. If you have details, please send my way.)

Yesterday's Web Watch column mentioned America Online's recent addition of IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) support -- a very big step for the online service, which has historically stuck with its own proprietary standards and software. I well recall an AOL spokesperson explaining why the company couldn't open its instant-messaging system to other software: It would mean users would be storing their AOL screen names and passwords on somebody else's software!

I guess things have changed out in Dulles.

I'm pleased to see AOL make this move, partially because it will represent a huge improvement for members who have grown to like other mail programs besides AOL's own software, and partially because (here I'm speaking completely selfishly!) it vindicates my own column about IMAP from a few weeks ago.

So far, I've been able to read my AOL e-mail via IMAP without a problem in Outlook 2003, Apple Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird. Sending AOL mail (something possible because AOL, unlike many Internet providers, allows password-protected access to its own outgoing mail server to users who are off its own network) is a little more tricky. In both Mail and Outlook, it just doesn't work. An unofficial frequently-asked-questions page has more info.

Another follow-up on an older column: Last week, Nextel announced pricing for the wireless-broadband service it's been testing in North Carolina. The rates look a bit more affordable than Verizon's $80/month BroadbandAccess, which I reviewed last month. For unlimited 750-kbps downloads and 200-kbps downloads, you'd pay a discounted $50 a month--a $10 cut from the "standard" price. A cheaper $35/month (normally $45) plan places a 150-megabyte cap on data usage, which seems inadequate for any extended downloading.

The downside? You'll have to move the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina to use this, at least for now. Still, $50 or $60 a month is a lot easier to justify than $80. It's not much more than many cable or DSL plans, and in return you can go online just about anywhere in the service area, not just at home.

I'm looking forward to seeing competition start up between Nextel, Verizon and perhaps other wireless carriers. The market badly needs it.

-- Rob Pegoraro (rob@twp.com)


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