Rotten Apples part 2: A Simple Way to Recycle Your Old Computer

You may have seen this article I wrote on June 15th:

Rotten Apples? A Tale of Two Laptops

This story was about Apple making their new MacBook laptops un-upgradeable. Well since publishing the story, Apple since made another announcement that would mean all existing peripherals would now be useless on new iPod and iPhone products, due to new products only working with a new and incompatible connector.

There were many articles about this in the press which I am sure you will have seen, a typical one being this one from the Daily Mail, and how Apple was now ripping off their customers.

Fury at Apple’s ‘rip-off’ plan to make ALL iPhone accessories obsolete by changing design of socket

Does Apple expect us to by a new iPad every two years? Photograph: Alex Segre/Alamy

There has also been this article in the Guardian by Kate Bevan, published today, which is a great rant about how first generation iPads will now not be compatible with the latest software update:

You mean my two-year-old iPad can’t take this year’s software?

However, I do have some more positive news. Samual Butts who happens to work for Simplicity Computers got in touch with me after reading the article, because I also wrote about their computer solution for older people. In my article, I made the suggestion that their solution was ideal for people like me who maybe wanted to upgrade their old computer but who did not want to dump it. Samuel sent me a message to say that in fact Simplicity Computers now have a solution for this exact same problem.

Their solution, Simplicity Homekey, completely transforms an old windows computer into one which uses their extremely simple software interface, so that older people, and maybe some other people who struggle with normal computers can now get on line, email people and perhaps create very simple text documents.

I have played with my mother’s Simplicity Computers laptop,but I have not used Homekey myself, so I am not in a position to review it, but there is an independent review here by GadgetSpeak.

Nigel Houghton, the managing director of Simplicity Computers, also got in touch with me and told me the following statistics, which are quite staggering:

In the UK, at least 2 million computers are discarded every year, while 11 million people are still not using computers (and the internet).  Many of these think computers are too complicated or two expensive (some of course have no interest in  computers).

My background originally was in Human Factors, Ergonomics and User Centred Design, and I worked at BT Laboratories in Ipswich, the largest Human Factors department in Europe. These statistics are interesting to me, as I remember one project where we did usability studies with older people who often have slight but still significant visual and hearing impairments, and also people with disabilities making the small buttons on mobile phones impossible to use. I think this is a great solution as it potentially gets many more people on line, while at the same time recycling old computers which still have more than enough processing power for these simple activities.

In another recent article, China warned that the age of cheap raw materials for our wanton consumption of electronic equipment may well soon be coming to an end.

The end of the gadget bonanza? China warns it is running out of the raw materials that power our mobiles, X-Ray machines, computers and cameras

So for this reason I very much welcome Simplicity Computers contribution to creating good and affordable solutions for recycling computers, and Apple Computers, please have a rethink. Very soon if that’s ok?

5 responses to “Rotten Apples part 2: A Simple Way to Recycle Your Old Computer

    • Hi Simplicity are a small UK company. They are looking to expand into other countries, but I am not aware of any specific dates for the availability of Homekey in the US. I am sure that if you email them they will provide you with more information.

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