Computer Recycling in the D.C. Area

While we are shopping for the holidays, we should remember to recycle our old electronics. This article covers recycling information and locations for the Virginia, D.C., and Maryland area.

Dangers of Computer Waste

Old computers and monitors have harmful materials that can seep into the ground water and air if thrown in your normal trash. The cadmium and mercury in displays can damage the nervous system. Computers also may contain lead (causing birth defects and learning disabilities) and CFCs (destroying the ozone layer).


If you have a working computer, you can get rid of it through:

  1. Craigslist (Washington D.C. metro area) has sections for selling or giving away free stuff.
  2. Freecycle is a free program to give people items for reuse. They have groups everywhere, including, Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.
  3. D.C. Goodwill accepts computers that are not more than 5 years old. They will not take CRT monitors, the older large monitors that have been replaced by LCDs.

Recycling Computers and eWaste

The easiest way to recycle an old computer is to do it with the purchase of a new computer. Apple, Dell, HP, Sony, Toshiba and others have a corporate recycling program that allows you to give them your old computer after buying your new computer.

This image shows the Free Recycling Kit option that Dell provides in their services customization when you buy a new computer.

Drop-off Locations for Computers and other eWaste

The EPA eCycling site is the closest thing to a definitive set of inks to eCycling programs across the country. Below are the best links I found to the D.C. area programs:

Washington D.C.

DC Free Electronic Disposal Sites:
DPW (Department of Public Works) offers free, weekly Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and electronic recycling (e-cycling) drop-off service at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station, 3200 Benning Road, NE, and at the Ft. Totten Trash Transfer Station, 4900 Bates Road, NE, each Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm.


Arlington, VA HAZMAT Program:
Arlington residential households can recycle computers and other electronic items at the County’s HHM drop off sites.

Virginia Department of Environment Computers and Electronics Recycling, List of Virginia Collections Centers


Maryland Department of Environment Electronic Recycling Collection Events and Locations:
Montgomery Country Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center

Ink Cartridges

Ink cartridges can be dropped off at Micro Center in Fairfax, Virginia. Office supply stores such as Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot take used toner cartridges and sometimes even give you credit toward a store purchase for dropping them off.

Cell Phones

Cell phones can be dropped off at cell phone stores. Working phones can also be donated to women’s shelters. Unactivated phones still have the ability to call 911 so they can be useful.

Recycling Can Be Easy

With many recycling options, you can easily dispose of your electronics safely.

Please let us know if you have any corrections or additions to this post.

IT Conference for Intelligence Community

The Washington Post writes Even Spies Go to Trade Conferences about yesterday’s Open Source Conference 2008 organized by the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) at Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Building. The “open source” here does not refer to open source code for developers, but to open sourcing of intelligence by using the Internet and other publicly available sources to gather information.

Unlike Cold War-era spies, intelligence analysts and government policymakers can no longer rely primarily on cloak-and-dagger operations to keep track of global threats. Now, like businesses and other organizations, they’re increasingly turning to the torrents of information available on the Internet and through other non-classified sources.

Booz Allen Hamilton offered a service called InTrack to help collect, monitor and process data collected from the Internet and other sources. LexisNexis promoted a system for sending automated warnings of trouble abroad. There were companies selling translation systems, Web search tools and data-mining supercomputers. One of the more popular booths was Google’s.

The Google booth displayed a high-definition video of a virtual car driving through an exact digital representation of San Francisco — streets, buildings and all. But Google exhibitors said they were not allowed to tell a reporter why the company was there or what it did for intelligence or anything else.

HD Radio in Washington D.C.

What is HD Radio?

Unfortunately, HD Radio has a misleading name. The letters “HD” stand for nothing. They only mean that it is digital instead of to analog. Digital does not mean that it is higher definition or higher quality than analog. It does mean that radio stations can fit more channels on the same spectrum.

What does HD Radio give you?

The Washington D.C. metro area has some great HD Radio stations. HD Radio gives you free extra channels to listen to outside of what is available on a normal AM/FM radio. Every channel listed below with a -2 or -3 is an extra channel that is not offered in analog AM or FM.

Washington D.C. HD Radio Listing

WAMU-HD 88.5 FM Nws/Tlk/Inf, American University
WAMU-HD2 88.5-2 FM Bluegrass, American University
WAMU-HD3 88.5-3 FM BBC / NPR / WTMD, American University
WPFW Soon in HD 89.3 FM Jazz, Pacifica Foundation
WCSP-HD 90.1 FM Nws/Tlk/Inf, National Cable Satellite Corporation
WCSP-HD2 90.1-2 FM C-Span, National Cable Satellite Corporation
WCSP-HD3 90.1-3 FM C-Span 2, National Cable Satellite Corporation
WETA-HD 90.9 FM Clscl/NPR, Greater Washington Educational Telecomm Association
WKYS Soon in HD 93.9 FM Urban AC, Radio One Inc.
WTGB-HD 94.7 FM Alternative, CBS Radio
WTGB-HD2 94.7-2 FM Adult Alternative – The Jam, CBS Radio
WPGC-HD 95.5 FM CHR/Rhymc, CBS Radio
WPGC-HD2 95.5-2 FM Gospel, CBS Radio
WHUR-HD 96.3 FM Urban AC, Howard University
WHUR-HD2 96.3-2 FM WHUR World, Howard University
WASH-HD 97.1 FM AC, Clear Channel
WASH-HD2 97.1-2 FM Smooth Jazz, Clear Channel
WMZQ-HD 98.7 FM Country, Clear Channel
WMZQ-HD2 98.7-2 FM Classic Country, Clear Channel
WLZL Soon in HD 99.1 FM Tropical, CBS Radio
WLZL-HD2 Soon in HDon 99.1-2 FM Hispanic AC, CBS Radio
WIHT-HD 99.5 FM CHR, Clear Channel
WIHT-HD2 99.5-2 FM New CHR, Clear Channel
WBIG-HD 100.3 FM Oldies, Clear Channel
WBIG-HD2 100.3-2 FM Oldies 50’s & 60’s, Clear Channel
WWDC-HD 101.1 FM Rock, Clear Channel
WWDC-HD2 101.1-2 FM eRockster, Clear Channel
WMMJ Soon in HD 102.3 FM Urban AC, Radio One Inc.
WTOP-HD 103.5 FM News, Bonneville International Corp.
WTOP-HD2 103.5-2 FM iChannel -Global Unsigned Bands, Bonneville International Corp.
WTOP-HD3 103.5-3 FM Traffic and Weather, Bonneville International Corp.
WPRS-HD 104.1 FM Black Gospl, Radio One Inc.
WJZW-HD 105.9 FM Oldies, Citadel
WJZW-HD2 105.9-2 FM Smooth Jazz, Citadel
WJFK-HD 106.7 FM Talk/Sprts, CBS Radio
WRQX-HD 107.3 FM Hot AC, Citadel
WWWT-HD 107.7 FM Talk, Bonneville International Corp.
WTNT-HD 570 AM Talk/News, Red Zebra Broadcasting
WMAL-HD 630 AM News/Talk, Citadel
WXTR Soon in HD 730 AM Sports, Red Zebra Broadcasting
WTEM-HD 980 AM Sprts/Talk, Red Zebra Broadcasting
WYCB-HD 1340 AM Gospel, Radio One Inc.
WOL-HD 1450 AM News/Talk, Radio One Inc.
WWWT Soon in HD 1500 AM Talk, Bonneville International Corp.

How to get HD Radio?

HD Radio’s Wikipedia page lists several HD Radio receivers for your car and home.

One of my favorites is the Sony XDR-F1HD. This costs about $100 and needs to be connected to an amp/receiver. It can not be connected directly to speakers unless they are powered speakers that can be connected with RCA cables.

If you need a new amp/receiver, there are some that have HD Radio built-in. My favorite of these is the Yamaha RX-V863, which can be ordered for $619 currently with a little haggling.

Is HD Radio worth it?

HD Radio has been around since 2002 and has been somewhat slow to take off. But if you like the extra stations it gives you, it can be worth the cost of the new equipment. Unlike Sirius and XM, there is no subscription to get HD Radio.

Washington D.C. offers more HD stations than most markets. The extra stations cover many genres and niches such as News, Bluegrass, Alternative, Country, Oldies, Jazz, and Gospel. If any of those stations interest you, give HD Radio a try.

Problems for Pandora and other US Web Radio Stations

Pandora is a web site that provides streaming music to your computer, your iPhone, and other devices. It creates customized stations based on music you like and if you give a song a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”. You can click on a song you like to go to Amazon or iTunes in order to purchase it. It’s great for finding new music and it used to be a good business.

But the record companies are afraid of streaming radio stations. They brought the issue to the Copyright Royalty Board, which decided last year to raise the cost to play a song over the Internet from 8/100 of a cent per song per listener in 2006 to 19/100 of a cent per song per listener in 2010. Pandora only makes revenue on ads on its website, so this will be quite a bite into profits.

The Washington Post recently talked with Pandora.

“We’re approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision,” said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. “This is like a last stand for webcasting.”…

“We’re losing money as it is… The moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we’re doing is wasting money.”

The problem is in Washington with the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision. First, if the music industry understood what was in their best interests, they would encourage the promotion of their music. Second, these rules only apply to the US. So I can still listen to streaming radio coming from Canada or anywhere else. Only US-based sites are punished. Third, no fees are charged to traditional over-the-air radio stations to play music.

Rep. Howard L. Berman of California is trying to negotiate a deal between web radio companies and SoundExchange, which represents the record companies. Hopefully he can encourage a more reasonable approach to music over the Internet.

Geotagging to arrive on Nikon Compact Camera

Nikon Coolpix P6000

Nikon recently announced their new flagship digital compact camera called the Coolpix P6000.

Expected in September for $500 list, this camera has a 13.5-million-pixel CCD. It can shoot in raw mode, meaning that it does not have to apply any lossy compression at all. It has a feature called d-lighting which fixes otherwise underexposed images caused by excessive backlighting. The P6000 even has an ethernet jack.


But the feature that interests me most is geotagging. The camera has a built-in GPS which allows it to embed the location of the camera in every shot.

Geotagging will allow you to look at a photos of your trip on a map. You will always be able to find out exactly where your pictures were shot.  You can embed the pictures in Google Maps or in Flickr with the location link.  Eventually applications such as iPhoto should be able to sort photos by location instead of just by date taken.

Until now, we needed to go through a complex process if we wanted to add GPS information to photos. Ricoh and some pro cameras have offered this feature as an add-on, but it has never been built into a mainstream camera. Hopefully we will see geotagging in more cameras to come.