Submit a Question To the Ask a Tech Geek Advice Column with Peter Rojas & Get a Free Shirt!

by , 06/28/11

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How can I recycle my old cell phone?

What’s the best solar powered gadget charger on the market?

If you’ve ever wondered about the answers to these or any other green gadget questions, you’re in luck – because Inhabitat has teamed up with renowned gadget geek Peter Rojas from gadget Q&A site to answer all your burning green tech questions. Peter Rojas is the co-founder of gdgt, Gizmodo, Joystiq, RCRD LBL and a little website called Engadget (maybe you’ve heard of it?). Peter knows anything and everything about consumer electronics, and he’ll be coming on board Inhabitat for the month of June to help our readers navigate the choppy waters of sustainability in relation to consumer electronics. Each week, Peter will be answering YOUR questions about green technology, if you have a burning question for him about anything green and gadgetty – from phones, to apps, to cameras to chargers – submit it today by leaving your questions in the comments below or tweet your question with the hashtag #AskATechGeek.

To try to provoke as many good questions as possible we’re sweetening the deal – we’ll be giving away your choice of Inhabitat T-shirt to every questioner that Peter answers, so ask a great question and win an inhabi-fab shirt (worth $35)!

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1. Leave it as a comment below


2. Tweet it to @Inhabitat and/or @peterrojas with the hashtag #AskATechGeek.

Peter will be answering the first question this week to kick off the ‘Ask A Tech Geek’ column and will continue to answer readers’ questions weekly until the end of June, so get your questions in now!

About Peter Rojas
Peter’s got some pretty impressive nerd credentials. He is the co-founder of technology websites gdgt, Engadget, Gizmodo and video gaming blog Joystiq. He writes about and reviews gadgets daily and has been quoted as a consumer electronics expert.
Disclosure: he’s also married to Inhabitat’s founder, Jill Fehrenbacher.

About GDGT
gdgt (say it like “gadget”) is the place to ask someone who actually knows the answer to your gadget question. Build your product list and we’ll send you the best new reviews of the gadgets you want, and the most helpful questions and answers about the gadgets you have.

Thank you to our generous sponsor Sprint for making this ‘Ask a Tech Geek’ column possible.

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  1. Lionheart May 12, 2014 at 10:40 am

    my sony xperia zr is dead from water there any way i can retrieve files from the internal storage?there are lots of precious pics in there:( thanks!

  2. guisimooes December 11, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Galaxy S3\ Android 4.3 – How to stop a blue date stamp from showing up in Gallery in the lower left corner of each picture? So annoying ! Tks!

  3. BlackNiqqaRainTech7 September 24, 2013 at 1:39 am

    So I’m hoping your familiar and up to date in the gaming/ PC world. Because I have a question or two about the new Alienware 18 gaming laptop. Do you think it will be capable of running the next generation games like the ones being made for Xbox 1? And… does the best main version(shown on the dell site anyways) have to be overclocked or can I take that feature off the list? Because I’d rather not have a fried laptop as a result.

  4. lolaluther August 1, 2013 at 9:49 am


    As a concerned parent please let me know frankly if there are apps out there with which you can remotely control another smartphone’s camera without the knowledge of the user. We believe my son’s smartphone had been compromised and his peers were able to monitor texts, calls & other files (photos, apps on his phone, etc). There is nothing that can be done about it as there is really no way to prove it.

    However, our main concern is what all possibly could have been done with such a spy app.

    I have researched the internet and found apps that can listen to background noise, gps locations and such, but most of the apps that lets you use the camera stealthily needs to be operated by the user himself. But, are there malwares or apps with which one can remotely operate another smartphone’s camera without the apparent sounds or without the phone’s screen going into camera mode, i.e without it being apparent to the phone’s user?

    This would help a lot!



  5. EstBoy May 9, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I’ve got a question-
    I’ve got alot of old PC/PS2 game cases, that are empty, but they are well-cared. What can I do with these for myself?

  6. kanegaro March 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Do you know of a survey application that allows for development of touch input for a tablet? Ideally for the Windows 8 platform, but iPad or Android would suffice. I have found VERY few and those are +$1000.00. I want to be able to ask question and touch the responses on a device. Hopefully send those responses to a central location.

  7. Uttam Khiladi February 26, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Any 3g usb modem which can tolerate more heat?
    With various 3g usb modems i have experienced that they disconnects/shutdown/restart after specific time due to overheating while continuous data transmission even if the 3g network is very good.
    Example:If one downloads a file of 500MB at 3g speeds,the modem overheats in something about 20 minutes and disconnects.
    Is there any option to get such an usb 3g modem that could tolerate much heat and last much longer with continuous data transmission for atleast 3 hours without getting shutdown/restarted/disconnected due to the overheating factor?
    Kindly guide me.

  8. zakacol99 February 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    i have a 1tb WD hdd. i installed windows 8 in my laptop. when i connected it a firewall option occured. and the whole content of hdd is hidden or i dont no what happened but the space is showing as 700gb full. what to do? please help me. i have important backups and files in that. please help!!!

  9. ANSHUL July 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

    If android markt is not given in any phone or tab den is it a big issue?cant we dwnld apps frm somewhere else?

  10. scarybob May 23, 2012 at 6:30 am

    hi what i’m thinking of doing is using a :-
    wolvol 7 inch new version mini book to store and play music, and feed my tv.
    can i use an external hard drive with this unit ?
    what is the best way to connect to my tv ? – usb port to hdmi ?
    can i use the headphone out let with a jack to audio leads connection to my amplifier ?
    my idea is to mount the unit to the wall, as this unit opens flat it’d be perfect to browse files, and then just use it for music and films, as i think this would be a great budget system?

  11. satchu May 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I am looking for the best digital camera (not camcorder) or a micro 4/3rd or mirror-less type of camera that will shoot very good video in low light conditions. Can you suggest 2-3 models?

  12. clueless October 20, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    can you tell me what software I should use if I want to start giving live photography class online. I want people to register in advance to get an access code and then with the acess code they can attend the class online. I would be live and students would be able to email questions during the class.

  13. sockapoke September 3, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    What is there these days to replace a media center desktop? I feel lost

  14. evelyn July 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Is it more efficient to power a device through your USB port on your computer or by plugging it directly into the socket – like a cell phone for instance.

  15. justnumb July 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    what are the best solar panels out there for charging electronics? doesn’t necessarily have to be portable

  16. yeahtechy July 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    what casing materials are actually the greenest? bio-plastics or glass and aluminum?

  17. lrsmith July 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Do you have any tips on external hard drives and how to use them? My computer is slow, but I’m not sure what would be most efficient to keep on one? Is there one that is greener than the others?

  18. raulsanchcobntempoart July 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    What do you think is the future of cell phone and laptop batteries? I know we have made advances on solar power but it seems we are still heavily relying on lithium – ion batteries. How many years do you think until we are fully solar powered?

  19. Anna K July 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    When I was in grade school (in the 70’s), we were told to leave the fluorescent lights in our classroom on over recess – the reason being that it would use more energy turning them on and off, than it would to leave them on for the entire day. Does this still apply with today’s CFLs, or…? I usually turn lights off when I leave a room, but since most of them are CFLs, maybe I shouldn’t. What’s the deal?

  20. AlexSheehan June 29, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I’ve been traveling a ton and need to invest in some headphones. Mine are about to die from overuse/abuse. Instead of reaching for the free airline earbuds (I know I know, who still does that?) — suggestions on quality sounding earpieces that aren’t totally ugly AND lower my environmental impact?

  21. teeveeformee June 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    is there any way to insure that your gadgets aren’t using any extra electricity when its plugged in but turned off?

  22. DianePham June 28, 2011 at 8:08 am

    What are your best options when it comes to low radiation cell phones?

  23. Laura K. Cowan June 28, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Does my iPhone emit more radiation in certain modes than others, and am I risking my child’s health by letting her watch TV on it? How big is the risk of cancer, really?

  24. Lea Bogdan June 28, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Is there a way to rig my major appliances to run only when the demand/cost for energy is lowest?

  25. Andrew Michler June 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    What is going on with OLEDs? They seem like they are always just around the corner and will change everything. Are OLEDs showing up yet in consumer products?

  26. Piper Kujac June 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    What are the best home energy use monitoring devices out there, for new construction vs. existing home retrofits or for renters?

  27. zeddblue June 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    my question is about the D Drive. i dont understand it at all. how does the computer decide what information goes there, and why? thanks!

  28. eschroeder19 June 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Is it true that by only charging your phone/computer/electronics when the battery has completely died lengthens battery life?

  29. GreenStudent June 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Are the Federal and State governments in the USA working on providing a charging station network to support the new wave of electric vehicles out there?

  30. laedwards51 June 27, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Do the new cloud music platforms end up saving energy in the long run, over keeping music in personal hard drives?

  31. jigme.wright June 27, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Are there any cool new tools that harness bicycle power?

  32. Starre June 26, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    How can I make my laptop last longer? I have a three-year old MacBook and would like to keep it going….is there anything I can do to extend it’s life and make it a less disposable product?

  33. jonothanch June 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    My HTC Evo 4G has serious battery issues, needing at least one charge in the middle of the day upon any extensiv e use. Are there any applications that will help battery usage?

  34. g100bkalways June 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    are there any apps or gadgets that help me hyper mile in my car?

  35. mkl June 25, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    If your laptop or cellphone is still functional but needs a new battery, is it better to buy a new one (potentially more energy efficient, made with more eco-friendly methods and materials?)or to buy a new battery?

  36. valgirl June 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    whats some of the ways tech companies are alternatively powering their devices? like solar, motion etc anything come to market yet?

  37. bennettpaul June 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    what do you think about charging pads, and do they suck less or the same amount of energy as plugging in all of your devices separately?

  38. totototot_1234 June 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    What’s the most eco-friendly smartphone on the market?

  39. Lori Zimmer June 25, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Whats your preferred way to control standby power- without the hassle of unplugging everything all the time?

  40. akankshakohli17 June 25, 2011 at 6:47 am

    do electricity montiroing devices consume any electricity by itself?

  41. dracula June 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

    what are some recommendations for eco-friendly cellphones that are actually good phones too?

  42. shinyjules June 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

    This may sound silly but are there any environmentally friendly apps?

  43. geekteach1 June 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I live in New York City; what are some places where I can recycle/trade in some of my old computer parts? Can I donate the parts to schools or universities?

  44. sndandsurf June 24, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Is there a commercially available clear solar film that can help power my iPad as I use it?

  45. akankshakohli17 June 24, 2011 at 6:41 am

    is there any way/method of utilizing personal man-power in order to run/charge everyday gadgets? something as whimsical as cycling to to be able to run your washing machine maybe?

  46. bagratuni June 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Besides the reduced noise level, are electric lawnmowers really that much more eco-friendly than gas-powered ones?

  47. taflinelaylin June 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Is there really any such thing as “sustainable technology?” Isn’t any new cell phone or laptop just another drain on finite natural resources? Do you think we will eventually hit a saturation point?

  48. sukimsu June 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    With so many e-readers available, which one is best?

  49. iluvthevalleyoh June 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    are there any cool things you can make like lights or little gadgets from old electronics like phones or video game systems with a few household tools? upcycle the parts instead of throwing them out or something like that, maybe make some cool toys for kids to mess around with?

  50. learue June 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Should I do anything to prepare my e-waste for recycling, like removing my personal information from old computers, phones, and such? I have no idea how to go about doing such a thing.

  51. warrensensei June 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    How can I get sustainable energy for my apartment if I can’t convince my landlords to install anything?

  52. JC June 22, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Is there any way to get more battery life out of my laptop battery?

    It seems like everyone who has at least a 2 year old macbook must keep it plugged in at all times for it to function. I’d like to prevent that from happening if possible.

  53. dickmink June 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    is it safe to sleep with my cellphone by my head? I’m worried….

  54. Mike Chino June 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    What do you think is the most promising renewable energy technology for on-the-go gadget charging?

  55. bagratuni June 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Can I solar-power my laptop, iPhone and/or iPod, and if so, what is the best way of doing so?

  56. Nicole Abene June 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Do you have any tips to make the life of your laptop battery longer?

  57. Falseter June 21, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Hi I live in a tropical country where the sun shines six months of the year, even up to 8 months. But unfortunately here we rely heavily on fossil fuels. It is unfortunate because I think this country is ideal for building solar power plants.

    What I wanted to ask if there are websites that show how to build environmentally friendly homes, especially homes with solar panels at an affordable price?

    I am sure if our community knows how to build homes more environmentally friendly and energy-friendly, people can reduce dependence on the state electricity company. Reducing dependency state electricity means less coal is burned

  58. renepare June 20, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    how can I use Internet sustainably?

  59. Captain June 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Is there a potential for Liquid Flow Batteries in personal/hand held electronics? How about with aircraft?

  60. Benjamin Lozovsky June 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    How wasteful is it to keep chargers/adaptors plugged in when not connected to their corresponding devices?

  61. kac90 June 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    How do I keep my laptop from overheating?

  62. Mike Chino June 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Which is greener – e-readers or printed books?

  63. Jonathan Green June 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I recently read on Inhabitat that a Swedish train station will use heat released by humans to power buildings.. Are there any such gadgets I can use during my morning run to help power my iPod?

  64. relivegreen June 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Apple sells a power block that plugs into the bottom of an i-phone for extra power does it charge it or do you have to keep it in to use it

  65. Timelord June 19, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Yo Peter,

    Why doesn’t anybody believe me yet when I state:

    They promised us Zion , but sold us to Cylon.

    T L.

  66. venkat0249 June 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Radiation of Mobile Phone can cause many symptoms, such as headaches dizziness, insomnia and dreaminess, hair loss and etc. so which is the best Anti-Radiation mobile gadget that is presently available?

  67. hutkahuni June 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    How often should I turn electronic devices off, if ever?

  68. thesupervillain June 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    What’s the best device for measuring my energy consumption at home?

  69. JasminMC June 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Who has a lighter environmental footprint; Apple or Microsoft?

  70. fatbastard June 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

    How do I talk to Peter Rojas 😀 lol.

  71. Jessica Dailey June 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I’m in the market for a new digital camera. Which brand is the most sustainable?

  72. Andrew Michler June 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Are pico projectors getting good enough to replace a small screen yet or is there still a lot of room for improvement? Are they more energy efficient generally?

  73. lordppm June 15, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Which microprocessor available in the market is most energy efficient?

  74. Trey Farmer June 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Does wifi have the same issues as cell phone use? Are there any laptop pads that will protect me and keep me comfortable?

  75. pimp4589 June 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Does using laptop without battery when in AC power extend the battery life?

  76. marinamr June 14, 2011 at 11:45 am

    What is the best way to recycle an old laptop that is not longer working?

  77. scifilullabies June 14, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I’ve got boxes full of old USB cords and cell phone adapters that I don’t use anymore. What’s the best way to get rid of them?

  78. evenflow7299 June 14, 2011 at 11:17 am

    What kind of laptop do you recommend for a programmer that also does graphic design?

  79. Lea Bogdan June 14, 2011 at 12:44 am

    How can I rig up my bike to harvest pedal power when I ride?

  80. Beth June 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I’d really like to know more about how much radiation is really emitted by an iPhone, and whether using one in close proximity to a child may harm them. Looking forward to reading this great column!

  81. Kestrel Jenkins June 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    What’s the most energy-efficient cell phone out there?? I feel like mine is constantly needing to be re-charged!


  82. aya66 June 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    This is great! My biggest question now is how do I support my kids (and myself) to use our cell phones while avoiding cancer? I’m not freaking out entirely but I do want to know what the guidelines for safe cell phone use are.

  83. Moe June 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I really want to bike-power my laptop, but I understand I need an inverter to convert bike-power to the correct current. Is there any possibility of damaging my battery with pedal power?

  84. Denis_Caissy June 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Is there a device to recharge all my gadget using renewable energy?

  85. Will Giron June 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve heard that it’s better to keep a laptop on sleep mode rather than shutting it off completely. Why is that the case? What would you recommend?


  86. Cliff Champion June 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    D3@r T3ch G33k,

    What are some easy ways to reduce my laptop’s energy consumption?



  87. Leonel Ponce June 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    What are some resources where I can find life-cycle analyses for my gadgets and their components?

    Thank you!

  88. bagratuni June 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Can I solar-power my laptop, iPhone and/or iPod, and if so, what’s the best way to do so?

  89. Dan Mendes June 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    What’s really best way to charge your laptop? Let it drain and refill it or just keep it plugged in all day?


  90. evelyn June 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Are there any portable solar chargers that can charge my laptop?

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