Archive for March, 2009

When recycled means first rate…

One reason people are reluctant to buy recycled paper is that it’s believed to be inferior to paper products made from recently felled trees. That perception, widespread as it may be, is not necessarily correct.

I’ve happily used 100% recycled copy paper for years, starting with Xerox’s 100% recycled paper (which has become increasingly hard to find, even online), but now use Staples 100% recycled copy paper, with comparable results when printing or copying.

recycled-copy-paper

Recycled copy paper is as smooth as the typical copy paper, so it prints and copies as well as other copy paper, as long as it is the same weight (20 lb.) of typical office copy paper, which this is. (Recycled lined writing pads, however, vary noticeably in quality, although there are good ones.)

The only real difference is price, as the recycled paper is more costly than regular copy paper. However, combining thrifty printing methods (double sided printing, always using print preview, regularly selecting text) allows me to use much less paper and ink, and recycling the ink cartridges gets me rewards points (in essence, a monthly coupon), effectively offsetting the initial expense.

This one step, switching the office copy/print paper to 100% recycled copy paper, makes it easier to be green! (Sorry, Kermit the frog.)

P.S. When is Mark Buckley going to have Staples yank the rewards commercial which implies that no one need shake toner cartridges if you have them recycled later? The time-honored tradition of toner shaking saves SO much ink that it will be an office mainstay as long as there are printers and copiers.

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In your face with e-post-its…

Now, I tend to use paper-based sticky notes more as labels instead of as reminders, so that I know at a glance what a page refers to, what a stack of papers is for, and such. (There are stickies made from recycled paper, but I don’t use paper stickies often enough to justify buying them, for now.)

However, there remains a need for a good reminder, of more than one type. Common programs that are good reminders include Outlook; however, its notes feature is weak, and OneNote appears too complicated to be used as an electronic version of the sticky note.

However, there’s still a need for simple notes that stay on your computer’s desktop, in your face, as it were (unlike Outlook’s note feature, which closes when you close Outlook), so enter the world of e-notes. I’ve tried a couple of the free ones, most notably Sticky Notes for Windows. It was acceptable at first, although it lacked flexibility (couldn’t change fonts, colors), but became erratic after a while, so I chucked it.

I wondered whether 3M had an electronic rendition of its venerable post-it notes for Windows, and it did. (It even runs on Vista.) Fortunately, a full free trial version of this program is available, which runs for 30 days.

post-it-screen-shot2

With this program, which costs $19.99, you can have more than one note on the desktop, have them in different colors, the text in various fonts, format the text (bold, italics, differing sizes), re-size the note windows to your heart’s content, and much more. Features that I haven’t yet tried include setting alarms for notes, inserting photos. All your notes can be put on an electronic corkboard, if you prefer.

The drawback of this program, as you may have guessed, is that it takes up a bit of memory, and I tend to stay away from those that are memory hogs. However, this one has proved so useful and simple that I overlooked that shortcoming. (I deleted some of the bloatware that came with my system soon after I purchased it, so I had room for these e-stickies.)