Toilet paper

We go through a lot paper products in this country. All sorts of things are available in “disposable” versions to save time, work, mess, whatever. Some of those I try to avoid — paper plates and cups, baking pans, plastic bags and especially anything styrofoam. I still use a lot of paper though, because some things just don’t work well if they’re made from anything else.

Toilet paper is one of those. It may work to use leaves or the fingernails of one’s left hand, but I’m pretty certain that I will stick with paper on this one. So, I bought some green toilet paper. Not green-colored, but recycled.

This stuff is 100% recycled, 80% post-consumer, whitened without chlorine, dye-free, safe for septic systems (so plenty safe for municipal treatment systems) and made by a company, Seventh Generation, that has a good reputation for making environmentally friendly but usable products.

You can take a look at the TP on Amazon. Buying it in bulk there saves me trips to the store, ensures a good supply so I won’t substitute normal paper, and makes it relatively inexpensive. Plus, I love shopping for weird things on the interwebs.

We’re still on our first roll of the stuff here, and it’s been a week and a half, I think. The rolls last forever. The two-ply version is strong and effective. It does not fall apart, nor does it disintegrate like some of the really soft, normal paper. It’s not “quilted Charmin,” but it seems far softer than the bulk-supplied stuff used in most commercial buildings — this may be because of its relative thickness. In short, I really like it and am not at all disappointed to have 47 more rolls to use up.

I know it seems weird, but consider it. Widespread usage of this stuff will save trees, reduce landfill waste and reduce water usage — each by incredible amounts.

Windows 7, insane calendar syncing

This morning I installed the beta of Windows 7 that M$ made available last week. Looks good, for the most part. It seems slightly slower than Vista — just my general impression. However, I’m a little short on RAM, only 1 gig, and I’m hoping it’s better when I install the 2 gigs I bought off Cody’s Christmas gift card. I think when Windows 7 is actually released I shall start with a fresh install on a solid-state disk and get rid of this slow laptop hard drive. That should make it run insanely fast, at least for this aging computer.

No real hardware or software problems to speak of. Audio didn’t work at first, but I ran through the “update driver” process, which told me my driver was already updated but made me restart, then it worked. This is on a Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop with AMD. All of my apps seem to work fine, though every title bar gets a link to send feedback to M$ — unnecessary and prone to accidental clicks, but I guess feedback from a couple million users is at least part of the reason for this beta.

I love the pop-up list of available wireless networks. That saves a few clicks, it’s fast and such a no-brainer that I wonder why it hasn’t been a part of previous OSs and of the tray utilities shipped by wifi device manufacturers. The combined quick-start and task bar is an interesting change. Not bad, I think. It seems to have the benefit of keeping your commonly used apps in the same order on your taskbar all the time, regardless of which was opened first.

The laptop had shipped with Vista Home Basic, so just having the Aero interface again is nice (the Beta is the Ultimate version). I’m not a big fan of desktop widgets…I went through a phase, but now I find them a waste of my time and CPU cycles. I no longer use Outlook and have been relying on Windows Mail for the past couple of years. That’s gone, but the free Windows Live Mail is better: more full-featured, including a Calendar. It took me more than a couple of minutes, though, to get Live Mail’s interface switched around to something more of my liking.

Speaking of calendars, my work appointments now show up on my home computer. It’s not exactly necessary — I did it because I can. But it’s automated and fucking cool: Email and calendar at work are in (don’t get me started) Groupwise 7. The Blackberry server does two-way syncing of calendar, contacts and email with my work phone. Gmail’s Blackberry sync application runs on my phone and does two-way syncing of my calendar and contacts with my Gmail account. Using Gmail’s private calendar-publishing address, that calendar is imported (one-way only) into Windows Live Calendar ( Windows Live Calendar, in turn, syncs with the calendar portion of Live Mail on my laptop. That’s two-way syncing, but it doesn’t matter because the jump from Gmail to Windows Live breaks the two-way chain. I think that’s four hops, and my nerdy self loves it.

As an added bonus, every time I reserve an IGO car (Chicago non-profit car-sharing service), they send the reservation to my Gmail calendar, meaning it shows up everywhere else. I’m on the lookout for more things like that. For instance, my $99 Chicago Fire season ticket ($6.60 per game!) should put itself on my calendar automatically.

In other news, Spotify updated itself and now knows that I’m “traveling” in the US, not logging on from the UK, where I “live.” Dammit! I’d hate to try to push all of that streaming music through a UK proxy just to get around it. They need to open up the trial to the US soon.