The iPhone Graveyard

Ten years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Computer Graveyard in which I describe the phenomenon of getting a new computer but not being ready to get rid of the old one. So the old one sits on the floor until you get another new computer, and then the one you’ve been using goes on the floor next to the older one, and . . . well, you get the idea.

Now that smart phones have become so prevalent in our lives, I’ve discovered a new phenomenon: the iPhone graveyard. And I was shocked to discover it in my very own home.

I have a couple of drawers in my home office designated for small tech. One is for chargers (cables, plugs, power banks, etc.) and another one is for headphones. This kind of stuff comes into our homes relentlessly, so it’s handy to have a specific place for them. It keeps down the clutter and helps me find one when I need it.

I was cleaning these drawers out to get rid of anything too old or non-functional. That’s when I discovered my very own iPhone graveyard, which had accumulated in the headphones drawer. Apparently each member of my family got a new iPhone in the last few years, and I stashed the old ones in that drawer. I had a few other items to take to electronic recycling, so I decided it was time for these old iPhones to go. I wanted to clear all of the data off of them first, but I encountered three hurdles.

Hurdle No. 1: they had all lost their charge and I couldn’t even turn them on. Luckily, I had already cleaned out the chargers drawer, so I was able to pull out three functional iPhone charger cables and USB plugs and get these phones plugged into various electrical outlets in my apartment.

Once the phones were charged enough to be able to turn them on, I encountered Hurdle No. 2: I needed to enter the passcode for each phone. I knew mine and my husband’s, but not my daughter’s. I texted her, and luckily she remembered the passcode for that old phone, which was two phones ago.

I went into Settings and found the option “Erase All Content and Settings”. That’s when I encountered Hurdle No. 3: I couldn’t erase all content and settings without providing the Apple ID and password on each phone. Again, I knew mine and could look up my husband’s, but I had to reach out to my daughter to find out hers. Now I was ready to reset all three phones and take them to Best Buy for recycling.

In the rush of our daily lives, it’s easier to just stick an old phone in a drawer when we get a new one. But the amount of trouble I went through to get these items ready for recycling reminded me that everything is easier if you do it when it’s current, rather than putting it off.

Controlling the Cords – Part 2

In my last post, I wrote about my efforts to minimize the cord clutter in my redesigned home office (see Controlling the Cords.) My readers really enjoyed the product recommendations. So I thought I would showcase the cord-control products I am using in the rest of my living room.

When I decorated my living room,  I placed the sofa in the middle of the room instead of against the wall. That allows space behind it for my home office, but that isn’t why I did it. It’s because of the shape of the room, which is one big square. I wanted the focal point of the room to be the fireplace, and I didn’t see any other way to make that happen unless I floated the sofa.

My Living Room

Wiremold Floor Cord Management Kit

In order to put the sofa in the middle of the room and have reading lamps behind it, I needed a way to run an extension cord from under the sofa to the nearest electrical outlet (on the same wall where my home office equipment plugs in.) Until I ascertained the existence of low-profile cord covers, I wasn’t certain I could set up the room this way. A visit to my local hardware store determined that such a product existed! The brown rubber cord cover that I purchased has been walked over — and stepped on — for 19 years, and it is still going strong. The one I bought locally looks very much like the Wiremold Floor Cord Management Kit, which comes in four neutral colors and three lengths. On the far right of the photo, you can see the extension cord emerging from the cord cover and into the D-Line Cable Management Box that I wrote about last time.

Bluelounge Cablebox on floor

There is a lot of serious cord control going on around the fireplace. As I mentioned last time, I’m using a Bluelounge CableBox organizer in one corner. It covers an unsightly power strip into which are plugged my Sonos speaker and my landline (yes, I still have a landline), both of which you can see on the left, as well as several pieces of equipment on top of my file cabinet on the right — my cable modem, my router, and my business landline (yes, I have TWO landlines!) The equipment on top of the file cabinet is hidden the old fashioned way: behind family photographs, with the cables hanging behind the file cabinet.

Another one of my favorite products is in use in this setup. It’s the plastic white cord cover that hides the wires as they drop from the shelf down to the floor. I have this in use in several places around the fireplace. I purchased it at my local hardware store, but here’s a brand on Amazon that looks the same. It can be trimmed to the size you need, and it also has adhesive on one side in case you want to attach it to the wall.

Here is the full effect:

Hiding equipment with photographs

Command™ Clip

On the other side of the fireplace, I’m using another product in conjunction with the cord cover. As you know, I am obsessed with Command™ products. I have another Sonos speaker hidden behind my television. Here I am using a Command™ Cord Clip to keep the Sonos power cord flat until it enters the white cord cover. I can’t find this white clip on the Command™ website anymore, but you can still get Command™ Clear Flat Cord Clips, which do the same thing and have the benefit of being clear.

I put a lot of thinking into how to make my living room look warm and homey in spite of all of the lighting, entertainment, and electronic equipment in use.

Controlling the Cords

I am loving my new setup that I wrote about last time in Transforming My Home Office. However, the new furniture arrangement ended up exposing all of my computer cords. Since my home office is in the corner of my living room, I want to make sure it looks as attractive as possible.

Despite all of my tools and tricks, it looked pretty shabby. There were cables coming out of the back of the computer, as well as power cords plugged into a power strip. It was an unsightly mess.

Behind the desk – before

My first step was to hide the power strip, as well as the cables going into it. I went on-line to purchase the Bluelounge CableBox organizer, which I am using successfully at the other end of my living room. But another product caught my eye: the D-Line Cable Management Box. It was smaller, had rounded edges, and would allow cables to go in from the back instead of the sides. I knew that I would need a narrower power strip, so I purchased the same one that I bought when I set up my husband’s home office in the corner of our bedroom (see Creating A Home Office). It’s the Belkin 6-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector. I chose it because it has a “flat rotating plug”, which means it could improve the look of the mess of cables under my desk.

Behind the computer – improved

The D-Line Cable Management Box (like the Bluelounge CableBox) has enough room inside to put bunched-up cables. So I not only was able to hide the power strip, I was also able to hide the excess cable lengths.

Another product that I used behind the desk was the Blue Key World Cable Clip Organizer. It is a small round disk that sticks onto your furniture and channels your thin cables. I used several of them on the back of my desk to guide the speaker wires down to the computer audio port and to the power strip. The cables are still visible, but at least they are in a straight line! I have another one on the side of my desk, which I use for my earphones cable when I’m on a Zoom meeting. It keeps the cable from hanging to the floor and gives me a little more slack to move around.

Now I was ready to tackle the cables under the desk. There are three thick cables that emanate from my monitor and go to the back of the computer and the power strip. I had previously purchased a white Cable Management Sleeve for some unsightly cords around my television, but when my VCR died earlier this year, I was able to take apart that setup. So I redeployed the sleeve to cover the monitor cables.

Under the desk

None of these solutions is perfect, but I was pleased that when I was done, it looked better than before I started. As long as we live in an electronic world, we will have to figure out how to hide cables.

New Life for Your Old Electronics

If you receive my monthly newsletter, you’ve seen my listings of electronics recycling events throughout New York City. Most of these events are sponsored by the Lower East Side Ecology Center, a longtime promoter of recycling and composting. The Center opened a permanent drop-off site for electronic waste in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn in 2012.

A recent New York Times article described the role the Center plays in providing old electronics for television shows and movies that need props to reflect an earlier era. Old computers, monitors, rotary phones, copiers, cameras, televisions, record players, typewriters  — these unwanted items are brought to the Center for recycling and end up finding new life on the screen. An item you bring to an e-waste event may end up making an appearance on your favorite TV show!

The Center also has a ReUse store featuring a diverse selection of inexpensive and hard-to-find electronics. This fun video which appeared on local station NY1 shows just what kind of stuff the electronics warehouse holds.

Later this month, the Center will be holding its annual Vintage Electronics Flash Sale at its E-Waste Warehouse, located at 469 President Street in Brooklyn. The sale takes place on Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29 from 10AM – 5PM, and Saturday, March 30, 10AM – 4PM.

You can learn more at the Lower East Side Ecology Center at https://www.lesecologycenter.org.

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Back in June, I wrote about a project on which I had done a good bit of procrastinating (see A Blessing and A Curse). To refresh your memory on the salient details, I was asked to record a 90-minute class I had delivered at a NAPO conference 6 years earlier, so that the class could be made available as part of NAPO’s educational offerings. I put it off and put it off, and finally got it done by setting myself a deadline. But as it turns out, that wasn’t the end of the story.

First, a little more background. Somehow, my first attempt at recording what had been a live 90-minute class came out to only 27 minutes. By going into more detail on some of the points in the class, I was able to extend it to 36 minutes – an increase of 33%. I was pleased that I could add more value to the class. But as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

A couple of weeks later, my contact at NAPO headquarters let me know that the NAPO Education Committee wanted all NAPO courses to be at least 60 minutes long so that they could be used as Continuing Education Units (CEUs). As a Certified Professional Organizer® who needs to earn CEUs to keep my certification, I was sympathetic to the concept. But how was I going to add another 24 minutes to this class? Especially when I had already wracked my brain to extend it 33%? I guess I was going to have to do a little more brain-wracking.

The class is called “Less is More: Maximizing Small Residential Spaces.” I decided to add more examples of the guidelines I had included for small spaces. I gave more specific tips. I added photos of products. And I included more client anecdotes. I spent many hours researching more content, and I actually had fun coming up with new ideas. The number of slides in my presentation went from 18 to 42.

When I recorded the class, I was thrilled to see that it had reached 60 minutes and 51 seconds. Success!!

The class is now available on the NAPO educational website, NAPO University, for $45. While it is intended for Professional Organizers, it is chock full of content that is useful to anyone who lives in a small space and is looking for some pointers. Check it out here.

This experience was a good lesson for me that we do our best work when pushed out of our comfort zones. I started out by thinking “I can’t” but ultimately, I could — and I did.