So around the same time that I canceled cable television and phone (based on rising prices), I realized that I had a spare computer lying around the house. The cable television I was only moderately upset to give up becuase with the internet, you can watch shows for free (and legally) on network's websites or on sites like Hulu. So it wasn't such a big deal.
But the phone! How could I give up the landline! Now some of my friends will scoff that landline are useless and everyone has cellphones that are more convenient and do the same thing, and I would normally agree. But then again, often in NYC buildings I don't have service, or I leave my phone on vibrate on my bed and there is no chance I will hear it ringing from the living room(unless the heat/AC is off, there is no traffic outside, the neighbors are quiet, and I am superman.) How am I to know that someone has been looking for me for the last half the night while I sat at my computer watching TV on above stated sites, or doing HW in the living room?
Enter spare computer and Google voice. With this free service I was able to always have google voice (really G-chat in Gmail) open for free and always have "landline" (Really a VOIP phone?) that my friends can call when I am MIA on my cell, but they know I am home.
---This Section Contains Numbers and Easy Math and May Appear Scientific---
This is great since I don't pay for electricity usage in my apartment, but it is not great for my economically inclined mind. So I tried to see how much an average laptop uses if left on for 24 hours. I found that the average is 33 Kilowatt hours per month. That's about the same as leaving one 100 watt light-bulb on for 10 hours every day. With the monitor off (or the lid closed in my case) it subtracts about 15 watts from the computers usage. That is the same as the light bulb for 6 hours per day (42 hours per week)
So what is my point? On the one hand, someone might say that we should all switch to CFL bulbs and make a big difference. Which is true. But on the other hand, I am thinking about all the lights we might leave on outside our home as security lights (to deter crime), all our electric ceiling fans we use to cool off rooms, all the pool pumps, water heaters, and TVs that we use all the time. And by we, I don't me me. With an apartment in NY, I don't use any of these things that a homeowner in Florida might have (I only say Florida because of the reference to the pool pump...and I no longer really use my TV since I don't have cable) I feel like we use electricity to make our lives better and quite frankly, I need a phone.
Though I still think we can always cut back on energy we don't need/use...
But this brings me to my last point. As long as my computer is going to be on as a phone, I might as well make it a "server" for my printer to have "networked" printing as well as for my external hard-drive. I will always be looking for more ways to use this computer in order to maximize its time spent being on. Perhaps I can donate some of its idle processor time to something or SETI...