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Repurpose all those plastic bags with countertop gadget

by JOY SCHWABACH | October 9, 2021 at 1:48 a.m.

I hate to see my friends throw their clean, dry plastic bags in the trash. But even if they sort them, 95% will not be recycled. So I decided to do something about it.

On Indiegogo.com, I pre-ordered the Obaggo, a 10.5-inch-tall trash compactor that will sit on my kitchen counter. With a little heat and a lot of pressure, it turns 20 to 25 grocery bags into dense hockey pucks about 6 inches in diameter. Recycling centers can shred the disks and turn them into pellets, the kind industry uses to make new products. If you use thicker bags, like those blue-and-white ones from Amazon, it will take fewer. You can also use vegetable bags, cereal box liners, bread bags, ziplock bags, and dozens of others, storing them in the Obaggo until it's full.

Obaggo was founded by David New, whose father founded one of the first recycling centers in the U.S. back in the 1970s. New watched in frustration as his dad's machines treated clean plastic bags as a contaminant to be discarded. Even now, thin plastic bags clog the machines and are rejected. The firm says it is rapidly developing contracts with recycling centers and drop-off bins, but each Obaggo will come with two shipping labels. Users can send their disks back to the company every six months.

Plastic is in big demand. According to industry analysts, prices have skyrocketed, thanks in part to supply chain problems. The delays also affect Obaggo. The $219 compactors won't ship until November 2022. But for me, it's worth the wait.

JOOKI JUKEBOX

The Jooki is a music player for ages 3 to 103. It looks like a radio and is a little larger than my hand with fingers spread out.

The company sent me the $120 model. Put an orange token on the player to hear your favorite playlist. Or, put a blue one on to get a different playlist. It's a baby version of putting a record album on a turntable. But there's no needle and the plastic tokens just plop on. The $160 version comes with five figurines and eight tokens.

Parents will have to be a little tech-savvy to set it up. The Jooki app on my phone made me think I needed the Spotify music service. But I didn't. You can rip them from CDs, using Windows Media Player. Just stick a CD in the drive, launch Windows Media Player and click on "Rip Settings," then change the default to MP3. You might also want to adjust the MP3 quality from lowest to highest. If you prefer to download music from YouTube, go to Y2meta.com.

The sound quality is wonderful once you go into "Parental Controls" in the Jooki app and turn off the volume restriction. Otherwise, it's too quiet. But full volume without parental controls might be dangerous if the child puts it up to his or her ear and turns the volume knob all the way. To stop the music, just lift off the plastic token. To skip a song, turn the other knob.

Thanks to Jooki, I have an eclectic mix of tunes: some rock 'n' roll when the orange token is in place and some classical pieces when the blue one is in. The simplicity is refreshing. But if I give this as a gift, I'll put a lot of Disney tunes on it first. The songs that come with the Jooki are not music to my ears.

HOME SWEET HOME

Remember the older versions of Android where you had a home screen icon, a back arrow and a little square icon for recently used apps? In later Android versions, these got replaced with gestures. I find gestures hard to remember. So I went back to the basic home button, etc.

If you want to do that too, click "Settings" on your Android phone and look for "Gesture Navigation." In Android 11, it's under "System," then "Gestures," then "System Navigation." Notice that the "Gestures" choice is toggled on. Toggle it off by tapping "3-Button Navigation" instead.

THE WORST PASSWORD

Bad passwords are easy to guess, like "Iloveyou." But the most common insecure ones use your home address, birthday or other personal info that a hacker might guess. According to ZDNet, only 8% of respondents to a survey knew that you should avoid using anything personal. The best password, they say, is a nonsensical phrase with numbers or symbols.

NUMBERS REPORT

Here's a breakdown of the most popular online email apps by popularity. Google's Gmail has about 1.5 billion active users. Microsoft Outlook has 400 million active users. Yahoo Mail has about 225 million active users. Mozilla Thunderbird has more than 20 million. AOL has about 2.3 million. But it was announced in May that Verizon, which owns AOL, sold it. AOL will be bundled under the Yahoo brand, along with TechCrunch and HuffPost. By the way, you can have as many email addresses as you want, and use them for different purposes.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

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