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What Can You Do With An Almost Obsolete Phone?

What Can You Do With An Almost Obsolete Phone?

    Now that you’ve got that brand new iPhone, you’re probably trying to decide just what you should do with your old phone. It used to be that your only choice was sending it off to the nearest landfill, but that’s now technically illegal in most cities. You do have plenty of options now, though. Some will make you feel good and some will make your pocket book feel good. A few may even do a little of both. It’s just a matter of finding which one you prefer.

    The Feel Good Options

    You actually have a number of opportunities to donate your phone, if you’re so inclined. Domestic abuse shelters generally have standing request for cell phones — just drop it off at the local center in your town. Cell Phones for Soldiers also collects used phones for soldiers currently serving overseas. Many schools and community organizations will collect cell phones along with other supplies (blankets, clothing, food, etc.) in the event of a natural disaster.

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    If these charities don’t appeal to you, CollectiveGood maintains a list of organizations that accept donations of used cell phones, as well as handles the donations process for those organizations. Some require you to pay shipping; some don’t.

    As long as you are donating your phone to a non-profit organization, you can deduct the value of your cell phone on your taxes come next April. Make sure that you get a receipt listing the value of the phone — and if it’s used, that value will be significantly less than what you paid for it — just in case the nice folks down at the IRS want to doublecheck your deductions.

    If you just want to get the darn thing gone, you can also just give it away. Freecycle is a popular option — you can post your phone on your local group no matter its condition. If someone can use it, it’s gone almost immediately. Remember, though, most official donation programs promise to wipe all of your data from your phone. Freecycling your phone leaves protecting your personal information up to you.

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    The Financially Pleasant Options

    Is your phone in decent shape? You may have a shot at selling it. eBay remains a favorite sales option, but it isn’t the only one. If you can sell it locally, you may be able to avoid fees and postage. Beyond Craigslist, you might try Facebook’s Marketplace or check if your work or school maintains a swap board of some sort. Just make sure that you clear off all your personal information before you hand your phone over to its new owner.

    With the exception of practically new phones in high demand, the odds of getting anywhere near what you paid for it are slim. Cell phones and other electronic gadgets are like cars: once they leave their packaging, they depreciate pretty fast. If there is a newer, cheaper version out, you may just have to settle for a lower price.

    You can also choose to sell your phone to a reseller. There are a number of companies that will buy your phone for fairly close to market value and then turn around and resell it. You won’t get top dollar, but you won’t have to worry about actually finding a buyer, either. Gazelle is one option and Flipswap is another. Both of these resellers have feel good options: you can donate the payment you might receive for your phone to charity.

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    The Get It Gone Options

    Many cell phone sellers offer electronic recycling programs. Some are contingent on your buying a new phone from the seller in question, although Best Buy has a pilot program accepting old gadgets in eight states — you can find a list of participating stores here.

    If you want to make your cell phone recycling process super easy, ask the salesman when you pick up your new phone. As long as the store has some kind of recycling or donation program going on, leave it in his capable hands. Congratulations! Your phone is gone and you didn’t have to drive all over town to find it a new home.

    If Your Phone Has Gone to the Charging Station in the Sky…

    These options may not work for you. Most of these organizations don’t take phones (or other gadgets) that no longer work. Some, like Gazelle, will still take your electronic waste off your hands, but they won’t pay you for it. You can still get that feel good vibe, though, by recycling your phone, rather than throwing it away. You can either mail it in, or take it to a local program — not all municipalities have e-waste recycling programs, but the number is steadily growing. Both Gazelle and Flipswap will take dead phones, although you won’t get a payout from them.

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    One Last Note

    If you have gadgets to get rid of beyond a cell phone, you can still use most of these options. Laptops, cameras, MP3 players, camcorders, portable hard drives — whatever you’ve got, there are options to get rid of it when you decide to upgrade. Just like cell phones, though, you can’t throw any of these gadgets in the trash. They contain a variety of chemicals that won’t biodegrade in a landfill. In many cities, you can face fines if you’re caught dumping electronic waste. Even if you aren’t caught, isn’t it preferable to let someone else get a little more use out of it?

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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