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Facebook app promises "greener" PCs

Peruse Facebook and you'll find dozens of applications to add to your profile that encourage environmental and energy conservation. Many offer obvious advice ("use LED bulbs"), but a new app offers to green up the PCs Facebook members rely on to access the social networking site.

"Green Your PC," developed by support.com, whose parent company is Redwood City, Calif.-based SupportSoft, Inc., offers to help configure settings including your computer's monitor timeout, disk timeout and standby mode so that they comply with Energy Star and Carbonfund.org recommendations. Users can do this either by downloading a piece of support.com software (an .exe file) that automatically performs the configurations or by following a tutorial written by support.com that instructs users on how to change their PC's configurations themselves.

The app became available earlier this month for Facebook members using PCs (a Mac version is in the works). SupportSoft, a provider of third-party helpdesk services, got the idea for the app from a free service it's been offering its customers since last year. The company offers that service when customers call up with other information technology support needs, but Facebook opens up a much broader audience, which SupportSoft hopes "Green Your PC" will serve. (Previous ScientificAmerican.com coverage of Facebook apps has included one written for Burger King, which Facebook later disabled.)

"We're doing something that the majority of users don't know how to or don't think to do on their own," says Anthony Rodio, support.com's chief operating officer. Rodio says he has no plans to offer the app through MySpace or any other social network.

It's unclear exactly what impact computer energy settings will have on the environment. But Carbonfund.org, a non-profit that advocates for renewable energy, estimates that if 100,000 computers and monitors reduced electricity use to the level set by the "Green Your PC" app, it would save more than 11 million pounds of  carbon dioxide emissions annually (roughly the same as emissions from burning 13,000 barrels of oil).

Image © Tkgd2007

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