As part of my end-of-the-year tidying up, I’ve been doing a big sweep of the house and posing Janet Jackson’s immortal question to my various pieces of tech gear: “What have you done for me lately?” If the device in question doesn’t have an answer (or more frequently, if it has a 1/4″ layer of dust on it), it gets sent on a trip to either eBay, Craigslist, Goodwill, the curb (with a big “Free!” sign on it), or my quickly overflowing dumpster.
Sure, a lot of these things were the cats pajamas in their day, but as often as not, that day was when I walked around in my Sisters of Mercy T-shirt. (OK, fine, I still walk around in a Sisters of Mercy T-shirt, but you’re missing the point…)
For the sake of posterity, here’s a partial casualty list of End Of Year Cleanup 2007 (and what replaced the device in question):
Discarded: The TV and FM antenna on top of the house (and about a mile of coax cable that used to connect it to various rooms.
Cause of Death: DirectTV—and the realization that the 3 weeks I spent commuting with only Bay Area AM and FM radio to listen to was enough hell for one lifetime. Plus, the entire analog TV spectrum is due to go off the air in February 2009. What better time than the present to clean up my roofline?
Discarded: My Opcode Studio 5 MIDI Interface. An impossibly complete (and complicated) 16-port MIDI interface that was once the heart of my home recording studio.
Cause of Death: The end of serial ports, the death of Opcode Systems, and the lack of compatibility on anything past a PowerPC 8100.
Survived By: A new, USB MIDI interface with about 10 times the speed and half the cost. Oh, and it works with computers manufactured this millennium.
Discarded: A Lexicon LXP-5 Reverb and MRC (MIDI Remote Control)
Cause of Death: Modern digital effects and computer plug-ins. There’s just not the need to waste the cables and rack space (not to mention signal path noise) on outboard signal processors like we used to. I’ve kept a few of my better effect units for now, but the writing is clearly on the wall for these as well—at least in any situation where a computer is part of the mix. The LXP-5 was expensive as heck in its day, and it did one trick—reverb—really well. But it had no interface to speak of, requiring a whole separate unit (the MRC) to program the darn thing. The garbage can claimed both of these.
Sold: SliMp3 Squeezebox: the coolest streaming music device I’d ever seen, and which let me put my entire 800 CD music library at my fingertips.
Cause of Departure: The arrival of the iPod Classic 160 (which finally can hold the same amount of data as my old dedicated music server), as well as the streaming music capabilities built in to the Playstation 3. No matter how I look at it, or what situation I can think of to play music, it just became totally redundant. (Which is shame, because it really is a wonderful device in its own merit. It just no longer had any use for me).
Donated: My upconverting DVD player
Cause of Departure: The arrival of the similarly upconverting Playstation 3. A man just doesn’t need two DVD players hooked up to his TV.
Discarded: The last of my SCSI hard drives
Discarded: About a million cables for converting the 4 different standards of SCSI devices I once had, terminating various ends both actively and passively, and diagnosing signal loss from when things weren’t connected, converted, or terminated properly.
Cause of Death: Like you need to ask…