I’m taking a perverse pleasure in going through my closets and storage areas this Christmas break, and chucking out huge piles of tech gear that just isn’t doing anything for me anymore. In addition to the previous carnage, here’s a fresh list of victims:
Destroyed: DAT tapes (lots of them!)
Cause of Death: Insufficient capacity.
Once, I was able to make multiple copies of every single file I’d ever created on a single 2 GB DDS1 DAT tape. For years, I stayed with DAT as my backup medium of choice, suffering through multiple $1,000 DAT drive failures, and upgrading from DDS1 to DDS2 to DDS4—ostensibly with 40 GB capacity per tape (but in reality, more like 25). DAT was also one of the only reasons to keep investing in SCSI cards, since (for reasons I still can’t fathom) none of the DAT drives I’ve ever owned ran on Firewire or USB. Still, hard drives continued their geometric increases in capacity, and by the time it became clear that I had to leave DAT behind, it was taking something like 45 DDS4 tapes to do the first full backup of the network (involving almost a week of tape switching). Although I like the idea of being able to stick a copy of my network backup in an offsite safe deposit box, I eventually had to switch to hard disk backup. A couple of years later, I decided it was time to destroy the boxes and boxes of DAT tapes I used to use for what now fits on a couple of hundred dollars worth of hard drives.
Discarded: Virtually all of my analog telephone equipment
Cause of Death: (1) For voice: a complete switch to cell phones in the house, rendering useless all those phone jacks, extensions, and splitters. (2) For data communication: a combination of wireless, Cable modems, and a Sprint PCS card for road use.
I still keep simple test phone around for testing lines around the office, but for home use, analog POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is dead.
Decimated: Data CDs
Why: There’s virtually nothing stored on a five year old CD which isn’t easier to find new, and in a more appropriate format, on the internet.
Particularly hard hit by this phenomenon was my old collection of clip and stock art. As designer, I’m a packrat for interesting images, backgrounds, and textures which I can either use directly, or get inspiration from. Once, stock photography was like precious gems: doled out in 75-image chunks per $300 CD. Today, it’s easy to find incredibly high quality images of any description either in giant collections (such as Digital Juice’s fantastic Juice Drops), or on a per-image basis for a few dollars per use.
Moreover, images, like anything else, have a fashion to them, and older ones tend not to be very useful either in terms of content and style, or in the image formats and resolution themselves. After being spared several previous purges, dozens of such CDs hit the bin this time around—so many that I actually was able to remove an entire storage rack from one closet.
What about audio CDs? A few years back when I ripped my CD collection, I boxed up all 800 or so CDs I own and stuck them in storage boxes in the garage. That way, I figured, I could always go back to the original source material whenever it was needed, and preserve my karma—and the license—to the original music as it was played on my various MP3 players I own. Although I currently rip my CDs at a higher bit rate than before (usually 320 KBs or lossless these days), I’ve never really felt compelled in the years since to revisit the original CDs that I ripped at 192 KBs. They sound just fine as is.
I’ll be moving my CDs into a series of smaller boxes and hauling them up to the attic soon. The temperature extremes up there can’t be good for them, and I may be condemning them to a slow death, but at this point I think I’m OK with that. If I were gutsier, I’d just dump the originals now, but I’m not quite there yet. Still, CD’s are really just a distribution media for me at this point: the actual music is always played from some other media: usually a hard drive.