I don’t tend to write too much about my actual life on this blog, although there’s a project I’m working on right now which has had a definite tech dimension.
My project is called Operation Clearance, it is me & my family clearing out our house of all our old unwanted possessions. My aspiration is to own as few items as is practical. I was partly inspired by the 100 item challenge, although I’m not holding myself to a firm number of items. Instead, I’m challenging myself to get all of my possessions into a single Ottoman (not including my clothes, but I’ve already given them an equivalent treatment). If you think I sound crazy, then think about the last time you moved house, now compare that memory to how it’ll be for me when I move, which I am planning to do in the near future. You see, not so crazy now, eh?!
What was the tech aspect of this? I discovered while excavating some of my cupboards a stack of CD-ROMs, mostly games, with a few applications. So here I had a stack of discs I’m unlikely to use, potentially taking up valuable space in my Ottoman, that wasn’t good. So did I simply throw them away, or did I keep them? Y‘know, just in case. Well “just in case” is the enemy of any clear out, so my answer was to cheat!
I decided I would take an ISO image of all the discs and save them to a Micro SDHC card, then throw the discs away! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it is possible to create a file, based on any physical drive, which is an exact bit for bit copy. Your computer can then “mount” the file as if it were that same real physical drive. Given that you can currently get Micro SDHC cards with capacities of up to 16GB, you can fit an awful lot of CD images on them. Best of all, the physical size of a Micro SD card compared to even one CD is practically non-existent!
If at this point you’re wanting to ask me why didn’t I try trading in or selling these games, then let me answer you in advance – Firstly, I couldn’t sell them as I’d already dumped the boxes for them last year. Secondly, since I was keeping “back up” copies for myself, I thought it would be of questionable legitimacy to sell them when I still had copies for myself.
The only gotcha with this idea was that all of my games had copy protection, which prevented me using the universal ISO format. Fortunately, help was at had in the form of Slysoft’s CloneCD. They generously offer a twenty one day trial, and I only needed one day to image my discs. So I confess, I didn’t buy it. Although in the future, if I want to re-burn these images (which are proprietary to Slysoft applications ), I promise you Slysoft, I will buy a lifetime licence!
At this point in the story, I really must launch into a rant. To image these discs, I really shouldn’t have needed to use a specialist application, but I did because of DRM. My story is yet another text book example of how DRM makes life harder for legitimate uses of media, while the real illegitimate copies are being freely traded across the internet. So, thank you very much to all computer game companies, your copy protection measures hampered my legitimate project, while not preventing the “piracy” you impotently sought to defeat.
Deep breath, relax …
Now, if you want to try clearing your shelves, then I really recommend you do as I have. Further to this, many years ago, I MP3 ripped all of my music CD’s, so I’ve been able to throw away those CD’s too. Anything to reduce the number of individual items clogging up your shelves and cupboards. George Carlin wisely said that a house is just a place for our stuff, and every now and then we have to get a bigger house just to fit in even more stuff. So join me in getting rid of all your physical media. In the age of terrabyte hard drives, physical media should be dead if we all had any common sense.