At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: VHS

Five Ways to Help Make Your Tech Behave

I am embarrassed to reveal what is supposed to be a box of ‘organization’ for my tech. And believe me, this is not the end of it. The good news is there are ways to beat back your digital mess. I’ve got some tips to keep your zeroes and ones in order…

Don’t let the cold spring rain dampen your intentions to get your tech better organized. It’s a perfect time to tidy up. Just because your digital files don’t take up a lot of physical space doesn’t mean they’re not cluttering up your life!

Here are my five tips to help you fight the battle…

1.
Delete Half of Your Email
Have you lost an important email recently? If so, I bet you’ve got too much hanging around.

Let’s face it… you don’t need to hold onto most of your personal email. Much of it is probably unwanted marketing messages anyway.
(Usually from companies you naively gave your email address to in the first place)

And if you’ve got thousands of unread emails stacked up, that’s also a sign it’s time to thin out your in-box.

My favorite way to keep the job manageable is to simply sort by sender, select huge email chunks, and then delete away.
Don’t be shy…
(And it feels so good!)

2.
Organize Your New Family Photo Files at Least Once a Week
There’s really only one way manage the hundreds of photos you’re likely snapping a month:

  • You’ve got to regularly go through them on your computer and organize them into content buckets.
  • And to be really effective, you’ve got to delete the mediocre pics.
    (They’re never going to get any better!)

I think rolling up your sleeves once a week should do it.
Here are a few tips on getting the task done.

3.
Buy a New Memory Card for Your Camera
Have you realized that SD cards have become so inexpensive?

Case in point:
On Amazon, I found this
SanDisk 32GB Ultra Class 10 SDHC UHS-1 memory card for $6.79.

Originally, the magic of digital photography was the mind-blowing concept that it didn’t cost you anything to snap a photo. You’d just delete the older photos on the card and your camera could keep on going… forever.

But no matter how much memory your card’s got, it does eventually run out of space.
(Especially if you like recording videos)
Because who’s really got the time to pay attention to how many MBs are left?

It takes some ongoing effort to delete the hundreds and sometimes thousands of photo and video files… unless you want to simply clear the whole card and start over.

I don’t know about you, but time is always something I need more of…

Have you ever found yourself struggling to quickly delete the old photos off your camera’s SD card right before you want to capture a priceless moment?
(It’s maddening.)

So here’s a radical concept…

  • Don’t try to keep up with your nearly filled memory card. When it’s time, just replace it.

It’s okay to buy new SD cards every so often to make sure your camera is ready for action. Sure, that’s a bit wasteful, but it’s not like having a tiny stack of old SD cards lying around is going to mess up the house.

Plus, SD cards don’t last forever. So it’s probably a good idea to recycle out the older ones every couple of years.
(You really don’t want to wait until a card with priceless photos turns into an unreadable plastic square.)

4.
Update the Software on Your Computer
Pop Quiz:
How often have you dropped what you’re doing to comply with this message on your screen: “Updates Ready to Install.”

Exactly.

Nobody wants to take the time to update your software. But you’ve got to do it!

I’m not saying you should be the first to install an update.
(That can also lead to problems…)

But if you wish to keep your computer healthy, updated software should be part of your plan…

5.
Get Rid of Your Old VHS Tapes
If you haven’t yet converted all that old content off your dusty tapes into digital files, it can’t be that important.
VHS is dead tech. Let it all go…

Enough said.

Bonus Tip!
Remember that new piece of tech you recently bought?
Register it online now, while you still know where the receipt is!
You don’t want to lose out on the manufacturer’s warrantee…

The Endless List
If you’ve got all of these digital projects already handled, congratulations.
(You must not be the parent of young children.)

So let me throw one more task onto your ‘to do’ list.
Are you caught up on making all those photo albums you’ve been meaning to create online?

Uh huh.

Get to work…!

Five Tech Tips to Keep Your Life in Order

Is this mound of forgotten flash memory a sign of clutter or organization? Well, it depends on what you’ve previously done with the digital files. That’s where the battle to maintain some digital harmony in your life must be fought…

Is this mound of forgotten flash memory a sign of clutter or organization? Well, it depends on what you’ve previously done with the digital files. That’s where the battle to maintain some digital harmony in your life must be fought…

Don’t let cold spring breezes freeze your good intentions to get organized.
For many, the annual cleaning ritual is about to begin. So I propose it’s also a perfect time to tidy up some of your zeroes and ones. Just because your digital files don’t take up a lot of physical space doesn’t mean they’re not cluttering up your life!

1.
Delete Half of Your Email
Have you lost an important email recently? If so, I bet you’ve got too much hanging around.

Let’s face it… you don’t need to hold onto most of your personal email. Much of it is probably unwanted marketing messages anyway.
(Usually from companies you naively gave your email address to in the first place)

And if you’ve got thousands of unread emails stacked up, that’s also a sign it’s time to thin out your in-box.

My favorite way to keep the job manageable is to simply sort by sender, select huge email chunks, and then delete away.
Don’t be shy…
(And it feels so good!)

2.
Organize Your New Family Photo Files at Least Once a Week
There’s really only one way manage the hundreds of photos you’re likely snapping a month:

  • You’ve got to regularly go through them on your computer and organize them into content buckets.
  • And to be really effective, you’ve got to delete the mediocre pics.
    (They’re never going to get any better!)

I think rolling up your sleeves once a week should do it.
Here are a few tips on getting the task done.

3.
Buy a New SD Memory Card for Your Camera
Have you realized that SD cards have become so inexpensive?

Case in point:
On Amazon, I found this
16GB Class 10 SDHC SanDisk flash memory card for $8.10.

Originally, the magic of digital photography was the mind-blowing concept that it didn’t cost you anything to snap a photo. You’d just delete the older photos on the card and your camera could keep on going… forever.

But no matter how much memory your card’s got, it does eventually run out of space.
(Especially if you like recording videos)
Because who’s really got the time to pay attention to how many megs are left?

It takes some ongoing effort to delete the hundreds and sometimes thousands of photo and video files… unless you want to simply clear the whole card and start over.

I don’t know about you, but time is always something I need more of…

Have you ever found yourself struggling to quickly delete the old photos off your camera’s SD card right before you want to capture a priceless moment?
(It’s maddening.)

So here’s a radical concept…

  • Don’t try to keep up with your nearly filled memory card. When it’s time, just replace it.

It’s okay to buy new SD cards every so often to make sure your camera is ready for action. Sure, that’s a bit wasteful, but it’s not like having a tiny stack of old SD cards lying around is going to mess up the house.

Plus, SD cards don’t last forever. So it’s probably a good idea to recycle out the older ones every couple of years.
(You really don’t want to wait until a card with priceless photos turns into an unreadable plastic square.)

4.
Update the Software on Your Computer
Pop Quiz:
How often have you dropped what you’re doing to comply with this message on your screen: “Updates Ready to Install.”

Exactly.

Nobody wants to take the time to update your software.
But you’ve got to do it!

I’m not saying you should be the first to install an update.
(That can also lead to problems…)

But if you wish to keep your computer healthy, updated software should be part of your plan…

5.
Get Rid of Your Old VHS Tapes
If you haven’t yet converted all that old content off your dusty tapes into digital files, it can’t be that important.
VHS is dead tech. Let it all go…

Enough said.

Bonus Tip!
Remember that new piece of tech you recently bought?
Register it online now, while you still know where the receipt is!
You don’t want to lose out on the manufacturer’s warrantee…

The Endless List
If you’ve got all of these digital projects already handled, congratulations.
(You must not be the parent of young children.)

So let me throw one more task onto your ‘to do’ list.
Are you caught up on making all those photo albums you’ve been meaning to create online?

Uh huh.

Get to work…!

The VHS Twilight Zone

This is not the fifth dimension.  But be forewarned… This represents the final moments of a cautionary tech tale.

This is not the fifth dimension. But be forewarned… This represents the final moments of a cautionary tech tale.

Imagine recording all of your favorite TV shows on your trusty VCR for over a decade. Some of the episodes you’d actually watch as a time-shifting technique. Others, you’d never get to, because life is too busy.

And then you’d hold onto these bulky VHS tapes, believing some long evaporated rationale that you like ‘owning’ some of those episodes and would eventually get to the unwatched ones.

Yes, you’ve just entered the VHS Twilight Zone.

It’s Not a Bad Dream
Consider this evolving dimension:
Along the way to growing your media library you’d also get into the VHS movie-buying game. Here and there, you’d buy a few flicks you really enjoyed in the theater, because you were certain you would watch these movies over and over again.
(And by a few, I mean a couple dozen.)

And then you’d proudly position all of these tapes on your crowded bookshelves like they were part of some sort of family heirloom collection.

Eventually, the march of time and new DVD technology would force your VHS tapes to retreat into boxes that lived in the back of your closet or deep into your basement.

You’d consider throwing them all away, but still hold onto the entirely unreasonable belief that you would still find the time to consume the hundreds of unwatched hours. And you’d ignore the reality that your shows are now long cancelled and forgotten in pop culture zeitgeist.

Instead, you got married and had a family.

The Great Conversion Project that Failed
And when DVD recorders are invented, you’d have the misguided notion that you could transfer your favorite shows over to DVDs to save your media collection from oblivion.

But before you could make a serious dent in your conversion project, DVD recorders will encounter a premature extinction.

And those hideous rectangular black blocks would still remain….

HDTV and VCRs Can’t Live Together
When you’d buy your first HDTV, you would hook up your old VCR but never use it. The analog machine would just sit there… sucking power in its ‘phantom off mode.’

And then it would finally hit you:
Why would you even want to watch anything on VHS anymore? It’s mediocre resolution and old-school 4:3 aspect ratio is an insult to the eyes.

The haze would lift, but family life would distract you from taking action against the evil tapes. The boxes would then conveniently slip into the fifth dimension… into the middle ground between light and shadow.
(Dissolve to an image of a spinning clock…)

The VHS Tapes that Time Forgot
If you haven’t already guessed, yes, I’m liberally stealing language from
“The Twilight Zone,” and yes, this is my story.

So the other day, I ran across these forgotten boxes of ancient VHS tapes in the back of my basement.
(I felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle.)

It must have been over a hundred tapes!
Okay… two hundred.
(I’m not proud.)

And guess what?
I searched my soul, looking for that inscrutable pull that forced me to tether these boxes to almost half of my life.
It was gone.
(I guess there is an expiration date on irrational tech hoarding.)

And then I sneezed.
(The boxes were dusty.)

It was finally time!
Time to purge these VHS tapes from my life.
(Even if I still wanted to save the content on any of these tapes, some over twenty years old, the magnetic coating on the tapes had probably entirely deteriorated.)

And now I’m happy to report my home is VHS free.

VHS is Not Cool
I know some of you are probably thinking, “What’s a VHS tape?”

The real irony here is there are other folks still using this dead technology.
(You can actually still buy a VCR and VHS tapes on Amazon.)

Look, I know I’ve suffered from some sort of undocumented VHS-hoarding syndrome. But why would someone choose to actively use VHS technology today?
(Let it go…!)

Avoid Your Own Tech Twilight Zone
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to retain your video content over the course of your life. You’ve just got to keep future-proofing it. And you can’t put this ongoing project off.

Technology is moving at such a fast clip, all your media… especially your family videos… is at risk.

DVDs used to be my media archiving solution. Now, they’re probably becoming drink coasters. And so it’s another race against time to transfer all of that content to my external hard drives. (Which won’t last forever either)

Maybe the whole notion of owning any media content in physical form over any extended length of time is indeed a flawed one. The whole cloud-based storage solution is finally making a lot more sense… something more than the media conglomerates exercising total control over their own content.

But the cloud is going to cost you a pretty penny as a decades-long solution.
(Still…. remember that people used to spend ten bucks on a single blank VHS tape.)

That’s the Signpost Up Ahead…
There’s always going to be a price to maintaining your video collection.
It would hurt to stress test your need to hold onto so much content.
Because at the end of the day, you can’t.

A cautionary tale in the Tech Twilight Zone…

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