13 August 2008

V.S. 0, Consumerism 2

I once heard someone said "If you cannot do, teach." Not that I agree wholeheartedly with the saying, but that is one reason I wrote about Lone Gunman's road to Voluntary Simplicity. I am not a crazy shopper rushing to every sale advertised on the TV, I am just not as far along the path to V.S. as LG. I recently gave the Yahoo! Freecycle group another try but all three of my offers did not yield positive results. One guy asked for LPs so I offered him a bunch that I picked up two blocks from my house sometimes ago. I never own a record player but thought someone someday would want them, and that actually happened. Only thing was the guy said he already had those same LPs I mentioned. In two other cases, some women asked for baby stuff - room monitors and in-door fence. I had used both and wrote to them, but no answer!

Well, not only I did not manage to give away anything, I recently acquired two more pieces of computer peripherals. One is the Time Capsule from Apple. It is really just a network hard drive. At 1 terabyte (TB), it makes an excellent reservoir for backing up data. A recent horror story convinced me to plunk down some hard-earned OT money to get the backup device. A colleague of my wife's had a baby a few years ago and of course took tons of photos, digital photos. Who nowadays take 35mm photos? Of course she puts them in the computer and perhaps sent them around via email or even post them on some web sites. Unfortunately they were never backed up onto discs and one day the hard drive died. Supposedly she took the drive to some local computer guy and the guy made it worse by deleting some of whatever that could be seen. I do not know the details, but by the time she wanted me to try, there was a burn mark on the hard drive case and the thing could not be recognized by my computer. She mentioned something about having to open up the case and replace the circuit board with another board. Whoa, that's way over what I am capable of, as my computer hardware "expertise" only involves unscrewing things and screwing them back. Me don't do no welding, ma'am.

When coupled with Time Machine backup software, the Time Capsule is supposed to make backing up as painless as it can be. Alas, Time Machine only runs on Leopard, which my laptop is not, so for now, painless backup can only be done on my Wife's MacBook, which I don't use that much. Doesn't the Tenth Commandment say something like "Thou shall not covet thy Wife's MacBook?" Or is it "thy neighbor's wife"? My plan is to some day setup some rsync script to periodically copy stuff from my PowerBook to Wife's MacBook. I work a lot with Robocopy at work so it should not be hard to translate the knowledge to rsync.

The other recent acquisition is the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M. I've been using a Umax Astra 1220U flatbed scanner, bought for $40 at some show at the Jacob Javits Center years ago. The lid's hinges were broken then Crazy Glued back on, the scanner is slow and occasionally is not detected by the Mac, and I have to use some open source software to make it work with OS X. Scanning involves placing photos onto the bed, close the cover, run Photoshop Element, preview, scan, adjust the selection, then crop some parts off, give it a name, etc. It is a lengthy process and does not help with my dream of converting all my photo positives into digital format. Of course, the scanner is also bulky and does not travel well. Enters the ScanSnap S300M, portable, fast, can take stacks of photos through its feeder tray, and works natively with OS X via the supplied ScanSnap Manager software. It takes up two USB ports, one for power and another for data transfer, but that's the price of portability. It would be nice if Bluetooth speed is on par with USB so that portability can be had with just one USB port occupied. As the picture below shows, with two cables the scanner does appear messy.

I already scanned in a bunch of photos from my days with the Vietnamese American Youth Organization, some others of my first home in the U.S., and so far just one of many photos related to the Astoria Residents Reclaiming Our World. While I am looking for old photos to scan, I plan to also transfer them from individual "temporary" albums into real larger albums to better organize them. Therefore, while it is not good for the Earth to have one more gadget produced, the portable ScanSnap will help me organize my worldly possession better. Chances are as I organize I will throw out, give away, or recycle some stuff, so this is not all that bad.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Remember the point isn't to buy nothing, but to ask yourself do you really need or use an item before purchasing it. I think the Time Capsule is a great Idea and will probably purchase one myself. It will be used often. Unlike the furniture we gave away or the PC mice and keyboards we gave to good will last week. We went from 3 pc's 6 months ago down to 1 Mac. Good on the environment? Maybe not, you cannot be Green by purchasing. Green = no purchasing, so no computer.. But It simplified our life and now we have one super computer rather than 3 not so good.

    Oh and I have had good and bad with Freecycle. Just like my experience with the human race....

    -Lone Gunman