Monday, December 6, 2010

Reluctant techie

I know I've been away much longer than I'd led either you or myself to expect I'd be, but I do have a string of good excuses.  Between enjoying the company of and cooking for visitors over a long and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, and just performing the everyday functions that keep this Ship of State afloat, I've been deep in modern technology.  You might even say deeply mired in modern technology.

The first thing that happened was completely unexpected:  I got a Kindle for my birthday.  I had been agnostic on this particular subject and hadn't planned on doing anything to jump off the fence.  I have taken to some of the new media storage opportunities absolutely like a duck to water with no second thoughts:  I was tired of the clutter created by hundreds of CD jewel boxes (not to mention nearly that many vinyl LPs) and had no qualms about digitizing all of them, storing them on my Ipod, and in one way or another divesting myself of the originals.  (Yes, LP jackets were works of art and iconic of certain times of my life.  But the memories sustain me and there is still, protein deposits willing, more storage space in my brain than in this house.)  I am also a huge fan of Google's Picasa and other digital photo storage sites.  I take more photos now than I ever did before, simply because I know I can "develop" them myself electronically, edit and enhance the ones I decide to keep, and print only the ones I choose to.  I will never get rid of the old paper photo albums I have, but I have indeed digitized most of the photos in them.

The last bit of "old" storage I had to deal with was books.  And somehow they were different.

While I am not one to re-read many books, and I never underline passages or make margin notes in any book I read, I like some of them enough to keep for no other reason than to have them around.  They're pretty, they're architecturally friendly to a house's interiors--somehow they just "fit," in ways that plastic CD containers and LPs lined up in rows did not.  I was getting worried about the ever-accumulating pile of books we created as we finished reading them, but was content with giving them away.  And then came the Kindle.

This little gadget is a true Siren.  It works via a wireless computer connection--I merely need to be sitting near my computer to purchase a "book" (I make no claim that it is the real thing) from the Amazon website (for prices much, much lower than the hard-bound versions).  It appears on my Kindle in a matter of seconds and then is simply there, available for me to take it up when the time comes.  I can store hundreds of these "books" on it, or, if I decide they are taking up too much space, I can simply delete them, knowing they are stored permanently in my account at Amazon for retrieval at any time.  And the Kindle even has an embossed leather cover that feels like an actual book.  In short, I became a convert in a matter of minutes--Steve pushed me off the fence with this unexpected gift and I'll be purchasing e-versions of books from now on when I can.  (Some titles have not yet been digitized and I will happily buy them in the traditional form.)  We won't get rid of the real books we already have and love.  But we will be adding to that collection at a much slower pace now.  To my more orthodox book loving friends: my apologies.   To me, the word is the word is the word, regardless of the format.  When the typewriter came into being there were purists who bemoaned the demise of ink and paper.  Modern convenience trumps the old ways, and "tradition" becomes precious, antique.  And it appears I'm OK with that.

That doesn't mean, however, that these new media storage methods don't come with their own special headaches.  Somehow during the Thanksgiving weekend I found the time to travel to  the Apple Store in Norfolk and replace my aging Ipod classic with a new one--still a classic, but with double the storage space.  I had thought that the Apple people would have some way of simply transferring the content of my old Ipod to the new one there at the store, as happens when you by a new computer.  But they didn't.  You have to populate the new Ipod yourself.

In theory, that's not a difficult task.  You simply dock your new Ipod, open the I-tunes app, and let the downloading begin.  But I don't keep my music in the I-tunes app.  I have way too many tracks to store on my hard drive--there would be no room for anything else if all my songs were stored there.  Whenever I get new music, I load it into I-tunes so that it will be in the library and, most importantly, so the Ipod can retrieve it and store it.  After that, I transfer the new MP3 files to an external drive and delete them from my hard drive. 

So putting all my songs on the new Ipod has meant putting the music back on the Itunes app--back on my hard drive--so the Ipod can read it from the app.  The storage problem was immediate--my computer got not even halfway through retrieving the external files before it told me it had to stop for lack of space.  And then there's the Ipod itself--for some reason it doesn't sync properly.  If I load ten new tracks, it may pick up only five of them.  As a result, my Ipod is full of incomplete files, and the only way to fill in the gaps is to find the original album folders on the external drive, compare them with what made it to the Ipod, download the individual missing files, and then re-sync the Ipod, folder by folder.  It is an unbelievably pains-taking and time-consuming process--the worst kind of nerdy detail work that only a retiree with time on his hands would ever put up with.  Return the faulty, poorly-syncing Ipod? What? And go through all this again?  I'm too far down this road to turn back, I'm afraid.  I've been at this project for about a week.  I'm up to Eva Cassidy. (Artists are listed alphabetically by first name.  Yes, I'm only on "E."  I just finished 300+ Edith Piaf files.  That was special.)

So that's my life at the moment.  I'm up to my eyeballs in MP3s.  If you've read this entire mind-numbing account, congratulations--you're as crazy as I am.  Now I'll wade back in.


spendid said...

Missed you Ralph! glad everything is good right now, better hurry tho, if you tarry too long your 'new' technology will be outdated as well.

i grow weary of this constant upgrading, i just gave away my pioneer 8 track player and all of my Joplin, PPM, and john Denver 8 tracks to a friend who was delighted to hook it up to his Murantz receiver.
i still have a rotary phone in my home, it works when the power goes out and even from the basement it rings first and loudest!
i have a few playlists on my blackberry that i can hook into my car stereo, but otherwise i am not very savvy. i agree completely about photos i just had to replace my digital camera this summer, they are only good for about 40,0000 photos nowadays!!! can you imagine i actually did that in about 3 years!

sorry i wrote you a book...told you i missed you, now if we can just get kat back on track!:)

Ralph said...

Thanks, Splendid. I guess once you start on this tech orad you just keep going. I had sworn that I would stop at the Ipod--never intended to get a Kindle. I have a cellphone for emergencies in the car only and that's as "smart" a phone as I will ever have. No Blackberry here, no the idea of an old rotary phone that actually rings with real bells. I'll bet it IS the loudest in the house!

Lonely Rivers said...

I inherited my daughter's old kindle after she dropped it during an airport screening. The damage was limited to a disabled left click. So I entered the kindleworld unable to reread any page. I found myself speedreading! Began to love the thing. I am hoping that Santadaughter brings me a new model complete with a working left click. Kindle best places - the bus stop (even with no left click, it has revolutionized my wait time.) Glad you are writing again.

thecottagebythecranelakeolof1 said...

I think the last thing I´ll ever leave is books :-) I just love the smell of them and to open a new page :-) But I really have nothing against that technology at all.

Apple is getting a bad reputation over here now. If an Ipod breaks down and You want it fixed they don´t repair it, they give You a new one and that sounds great doesn´t it. But if there´s the slightest scratch somewhere they refuse to replace it because it´s already broken and they don´t repair anything!!!

So if You want a functioning Ipod You then have to pay around 350 US dollars for an replacement!!!! And they really look for anything that might give them a chance to refuse a replacement!

Otherwise I do like their things, I just don´t like the company any longer.

Have a great day now!

Jenny said...

Ralph, years ago I changed the location of my iTunes Library to an external hard drive, so none of my music is actually on my main computer (go to iTunes preferences and click Advanced). I leave the external hard drive attached to my main computer, turned ON and all music is easily synced or transferred to all our iPods in the usual way(we have 3 here) because the files are technically still in iTunes--just not taking up loads of space on my computer. Here's some help from Apple:
You will still need to transfer all your files back into your iTunes Library before you can sync your iPod.

Ralph said...

Actually, Christer, I never did want my old Ipod repaired--I really did want a new one because the old one was starting to get creaky. I was actually able to trade in the old ine and get a 10% discount on the replacement. There's a part of the story did leave out: I got the first replacement home only to discover the light didn't work. Apple has a two week return policy, so I took the malfunctioning new Ipod back and exchanged it for the one I have now, no questions asked.

Ralph said...

Jenny, are you saying you can set up the Ipod to sync automatically from the external drive? Oh how I wish I knew that before I set out on this current venture. Once I get completely synced I will definitely find out more about that. (Why do they make these things so hard to learn???!!!) Thanks for the link.

Ralph said...

LR, I too find myself speed reading from the kindle! It's amazing!

Perovskia said...

I will also never do away with books. No Kindle for me. Now an iPad.. that's a different story. Whether I'll load books on it is another thing.

Ah, Edith Piaf. Lovely. I am also working on syncing an iPod and it's proved troublesome (it's passed on from my brother, he got the 4G, and some of his music is still on it. His music and my computer don't seem to want to mesh). So I'm also looking to make things easier.

Linda - SE PA said...

I chime in... I love my books although as I age on and am a renter who now and then faces moving, books become a concern. I do re-read some and have donated many over the course of time but I cannot say Kindle or reading one online. I agree that those with eyesight concern that this has been a wonderful aid for them. For me, I have found it difficult to read a book online even though I can read blog after blog - go figure?

As to music... I stir up controversy. I am no longer an MP3 fan and this is an issue that some folks are talking about. The sound quality on albums was and is better. I know, I no longer have my LP collection and while I started to replace with CD's, from the get-go I have not been a fan of CD's. One thing I've noted about CD's is the longevity factor which is that they don't have one as the LP's do. Needless to say, care has a lot to do with it - however, one selling point for CD's was the mobility of CD players. There is a small but growing sector that wants to see vinyl records return.

Another issue with CD's are the jewel cases which are flimsy and do not carry that well. One original selling point was storage... nor do I like paying a high price for a CD with a cardboard type packaging. Guess by now it becomes clear that I am no fan of the CD.

MP3's to my ear do not replay well from CD's nor do they fine-tune from LP's either. Folks, I know most of us have converted our original music for easy availability, storage etc. but when you play one to the other, the MP3 comes up lacking.

I don't have a digital camera yet but from all the new tech devices, I think this is the best of the best. Yet, I find myself thinking that I miss the 35mm photos that were often very beautiful because of film quality and were untouched and pure. I will leave this at that.

I close for now. I say all this kindly and respectfully as each of us has what he have. My comments I hope are taken in the spirit of "holding a talking stick" which I now pass to anyone else who wants to add to the discussion.

Ralph said...

Linda, I regret to say that even with my supposedly great ear I have simply never been able to discern the bad stuff about MP3s, as bad as I'm always told that they are. Maybe it's because my first intimate experience with them was via my Ipod with excellent earbuds--it was the most compelling musical experience I'd ever had (without chemical assistance!) I still feel the same way. I feel as though I'm right there in the studio, or in the audience, with the performer. I know vinyl is supposed to be "warmer." But I've just never gotten it. So I'm completely happy with my MP3s.

Eclecticity said...

Crazy as you then...


Ralph said...

Anonymous, these wistful requests remind me I must write, if I can just acquire the luxury of time. Thank you for asking.