Friday, November 30, 2007

Tidying up the Giant E-Brain

Well, life is changing rapidly after my last little upset. The rest of this post is going to be just as geeky, but then they say "know your audience"... ;) (Uh, not in the biblical sense.)

So I bunged my MacBook into a local service outlet having accepted the fate of a fiery datahell for my old bytes. Service was quick (Apple get parts out quickly) and free (Academia has great warranties). New hard drive, and also took the opportunity to get the facia replaced (ooh, shiny white like angel new), plus looks like they cleaned the screen too. Now that's what I really needed, it turns out. Anyway.

A day on, and I've re-installed fundamental applications, and am in the process of sorting out my datalife. For posterity (hehe, that means "bum"), I'll make a note in this post because, well, it's a blog, and blogs are supposed to be full of mundane day-to-day details. (Complaining (via comments) only makes this blog Stronger.)

So, things I've done or am doing...

1. E-Mail 1: Unsubscribe from all the stuff I really don't need - I'm on far too many things like poltitical newsletters, random mailing lists and company alert things. "UNSUBSCRIVE!"

2. E-Mail 2: Mark entire Inbox (11,000+ messages) as "Read". Actually, that was more of a slipped keypress and a bad Thunderbird interface design. Oops. Still, I am actually RELEASED from a plague of unread mail following me about like a big mailfolder smell. Now I can just delete mail, as I should have done before, en masse and by subject/sender. Currently down to: 6369 messages in Inbox.

3. RSS Feeds: Unsubscribe a few that I really don't read. But also use Google Reader to put "important" feeds (generally people I know personally, and more "newsy" feeds) into a "monitor" folder. (Google Reader allows multiple folders - phew.) Then tell my Desktop notifier to only bring in that folder. Means I still have quick access to things I find interesting, but I haven't got a scary large "to read" number sitting at the top of my screen. And, well, big numbers count for a lot.

4. Starting to vacate that old hard drive ready for back-ups. Moving all my old desktop's data to another PC, and taking the opportunity to sift it fairly well while doing so. As promised, am removing all the "cruft" for the various "projects" I have, like pictures and music mash-ups. Never going to go back to them, anyway, so all source files can bugger off.

5. Bit the step of taking the bullet, and ordered Apple's new Big Cat. I'd mostly decided to do this anyway after reading the huge review at Ars Technica (hehe, that means "Bum Craft"), and figured I might as well start afresh. One of the few pieces of software I think is worth paying for, even if it is an OS. Not been impressed/inspired by any software in a long while, so think it's worth it. (Especially at student prices, ahum.)

6. Still looking at the various back-up options suggested in the last post's comments. Not sure I can be bothered to pay for remote back-up - I thought Jungle Disk looked pretty good until I realised you had to pay $20 for the software. Sneaky. Unison looks more useful if you're syncing desktops, which I'm not particularly. I'll probably see how Time Machine goes, especially as it provides some kind of snapshot-through-time, meaning I can delete stuff after 6 months and not worry too much. Also, integration with OSX will be pretty nifty. (See relevant Ars Technica page for in-depth moreness.)

So I think things are going well - I'm actually eager to upgrade and enthusiastic about backing up, as it means I can start playing about with deleting stuff. A major thing I've noticed from going through this is how "user un-centric" my datalife is (was?). Geeks are info hoarders, or I am at least. The Net can often be seen as a "playground" in which information is plentiful and bounteous (is that a word? No? Tough) and "staying on top of it all" is a modern day challenge.

But I can't help thinking this is the wrong way round. Information Overload and User-Centricity are fundamentally at odds with each other, maybe. And User-Centricity (also not a real word) is (I've decided) all about the Zen. Less is more.

So I'm switching from a model of "slurp and filter" - in which I keep tabs on everything, and store stuff in case it's useful or I need it later - to a "relax and snipe" model - in which I go to the information when I need it. Focusing on the user, rather than information, should make things generally much more pleasant. Think of it as redefining what the technicals are for. To not get in my way.

And with that, I'm off to delete more crap.

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1 comment:

David Wood said...

That's $20 for a Jungle Disk lifetime license that you can use on as many machines as you like, Windows, Mac and Linux, at the same time - seems like a bargain to me! Plus storage costs to Amazon of course. But at 25 cents a gig that's also dead cheap.

And since we just talked about this over email - I thought I'd mention how to find the free mozy instead of the paid for one.

And if anyone fancies the extra .25gb that they get from following my linky - cool - because I get extra freeness too :)

Be careful since they always try to sneak you down the paid-for "Mozy Unlimited" route instead of the "Mozy Free" route! Click this link first THEN click the "Mozy Home" button at the top of the page. Then click the big orange "Mozy Home Free" on the left.