Monday, 26 October 2009

Ditch the tech

Having recently moved house, I'm in the process of slowly unpacking and re-ordering my life and simultaneously trying to get rid of some of my accumulated clutter. It's a depressing task, made even more onerous by the fact that I know there's a room full of stuff waiting for similar attention at my parents' house in London.

They, quite understandably, want me to vacate my old bedroom of my belongings to the point where it can be used as a spare room. There's quite a lot of stuff there. Most of it, I don't need, but it has sentimental value. As a compulsive hoarder, I build up collections of such material with worrying speed. I officially left home two years ago and already I have A4 plastic files of concert tickets and postcards to do with ex-boyfriends and bags of birthday cards from people I've known less than 12months that I'm already sentimentally attached to. Today, I became emotional over throwing out a set of flashcards I made to revise my Chemistry and Physics AS and A2s. That was at least seven years ago. I say "became emotional", I didn't cry, but I had to agonise for a good seven minutes or so over whether I was going to keep them. I knew from the start of the wrangle that I probably wasn't, but it was still a wrench to throw them in the bin bag.

But the main problem I'm having is what to do with my old tech. I have leads that I don't know the function of. I have bits of encased wire with what look like small crystals attached to the ends. I have a USB cable that is a duplicate of the one Telf gave me when he lent me his external hard drive. But I've never owned such an external hard drive. I did have a CD writer, but its cables were black, not white. I have what appears to be an extension lead - it has a USB port at one end, the other is a USB plug. I have a mini disc player. I have an adaptor for a make of Samsung phone everyone in my family stopped using about five years ago. I even have floppy discs. Though I suspect the plug-in USB drive I had to read them is somewhere in London not Shropshire. I even found my old 35mm camera that my grandparents gave me. My grandmother died almost two weeks ago. I don't even know if you can still by the batteries it requires, let alone the film, but given the nearness of her death, I'm not ready to get rid of it.

And I don't know what to do with the rest of this stuff. I don't want to just throw it out. It seems like it could, should, be recycled. But where? The best I've been able to come up with is the dump, but that doesn't seem much better. It's just throwing things away in carefully sorted piles.

The main thing I'm concerned about is the minidisc player. I think I got it as an 18th birthday present. I don't think I really knew what they were, they were just the latest thing at the time. If I'd known much about it, I don't think I'd have asked for one. From the little I've gleaned since owning one, they were more professional pieces of kit for people working in radio than anything with much mainstream crossover. I don't recall artists ever really releasing albums on them. The only thing I've ever used mine for was to listen to compilation discs I'd made or had made for me by friends or boyfriends. My stereo plays minidiscs, but it also plays CDs and tapes. I still have the compilation discs. I don't want to lose the songs on them. At least one is a demo by an ex-boyfriend's friend's band and couldn't be found anywhere else now that I know of, at least not easily. I don't like the song that much, but to get rid of it goes against my hoarding principles. What's even more puzzling is what to do with the blank minidiscs I have. They are in sealed packaging. I will never use them. I burn people CDs if I want to make them compilations. But throwing out something brand new feels like sacrilege. And I can't really give them to a charity shop? Can I?

Let me know t'interwebs. I want to ditch some of this tech. What should I do?

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