Digital Pack Rat Syndrome

NoDeleteI’ll admit it.  I’m a bit of a pack rat.  It can be very hard for me to part with items, no matter how insignificant they may seem.  Of course, over the years, this means that I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff whose use has long since past.  I’ll often try to push off dealing with it by telling myself that I could sell the items, but deep down I know that putting together a garage sale just doesn’t fit in with my "very little free time" lifestyle.  So eventually I give in and either throw the items away, or find someplace to donate them to.

Still, it pains me to throw something out.  My brain rebels and asks "what if I need this some day?"  Never mind the fact that the item has sat unlooked at for five years and I am not likely to need it ever again.  No, in that moment where the item hovers over the trash bin (or donation bag), it suddenly seems immensely important to my life.

We also have two hard drives that I back our computers up to every so often (at least once a month if not more).  The two drives mirror each other so that we don’t lose data if one goes bad.

What does this have to do with tossing unused items?  Well, my packrat nature extends to the digital realm as well.  I keep every photo (no matter how blurry), every video (even if it is so dark and noisy that it is useless), and every document I’ve created (even if the subject is horribly out of date).

Though I’ve tried to impose some order on the mass of bits and bytes, I haven’t been completely successful.  Our 1 TB drives have less and less free space on them.  Much of that is actual data, but some consists of old files that I don’t really need anymore.  Pretty soon, I might have to upgrade to a 2TB or even 3TB hard drive.  (Probably not a bad idea to move to newer drives anyway as an older drive is more likely to die.)

I should go through the files and folders and get rid of items that I no longer need.  Log files from a decade ago for a website I’m no longer running should be deleted, not buried deep in the folder structure.  Still, just like with physical objects, I feel pained deleting anything.  I will find any reason whatsoever to keep the files as my finger hovers over Delete.  What if someone wants to know just how many visitors I got in May of 2003 on that long-defunct website?  How will I tell them if I delete the log file?!!!

In many ways, getting rid of digital items is much easier than physical items.  Instead of putting them in a trash bag and dragging it to the garbage can, you simply hit the delete button.  Unfortunately, getting past the "well, I can just keep it" rationalization for digital items can be a lot harder.  After all, they are just 1s and 0s on a small hard drive.  They aren’t taking much space and aren’t collecting dust.  So why not keep that blurry photo, long out-dated document, and collection of unneeded log files?

Perhaps some day, I will roll up my sleeves and unclutter my digital space.  Until then, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to look up prices for bigger hard drives.

Brother P-Touch and Organizing the Playroom

We have a nice, big room upstairs.  We wanted to use it as a playroom.  Unfortunately, for the longest time, the boys couldn’t play in it because the room was just too disorganized and messy.  I had already begun tiding it up when I was contacted by Mom Central about the Brother P-Touch.  It seemed like the perfect compliment to our organizational project.

By the time the P-Touch arrived, I had already mostly organized the playroom.  Of course, it still had plenty of room for improvement.

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Using a gift card provided by Mom Central and Brother P-Touch for the organizational project, I went to Target and purchased some Rubbermaid storage bins of various sizes and a metal shelving unit.  We had shied away from these kinds of units before, worried that they would topple over on the kids.  This particular unit, however, is one that B’s father has used to keep his many plants.  It is very sturdy, so we got one for our playroom.


Before long, the mess of puzzles, games and other toys were tamed.  I couldn’t affix labels to the metal shelves, so I purchased some luggage tags.  After putting the labels on these, I hung them on each shelf to show just what belonged there.

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The storage bins were used to store toys such as Legos (previously jumbled in a much older storage bin whose lid didn’t fit on right, Lego figures (tossed in with the Legos and thus often lost), and Hexbug tracks.

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This has really helped us out.  Not only do we have a playroom that the kids can use, but we’ve been able to move more toys into it.  This means less toys downstairs to clutter the living room or the boys’ room.  While before the boys were content to stay downstairs on the couch watching TV, they’ll beg to go upstairs now.  (Despite the fact that the TV up there doesn’t get cable.)  They have no problem putting toys away upstairs (since the “homes” for each toy is so clearly labeled.


As for the Brother P-Touch, I found it very easy to operate.  After the first labels came out with tiny type, I explored the settings and found that there are plenty of options.  You can change the font size, bolding, the font itself and more.  After about three minutes, I was able to produce labels that looked just like I wanted them to look.  It’s a simple machine, but one with many options.  The previous label makers I’ve used, were from a decade or two ago.  It’s interesting to see how far they’ve progressed.


Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Aloha Friday: Organizing Your DVDs


As mentioned in last week’s Aloha Friday, I’ve been thinking about cutting the cable cord. As part of my thinking, I was considering our DVD collection. Right now, our system is to pile our 100 or so DVDs on shelves in our entertainment center. This might seem like a fine system, but there are only two shelves for the DVDs. In addition, the shelves are behind glass doors that frequently get blocked by kids’ toys. This means that it is difficult to read the titles of the DVDs and it is hard to get to the DVDs themselves.

I first looked into a system to rip our DVDs to our desktop computer and then stream those movies to our living room television, but that proved too tricky. The technology is out there, but it didn’t seem proven enough for me or required too much of a monetary investment. Then I looked at similar systems, but ones that would host our videos in a set top box. These too, exist, but didn’t have good enough reviews to make me feel comfortable in spending the hundreds of dollars to set it up.

I began to think that I was – as usual – trying to cobble together a high-tech solution when a more inexpensive, low-tech solution. So I looked at some shelves, but the sturdy ones were too big for our small living room and the ones that would fit into our living room would be too flimsy around the boys. My current plan is to simply catalog and categorize our movies and print out a list. Then we can look at the list and know exactly what there is to watch.

My Aloha Friday question is: How do you organize your DVD collection so that you know what you have and can quickly select a title to watch?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #8