Going Digital: Part 1

You may be like me, and have a lot of older types of technology around the house, taking up valuable space. I’m talking about things like VHS tapes, music cds, dvds, photo albums, magazines, etc.

One startling revelation that happened to me was in the fact that the technology used to view those old home videos was disappearing. For example, I have a lot of miniDV tapes which currently serve no value because they sit in a box in my storage. When in the recent past I looked at getting those miniDV contents onto my computer, I suddenly realized that there were simply no miniDV camcorders on the market. Additionally, the firewire technology is basically a thing of the past and that is the connection you really need to ensure that high quality video gets onto your computer. This reality certainly opened my eyes.

Perhaps you have music cds. I have some friends with giant cd racks in their homes. This is fine, but dare I say “going digital” might be a wiser solution? I was able to rip my music cds to my PC at a time when those music cds were still worth something. Yes, I was able to get cash for a music cd. That ship has certainly sailed, but you can make you music more accessible than ever before by simply ripping the music cds onto your PC. Do this at the lossless format which will allow you to create smaller files at a later time if you need something for your portable device with more limited storage. When you’ve ripped your cds, you can free yourself of them and the furniture required to house them.

Going digital is much more than just reducing furniture and items in your storage. It’s about keeping those memories safe also. A photo album is nice but those photos aren’t protected from damage or fire. If you have the negatives, great. However, being able to scan those photos and have them digitized means that you can share them forever (perhaps a unrealistic expectation but it sounds good) and if you have more than one child, they can both have those family photos. Cloud storage means that you can store the digital images online and for safe keeping. Digitizing your photo albums is a way of preserving memories for generations.

I too have magazines that I’ve been holding onto. A few articles that mean something, but require me to keep the entire magazine. With scanner in hand, I can scan the articles I want, and I can then recycle the rest and clear off some space on my bookshelf.

Going digital means that you can keep pace with what’s going to happen with the next generation. If you have kids, are there going to be photo albums? If you think we’re digital now, imagine in 10 or 20 years from now. Viewing photos on a computer screen or television is almost a certainty. We’ve seen it with music already and how it has become a digital medium now. It’s older folks still buying music cds, but for the next generation, I don’t think it’s even a consideration now. Movies are more about streaming already and physical discs are becoming less and less relevant. If you have a collection of dvds, perhaps it’s time to look at ripping those, although most require copy protection work arounds.

Going digital is a journey. It takes time and effort to take a physical object and to make it digital. A new scanner can help speed up the process, but if you’re talking 100’s of photos, then that’s a job. Ripping music cds takes time also. The benefits though far outweigh the time it will take, especially when you’re talking about scanning things like recipes or photos. You’re allowing these photos to be brought to future generations and they are in safe keeping like never before.

My father who recently passed away had hundreds of slides. These have been difficult to deal with because of the quantity of slides and the containers used to store them all. Well the fact is my mother is enjoying the slides because they have been scanned and now show up on her computer monitor via a slide show screensaver. The point is, those slides would be sitting in storage, not being viewed. Scanning them meant all of our family can view the photos and we can easily send them over the internet to each other. Convenience is a big part of why “going digital” is a wise choice.

I’m going to discuss various aspects of going digital and provide tutorials. I have documents to scan, photos to scan, recipes to scan, and VHS tapes to transfer. It may feel like a job, but for me it’s peace of mind knowing that my kids will be able to see family photos and videos.

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