The Middle Children of Technology: Living [Digital/Analog] in a/n [Analog/Digital] World

By Michael W. Harris

Nostalgia Bomb for my generation. [image found on web, not mine]
I always love seeing the looks I get when I tell people that I have schoolwork COMPUTER files dating back to sixth grade. Now, for some that would not be that remarkable, but for me, sixth grade was 1992-93. The first web browser only went public in 1991. The first version of Windows was released in 1985. And the ubiquitous Apple IIe that was the first computer in my elementary school lab was released in 1983.

These files of mine are not things I created at school, though. They are Word and Excel documents I made at home for school projects. Papers, reports, etc. The odd personal or Boy Scouts project files are also included, but most are school reports. More importantly, though, is that they are still saved and with a little work could be made accessible again (currently the file formats are no longer readable with the newest versions of Office, but there are ways of migrating them). And this is not theoretical. The files are not stored on obsolete media. Yes, they were first saved on 3 ½ inch floppies, but from there they were first migrated en masse to a 100MB (mega…not giga) Zip Disk in 1999 and from there ported to a 128MB jump drive in the early 2000s. And today these files live both on my 200GB microSD card that is my main data archive, with a back-up stored on a 5TB external hard drive (these drives are named “The Library” and “The Matrix of Gallifrey” respectively). Continue reading “The Middle Children of Technology: Living [Digital/Analog] in a/n [Analog/Digital] World”

Of Pens and Gins: My Analog Revival

By Michael W. Harris

I love technology. Let me get that out of the way and established. I can build you a computer, install the OS, and get it on-line and running in just a few days. Need a home theatre system installed but don’t know a coax from HDMI? I can help you with that. Want multiple game consoles running into a single receiver with the ability to record to a PC for streaming your sick [Insert Current Popular Battle Royale Game Here] rounds? I can even get that sorted for you.

This is all to say that I am unafraid and embrace the tech…despite the fact that my most recent game consoles are the PlayStation 2 and the NES and SNES Classics. I have also ditched the home built PCs for a Surface, and my home theatre setup is now a lowly 2.1 system (when I used to have a full 7.1) with a regular TV instead of a projector. And in a sign of what is to come, that system still has a CD player and turntable hooked up.

In many ways, as the technology has gotten easier and less complex to use and install, I have scaled back my own setups—though multiple moves in just three years after living in the same place for seven also has a way of forcing one to scale back. But, in that same time, I have also been drawn to two decidedly older and analog hobbies, or maybe fascinations is a better term: pens (or stationary products in general and fountain pens more precisely) and gins.

I have already talked about the latter at some length, so I will largely set gin aside for now. So instead, let’s talk about the former: pens and paper. Continue reading “Of Pens and Gins: My Analog Revival”

The Everyday Carry -OR- The Makings of the Man Purse

I have been doing more airline travel in recent years and my desire to NOT pay bag fees has caused me to reevaluate my luggage and packing styles. This led me to utilize a large backpack style suitcase and shoulder bag which allows me to carry on all my necessary items, even for a 1 ½ weeklong trip to both New York and England last year. But that trip also coincided with a bout of on-going backpain (lessened by physical therapy in the months since), and my obsessive need to get my daily miles led to some rather severe bouts of pain as I walked for miles and miles through airport terminals in my quest to reach five-plus miles a day.

So it was that I reevaluated what I carry with me in my everyday bag to work and elsewhere. I took a long look at what I considered the essentials that I always need or would most likely need during an average workday. This is not a new concept as the internet is full of pages and videos devoted to the idea of “prepping” with survivalist and gearheads alike talking about what I was only vaguely aware of beforehand: the Everyday Carry, or EDC. Continue reading “The Everyday Carry -OR- The Makings of the Man Purse”

All Those Moments Lost in Time: Remembering and Forgetting the 21st Century

By Michael W. Harris

There is little doubt that our lives are fully enmeshed with our digital technology now. From digital assistants like Alexa and Siri, to wearable technologies that track our health and steps, to the smart house that functions more and more like the computer on the Enterprise with every passing update, all of us put our trust in these technologies and the “cloud” with very little thought. And at the risk of being branded a Luddite, there is reason for concern about all these developments, but these concerns must always be balanced by the benefits that they can bring to society. Continue reading “All Those Moments Lost in Time: Remembering and Forgetting the 21st Century”