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my hardware closet

I finally called and cancelled my Comcast cable TV subscription this weekend.  I’ve been meaning to do it forever.  I can’t remember the last time I was even watching TV on a regular basis, though I think it was probably around 6 months or so.  With my media center up and running so well, I generally just watch something from there or rent it on Netflix these days.

Now, the question is, what to do with all the hardware?  I have three (yes, THREE) Tivos with unlimited subscriptions.  Two of them are the klunky one-tuner first generation of the Series2 boxes, but the third is an HD Tivo, which is very nice.  I could sell them, but considering the price I shelled out (for the HD one, at least, savvy consumerism got me the first two for real cheap … under $50 each) I hate to part with it.  I keep thinking I’ll get cable again some day, and by that year sometime in the future, I’ll pat myself proudly on the back and say, “way to hang on to a piece of hardware for so long!  Now go get the compressed air.”

I’m cursed with the pack rat mentality, though.  I hang onto stuff far too long in the oft chance that someday, I *might* need it.  On Saturday, I woke up a little early, and as is normally the weekend routine, I get the feeling that I must turn my entire world around by 11 a.m.  This time, it was the closet in my living room which has the distinction of dedicating 85% of its storage space to electronics that I might need sometime before the next century.  The other 15% is a mix between my puzzles, dust bunnies, air, movie posters, and movie t-shirts.  I have a red t-shirt promoting “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, I kid you not… I’ll even take pictures to prove it.

I swear I’ve been carrying this collection of cables and equipment for at least ten years or so, probably ever since I haven’t been living at home.  It never really bothered me that I don’t use most of the technology anymore (or ever, really), you just never know when you’re going to need a floppy IDE cable.  Really!  I’m all about being prepared, but for the wrong circumstances.  I can just see the day when I’ll be someone’s hero for helping them be able to flash the BIOS on their 15-year old Dell desktop.  I still have the floppies to put it on, too.

So, this weekend was the closet’s demise.  I grabbed a bunch of plastic bags from the kitchen (the bachelor’s preferred method of storage and transportation for all things non-essential) and started filling them up with stuff.  My method of deciding what to keep and what to throw out was pretty simple: if I couldn’t remember the last time I used it, it gets tossed.  Normally it could be times like these that a selective memory can cause problems down the road, but I had so much junk anyway, I don’t think it’ll cause a problem.  Besides, the memory problems go both ways — when I do need a new cable or piece of hardware, I can’t get mad at myself because I’ll have forgotten I used to own one anyway.

All in all, I filled up something like eight to twelve bags of stuff.  I don’t remember how many it was, but I do recall that when I took it to the thrift store and started unloading, I had so much stuff that it took two guys to carry it all away, and one of them kept laughing because the stream was endless.  I think most of it was cables.  There were some notable things that I’d been hanging onto for a long time, “just in case,” some of which were: my old Gamecube, an 8 GB IDE harddrive, my old home-theater-in-a-box speakers (which were about as powerful and had as much wattage as two light bulbs), three PCMCIA wireless cards, a few wireless USB dongles, and a slew of PCI slot brackets.  I elected to hold onto the floppy drive — it was a sound investment in 1990, and it’s a sound investment today.

That’s not really the interesting part, though.  There is still all the stuff that I decided to keep because it held some kind of value, but I don’t have the energy or drive to see them through the process of being sold on the secondhand market.  Nothing makes a closet grow quite like a pack rat mentality combined with the laziness of avoiding the hassle of making spare change.  I’ve still got my Tivos, for instance.  There’s an old (now) AMD Athlon64 desktop that is pretty nice — top of the line of about 5 years ago.  Runs really quiet, too.  Then there’s a used Gateway desktop I remember I bought on Craigslist for some reason a while ago, and I’ve never used.  I’m holding onto that one because it came with Windows, and I might someday want *another* Windows XP Home key, so I can just use that one.  It probably wouldn’t work, anyway, but hey … hope lingers longer than logic.

I almost dragged off my original Xbox to the thrift store, too.  It hasn’t been as fun as I’d hoped it would have been, and having one console (PS2) with corded controllers is enough for me.  Plus it’s a bit wheezy.  Probably just needs a new fan, or harddrive.  Dunno.  I also decided to keep all my TV tuner cards, even though I never use those either … especially now without a cable subscription.  One of them was the Plextor external USB one that has MPEG4 hardware encoding (very nice).  I think my brother wanted that one.  Maybe it’ll be a nice holiday surprise, as in, I’ll be surprised if I manage to make it to the post office before Christmas 2010 to mail it off.

Oh yah, and there’s an MSI Mini-ITX motherboard with an Intel Atom that I’ll probably never try to revive, but I hate to donate it since I still think I could get at least $20 for it somewhere.  Then there’s my new Motorola RAZR phone that I used for about a week before I switched to Verizon.  That’s gotta be worth something.  I’ve also got two MP3 players, an iPod Nano and a Sansa something, each 4 GB … too small for me to do anything with … but I’ll hang onto them just because.  I think I still have a portable Sony Walkman cassette player, too.

In actuality, I’d like to get rid of all of the stuff, provided I can do it through a simple way … meaning I don’t have to do any work, and non-creepy people flock to my house with cash in hand.  I doubt it’d happen, but hey, if you live near Salt Lake and are interested … drop me a line.  That’s about as proactive as I’m gonna get about it.  If you ever need your BIOS flashed, too, I could probably do that as well.