Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If I had a Girlfriend, She'd Kill Me!


Turn on your techie buzzword filters boys and girls. Today's post is going to be loaded with old school talk about gadgets, and indirectly, about the hazards they pose to anyone entering the domain of a technology junkie! :D You've been warned. Ha Ha Ha And off we go!

Ah, thrift stores! Bane or boon, I'm not sure which they are for me. Are the stores filled with treasure or junk? Again, I'm uncertain. But of one thing I do know, thrift stores would be my undoing if I indulged my retro-device addiction more than I already have.

With the number of thrift stores here in the local area, it's almost impossible to make a pilgrimage and not find something. For instance, on Monday, I decided to go hunting for an old laptop I could use to record research topics while I'm at the library. I've seen laptops in the thrift stores before so it's not too much of a stretch to find an older unit that could handle my basic word processing needs. When you do find one, it's usually dirt cheap - sometimes costing roughly the price most people pay for eating out at typical fast-food joint. It's just a matter of being persistent in searching for one. Oh, but what wicked temptations we are presented with in the search process!

Yesterdays temptation proved to be a pair of Hi8 tape recorder decks for the grand total of twelve dollars each. One rarely encounter anything other than VHS tape decks so these were an unusual find. Considering the fact that I'm tinkering with low-budget film making, a Hi8 deck would be a nice companion to a Hi8 camera for rough editing and viewing footage without putting wear and tear on aging camcorders that have numerous moving parts just itching to fail. And having a camera fail while shooting filmvideo can be catastrophic, or at least inconvenient. So saving wear and tear on cameras is viewed as a good thing from a film makers perspective.

But being unemployed for a lengthy time now, spending money needs careful consideration. It took great effort on my part to walk away from the little gem. And even now, I have nagging pangs of regret telling me I'll be hard pressed to find a Hi8 deck again as this is the first and only time I've seen one in a thrift store. But, those are the temptations of thrift stores. And right now, I only have a SVHS-C camera so a Hi8 deck would be a useful tool only when I borrow my friends Hi8 camera. Yep, I hear a few people saying, "But that's really old equipment, everyone is using Digital Video cameras now." Well, Hi8, SVHS-C, and other such things as Super8 film cameras are old tech, but they can be pretty effective tools in the right hands. And you can still learn the basics in some form while using older tech tools. And in most cases, you can't beat the price. I can usually find a way to scrape together five or ten dollars to pay for a Super8 or SVHS-C camera, but can't part with the high dollar price associated with a DV camera. With all that said, one can easily see that I fall into the school of thinking that it's good to have a variety of tools on hand to work with.

*** A serious techno-babble warning is now in effect ***

As for the treasure versus junk issue, frequently, things find their way into thrift stores because they are obsolete, have a problem, or sometimes both. A prime example is the debug PS1 console I nabbed the other day. It turns out the unit has problems reading discs so I'll have to research and find out if a normal PS1 laser assembly can swap in for repairs. If so, I'm now going to have to wait for one dollar and twenty nine cent tag day at The Goodwill thrift stores and find a donor PS1. Otherwise, the little unit will have to sit on the repair shelf right alongside the cheapie NEC 98NOTE laptop that has floppy problems. Of course the 98NOTE is sitting next to the freebie Coleco Adam my friend gave me that needs a keyboard and Printer/Power-supply. But that too, is hidden behind the Commodore Amiga 500 which doesn't have an OS diskette. Curse that NeXTStation that a CraigsList member gave me for free, for it commiserates with the Amiga 500 as it suffers from a lack of an OS disc.

*** Techno-babble warning off ***

One phrase would describe the situation in my little retro wire-jungle I call a home, "If I had a girlfriend, she'd kill me!"