I’m going 100% digital in 2012

I know it’s early for New Year resolutions, but I’m going to share this one now partly so I don’t forget in six weeks.

I buy a lot of media. I have an entire 6’x3′ bookcase full of technical books, most of which are out of date by at least one version. There’s a cubic hectare of Blu-ray and DVD boxes lying around the place, and I’m pretty sure there are boxes of CDs (remember those?) in the loft somewhere. Probably half the available storage space in my house is taken up with things which would actually fit on a few terabytes of hard disk.

It’s not like everything in the house isn’t already digital. We’ve got a 160GB iPod Classic, iPhones, iPads, Kindles, three laptops, an Xbox 360, a PS3 (with a 320GB HD), a 50Mbps internet connection, and on Saturday we bought an Apple TV.

It’s ridiculous. It has to stop. It ends, starting in January. From then on, where a digital purchase option is available, I shall avail myself of it. I will invest in a home server with a few TB of storage on mirrored drives; I’m thinking of the Lacie 5big Network 2, which will take up to 10TB. Then I can “back up” my movie collection to that, and install iTunes on it for music streaming. Paper books will go to charities and libraries; if I want to read any of them again, I’ll buy them in ebook format. Magazines through Newsstand and papers through the Times iPad app.

Now, I just need Sony and Microsoft to distribute all PS3 and Xbox games digitally, and I need never darken the door of another shop. Not that I do anyway. All this crap comes from Amazon.


  1. Dave Van den Eynde says:

    OKAY a 50Gbps Internet connection?

  2. XBox does games OnDemand via marketplace, alternatively you can always plum for OnLive and stream your games vis the cloud πŸ™‚


  3. Duncan Smart says:

    Shame it’s not a great time to buy hard drives http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2011/11/21/thai_flood_prices/

  4. The whole thing kinda failed for me as I filled my amazon wishlist for Christmas with e-Books and it turns out it’s not that easy for someone to buy you e.g. an e-book and, say, have it delivered the 24th of December. Amazon wrote that the whole “e-book as a gift” use case isn’t in place yet πŸ˜₯

  5. “A few terabytes”! Doesn’t it blow your mind that we can think of a terabytes as a trivial thing?

    • It’s awesome, isn’t it? We’re living in the future. In a few years I’ll have a petabyte in Dropbox for tuppence-ha’penny a month, and that 50Gbps won’t be a typo.

  6. Jakov Duzevic says:

    Been there, done that. Living happily ever since.
    I have one word of advice. The days of “my movie collection” is so over. Yeah, you might have few of those rare movies that nobody really knows worth storing (in case some filmophil needs to be impressed) but most of of other ones can be found online, there’s no use in storing them on your drives. And with a 50Gbps πŸ™‚ connection you can download them in less time then it would take you to start that home server and transfer them.

  7. I appreciate quality, most of all. Entertainment for me is only good if it has a lot of quality, otherwise I prefer not to waste my time on it.

    A very strong factor that influences my perception of quality is technical. DVD’s compressed down to 700Mb or 350Mb are not good enough, I prefer the full blown 4Gb (or the usual 2.5Gb) of a DVD. And don’t get me started on BluRay, where 50Gb of a 1080p source cannot be matched by any compression scheme that intends to bring the size down significantly.

    Music is the same: a CD can be compressed from 700Mb to about 300Mb or 200Mb without me starting to get annoyed by artifacts when I bring the volume up, but more compression than that quickly becomes unacceptable to me. Music bought online is still of much lower quality, so the online experience is also still not good enough for me.

    Cable TV is suffering from high compression also. I really dislike what they call HD, as that translates to 720p full of artifacts when the scenes have poor lighting or camera noise. And, of course, explosions, water, and, in general, fast motion always annoy me. That is a form of digital streming that I dislike, I would prefer to watch my favorite shows on BluRay (although price is also a factor).

    As for books: well, book compression does not worry me that much. But that is mainly because I don’t actually like books. There is always something else that I can do with my time that is more fun than reading a book, especially taking into account the time it takes to read one. I prefer to spend 10 hours playing a good game on my PS3 (which I know is good) that 10 hours reading a book (that I don’t know if I will like or not). Specifically, the experience is usually not as fulfilling with books. And my PS3 has been sitting there for the last 6 months because I don’t have the time to play a game, that tells you where books come on my list!

    So, for me, the world is still physical. My collection of movies, musics, and games are still on their original DVD’s, BluRay’s, and CD’s. I can believe that my library can fit on 10TB without any compression, but I’m still young so that is not a definitive solution for a guy like me who likes his entertainment largely uncompressed. Also there is no good technical solution to stream 25Mbps of a BluRay from my storage area to my TV, so feeding a BluRay disk to my PS3 is still the best high bandwidth solution I have available.

    … so I would be very sad if the future that is out there waiting for me is a compressed one.

    • I’m getting old, so my eyes and ears can’t tell the difference anyway πŸ™‚

    • “Cable TV is suffering from high compression also. I really dislike what they call HD, as that translates to 720p full of artifacts when the scenes have poor lighting or camera noise. ”

      This bugs the crap out of me too. “Hi-Def” blocky black, but that’s digital cable more than HD specifically. And instead of a little snow now and then, you get completely garbled noise instead of video, or ‘no signal’. But 500 channels of this crap jammed down the line now I guess eh? Ahh progress…

  8. what happens when we get that big EMP on 12/21/2012?

  9. And what will become of all your digital acquisitions when your house burns down or your server is stolen?

  10. Bill Salloum says:

    Not a good time to be working in stores that actually sell these items physically in the ol’ home town I guess. And the production/logistics workers that deliver them to us. I wonder how many of those jobs will be taken up by electronics stores instead. It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

    Anyone else have any misgivings about this, or are we a pretty confident bunch that it’s just another economic shift in which we’ll all wind up ok?

    • I haven’t been buying this stuff from shops in years. There’s a stack of Amazon boxes that are testament to that. I guess City Link and DPD might lose some business, but discs and books are only a fraction of what they’re delivering anyway.

      At some point over the next couple of decades there needs to be a serious rethink of the whole employment model anyway. It’s going to come down to consumers and the people who build the robots.

  11. David Glenn says:

    FYI: Sony said that to view 3D HiDef content on any of their players, you will need at least 10Mbps connection. The most that Verizon can deliver in Ridgecrest Ca is 5 to 7Mbps. Yea, I know that I live in the middle of the Desert. Well, that going to restrict me in the Digital Age for now!

  12. I’m nowhere near 100% digital, and nor do I want to be, but one thing that’s made a huge difference is that I refuse to buy a book, movie, or CD when I can borrow it from my local library. There are certainly media which never make it into a library’s collection, and maybe I’ll buy those. But once I started thinking about my local library as my “attic archive” I brought a lot less crap into my house.

    • I started doing the same thing last year and I love it. I get any books I need from the library, read it, then take it back. Everything stays out of my house (at least on a permanent basis). The only caveat is that the library does not have the greatest selection of technical books and some are really outdated. Still, it’s better than spending a ton of money elsewhere and I use the library whenever I can.

  13. We’ll enjoy the silence πŸ˜‰

  14. Great that you’re throwing out all your books – can you just let me know where I can find all those old titles that aren’t out of copyright but are unobtainable in ebook?

    • In mysterious bookshops that aren’t there the next day.

    • My wife and I are *hardcore* readers. We read every night before falling asleep and we used to have about 500 books in our collection. We decided to go all digital about a year ago. We got a second Sony ebook reader and I won’t go into details but rest assured if you look for ebooks it’s *very* easy to replace nearly any of your old paper books with it’s ebook version.

      • Hmmm, you say “very” easy – one of my favourite books is an old one inherited from my father titled ” Memories of a Victorian Childhood” published about 1880; when this is available on ebook, then I might consider a digital library myself. But then there’s the matter of the other 600 books in my collection, mainly non-fiction, that I can’t imagine anyone making available on ebooks any time soon…

        • Hmmm….that’s apparently not available, however I suspect it’s well out of copyright so requesting it be scanned or offering to do it for Project Gutenberg might be an idea (http://www.gutenberg.org/). Generally if it’s old enough and out of copyright there’s somewhere to find it, Gutenberg or Google books or elsewhere; I can’t find that particular book though.

          In any case I was thinking more along the lines of 20th century books. The few collectible or rare books we had we kept as they have a value beyond simply reading them.

      • @JO HO

        Well, it’s easy for those of us who don’t make the journey to work via dirigible or velocipede…

        • Hmmm again; that’s great, you can get any book I’d like that’s out of print and not out of copyright as an ebook. Please just let me know where from, and I’ll give the velocipede a rest for now.

  15. I am with you on the concept.
    Before you donate all your paper books check whether the publisher has an ebook version. I have been getting a lot of ebooks from http://shop.oreilly.com/ lately and i was able to list my paper books that I owned to get a discount on the ebook version.

  16. I’ve been using a Kindle since mid-2008 and I think it’s wonderful for reading many types of books. You may find, however, as I have, that reading reference manuals, books in which you want to flip back and forth between pages to compare things, and books that contain lots of diagrams, flowcharts, whatever, are somewhat frustrating to read on an e-reader. I can’t imagine doing without my Kindle nowadays, and I’m about to get a Fire, but I’d suggest you not get rid of _all_ your books until you see how it’s going.

    • Yes, the inability of an ebook to allow quick flipping back and forth is one of the main drawbacks to using them, whether it’s a long novel where you need to do a quick flip back to check on a characters profile, or indeed checking details in a technical manual.
      however, i’d use one for say taking holiday novels with you.

  17. Interesting. A mate of mine recently told me of a horrifying story where he was ripping all his DVDs/Blu-rays/Music and literally throwing away the disc. I can’t imagine not having the physical copy of the things I love. I am an admitted digital hoarder where I keep anything and everything on my numerous external drives but I also collect favourite video games and movies. I have a very large and diverse collection, a big shelf full of physical copies of the best games and movies. It’s wonderful to look at and it gives me a sense of satisfaction. My collection also has value. Although you spend money on digital copies of everything, they have no value. You can’t touch it, you can’t resell it. It’s just a sequence of 1’s and 0’s stored in some digital medium. I have recently been using Steam, mainly for convenience and for access to Indie games. However, I will always buy the physical copy if I can get my hands on it. Does anyone else feel they must own the physical copy of everything and digital just isn’t enough?

    • Nope. I like books, but primarily as decoration and sentimental value. Got an asus transformer for my technical manuals, got a sony e-reader for my paper/hardbacks, got a 72tb Norco-based storage array for my storage needs, got an atom-based VPN host to my house.

      I stopped needing physical when game boxes stopped being art.

  18. Add some pics of your place.. It’ll be fun..

  19. Have you checked out Safari Books Online (www.safaribooksonline.com)? It’s great. I currently get it through my job and it has almost every technical book you could ever need. Thousands. And you just read them all online. You can also download them to PDF or e-reader format for tokens that you build up over time. I think it’s something like $40.00 USD per month for a full subscription or 20-something for the ability to read 10 books at a time. Well worth the money!

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