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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-23-09, 11:45 AM   #1
poormanbiking
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Using technology to live lite

I use my laptop for photo scanning, music mp3 format and now checking into using it as my tv. I do need to get some hardware for the tv adaption.

How do you use tech. to live lite ?
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Old 03-23-09, 12:24 PM   #2
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paperless statements for all bank/utility/insurance/etc accounts, then get on the national opt out for credit/insurance offers. Before I moved I was down to maybe getting one peice of mail every other day but the opt out seems to have reset when I moved so I had to do it again. This eliminated getting paper bills in the mail, writing checks, having to shred the paper, reconcile the accounts, store paper for if I wanted/needed a record of somehting.
Photo scanning should be only temporary until all your old photos are scanned right, I'm assuming your not still taking photos on paper.
Eliminating paper has eliminated a filing cabinet, desk, and several hours of doing and reconcoling bills for me. When I get a notification of a bill in e-mail I login and get the statement if its one I want to keep then schedule a payment with my bank. I actually signed up for the budget plan on most of them just so I could schedule automatic payments in the bank and have them be about the same every month. I just schedule everything a couple days after my paycheck is supposed to direct deposit so I can check and make sure its there first. Now we can load up and go away for a weekend and not worry about the mailbox filling up of a bill coming due, everything pretty much works automatic.
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Old 03-23-09, 12:50 PM   #3
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Forgot about the paper trail

Currently do banking and insurance online. Hopefully get going on the rest of the bills that way.

I have 4 kids and still get their school pictures on paper, don't know if their are other options for those. All other pictures are taken digitally.
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Old 03-23-09, 02:26 PM   #4
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Currently do banking and insurance online. Hopefully get going on the rest of the bills that way.

I have 4 kids and still get their school pictures on paper, don't know if their are other options for those. All other pictures are taken digitally.
Its not clear to me that requiring a computer to view family snapshots is in any sense more "lite" than photo albums that require no power and no more resources after they're printed. Its not clear that the digital photos will last longer either. My digital photos keep getting transferred to new computers. A friend is worried that the back up CDs only have a 10 year life which is shorter than the life of color prints. My 20 year old prints are deteriorating but they still looked good at 10 years. One thing I've done with "tech" to live "lite" is took windows computers that were headed to the landfill and installed linux on them. I saved 4 in the past year. Friends are still happy with them.
"You going to just dump that computer?"
"Yeah, its slowed down. The guy at the computer store says my Windows has gotten old and I need a new computer with the new Windows."
"Can I try fixing it up with a new operating system before you buy a whole new
computer."
"Sure why not- I'm throwing it out anyway."
Next day....
"Hey, its never been so fast. "

Next few months...
"Hows that Linux box doing?"
"Great. Can you install it on my laptop too? The laptop keeps telling me I need to buy more anti-virus software and its slowed way down like the desktop did."

Still, it isn't obvious that a person who uses a lot of "tech" is living "lite". It isn't clear to me that the resources used for the computers, servers and communications systems needed to implement online bill paying use fewer resources than riding my bike down to the bank and post office and paying the bills in person.
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Old 03-23-09, 02:40 PM   #5
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Still, it isn't obvious that a person who uses a lot of "tech" is living "lite".
Of course it isn't obvious. But certain choices, like replacing some types of paper mailings with e-mail and replacing three devices with one (TV+Laptop+Desktop => laptop computer) have a lot of potential to reduce clutter and reduce our ecological footprint.
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Old 03-23-09, 02:49 PM   #6
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I use my laptop for photo scanning, music mp3 format and now checking into using it as my tv. I do need to get some hardware for the tv adaption.
The WinTV box from Hauppauge will do the trick. ATI makes a similar box, but we found the WinTV to be better.
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Old 03-23-09, 03:34 PM   #7
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Well digital pictures don't wear out, even if the media does you can easily transfer it to new. I reburn all by backups each year so if the dvds last 10 then I'll have 10 backup copies. You can;t easily and cheaply make offsite backups of photo pictures like I can with digital, one set of backups stays in my parents house in another state.
We have ~16,000 pictures now, it would take a whole bookshelf to house them instead they all fit on my little 12" laptop. We can print 6-10 pictures on a single 8.5x11 page and hand them to relatives rather than having to buy a photo album, then picture pages, then put 6 pictures on a page and carry them around and make sure no one spills anything on them or bends the pages and we get them back afterward, instead for less than the cost of one photo album I can print them off and give them to keep.
I still have two file boxes of paper pictures from before we were married, those two boxes are less than 1/10th of the pictures we own so having them all digital has eliminated the need for all that. All the drives and backup media I own will fit into less space than one of those boxes so were down to 1/20th of the space requirements.
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Old 03-23-09, 04:58 PM   #8
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Electronic Book

I like the idea of the portable electronic book like the ones in the Filament book club or the Kindle by Amazon. The problem I have with them is they don't have all the features I want. I want color pictures so that book covers and illustrations can be shown. It needs to be capable of showing and switching to multiple fonts and sizes. It should be able to read multiple formats and accept the input of personal files from my computer. If it had video capabilities and a small keyboard that would be great. Having the ability to change memory cards would be a good feature for those who store plenty of video. Personally I probably wouldn't keep video on it. I don't keep much video on my computer now.

All of this sounds like an iPhone or iPod Touch only bigger. Well, yes it does. I don't own either and don't want to yet. I would absolutely love having multiple encyclopedias and dictionaries along with hundreds of books, magazines with pictures on a portable device the size of a large paperback book that weighed half a pound.

Right now I'm reading two paperback books. Both are nine inches high. One is six inches wide and the other is seven and a half inches wide. They each weigh more than a pound. I like the thickness of the wider book. It is about a half inch thick. That would be a comfortable size to hold for a long time in the form of an electronic book.

Many people here have commented on their huge book collections that they don't want to give up. Wouldn't it be great to have all those books in a small portable format? I think so. If you could scan all of them into your computer you wouldn't need to purchase them again, but you would probably destroy them by ripping out the pages and scanning them. That is until some company starts selling a hand held scanner that makes it easy to scan your personal library.

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Old 03-23-09, 06:26 PM   #9
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Not sure what the future will hold, but the potential for more lightweight devices at home -- particularly computers -- is where we should be thinking. Currently, the research is in the direction of devices that use about 1/4 of current computing devices, probably because there are no hard disks and the displays are very energy efficient (think the power of the LED versus the incandescent bulb...)

Storage is maintained remotely, on server farms that are fed by more efficient, renewable source. For example, you could have these farms near the source of hydro electric or wind power sources.
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Old 03-23-09, 07:33 PM   #10
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I like the idea of the portable electronic book like the ones in the filament book club or the Kindle by Amazon.

Right now I'm reading two paperback books. Both are nine inches high. One is six inches wide and the other is seven and a half inches wide. They each weigh more than a pound. I like the thickness of the wider book. It is about a half inch thick. That would be a comfortable size to hold for a long time in the form of an electronic book.

Many people here have commented on their huge book collections that they don't want to give up. Wouldn't it be great to have all those books in a small portable format? I think so. If you could scan all of them into your computer you wouldn't need to purchase them again, but you would probably destroy them by ripping out the pages and scanning them. That is until some company starts selling a hand held scanner that makes it easy to scan your personal library.
Well books are a whole different level of living "lite". I have books from my grandparents. If I put them all on a disk will my grandchildren have them? Who is going to move them to each new generation of technology? I've already lost out of programs I wrote for the Apple ][ and the Tektronix and the VAX why would we risk that with books?

Some books from my grandmother were cataloged by my mother. Apparently as a child she played "library" and hand made these library cards and slots for her books. Some have little notes or pressed leaves. I really don't get how buying electronic equipment to reproduce all that then buying more electronic equipment to view it and translate to the new formats every few years, reduces the waste over just keeping them in a bookcase. At some point when the mid 20th century acid paper becomes fragile you might want to do something like buy books printed on better paper. I enjoy scanning old photos and e-mailing them to friends but don't think that when I do that I'm living more gently than waiting till I see my friends in person and pulling out the photos. I also enjoy checking out classic books from project Gutenberg, but if I like it I'll buy a real book that I can read out in the woods in a hammock without worrying about the battery going bad.
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Old 03-23-09, 08:33 PM   #11
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Portable Books

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but if I like it I'll buy a real book that I can read out in the woods in a hammock without worrying about the battery going bad.
There have only been a few times in my life when I took a book or magazine with me away from home and each of those times I didn't spend more than two hours with them. I had other things to do because I was out doing them. Having an entire library of my favorite novels and magazines in just one place would be awesome because of its portability. There are always software programs available to update old files to newer formats. In the MacWorld Magazine there was just an article about two software programs that convert the old pre 2000 Appleworks files into newer formats.

I only have a few books that are antiques. I keep them for their information not because of their materials. I would much rather have an e-book version. It would make them more useful because I wouldn't need to be careful with them. One hundred year old books are fragile.

Some books do have an aesthetic value. I get that. I'm more data oriented regarding books.

There is a device made for musicians that works as a sheet music library. It holds thousands of scores and can advance the pages automatically. It costs $1000.00. I don't need one of those yet.
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Old 03-23-09, 08:51 PM   #12
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I think e-book devices like Kindle2 are promising. I like the convenience of carrying 1500 books in a device the size of one paperback. But there are potential problems. gwd mentioned a couple--the lack of aesthetics in an e-reader, and the possibility of losing "data" in an accident or due to technical obsolescence. (The use of "data" to describe books bothers me some, actually.)

Another problem is that the bookstores will die if Kindle2 takes over. Without independent bookstores, if Amazon doesn't want you to have a certain book, you will not have that book. The best sellers will be whatever books that Amazon decides to promote. This is already true to some extent, since Amazon already has enormous control over publishing decisions. So does Walmart.

Even worse, perhaps, libraries will die too. How will we get free access to books if this happens? I like the fact that $10 Kindle books are fairly cheap, but I usually get all my fooks for free at the library.

What about the literature of the past? Google has electronically cached just about every book that was ever written, and given free access to the public. This is a wonderful accomplishment, but there are dangers. If Google wanted to delete the word "breast" (or any word whatsoever) from the entire written English language, it could do so. We have written copies now, but if those gradually turn to dust and are not replaced, Google will have control of the English language. Or whatever corporation is in charge of media storage in that time will have control, if google has ceased to exist.

I'm probably just paranoid, but things like this really are starting to worry me. I think that the control of materials and ideas by a few corporate monopolies is very troubling.
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Old 03-24-09, 12:15 AM   #13
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Well forgoing technology is the best way.

The best thing I bought in a long while was a scanner. I have reduced hundreds of pounds of paper.
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Old 03-24-09, 01:23 AM   #14
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Even worse, perhaps, libraries will die too. How will we get free access to books if this happens?
If public libraries or even the library of congress go digital then there will be even more access to books. Libraries could let people download books with built in time limits or no time limits. There would be no waiting for digital books to be returned. If you want the book you get it instantly. Maybe they could charge a nickel or quarter per book with that built in time limit. That would fund the libraries and perhaps kick back a tiny royalty to the author. Perhaps the libraries could put an advertisement in the downloaded book to help pay for more library improvements and digital infrastructure.

Paper books could still be available at libraries in the same fashion they are available now.

I have a scanner and want to record all of my families photos from as far back as the early 1900s. There aren't too many, but all of them have writing on the back which means each image must be scanned front and back. Labeling them will take a really long time. I keep putting it off.

There are about five boxes full of receipts in my apartment. It will take a long time to scan them. I might get a scanner from www.neatco.com because of all their software. I wrote to them about creating a hand held book scanner just because of this topic. I hope they make one.
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Old 03-24-09, 02:07 AM   #15
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I would very much like to put all the photos I have in albums onto my external harddrive before my move to Australia, but I don't know if I'm going to have the time to do that. If I could do that, I could ditch 13 large photo albums! I might still keep the photos in a small box ... maybe.

My father has already been helping me with my cassettes (remember them?) ... he's been translating them into an electronic format, and will be transferring them to my external harddrive. I'm not sure where we're at with that, but once it is done, I'd like to transfer all my CDs to that harddrive as well. That'll take care of hundreds of individual music storage items (cassettes/CDs).

And there are numerous other documents I'd like to scan and have on that external harddrive as well, but again, I'm not sure I'll have the time to do it.

However, when I do get everything I can backed up onto that harddrive, I'd like to pick up another one and create a duplicate copy ... just in case.

Moving two small external harddrives should be a lot easier and a lot less hassle than moving 13 photoalbums, hundreds of cassettes and CDs, and a pile of large file boxes full of documents.

I'd like to have my books available on the computer too, if possible. My father reads some online now, and I'll have to find out where he's getting his. I have a library of several hundred books ... not a lot, but still enough so that I can't take most of them to the other side of the world, and it would be great to be able to access at least some of them online. I do like actual libraries too ... but they aren't always conveniently located.

I discontinued my newspaper subscription years ago, and if I need to access the news (like I did during the Australian bushfires), I have been able to access it all online. Australia seems to be a little bit ahead of the times compared with Canada when it comes to that.

Even things like recipes ... I'm getting rid of all my recipe books, cards, bits of paper I've cut out, etc. etc. because I'm sure if there's ever a recipe I simply must have (haha), I can get it online. I had a whole drawer full of that stuff.

I've thrown out most of my University notes because the teachers either taught from powerpoints, which I've saved, or I've transcribed my handwritten notes into a Word document. Where in the past I would have had about 20 binders full of notes, assignments, and stuff by now, I think I've got 2, and I'll probably go through those and see what I can get rid of.

I wish I could zap the rest of my stuff and reduce it to a file on my computer!! Wouldn't that be great ... you'd travel to some other part of the world, hook up your harddrive to a computer somewhere and print yourself out a chair and table etc.? I can dream.
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Old 03-24-09, 06:59 AM   #16
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I use my laptop for photo scanning, music mp3 format and now checking into using it as my tv. I do need to get some hardware for the tv adaption.

How do you use tech. to live lite ?
Why buy a converter? Nearly every TV station runs recent shows online.
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Old 03-24-09, 07:55 AM   #17
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I have a scanner and want to record all of my families photos from as far back as the early 1900s. There aren't too many, but all of them have writing on the back which means each image must be scanned front and back. Labeling them will take a really long time. I keep putting it off.
Don't scan the back, use somehting like exiftool and put the writing on the back into the exif comments.
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Old 03-24-09, 07:59 AM   #18
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Be careful with the use of external drives. Too many people but them then fill them up then get another then another and before long you have a half dozen drives hanging off of your system. Put a biger drive in your system and put everything there then get an external case and put your own drive in it (so yu can upgrade it later) and only plug it in to make a backup copy then put it away when your ot using it.
I saw someone else mention copying cd's then giving away or selling the cd's, at that point you have just pirated the music and are no longer legal, you have to keep the originals (even the riaa consideres a backup copy illegal but for now its not.
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Old 03-24-09, 09:15 AM   #19
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If you scan photos and papers, then throw away the originals, I think you're making a big mistake. The originals have value--historical, financial, sentimental value. A lot of information is lost from a photo each time it's copied.

Can scanned documents be admitted into a dourt case? If a scanned document is on a disc (or other memory device) must the entire disc be admitted in order to admit the one document? If so, there could be repercussions.
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Old 03-24-09, 10:57 AM   #20
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Even worse, perhaps, libraries will die too. How will we get free access to books if this happens? I like the fact that $10 Kindle books are fairly cheap, but I usually get all my fooks for free at the library.
Not necessarily. I've heard our local library is considering (may already be? I should ask the hubby, he mentioned something about this a while ago) lending out ebooks. I'm not sure of the details, but I think there's the possibility of lending out the devices as well as the ebooks. That would be great for someone who can't afford to buy a Kindle but also doesn't want to cart a whole lot of books along on vacation.

In any case, I think libraries now spend as many resources on lending DVDs and providing computer access as they do lending hard-copy books. Their role is changing as the technology changes.


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What about the literature of the past? Google has electronically cached just about every book that was ever written, and given free access to the public. This is a wonderful accomplishment, but there are dangers. If Google wanted to delete the word "breast" (or any word whatsoever) from the entire written English language, it could do so. We have written copies now, but if those gradually turn to dust and are not replaced, Google will have control of the English language. Or whatever corporation is in charge of media storage in that time will have control, if google has ceased to exist.

I'm probably just paranoid, but things like this really are starting to worry me. I think that the control of materials and ideas by a few corporate monopolies is very troubling.
I'm bothered by that, too. The thought of corporations controlling what we get to read (and thus think) worries me. Look at the limitations of what's available as far as news now that just a few corporations own most of the news outlets, whether it be newspapers, radio, or tv. Heck, look at newspapers recently. They've got some guy looking out for the bottom line, so they cut the reporters and then wonder why readership/subscriptions/income drops. Or, in the case of the local paper, they print the state workers salaries without any context and then wonder why (in the state capitol) subscriptions tank. As they're losing income, they cut more employees who know what they're doing, subscriptions fall further, and soon the paper closes. How many newspapers are actually locally owned anymore?
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Old 03-24-09, 11:43 AM   #21
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Not necessarily. I've heard our local library is considering (may already be? I should ask the hubby, he mentioned something about this a while ago) lending out ebooks. I'm not sure of the details, but I think there's the possibility of lending out the devices as well as the ebooks. That would be great for someone who can't afford to buy a Kindle but also doesn't want to cart a whole lot of books along on vacation.

In any case, I think libraries now spend as many resources on lending DVDs and providing computer access as they do lending hard-copy books. Their role is changing as the technology changes.




I'm bothered by that, too. The thought of corporations controlling what we get to read (and thus think) worries me. Look at the limitations of what's available as far as news now that just a few corporations own most of the news outlets, whether it be newspapers, radio, or tv. Heck, look at newspapers recently. They've got some guy looking out for the bottom line, so they cut the reporters and then wonder why readership/subscriptions/income drops. Or, in the case of the local paper, they print the state workers salaries without any context and then wonder why (in the state capitol) subscriptions tank. As they're losing income, they cut more employees who know what they're doing, subscriptions fall further, and soon the paper closes. How many newspapers are actually locally owned anymore
?
Yes, CADL has e-books. They can be downloaded from home, I think. If not, other libraries do already offer that service to users. That's fine, I'm not a Luddite by any means. But my concerns still stand.

As far as I know, Kindle2 can't be used for library downloads. Kindle2 is like Microsoft used to be--by owning the software, they control the product totally. It's like saying only one printing press is allowed, and all books, magazines and newspapers must be printed on that press. Unacceptable. I will not support Kindle until Amazon makes the software available as freeware to competitors and to libraries, governments, etc.

As for newspapers, the problem usually cited is competition with the Internet. Craigslist took away classified revenues, and online papers plus bloggers got people used to the idea that news should be free. Of course the blogs will lose most of their free content if newspapers go under, so they're shooting themselves in the foot when they refuse to pay for links to newspaper articles.
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Old 03-24-09, 02:36 PM   #22
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Be careful with the use of external drives. Too many people but them then fill them up then get another then another and before long you have a half dozen drives hanging off of your system. Put a biger drive in your system and put everything there then get an external case and put your own drive in it (so yu can upgrade it later) and only plug it in to make a backup copy then put it away when your ot using it.
I saw someone else mention copying cd's then giving away or selling the cd's, at that point you have just pirated the music and are no longer legal, you have to keep the originals (even the riaa consideres a backup copy illegal but for now its not.

In my case I'm getting rid of my computer system. All I'll have from it is my external harddrives.

And what should I do with all the cassettes I have sitting around here? I don't want to keep them ... there's no way I'm paying extra for storage or shipping because of a bunch of 20-year old cassettes.
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Old 03-24-09, 02:43 PM   #23
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Data storage cassettes? There are plenty of local businesses which will be happy to transcribe them to CD for a reasonable fee.
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Old 03-24-09, 02:55 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Kimmitt View Post
Data storage cassettes? There are plenty of local businesses which will be happy to transcribe them to CD for a reasonable fee.
No ... nothing so new and modern as that.

Shortly after the LP and 8-Tracks there came these things called cassettes. I've got music from the 70s and 80s on cassettes. My father has transferred most of these cassettes onto an external harddrive, using a program he found. But now I've got a collection of really old cassettes (anywhere from .... oh, 15 to 30 years old) which I don't want anymore.
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Old 03-24-09, 02:59 PM   #25
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I assume music cassettes. Basically its the same as buying computer software, installing it then giving someone else the cd/dvd and letting them install it, basically two people are using it for the price of one. Same goes for music, if you copy it for yourself and give the original away then you have a pirated copy. Now there are some circumstances where a 20 year old band may not be around and their music out of print and therefore can;t be bought but I don't know the legalese of that situation.
Besides have you ever digitized music from a casette? you can clearly tell it was from a casette, the bandwith of the casette format was very narrow,it sounds pretty bad compared to anything modern. I tried one and ended up just tossing the casettes, if there was anything I really liked I bought it again on cd or mp3 just to get the better sound.
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