Performing updates and upgrades is something that all technologists have to do. Since switching jobs I’ve had to do a lot less of it because it really isn’t part of my job anymore.
But that doesn’t mean that I can escape it completely. Particularly when it comes to my personal technology. Back in August I got both a new desktop computer (iMac) and a new wireless router (Cisco/LinkSys). Getting both working with all the existing technology in the house proved to be a multi-weekend project.
Ironically, setting up and integrating the new desktop was the easier of the two tasks. In part because I have my hard drive partitioned and all my files live on a separate partition, plus I have them all backed up to the cloud. This meant I could literally just hook up my 1TB firewire drive use that to transfer the files from old to new computer. Install the software I needed and I was pretty much good to go.
The biggest problem I encountered in the whole endeavor was successfully migrating my iTunes library. Music transferred no problem but my playlists, ratings, and numbers of times played have disappeared into the wind. No amount of Googling presented a solution that worked and after messing around with it for 90 minutes I decided that frankly I didn’t care enough to spend any more time.
As for the router, well getting it setup was a major pain. First, Cisco’s setup software doesn’t work with Lion. Fortunately the very nice chat support person showed me how to set all the configuration via a web interface instead. Once I’d done that though my problems were only beginning. You see a new secure router meant all the devices that use the Wi-Fi network needed to be reconnected and authorized. This was fairly easy with everything accept my wireless printers. So I went digging for install CDs and manuals. The mult-function color Canon printer manual showed me that I could easily reconnect to the network using the lovely panel and buttons on the printer. My HP black and white laserjet was a completely different story. The only button it has is one that turns it on and off. The upshot of the installation instructions was that I had to connect the printer to a computer via USB and then use the printer settings to reconnect to the network. Getting this to work successfully took 2 hours.
The growing pains of upgrading technology are never fun. However, the new hardware is a significant improvement. The router has allowed me to set QoS for Netflix streaming and Skype improving my experience with both. The new iMac is much faster than my older one. But as usual no gain without some pain.
My next upgrade project is to help my spouse migrate all of his data on a variety of media: hard drives, disks, etc on to his desktop, external hard drive, and into the cloud. This way he’ll have have easy access to it, and it’ll be on more modern mediums which will hopefully help ensure its future accessibility.
Ensuring future access to born digital content is an issue near and dear to me because I’ve lost content in the past. 10+ years ago when I was a penniless graduate student I made a cookbook for various members of my family using (horrors) Microsoft Publisher. There were originally 6-8 print copies made by photocopying and hand binding. Unfortunately when we got rid of that computer the file which generated the cookbook was lost in the electronic ether. This really came to bite me in the &#* when my brother got married and my new sister in-law wanted a copy of the cookbook. I ended up using the paper copy to recreate the book in Pages, print and bind it. Having learned my lesson from the first edition of the cookbook, the 2nd edition was made into a PDF-A and like the rest of my stuff backed up to both the cloud and an external drive. This proved to be a smart choice as another relative emailed me last week asking if “there are any copies of that family cookbook around”. 5 minutes later the PDF was on its way over the internet to the relative.
None of this would have been possible if I didn’t try to stay on top of what intellectual works I’ve created, they’re formats and migrate them in a timely fashion. It is a daunting task for just my personal stuff which is why I think the preservation of born digital content is one of the biggest challenges facing libraries today.