Spring Cleaning in December

via Flickr, Abraham Lincoln's Photography, Creative CommonsIt's times like these that make me want to clean up my internet and electronic life. When I say "times like these," I mean "times where I'm sitting in my parent's kitchen with my Christmas shopping done and nothing to do but watch standard definition cable or play on the high speed internet I made them finally install in 2008."

I've spent the last year or so trying to simplify my life. I started on Black Friday 2009 when I made a pledge to myself and Twitter that I was not going to buy any physical media for one year. No books on paper, no movies on plastic. I'd already gone all-digital with my music a few years ago so this shouldn't be an issue.

And, I actually (almost) did it! The only media I bought from Black Friday 2009 to Thanksgiving 2010 was a game for my Wii. No books, magazines, newspapers, movie discs or music discs. Of course, I went out on Black Friday this year and bought a couple Blu-Rays. You still can't (legally) download that kind of quality. But I made it a year, dammit!

This taught me that digital is actually happening, right now. DVDs will be around for a while, and books forever (hopefully), but I don't have a need for either anymore. Once games and hi-def can be easily downloaded, I'll do that too.

I spent a bunch of January and February ripping all my DVDs to a Drobo. (Thanks for your ineffectiveness, DMCA. You were beaten by free programs like Mac The Ripper and Handbrake.) All my plastic discs were put in envelopes and the cases banished. That cleared up a TON of room in my apartment. You don't realize how much space 400+ DVD cases occupy… Now, I have a couple dozen Blu-Ray discs and a networked Drobo that holds music and movies. I use a Mac Mini hooked to my TV to access it all and it works like a dream.

Speaking of that Mac Mini, I also purged my electronics drawer. Did I say drawer? I meant "drawer, closet, plastic bin from storage, and that giant Ikea bag full of extra cables that belong to stuff I don't own anymore." I used Gazelle to sell a bunch of stuff including: 2 old Dell laptops, an old iBook, and old MacBook Pro, a Dell Mini9 i Hackintoshed, 2 old iPhones, a Treo 700, a couple digital cameras, and a Flip. I got over $1200 for the lot, and cleaned up a bunch of space along the way. I also sold off a terribly frustrating Gateway Windows Tablet that I barely used on CraigsList. My Flip and cheap digital cameras were fully replaced by my iPhone 4, and I kept my Canon DSLR around for when I need a grown-up camera. I bought a Mac Mini and threw away that giant blue bag of tangle. It's been a few months, and I haven't needed any of those cables, so I think I'm good.

I'm in the process of cleaning up the MacBook Pro now. I've been a big fan of Hazel for a while. It does a lot of file cleaning and moving that keeps things in order without you thinking of it. It's like Mac OSX's "Folder Actions," but WAY better. I have it set up to take any .dmg files from my download folder after 3 days and move them to a Software folder on the Drobo. I have it set to color applications in the Apps folder red if they haven't been opened in 6 months. I can then decide to uninstall them if I want. I have it set up to clear out my Podcast folder of any file older than 4 weeks. Today alone, it cleared up 22 GB on my drive. It's useful beyond words, and totally worth the $22. The best part is, it is a preference pane, not an app, so it's invisible.

I've also spent the morning going through my iTunes. It was a mess. But, after a couple hours with Doug's Applescripts for iTunes, it's all pretty and organized. There are scripts for deleting duplicates, merging audiobook tracks, consolidating genres, deleting orphan songs, finding tracks with missing tags or album art, and more. Take the time to do it, then learn the magic of Smart Playlists. I do not recommend, however, downloading the App Store Expense Monitor. It has shown me that I have blown about $600 in iPhone and iPad apps. Made me cry a little.

Now, it's on to my online life. I'm disabling my Google Buzz and Gowalla accounts. Twitter and Foursquare have won me over. I'm not deleting them, just disabling them. I may need them someday if we find out that Foursquare had a debaucherous night with a prostitute in a Manhattan hotel room, then proceeded to trash said hotel room and we all hate Foursquare for it. Foursquare is not as charming as Charlie Sheen.
I'm also updating my Google Profile, my Linked In profile, finally deciding between Flickr and SmugMug, deleting a bunch of Google Docs, possibly updating my Facebook profile if I can bring myself to play along with 500,000,000 other people, deciding between Posterous and Tumblr, and changing all my bank passwords to fluffyunicorn09 for fun.

People have asked my what my resolutions are this year. I don't make them. I think if something is important to you, just do it. Don't wait for an arbitrary date sometime in the future. Start now. If you want to eat healthier, tweet less, play more Call of Duty, start working on that really important project, or start collecting scraps of string so you can beat that pesky largest ball of twine in Minnesota, go for it. Do what you love and have fun in 2011!