Shares in Microsoft are down this morning after the announcement that the new generation of the Xbox 360 gaming console will not play used games. Yes my friends, the Borg are trying to assimilate our wallets yet again.! I’m not going into a rant about corporate greed because I think that free enterprise is a good thing.
I also happen to be married into a privately owned entity and I don’t think we are in the least bit greedy. If you add up all the times we’ve rescued wacky family members in yet another melodramatic crisis, paid storage fees for friends who just can’t part with their junk…I mean stuff…, helped the house keeper buy an alarm system for her house after she caught a peeping tom looking in her bathroom window, make donations to the humane society, etc. I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Husband and I share and help out where and when we can.
What I am going to rant about today is the some businesses are trying some really dirty rotten underhanded nasty stuff right under our noses. For years now software companies have been playing around with how to squeeze another nickel out of customers. Are they trying to create another software or an update that adds value ? Nope!
They want to turn transform ownership of software, and other digital content into a subscription so that we pay for the same thing, over and over and over again. At least with a magazine subscription we get some new content with each issue. Although it’s hidden in between advertisements and those horrendous smelly scratch and sniff perfume cards. I’m glad the New Yorker magazine doesn’t do the perfume thing. Thank God for small favors.
The main thing that really sets my grits on fire is all this playing fast and loose with ownership. The average consumer generally operates under the increasingly false assumption that once you purchase an item and have the receipt in hand that it belongs to you. You now own it. Au Contriare! The fun has only just begun.
With software, games and music, and now even E books, you do not own it. You may think you do, but all you have done is pay for the right to use it …. X number of times. X = a very small number in this equation. And God help you if your laptop, gaming console, or digital music device decides to crash and burn, jump in the toilet, or jump out of your backpack when walking in a far away land. Also you do not own it in the sense, that since it belongs to you, you can choose to lend it or give away. HA! Gotcha! Can’t do that either. Well you sort of can, but I’m not going to get into that now. It may border on not quite kosher, and the only person I’m willing to lead astray is me, that’s trouble enough.
In some situations you can re-download digital content purchases from Amazon.com or iTunes. But there are limits on the number of times you can do this. That’s ridiculous in my opinion. I have been known to get mad at my malfunctioning Windows operating system and re-install it multiple times in a single day, fall asleep from mental exhaustion, get up the next morning and re-install it a few more times just because I can. What can I say, I’m a closet geek. I gave up putting the screws back on the cover of my computer years ago, because I’m always digging around in there for something to air blast the dust off, improve, upgrade, add-on, re-arrange, or just admire the intricate workings of such a magnificent mechanical work of art.
I know many people just don’t see the trouble in the ownership of digital content hoop dee la. But here me out please. Tinkering with ownership starts out small, but gathers steam. What if you suddenly find out that you can’t lend your favorite paper book to a friend or donate your used clothing and household items to a charity, or give your favorite sweater to a friend, because it’s against the law to sell or use “pre-owned” items? It could happen, stuff like this happens all the time.
Got this cheery message from Apple recently informing that my cloud was full. Then it asked me to rent more cloud space for only X dollars per month. My immediate response was “what the f@@& are you talking about? I didn’t even know I had a cloud and now it’s full?” That’s just scary. I have deliberately avoided climbing into the cloud. What is in this cloud of mine anyway? I suddenly felt stripped naked. Did someone else fill up my cloud? Are there pictures in there? Oh my God.
Then I calmed down and thought about it. It confirms my theory that Micro$oft is the anti-Christ. Or was, now everyone has hopped on the band wagon. How did I get from Apple to Microsoft in one fell swoop? Hear me out now, please. Years ago there was talk of “renting” rather than selling software. The big stink was that you would never actually own the software on your computer. The trouble with selling software is that you only get to charge for it once. If you put the software out there on the cloud and it’s used without actually transferring ownership, well… you can charge for it again and again. Pretty nifty huh?
Along with the convenience of everything going digital, like iTunes download and so forth, is the problem who actually owns it is getting to be a sticky wicket. Have you ever lost your iTunes or other digital forms music and videos? Have you ever tried to get them back? Ha…good luck with that. I know it’s possible, or so I’ve heard. But, I’ve never been able to do it.
Now with this cloud…all your data is sucking up into the internet and you supposed to pay to keep it there, when you didn’t want it there in the first place. What’s the point of having a computer at all? Just access you data anywhere. Riiiiggght, says the wolf to little red riding hood. Well my friends, that may be where we are headed.
I’m an environmentalist, but after this latest adventure on the cloud I’m seriously considering putting my data back on paper and removing it from my computer. You know, just in case this cloud turns into a typhoon or a tornado and my stuff ends up scattered all over the digital planet.
Just got done reading Flylady’s book, Body Clutter. It’s a great way to look at the extra weight or anything else you don’t want in your body or in your head. There is not one single recipe in this book. So some people get their feathers all in a ruffle if they were expecting that. I have a little weight to lose, but that’s not a huge issue for me. I know what I need to do to fix that. Most of my body clutter in between my ears.
To fix the mental clutter, I decided to get all scientific about it. Write it down and analyze why I’m not doing the things I love to do.
1. Love to Dance
- Need to put on music. This is not easy to do? Well make it so! If I haven’t arranged easy access to music, what can I do today? Close my eyes and dance to the music on the boob tube. Even the stupidest shows usually have fairly catchy music.
2. Listen to Music:
- Is my music easily accessible? Mine was on CDs here and there in piles, boxes and all over the place. It was way too much trouble to play it. What I did was is a high-tech solution, but works for me. If you are not high-tech but have a high-tech husband, or other techie relative or friend, ask them to figure out how to stream and play your music. It gives him/her something to do that they can be the master of.
- My house is already wireless networked. I did that a year or 2 ago so I could play Netflix on our big screen TV in the Den. I started ripping all my CDs to iTunes on my computer. I didn’t turn it into a project that I could beat myself up over if it didn’t get finished at some arbitrary deadline. I just did it now and then when I wandered by and noticed that one was finished I popped in another CD and started it again. Then streamed it to the den.
- Make play lists. Trust me this is important. It’s the icing on the music cake that makes all that effort worth while. Don’t get all esoteric. Name them what makes sense to you. “Shake you booty” “Clean the bathroom.” “Need a Good Cry” “I Hate Men” “The Cat Box Sucks!” “Add Scenes to my Dark Moody Novel.” Name them whatever works for YOU. The beauty of play lists is that you can change them whenever you feel like with a click of a mouse.
- No high-tech solution available? Low Tech is just as good. Just gather all your music into one spot, a shoebox, any box will do. Put it next to the music player so it’s easy to grab a couple and pop them in.
- What the hell does “stream” mean? Don’t feel bad if you ask yourself this question. It only took me 10 years to figure out it. Think of it as running a speaker wire from one part of your house to another. Only without the wire clutter
3. Water Plants & minor gardening.
- Get yourself a pretty watering can, small enough to be easy to carry. Don’t cheap out on yourself and buy some butt ugly monstrosity that you will hide somewhere and promptly forget where it is. A small one is better because more trips to the faucet works a lot better than hurting yourself with a heavy can. All a heavy water can will do is cause you to give it up because you spent a week in bed with a heating pad and muscle relaxers.
4. Like to Read?
- Find something to read and put 1 book by your chair or where ever you read. If you put more than 1, the damn things will start to pile up again.
- Find a benign scrap of paper to use as a bookmark or hell, go hog-wild and get an actual book mark. When I wait until I’m knee-deep in the book I will grab anything to use without thinking, (deposit slip, receipt for embarrassing medicine, social security update, fantasy list of revenge methods on Hubman for leaving a wet dishrag on your grandmother’s cutting board) to use as a book mark. Do this now because you may get sidetracked going through books.
- I’ve decided to get all ruthless with my books. If I put it down half read it’s because I don’t like it that much. Who am a I kidding? When I like a book it’s impossible to put down. A half finished book with dust and multiple books marks in it is a good candidate for the OUT box. It’s easier to discard books when you know you don’t have some incriminating paper stuffed in there as a book mark.
- Get a box, grocery sack, whatever is handy (don’t turn this into a shopping trip) and label it OUT. Put books in it.
5. I love to Travel.
- Am I ready to go? mmm….not quite.
- Is my dop kit prepared with all toiletries so I could walk out the door with it right now?
- Is my suitcase cleaned out from the last trip. (left over receipts, maps, plastic bags, half eaten energy bars, banana peels.)
- Before you leave, plan about 20 minutes before you leave to do a double-check, not just mental. Physically search your entire carry on. Trust me on this one, it might lighten your load and your peace of mind will thank you later. Do you have your necessities, wallet, passport or other ID, tickets, money, telephone numbers, addresses?
- Check to see if some bizarre item remains or snuck into your carry on. This is a very important step if you don’t want to experience the thrills of jail or a body search. Strange things happen. Once I was checking my bag before leaving the house and there was an enormous box cutter in it. We’re talking huge with a grip that looked like brass knuckles. I lived alone at the time and had no idea how it got in my backpack. What was even stranger was that I never saw this box cutter in my life. Wouldn’t have purchased such a huge mean looking gadget like that. There had been no repairmen or any outside people who might have left it in my house. I kept it and asked everyone who came to my house for months after if it belonged to them. No one claimed the thing. I finally threw it in the dumpster. Its presence in my backpack remains a mystery to this day, 10 years later.
Look around the house for manifestations of hidden guilt.
- I had piles of magazines, shoe boxes and other junk that I haven’t thrown out because I am a closet environmentalist. My city delivers recycle containers that I put out on garbage can day. It’s amazing how much junk I’ve thrown out since I got this recycle bin. 50 tons of old magazines at least. Books that I consider such unreadable trash that I don’t want to even donate them to charity.
- I feel bad goofing off or dancing before I’ve tidied up the house a bit. What works for me is to make the bed, clean the kitchen area and the cat box. After that all bets are off. Then I can party down guilt free. OK, I do dance if I feel like it while doing above activities. But this only works if I have already managed my music to make it easy to access. I would love to claim that I can dance to the music in my head, but sometimes if I’m feeling down there is no music in my head. For me this is a personal warning sign. When I get really depressed even sad music retreats. Figure out 1 thing that does it for you to get you going. I don’t care what it is.
- Do you have items to return but feel guilty because you broke it or you’re not on good terms with the person you borrowed it from? Fix or discard the relationship. Can the item be repaired? Call them, send them a text or an email if you can’t bring yourself to talk to them on the phone. It worked good at work, use it in your personal life. It’s OK to take away the good stuff and leave the rest.
Areas of trauma
- Mine is the computer on the dining room table. My grandson used it while he was living with us. It broke my heart when I had to make him leave. Now I know why nuns pray before they do anything. If there is a problem spot, it’s hard to let go of a problem spot because you don’t want to even look at it, never mind think about it. Almost impossible unless you work through the crud down at the bottom of your heart. I haven’t cleaned up that computer because I haven’t cleaned up the relationship with my grandson.
Are You paying attention to your body?
- It’s easy to get in the habit of ignoring it when everything hurts all the time. I was surprised when I started paying attention and discovered that there were a few particular ouch movements I was doing repeatedly, but ignoring. Sitting slouched over my laptop in the recliner was making my neck hurt, seriously bad. I experimented around the house and found a chair that worked. Yanking the huge econo-sized liquid laundry detergent down off the shelf was another thing I was ignoring. My elbow was giving me fits. I started using both arms to do it and asked Mr. Husband to buy smaller bottles, problem solved.
- My grandmother used to say (substitute your favorite wise woman) “every time I start thinking I need a new pillow or mattress, I think back and I’ve been forgetting to take calcium.” I have no idea why this is so. She didn’t have problems with osteoporosis, so this was not the reason. For some reason calcium seems to help with general aches and pains. Hey, it’s worth a shot. The worse thing that can happen is it doesn’t work for you and so you forget to take it after a while. It’s really hard to overdose on calcium. You would have to make a concerted effort and why the hell would anyone do that? I watch a lot of medical dramas on TV and I’ve never seen an episode where anyone was admitted to the ER from ODing on calcium.
So there you have it. This is my own personal plan to get myself in gear to do the things I love to do. Enjoy it, make your own list, argue with me, wad it up in a ball and bounce it off the wall, share it. Do whatever works for YOU. That’s what is important.
I’ve had an ongoing love hate relationship with my iPods for years now. They are the greatest invention since sliced bread. I proudly loaded all 57 songs of my vast music library into my first one. Then got busy collecting music. It all seemed straight forward at the time. Get music, load music onto iPod, listen to music. Bing, Bang, Boom. Au contraire. First there’s the digital media rights. Bought and paid for my music (or hubby did) I’ll have you know, and it’s in a box – somewhere. Besides, I thought the whole point of digital was to get teeny-weeny, meaning I didn’t have keep track of all those stupid CDs that were going to be made into wind chimes. It’s in the magical binary microcosm. Got that all that sorted out eventually.
On to creating the eleventy seven millionth password, this one for iTunes. Anyone who has been around computers since they were the size of Oldsmobiles feels my pain. I could publish an encycolopia with all of them created over the years. Well, maybe not a good idea.
But anyway, I should own stock in iTunes by now. In the first bloom of love, I downloaded anything and everything; music, podcasts, smoke signals, pictures of my cat, you name it. I spent days, weeks, sometimes even months ripping my hair out trying to remember or find out the names of songs. Then accidently clicked a button in iTunes one day by dropping a fork on the keyboard and discovered that the music could be all arranged into groupings referred to as ALBUMS. Here I been downloading this song and that song willy nilly and raiding the husbands CD collection, which hasn’t been updated since the early 80s. Musical nirvana was at hand. Always loved music, but music always came to me, I didn’t control it.
Until now. My music is at my fingertips. It is portable, organizable, quantifiable. I think the version I have at the moment is the iPod Chortle, or something like that. It’s shiny apple green, a technological thing of beauty, but it hates me. I can feel it in my bones. When it’s not rupturing my eardrums, it’s falling out of my pocket and lodging in a crack in the chair. Not aware of this I stand up and rip 2 new holes in my head. Tried keeping it my bra for a while, but never mind. The damn thing runs out of juice at the most in-opportune moments, like the very nano second the wheels of the plane leave the ground.
The final insult happened a few month ago. I spent an entire weekend getting it all loaded up with books on tape, all my favorite music, etc. On a Monday morning at the office I dug it out and hooked it up to my computer at work. It was going to be so wonderful. I could drown all the noises that happen when your crammed into a small space with various co workers. Wouldn’t have to listen to the customized ring tone of someone’s kid blathering “goo goo, gaa gaaaa” or “There’s a Tear in My Beer” set to Kazoo music.
What happened next caused me to shout profanities. Fellow cube dwellers popped their heads up so quick you would think I’d sprayed a can of Ode d’ Pizza around the room. iTunes popped up with some message about an unauthorized computer. Taking temporary leave of my senses, I forgot that we live in a world where we don’t own anything anymore, even if it’s bought and paid for more than once. I poked at the keyboard, the screen grayed out, an then it sucked EVERYTHING out of my iIPOD. Not just iTunes media, but every damn scrap of digital data – books, podcasts, pictures, everything. I’m not making this up. This was supposed to be easy! It pissed me off so much that I the stupid gizmo in a dark crevice in my backpack. It’s been there ever since. I know I can sync it back up, and maybe I’ll forgive it some day. Or maybe I’ll switch to another brand of music player. But, then I’d have to figure it all out again with a new gadget and life is too short.
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