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Inveterate Collector

I collect things. I wish I could say that the things I collected increased in value as the years go by – but I can’t. I tend to collect technological type stuff. One of my vices over the years has been the urge to record. I was the kid who had the reel to reel tape recorder with the mike propped up against the TV speaker to record episodes of ‘The Champions’ and ‘The Persuaders’ because they seemed so good at the time that I just wanted to keep them. Watching a re-run on TV a few weeks ago indicated quite clearly to me just how wrong I was. Some remnants of these recordings are still hanging around somewhere. I found an old reel to reel tape in the attic a few months ago, and I know that the reel to reel recorder is up there somewhere as well. What are the chances of it working after 35+ years?

I moved on to audio cassette recordings, then video recordings, flirting briefly with formats such as  ‘U Matic’, ‘Phillips 2000′ and ‘Betamax’, before settling on VHS. Onto CD for audio and games, then DVD for audio, games, TV programmes and films – and suddenly realised that I had amassed a lot of self recorded material, taking up a great deal of space. This is in addition to all the stuff that I had bought – on lots of formats. More stuff in fact that I could listen to watch or play in two lifetimes. I’ve even got DVDs still in their original cellophane covers – never having been opened. The other day I found that I have two copies of ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ – and I don’t know why. I have a complete box set of Series Three of ‘Six Feet Under’ (a TV programme I have never watched) – and I don’t even know where that came from!

Don’t get me started on ‘free’ discs that are given away with magazines. I subscribed to several computer mags for quite a few years and kept all of the discs – mostly CDs, but in the latter years they started to give away DVDs as well – and some of those were double sided. Anyway – I have boxes and boxes of these things – many of which are designed for Windows XP, 98 and 95. Some even for DOS (yes, I go back quite a way).

I have been ‘having a clear out’. All of my self recorded VHS and audio tapes have been consigned to the bin. I tried to give them away – free – but no-one wanted them – not even on Free Cycle. I transferred the films of my kids when they were young and some other important stuff to DVD.

I gave most of my commercially recorded tapes to charity shops a while ago – which they accepted grudgingly. Apparently no one wants them any more. I must admit that I still have two boxes in the attic which I am finding it hard to release. I remember watching ‘Pingu’ and several other things with my children – and I can’t quite bring myself to throw these tapes. I have gone from over 300 tapes of various type down to less than 20. They will go to – eventually. It’s the discs next – there must be well over 2000 of these in various guises. I’m resisting the urge to buy Blu-Ray discs – although I do have a player now. I joined a rental club that means that I don’t have to keep the discs. But there lies another problem. Sometimes I have the disc at home for two or more months – and then send it back unwatched. Where’s the sense in that?

What a good little Consumer I have been over the years. My last two DVD players are, you’ve guessed it by now, in the attic. Even the old VHS player is loitering up there. Perhaps they hold sullen conversations with the older but no wiser Reel to Reel Tape Recorder? No, that’s just silly.

More on Audio Books

I came across this site which is really an archive of radio broadcasts – something for everyone. It relies on people using the ‘BitTorrent’ method of sharing information – but everything it has listed is – seemingly – in the public domain. It has mostly British radio programmes etc. Useful for those people who can’t use the BBC iPlayer service. The web link is . If you want to know about using torrents, then here is a good place to start: .  Downloading torrents doesn’t have to be illegal – try searching for ‘legal torrents’ in a search engine like Google or Yahoo.

Audiobooks for Free

I enjoy listening to books on my mp3 player whilst cooking or working in the garden. Today I came across a site named Librivox, which provides readings of books in the public domain for free. You will be surprised how many there are. Also – if you think that you have a reasonable reading voice, you can volunteer to read a book for the site. All you need is a computer and some free recording software. They also have podcasts – haven’t checked those out yet. I have just got a Jane Austen novel to listen to ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Never really liked Jane Austen when I was at school – more of a Raymond Chandler type – thought I’d give it another try.