Termination: Stuff In Around

Stuff In Around


14 February 2012

Text:/ Graeme Hague

They say that one of the most stressful times for any personal relationship is when you’re moving house. Next down the list is when you’re building a house. Right now my wife and I are attempting to move into the house I haven’t finished building yet. I don’t know why the architects don’t just chuck a set of divorce papers in with the house plans and be done with it.

It’s not all bad, of course. One of the advantages of relocating homes is the sudden, strong incentive to get rid of lots of accumulated junk – because you can’t be bothered packing and moving it, plus there is that cathartic, cleansing feeling of a fresh beginning… or maybe my desk is too close to the paint solvents. (I must open a window).

It can be heart-breaking, too. I’ve been pulling out bits of gear that cost me a hell of a lot of money a few years ago, but now (thanks to the advent of things like Windows 7 and HDMI) they’re both worthless and useless – not to mention the slow demise of Firewire ports on laptops, which I’ve grumbled about elsewhere this issue. Just about everything I bought was Firewire-connected, damn it.


As I’ve been cleaning out those cupboards, I decided there’s a sliding scale of the shelf-life of stuff.

  • Stuff you’re using now
  • Stuff you haven’t used for a while, but it’s still good stuff
  • Stuff you haven’t used for ages, but that’s not to suggest it won’t come in handy sometime. You have to keep it
  • Stuff that has developed a thin film of grime from having been in the cupboard too long (is that mouse pee?), but you’re not going to throw it away – no way. It could be useful
  • Stuff you’d almost forgotten you had – it’s a bit like getting it new all over again (Hey! I’d forgotten I even had this thing! Wow, it could come in handy sometime…)
  • Stuff you need to close your eyes, put it in the bin, turn around and don’t look back – no, don’t look back. It’s over

Sadly, there’s only one proper rule about stuff when you’re moving house. Do you really need to keep it? I mean, really? It helps, when you’re making that decision, to have a wife standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips.


It’s also an opportunity for a big connector cable clean-out. That’s not the bunch of cords hanging on the back of the door. No, we’re talking about the tangle of spaghetti behind your PC workstation. I’ve just gone though a rather alarming process. I carefully dismantled my computer and all its peripherals, put everything into a single, large box so there was no mistaking where it all could be found – then I subsequently rebuilt my computer in the new office and got it all working perfectly.

Except the box is still half-filled with cables.

How did that happen? What were all those other cables doing, that they’re not doing now? It’s like some weird, PC Twilight Zone where things mysteriously function even though you can’t possibly have connected them. I’m tempted to just jam all the remaining cables down behind the PC to make things look normal. Perhaps they’ll all reconnect themselves in the middle of the night, when no one’s looking.


You have to agree there is a certain smug joy to finding a purpose for a bit of defunct equipment – something that’s been on the Bin List for some time, but you haven’t gotten around to it – where it suddenly and miraculously becomes useful. Even better, it solves a problem. That’s awesome; vindicating your cupboard filled with worthless electronic crap. It’s not worth posting on Facebook by the way. Nothing is, normally.

Unfortunately all the above also applies to software. There are boxes and drawers and cute basket thingies on a shelf all filled with DVD cases of programs and driver installation discs. Partly, because the cases themselves have product authorisation serial numbers on them and keeping the jewel cases is a form of back-up (I have a Little Black Book with all my serial numbers in it… damn, I wonder where it is?). Also partly because, even though the software version on my computer is ‘11.2’ or something and I’ve still got version ‘2.0’, it seems  a criminal waste to throw the early versions in the bin. Yes, I know they required Windows 98 to run, but that’s not the point.


Before you suggest I should be unloading any of this stuff, hardware or software, on some poor, unsuspecting fools on eBay you have to remember that it’s junk to everyone else. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” went right down the gurgler, when we all jumped on the latest operating system wagon. This is OS-incompatible junk that my studio turns its nose up at. Even Win XP is being quietly shown the back door.

So I have to be ruthless. Insensitive and inconsiderate. There is no room for sentiment when you’re cleaning out cupboards and drawers and cute basket thingies of accumulated junk. It all has to go.

Except for the stuff that might come in useful. I’d better hang on to that.


there is a certain smug joy to finding a purpose for a bit of defunct equipment … vindicating your cupboard filled with worthless electronic crap


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