Digital packrat

4 Nov

A file I couldn’t bear to parting from. Photo by BYU MPC.

On the packrat spectrum, I consider myself pretty normal. I am very nostalgic so I do have plenty of purely sentimental clutter, but I generally keep it organized and under control–nothing that would catch the attention of the producers of this horrifying show. But as it turns out, I’ve had a creeping amount of computer clutter.

Fun with numbers:

Available GB storage on my laptop, circa last weekend: 1

Available GB storage on my laptop, circa now: 26

(Percent increase in self-satisfaction: 59)

As the numbers reveal, earlier this week I found my C: drive in need of some purging. The alert came while I was scanning some photos (actually, they were pages from a cookbook from the library… I just had to save some recipes from this nifty cookbook). I took a moment to check out the Properties box for my C: drive, where it shows a pie chart of how much space I’m using (in blue) vs. how much space is available (in magenta). Let’s just say you could barely see the magenta slice in the blueGBerry pie. (Get it? GB + blueberry? Is that clever or is it a double entendre waiting to happen?)

Admittedly, my past file-purging efforts have been halfhearted. Usually I just emptied my recycle bin and called it good. In fact, it wasn’t till I had owned my laptop for more than a year and it started slowing down that I learned that one can and should regularly empty one’s recycle bin. But this time, I had to clean and mean it.

Intimidating Task No. 1: my font collection. If you have spent more than 35 seconds with me, you probably know that I am obsessed with typography. I enjoy reading about fonts (here, for example), browsing and shopping for fonts* (here, for example), designing with fonts (here, for example). I even have the Periodic Table of Typefaces displayed in the living room (thanks, Dave!). So it’s no surprise that my collection comprised** literally hundreds of fonts. But that included a good number of fonts that I had never used, that I had used in the past when I had a less developed typographic taste but would never use again (some kids have a grunge music phase; I had a grunge font phase), or that I had no idea where they came from. So after more than an hour of sorting and deleting, I had rid myself of 173 fonts and freed up about 7 GB. A font farewell (so proud of that pun!) to Esso, Budmo Jiggler, Lunasol, Misproject, and friends.

Intimidating Task No. 2: my old homework files. This took a little longer, but it was certainly worthwhile. As it turns out, my homework folder was harboring hundreds of ginorm PEF (raw photo) files from the semester I took a photojournalism class. Plus I had a lot of old InDesign files, which are also pretty hefty.

Less Intimidating Task: the rest of it. Sorting through everything else went pretty quickly, but it was kind of fun going through files I haven’t looked at for a while.

After several hours’ work and mild internal conflict (should I really delete these photos of funky ancient masks from the time I volunteered as a graphic designer for the BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures–and when I was in the midst of my grunge font phase!), I felt an alm0st-tangible burden lifted when I saw how much space I had cleared. Hope you’re happy, C: drive. I know I am.


* Yes, people do pay for fonts. Sometimes, hundreds of dollars for one font family. But when it’s as awesome as a family from, say, these guys, it is totally worth it. Then again, there are some really awesome free/affordable fonts from foundries like this.

** In addition to being snobby and obnoxious about fonts, sometimes I enjoy being snobby and obnoxious about usage. But seriously, I really loved my Modern American Usage class at BYU. I’ll share the two most useful things I learned: (1) To remember how to correctly use “comprise,” just recite, “The whole comprises its parts.” Therefore, “comprise” is never interchangeable for “composed of.” (2) Not sure when to use who and whom? Simply rephrase the sentence, substituting who(m) with he/she or him/her. If he or she fits, use who. If him or her fits, go with whom. Example: Address the cover letter to him. –> To whom should I address the cover letter?


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