Monday, July 14, 2008

The law of unintended consequences: iTunes, the Nordic Track, NBC, and Babylon 5

I'd file this one under 'everything is connected to everything else' -- a 21st century theme incorporating memes of complexity, emerging interdependency, and why I spend time blogging.

It began with my back.

An annoying lifelong back problem finally got serious enough that I had to do something about it. This is good. I like exercise, and exercise is what I need. Now I can make a business case for it; I can show it's necessary to keep me functional for the next twenty years. (In our family, this is all that's needed.)

So we moved the kids toys to the dining room (this was recognizing reality) and turned the toy room into a gym. We dragged the thirteen year old Nordic Track out of the attic and hauled the weights out of the garage. (Emily and I spent five years on the Nordic Rack -- we like it and used it. It's the closest I'm going to get to my once favorite sport in our new, warmer, world.)

Now, I had to figure out exercise entertainment. We had a 12" CRT my son uses to watch sports in his 3/week TV slot, that would do fine -- it even has a headphone jack. The question was inputs.

We could add an exercise Netflix, but then I'd have to replace the broken VCR/DVD player with another one that would last 3 months. Too much hassle there. Also, DVDs aren't as good as VCRs at "remembering" where one stopped watching.

I can't deal with the thought of cable TV, DVRs, etc. AppleTV rentals are too restrictive.

So the best option is to start watching a good, exciting, TV series. I don't watch TV, so it's not hard to find one. This can work now that I've finally figured out how to get video out of my old iPod.

Unintentend consequence #1: Battlestar Galactica, my first choice, is an NBC show. NBC and Apple couldn't agree on price, so it's not on iTunes. So long Battlestar, I'll do Babylon 5 instead. I wonder how their decision to forego iTunes distribution is working out for NBC. I'm sure they didn't intend this consequence. It will take years for me to work through B5.

I download a season of Babylon 5.

That's when I notice each episode is a GB or so.

I wonder what my bandwidth cap is. I wonder how much drive space I have left on my backup drives.

I think I need to accelerate my transition to a rotating pair of 1TB external backup drives (for example). I needed to do that this fall, but now I'll need to do it this summer.

Maybe I need to move forward on a bigger internal drive for the iTunes library server. The iMac is an aging PPC machine, so maybe I should accelerate my purchase of its successor machine.

This is getting kind of expensive for me, and kind of profitable for Apple. Funny how that works.

Life in the modern world is like that.

Well, now I'm really motivated to get my money's worth out of the gym.

Update: My iTunes library is now 40GB. Ouch.

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