I’ve been banging on about simplifying my life for a few years now, and it’s been a slow process. Too slow. I’m getting better at the ongoing stuff, but I still have loads of old, collected stuff that I need to “streamline”. Having moved house 5 times in the last 7 years I’ve naturally had to get rid of a lot of stuff, and as I am collecting less and less each year I manage to get closer to a certain minimalism I yearn for. Whether I’ll ever get there, or whether I’ll ever have something like emigration to give me a sense of urgency towards decluttering, remains to be seen.

So, after a recent move, and in an astonishing display of laziness, I thought I’d ask you, dear reader, for your advice on a few problems I currently face.

I have 4 hard-drives that I’ve collected over recent years from various computers and laptops that I’ve replaced. 90 percent of the time I transferred the files from the old one to the new one, but in some cases I didn’t have the time or facilities to do a full transfer, meaning precious photos and recordings are gathering dust. And they’re just one fumbled drop or housefire away from being lost for ever. So….

Question 1 = What’s the easiest way to get the data from 4 hard drives onto one hard drive, then have a piece of software go through the thousands of files, stripping out the many, many duplicates. I appreciate this may take a long time, but not a fraction as long as me doing it manually. I have the hard-drive caddies, but need the methodology and (hopefully) free software to make this work.

Speaking of photos, as an obsessive teenage photo taker I have hundreds and hundreds of photos from my youth, and a better photographic record of many of my friends’ than their families. But they’re all just in dusty albums and boxes. I want them all on a hard-drive where I can have them rotating as my wallpaper or something. At least that way they’ll get seen from time to time, and will be safe from the ravages of time.

Question 2 – What’s the cheapest and easiest way of digitising hundreds of pics. Buying a 6×4 photo scanner (if they exist) and spending a weekend going through them? Or are there any reasonable services locally?

As a result of my globetrotting DJ lifestyle (which makes it sound so much more glamourous than it actually was) I have a fair bit of various currencies from Dhirams to Forints to Yen. I’m unlikely to visit some of the countries again (Lithuania or Romania, lovely as they were, are unlikely to be visited again any time soon, for example), but it seems a waste of money to just bin them. I’m taking all the notes to a bureau de change, but still have a quarter of a ton of coins, which I don’t think they accept.

Question 3 – Any means of exchanging these coins for UK Sterling? Or maybe a charity that accepts them – I honestly have no idea if it’s £5 or £100 that I have.

Finally, I’ve just been given a brand new HTC Wildfire handset by the lovely Hannah, which means I can finally ditch my awful Nokia N97. But the problem is that my new handset is locked to Hannah’s network, which is different to mine.

Question 4 – How do I unlock my handset, preferably for free, and preferably without using one of the dodgy looking websites I’ve looked at. I vaguely remember downloading some software in the past to do it to an old handset, but can’t remember where from.

Any ideas or help you can provide via the comments, or email, will be very gratefully received.

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