“Your help needed” (or “I’m too lazy to Google it”)

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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10 thoughts on ““Your help needed” (or “I’m too lazy to Google it”)

  1. question 3: airports generally have big bins at departure to dump all your unused and unlikely to be reused currency, which i think is collected for various local charities/world wildlife fund etc, or your airline of choice tend to do the same on a plane for the lions/seals/tigers/elephants/orangutan/children of the slums.
    not sure what the options are outside of going to an airport are, short of giving all said change to friend/colleague/acquaintance to dump in these bins on the way through departures themself.
    Pre Euro currency: no idea. Next time you are in Euroland go to a bank and exchange for Euros? I think they still do this?

    question 1: i would like the answer to that too, i have photos/tunes on an external hard drive that are duplicated/triplicated/polycated and need a good week to sort them out, but dont have a good week. I was contemplating paying someone to do it for me.

    question 2: i would suggest going to your local boots/truprint store and asking nicely if they will “scan this stack of 400 photos onto a CD or 2?”. Go on a Tuesday when it will be quiet :).

    1. I’ll definitely let you know what I learn about the hard-drive situation.

      But I think your photo-answer may get me booted out of Boots… 😉

      Also, it’s worth noting that not all my currency is pre-Euro. Most of it is still the operating currency in its homeland,

  2. @Pete M: ” Next time you are in Euroland go to a bank and exchange for Euros?”
    No, I think most countries stopped doing this a few years ago. Some might still accept it through their country’s central bank, but that would be way too much hassle I think

    Question 4: not free, but you could try going to the phone stall on Cardiff Market. Pretty sure they unlock most phones and at least you get to test it before you pay.

    1. Yeah, good thinking, Tom. I’ll have a look in the market this week!

      🙂

  3. Question 1 – I have absolutely no idea. Though suggest going into a computer software/hardware store to interrogate some geeks about this. I know with music on iTunes there’s genius which goes through and sorts duplicates, but as for photos…. I don’t know. But definitely DEFINITELY don’t leave all those files stewing just on a hard drive – put them online somewhere – just in case something happens to those hard drives…. would be killer to lose all those memories.

    Question 2 – borrow one. There’s bound to be some kindly soul out there with a scanner you can borrow. I would put a request on Gumtree and Freecycle and see what happens. As well as obvs posting faecesbook, twitter, etc. Bristol have a really good skill swap website where you can offer a service or an item that you have or request something that you need. I believe the Cardiff Transition lot are trying to set up something similar? All worth investigating, anyway.

    Question 3 – Age Concern definitely accept donations of foreign currency. Well, they were at the arse end of 2010 as I donated some, though you should probs check

    Question 4 – agree with Tom about the stall in Cardiff market. They don’t ask no questions neither.

    GOOD LUCK!

    1. Superb help, Helia. Thanks!

      You’re so right about the photo files. I NEED to get them safe before something inevitably happens….

      1. Not sure if you ever got something for de-duplicating photo files. an old work colleague just tweeted this:
        http://lifehacker.com/5535510/clean-up-your-photo-collection-with-free-tools
        looks like it might help.
        I’m going to give it a go tonight.

      2. Excellent, thanks Pete. Would definitely love to hear how you get on with it. I just need to find a spare weekend to set this stuff up and running.

  4. Q2.

    Don’t scan your pictures at Boots!!! I had some scanned and they are seriously awfull. I had over 200 scanned in a big Boots about 3 weeks ago and they are all unprintable as after checking the resolution of each photo scanned each one was no more than 96dpi. The industry standard is a minimum of 300dpi. Yeah they look great ona screen but if you’re thinking of ever looking at them as prints forget it.

    1. Thanks Johny! Top tip.

      Yeah, 96dpi is TERRIBLE for photos.

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