Recycled Computing

Are CDs and DVDs Necessary Anymore?

- 2011.03.28

Remember the ruckus when the iMac was announced and the"experts" thought that Steve Jobs was crazy because a 3-1/2" floppydrive was not built-in. Third party manufacturers rushed out to makeportable USB 3-1/2" floppy drives so nervous Apple-ites could readtheir data on the colorful new iMac.

Steve Jobs announces the iMac on May 6, 1998
Steve Jobs announces the
iMac on May 6, 1998.

The universe, as we knew it, was in a state of chaos.

Today the only use for a 3-1/2" floppy is an improvised drinkcoaster. What was once dismissed as a silly idea, eliminating thebuilt-in floppy drive, is now the norm.

The question now is whether or not optical drives are reallynecessary. Apple's MacBookAir series of computers do not have optical drives, and I wonder ifit won't be long before they disappear from MacBooks and MacBookPros.

When was the last time you used your optical drive?

To install software, rip music, and convert videos, of course!

Living with the Cloud

But both my iPod and iPad download software through the App Store,and Apple has even introduced an App Store for Mac software. Apple hasset up iTunes to download all sorts of media for consumption on yourcomputer and "post-PC" devices.

The life of a hermit has never been easier. I can see a trend here,and that trend, led by Apple - but buoyed by the development ofAndroid, netbooks, smartphones, and tablets - is towards life on the"cloud". A few of my associates are using the cloud for data storage,online applications, and syncing.

Curmudgeon that I am, I can see that I will have to buy one ofApple's MacBook Air SuperDrives if I want to buy a MacBook Air. Ofcourse, buying an Air is a dream that may have to wait. And I would bereally dreaming is whether the Air (or any other) SuperDrive will everwork on my iPad. Apple would have torestore full power to the USB port* and then add optical disc drivers tothe iOS software.

You see, the iPad can take the place of a laptop some of the time,but not all of the time.

You Still Need a Computer

You still have to have an OS X or Windows "mothership" to tether theiPad, iPod touch, and iPhone. The MacBook Air is a very smallmothership, but Apple intends it's "post-PC" devices to supplement youruser experience, not replace your Mac.

I may be clinging to my CDs and DVDs (vinyl records and cassettetapes, too), but I do use the cloud from time to time. The big use ofcloud computing for me is Netflix. I love Netflix. I was watchingTerminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles on Netflix and,suddenly, my service provider crashed, and I was in serious Terminatorwithdrawal. Fortunately, service was soon restored, and the universereturned to normal.

The lesson here is that Skynet doesn'thave to launch rockets at mankind; it just has to cut off our internetservice. LEM

* The MacBook Air SuperDrive actually requires morejuice than a standard powered USB port provides, but you get theidea.

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