Friday, May 21, 2010

Paper or electrons

I'm considering getting an old-fashioned paper calendar again.  For years I carried a pocket Day-Timer everywhere I went.  Then, in 2003 I got a Palm Pilot PDA.  I could justify spending the money because I would no longer have to buy those expensive Day-Timers every year.

Well, the PDA was not everything I had hoped for.  It did a fair job keeping me organized, but I never enjoyed entering "graffiti" with a stylus.  When I got my first laptop in 2006, I could carry my computer with my Outlook calendar.  Who needs a PDA?  I used Outlook's calendar fairly well for a few years.  This year I had to get a new laptop, and I planned to purchase the Microsoft Office suite, including Outlook.  The clerk told me that MS is moving away from Outlook.  They have something newer and better.  Fine.  I got Office without Outlook, and went looking for a new calendar system.

For now I'm using Google Calendar.  It's OK for an electronic calendar.

But here is my problem with electronic calendars:  There is no real permanent record.  I suppose I could dredge up my Palm PDA software and try to find the files on my old desktop.  But I think that all those files have now been deleted.  I can turn on my old laptop and pull up my Outlook data from the archives.

Eventually I'll donate these old computers to Good Will or something.  Before I do, I'll reformat the hard drives and get rid of all that information.  I suppose I could copy the files onto some storage device, and hope that I could pull out the info later if needed.  Nah.  It's too much trouble.

But with my old paper calendars, I've got all that history right at my fingertips.  I know right where they are (more or less).  When I pull them out, there are no compatibility issues, no archives to dig through.

Popular formats of electronic calendars will probably change every few months from now on.  Whatever I choose will be obsolete in a matter of mere months.  But paper is always there.  Yeah, I could print out my electronic calendar every month, but that's too much trouble.  I'm not even sure how to do it.

So, why do I want a permanent record anyway?  Hey, I've looked back through those old Day Timers many times.  I nearly always find exactly what I'm looking for.  But rarely have I looked through my Outlook or Palm files.  I'm not sure that old info is even there.