The great computer migration of 2004 proceeds apace.

I sought assistance on Ask MetaFilter in the matter of burning large disk images to DVD in segments, to no avail (yet).

However, the MetaFilter user known as ethylene responded in such a manner as to make it clear that she knows who I am. The headscratching among you should be informed that circa 1989 I made a brief video of myself screaming at the top of my lungs into the camera. No words are used, and I shot the piece over several takes in varying states of dress and undress. I don’t believe I have digitized it yet, but could be mistaken.

Interestingly, as well, ethylene appears to refer to another video work featuring young male nudity shot in Bloomington in the late eighties; her “mohawk” may refer to Bart’s tonsorial splendor on the day in question.

I think I do know who ethylene is, and if so, we’ve never met. I believe she’s worked with Chris and Eric.

Insofar as the data schleppery itself, well, it’s a slog. I’ve more or less got my desktop user-data transferred to the Powerbook. I’ve hit a snag, however, in iSynching my Palm info. iCal, for example, has duplicated all my events and stuffed them into the “Home” calendar in both the Palm and the application. I know it’s some sort of synchronization setting that’s misconfigured, but the real question has to be, “How do I get rid of the junk?”

An additional complication has been the need to lay hands on the user data in Viv’s old machine, a creaky old tangerine iBook with one (count it) USB port and no firewire. That means I can’t boot the machine as an external drive, which is the standard way to glom gobs of data from Mac laptops. I’ve previously used a dual-bus 10gb external hard drive, hooking it up via USB and then plugging the same drive into my larger system via firewire. Naturally, however, it seems the USB port on the drive is dead, so I had no way to directly mount an external drive.

Some stumbling around seeking network-capable backup solutions unearthed Data Backup 2.0, which also offers a 30-day fully-functional trial. A bit of the ol’ network-cable Laocoon (“Note the writhing serpents, one of whom bites Laocoon’s left leg, and pained expressions”), and glommage pursued.

A final, unsettling discovery is that it’s possible to connect computer A to firewire chain C via plugging A and C into computer B’s top and bottom firewire ports. The chain will be visible to A while C is not booted.

Forgetting that you’ve done this and booting computer C up will not disrupt the chain. This may prove overly unsettling for veteran of SCSI external drive mounting technology. I can’t even describe the crawling flesh I had when I realized what I’d done.

The last item bringing a furrow to my brow in these matters is the problem of storage in general. I avoided using Apple’s iApps (with the exception of iTunes) for years because I viewed them as marketing devices. As such, they will always steer the user away from a fiscally responsible technology decision, and are to be deeply mistrusted, even feared.

In the matter of users such as myself who have media storage requirements that can easily be viewed as excessive, the only reasonable strategy is networked storage for all the consumer media assets (music, personal photos, movies). My photo assets occupy about 14gb. My movie assets occupy about 55gb, my music and audio assets occupy about 70gb, and my DVD project assets occupy about 47 gb.

Given these numbers, it’s totally unrealistic to contemplate local-drive storage of these items except on a temporary basis. Additionally, all the household computers should have direct access to all the assets, such that when Viv rips a CD on her computer, it’s directly available to all the other machines in the house.

Currently, none of the iApps support any form of multiple-user open-access. You can store your iPhoto pics and iTunes music to a common directory, but you cannot tweak the apps to write their metadata to the same database.

There’s an argument to be made about limiting the use of networked storage for large-scale rich-media assets, in that it’s harder to guarantee a constant datastream to either a burnable medium such as DVD or to the screen and audio output of the consumer’s computer. But really, except for extremely dense A/V material such as 6.1 DVDs, the rise of the internet has led to the development of all sorts of strategies for manipulating rich media via thin pipes. The user-protection justification doesn’t wash anymore.

I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a product opportunity here for either Apple or independent software developers. That product would duplicate iPhoto-iDVD-iMovie-iTunes’ functionality but enable true networked datastorage, so that Viv can dowload her latest pics and clips over there, and then I can assemble and author a DVD for the family over here, using our library of music assets.

While reverse-engineering Apple’s databases to enable user-level networked data-manipulation is probably illegal, it’s also an idea whose time has come. I don’t think you’d even need to hack the interfaces of the applications. There are a wide range of plugins that show how easy it is to add interface elements to every one of these applications. I should note that I did not go over Apple’s plug-in APIs for the cited applications to determine whether or not there are hooks into the databases, so I might very well be talking through a big, woolly hat.