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Thread: Fighting Format Rot

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    Default Fighting Format Rot


    I was reading an article in the latest (November, 2017) Scientific American about computer text and image storage formats. It is titled "Fighting Format Rot" by David Pogue. Not only are storage media becoming obsolete, but so are word processors and text editors. Example: Microsoft Word 2017 version cannot open its own files written in 1989. This kind of thing is giving the Library of Congress fits with its godzillions of books, articles, and photos. They have to keep people constantly checking and updating file formats. The article says to be sure of your work's survival, print it on high rag content paper.
    Written on a real computer and real keyboard with capital letters, punctuation, and everything.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Huge impact on the world of audio recordings as well. Think, also, of all the image digitization that has gone down in the last few decades. The future may be unclear, but much of the past will be unreadable/unaccessible.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Archivists have been telling me for years now -- paper is the most reliable long-term storage medium at this point.

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    This is a good reminder. I used to be diligent about keeping paper copies of all my manuscripts (such as they are),
    but have slacked off lately. I need to do some printing, typing, and, yes, handwriting and get caught up.
    “We go to the garrick now and become warbs.”--James Thurber

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    Senior Member Robert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    The future may be unclear, but much of the past will be unreadable/unaccessible.

    Unless . . . your music is on LPs. That medium has seen quite a resurgence over the past 15 years or so. As for playback, sales of turntables and cartridges have also been climbing.

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    The future may be unclear, but much of the past will be unreadable/unaccessible.
    Unless . . . your music is on LPs. That medium has seen quite a resurgence over the past 15 years or so. As for playback, sales of turntables and cartridges have also been climbing.
    Come on... that is temporary (and the 2nd vinyl project I have produced in the last two years just came out two weeks ago... I'm not stranger). The problem is that you are talking about a mechanical technology, which may or may not exist for any given amount of time, and/or into the future. How you doing with those wax cyliniders? Even decent 78 transcription is a rarity.

    In general, I agree with you: an LP is audio in "hard copy" format. I've seen that Berkeley (I think?) has a project doing laser scans of wax cylinders to extract the audio without touching the surface, so I'm certain something similar could happen with LPs. I'd just love for there to be universal and perenially digital format for music, one that could be stored multiple ways and with a straight-forward codec for reading. We'll see.

    I happen to prefer reel-to-reel analog tape.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    So what is the latest and greatest mass storage device now? Is it the memory stick, or is it "The Cloud"?
    Written on a real computer and real keyboard with capital letters, punctuation, and everything.

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Definitely the cloud, I think. I feel a little old-fashioned with my USB flash drive. But the potential privacy issues of cloud storage, plus the fact you're dependent on an internet connection and the continuing viability of somebody else's remote site ... I just feel uneasy with all of that.
    “We go to the garrick now and become warbs.”--James Thurber

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Come on... that is temporary (and the 2nd vinyl project I have produced in the last two years just came out two weeks ago... I'm not stranger). The problem is that you are talking about a mechanical technology, which may or may not exist for any given amount of time, and/or into the future. How you doing with those wax cyliniders? Even decent 78 transcription is a rarity.
    I'm happy with my Edison discs and player.

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Hammer, cold chisel, and a lump of granite. Anything less and you ask for obsolescence.

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    The most secure way to preserve your music is by carving it in stone or on ceramics and burying it somewhere:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seikilos_epitaph
    The irony is that the music preserved on this stele basically says "nothing lasts".
    Fortibus es in ero

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Perspective:

    Ecclesiastes 1:2-11English Standard Version (ESV)

    2
    Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
    3
    What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
    4
    A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
    5
    The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens to the place where it rises.
    6
    The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
    around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
    7
    All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
    to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
    8
    All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
    the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
    9
    What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
    10
    Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
    It has been already
    in the ages before us.
    11
    There is no remembrance of former things,
    nor will there be any remembrance
    of later things yet to be
    among those who come after.

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    Senior Member R.A. Stewart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsilius View Post
    The most secure way to preserve your music is by carving it in stone or on ceramics and burying it somewhere:
    ...
    So now we must completely rethink the origins of rock music.
    “We go to the garrick now and become warbs.”--James Thurber

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    Perspective:

    Ecclesiastes 1:2-11English Standard Version (ESV)

    2
    Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
    3
    What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
    4
    A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
    5
    The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens to the place where it rises.
    6
    The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
    around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
    7
    All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
    to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
    8
    All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
    the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
    9
    What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
    10
    Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
    It has been already
    in the ages before us.
    11
    There is no remembrance of former things,
    nor will there be any remembrance
    of later things yet to be
    among those who come after.
    Wow! The guy who wrote that little lot must have been suffering from a surfeit of mince pie.
    Written on a real computer and real keyboard with capital letters, punctuation, and everything.

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    I think about this issue with my photographs, as I have thousands in the garage on two long tables covering years 1915 to as late as 2014 (when I stopped using my film camera equipment). I return to them from time to time to continue sorting to store in some organized fashion. I get real pleasure looking at them, and sometimes I bring the great ones inside the house to share. But that leaves the 20,000 electronic images in my laptop that cover 1980 to present. I never sit down with those to admire because their physical presence aren't in my way. And when I am gone, who will bother to look in my notebook computer's flash drive or back-up drive to see if there are photos of any interest? I suspect the only safe thing to do is print the good ones to add to the piles being sorted on my folding tables in the garage, though that'd be a pricey project to an uncertain end.

    Fred

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    I think about this issue with my photographs, as I have thousands in the garage on two long tables covering years 1915 to as late as 2014 (when I stopped using my film camera equipment). I return to them from time to time to continue sorting to store in some organized fashion. I get real pleasure looking at them, and sometimes I bring the great ones inside the house to share. But that leaves the 20,000 electronic images in my laptop that cover 1980 to present. I never sit down with those to admire because their physical presence aren't in my way. And when I am gone, who will bother to look in my notebook computer's flash drive or back-up drive to see if there are photos of any interest? I suspect the only safe thing to do is print the good ones to add to the piles being sorted on my folding tables in the garage, though that'd be a pricey project to an uncertain end.

    Fred
    I became the extended family's heir to the shoe box full of old B&W negatives. These are the large ones from Kodak's Brownie and cameras of that ilk. It is difficult to look at one of those negatives and recognize anybody, so I started to make contact prints with them. It became evident that I wouldn't live long enough to finish that project, so I took them, 100 at a time, to a photo shop and had them printed. There were over 700 of them. I mounted the prints on tag stock and arranged them in binders. I took them to family reunions and asked people to write the names in next to the pics. Waste of time, possibly. I am the last one alive who has known Great Aunt Mary and Uncle George. The next generations don't give a rat's orchids what their ancestors looked like or who they were. I show them their great grandfather's Snorkel pen and get a blank look in return. Their great grandmother's violin sits here and there are no takers; they won't even carry it away.
    Written on a real computer and real keyboard with capital letters, punctuation, and everything.

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Quote Originally Posted by Paddler View Post
    I became the extended family's heir to the shoe box full of old B&W negatives. These are the large ones from Kodak's Brownie and cameras of that ilk. It is difficult to look at one of those negatives and recognize anybody, so I started to make contact prints with them. It became evident that I wouldn't live long enough to finish that project, so I took them, 100 at a time, to a photo shop and had them printed. There were over 700 of them. I mounted the prints on tag stock and arranged them in binders. I took them to family reunions and asked people to write the names in next to the pics. Waste of time, possibly. I am the last one alive who has known Great Aunt Mary and Uncle George. The next generations don't give a rat's orchids what their ancestors looked like or who they were. I show them their great grandfather's Snorkel pen and get a blank look in return. Their great grandmother's violin sits here and there are no takers; they won't even carry it away.
    Same reaction here for the most part. When I tell stories I get some interest. When I post a clipping of an ancestor's work in the Connecticut state legislature, there is interest. When I name the ship that brought our folks here from Ireland I get some interest. Photos of people they don't know anything about don't interest them -- unless there is some historical context. My problem is that no one seems interested in doing the work of keeping this stuff properly archived and available. I would drop the whole thing, but I know that two or three generations down the road someone in the family will come along who will want to know where they came from -- so I'm working for that person somewhere in the future.

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Interesting and occasionally funny thread. I found out about the obsolescence of storage media last year when I went hunting for a new netbook to manage my karaoke files, and I found out that none of them have on-board hard drives; all storage is on the cloud, and y'all know what can happen to clouds. Fortunately I was able to get a good "old-fashioned" netbook from a local guy who rehabs them.
    In my mug: Sailor 21 P-P M, Cross Solo M, Online Calligraphy, Monteverde Invincia F, Hero 359 M, Jinhao X450 M, Levenger T-W M, Jinhao 159 , Platinum Balance F, TWSBI Classic 1.1, Platinum Preppy 0.3 F, 7 Pilot Varsities, Speedball penholder, TWSBI 580 USA EF, Pilot MR, Ahab 1.1, another Preppy 0.3, Preppy EF 0.2, ASA Sniper F, Click Majestic F, Kaweco Sport M, Pilot Prera F, Baoer 79 M, Hero 616 M, Jinhao X750

    31 and counting

    DaveBj

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    Default Re: Fighting Format Rot

    Yesterday I went to a community event put on by a local hospice, "Before I Die." Its purpose overall is to help folks overcome the fear of facing and preparing for end of life issues. One exhibitor was an archivist specializing in taking all that stuff that needs memory preservation, photographs, journals, etc. and getting it organized and put into a sustainable format, digital or otherwise. She was doing a gangbuster business at this event. Talking with her reminded me that I had written a couple of pieces about this a few years ago. To the extent they may be helpful...

    https://deadreckoning1.wordpress.com...seful-in-time/

    https://deadreckoning1.wordpress.com...amily-history/

    And one from a professional archivist...

    http://kathrynrutherfordfineartist.b...-about-it.html

    I don't know how much any of that helps, but it keeps my interest.

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