Digitising thoughts

and getting immortal on the fly

Keep porting your data to new storage

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on August 15, 2006

Let your cherished moments not get wiped out by technology

Few years back, in one of the in-flight magazines, I read an interesting article about how to keep one’s data accessible all the time.

You may have the data recorded in tapes, floppies CDs, DVDs, thumb drives – you name it. When I say data, I mean all types of data – plain information or music files or photos or your savoured moments captured in video, whatever.

Though the media in which you keep them may last long, the hardware that you use to create them or access may get outdated.

I have lots floppies – this generation may not even know they existed – of the five and a quarter inch variety with data in them. Well secured and in usable condition. Only problem is you no longer find a computer that can read a five and a quarter floppy disc.

Same is happening now to the three and half inch floppy drives. Computers have started coming without these as people are more comfortable using thumb drives instead of floppies. My new laptop has no floppy drive.

Video tapes will soon go away. Already we have in the market DVD recorders that can directly record programs to DVDs.

If you have been using a video camera and had no habit of converting those videos into CDs or tapes playable on VCRs, you might have already lost all those recorded moments as the bigger video tapes used in old day cameras have been replaced by cameras that directly record into DVDs or into smaller DVB cassettes.

So, if you want to preserve your data and lifes interesting frozen/moving moments, better keep transferring those into latest storage media. This applies to both official and personal data.

When do you shift the data from one media to another? It is best to change when one hardware technology is being replaced by another. For example, we are now seeing the three and half inch floppy drive is getting outdated. At this point, we do have quite a lot of comptuers still having that drive while also having USB ports/ CD/DVD drives. So, you will have a chance to convert the data in one media to another with least hassles. If you wait any longer (may be another year) you may not have any computer in working condition that will be able to read your three and half inch floppy disc for you.

I thought these problems only exist with poor souls like us. But, a recent article showed that not only the general public but also such big organisations like NASA are way behind in data porting and have failed to keep up with the technology. Read the story below.

One giant blip for mankind as moon landing tapes are mislaid
Dan Glaister in Los AngelesTuesday
August 15, 2006
The Guardian

Houston, we have a problem. The Apollo 11 moon landings were one of the defining moments of the 20th century. In 1969 an estimated 600m people watched the grainy black-and-white images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as they became the first men to set foot on the surface of the moon.

But now the original recordings of those moments have been mislaid. The poor quality images broadcast on television at the time were video recordings of the original film. Shot at 10 frames a second, the original is much clearer and is thought to include details that are not discernible on the television recordings

The grainy television recordings have buoyed the many theories that suggest the moon landings never took place, and were instead a cold war propaganda ploy. Critics point to the lack of stars in the broadcast images of the night sky, as well as the multiple shadows – suggesting, they argue, a second light source, such as a spotlight – and the fluttering of the US flag on the breezeless moon.

“The conspiracy theorists have been with us since day one on this,” said a Nasa spokesman. “We hope that when we go back to the moon again they’ll finally believe us.”
The original tapes of the moon landings were shot from a camera mounted on top of the Eagle lunar lander. These were sent back to three tracking stations, two in Australia and one in California. After being converted to the 60 frames a second used for television broadcast, they were sent by analogue signal to Houston for broadcast, further degrading the image quality.
A year after the landings, the original film was copied on to magnetic tape and delivered to Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. All but two of the 700 boxes of magnetic tapes are now missing.

“I would simply like to clarify that the tapes are not lost as such,” John Sarkissian of the Parkes Observatory in Australia, who has been involved in the search for the tapes, told the website space.com. “We are confident that they are stored at Goddard … we just don’t know where precisely.”

The data evaluation lab at Goddard is the only known place to have the equipment and expertise to play back the tapes, according to Mr Sarkissian, but the lab is scheduled for closure in October. Even if the lab’s equipment is saved, the tapes may be of little use. “They are so old and fragile, it’s not certain they could even be played,” said the Nasa spokesman.

Have you read my other blog?


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