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Author Topic: Life of CDs and Making your own Restore CD  (Read 1382 times) Average Rating: 0
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monkvasyl
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« on: December 06, 2005, 11:53:15 AM »

Glory to Jesus Christ

2 questions:

I recently heard on tv that the standard life of a CD is only 3 yrs.  Can this be true?

2nd:  I've had problems with my laptop and I thought it was the hard drive, turns out it might be either the processor or the mother board.  Is it possible for me to make a Restore CD...including everything that originally came preloaded on my computer, along with any other problems I've loaded myself?  Sort of like the ones that sometimes come with the computer.
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2005, 09:45:12 PM »

Glory to Jesus Christ

2 questions:

I recently heard on tv that the standard life of a CD is only 3 yrs.ÂÂ  Can this be true?

2nd:ÂÂ  I've had problems with my laptop and I thought it was the hard drive, turns out it might be either the processor or the mother board.ÂÂ  Is it possible for me to make a Restore CD...including everything that originally came preloaded on my computer, along with any other problems I've loaded myself?ÂÂ  Sort of like the ones that sometimes come with the computer.

1) It's all how you treat them. I have CD's that are nearly 10 years old in very good condition.

2) I believe there is a utility on some OS's that allows you to do it automatically. If you are doing it manually, just make sure to get the documents, photos, save-games and things of that nature. The actual programs can be re-installed if you still have the CD's, so all you need is your data.
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2005, 04:34:46 PM »

There is no reason why a properly-protected CD couldn't last 30 years, or even longer, for that matter.  Now, whether the software you used to save the data will be around in the future, or not, is another story.

The VA started getting concerned about this phenomenon almost twenty years ago, when they discovered that the computer programs used to create computer tapes (which they had archived since the 60's) no longer existed.  The data was there, but nobody knew how the files were formated; therefore it was impossible to read the tapes.  Basically they were just long strings of numbers.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has been trying to get a handle on the situation, but the lesson hasn't yet been learned:  Numerous companies and government agencies are archiving data in proprietary formats which may not be readable in the future.

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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2005, 06:18:46 PM »

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has been trying to get a handle on the situation, but the lesson hasn't yet been learned:ÂÂ  Numerous companies and government agencies are archiving data in proprietary formats which may not be readable in the future.

Oh, indeed! It is still a huge problem. Open source, public liscense formats and languages are the way to go. One reason I switched to programming in Python, actually. (Though I still haven't gone to Firefox, yet.) But that's one flaw of captialism: you can make much more money with proprietary software (and proprietary systems to run that proprietary software, and so forth). Unless businesses magically start getting a whole lot less concerned about their bottom line, we are going to need incentives to create and use open source technologies.
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2005, 08:42:48 PM »

Actually, I should qualify what I originaly posted a bit.  Proprietary formats are a problem, and I'm a big fan of open source software myself.  But even with a non-proprietary format, if the program which created the file in the first place is missing, the data may not be able to be read.

I will use an example to illustrate the problem to non-programmers.  Let us say there was a team of programmers working for the VA in 1965, and they created a system of programs to maintain a database of veterans.  To keep things simple, let's just say that there was a file that contained a veteran's service number, date of birth, date of induction, date of separation, and, I dunno, shoe size.  This was a highly structured system where file names were given based on an internally-known numbering system which had some sort of meaning to it and, well, the file name is F060116.  When the file was backed up for archiving it was saved as a simple flat file.

Now turn the page.  Forty years have passed.  All the programmers who worked on the software are retired or dead.  The computer system that created the file has long since been junked.  The software that was used to create and maintain the file was scrapped in favor of better software on a different format years ago.

Let's say that, for some reason, we have to retrieve information from the archived tape.  Sure, it is a nice flat file, stored in ASCII which any tape reader can read, however the tape reader can only tell us that we have a file named F060116 and a typical record in the file looks like this: 0555052902007124206154608230950.    Because of the file's cryptic name, we don't have any idea what data is in it.  Without knowing what data is in the file, we cannot have much of an idea what the numbers in each record mean.  Even if we assume that the first nine numbers make up the service number, we cannot be sure, and we really don't know what the rest of the numbers mean.  This file was dutifully and responsibly archived... and it is totally useless.  Millions of dollars were spent keeping this file, and others like it, in a  climate controlled, nuclear-safe, underground abandoned limestone quarry in the Ozarks AND IT WAS A COMPLETE WASTE!

So even if the software that created the file was non-proprietary, it is no help in the above case because the software that created the file -- that gives definition to the data -- is non-existent.  We not only need non-proprietary formats, but we need standardized formats that not only store the data, but describe the data stored.

XML would work well, but how many people are archiving their data this way?

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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2005, 01:37:39 AM »

So even if the software that created the file was non-proprietary, it is no help in the above case because the software that created the file -- that gives definition to the data -- is non-existent.ÂÂ  We not only need non-proprietary formats, but we need standardized formats that not only store the data, but describe the data stored.

XML would work well, but how many people are archiving their data this way?

So who is to say XML won't be gone in the future? The problem is not so much which program one uses, but how well one stores the data and the software to read it.
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2005, 01:04:36 PM »

So who is to say XML won't be gone in the future? The problem is not so much which program one uses, but how well one stores the data and the software to read it.

It won't matter if XML is not used in the future, because XML is self-documenting.  The only way it would be impossible to read and understand is if ASCII is no longer used, or the future users no longer comprehend the language used to describe the data.

Given my VA example in the previous post, the saved data might look like this in XML:

<File name="F060116" description="Veteran's Shoe Size">
  <Record>
    <field description="service number">055505290</field>
    <field description="date of birth">200712</field>
    <field description="date of induction">420615</field>
    <field description="date of separation">460823</field>
    <field description="shoe size">09.50</field>
  </Record>
  <Record>
    <field description="service number">493751853</field>
    <field description="date of birth">600614</field>
    <field description="date of induction">800902</field>
    <field description="date of separation">840916</field>
    <field description="shoe size">11.00</field>
  </Record>
.
.
.
</File>

A future programmer would have no problem creating a program to read such a file and import it into a modern database.

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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2005, 06:31:41 PM »

'Course XML is self-documenting; I use it  Tongue

The problem is ASCII. Will it be around? The same assumptions were made with the old file formats and character sets, and now they are paying for it.
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2005, 02:50:20 PM »

The problem is ASCII. Will it be around? The same assumptions were made with the old file formats and character sets, and now they are paying for it.

That's a good question!  I think it's very likely to be around, but who knows?  That's a gambit we might have to take if we want digital archiving.  After all, the bits have to be encoded somehow

BTW, when I speak of ASCII, I guess I'm really talking about Unicode, which is, ultimately, an extension of ASCII.  With the proliferation of Unicode, there is really no reason to change coding schemes in the future.



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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2005, 08:00:19 PM »

That's a good question!ÂÂ  I think it's very likely to be around, but who knows?ÂÂ  That's a gambit we might have to take if we want digital archiving.ÂÂ  After all, the bits have to be encoded somehow

BTW, when I speak of ASCII, I guess I'm really talking about Unicode, which is, ultimately, an extension of ASCII.ÂÂ  With the proliferation of Unicode, there is really no reason to change coding schemes in the future.

Indeed. But that is why the preservation of the methods and software is important, moreso than the specific method and/or software used.

With technology going the way it is, we may even be moving beyond binary computing. We have the necessary equipment and knowledge to run a computer system on much larger number systems, thereby drastically increasing their power.
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