Old Media

A rambling post about the future of digital media

Been cleaning out some stuff lately – you know chucking out that old mother board (but keeping the 1.6 Ghz Athlon CPU). I used to think that keeping this stuff would be good to cook up a Myth Box (or something) but price of new all-in-one mother boards and processors is so cheap that “why bother”.

In hurling out all this stuff, I’ve started to trawl the archives and I’ve noticed how my old media builds up. I used to have floppy based backups. Now that every PC I look after @ home is Windows 7, I don’t need to keep floppy disks any more (for the F6 boot drivers) so they have all gone – in the last few weeks I chucked out

– Floppy drives (I still have just one)
– Travan tapes – a mighty 800Mb compressed. Haven’t had the drive for this for ages – Can’t think that anyone else will either.
– DDS2 tapes, a drive and the PCI SCSI II controller. Can’t think why I’d need to keep these. I smashed the tapes (just in case) and pulled the tape out.
– CD ROMS – Interestingly, almost past their use by date. The only reason I need CD’s is that my wife’s car has a disc based MP3 function so I cut her collection to MP3 to save changing CD’s. Apart from that – almost all gone. I’ve still got some of my original games (Quake, UT etc) CD’s but even they are on the short list. STEAM has fixed that. I threw out almost all my old Technet CD’s (and some of the DVD’s too).

Haven’t quite got to chucking DVD’s but that time is approaching soon too. Noticed that I have developed a collection of Hard Drives. Considering that a 1TB HDD is now well under $AU100, I’m wondering what the life time of the lesser HDD’s in the collection will be. I still have  a 9GB Quantum but its time to seriously copy anything worthwhile and ditch it. This means that my minimum media tolerance is now > 10 GB.

Lightweight USB keys are still useful but anything under 2 GB is now on the way out. Time to smash that old 128Mb up. SD Cards < 2 GB are now gone to. Somewhere I have a 32MB
“Multimedia” SD card. Probably can’t get a reader for it.

I know it sounds obvious but I can’t see this ever stopping – the price of late model media (and the computers) is just startling but I also feel that we really are about to enter a digital dark age.  Most of these media types, with the exception of the Travan,  are  still available but they are fairly quickly disappearing from use. Can you still buy DDS-1 tapes?

How long before my spinning magnetic media disappears? At the rate solid state drives are evolving, I’m thinking 5 years will be optimistic

A good example and one thing that I have been watching is home camcorder media.

A couple of years ago our old Sanyo 8mm camcorder gave up the ghost. Not sure but it was suggested that it you don’t turn them on occasionally then the capacitors dry out and then that’s is – no more play!. Big problem if your entire family video collection is on 8mm.  Current price to transcribe an 8mm to DVD was > $100! I like looking at the falling technology prices – like most men I like the hardware and gadget catalogs – and was noticing the demise of 8mm video cameras. Bugger! (I thought) and went out and bought a brand new Samsung 8mm from Hardly Normal. Problem…. We had recorded our tapes in LP (Long Play) and the Samsung didn’t support this mode. Back to Hardly’s, cough up enough for a Sony Handycam. This turned out to be the 2nd last 8mm tape transport that Sony made. Talk about close. Quick project to transcribe all the movies to DVD. (Interesting aside – my now almost 4 year old laptop has a Firewire port – try finding one of those – do Mac’s still have them? – so the transcription was straight forward).

I’ve noticed that the Camcorder lifetime is dictated by the media. Here is a very rough list.

– 8 mm Analog – about 12 years. Includes Hi8 and VHS-C (Yes, I know this is not 8mm!)

– 8 mm Digital – about 6-8

– Mini DV tapes – perhaps 6 years but now completely gone

– DVD camcorder – 3 years (maybe). Now gone. Not sold anymore

– HDD – still in use however seem to be restricted more and more to high end i.e. 1080p devices. Gone in consumer devices.

– Flash media – current consumer media – lifetime, unknown but probably significant.

Interesting to see how the current media sets will last.