Where do we go from here?

MP3, USB, JPEG, some factors of our technological life are now “standard”. If I get a new gadget and it doesn’t have a USB connection or USB power cable then.. well actually, I probably wouldn’t buy it if it didn’t so that’s a bit of a moot point.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m slowly ripping all my CDs to MP3 (the CDs are now out of the living room and piled 20 high, 3 deep on my desk, which is progress of sorts) and it wasn’t a decision I took all that lightly. Admittedly the bulk of my new music is already in that format and as MP3 is supported widely then it should be OK in the future. Right?

JPEG appears to be safe as well. Every digital camera uses it and it does what it does well enough for the masses.

Ohh and yes, before anyone points out, I KNOW that there are better formats for storing music and photos but ultimately the loss of quality between a 256kbs MP3 and any of the lossless formats is beyond anything I can really detect, and the same goes for JPEG vs RAW images for MY purposes.

Those issues aside I do worry a little about losing these things to the vagaries of time, an issue to which the Kindle from Amazon – an electronic book reader – adds another dimension. One which, for some reason, has me very concerned about where this is all heading.

For some reason, whilst I’m not happy about the prospect, I am resigned to the fact that I may lose copies of photos and tracks. I am reasonably diligent when backing up, but if the worst happens, and I lose both my main hard drive AND my backup drive, then yeah, I’m stuffed. I have considered burning the really valuable stuff onto DVD but that’s way down the “I really should but I just can’t be chuffing bothered” path (a path strewn with many other best intentions and forgotten endeavours).

I’m not entirely sure there is an answer for this. Yes I could return to buying CDs rather than MP3 tracks, but at the rate I consume music the issue of physical space trumps any notion of always having a physical copy. And I can’t do that with photos anyway so I’m still at the whim of various hard drives.

I guess I could invest in a backup for my backup but even then it’s just another thing in the chain that could and, eventually will, fail.

What does all this mean? Well, I’m not entirely sure. Advances in technology means that the vast majority of hard drives can be considered trustworthy and unlikely to fail within a few years of usage (I’ve got two from my old PC which still work quite happily, which reminds me to get an enclosure or something for them).

However, technical issues aside, I’m also wondering if we have become a society where nothing really has value. Everything is replaceable, and we are encouraged to bin the old and buy new. If I did lose all my MP3s then I COULD replace them (at cost). So what’s the big deal? I’d only replace the ones I really missed so it might be a good way to start over and avoid all the dross.

Alas the same can’t be said of photos. Losing them loses the associated memories and emotions, the thoughts and feelings experience can’t be lost but they do dim over time, not forgotten but filed away in the distant recess of my mind. Viewing old photos brings them rushing back into the light, dusted down and ready to relived.

If I lost that there is no price that would can be paid, no way back.

Bloody hell, that’s a scary thought. Guess what I’ll be doing tonight!!

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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thom says:

Mozy is what you need to ยฃ50 I have “unlimited” storage for 2 years in a different country.

It took about 30 days of chugging away quietly to get my 210Gb of photos up but once that was done the client picks up any changes overnight and sorts them out.

As you say loosing photos is very scary – even if I don’t factor how wife would react if I told her our children’s early years had been lost – consequently for some years they have been on different HD’s in different buildings (Shed & house) but a fire/flood could still take them both.

Not put music up – if I ever get round to ripping those tapes of gigs I engineered maybe I would but I doubt it…

thom says:

sorry should have been http://mozy.com/

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn, after yesterday’s comment about liking cardboard index cards, that I still get all my photos printed, and have them installed in chronological order in albums. We’re currently on Volume 43 (15 years worth), plus I have another 15 or so volumes from earlier times, I think. We may need another extension to house them all, eventually….

My photos also exist in CD form (that’s the version from which I have them printed), and cataloged on a dedicated external hard drive and on a separate backup drive.

But, I have no visual memory, so it’s important to me.

Photos look so different printed to on-screen, and it’s a completely different experience looking through them in the 2 forms.

If I want to use a photo as a design stimulus for a painting or piece of textile work, I can’t use an on-screen version, it has to be a hold-in-the-hand paper one.

As for music, well, what’s wrong with those 12″ black things? ๐Ÿ˜‰

hans stolte says:

I print photos, keep them in albums and keep video on tape, as DVD’s have a lifespan on average of 3 years ๐Ÿ™‚

Essentially backups are a good idea for photos, they are yours and nobody else has them, mp3’s well world is full of them.

We live in a society where we have eventually realised what has value and what does not, once an item has value to the masses and is easy to obtain it is thereby worth nothing.

Take windows, the ‘World of Warcraft’ makes more $ than Windows, and why? The value in the content and the model of delivery. M$ is trying to match this with its ‘add ons’, but everyone knows that windows is a ‘free’ product, like MP3’s.

mum says:

One of the benefits of getting older is that you slowly realise that you can’t keep/remember everything. For many years I could not bear to throw out some things and the odd time I did I used to always manage to throw out the ‘wrong’ things. But as the memory begins to fade it becomes less important to have a record of EVERYTHING. (although pin numbers are a must…!) The things you really want to remember are imprinted in your brain or heart. When your time is spent seeing, supporting and caring for real people with their highs and lows, you don’t have time to wonder about the ‘stuff’ of life. Having cleared out my mum’s house I now realise that all the stuff she couldn’t bear to part with, is now left for me to keep and probably dispose of when she ‘goes’ as I don’t have the same connection with it.
I’ve now decided that the TIME I used to spend worrying about the stuff, could be better spent- and so could the money I spent on it!

A Flickr Pro account keeps me sleeping at night… providing me the best way to organise, share and enjoy my photographs, all the while knowing I could download them all again (at original resolution) or perhaps order a backup of them on DVD (which I’ve done before and works a treat).

Music wise, I have around 18k tracks… and if I lost them all in a digital calamity, I’m not sure how much I’d be bothered to be honest. Knowing that I only listen to around 2 or 3 thousand of them frequently (and I have the originals on cd) I’m not sure after the initial swearing and cursing if I’d be that fussed. Plus re-encoding and meticulously tagging them would be considerably easier now than when I first did it.

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