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#31894 - 11/26/14 02:25 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: dianne]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Neat idea, but a little pricey.
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#31895 - 11/26/14 02:30 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: joemikeb]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
I guess I'm still surprised by how much faith people have in the cloud. I hate the idea of my data leaving the house.
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#31897 - 11/26/14 03:31 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: dianne]
joemikeb Online
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: dianne
For me, the storage medium for those videos is now a hard drive, back ups, and iCloud.

I'm with Dianne — at least until the next thing comes along. grin
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#31913 - 11/27/14 03:01 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: joemikeb]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
The problem with flash storage is that it isn't archival. In fact, it's quite transient.

Flash memory exploits some weirdness of quantum mechanics (specifically, a phenomenon called "electron tunneling," where electrons can move short distances without passing through the space in between) to store information. Each bit if information is represented by a transistor with a "floating gate," a part of the transistor that is totally surrounded by an insulating layer hat is smaller than the wavelength of an electron. Electrons can be made to tunnel into the gate; when they do, they're trapped, and the presence or absence of electrons in the gate represents a binary 1 or 0.

Unfortunately, random quantum fluctuations means that the electrons in the gate have a chance of tunneling out of the gate. This causes bit errors, which build up over time. After about ten years or so, the information on solid-state flash media may be completely unrecoverable.
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#31916 - 11/27/14 07:08 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: tacit]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
I don't think there is a digital medium that is archival.
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#31919 - 11/28/14 06:26 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: tacit]
joemikeb Online
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: tacit
Unfortunately, random quantum fluctuations means that the electrons in the gate have a chance of tunneling out of the gate. This causes bit errors, which build up over time. After about ten years or so, the information on solid-state flash media may be completely unrecoverable.

Ten years isn't so bad. In fact that is a few years longer than magnetic media and maybe about the same as inexpensive optical media. In the case of optical media the culprit is oxidation of the aluminum reflective layer used in most optical discs. Gold reflective layer archival optical discs are available, but tough to find and expensive.

Back in the days of mainframe computers and magnetic tape the standard protocols used to call for "exercising" stored tape reels annually and for the most critical archival data rewriting the tapes every few years. Arguments went back and forth over the efficacy of "exercising" and even rewriting tapes. It may be that periodic recopying of archival digital data, albeit at significantly longer intervals than back in the mag tape days, is still state of the art. The rewrite process can also provide the opportunity to migrate archived data to newer data formats and storage technologies. The work currently going on in "quantum" computers will be a huge "game changer" in terms of both computers themselves as well as data storage media. Who knows what the next decade will bring?
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#31952 - 12/01/14 09:11 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
I really don't believe that leaving media on any specific medium is a good idea over the long term. The best defense against inaccessibility or age is periodic migration to newer medium. Don't wait until it's in a format that's a pain to convert or has begun to degrade.

Organization goes hand-in-hand with this. Media is no good to you if you can't find it later when you want to. I've got videos and even still images I made on my quickcam many years ago, and I know where to find them. For me, going to a new medium is as easy as a drag and a drop. And I can just keep the last one or two iterations as backups in case of loss.
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#32489 - 01/13/15 08:41 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: Virtual1]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
http://www.macintouch.com/readerreports/archivalissues/index.html#d13jan2015

A little bit more about archiving: the unsuitability of flash drives, and one person who uses the M-disc.
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#32490 - 01/13/15 11:33 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: deniro
A little bit more about archiving: the unsuitability of flash drives, and one person who uses the M-disc.

The problem never been just the media, there is also the question of whether or not there will be devices capable of reading the media and software able to decode/play the data format. M-Disk is based on Blu-Ray technology and Apple computers no longer ship with any optical drives, much less Blu-Ray which Apple has never supported.

I came across a stash of magnetic tape cartridges last year months back for a backup magnetic tape drive I used to have on my PC back in the 60s. Out of curiosity I looked to see if I could find a drive for the tape cartridges and they are no longer manufactured and haven't been available on the market for probably 15 or 20 years. (As I recall they were only on the market for maybe 5 or 6 years). There may have been some files there I might like to have but basically they are irrecoverable because there is no player/recorder available. Even if I could find the applicable tape drive, the interface would likely be RS232, Parallel, or possibly SCSI and then there would be the issue of format to read the files. All in all I could spend a fortune trying to recover who knows what data files that may or may not have any relevance today. Even if I could play the tapes the data format has not been supported since probably the mid 1980s and there is nothing available today to convert to a current standard short of hundreds or even thousands of hours of painful manual interpretation and re-entry.

I think Virtual1 has it right. The only reliable archival storage plan is frequent migration from one media to another and in the process reformat the data to a current or, even better, an emerging standard. Given the rapidity of change in the industry the opportunity window for such reformatting and media transfer is becoming narrower every year.
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#32491 - 01/13/15 02:17 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: joemikeb]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Quote:
The only reliable archival storage plan is frequent migration from one media to another


Of course that makes sense. Maybe the guy who used the M-disc wanted the best format in the short-term, however long he wanted to define short, for his own purposes, with the understanding that eventually he would move to the next most reliable format at some point in his life.

I should probably re-read this thread to get my bearings. I noticed when I did genealogy that many valuable documents were on microfilm or microfiche. As far as I know, neither of those formats is used today.
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#32492 - 01/13/15 03:44 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: deniro
I noticed when I did genealogy that many valuable documents were on microfilm or microfiche. As far as I know, neither of those formats is used today.

But at least those formats and associated media are readable and always will be (until they disintegrate). As is very clear in this thread, such cannot be said of any digital media.
We're doomed, I tells ya, doomed!

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#32493 - 01/13/15 05:54 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: deniro
I should probably re-read this thread to get my bearings. I noticed when I did genealogy that many valuable documents were on microfilm or microfiche. As far as I know, neither of those formats is used today.

Microfilm and Microfiche readers are still available in some libraries, but the media is too often crumbling. The libraries that still have these are scrambling to get all that data digitized, OCRed, and indexed to make it searchable and available on the internet. Even in the case of handwritten material they are manually adding searchable hidden text. Thank God for Graduate Assistants, they make great slave labor to apply to this task. Their children and grandchildren will probably have the job of migrating all of that to different media and formats when they are graduate students.
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#32526 - 01/17/15 02:44 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
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#32896 - 02/02/15 10:19 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: alternaut]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Quote:
Apple computers no longer ship with any optical drives


Really? This shocks me. Over the summer I bought my parents a Dell tower which includes not only an optical drive but bays for other drives. As is often the case, I don't know what the chiefs at Apple are thinking. The Dell runs quite well, Windows 8.1 is so far a pretty good OS, though of course it still has many Windows drawbacks. I don't know why Apple continues to marginalize itself in the name of innovation.

I've been re-reading the book Perfecting Sound Forever which, though flawed, really is a fine book for anyone interested in the history of audio technology. I would like to read more books like it but there don't seem to be any similar. You can still listen to Edison cyclinders, Edison's Diamond discs, and 78s. Edison thought about long-term durability, about composing for the ages. But he was an idealist and tinkerer more than a businessman. Although vinyl is still inferior in sound, unless perhaps you have an expensive system, it will still last longer than CDs.

You can still watch early film. At the same time, Martin Scorese is on a campaign to conserve old movies. You can still see daguerrotypes, which are startling in their realism, to me often sharper than what today's cameras produce. I asked my sister, who knows something about phtography, about digital cameras. She says they still don't compare to film.

All of this to say formats interest me.


Edited by deniro (02/02/15 10:32 AM)
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#32899 - 02/02/15 11:57 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: deniro
Quote:
Apple computers no longer ship with any optical drives

Really? This shocks me.

It isn’t as shocking as it sounds; Apple still carries an external burner for around $70. But no, it doesn’t offer them as a built-in option anymore. Personally I prefer the external option anyway, as every disc drive I’ve ever had in Macs bit the dust after a year or two. And it’s not like Apple uses substandard drives: you’ll have the same problem regardless of the brand name on your computer. What with the current iMacs difficulty of access (and you can argue about that), an external drive makes more sense, and is way cheaper and quicker to replace when the time comes. Heck, even the Mac Pro doesn’t have internal drives anymore, of any type, or even space for them. It’s all external.
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#32904 - 02/02/15 12:47 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: deniro
Really? This shocks me. Over the summer I bought my parents a Dell tower which includes not only an optical drive but bays for other drives. As is often the case, I don't know what the chiefs at Apple are thinking. The Dell runs quite well, Windows 8.1 is so far a pretty good OS, though of course it still has many Windows drawbacks. I don't know why Apple continues to marginalize itself in the name of innovation.


I thought the same thing. I made sure, when I got my laptop, that it came with an optical drive...

...and then I realized I hadn't touched it at all, so I took it out, put it in an external enclosure, and put a second hard drive in the space where it used to be.

Originally Posted By: deniro
I asked my sister, who knows something about phtography, about digital cameras. She says they still don't compare to film.


That was true for a long time--in the high end, it was true up 'til about ten years ago (there were digital large-format cameras on the market back then that could surpass film in both resolution and dynamic range, but they cost upward of $180,000) and until just a couple of years ago in 35mm.

Modern high-end DSLRs--the kind you spend $2500 on, not the kind you spend $500 on--exceed film in resolution (by a healthy margin) and approach film's dynamic range. A Canon EOS-1D X will not only give you better sensitivity than the best film on the market, there's no contest--it's not even close. There's no perceptible noise even when you're shooting at ISO 1600. Tests show you'll see 11 stops of dynamic range at ISO 100, falling to 9 stops at ISO 12,800. By way of comparison, 35mm film is noisier and less sensitive, but offers moderately wider dynamic range; good 35mm film will give you about 14 stops of dynamic range[1], at a cost of lower sensitivity.

Low-light sensitivity in particular is where digital really shines. High-end DSLRs from Canon and Nikon can produce images you literally can't get on film, like this famous National Geographic image by photographer Iwan Bann, showing the blackout in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. Bann shot it with a Canon EOS 1D, and says that no film camera could cope with the combination of low light, motion, and high shutter speed necessary to get the shot.

[1] The wide dynamic range of 35mm film generally assumes exposing for shadows and clipping hilights, because negative film is more tolerant of overexposure than underexposure. You're getting a wide range by sacrificing detail in bright areas--so in that sense it overstates the case. If you measure the dynamic range of film without clipping, by exposing for hilights rather than shadows, you'll usually see more like 7-8 stops of dynamic range.
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#32906 - 02/02/15 02:17 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: deniro
I asked my sister, who knows something about phtography, about digital cameras. She says they still don't compare to film.

I recently attended a lecture given by an internationally known photographer Terry Evans introducing her latest commission, a series of photographs along the Trinity River in Fort Worth. During the question and answer period she was asked about the cameras she uses and she said the only film camera she still uses is a Hasselblad she reserves for taking aerial photographs of the midwestern plains — a project that she has been pursuing for decades. She went on to say she finds she can get images using digital cameras that would be impossible to capture with film cameras.
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#32907 - 02/02/15 02:59 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: alternaut]
dkmarsh Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09

Quote:
Apple still carries an external burner for around $70. But no, it doesn’t offer them as a built-in option anymore.

It's buried deep in the labyrinthine website, but Apple does still offer the (non-Retina) 13 inch MacBook Pro with 8x SuperDrive.
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#32908 - 02/02/15 03:18 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: dkmarsh]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: dkmarsh

Quote:
[Apple] ... doesn’t offer ... [an external burner] ... as a built-in option anymore.

... Apple does still offer the (non-Retina) 13 inch MacBook Pro with 8x SuperDrive.

I stand corrected, but I'm sure deniro gets the drift anyway. laugh
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#32920 - 02/03/15 07:50 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: deniro
Quote:
Apple computers no longer ship with any optical drives

Really? This shocks me.


They also no longer ship with floppy drives wink

Apple will take their users, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the future. And a few years after they do, everyone is better off as a result. Attitudes usually go from "I can't live without that!" to "why didn't they ditch that crap sooner?"
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#32921 - 02/03/15 09:18 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: Virtual1]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
I think she meant low-end cameras. What about the longevity of digital v. film?
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#32927 - 02/03/15 12:15 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Some recent podcasts about digital preservation from speakers at the Library of Congress. To me, interesting stuff.

Conversations about Digital Preservation (podcasts)
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#32939 - 02/03/15 03:22 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: deniro]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
The longevity of digital files is...complicated. I have a friend who does this for a living for the Canadian government. It's a never-ending source of pain.

There are a bunch of factors: the longevity of the medium, the longevity of the ability to read the medium, the longevity of the file format (it does no good if you can recover a file in 100 years that nobody knows how to read!). You can stick a stash of properly fixed B&W photographs in an attic and come back in a century to find they're still intelligible. That's not the case with any digital medium I'm aware of.
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#33423 - 03/12/15 11:23 PM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: tacit]
JM Hanes Offline


Registered: 09/03/09
Hi tacit!

You don't even have to be a super pro to get shots like Bann's. Here's night shot that I took with my new Canon EOS 6D, looking out of a hotel window in NYC at 3:00 AM. What's amazing about it is that I took the photo with the camera set on automatic and didn't even use a tripod! There are some things about the camera that I'm not so happy about, but you are absolutely right about the astonishing low light performance.

I worry less about the permanence of digital storage, which can always be serially transferred to new media, than about the longevity of printed photographic output. As you note, black & white film based pix hold up for extended periods of time, but color photos will fade pretty fast unless protected, a problem whenever you introduce pigments (in lieu of chemical reactions?) I suppose, whether in film or digital output. It's been especially, and hugely, problematic when it comes to stable paper/ink combinations for digital output, though, although they've made a whole lot of headway. The folks at Wilhelm Imaging have been plugging away on this subject since forever ago. I notice they reference the Corbis underground Sub-Zero Preservation Facility with which I was unfamiliar. Of course, if you've got the digital file, you can always print out another copy, but it's amazing how big a difference even the most minor change in paper, printer, or color management can make. It's sort of ironic because there have never been as many options (& variables) in potential colorants and substrates etc., including the ease of home printing, yet more and more photo viewing seems to be inexorably migrating to the web.

On the other hand, every embarrassing thing you've ever done online is preserved forever, so there's that. In any case, I think we may be saving, not losing, way too much stuff. The biggest problem will be extracting useable needles from those mountains of haystacks. After I pass, my kids are a lot more likely just to wipe my disks, drives and devices and shunt them off to some needy organization. Aside from presumably being dead, I could hardly blame them for that, when even I don't want to spend my time culling my files.

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#33425 - 03/13/15 12:39 AM Re: What is the most durable medium? [Re: JM Hanes]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Thanks for posting the link to the Sub-Zero Preservation Facility (owned by Bill Gates); it's quite a project.

I wonder how much power it draws? (The women in the pic must be faaar hardier souls than I; they don't look like they're dressed for anything near -4º F.) (Edit: ...even considering the low relative humidity.)

(PS: Your "night shot" link is a dead-end.)


Edited by artie505 (03/13/15 12:40 AM)
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