Saturday, February 18, 2006

Status Check, medium geekery

I caught some grief the other day at work for being a Mac user. This riled me a little, but not much. I continue to maintain that I am platform-agnostic. Every platform has a web browser, an email client, a text editor, a way to view images and PDFs. This agnosticism extends even to IM networks: I'm on ICQ, AOLIM, Yahoo!'s IM, MSN Messenger, and Jabber (Gtalk runs over this). For some, it's all about the applications: people learn a way of doing things and they stick with it. Look at Adobe's products, look at Lotus 1-2-3, look at all the Mac high-end editing software. Me, I transcend the application. I worry about my data. I've worried about the problem of electronic data in various uncooperative formats since at least high school. We had a Smith Corona word processor that only could save to its own proprietary discs- nothing else could read 'em. I knew about WordStar not playing nicely with WordPerfect. Now I know (and this is a few years back)that we're losing telemetry data from the space age because the tapes are physically deteriorating.

Lost data is a problem, people. We're making more of it every year. Here's a data point for you to help put things in perspective. According to a Berkeley study, we produced five exabytes of information (print, film, magnetic, and optical media) in 2002. What the hell is an exabyte? Kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes, exabytes. Then there's zettabytes and yottabytes. I'm not making this up. Five exabytes is about five billion hours of television, or some 37,000 Libraries of Congress, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. And we're typically putting all of this on hard drives with one-year warranties.

An email from a friend led me to find my first ever Usenet post. Yes, that date is correct. November 1994. For those of you who know what Usenet is, I'm always reminded of the 1992 quote by Gene Spafford: "Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea -- massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it." For those of you who don't know about Usenet and the previous quote sheds no light, start with the Wikipedia. Yes, I realize that I'm part of the September that never ended.

Rant off. Thanks for playing.

Back in the real world, we filled up Lita the Ford today with her lead substitute additive, I replaced my wiper blades on Blueberry the Saturn, I had a Boca meatless burger for the first time as far as I know, I recieved my "Got wood for sheep?" shirt, and tomorrow is a day of agave didj crafting! (Thanks, Steve!) Pictures and posting to follow!

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