Thursday, May 7, 2015

Old technology . . .

As I’m going through all my office stuff, preparing for a garage sale (citywide) this Saturday, and consolidating things prior to our upcoming move, I’m encountering all my backup stuff. As one who has been writing and publishing, doing desktop publishing, making maps and processing photos since forever, I have boxes and boxes (and boxes) of 3.5” floppy disks. I also have boxes and boxes of Zip drives (remember them?). I am no longer in the publishing/map-making/newsletter business, so I no longer need this material, but oh, the waste.

All these disks contain plastic, but they also contain other material which isn’t recyclable. It’s all going into the trash. And I’m feeling guilty. I’m also feeling a bit sad that this information, all the documents, all the maps, etc. is no longer useful to anyone. It was a good run while it lasted, but it’s over now and yet I still feel twinges of what used to be.

All my paper files are gone. Two huge filing cabinets of research material were emptied and now contain rolls of Japanese papers, decorative papers, etc. for upcoming projects. That’s exciting. New art to be created. But in the here and now, there’s so much to be gotten rid of, dating back to the early 1980s (tear sheets from the various publications my work appeared in, newspaper articles about me, notes and handouts for all the workshops and classes I conducted, articles I’ve written, correspondence from stock photo agencies. Anyone remember PhotoNetwork?!

All my 35mm slides? They’re going with me. And gradually I will go through them, keeping ones that I think I can still use today, but 90% will probably go into the trash. Once again.

My next task? Packing up at least four older computers. Computers that still work, but I need to strip out the data, salvage what I think I still might need, and then dispose of them, too, one by one. Wish I had done that slowly over the years, but, similar to the unbirthday party in Alice in Wonderland (“Move down! Move down!”), they get put in storage as new ones take their place(s). At least I no longer have my old Kaypro machines!

Technology has changed. Information-gathering has changed. Publication prep has changed. And I have changed. For the better? I hope so. But it’s still sad in a way. Soon it will all be behind me, but today I’m a little down.

So what’s the solution to all this? I don’t think there is one. I’ve got Rubbermaid tubs of backup CDs and DVDs. I’ve got Rubbermaid tubs of backup external drives. We all read the dire warnings that CDs/DVDs go bad over time. And external drives? Same thing there. It’s quite insane when one thinks about it. So I try not to.

But John Lennon’s words are constantly in my head:

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

Those of you who are still happily riding on the merry-go-round, how do you handle all this on a daily basis? Are you behind in your backing up? Do you back up your backed-up files? Enquiring minds want to know!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh. Thank you!


  1. As you talk about back ups...I have to do that before I head out in a week or so with my lap top...for fear of losing it all. thinking only that I will have nothing....the reality is to gain what I have accomplished over the years as you say has changed so all that is left is experience...and experience is golden when shared with those that would love to hear and learn about it. As you are know sharing your emotion of going through lose...Amazing what you have done...You have used the technology to it fullest and that is amazing and now you continue to use it in your art and combining it together so well...Kudos as you let ramble for you with a cyber hug on it's way...

  2. I'm the one riding the giraffe over on the left...

    My backup routine is fairly simple but hopefully effective. I have 2 6Tb USB3 external disks. Everything photographic and project-oriented goes on one. In the evening Carbon Copy Cloner makes sure that the 2nd disk is a copy of the 1st. On top of that, both the computer and the 2nd disk are copied to the cloud with CrashPlan.

    If .. no, when I have a disk failure I have a 2nd copy locally. If fire or earthquake render everything local, I can (eventually) retrieve it from the cloud.

    So far, so good.


  3. Sorry, Jim. Didn't recognize you at first. So many people. So many giraffes . . . Thanks for the reference to CrashPlan -- I'll look into it.

    And Laura, I THINK I know what you're saying (!) and I appreciate it.


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