Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Data Curator

I have been doing the work of a data curator lately. I have generated a lot of absolutely original information over the years and it is not easy to prevent it all from being lost to dying media and expiring formats.

In the 90's I saved a lot of song files to DataDAT format using an Atari Falcon. I would back up each track and each mix of songs I was working on as data encoded sound streams that were saved like files to DAT tapes. I want to recover all my old DAT tapes and back them up on DVD-R, Hard Drives or whatever works best.

A Dat Tape and a AAA battery (from

And an Atari Falcon computer:

Warning: Techno-babble...

I upload the tapes to a SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) Hard Disk attached to the Atari. The Falcon system has its own format for the drive which cannot be read by my Mac. So I had to find a format they can both read. Eventually the lowest common denominator was MS DOS FAT 16 format. So my 4 Gig drive is divided into 5 partitions and I actually formatted it from my Mac OS X Tiger unix command prompt. The FAT 16 switch is available there. It all works great, but I have to remember to put the Falcon in black and white video mode to free up just enough speed and memory for successful uploads.

Warning: Waxing philosophical...

Over the long run, all data will need to be carefully maintained so as not to slip away. I think people may eventually print files as small pixel patterns to acid free paper. Then they could scan them back to the hard disk with a flat-bed scanner and some Bit Recognition Software. Something like this is already done in smaller amounts of data on your driver's license.

The right kind of paper and ink could last longer than a Hard Drive platter might. The Hard Drive's platter, reading/writing circuitry or mechanism may corrode or fail far sooner. Paper could be scanned by new future higher tech machines and it is a little more stable than magnetic storage tends to be. Optical devices like CD-R, DVD-R erode far more quickly than well done paper and ink. Even Hard drives may last longer than optical media. I don't know yet whether Blueray improves on shelf life for the optical media. Paper is also "optical" in a sense.

It would take a lot more physical space to store the same file size in paper than on a Hard Disk, though it is a way to preserve the data for longer.

Maybe etching into a carbon slab is the way to go...essentially a sheet diamond storage system. This would be a way to store the most precious data society has for a long time. Maybe that's not possible yet or something better will come around.

We do need to think about how we will preseve information. Someone has to think of a way to put signs outside our radioactive nuclear waste pits that don't fade away over 10,000 years.

All I did was rescue some unique magnetic patterns from the 80's and 90's...and they already felt like they were slipping into the digital void.


Friday, January 18, 2008


Society seems to enjoy making priesthoods of knowledge. This is a group or class that is entrusted to understand and explain with authority things no one else can understand or should bother themselves to understand because the one authoritative way of seeing things is already determined.

Once you have a priesthood you can then use your own compliance with their edicts to set yourself above and apart from others and in turn shame and degrade them! Exciting isn't it? (rhetorical am I not?)

As an ex-religious I have seen this kind of behavior...the leaning on an agreed upon authority and following it blindly while heaping disapproval or even venom upon any non -compliant people.

I also see this in the "Web Development" field.

Some have granted a "Priesthood" status to the W3C. "THEY" have deprecated the use of the word URL. Never mind the culture or history or people's speech patterns. You see, their authority extends over the earth as a mighty flood with the power to control your every utterance and ban you from stepping out of line in word and deed!

We should all now say URI. And I say we should all now say "Fellate my Phallus" instead of...nevermind.

I digress. I understand that scientifically it is a better word to describe what people have apparently misused "URL" to describe for years. I get the technical argument that URL's are a subset of what URI's are etc.

What I can't agree with is an organization, only given notice by the famous names that subscribe to it, can somehow now "correct us all" into changing the way we speak and attempt to retroactively remove our "bad habits" because it knows best. We all know what we mean when we say "web address" and for anything anyone cares about #thepulpit can be called a URL even though it is strictly a URI as it has no explicit network access method...but of course it has an implied network access method called a browser . (And the browser can connect to local files, hypertext, file transfer, page positions etc.)

I maintain that we should not let any "Priesthood" tell us it knows best. This is my world too and I will adopt standards I agree with and reject up-tightness I can't stand at will as a free human being and so can you.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Nevada vs. Nevahda

Since I lived in Utah and visited both northern and southern Nevada many times, I know that people in Nevada don't pronounce their home's name the way it is pronounced by millions of people on the East coast.

I have heard every argument, such as the argument that Nevada comes from spanish etc. The majority people living in Nevada are not native Spanish speakers.

Nevada is also a State in the United States (please refer to the treaty if Guadalupe Hidalgo if you are confused about that). While the U.S. is not officially an English speaking country, it is defacto a majority English language country. This means that the residents of Nevada are not wrong in how they pronounce their own State's name.

Some make the argument that by the same standard I should call Paris "Pahreee" and Mexico "Mehico" because the people who live in those places pronounce their homes like that respectively.

This is not the same standard because these are places in foreign countries. Nevada is right here at home. I don't hear people campaigning to call Arizona Addizonah. No one thinks that we should all pronounce California like Arnold Schwarzenegger does.

Is there any other widely mispronounced State name? Maybe I could start some trends like "NayBrahSkah" or "Oh Heeee Oh". I guess Illinois gets the rare mistake of Illinoise, though most people say it right like the locals prefer. Even though this one more closely matches the French name heritage I am sure is the reason for the silent s.

Poor would be a lot easier if Kansas were "Kansaw".

Every one east of the Mississippi mispronounces Nevada. It is just annoying. Like if snooty people insisted on saying Minnesota with a hard T like MinnesoTAW. How many times could I say Mitchigan before being corrected.

When I tell people here in the central east coast that NevAHda is actually wrong, they say "My Mom says it that way" or "Tim Russert says it that way on NBC". I am pretty sure Tim Russert also lives east of the Mississippi.

I guess I will have to start saying Alabayma (wait this could be correct!) and Noff Cahrowleeena. Still, I am not going to glottal stop my Hawaii any time soon.