Fear not faithful reader(s), blog updates were only postponed, not suspended indefinitely due to the holidays and a busy end-of-year work schedule. Look for the approximately once-a-month pace to continue in the new year. In 2007, this entry will be the 11th of the year, which is a little bit under my desired mark, but a respectable showing.
Out with the old, in with the new… Software. And gadgets. And games. And clothes.
I was making room for new goodies, and decided to clean my CD holders of office software that I hadn’t touched in over a year.
It was instructive to see what I decided wasn’t worth keeping and why. Ordered roughly by columns from left to right:
- Cinemania - great for 1996, superceded by IMDB / movies.yahoo.com
- American Heritage Dictionary - m-w.com, and even Ctrl-Apple-D on newer versions of OSX
- MSDN - msdn.com and avoiding Microsoft development tools when possible
- Misc CD Keys - without these, the CD’s might as well be useless
- MS Office ‘95 - peeking out the side, superceded by OpenOffice.org
- Corel Draw 7 - Corel, how I loved you. I even bought your Linux version. Thanks for the memories. For now, I use InkScape.
- Bookshelf ‘94 - wikipedia, project gutenberg
- C Programming Starter Kit - GCC, Linux
- MS IntelliPoint 4.1 - Umm, Linux?
- Creative Labs Driver CD - Linux, laptops, onboard sound.
- More MSDN - as above
- Stealth 3D - Obsoleted first by 3DFX, then ATI, then nVidia.
- Hauppauge WinTV - I actually still have this card, probably have had it for ~10 years and it still works pretty well. Linux drivers made the drivers CD for this card even more obsolete than it already was.
- Quicken Deluxe - online banking
- MS Visual C++ - GCC, Python, Glade, Eclipse, etc.
- Windows NT Workstation - my OS of choice before I dove into Debian. Now OSX is for home, Debian / Ubuntu for data processing and development.
- MS Plus Pack ‘95 - I honestly don’t have any excuses for this.
- Encarta - wikipedia
- Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia - wikipedia
- More Quicken - more online banking
- MS Office - OpenOffice, etc.
- Windows 95/98 Ghost Images - the funny story behind this one is that I tried installing my copy of Windows 95 on a computer with a 60gb hard drive. This turned out to be impossible, with Win95 thinking I had like -20gb of drive space (or something ridiculous). Newer versions of the 95 installer supported larger drives, but yada-yada-yada, CD-keys, etc. I think after getting ‘95 installed, I said to myself: “Self, this is just not worth it” and went back to Linux.
- Windows 95 CD - as above. Now I use DosBox and Wine to get access to most old programs.
- Cinemania - as above
- Dictionary - as above
- More C++ Compilers - as above
A common thread in here is online delivery or web-based services. Another one is that proprietary data formats are bad and lead to bit-rot. It’d be nice to be able to crack open some of the data files of Encarta or Cinemania. I am very glad I don’t have to worry (as much) about CD keys or similar.
I fear that online accounts are going to similarly go the way of the dodo (ie: logging in, passwords, etc), and online-services might also be subject to the same risks as bit-rot (call it “net-rot”).
Without the internet, a lot of the above reference software would still be extremely useful, but bit-rot has gotten the best of it. Wine is making excellent progress and I’m actually pretty sure that things like Cinemania would run on there, but alas the CD’s are long gone and I didn’t think to try them out.
The lessons here are that personally-controlled backups in ~durable~ file-formats (be they proprietary or otherwise) are essential. Even if you can’t get 100% fidelity, it might be worth it to back up your personal files in more than one file-format. I know I’ve had problems converting work I did in
*.cdr files from Corel Draw into something more useable on modern systems. In addition, supporting open (or at least documented) file formats would also be worthwhile. Otherwise 10 years from now you’ll be staring down at a bedspread full of CD’s of software that you can’t use- wondering what it means and how are you going to open your pictures or family newsletters or vacation videos.
Good luck in the New Year!