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Sun, 30 Dec 2007

Throwing Out Old Software

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:

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!

13:24 CST | category / entries
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