Future Compatible

The latest dust-up over at Mark Pilgrim‘s place yielded some interesting product recommendations and a warning about Mail.app. Mark has switched his operating environment from the homogenous Apple orchard to free software on Ubuntu.

I like Ubuntu too, but what’s interesting about the switch is Mark’s reason: data integrity. Like any parent, he’s making lots of home movies, and is worried about long-term data integrity. It will be somewhat difficult to make fun of the children in front of their intendeds if you can’t play the video of them driving the car while wearing goggles and a swimcap — and that’s not even the embarrassing stuff.

When we moved last year, I uncovered a number of hard disks that I’d been saving for that time in the future when I would be able to move them onto long-term storage, but that time never came. So now I have a computer which won’t interface to disks in a format that it could read, and a computer that will interface to disks in a format it can’t read, and some miscellaneous floppies which can’t be read by the machines which still have floppy drives. That’s not uncommon. Bill has data on 12″ floppies which can only be read by one drive in one machine. What I’ve tried to do, not entirely successfully, since I was first bitten by the problem of data formats in college, is keep lots of copies of things, in lots of different formats, including paper, in lots of different places.

What kind of shoebox are you storing your photos in?