[Beowulf] Re: Interesting

Ashley Pittman ashley at pittman.co.uk
Fri Oct 29 08:33:10 PDT 2010

On 29 Oct 2010, at 15:49, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:

> So, if you want your flash to hold forever, you'll have to periodically
> rewrite it. Say you rewrote every year, you'd get 10,000-100,000 years
> before you "wore out" the flash.
> There are other aging effects: diffusion of metal ions, etc.  You'd want to
> keep your flash cold, (but not too cold, or it will break... No liquid
> nitrogen)
> I think your best bet is real CDs... That is, the mechanically stamped
> variety. They're dense, and nothing beats a mechanical change.  You can
> still read Jacquard punch cards from the early 19th century  (in fact, I was
> reading an article recently about there being a dearth of loom programmers..
> So when your job at the buggy whip factory finally goes away...)

With digital data it strikes me as somewhat easier, Posix isn't going to go away in the next hundred years so keeping access is just a case of transferring to a new media every five to ten years, whatever that media or filesystem may be.  Expensive maybe as the storage requirements go up but a simple enough problem to solve.  The challenge with digital data is in being able to parse the contents of the files into something meaningful and this is where open standards become essential IMHO.  This is many many times harder than simply storing it and the thought of trying to open a word document in fifty years gives me the shudders, it's bad enough getting them to format correctly over a five year period.  One of the projects I've worked on has a large word doc that is so fragile we had a afternoons meeting to discuss how to handle it and the conclusion was that we all needed to install a specific version of Windows in a VM and use a single version of word to view and amend the document.

It's also easy to point the finger at people who've lost data, I seem to recall a project to store digital data on stonehenge that was subject to a similar restoration project as the BBC domesday book and of course Nasa are famous for this but at the end of the day it's something that we've probably all done, I don't own a DVD player any more and neglected to backup all my DVDs before it broke.  With audio tapes and vinyl I'm not so bad, the challenging one for me would be all the Hi8 camcorder footing my parents have lying around in a drawer somewhere.



Ashley Pittman, Bath, UK.

Padb - A parallel job inspection tool for cluster computing

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