Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Reliving some old tech



We are currently working on a book comprising a selection of our essays and chapters from 1985 to 2010. Some of the early stuff does not exist in electronic form and so it needs scanning. But our only copies of some of the early stuff are in Coatepec, Mexico, and the only scanner we have ever set up here is a Primax 98. It is hooked up to a 1999 model e-Machine running Windows 98 and with Word 97 installed.

I decided to bite the bullet tonight and see if there were or were not any missing links in our evolutionary chain.

Turns out there aren't. The Primax has scanned to Word 97 with scarcely an error. I saved the files from a 1985 paper on ideas of functional literacy to a floppy disk, which I have fed into a wee floppy disk drive that Michele got recently to run on my Dell. We are actually quite well endowed here because I chose to use the new drive over putting the floppy into the external A drive in a 1998 Thinkpad which graces the downstairs office and is a printing slave pooter for a lovely early Samsung laser printer that objects to running on anything after XP service pack 1.

So, it has been an evening of reliving what it was like to do this kind of work more than a decade ago. I had forgotten the noise of the A drive clicking in.

And the neat thing is that there are still 2 or 3 more items to scan from material that we only have copies of here. So there'll be at least a couple more evenings of reliving these past charms. Apart from anything else it's a nice low key way of working up to digitising a couple of hundred vinyl albums down in the lounge. I could doubtless buy most of it in digitally re-mastered form on Amazon, but it wouldn't be the same. One of the things I'll enjoy about the book when it comes out is recalling evenings like tonight when I could revel in the recently reclaimed luxury of having the time to slow back down to 1998.

Mind you, I doubt that in 1998 I'd have relished the opportunity to have slowed back down to the IBM golf ball electric typewriter of the early 80s.

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