Backing it up at the beginning.

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

A quiet saturday afternoon in the new year, and I’m sitting here savoring the back-room sunlight watching the winds pick up as we contemplate the threat of another city-paralyzing snow + freezing rain + ice event here in a part of the country that seems highly unprepared for even the mildest of winter weather calamities.

Our plans are to travel the very few miles up to my dad’s house tomorrow evening with a carefully-crafted portable Sammy dinner, but I guess we’ll have to see if that will involve firing up the four-wheel-drive vehicle and creeping back here as the aforementioned storm gets underway (it’s supposed to get bad after dark Sunday night.) Ah, adventures of the winter kind.

Otherwise, it’s been a mercifully quiet week or so after the start of 2011, and we’ve been fairly diligent about taking care of loose ends, small chores, financial recordkeeping, and so on, mixed in with the usual array of tech support questions I find myself fielding from family and friends.

I’m conscious during these arbitrary calendar boundary crossings that it’s a good time to make sure that our various digital assets are being backed up, preserved somehow the way one might expect.

So earlier this week I went out for a run to the twin mega tech merchants of Gwinnett County—MicroCenter and Fry’s—with my brother, mostly to offer moral support for his purchases, but damned if I didn’t end up buying one more 2 TB drive to, well, pile stuff onto. I mean, what future visionary could have possibly imagined that a mere $89 would give me yet another another gigantic data landfill, a virtual blimp hanger of unused space to pile stuff into/onto?

Yeah, if I do have a weakness for impulse purchases, it tends to be in this category. It’s probably much worse that I’ve lived through the entire progression of computer storage from the early days where a megabyte or two cost more than a house—so just forget it—through the early 1980s where I was willing to pay thousands of dollars for a 20 megabyte hard drive (thousands. of. dollars.) to the present where bits live throughout our cluttered home in little silver boxes, just waiting to disappoint me with a random data failure in the future, when I call upon the device to work its archival magic.

It really doesn’t help that the size of my average television project—the raw materials used in making a station package, let alone all the bits and pieces needed for a 3D NFL football game, way, way exceed the capacity of a standard DVD-R (4.7 GB)….and really, they take up more room than a BluRay disk, which is a tech that, nah, I’m not going to invest in.

So it’s big hard drives, which are dirt cheap. That is, unless I am concerned about the drives moving parts over the long run, and instead want to pick up a bunch of flash memory (hey, no moving parts!), which at the moment is, at best, $25 for 16 GB of storage.

And of course, there’s always “the cloud,” which, in theory, is infinite, but in the real world has its own very real costs and risks as well as the costs in time it takes to push all this stuff to and from wherever “there” is.

Which brings me full circle to the mental exercise that really underlies all of this: how much of this exercise is just plain hoarding behavior in high tech clothing? Am I really going to need that background for that station in Birmingham from years ago that has probably moved on to some other perishable design?

Bit of a ponderable, if you’ll pardon the pun.