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Old 3rd April 2021, 07:47 PM   #3241
Blue Mountain
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Except nobody accepts digital documents, they demand paper. I'm about to buy a new car, it took me days to assemble all the necessary documents needed. Titles, tax receipts, proof of insurance, etc. And I'll end up with even more once I get the car. From the dealer, from the DMV, from the city, et al. All of whom use millions of dollars worth of computers...but print everything important and require printed everything.
In many cases paper can be more durable than computer records. See, for example, the BBC Domesday Project:

Originally Posted by Wikipedia
The BBC Domesday Project was a partnership between Acorn Computers, Philips, Logica and the BBC (with some funding from the European Commission's ESPRIT programme) to mark the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book, an 11th-century census of England. It has been cited as an example of digital obsolescence on account of the physical medium used for data storage.
Less than a decade after the BBC produced the original laserdisc it was unusable because there were no devices left that could read the disc. By contrast, after 900 years the original Domesday Book is still accessible, provided one can read Latin in the old script.

Sure, computer records on a network can be accessed from pretty much everywhere, but their file formats and the programs needed to read them are subject to obsolescence.

Of cource, paper is vulnerable to fire and water. Fired clay tablets are about the best long term storage medium, or carving your message on a cliff face. [Wikipedia: Behistun Inscription]
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Old 4th April 2021, 08:21 AM   #3242
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I needed to open a DJVU file recently.
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Old 5th April 2021, 02:33 AM   #3243
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Throughout my career I've had to deal with the requirements for keeping accounting data available for ten years, that kind of thing, which isn't too tricky. My current employers, however, need to keep a fair chunk of stuff available for 150 years. Seriously. 150. This is extremely non-trivial.
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Old 5th April 2021, 04:09 AM   #3244
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
Throughout my career I've had to deal with the requirements for keeping accounting data available for ten years, that kind of thing, which isn't too tricky. My current employers, however, need to keep a fair chunk of stuff available for 150 years. Seriously. 150. This is extremely non-trivial.
That's a sweet gig! "I've come up with a method of perfectly preserving data for 150 years! But you can't access it until then. So I'll be doing this the rest of my career here and you can check back in 150 years to make sure it worked. If you're not completely satisfied then we can review my methodology at that time."

I managed to drag out an unreviewed three month project into two years worth of "work" but 150 years? That's awesome. I'm very impressed.
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Old 5th April 2021, 04:43 AM   #3245
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
That's a sweet gig! "I've come up with a method of perfectly preserving data for 150 years! But you can't access it until then. So I'll be doing this the rest of my career here and you can check back in 150 years to make sure it worked. If you're not completely satisfied then we can review my methodology at that time."

I managed to drag out an unreviewed three month project into two years worth of "work" but 150 years? That's awesome. I'm very impressed.
That restore from incremental is going to take forever!
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Old 5th April 2021, 05:47 AM   #3246
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My backup strategy is just to assume that chaos mathematics and statistical probability will get good enough in the future to extrapolate any information from the current state of the universe.
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Old 5th April 2021, 07:06 AM   #3247
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
That's a sweet gig! "I've come up with a method of perfectly preserving data for 150 years! But you can't access it until then. So I'll be doing this the rest of my career here and you can check back in 150 years to make sure it worked. If you're not completely satisfied then we can review my methodology at that time."

I managed to drag out an unreviewed three month project into two years worth of "work" but 150 years? That's awesome. I'm very impressed.
In a slightly different context I know of a bloke in another business unit who managed to spin out an 18-month project for four years and has managed to blag himself another $2 million of funding to run a follow-on project for the next four years. Which will take him nicely up to retirement age. I'm very impressed.
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Old 5th April 2021, 10:37 AM   #3248
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
Throughout my career I've had to deal with the requirements for keeping accounting data available for ten years, that kind of thing, which isn't too tricky. My current employers, however, need to keep a fair chunk of stuff available for 150 years. Seriously. 150. This is extremely non-trivial.
"Hi, we'd like you to add these six fields that come from a separate table every month. Can you put them in past data too?"
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Old 5th April 2021, 10:46 AM   #3249
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I'm not talking about archiving stuff to survive an asteroid strike.

I'm talking about killing a tree just to have a physical copy of something transitory that you and literally everybody else who will ever look at it can view just as easily online.

I'm talking about one little ole' lady typing up something in an online program, printing it out, walking it over to another little ole' lady who then types up a copy... in the exact same online program.

I'm talking about the same document being printed out, scanned back in, sometimes 4 or 5 times in its lifecycle.

I'm talking about printing out copies of webpages.
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Old 5th April 2021, 01:00 PM   #3250
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
Throughout my career I've had to deal with the requirements for keeping accounting data available for ten years, that kind of thing, which isn't too tricky. My current employers, however, need to keep a fair chunk of stuff available for 150 years. Seriously. 150. This is extremely non-trivial.

Get a hold of an old daguerreotype camera and take a picture of your screen?
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Old 5th April 2021, 02:09 PM   #3251
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
Get a hold of an old daguerreotype camera and take a picture of your screen?
Thatís a more practical suggestion than most of what the geniuses in our infrastructure group have been coming up with.
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Old 5th April 2021, 02:50 PM   #3252
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
Get a hold of an old daguerreotype camera and take a picture of your screen?
Daguerreotypes are actually very fragile. The image is present only on the surface of the plate and unless carefully taken care of could tarnish beyond recognition or be ruined by a palm print.
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Old 5th April 2021, 06:56 PM   #3253
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'm not talking about archiving stuff to survive an asteroid strike.

I'm talking about killing a tree just to have a physical copy of something transitory that you and literally everybody else who will ever look at it can view just as easily online.

I'm talking about one little ole' lady typing up something in an online program, printing it out, walking it over to another little ole' lady who then types up a copy... in the exact same online program.

I'm talking about the same document being printed out, scanned back in, sometimes 4 or 5 times in its lifecycle.

I'm talking about printing out copies of webpages.
You're in healthcare, right? I'm sure you've encountered those doctors who get their secretaries to print out all their emails so they can read them on paper, then dictate the response to be taken down on a steno pad and typed up later.

I've heard one elderly doctor complain that he can't find any young ladies who know shorthand so he's stuck with secretaries his own age. So much to unpack there, and all of it so wrong.
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Old 5th April 2021, 07:28 PM   #3254
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'm done with printers. Why is anything being printed? It's 2021 near literally every human being is carrying a supercomputer linked to a global network on their person at all times that can store, display, and retrieve any document they could possibly need.
Inertia and conservatism.

In an old job I did everything I can to encourage people to reduce the amount that needed to be printed, up to and including making and distributing PDF copies of absolutely everything relevant.

In the leadup to our annual conference, the secretariat typically spent an entire day printing of thousands of pages of the conference documentation. I made all of it available to conference attendees as PDF documents, and do you know how many people took that option? None of them. Not one of a hundred and fifty attendees in each of the the five years I worked that conference took the paperless option.

People like paper. That's all there is to it. Paper is seen as more reliable, more relevant, and - strangely, in my opinion - more secure.
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Old 5th April 2021, 08:42 PM   #3255
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Inertia and conservatism.

In an old job I did everything I can to encourage people to reduce the amount that needed to be printed, up to and including making and distributing PDF copies of absolutely everything relevant.

In the leadup to our annual conference, the secretariat typically spent an entire day printing of thousands of pages of the conference documentation. I made all of it available to conference attendees as PDF documents, and do you know how many people took that option? None of them. Not one of a hundred and fifty attendees in each of the the five years I worked that conference took the paperless option.

People like paper. That's all there is to it. Paper is seen as more reliable, more relevant, and - strangely, in my opinion - more secure.
Overthinking it. It doesn't need batteries and technology to read.

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Old 5th April 2021, 08:50 PM   #3256
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The technology to read it is ubiquitous.
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Old 5th April 2021, 08:50 PM   #3257
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
Overthinking it. It doesn't need batteries and technology to read.
Some of the conference attendees were... technology challenged.
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Old 5th April 2021, 09:19 PM   #3258
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Some of the conference attendees were... technology challenged.
When you encounter people who are self-professedly useless with technology, it raises the question of basic skill requirements for a given role.

Last edited by Sideroxylon; 5th April 2021 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 5th April 2021, 10:08 PM   #3259
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
The technology to read it is ubiquitous.
In a sense, sure!

NB. Like Arth, I'm an advocate of paper use reduction. But in a hospital system, guess which method is most prevalent for exchanging vital documents: FAX, i.e. long rolls or sheets of paper.

*SIGH*
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Old 5th April 2021, 10:14 PM   #3260
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
When you encounter people who are self-professedly useless with technology, it raises the question of basic skill requirements for a given role.
True story.

A surgeon we worked with some years back claimed he wasn't going to use our new data capture and reporting system because "I have never learned to use a computer, especially one with a damned mouse! Give me a dictation machine instead!"

However this gentleman had no problem setting up and driving the very complicated image processor in the OT that had a mouse attached...like a boss.

Some sort of logical disconnect, I guess.
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Old 5th April 2021, 11:47 PM   #3261
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Callback to the very first post in the thread.

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Dear Users.

- "Oh I'm not a computer perso..." SHUT UP! Just shut up. Your entire job consists entirely of things that are completely done on a computer. This cutesy poo passive aggressive "Oh I'm not a computer person" line whenever I try to explain anything to you is insane. You don't get to remain functionally (and oddly proudly) intentionally ignorant of the core conceit of your entire job.
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Old 6th April 2021, 10:21 AM   #3262
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'm not talking about archiving stuff to survive an asteroid strike.

I'm talking about killing a tree just to have a physical copy of something transitory that you and literally everybody else who will ever look at it can view just as easily online.

I'm talking about one little ole' lady typing up something in an online program, printing it out, walking it over to another little ole' lady who then types up a copy... in the exact same online program.

I'm talking about the same document being printed out, scanned back in, sometimes 4 or 5 times in its lifecycle.

I'm talking about printing out copies of webpages.
I remember watching an Access database being used to print off labels that were stick on index cards.
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Old 6th April 2021, 10:25 AM   #3263
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Inertia and conservatism.

In an old job I did everything I can to encourage people to reduce the amount that needed to be printed, up to and including making and distributing PDF copies of absolutely everything relevant.

In the leadup to our annual conference, the secretariat typically spent an entire day printing of thousands of pages of the conference documentation. I made all of it available to conference attendees as PDF documents, and do you know how many people took that option? None of them. Not one of a hundred and fifty attendees in each of the the five years I worked that conference took the paperless option.

People like paper. That's all there is to it. Paper is seen as more reliable, more relevant, and - strangely, in my opinion - more secure.
I, in the Before Time anyway, attended numerous conferences, seminars and trade shows (OK it was mainly for the swag ). People always handed you reams of paper about their products. Unless it was really interesting it never left the hall/site. However a thumbdrive with the catalogue/PDFs (or in Ye Old Days a thing called a "CD") was kept. Today all I want is a card that gives me contact information for a human, a website and perhaps a QR code or similar. Preferably on a credit card sized thumbdrive.

Your paper catalogue takes up capacity I would be filling with snacks, thumbdrives, water bottle, t-shirts, pens, torches, power banks, USB cables and other stuff.
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Old 6th April 2021, 04:32 PM   #3264
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
That’s a more practical suggestion than most of what the geniuses in our infrastructure group have been coming up with.

Get a bunch of steel wafers. Have the text printed on the wafers using a solid-ink transfer like the old Phaser series. Then etch the wafers with ferric chloride. Seal the wafers in glass to keep out moisture. Voila, information storage that will last >2000 years.

Swap steel wafers for copper-coated silicon if you want.
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Old 6th April 2021, 06:36 PM   #3265
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Originally Posted by Yalius View Post
Get a bunch of steel wafers. Have the text printed on the wafers using a solid-ink transfer like the old Phaser series. Then etch the wafers with ferric chloride. Seal the wafers in glass to keep out moisture. Voila, information storage that will last >2000 years.

Swap steel wafers for copper-coated silicon if you want.
Alas, solid ink transfer to metal will smear easily. And the Phaser was never ultra-high precision printing. So the resulting bits/cm-squared is low. Thus you would need trillions of metal wafers, and cubic fortnights of glass to seal them in. Then you have the problem of reading them 2000 years later. Unless you train your robot eyes well in advance.

A better solution is more likely to be a properly etched DVD or Blu-ray technology. They estimate 100-200 years on a shelf. More if properly sealed. Much better bits/cm-squared, and even though Blu-ray is already deprecated, it's readable.
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Old 7th April 2021, 04:58 AM   #3266
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I did spend time at a medtech company whose products were subject to FDA regulation and they were required to be able to provide data and results going back years if necessary. The solution found there was to keep the original hardware in a state of readiness on another site, with procedures and instructions for periodic boot tests and for operations tasks just in case.

For my current situation I'm thinking in terms of periodically upgrading to newer platforms, media and software support as technology progresses. I have no idea how things will look in even 20 years, let alone 150, especially given how things have changed since I started working in the field in the early 90s. I figure that the best I can do is to leave to my successors all the data, properly checked and verified and indexed and labelled, in formats and on platforms that they can continue to access.
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:18 AM   #3267
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
Alas, solid ink transfer to metal will smear easily. And the Phaser was never ultra-high precision printing. So the resulting bits/cm-squared is low. Thus you would need trillions of metal wafers, and cubic fortnights of glass to seal them in. Then you have the problem of reading them 2000 years later. Unless you train your robot eyes well in advance.

A better solution is more likely to be a properly etched DVD or Blu-ray technology. They estimate 100-200 years on a shelf. More if properly sealed. Much better bits/cm-squared, and even though Blu-ray is already deprecated, it's readable.
That's why you etch with the ferric chloride; the ink is only there to mask the substrate, who cares if it smears after the text is etched into the metal? And you're preserving data as plaintext, it will be human-readable for millennia, unless we forget how to read. Not sure what the actual data being preserved is, but this method will most likely outlive humanity itself.
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Old 7th April 2021, 09:37 AM   #3268
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Some years ago I made several grand renting a PC with working 5.25" floppy drive to a company to recover several boxes of old diskettes....
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Old 7th April 2021, 01:22 PM   #3269
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Originally Posted by Yalius View Post
That's why you etch with the ferric chloride; the ink is only there to mask the substrate, who cares if it smears after the text is etched into the metal? And you're preserving data as plaintext, it will be human-readable for millennia, unless we forget how to read. Not sure what the actual data being preserved is, but this method will most likely outlive humanity itself.
I'm sure your method would endure until the heat death of the solar system.

Just that to encode even a single page would require significantly more effort, time, materials and expensive storage space than just preserving the original electronically. It's economically nonviable, unless it is reserved for only the most critical documentation...like a Trump speech.
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Old 7th April 2021, 02:39 PM   #3270
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
I'm sure your method would endure until the heat death of the solar system.

Just that to encode even a single page would require significantly more effort, time, materials and expensive storage space than just preserving the original electronically. It's economically nonviable, unless it is reserved for only the most critical documentation...like a Trump speech.
Well... yeah. I didn't even mention Phase II, where the wafers are put into orbit.
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Old 7th April 2021, 02:51 PM   #3271
Norman Alexander
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Originally Posted by Yalius View Post
Well... yeah. I didn't even mention Phase II, where the wafers are put into orbit.
Orbit is the best place for a Trump speech, in any form. Because eventually it will fall unnoticed into the sun.
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Old 7th April 2021, 03:09 PM   #3272
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
I did spend time at a medtech company whose products were subject to FDA regulation and they were required to be able to provide data and results going back years if necessary. The solution found there was to keep the original hardware in a state of readiness on another site, with procedures and instructions for periodic boot tests and for operations tasks just in case.

For my current situation I'm thinking in terms of periodically upgrading to newer platforms, media and software support as technology progresses. I have no idea how things will look in even 20 years, let alone 150, especially given how things have changed since I started working in the field in the early 90s. I figure that the best I can do is to leave to my successors all the data, properly checked and verified and indexed and labelled, in formats and on platforms that they can continue to access.
I was going to opine that this is more of a process and procedure problem than a technology problem. Set up a process and procedure of migrating the well formatted data every five years to a then suitable long term storage medium and evaluate whether the format of the data requires updating or if the data needs to be extracted into a new format.
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Old 7th April 2021, 05:03 PM   #3273
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I really wish the callers would have all of the details about their issue before calling. I just had someone call up with an error in the protected environment. When I asked them what the error message was, they said "hang on, I'll just log on".

Logging on to the Protected environment takes several minutes, which was dead air, wasting both his and my time.
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Old 7th April 2021, 05:35 PM   #3274
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Also, different call, how is it possible that someone whose job title is "Director of ICT Operations" cannot understand why we are unable to provide a precise timeframe for a very open-ended issue?
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Old 7th April 2021, 06:47 PM   #3275
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
Some years ago I made several grand renting a PC with working 5.25" floppy drive to a company to recover several boxes of old diskettes....
About 20 years ago, my Mom handed me some double density (360 kylobyte, IIRC) 5 1/4" floppies that contained some documents that she had produced in the '80's (IIRC) on a Wang Word Processor, and asked me if I could possibly retrieve those documents. At the time, I actually had a PC with a 5 1/4 " drive (which were already getting pretty scarce by then). The Wang Word Processer was a mini-computer based system with character terminals dedicated to word processing. The PC I had was dual booted with Windows and Linux. I was able to get binary garbage to output to the screen or a file from the floppy drive device files in Linux, but never was able to get anything I could make any kind of sense out of, nor was I able to find on the internet any information regarding the file system or data encoding that Wang Word Processors used on floppies, so I was unable to get anything remotely usable or understandable off of those floppies. I don't think I ever got them to mount so that I could see anything remotely resembling files on them. I have no idea what sort of file system those old Wangs used, but I suspect it was something that neither Linux nor Windows recognized.

Last edited by CORed; 7th April 2021 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:22 PM   #3276
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
About 20 years ago, my Mom handed me some double density (360 kylobyte, IIRC) 5 1/4" floppies that contained some documents that she had produced in the '80's (IIRC) on a Wang Word Processor, and asked me if I could possibly retrieve those documents. At the time, I actually had a PC with a 5 1/4 " drive (which were already getting pretty scarce by then). The Wang Word Processer was a mini-computer based system with character terminals dedicated to word processing. The PC I had was dual booted with Windows and Linux. I was able to get binary garbage to output to the screen or a file from the floppy drive device files in Linux, but never was able to get anything I could make any kind of sense out of, nor was I able to find on the internet any information regarding the file system or data encoding that Wang Word Processors used on floppies, so I was unable to get anything remotely usable or understandable off of those floppies. I don't think I ever got them to mount so that I could see anything remotely resembling files on them. I have no idea what sort of file system those old Wangs used, but I suspect it was something that neither Linux nor Windows recognized.
Could have been a bit-endian problem too.

But have you seen this?

https://retrofloppy.com/formats/
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Old 7th April 2021, 07:25 PM   #3277
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
About 20 years ago, my Mom handed me some double density (360 kylobyte, IIRC) 5 1/4" floppies that contained some documents that she had produced in the '80's (IIRC) on a Wang Word Processor, and asked me if I could possibly retrieve those documents. At the time, I actually had a PC with a 5 1/4 " drive (which were already getting pretty scarce by then). The Wang Word Processer was a mini-computer based system with character terminals dedicated to word processing. The PC I had was dual booted with Windows and Linux. I was able to get binary garbage to output to the screen or a file from the floppy drive device files in Linux, but never was able to get anything I could make any kind of sense out of, nor was I able to find on the internet any information regarding the file system or data encoding that Wang Word Processors used on floppies, so I was unable to get anything remotely usable or understandable off of those floppies. I don't think I ever got them to mount so that I could see anything remotely resembling files on them. I have no idea what sort of file system those old Wangs used, but I suspect it was something that neither Linux nor Windows recognized.

Their file system was completely proprietary, and they never shared it, for fear that they would lose business to third party vendors. (NB: It didn't work the way they expected. They just went out of business.)

Companies which offered file conversion services that included Wang files I suspect owned Wang word processors.
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Old 8th April 2021, 04:32 AM   #3278
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Grrrrr. People who get data fifth-hand and try to use it to mean something it doesn't. No, you can't use report X for purpose Y: X was narrowly tailored for a highly specific purpose and as a result it doesn't include that which is necessary for Y. And no, you can't complain about it because nobody ever told you you could even see X, much less use it for Y. Oh, Wendy forwarded it to you? Then complain to Wendy because she sent you a recipe for cherry tarts and you thought it could be used as a blueprint for building a train station.
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Old 8th April 2021, 04:37 AM   #3279
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PREACH! I run into this plenty.
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Old 8th April 2021, 04:39 AM   #3280
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I really wish the callers would have all of the details about their issue before calling. I just had someone call up with an error in the protected environment. When I asked them what the error message was, they said "hang on, I'll just log on".

Logging on to the Protected environment takes several minutes, which was dead air, wasting both his and my time.
I think they always figure their problem is an error in "the system" that the helpdesk knows all about, and they're just calling to get an ETA and flex their muscle about how unacceptable it is.
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