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For the new project it was decided to use a different package--FrameMaker. It could not read Interleaf files.

Who was the fool that made that decision? Clearly, someone decided that all the old documentation wasn't worth converting - either in time or dollars.

Next project, same story but this time we used Microsoft Word. So now we couldn't read any of our Interleaf *or* FrameMaker documents.

Word can read plain text. Certainly one of those other packages could output to plain text. But again, this was either stupidity at work or a conscious decision by those charged with that decision.

Remember all the spreadsheet programs that were around before Excel took over the world?

Now we're back on topic. And yes, I do. I cut my teeth on VisiCalc. Got an old TRS-80 lying around so I can show you my skilz? ;-) When we switched to Lotus 1-2-3, Lotus read those Visicalc files just fine. And when Lotus got mangled under the Microsoft machine of Excel, Excel read the Lotus files as well.

Got any data on floppy disks? Gone---nothing can read them anymore.

Baloney. The computer I'm typing on at the moment has a floppy drive. It's not an 8 inch floppy from the TRS-80. But we converted those disks to 5 1/4 inch floppies when that format came out. And the 5 1/4s have since been converted to 3 1/2 inch floppies. Now we're moving towards memory sticks as the portable media of choice. And the data on those 3 1/2 floppies has mostly been converted to memory sticks now.

So no, I don't have anything that can read an 8 inch floppy at my disposal. But I kept upgrading my media as the hardware developed over the years. So I don't need to read an 8 inch floppy any more.

At work, we had an entire tape vault with a couple thousand magtapes, of customer systems going back 10 years. After a few hardware & software upgrade iterations, we no longer had the ability to read them.

Again, a failure to plan as hardware changes over time.

Got any data on hard drives? When was the last time you backed up your hard drive?

Yes. And at work we have systems in place to protect from hard disk failures.

I experienced a hard disk failure once. And it cost us a lot of data and unproductive time. But I have only experienced that once. You see, I learned from my mistake. Important data on hard drives in my life is really on two hard drives. I will not have a system without mirrored drives any more. And at work, the backup happens daily. To another completely different computer. And once a week, that backup is copied to ANOTHER hard drive and taken off site. We keep 8 weeks of weekly backups, at least 6 months of monthly backups, and permanently keep an annual backup.

And I'm too lazy to figure out some kind of incremental backup system. So all of those backups are complete backups. Currently, that's about 70GB of data. Per backup. Each day, week, month, and year.

And just to take it a bit further (and since I am an owner of the business) I'll take my personal stuff in to the office and store it there. That way all of the office backup systems are protecting my personal stuff as well.

Luckily, I keep all my *important* data with pen & paper in a 3-ring binder. But if we ever have a house fire or tornado or flood I'll be SOL, because I don't have an off-site backup. Do you?

Yep. In fact, we've been shredding the paper "backup" because it's probably safer being digitized. And a whole lot easier to access.

--Peter <== whose main technology fear now is the demise of the PDF format.
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