Never do this: smartphones can be deadly to magnetically stored data in some circumstances.
In my dealings with preserving older, born-digital documents and data, I’ve run into this situation quite often: Someone comes into the DCRC with a 3.5″ floppy disk or other magnetic media and asks if we can help them migrate the data to more modern storage, such as a USB flash drive. We do maintain a couple of floppy drives for this purpose, so normally we can help. However, we sometimes cringe and express a bit of concern at how they’re holding the floppy disk(s) being brought in, or rather, what people commonly hold those old disks against.
What’s the problem? Smartphones, and sometimes tablets or even modern laptops. With mobile devices being nearly ubiquitous in the US and particularly among college students and faculty, it’s a normal occurrence to see them being carried around in one’s hand. It’s also not uncommon to stack a smartphone against some other object a person might be carrying… like a book, or a laptop, or, unfortunately, that floppy disk you might want to recover data from.
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Three generations of Windows operating system versions. Upper left: Windows 8.1, the current release from Microsoft. Upper right: Windows 7, its predecessor and likely upgrade candidate for most Windows XP users. Lower left: Windows XP, whose support from Microsoft ends today. Lower right: the Virtualbox control panel, where each of these virtual instances are controlled off the host computer, a Mac.
Tomorrow marks an important milestone in the lifecycle of computer software, and should be a day of concern for perhaps hundreds of millions of computer users worldwide. April 8, 2014 is the final day that Microsoft will provide extended support for its aging Windows XP operating system. Although Microsoft has not been providing any new features or functionality to this operating system since 2009, tomorrow’s deadline means that the company will also cease to provide important security updates to Windows XP going forward. This potentially means that users still running the OS could be vulnerable to security risks such as viruses and malware. Although a great deal of new software titles already require a version of Windows that’s a bit more recent, it is expected that support will further decrease dramatically after tomorrow.
A 35mm film projector in operation.
As part of preservation-level digital standards, myself and colleagues have worked since 2004 to develop a best practice specification for digitizing moving images. Our initial standard document was developed for the NJVid Portal, and was very basic in its specification.
Since then, some minor tweaks have periodically been added to the document. But recently, some major developments have occurred with our campus infrastructure that have resulted in our need to consider slightly more substantial changes to our spec:
In light of this, coupled with user demand for improvements in video streaming quality, and in preparation for Wowza streaming support on RUcore, we’re proposing changes to the digitization specs for moving images. A draft for comments is available. Changes are noted in the document red, but to summarize:
1. MPEG-4 streaming bitrates have been increased to a minimum of 860kbps, recommendation of 2.1Mbps for high quality.
2. HD resolution is now supported at a minimum of 720p resolution.
Language has also been added to address digitization of motion picture film, and calls for a minimum of DCI 4K resolution, with support for MXF wrappers and Motion JPEG2000 where appropriate. Motion Picture Film scanning is still a moving target however, and mention is made that film digitization projects should start with a Digital Curation consult.
A Peirce 55-B dictation wire recorder from 1945. Courtesy of Stanford University Libraries. Source: Wikipedia.
A good portion of our nation’s heritage has been immortalized in sound recordings. From the late 19th century to the present, sound recordings have been used to capture music, speeches and historic events, the oral histories of people who have lived through important events in our nation’s history.
As with many electronic and mechanical recordings, however, this vast heritage is in danger. In an effort to save what we can of these timeless recordings, the Library of Congress has put together a blueprint in the form of a National Preservation Plan. This plan is the result of nearly a decade of work that was mandated by Congress as part of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000.
As the Library of Congress puts in in their press release:
Experts estimate that more than half of the titles recorded on cylinder records—the dominant format used by the U.S. recording industry during its first 23 years—have not survived. The archive of one of radio’s leading networks is lost. A fire at the storage facility of a principal record company ruined an unknown number of master recordings of both owned and leased materials. The whereabouts of a wire recording made by the crew members of the Enola Gay from inside the plane as the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima are unknown. Many key recordings made by George Gershwin no longer survive. Recordings by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and other top recording artists have been lost. Personal collections belonging to recording artists were destroyed in Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
The National Preservation Plan for sound recordings is available as a PDF file. In it, multiple recommendations are made, including:
Recently, members of the Rutgers University Libraries at both integrated Information Systems and the Scholarly Communication Center began an auspicious collaboration with the Asia Society in New York City, in our first project to digitally preserve, to standards, their digital video archive for The China Boom Project. It is the first time that RUcore has ingested a fully born-digital video archive, using the original source content and project files, and creating presentation video from those source files.
The China Boom Project’s goal is to seek an answer to the question, “Why did China Boom?” The site comprises taped interviews with individuals and experts with insights into China’s rapid economic expansion in recent decades. It offers to site visitors packaged video content from these interviews arranged by subject matter and relevant time periods in China’s history, in a very effective and attractive format that is described as a “mosaic explanation.”
But while the China Boom site itself provides snippets and prepackaged commentary, an ancillary goal of the project has been to partner with educational institutions to make the full-length content available to researchers, and to have the video archived and preserved. This is where Rutgers University Libraries, and RUcore, come into the picture.
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