Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is it me or is my memory getting better?

I wish my memory was getting better! I'm happy if I can remember what I had for breakfast at the end of each day. But I'm not really speaking of my memory today; I'm more interested in talking computer memory and our ability to handle vast amounts of data. Today, I have a shoe box full of 3.5 diskettes filled with information from my days in the classroom in the early 90's. Some are marked and some are mystery disks that I have to find a portable disk drive to view because the new computers just don't need them anymore. Most of them have not been viewed for more than a decade! I haven't taken the bold step to throw them away yet, however, with my latest purchase I just might. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My first home computer was the beautiful, MacIntosh Classic, with an astonishing 40 MBs of memory on the hard drive! I was in heaven as I had the option of saving on the hard drive and backing up with 3.5" disks. I never imagined that I would ever need more computer. And with a printer, my purchase of the classic only set me back $2200 (tax included). It still works today and I refuse to get rid of it because it has files on it that I no longer have access to with the technology I possess.

My current work computer is an Inspiron 9400 with 120GB of memory and I never dreamed that I would need that much memory. I refer to it as my portable filing cabinet! Sound familiar? Well I've been making noises in my office that I NEED a better machine. It needs to be faster.

Well, I recently got back from a quick medical trip to Saskatoon with a short stop at London Drugs to purchase a portable hard drive. This is my second drive. My first drive was a Maxtor 80GB drive and about 10 days ago, it informed my (rather rudely I thought) that it was full! How could that be? I was only backing up documents and music and pictures; oh yeah, and video clips, but could it really be that much stuff?

My new drive is even more beautiful than the last; it has a small plastic stand and it compliments the silver of my Inspiron in a way that makes me think they were meant to be together! It is an iomega 500GB Prestige Desktop Hard Drive; I can't imagine that .... no forget that thought. The salesman almost had me with the terabite model, but I resisted the temptation.

I'm now reflecting on the changes that have occurred in less than two decades. I entered the teaching profession in a time when gestetners were still in use and I did not know anyone, but my technologically gifted and rich oil industry employed brother who even owned a computer. Few teachers knew how to make the Apple IIe's do their magic. Today, we are in an age where we are storing tremendous amounts of information on our computers, largely because of digital photography, digital video and digital music, but we are also in a time when we can store the information we need on servers accessible through the world wide web. I wonder if the day is coming when our own personal need for memory on our business machines will decline as we gain trust in storing and retrieving information from the internet. Three months ago I would have thought no way; today, I see the possibility and from experience I know the things I know are constantly in a state of change and if it is possible, it will happen.

Nevertheless, we are not at the point yet, and I know I will have a terabite one day soon. I won't have a choice.


megan gerwing said...

I am seriously looking into storing my documents and photos on-line instead of on my computer. I have been told that is excellent for files but am unsure of where to store my photos. When I find the right program it will just be a matter of gathering the courage to make the switch.

trevor said...

gGreat post - really illustrates how much things have changed and how much more information we are dealing with now. In my small, depressing office, there stands a 6ft x 4ft x 2ft filing cabinet loaded with 'artifacts' dating as far back as the seventies. This is my first year in the office, so I thought I would hold off on throwing things away until I had spent a year in the job. Well, the year is almost up and I am sick of this 'elephant' in my room! I have a hard drive that I am storing current information on, but I am finding that much of what I am going through is so antiquated it is useless. I vow, here and now, to never fall victim to the hoarding disease afflicting many educators.