Since last we met: revive the laptop, copy the floppy

I'm not dead.

The preceding is the obligatory opening for a blog post after a week or two of serene quiet on a personal blog like this one. It soothes the dozen or so folks that actually notice. Bloggers use this opening all the time; the most recent one I recall was the one here at Bibi's Box. The fact that it's a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is an added bonus.

I've been spending my time on restoring a Compaq Presario 1800T laptop to working condition, thanks to a fortuitous purchase of a box of parts on eBay. The project was a success, and I'm using it now for this post. Nothing fancy, just a bit of cleanup, and replacement of the keyboard and hard drive. I switched my "brand" of Linux for this machine, but I want to devote a full post to that.

The other thing that's been keeping me away from blogging is a major purging of clutter from my cellar. I'm a devoted preserver, a term which sounds much better than "packrat". Eventually, though, one simply runs out of room, and some treasures must go. Part of this mission is to finally get rid of any remaining floppy disks, but of course not before saving the contents to DVD-R. I hooked up a 5.25 inch drive for what I hope will be the final time, and spent a lot of time at the command prompt, typing fdflush; dd if=/dev/fd0 of=img bs=1k and then renaming the image. For you Linux-come-lately folks, the fdflush command was required for most old floppy drives back when floppies really were floppy (think David Letterman waggling one at his desk). The OS had no idea that you changed disks, and if you didn't tell it, it would happily present you with data from a disk that was no longer in the drive because it had cached the whole thing in memory. Hilarity, of course, ensued.

The one important thing I learned from that adventure is that only about 75 per cent of 5.25 inch floppies survive readably after being in a cardboard box in the cellar for fifteen years or so. I hope I fare better with the cassette tapes. (Audio from old concerts -- I don't think I'll even try to preserve the VIC-20 data tapes.)

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1 comment:

Bibi said...

Hum... I didn't think about it. :D I think that next time I'm going to use, "hey I'm dead, typing from the beyond!" More original. :)