Sunday, October 16, 2005

To CDR or not CDR?

I was just opening a can of something for dinner on Saturday night when I received a text message from Julie in Melbourne. She's spent the day at the Caulfield Cup and was now dining at Young & Jackson's. Hmmm, I thought, all right for some!

Oh, and you remember I said I put new batteries in the flashlight this week? The following night the bulb burned out! Murphy's Law in action again, I guess.

The longevity and robustness of optical discs - CDs and DVDs - has again come into question as the rush to digitize all sorts of material and transfer it to DVD and CD gathers momentum.

In 2004, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) looked at CDs and DVDs to see how long digital information recorded on to them would survive. They concluded that most CDs and DVDs will last 30 years under ideal conditions, but many things can make them unreadable. Direct exposure to sunlight can do it; so can heat.

Discs last longest when stored in plastic cases in a cool, dark, dry environment. Because gravity can gradually bend the disc, storing it upright like a book is best. The study also found that fingerprints and smudges frequently do more damage than scratches, and recommends handling discs by the outer edge or the center hole. (from

Writing on the Diversity website, Nigel Deacon said:
There are no easy answers, but if you must put sound or photograph files on CD for future use, I suggest:
1. Don't throw away your originals (tapes, cassettes, reels, black and white original prints, etc).
2. Inspect regularly, and re-burn valuable items (or if you can't bear to do this, make multiple copies on different brands of CD and keep them in different locations; for example, give them to your friends).
3. Regard CDs as a temporary "transfer" medium only. You might consider storing files on high capacity hard-drives, suitably backed-up. But whatever you do, don't buy cheap unbranded CDs - they're trouble.

Rather worrying to consider, thinking on the number of CDRs I've made since I first got a CD burner.

The King Features website has made some big changes, which will not please casual web browsing fans of comic strips:

The comics archives will no longer be available in the format of showing four weeks of archives, beginning two weeks after their first appearance in newspapers. The displayed comics will be changed once a month at the beginning of the month and show just the first week of strips from the previous month. It will no longer be possible to view complete sequences of comics on

As part of our continuing efforts to provide comic fans with an ever-richer comics experience, King Features has created DailyINK a new subscription service which improves upon the online model you have been familiar with at For $15.00 a year, you can now get password access to all 70+ actively syndicated comic strips, updated daily on their first day of release.

In addition, the archives of past strips has been expanded. DailyINK displays a full year's worth of each comic. Some new features include: (1) serialized runs of select vintage comics from yesteryear, (2) an especially useful magnifying glass tool that enables you to enlarge the comics for easier viewing and (3) customizable viewing options.

While will continue to exist as a source of valuable information about the comics, columns, puzzles and services King Features offers, DailyINK provides the next step for interested comic readers. Thank you for your shared enthusiasm for comics. King Features looks forward to working with you to help foster another hundred years of this magnificent art form.

Not unexpected -- it quite often happens this way, that after a few years of free access, a company will change to a "pay" format and ask for money if you want to continue using it. They do give you good service for a couple of dollars a month: even without the magnifying-glass option, the strips are about 40% bigger than the ones on the normal KFS site. This is a pleasant change since most newspapers around the world are printing their comics smaller and smaller every year.

US$15 may be a lot to some people. But, as I said in another context the other day, it depends on what your priorities are.

Since the football season has (finally) finished, the Coodabeen Champions' Saturday night spin-off The Idlers is back on air again on the 60 stations of ABC's Local Radio network.

This year they're doing something a little different. They're taking a virtual tour of Australia, starting in Darwin in episode 1 and heading anti-clockwise. By the third show [this week] they've reached the Kimberleys. They had a long chat to the manager of the Cununurra [sp?] Visitors Centre; it would be an understatement to call him voluble but I guess that's an asset in his line of work.

Speaking of radio, I've often mentioned the valuable work of the First Generation Radio Archives, who for the last five years have been restoring old radio programmes for CD release.

Their latest newsletter mentions that for newcomers to Old Time Radio they're now releasing a five-CD sampler -- six hours of fully restored classic radio entertainment - shows like "Little Orphan Annie," "The Great Gildersleeve," "Lum & Abner," "The Cisco Kid," "Richard Diamond, Private Detective," "Crime Classics," "The Cinnamon Bear," and "The Planet Man," as well as programs staring Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Lew Ayers, Dinah Shore, Fibber McGee and Molly, and many, many others.

(Not clips or excerpts -- these are complete fifteen-minute and half-hour shows, chosen to demonstrate the wide range of great sounding radio entertainment.)

The set costs US$9-95. At that price I might get a couple and use them for Christmas presents!



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