Data Rot

I’ve long been fascinated with data rot.

Data rot has two basic types.  The first is about the medium on which information is stored.  For example, hard drives can have mechanical failure.  Audio cassettes and other recording media can be affected by moisture, heat and humidity, so that they don’t retain their information as effectively.  Translation:  If you leave your “Now That’s What I Call Music #38” tape in the glove box for more than a few months, it will start to sound terrible.  (And, according to Good Omens  it will also become a Best of Queen album, but that’s a separate problem.)

The second type of data rot is the one that fascinates me the most.  It’s that the machines to read the older types of data are simply harder to find.  When’s the last time you saw a reel-to-reel or an 8-track player outside of a pawn shop or a garage sale?  Betamax, anyone? I had a brief flirtation with MiniDisc in the 1990s, even going so far as to convert a bunch of my Best of Queen tapes to MiniDisc, right up until CD burners and mp3 technology caught up to my needs.   Heck, even my modern laptop has no floppy or optical drive.   (Astonishingly, some of our nuclear arsenal is secured by the use of archaic 8-inch floppy disks. Security by obscurity!)

More recently, I’ve been thinking that there’s a third type of data rot, one which is much more personal.  My company has been going through changes for the last year or so, and they decided last summer to sell off the part of the business that I work in.  The user base of our servers is being migrated away to another company, and everything will be transferred out within the next seven or eight months.

These are the servers I’ve been working on for the last fourteen years.

Here’s where the data rot comes in-  many of our systems are home grown or proprietary.   Sure, the systems that I work in every day have a basis in FreeBSD and Linux, but much of the environment on top of those operating systems is not used anywhere else in the world.

In less than a year, the only place those systems will exist is in the minds of the people who have worked on it.  I have so much specialized knowledge that I will never use again.  That’s data rot.

This past week was a brutal time at our company, with a tremendous round of layoffs taking out people who were there for ten, fourteen, sixteen years.  My department lost something like 60% of our staff.  My row of cubicles went from ten people to four.   When my usefulness is at an end, I’ll almost definitely be fired as well.  I wonder if that could be considered data rot too.

The other day, I was driving home and I noticed a big, fat iguana sunning itself on the grass on the side of the road.  I’ve been having a lot of memory problems lately.  I don’t know if it’s all the headaches I’ve had over the last few years, or whether it’s just a sign of getting older.  Amelie thinks that my crappy short term memory is just because I don’t sleep enough.  Whatever the reason, I spent the next mile and a half of that drive trying to remember the word for iguana.  I was absolutely convinced that it started with A, but all I could think of were aardvark, avocado, abogado.  My memory is definitely swiss cheese compared to where it used to be.  I can’t even remember where I put all my Best of Queen tapes. I guess that could be data rot as well.

What do you think?  Have you ever experienced data rot in your own life?

 

Just after the Summer solstice, a post!

I’m borrowing this post idea from Bevchen.  I don’t usually do a lot of meme-inspired posts, but lately I haven’t been posting much at all.  So here’s the “What’s New With You” format…  here’s what I’ve been up to just lately.

Reading.  I haven’t had much time for the Kindle lately, but I did start Jen Bradley‘s novel “Virago,” along with  the fascinating “Cleaning Up The Kingdom, which is written by people who are former members of the Disneyland custodial staff.  Really interesting stuff here!

Watching.  Summer is upon us, which means there’s not as much new television to be seen.  I’ve nearly completed a re-watch of Star Trek: Enterprise, which I absolutely despised on the first run.  I find it considerably less revolting now, and I’m not sure what changed.     I’ve also nearly completed a re-watch of Leverage, which was a delightful and fun show that could easily have run another season without losing steam.

I also watched the first episode of the new Dangermouse, and it’s definitely got flavor of the original ones, even though some of the new voices completely take me out of the show.  The new Silas Greenback voice is particularly terrible.  I’m rather surprised they didn’t try to get Sir David Jason back… after all, he was the original voice of Dangermouse. (And Count Duckula!)  Maybe he wants to retire from acting, since he’s 76 now.

It’s also the summer movie season.  I haven’t had time to watch everything I want to see, but I can say that “Finding Dory” was exceptionally adorable, and the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was super entertaining.  It was basically a two-hour live-action movie version of an episode of the 90s cartoon.

Fascinated by.  This news that the Earth has picked up a second moon.   Basically, an asteroid got caught in our gravity about a hundred years ago and it never managed to break free.   It’s tiny, about 150 feet by 300 feet, and it has a weird orbit.  It’s still technically a moon, though.    We have two moons!  Next up, Jedi Knights!

Cooking.  I’m not much of a cook, but I’ve been using the slow cooker for the occasional moist fall-apart-y chicken breast. (Amelie’s Salsa Chicken recipe:  Put a chicken breast in the slow cooker with mild salsa for a bunch of hours, then shred and eat with rice or something.  It’s super delicious!)

I’ve also been taking advantage of the meats that they sell which have already been prepped/seasoned/marinated-  Target sells a garlic and herb roast that is absolutely amazing after about six hours in the slow cooker.    I’ve also been making more easy-prep foods like spaghetti at home.  I want to eat out at restaurants less frequently, because I enjoy having money.

Exercising.  I’m still probably going to talk about exercise in more detail in another post down the line, but I’ve been trying to go to the gym several times a week.  When I lived in Germany, I walked most everywhere, lived upstairs, took the bus to work, and walked all over creation whenever I traveled.  My life in Florida is so much more sedentary, and I needed to get up and move.  So, the gym.  I just use the little gym at my apartment complex,  because paying for one that I would never drive to is just a waste of money.  I do some of the weight machines, some Couch-to-5K stuff on the treadmill, some time on the bike, and as little time  as possible on the Devil’s Elliptical.  I hate every second of it, but so far I keep going.

Buying.  Since I’ve been doing the gym stuff, I got myself a new Fitbit.   The Fitbit Charge HR is a wrist-worn step counter that also checks my heart-rate and tracks my sleep.  It’s great for being reassured that I am, in fact, terribly unhealthy and in need of drastic lifestyle change.

I also recently bought an install-it-yourself basic alarm system for my apartment, and the little SD card that activates the maps in my car.  The Mazda 3 model that I drive had the GPS built in already, and just needed the maps to activate the navigation.  There’s an SD card slot in the console.

Traveling. Not so much lately.  I did the Germany/Switzerland trip a little while back, but there’s nothing else on the near horizon, except a planned Disney trip in late August.  Orlando is only about a three hour drive from me, so I tend not to think of it as travel.

Thinking about: Speaking of Orlando, I won’t get into the Pulse nightclub shooting very much, except to say:   Orlando is my second home city (Regensburg is my third,) and some of the victims were friends of my friends.   I love Orlando, and I want to live there again some time in the future.  The attack was brutal and insane and it saddens me greatly.  It also makes me very angry.    I won’t say more about this, because the logical thread here gets into religion and politics, both of which are not topics I can be calm or cheerful about right now.

Listening to.  Mostly Pandora at work, but I’ve been working on an upbeat playlist called Jim Rhatt for the iPod while I’m on the aforementioned treadmill or Devil’s Elliptical.

Recent concerts with Amelie have included Florence + The Machine, Panic at the Disco, and Weezer.   The Cure is playing Miami early next week, but that’s the last show we’ve got tickets for until October (Sia) and November (the Pet Shop Boys.)

Regretting.  That my car has a manual transmission.    Almost all of the cars I’ve ever driven have had a stick shift, but this might be the last one before I go automatic.  I’ve always enjoyed driving manual because I feel like I have more control.   I’ve always preferred cars that were small and quick and maneuverable, like a White Star or the Millennium Falcon.  In fact, whenever I downshift in a turn, I feel kind of like Han pulling this lever, which is obviously the Falcon’s shifter:

falcon-flight-smaller

The problem with driving manual is that I live in South Florida again, and I spend most of my drive time on the highway, especially I-95.  This means there’s a lot of stop-and-go driving, and I spend a large percentage of my drive with my foot pushing the clutch all the way down while I coast along at eight or ten miles an hour.  It’s very annoying, and I often get out of the car with an ache in my clutch foot.

What’s your preference, automatic or stick?

Whatcha been up to?

It’s been a few weeks since I posted, and it’s been a few months since I’ve posted anything about what I’m actually up to.  Here’s some highlights:

  • I went with Amelie to Megacon, a geekery convention that happens each year in Orlando.  If you search this blog for Megacon, you’ll see my photos from several previous years.  Yes, I took hundreds of pictures this year as well, but I haven’t had a chance to sort them yet.  We saw Shatner and George Takei, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, Ming Na Wen and John Barrowman, Kevin Conroy and a whole bunch of Harry Potter actors.  Almost all of these people were hilarious.
  • I attended some meetings in Zurich for my job, which meant I got to have a brief visit back to Regensburg.  I took many photos of basically all the same things I took pictures of while I lived there, out of a sense of nostalgia.
  • On that same trip,  I convinced my colleagues to stop for lunch in Vaduz, Liechtenstein on the way to Zurich.  This is my 28th country visited.
  • I had minor surgery on my left shoulder two and a half weeks ago, to remove a fatty tumor called a lipoma.   Lipomas are generally soft, benign, and painless, and doctors usually leave them alone unless they’re impeding your mobility or causing discomfort.  My lipoma had grown to a rather large size, and was located in a place that did actually cause me some discomfort.  It was also growing-  the surgeon who removed it said that it was about the size of a grapefruit, but not entirely round.  Amelie and I named it Lumpy.   The surgery was very fast, but it prevented me from working out or lifting anything heavy for a while.
  • We’ve been to quite a few good movies and concerts in the last few months, including Bernadette Peters and Florence & The Machine.  I enjoyed Captain America: Civil War and the Jungle Book, and I was extremely annoyed with Batman vs. Superman.
  • The doctor told me today that I can do normal workouts again, which is great, because I just purchased a new Fitbit.  I had a Fitbit One throughout my time living in Europe, and I rather enjoyed seeing how much walking I was doing.  The one I purchased now is the Charge HR model, which does everything the One did, plus it monitors my heart rate and has a nifty wrist-band.  Also, Fitbit users can friend each other to compete or encourage each other to be active.  The “taunt” function is kind of fun.  If you have a Fitbit and you want to add me, use stevenglassman42 at gmail.
  • I finally got around to putting this little fellow on my car.  He’s been on my desk for something like two months:
    bb8

What have you been up to?

The Upfronts are coming, the Upfronts are coming!

Next week, the television networks have their Upfront presentations where they detail their new fall line-ups.  NBC and FOX will present on Monday, ABC on Tuesday, CBS on Wednesday, and the CW will close it out on Thursday. For many years, going all the way back to my time on LiveJournal, I did a series of posts during the week of the television network Upfronts to talk about all the new shows.

As the landscape of television and the shape of the Internet have changed, those posts have become entirely redundant.  Most of the show renewal and cancellation announcements are out weeks or months before the Upfronts, and the new show announcements hit earlier and earlier as each network releases their loglines.  The various entertainment blogs pick up the details from there, and then Facebook makes sure that everyone hears about everything. Last year, I gave up the idea of talking about each network in separate posts, and I did one combined post that talked mostly about the new shows that interested me.

This year is no different than last year-  the announcements have been coming for several months already,  and although we won’t know the new fall schedule until the announcements next week, we do know what shows have been kept, canceled, or ordered as new.  The shows that interest me are few and far between, because it’s more of the same-  more procedurals, more Shondaland, more fish-out-of-water family dramas.  Several of the new show loglines sound like they’re copy-pasted off each other.

Moving on, then. Let’s start with ABC.  Remember, I’m not listing every show, just the stuff I watch and some of the more popular ones. If your favorite show isn’t listed here, you’ll need to check elsewhere to find out if it’s coming back.

ABC:

Renewed: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fresh Off The Boat, Dr. Ken, Once Upon A Time, Black-Ish, the Middle, How I Met Your Murderer, The Goldbergs, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Modern Family.

Canceled: Galavant, Agent Carter, The Muppets, The Family, Nashville, and Castle.

I’m kind of glad to see Nashville and Castle getting cut, because I feel like they’ve both lost a lot of steam.  I’m sad to see Galavant, Agent Carter, and The Muppets go.

Of the new shows the network has ordered, these three caught my attention.  I will probably only watch the first one, and only until it gets canceled:

Time After Time – Based loosely on the novel and 1979 movie (which I loved,) this story starts when science-fiction writer H.G. Wells is transported to modern day Manhattan in pursuit of Jack the Ripper.

Imaginary Mary – Jenna Elfman plays opposite her childhood imaginary friend (CGI’d, and voiced by SNL vet Rachel Dratch)

IMAGINARY MARY - ABC's “Imaginary Mary" stars Jenna Elfman as Alice. (ABC/Ed Herrera)

Designated Survivor – Kiefer Sutherland is the President of the US! He’s like seventh in line for the Presidency and a big attack knocks off everyone above him.

Still Star-Crossed – The newest Shonda Rhimes show is a sequel to Romeo & Juliet that picks up after the double suicide.  This looks like it could be fantastic and horrible and ridiculous.  Plus it’s got Anthony Head as a Capulet!  I always like seeing Giles in a doublet.

CBS:

Renewed:  Elementary, Hawaii 5.0, a bunch of NCISes, Blue Bloods, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Madam Secretary, 2 Broke Girls, Mom, Scorpion, and The Big Bang Theory.

Canceled: CBS hasn’t announced many cancellations, but they did announce that Supergirl is moving to the CW, so I’m pretty happy about that.

Of the new shows that CBS has ordered, these two have my attention:

Macgyver – An entirely unnecessary reboot of the original show, this version follows a 20-something MacGyver (Lucas Till) as he “creates a clandestine organization where he uses his knack for solving problems in unconventional ways to help prevent disasters from happening.”  In other words, it’s “Macgyver Begins.”  I bet Liam Neeson trains him and everything.

The Great Indoors – Joel McHale plays an adventure reporter who has to take over the digital department of a magazine, where he’s the boss to a bunch of entitled millennials.  I love Joel McHale, so this could be hilarious.

FOX:

Renewed: Lucifer, Scream Queens, Bob’s Burgers, Bones, The Last Man On Earth, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Gotham, The Simpsons, Empire, Sleepy Hollow

Cancelled: The Grinder, Grandfathered, Cooper Barrett, Bordertown

I’m astonished that Lucifer was renewed.  It’s a great show, and it’s very funny, but I didn’t think for a second that this one would make it through season one.    I’m sad to see Cooper Barrett and Bordertown go, but I’m not surprised at either one.  Cooper Barrett was light goofy fun, and Bordertown has gotten progressively weirder and more hilarious with every episode.

Fox is doing a show based on the Exorcist.  For real.  Other things they’ve ordered include a Lethal Weapon show and a reboot of 24.  So far, I’m not really interested in any of their newly announced programs.

NBC:

Renewed:  The Blacklist, Superstore, all the Chicago emergency services, Blindspot, Law & Order: SVU

Canceled:  Heroes Reborn, Undateable

NBC has the highest count of interesting new shows ordered this year, even if they did jump on the time-travel bandwagon that this season seems to be all about.  There are four that have my interest this year:

Powerless – The first comedy series set in the universe of DC Comics, Powerless is about an insurance agency specializing in regular-people coverage against damage caused by the crime-fighting superheroes.  The ensemble cast also includes Alan Tudyk and Danny Pudi.  I think this is going to be hilarious.

powerless

The Good Place – “When Eleanor (Kristen Bell) has a brush with the afterlife, she realizes she hasn’t been a very good person. So she works to fix that, aided by an “afterlife mentor” played by Ted Danson.  I’ll give this one episode to hook me-  the tone of the show could be very light or it could be very “Highway to Heaven.”

Midnight, Texas – From the books by True Blood author Charlaine Harris, this show is about a town in Texas with vampires and witches to psychics and hit men.  I want to see at least a commercial before I decide whether to watch or pass on this one.

Timeless – From Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan, Timeless is described as an action-adventure series in which a mysterious criminal  steals a secret state-of-the-art time machine, intent on destroying America as we know it by changing the past. The team that tries to stop him includes a scientist (Better Off Ted‘s Malcolm Barrett!!!), a soldier, and a history professor who use the machine’s prototype to travel back in time to critical events.  Honestly, I wouldn’t even bother giving this a shot, except that Kripke does interesting television and Malcolm Barrett is fun to watch.

The CW:

Renewed: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Reign ,  Jane the Virgin, The Vampire Diaries, iZombie, The 100, Legends of Tomorrow,The Originals, Supernatural,Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl (coming over from CBS.)

Canceled: Almost nothing.  They only cancel shows that nobody watches.

Five of the shows on the CW this fall will be comic book shows.  I hereby dub them the DC Comics Network.   (And incidentally, I wish that DC comics would stick to television where they get it right, instead of making terrible movies.  Let Marvel rule the box office; DC is much better at episodic television.)

The CW has so many renewals that they didn’t order many new shows.  They announced three pickup orders, and I’m not really interested in any of them.  These two are the more interestong ones:

Frequency – “In this reimagining of the New Line Cinema film, a female police detective in 2016 discovers she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father (also a detective) who died in 1996. They forge a new relationship while working together on an unresolved murder case, but unintended consequences of the ‘butterfly effect’ wreak havoc in the present day.”

Riverdale – Archie Comics characters are set in the present day.  The network says it’s “a surprising and subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade.”

What do you think about all the new shows, reboots, and time-travel adventures?