Someone came into the library where I work this morning, wondering if he could use a 3.5 floppy on one of the public computers. (He couldn’t, they’re just dummy terminals).
I haven’t used a floppy in about five years, and then I started using email or a thumb drive to mooch free printing from my high school. If I had to for some reason get something off a floppy, I’d definitely need to work to find a computer that had a drive.
About a month ago; I was downloading some stupid software update that required you write it to floppies. I had to dig to find some, and then I thought that maybe my computer (a couple years old) didn’t have a floppy drive but lo and behold it did.
I used on a year or two ago, to update the BIOS on my work computer. I had to haul a floppy drive out of storage and it took me twenty minutes of asking around to scavenge an old floppy disk to do it with.
One of the features of the BIOS update was being able to do future updates from a CDROM drive
I recently had a friend give me a PowerBook 165. She said I could do what I wanted with it, but she had some data on it she wanted, if it was possible to retrieve. So, I started thinking “how do I get data from this machine to my G5.”
Ethernet - No. (PB 165 doesn’t have.)
SCSI - No (G5 doesn’t have.)
LocalTalk - No. (G5 doesn’t have.)
Serial - No. (G5 doesn’t have.)
USB - No. (PB 165 doesn’t have.)
FireWire - No. (PB 165 doesn’t have.)
ATA - No. (PB 165 doesn’t have.)
WiFI - No. (PB 165 doesn’t have.)
Email - No. (No way to connect PB 165 to the network.)
So, I was left with SneakerNet with a floppy. First, I had to find a floppy, which took a while. All her data fit on one floppy (can you even imagine that these days?). Then, I had to dust off an ancient Wallstreet laptop that had a floppy drive, boot it into OS 9, copy the data, boot back into OS X and transfer the data via the network. The whole ordeal took around a half an hour. It’s really pretty amazing how “isolated” those old pre-ethernet machines are.
Some three years ago. To extract database entries as plain text from an ancient machine (i.e. mid-80s) I’d found while rummaging in a cupboard, in a ‘look at all this old stuff’ way, at my then-workplace. I saved them hundreds of man-hours of entering the same data from the same paper records into the current system, or rather I did something done which would never have happened otherwise. The strangest thing was easily DOS commands came back to me.
My father is both a computer geek and a hopeless packrat. This means that our house is full of obsolete computer crap, some of which is as old or older than myself. A while ago, I was recruited to help him go through some of it and force him to throw some stuff out. You know those big plastic Rubbermaid storage bins? He’s got about four or five of them filled with computer stuff.
So we start wading through. I, speaking for my mother, insist that some of it be tossed. (Computer punchcards from your grad school days? A dot-matrix printer? Windows 3.1 install disks? Seriously, dad?) And lo and behold, we uncover a case of not just 3.5, but also 5.25" disks. Some of them are labelled - documents and DOS games. Many are not.
What does my dad do? Does he listen to me when I say that the disks are probably hopelessly dead after languishing for years in the basement? Of course not. He hauls out our vintage Gateway, with a top-of-the-line 386 processor and Windows 3.1, to see if any of the disk are still readable.
Almost none of them were, a decade or so in a basement will do that, though we didn’t test all of them (my mother was not as into our nostalgia trip and pointed out that we were not exactly cleaning). The computer still ran, though, and man, seeing that 3.1 Windows splash screen was like being eight years old again.
I had to use one at work the other day - our internet went down and someone had accidentally taken home the USB drive we share amongst a few of us (yes, I know it’s silly to share one). Anyways, I needed to move some images from one computer to another, I didn’t really want to waste a CD. I felt pretty resourceful when I found a floppy, but I was amazed that only one image at a time would fit on the disk! In fact, one was a bit too big and had to be cropped to fit.
So, there I was making multiple trips with my sad little floppy disk. I could have just waited until the internet was fixed, but once I started I was kind of into seeing the idea through, you know? Plus, it was a good excuse not to do the real work!
On Friday. I have an old PC that won’t boot from CDs - I use it for all sorts of testing - mostly Linux installs - It has a Smart Boot Manager floppy (ejected, but still slotted in) in the drive all the time.
Within the last month. Boot disk for a Windows machine. I also found out a day or so later that, in addition to other problems, the USB jack was causing machine lockup (not that I had a thumb drive anyway).