Skip to main content

Wide Open Spaces

PCs and I go back a long way. My second PC at work, for instance, was IBM's AT model, of which I was privileged to have the second one that IBM imported into the UK (at least that's what they told me - they probably said that to all their customers). And it was a huge improvement on my previous XT, doubling the hard disk* space at a stroke to 20 Mb.

I tell you this, not so you can snigger at granddad, but to emphasise how things have moved on. In the early 1990s there was a huge business in software that automatically compressed files on your hard disk so you didn't run out of space. It slowed the computer down, but the introduction of music and photos was jamming up disk space terribly. But then something changed. Disks got really big. For my last few computers I've had more disk space that I knew what to do with. Let's take a look at what my computer has on offer and what I've used:

... and that is keeping every email I send, every important one I receive, everything I've written since I started writing, lots of scanned documents, music, photos etc. etc. I've still got 73% free.

The same thing is now happening online. I recently mentioned cloud backup services like Dropbox, Skydrive and Google Drive. But things are even more extreme with photo storage thanks to a breathtaking move from Yahoo. Where, for instance, Google's Google+/Picasa gives you a respectable 5 Gb free, Yahoo's Flickr has now started offering 1 Tb. A terabyte. 1,000,000,000,000 bytes (actually more than this as a Kb is really 1,024 bytes because computer scientists can't count, but let's not be fussy). That's as much space as my entire hard disk. Stunning or what?

(At least, that's the theory. I suspect Flickr has been overwhelmed by people signing up, because when I just went to get a screenshot of my pathetic 100 Mb of photos in 1 Tb of space the image to the right is what came up.)

It has left me rather confused. I really don't know what to do now. I could now have all my photos for all my life available online, sharable how I like. It would take a long time to get them up there, but it would probably be worth it. Will I do it? I don't know. But I'm tempted. How about you?

*If anyone wants to point out to me as a British person I should spell this 'disc', the convention is in computing to use the likes of 'disk' and 'program' instead of the UK equivalent.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou