From my diary

While turning out a drawer, I came across two old CD’s, containing photographs taken in Egypt a long time ago.  They were, indeed, Kodak PhotoCD’s.  The original photographs were on film, taken 20 years ago, and then I paid for them to be placed on disk.  The disk could be read on pretty much any CD player, so I never worried about them.  Indeed I thought of them as future-proof.

Until now.  For I find that the images are now obsolete.  Windows 7 doesn’t open the files.  Who’d have thought it?

I find that PaintShop Pro 6 — a very old version — will open them, but they don’t look at all right, but rather dull.

I’ve found software that purports to convert .pcd to .jpg — but I haven’t tried it.  There are, inevitably “settings” and the like, obscure to people like me and a drain on time we do not have.  I don’t want to learn about the internals — I just want my photos!

It’s a warning to us all.  Don’t leave things in old formats.  It may become harder than you think to access them!

6 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. I agree, that’s a problem always!
    Btw. Corel Photo Paint can open PCD also.
    Strangely Photoshop can not.

  2. As a sometime librarian my fear is that what you experienced will be all too common in 20 years from now in libraries. Books with CDs and DVDs in back pockets to contain all the photographs, indexes and technical stuff that might be expensive to print or difficult to search in a non-electronic format – will become totally unusable, and that is ignoring the issue of digital decay. Books and articles with a reference to some online component – won’t have access to that component. And books and articles that are wholly in electronic form will likewise be inaccessible.

    Various library science articles say this sort of view is too negative, we just have to make sure we update older formats on a regular basis, fail to notice that this never happened in the past – they failed to do it then so why will they suddenly do it now?

    On the individual level, it is is far worse for private collections where people don’t have the tech savvy to know what to do and end up tossing out what they don’t know how to use. In your example you know the value of the CDs, but in cases where the person doesn’t know – such as when the owner of the CD has died – who is going to go to the effort to determine if the CDs are just happy snaps (of great value to the person who took them) or contain years of research (of value to many)

    I’ve come across this numerous times when the collections of deceased clergy were donated to the library with some old audio tapes, floppy discs and CDs. We could immediately see the usefullness of their books, but not this electronic media

    Matthew Hamilton
    Sydney, Australia

  3. Thank you for your insight. I suspect you are right. Which of us, bequeathed a box of CD’s and books, would even look at the CD’s? Still less a box of floppies!

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