Monday, December 21, 2015

Strange Lament

I'm reading today's Wall St Journal.  In the letters to the editor, we have an old NASA hand, so old he joined the outfil before it was NASA.  He talks about the old old days when we all kept engineering notebooks, in which we recorded the results of lab work.  Then he explains how like everyone else, we started keeping records like that on personal computers. 
  Then he veers off on a strange track.  He claims that his new laptop cannot real his old files anymore.  Obsolescence he claims.  This never happened to me.  In the early days I kept my records in plain ASCII text files on MS-DOS.  I have stuff going back to the 80's that Windows 8 has no trouble reading.  Later when Windows 3.1 cam in, I used Word.  My current Word has no trouble reading my oldest Word documents. 
  Either this guy was using a strange OS, or some strange word processor.  Or he gives up easily.  Wanna bet you can download just about any old obsolete word processing program from somewhere if you do some looking?

1 comment:

DCE said...

We still use engineering notebooks in our lab, something our company's legal beagles insist we do. More than a few patent disputes were settled when we could show prior art. All of my data, calculations, tables, and notations/comments exist in my numerous notebooks, as do signatures of witnesses when I or my colleagues discuss a new idea, particularly handy when it comes to filing for patents.

None of this means we don't also keep such data and records in electronic form, making it easier to run searches. I have used things like Excel spreadsheets or MathCad to perform calculations on large amounts of data and then transcribed the results into my notebook, making sure to include the formulas used in the spreadsheets for those calculations.

One nice things about notebooks: they don't require power and you don't have to worry about data corruption of files. The only problems I might have in reading the notebooks is if my scribble is unreadable even to me! (That usually happens when I write in a hurry.)