Multi-card readers are all well and good, but what happens when you dig up really ancient storage formats?
I recently found myself doing something I thought I'd never, ever do again. At this stage, you're probably wondering what this dastardly task was. Was the safety of the western world and the ability for chocolate biscuits to be enjoyed at morning tea at stake? Were rapidly cooling corpses involved? Did this not-entirely-humble IT journalist rappel down the side of a cliff, taking pot-shots at passing bad guys before sweeping the raven-haired beauty up into his strong masculine arms seconds before she met a grisly splattering fate?
Well, if I'm being honest, no. None of that stuff happened -- and with a tendency towards vertigo, I'm unlikely to go plummeting down cliffs any time soon. No, what I did was rather more mundane. I reviewed a floppy drive. Stop snickering in the back there.
Floppy drives, manufacturers tell us, are obsolete technology of interest only to IT Historians; they're slow, unreliable and in times where a 650MB CD-R can be had for virtually no money at all, surprisingly expensive on a per MB basis. The floppy drive I reviewed was the Iomega's Floppy Plus (you can read the full review here), and oddly enough at the same time I was reviewing a product that sits at the opposite end of the storage spectrum -- Sony's Dual Layer DRU-700A DVD burner. From 1.44MB to 8.5GB in one step.
It struck me as I was tinkering with both that I've got an awful lot of data across an almost obscene quantity of formats. There's about half a dozen hard drives of my own (not to mention any work servers or drives), CDs, DVDs, Memory Sticks, CF Cards, MMCs, ZIP disks and even, if I look at the dustiest spot in my overflowing study, more than a few floppy disks in a couple of different sizes. Were I to dig around in my attic, I'd even find a few things stored here and there on magnetic tape.
Now, Iomega hasn't quite gone insane enough to expect people to plunk down their hard-earned on just a floppy drive -- it's more of a multi-card reader that happens to include floppy possibilities. The thinking is presumably that it's a good match for anyone who happens to have data lying around (or moving very slowly around) on floppies. Not such a bad idea, but what about every other format under the sun? Sure, it'd be a rather large item (probably bigger than my desktop PC, now that I think about it) but where's my HDD/SD/MMC/Memory Stick/CD/DVD/3.5" Floppy/5.25" Floppy/3" Floppy/Tape/Potato/ZIP/JAZ/ORB/Punch Card reader at, huh?
Alex Kidman is ZDNet Australia's Reviews Editor, and he's seriously worried that exposure to ancient dusty floppies may have warped his brain. Normal editorial service may resume next week, but we're not making any promises at this stage. In the meantime, Talkback to me below.