A Barn Find

The product I support in my real job is OEM-d to two other manufacturers, and I create and maintain the training courses for them, as well as the original. For a modest fee, of course. Ever so often they ask for updates or changes.

It’s a living.

A good one actually.

So one of these companies had their product manager retire, and laid off my contact there in training. So they are in the process of implementing yet another new LMS (learning management system), and can’t find any of the source files.

Yeah. That happens every time you lay off the dude in charge of archiving such things. For all I know they were stored in a repository, but they don’t have them somehow, and went around in circles in my company trying to figure out who did. Turns out that would be me. All I need do is open them up and re-publish them (think compile) and cut them loose.

Easy job. Something one of my computers can do while I entertain myself with other duties.

But there was an issue. I’m missing two of the courses.

I’ve been through two laptops, a tower, and a SAN appliance since I last touched them. I found them on an old backup, and they were crafted in an ancient product, and never updated. Like a software barn find.

That product – Articulate Studio, has been end-of-life/support for years. It imported to the newer product somewhat, but was missing some key parts. So I rooted through my pile of old software files and found the old software and tried to install it. It installed but flat out doesn’t work whatsoever on my new machine. So like a software barn find that the tools and materials to rebuild it no longer exist, at least natively.

Screw it. I imported the content from the newer base product course and simply rebranded it.

And wow, those demo videos were from pre-cancer days. My voice sounds completely different. So I went back to the file scrap yard to see if I had the source projects. I did. But so what? They are incompatible with the new version of the software I’m using now. Been there done that, I’m not installing another ancient package. I simply brought the .mp4 files into the new package, stripped the audio, cleaned it up, and put it back.

Where am I going with this? Why is this important?

I read a piece a long time ago in favor of libraries and books, where the author brought up the inherent problems storing digital content. Technology passes it by and then it’s hard, or impossible to recover.

Ever wonder what’s on those i-Omega zip drives you found in your drawer? Because wonder is probably all you’ll be able to do. Those CD-ROMs you used to backup – does your PC or laptop have a drive? Mine don’t. I had to get an external, USB one.

Even if you could recover the data, could you do anything with it? Those old Lotus 123 files, those old wordperfect files? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to rebuild my contacts after my palm pilots crashed and the data was unusable.

Hell, I have a Seagate BlackArmor SAN appliance that has been indispensible to my life. Windows disables SMB 1, Seagate offers no upgrade, so now it’s an FTP server. I can upgrade by buying a new device, but then I’ll have to FTP my junk to my PC and upload it to the new device. It’s nearly two terabytes worth. A lot of work.

And what good is some of the stuff stored? as I found with my recent dilemma. I’d need to sort.

So food for thought. Might not be a bad idea to thumb through your archives, upgrade new stuff, print stuff you can’t do without, and shitcan old useless stuff.

One thought on “A Barn Find

  1. My very first “tech” job was working for a free-lancer guy who worked out of his house. One of the first things he gave me was a job to recover some images and bring them into a usable format for a client. This was back in 1998. I think I had to go through 4 or 5 separate programs in order to turn them into GIFs(?).

    Don’t think I’ve had a disc drive in the last 2 or 3 laptops I’ve gotten from work.


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