Digital Hub: Will my grandkids be able to view JPGs, DVDs and Quicktime Movies?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by sigamy, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    What do you all think about the future of the digital hub? Will iLife 2050 be able to open JPGs taken in 2003? Will we have antique DVD players sitting around just so that we can watch old home iMovies--like pulling out the Super 8 movie camera or slide projector 20 years ago?

    I love digital media and the power it gives us, but I'm worried about the future. We have 30-50 year old photographs that are faded but there is no compatibilty issue with viewing them. Just open the photo album and there they are.

    I guess we'll just have to convert to each new format/standard as it comes. Music seems to be leading the way as we've already gone from 45s to LPs to 8 Track to cassette to CD to MP3.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Santiago macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2002
    Mountain View, California
    I'm pretty certain JPEGs will remain readable for ever. There's far too many of them to do otherwise. However, format obsolescence is why I keep all my writings as either plain text or RTF files; this way, I am not tied to any proprietary changing format that will eventually become unreadable by future versions of products.
  3. rueyeet macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2003
    Document management and archiving in the digital age is going to become a real issue, just as preservation of physical documents and photographs already is. It's my suspicion that without some strategy for dealing with this, a lot of stuff's just going to become obsolete unless it's progressively converted from format to format along the way.

    I'm already seeing this with my dad. He's an inveterate DOS guy who still uses WordStar (the predecessor of the first versions of WordPerfect!) as his primary word processor. He's got EVERYTHING in WS format: financial information, his WWII memoirs, all his other records. I've just managed to convince him to move files from year-old 5.25" floppies to 3.5", and am trying to get him to consider moving stuff to CDs, or at least Zip drives, so we can at least get to his stuff. And that's not even taking into account the fact that we either need a system that can run the DOS version of WordStar or a converter to even read the files.

    Documents are still relatively uncomplicated compared to music, pictures, and video, where transfer from one lossy format to a newer one might create quality problems. I think that the existing catalog of music and movies will be managed by their respective industries, but the individual user is going to have to take steps to deal with their own repositories of pictures and home movies and the like.

    So much information is lost from generation to generation....eventually even those photos in the old family album will crumble and fade.
  4. Horrortaxi macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Only time will tell. The best advice is to keep all your source stuff (photos, music, etc) so you can keep it current. When something new comes out (format or media) put your stuff onto it. That way your stuff is always playable and you have numerous backups.
  5. stoid macrumors 601


    Feb 17, 2002
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    Along with jpg, I think that the pdf format is going to be hanging around for quite awhile based on it's extreme versatility. Also, I don't see old video compression codecs being dropped anywhere in the forseeable future.

    As computers get faster and more powerful, I see that they will always support old formats and the like.

    The MAIN problem is going to be with media. USB replaces serial/parellel ports, and so you have to buy all new drives. If the next generation of bus after USB/FireWire comes out 10-20 years down the road, then you'll have to buy a new floppy disk drive and the like. The biggest problem for long term data storage is data integrity. Many people assume that CD/Hard Drive/DVD media is not suseptible to degrading over time. That is simply not true. If left on a shelf for years, it will break down and become unreadable just like printed material.
  6. jtown macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2003
    I'll throw a "me too" in with the media crowd. I just had a project where I had to get data off old QIC-40 and 80 tapes. So much for the archival wonders of tape. Literally thousands of files were corrupt and unreadable even though they were stored in a climate-controlled room and the drive used for the restoration was in great shape. Some tapes read perfectly and were completely restored in 15 minutees. A couple took as long as a week (with the "n" key jammed so it would get a "no" response when it asked if I wanted to restore the corrupt files). I tried multiple drives and those tapes were just messed up.

    OTOH, I also restored from some DDS-2 tapes and those were quick and flawless. Same with some DDS-4 and LTO tapes. Of course, the DDS-2 tapes only went back to 1997 and the rest were even newer.

    Hard drives are just as bad. I was cleaning out some old equipment last year and wanted to scrub the data off some drives before I tossed them. Couldn't get them to work. Some had only been out of service for a few years. I ended up "erasing" them with a sledge hammer.

    Same with CDR and CDRW. They were supposed to be the archival wonder of the 90s. Bah. I've got CDs less than 5 years old that I can't read. Had a batch at the office that separated. The head of accounting stuck one of the shiny data layers on his wall as a warning that sometimes it pays to spend a little more for a quality product.

    Every time I've had trouble using old data, the problem wasn't my ability to work with the data. The problem was my inability to access the data.

    Bottom line: Make multiple copies of everything important on as many different types of media as possible. And freshen them every couple of years. Make sure you can still read the old media and write it back onto new media. Trouble is few people (or companies) are willing to make that investment.
  7. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    I'm not so sure about that. When people move on to the next great standard, they don't think too much about what they've left behind. I think it could be a real problem in years to come. People think things are "permanent" because they're "on a computer," but nothing could be farther from the truth.

    OTOH, it's possible that JPEG, as an open standard, will continue to be used for years. One thing that's great about storing your photos in iPhoto, for example, is the metadata that's automatically generated when you save your pictures (date/time). By contrast, I have stacks of old photos of my kids that I already have difficulty pinning down exactly when and where they were taken.
  8. titaniumducky macrumors 6502a


    Nov 22, 2003
    They'll work - they'll just be outdated.
  9. idkew macrumors 68020


    Sep 26, 2001
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    slightly on topic.

    i am in the process of putting all my parent's home videos onto dvd. at one point, my dad had videotaped (vhs) an old 35mm (right?) film of my mother when she was pregnant in '76. so, this is the third generation that video has seen.

    i would not be surprised that i, or my future child, will be switching the media that those videos are stored on several times.

    so- take the advice of most on this thread:

    save in a non-propriety format if possible, as in .txt or .rtf for text. Save the Word document also, if there is special formatting and such, but that might become obsolete. .txt never will.

    for photos, i would formatt as a tiff. that is basically raw image data, or as close as you can get w/o having to set formatting each time you open it. keep jpgs also, but those could be more easily made obsolecent.

    for video, i would maybe save as a playable dvd. most likely this will be easily transferred to whatever the new standard is down the road. you will lose quality in the generation jump, but you can't expect perfection. if you have ridiculous amounts of space, save your video as full quality DV.

    and, once again, as others have said, MAKE SEVERAL BACKUPS. your media will not last forever. keep these backups in a dark, cool, dry place. never handle them unless you must. re-backup every few years to be safe.

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