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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, April 9 2002

Keypunch needed

The surprising thing about bringing in a new computer is that when you start, you're sure you can't move on without taking along all the files and layouts you've made in recent months, or years. But since 1994 it seems I've been making zip disk—and later, CD—backups of hard drives, and have virtually never needed to refer to those backlogs later. In fact, after a shorter time period than I'd like to admit, I've forgotten just about everything on those backups. What lessons are to be learned from these observations?

Probably, to me the files represent work. Everything written, and everything typed, can be improved, polished, edited, retyped, reformatted, and recycled. And it's always easier to do all those things than to rewrite or even retype. I have zip disks filled with newspaper files from 1995 which, in the main, consist of articles about events and ideas that were hardly worth using to line the bird cages of the week following publication, yet they exist in disks that some anthropologists an age later than us will pore over to find significance, or at least a shortcut on designing their latest newsletter. When I get a new computer, the old work is threatened, likely to be lost eventually. As long as it's on the hard drive of the computer on which it was created, it has a life of its own. After that, it's less likely to be seen again than an Underwood typewritten manuscript from an unpublished author from 1920, molting in a dusty corner of the Library of Congress.

Computers are work-saving devices. If your work is manipulating data, whether words or figures (in the numeric or the photographic sense) they've proved to be the most labor-saving devices every put on the market.

In the days when Herman Sedloff was publishing the Journal, and typesetting most of its content, all the keystrokes he made every week were saved for a while. The lead (the previous word is the heavy metal) castings of the type were cut to fit into newspaper layouts. Most of the ones used in the Journal were saved for a while in case they might be useful to fill a "hole" in the Portage Dispatch or Cresson-Gallitzin Mainliner. We were always conscious of "keystrokes" and how to make more than one use of them.

Remember when the biggest job available in the computer world (back when computers used punched cards or recording tape for their "short-term" memory) were as "keypunches" or "-punchers"? I'm glad the job has disappeared. But its name was based on the near obsession people in publications and document management at the time had about making "keystrokes" useful for more than one appearance in print.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

State mottos (continued)

Louisiana: We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign

Maine: We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster

Maryland: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It

Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's (For Most Tax Brackets)

Michigan: First Line Of Defense From the Canadians

Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes... And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes

Mississippi: Come And Feel Better About Your Own State

Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

Think of yourself just as a seed, waiting patiently in the earth—waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener's good time—up into the Real world, the Real waking. I suppose that all our present life, looked back on from there, will seem but a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming. It is nearer now than when I began this letter.

—C. S. Lewis
Letters to an American Lady, cited in Into the Wardrobe

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