You’ve Got Mail!

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Who can forget that iconic greeting or the soothing but irritating dial up tones you heard when accessing your America OnLine account? For those old enough, the odds are that AOL was your first introduction to the wonders of the Internet.

AOL began in 1983 and went through a number of transitions before hitting it big by becoming America’s gateway to the Internet. I first used it with my Commodore 64. The Commodore 64 was an 8 bit system and took its name from the fact that it possessed a whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM. It was far from being blazingly fast but we didn’t care. Back then, we were amazed at the world it introduced us to.

This comes to mind because I had a woman in my studio yesterday with a dilemma. She had a box of old floppy disks that contained a bunch of .art files. These files could not be opened with any program known to her.

.art is a file format that AOL used for graphic images to facilitate transfer speeds. It was a highly compressed file format that is unfortunately no longer used in today’s gigabyte world.

I was unable to help her recover the files that were on those floppy disks because the programs used to read those files are no longer in existence. I asked if perhaps she still had access to the computer which made the files or a backup of the original computer’s hard drive. But she did not. And unfortunately, no other program that I know of can open the files, uncompress them and render a readable image that can then be exported to a different format that can be accessed, stored or printed with today’s equipment.

I truly hate disappointing people. But it served as a rude reminder that technology is continually advancing and as it does, it makes our old technical standards obsolete and unsupported. We can and do work wonders with many of the old formats that were once popular decades ago. But as time continues to advance, our abilities to access older and more obscure formats will grow less and less. It is, unfortunately, the way of the world. If you have memories stored on devices or in files that you currently can’t access, you may want to think about getting them transferred soon before that option is taken away from you forever.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

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It was a slow day today. I came to find out that it was due to a nationwide outage of my landline telephone provider. No calls in/no calls out. Thanks Comcast.

But as frustrating as the day was, it made me reflect on other times when I was “cut off” communication-wise from the rest of the world. I had a strange epiphany.

I realized that being “cut off” from the world is a relatively new experience.  In this age, with our smartphones and 24/7 tv coverage, we are literally plugged in to almost every corner of the world at any given time.  It was not always so.

When I was growing up, news came on at dinner time and was over before we were finished eating. We would read the newspaper to catch up on the news of the day. Sure, the news we were reading was a day old but the reporters had that time to check for things like accuracy.

We had one phone line coming into the house and we had to take turns to use it. And the phones we were using weren’t smart. They weren’t dumb either. They were just phones. You used them to dial a number (on a dial!) and they somehow magically connected you with the person you wanted to speak with. And if you couldn’t reach them you just wrote them a letter and mailed it off. And you would most times get a letter back in response.

The first step I took to full access connectivity to the world was my pager. I had a job where the employers thought it would be good if I could be reached anytime, anywhere, by anybody. I felt important when I was first given the device. I was stupid. It took less than a month for me to learn to hate the pager. But that was only the beginning.

Technology evolved at a rapid pace. Cell phones, Email, Internet Messaging, FaceTime, LiveStream… we eventually reached a place where we can touch anybody at any time, anywhere they are… and they can touch us.  I’m not so sure that’s an improvement.

If memory serves, we were pretty happy when we were less plugged in… less accessible… less connected. At least less connected electronically. We were more connected physically and emotionally. And that isn’t a bad thing at all.  Thanks Comcast for the downtime… and the reminder that human connectivity beats electronic connectivity every time.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specializes in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.