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Journal Yaztromo's Journal: Do you still use optical media regularly? 2

I just finished up a rather large project implementing a robotic blimp. We based the system on at Atmel AT90USB Key device, which is a really flexible little development board with a ton of connectivity. We wired in motors, sonars, a digital compass, and a 2.4Ghz radio. We started off with absolutely no software, so we wrote a Real-time Operating System, device drivers for all the hardware, a protocol stack for the wireless radios, an RS-232 driver, and even an ANSI/VT-100 driver. We built the blimp ourselves (a company donated a massive roll of mylar), and even made our own tool for sealing mylar sheets together.

As you might be able to imagine, this resulted in a lot of output. We wrote tons of documentation, tons of code, had reams of experimental output, and even had a set of digital videos showing various parts of the system in action throughout development (you can see web-friendly versions of them here).

So today, with my team and myself finishing up the last of the documentation, I decided to put it all on a DVD. I grabbed what's left of the spindle of single-sided DVDs, and took them to my G5 in my lab.

I recall my first CD burner -- a 4x4x16 Yamaha SCSI CD-RW drive (I still have it, installed and running in an old machine). Back when I got it in the mid-late 90's, it was just barely on the cusp of becoming a semi-common peripheral. A year or two after I got it, suddenly every computer manufacturer was tripping over themselves to include a CD writer.

These days, the vast majority of systems sold come with CD/DVD burners. They are everywhere. The media has good capacity, and is easily and cheaply available.

And yet today, as I burned the first DVD, I really couldn't remember the last time I had burned a disc. That spindle of DVDs I brought to the lab with me has been in my possession for at least a year and a half, and I'm still not all the way through them.

Thinking about it, I don't have much need for optical media anymore. There are only two cases where they come in useful: burning video DVDs (such as I did today, and burning the occasional MP3 CD for my car MP3 CD player. Both are very infrequent events. For everything else, I use either my laptop, a USB flash key, iPod, or network storage. For files that I need easy access to anywhere, I can put them onto my iDisk. For large capacity, I have a file server with 300GB of storage. Ten years ago I was so excited at being able to store 650MB on a single disc, but now I rarely even use optical media for much of anything (even though I have a dual layer DVD burner at my disposal, and hence can store 8.5GB of data on one disc).

So how about you? Do you burn as many optical discs as you once did, or are removable disc media a rarity in your life as well, supplanted by network storage, USB keys, and iPods?


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Do you still use optical media regularly?

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  • Both are very infrequent events. For everything else, I use either my laptop, a USB flash key, iPod, or network storage.

    I ditched optical as a storage/backup medium a few years ago, and it's worked out great. I buy at least one or two new HDs every year, so what's the point?
  • Mostly, the only things I burn are when I download an .iso; I burn it so that I can boot off it. Of course, as soon as I get the OS installed, I configure Linux to use the .iso file as an install source, so I don't even need it after that. I throw it into a drawer or laptop bag anyway, just in case.

    Actually, I do still make a backup of the family finance data files once a month or so. That goes on CD, because it isn't that large an amount of data.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.