Shawn Ratushniak

TSL Computers

FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, December 12, 2002

There is no doubt that a simple device that actually was considered obsolete when it was introduced in the mid 90s has truly come into its own. Mainly because it is now being used for so many things that no one originally even thought of as an application for the technology.

Compact Disks (CDs) are remarkably durable, they can hold a large amount of data, or an album of music and dead simple to reproduce.
Yesterday it was mentioned that this Christmas lots of people are burning CDs as presents and if you want to get in on the game you need a burner. The one on the shelf in my office that does a fine job still, was $860 in 1996, while TSL Computers have them on a Christmas sale for $99.

We all have loads of pictures, albums, shoe boxes and perhaps trunks of them and they are all going to disappear because the nature of photographic chemistry dictates that there are limits and then the silver crystals are gone. One of the solutions is to scan those treasures and commit them to a set of CDs so great grandchildren will have them. A really great idea, but really think this one through. Though scanners are not that hard to use, restoring and even working through a mess of pictures is a daunting task, requiring lots of skill and a willingness to learn how to use software.

If you think that's going to work, then TSL Computers has a nifty USB scanner for $99. The USB connection makes them simple to install and operate. In most cases you will do your scanning out of a graphics programme like PhotoShop Elements or PhotoShop itself. This will allow you the opportunity to fix things as you go along and believe me, there is always something to fix, specks of dust, a crack or two, or re-contrasting already fading images.

Computer peripheries are a great Christmas gifts in this era for almost everyone in the household. Games, useful applications and hardware all can fill a need, or interest, where the technology is becoming such a part of every person's life.

Now for the warning: The cost of hardware and software seems like a fair amount of money, but both of these costs are dwarfed by the real value and costs in computer technology. A new computer system will cost you more than a thousand dollars and with some software you are looking at another sizable investment ,but the number two cost is learning to use it and keep the equipment running. With a little shopping you can find amazing bargains, on the web, or in the big mass market stores, but that will get you nothing but the stuff. Making it work and keeping it working will require your knowledge and your continued development. If you worked out what it costs a neophyte to master his, or her computer and factored that into money, you would be startled to discover that your time investment will be about four times the capital outlay for hardware and software. Think about that when you consider making that purchase without the service and sales people nearby to back you up.

But the number one cost of computer technology is not the time to learn, not the hardware, or the software it is the resulting work. The production from your computer, the files, the information and the experience recorded in that hard drive is number one. That's why a CD burner is a great investment and a great Christmas gift because some judicious archiving can save your investment in time and effort.

One of the rules of all things is that most things break. The hard drive in a computer is the second most vulnerable component (most vulnerable component is the operating system) after one to many power failures, or just time itself, that hard drive will spin itself to death and with it your stuff. Interestingly, the collapse of the operating system, or a virus, will produce the same catastrophe A destroyed system will have to be replaced and most often that means the hard drive will be erased and everything starts over.

While I was in TSL Computers this morning a machine was in the final stages of coming back to life but its data is gone forever. A simple system mishap and the story vanishes. That's why back up of vital data on a CD or CDR will save the day.

Timothy W. Shire



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