Digital Photos – Display and Storage

“WILL BAKER’S digital camera has helped solve quite a few problems around the house. Several old PC’s that Mr. Baker would otherwise have placed in deep storage have been put to work in the capacity of dynamic photo frames or, as Mr. Baker likes to put it, “picture flippers.” Mr. Baker, a 46-year-old entrepreneur, cut holes in walls throughout his house in Corona del Mar, Calif., installed monitors and used the old computers to display slide shows of the 15,000 or so digital photos he has collected. The pictures change every three seconds. The frame in the dining room generates the most conversation among family members and guests.”

Every Picture Still Tells a Story, but ‘Family Album’ Is Redefined By KATIE HAFNER, New York Times

This is an interesting idea, though of course it works better in flimsy American houses where you can easily cut holes in the walls. Even if we had any space behind our walls, cutting holes in them would involve drilling through concrete blocks and brick. So instead I’m experimenting with one of WinOnCD’s features, making slide shows that run automatically from a Video CD disc which will play in our set-top DVD player. (A great way to embarrass our daughter at parties!)

I would add a word of caution about storing the family mementos on disc: recordable CDs will not last forever. I’ve been archiving both work and personal files on CD since about 1993, so I have hundreds of discs, containing many duplicate copies of files. Every now and then I get into a housekeeping frenzy. To reduce the piles of old stuff, I recopy sets of files from CD to hard disk, consolidating the multiple copies from various backups into one final copy of each file Then I burn a new CD.

Recopying data from old discs has been a kind of ad hoc testing, with extremely mixed results. I have the uneasy feeling that recordable CDs are not reliable beyond about five years. There are many variables, such as the brand of disc, the recorder used, the recording speed, and the drive you read it back on. But it boils down to this caveat: if a digital photograph, file, or other data is really important to you, recopy it to a fresh disc once a year or so, to ensure that you don’t lose it.

One thought on “Digital Photos – Display and Storage

  1. Hank Lacy

    Hi Deirdré: Technology has changed a great deal since you posted this advice. Apple TV and similar devices have made it very easy to display images on relatively cheap flat screens, but storage and backup technologies really haven’t changed all that much (except for price and capacity). I have a large collection of personal digital photos and of family and personal slides that I scanned over a 5 year period (maybe 8,000) and am starting on old prints. I’ve given up on backing up to CDs and DVDs as too time consuming, so have backed all of these up to 3 totally separate hard drives, and am gradually moving the best of then to the cloud and my personal website. Would you have any other recommendations?

    Enjoy your site (found it through your Facebook comment about Betsy Woodman’s new book), particularly the Woodstock links.

    Cheers,
    Hank Lacy
    Woodstock class of ’63.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *