Two Letters Re: Preserving a Digital Library

James,

Regarding the article “Preserving a Digital Library” written by “H335”: Windows XP requires [remote] activation [from a Microsoft server]!

If XP runs at all after a fresh install, it’ll only be for a few days.  If you find yourself reloading XP on a computer in any sort of a grid-down situation, you’re not going to be calling up Microsoft to get your fresh install of XP activated.  Without activation, you can’t even log in to Windows XP.

If you want to run a Microsoft operating system, I’d suggest Windows 7.  I’ve been running a copy unactivated on a laptop for well over a year just to see what it will do. It complains a bit, but has yet to stop me from using it in any way.  I have no experience with Windows 8.x yet.

Or, use an operating system that doesn’t require any sort of activation. Just my $0.02. – F.C.

James,
I wrote about the tin “whisker” problem a couple of years ago and you published it on your blog, but it merits bringing up the subject again. As an electronics design engineer in the space environment and high reliability systems it is worth nothing that since the RoHS initiative that caused the lead to be removed from solder in modern consumer electronics the MTBF is reduced by an order of magnitude, even if the equipment is stored unpowered the tin will still grow whiskers.

Since modern electronics has very close spacing, especially laptops and the such, the whiskers can grow and short pins in a matter of months in some cases. Please have your readers research this for themselves. NASA has done the best job in this area I have seen. I have experienced first hand failures due to this phenomenon, I will see if I can get you some SEM
pictures. Old desktops will last longer due to the larger size components and component spacings in some cases. If you have old pre RoHS computers keep them even if you are stuck with Windows 98 SE or Windows 2000, in the long term of 10-20 years after TEOTWAWKI it may be the only hope. I personally back up data on different brands of CD’s once a year and keep the old ones too. Please see the following listed web sites. Note that the wikipedia link will
not paste correctly due to the trailing “)” at the end of the link.

http://nepp.nasa.gov/WHISKER/
http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/background/index.htm
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2008/apr/03/research.engineering
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisker_(metallurgy)

Regards,

– Jimmy in California

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