Computer Storage

Some of you may remember in the 1970s when 5 " floppy disks (because they came in bendable plastic casing) were standard on computers for removable media that was rewritable. I believe I gave my last disks away with the old computer that used them. In the 1980s Apple Computer Inc. pioneered the 3 " floppy disk (no longer bendable) capable of holding 1.44MB. In 1998, Apple became the first mass-market computer manufacturer to stop including floppy drives altogether. Since then, other computer manufacturers have followed suit.

When Zip drives came out, they seemed to be the device that might replace the tried and true floppy. Iomega at iomega.com boasts today that they have sold 50 million Zip drives. A Zip disk can hold 100, 250 or 750MB of data. The 250MB disk holds the equivalent of 173 floppy disks. Even with their popularity, Zip drives haven’t become standard hardware on computer systems.

CD drives have. One can burn a CD to store or transfer large files with a CD burner (CD-RW drive) anywhere from 650MB up to 1GB. A CD-R disk can only be burned one time but it can be read by most if not all CD players and drives. The rewritable CD-RW disk can only be read by a CD-RW burner or MultiRead capable CD drives. These drives are becoming standard on new lower end computer systems. Just look at Dell computers at Dell.com, for example. All our computers here at the monastery have a CD burner. I just don’t find myself transferring one or two files using it. I prefer the venerable floppy. But I find myself throwing away more and more floppies I have lying around that have gone bad – many are years old. I do my main backup of My Documents on each computer using CD-RW disks in case the computer hard drive crashes. Iomega says that their Zip drive outpaces the CD-RW burners in rewritable performance – until recently CD-RW discs had to be reformatted to recover the space taken by "deleted" files when a disc becomes full, unlike the competing technologies like Zip which all offer true drag-and-drop functionality with no such limitation. The Zip drive had better be a considerable performance improvement since a 750MB Zip disk will run you $10.00. On the other hand CD and CD-RW disks are relatively inexpensive running 16 cents and 32 cents respectively.

At the start of 1997, DVDs and DVD burners looked like the new king on the block. With a minimum capacity of 4.7GB and with disks now costing 30 cents and 60 cents respectively, one would think CDs would be another obsolete technology. At first DVD standard wars confused consumers and slowed down the adoption of this technology. With newer drives compatibility issues have all but disappeared. Larger hard drives have led to larger media files, especially video. This in turn makes larger capacity disks like DVDs a necessity for transferring and storing files. Just as CDs brought about an explosion in audio recording on computers, DVDs are doing the same with video. DVD burners can be found now on most new computer systems starting at around $1,000.

Even this technology continues to evolve. Current red-laser DVD technology is going to be replaced with blue-laser technology for greater storage density. If that isn’t enough, Sony and Toppan Printing Corporations have announced the development of a new ground-breaking optical disk, made largely from paper! This new disk, which is 51% paper, can store five times more information than the current DVD disks on the market, a whopping 25GB! These disks will be able to hold 2 hours of high definition images and to ensure data security, disks can just be cut with scissors and thrown away. These disks will further lower the price of DVDs and may bring about the end of CDs.

Another removable media choice are USB flash drives. These may well become the replacement for floppies. Since 1996, computers have included USB ports. All new devices now plug into them, including flash drives. These very small drives than can fit into your pocket. They are more durable than hard drives because they contain no internal moving parts. Basically it is a portable hard drive with up to 4GB of storage capacity. You just plug it into your computer USB port and you have access to a new hard drive. They are so easy to use that the U.S. Department of Energy has banned their use from the workplace saying that they make copying and stealing sensitive data just too easy. Flash drives are not cheap – a 2GB one will run you about $150 while 4GB runs $500. You may already have a USB flash drive and not even know it. Digital cameras appear to your computer just like a hard drive. You can transfer files to and from your USB camera that appears just like a hard drive under My Computer or move them to another computer. The same is true of other portable storage devices such as Apple IPods.

Floppies are the oldest form of removable storage and their will always be some nostalgia associated with it. Scott Wills, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Georgia Tech has held onto an old 8" floppy disk. I’m not quite that nostalgic!

As we are at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist I will concentrate on Eucharistic information websites.

As always it is good to begin with the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Eucharist found at vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm#1322.

The Encyclical entitled "On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church" by Pope John Paul II at vatican.va/edocs/ENG0821/_INDEX.HTM contains a wealth of reflection for this year.

While at work or at home you can make a virtual and spiritual communion with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament through your computer. A few places to do this is on our site at monksofadoration.org/chapel.html, at savior.org or St. Martin of Tours Parish at http://louisville-catholic.net/webcams/webcam_main.shtml.

For those who want to get into the theology of the Holy Eucharist see the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas at newadvent.org/summa/4.htm and page down to questions 73 through 83.

EWTN has some links in their online library concerning the Holy Eucharist. Start at ewtn.com/faith/teachings/euchmenu.htm.

There are many good books, videos, talks, etc. available online concerning the Holy Eucharist. They are available from our online shop at monksofadoration.org/giftshop.html or from other retail outlets found in our business category at monksofadoration.org/ccompany.html.

As you can imagine, there are many more links of information and inspiration to ponder over online concerning the Holy Eucharist. For starters see my online Eucharistic links at monksofadoration.org/eucharisc.html.

Brother John Raymond welcomes
e-mail at john@aplusconsultingnow.com.

He is author of Catholics on the Internet: 2000-2001,
Webmaster of www.monkofadoration.org