Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The EVILS of CDs

A lady came into the FHC tonight with her genealogy burned on a compact disc. Her computer had crashed, but someone had fortunately managed to salvage her genealogy information and, not knowing she would want to use it in the future, burned it on this disc. Her thinking was, she could just pop it in one of our computers and start working again on her genealogy.

Every time I see a patron come in with a CD, I cringe. When people bring them in and expect to be able to add new data, correct old stuff, or change it in any way, they are sorely disappointed to find that their CD file is read-only. Burning genealogy on a CD is like taking a picture of it - you can look at it, but you can't undo or change what's already been done. You can't even use it to make a GEDCOM. If you have no other way of preserving your information, then go ahead, but just know that it will remain frozen in time, the way it is.

I tried six ways from Sunday to get that stinky little disc to cough up that information and let me save it somewhere else - the hard drive, the floppy disk, my email account - anywhere but on that CD. It wasn't budging. The poor lady was so sad and angry and frustrated, to think that 800 people on her file were now stuck on that CD. If she wanted to add anything new, they would have to be re-entered on her genealogy program, costing her years of work. My fellow staff member and I were just sick for her.

Knowing it was beyond my abilities, I called the King of All Geeks, my good friend Canadian Dan, and bugged him in the middle of a business trip. He was happy to help. Here's what he told me to do:

1) Put the CD in the drive and click on "My Computer," then click on the CD-rom drive
2) Find the genealogy file, click on it, and drag it to the desktop
3) Once it's on the desktop, it should open with the genealogy program. Open it and save it to your jump drive, hard drive, or floppy disk (I'd do all three, plus email it to about 18 relatives and send a GEDCOM to Rootsweb).
4) Keep messing around with it until it works. I had to tweak it several times before it would do what I wanted it to, but eventually the file was saved on a floppy disk and we all cheered and sighed huge sighs of relief.

I'm saving this information for the next time a patron comes in with one of these naughty CDs. They are NOT the genealogist's friend, unless you're saving pictures or documents or something you won't want to "mess with." They are for saving purposes ONLY. If you're like me and keep finding new stuff or get emails from new cousins all the time, for crying out loud, do NOT save your stuff on a compact disc.

P.S. This is very, very cool.

1 comment:

  1. I cringe every time someone tells me their photographs and other documents in a jpeg file are on CD or DVD (see my blog www.preservephotoimages.blogspot.com). They realize often too late how CD's can get scratched or broken or the software changes and they can't retrieve the images (after all how many of us have floppy drives on our laptops?). Any one who values their photographic images and family historical documents need to archive (not just store) them on reputable online servers. Thanks for the chance to vent.