Writing Pretty Flux Patterns To Old Floppy Disks

Floppy disks are rapidly aging, and archivists are working hard to preserve what data is left. This has led to the development of advanced floppy controllers capable of capturing the raw flux data from disks. [bzotto] was experimenting with the Applesauce archival hardware, and had some fun with the tools.

The result is a highly esoteric Easter egg. [bzotto]’s Picturedsk tool takes a bitmap image as input, and imprints that image into the magnetic flux of the disk. Thus, when viewing a dump of the disk’s magnetic flux on an archival program, the hidden image will be revealed. As an extra treat, it also writes a 1-bit version of the image to track 0, along with a barebones Apple ][ program to display the image and implore the user to investigate further.

It’s a fun hack that we could imagine being used as part of a game at a retro computing con, when we get to go back to those of course. We’ve seen Applesauce used before, too. If you’ve got your own archival projects on the go, be sure to let us know!

Google+ Communities Won’t Go Down Without A Fight

Google+ is dead. Granted people have been saying that much for years now, but this time it’s really true. As of April, Google’s social media experiment will officially go the way of Reader, Buzz, Wave, Notebook, and all the other products that the search giant decided they were no longer interested in maintaining. Unfortunately in the case of Google+, the shutdown means losing a lot of valuable content that was buried in the “Communities” section of the service. Or at least that’s what we all thought.

Thanks to the efforts of [Michael Johnson], many of those Google+ communities now have a second chance at life. After taking a deep dive into the data from his own personal Google+ account, he realized it should be possible to write some code that would allow pulling the content out of Google’s service and transplanting it into a Discourse instance. With some more work, he was even able to figure out how to preserve the ownership of the comments and posts. This is no simple web archive; you can actually log into Discourse with your Google account and have all of your old content attributed to you. Continue reading “Google+ Communities Won’t Go Down Without A Fight”

Floppy Autoloader Takes The Pain Out Of Archiving 5000 Amiga Disks

floppy-autoloader

Archiving data from old floppy disks can be a tedious process at best. Poorly labeled disks combined with slow transfer speeds put it high on the list of things we would rather not do, and it turns out that [Dweller] was of the same opinion. With an estimated 5,000 floppies in his collection, he finally decided it was time to clean house.

With no idea of what was stored where, he decided the best way to go about the process was to read all of the disks, archiving everything, saving the sorting process for later. He originally started by building a floppy autoloader out of Lego Mindstorm parts, which looked good on paper, but performed pretty poorly.

He came across an old floppy duplicator on eBay and figured that since the machine was built for handling gobs of disks, that it was the perfect base for his autoloader. He pulled the mechanical bits from the machine, incorporating them into the rig you see above. He swapped out the duplicator’s brains for an Arduino, which allows him to batch copy his disks and save a picture of each label with little effort.

He says that the system works great, making his life a lot easier (and less cluttered!)

Check out the video below to see his floppy autoloader in action.

Continue reading “Floppy Autoloader Takes The Pain Out Of Archiving 5000 Amiga Disks”