Storing Porn in Floppy Disks



  • A few years ago I took a job as an intern at the college I go to. They have this program where students who have a lot of free time on their hands can work as lab assistants when they aren't having classes, and though we were not paid for it, the hours we spent there counted towards extracurricular activities.

    The labs were a desolate place during afternoons, so a lot of those extracurricular activities went into playing Need for Speed Underground 2 and Counter Strike with other four lab assistants. By evening, though, right before classes, the labs were full. Most of the assistance we did involved explaining to business and law students that they can't use their hotmail login to log into the lab network and vice versa, or how to place an acute accent on a vowel (such as the 'é' in "resumé").

    We had some house rules in the labs, and chiefly among them was that all porn is forbidden in the lab. In theory we should handle people caught browsing through porn sites first by giving them a verbal warning, then a written one, then telling it to the dean. In practice, though, it was much more fun and efficient to harass them by exposing them loudly, sending a NET SEND message to their machines saying the porn site had stolen their credit card data and, in some rare cases, threatening to tell it to their parents (and in one case, wife).

    There was one user, though, who deserves some sort of honorable mention. We noticed this guy was always saving something in a bunch of floppy disks. He usually brought ten at a time to the lab. Some of us felt pity for this, and I even considered walking him to a store to buy a flash drive (which are sold even in drugstores around here for crying out loud). Anyway, you already know what he was saving on those disks from the title of the thread, but back then we figured he was bringing homework from home. Then one day he asked some help because he was losing the data on his floppy disks - besides being old disks, he also had a habit of putting his cell phone over the stacked floppies. When I got to his PC he got all dodgy and suddenly didn't want help with his disks anymore, but it was too late. It was also the first time I'd seen Selena Spice. We gave him the warning and the usual harassment and I thought that was it.

    Fast forward to two weeks later, and I catch this guy having trouble with his floppies again. I approached him from behind the monitor, so I didn't see what he was checking this time, and told him that it was his cell phone's electromagnetic field that was destroying the data on the floppies. He thanked me, but then, looking somewhat afraid of getting caught, turned the monitor off in a reflex. Bad move... That's like quickly stuffing stuff in your underwear when a cop is about to run a search on you. I turned the monitor around and then turned it on in a swift motion. It was a site that showed girls in bikinis, no genitals nor nipples exposed. The floppy disk porn guy claimed that level of exposition did not count as pornography. Not that I would care, he was ocuppying a machine that someone else could be using to study or something, so the usual quarreling ensued.

    I couldn't decide whether his exposition level argument was valid, so I just gave him another round of harassing by using my cell phone to take a picture of him and the monitor showing the aforementioned site (told him I'd publish it in the college newsletter), then calling other people in the lab who were waiting for a vacant computer to do some homework to have a chat with him. And that was the last I saw of the floppy disk porn guy, for he has never appeared again anywhere near the labs.



  • [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]

    ...having trouble with his floppies again.[/quote]

     Tee-hee.

    I, er, "know a guy" who as a teenager used to save porn on floppy disks, then take them to his room.  The only PC in there was an old 8088 XT with a monochrome amber, CGA resolution monitor, so nobody suspected it of even being capable of displaying pictures.



  • 000011101010010000110010101 OGC



  • @XIU said:

    000011101010010000110010101 OGC
     

    brb need to change my pants



  • I somehow doubt that cellphones are capable of erasing floppies.

    Also, wouldn't you take the stuff off the floppies once you got it home?



  • @merreborn said:

    I somehow doubt that cellphones are capable of erasing floppies.

    Also, wouldn't you take the stuff off the floppies once you got it home?

    I doubt it's erasing so much as bad blocks.  Floppies are already very failure-prone as it is; back when I last used them (a decade ago, for fuck's sake) they would often get corrupted after a couple months of normal usage.  The cellphone probably increases the failure rate, although probably not terribly, you're right about that.  More likely, he was using 10 at once so his chance of getting a bum disk went way up.  Plus, he was reading/writing porn from/to them all the time.  Also, modern floppy drives seem a lot shittier than they used to be.  Maybe not, but it seems to me they're so low-quality nowadays that corruption is much more frequent than when I first used floppies.



  •  Floppies definitely got worse over the course of even the 1990s, so I can't imagine how bad they are these days. I remember doing an ad-hoc test to see how durable floppies were circa 1994. I was able to scribble all over the internal disc of a floppy with a ballpoint pen and still read all the data off it. Then, later, circa 2000 (just before flash drives became affordable) it had gotten to the point where I literally couldn't carry a floppy in my hand for three blocks without corrupting something on it.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Also, modern floppy drives seem a lot shittier than they used to be.  Maybe not, but it seems to me they're so low-quality nowadays that corruption is much more frequent than when I first used floppies.

     

    Agreed. Floppy drives made after the rise of USB thumbdrives began tend to be crap. This seems to be because the companies that used to make good ones have stopped making them altogether because there's no longer any money in it; those who remain are mostly those who have always made cheap, crappy floppy drives and can stay in the business because their costs are lower.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I doubt it's erasing so much as bad blocks.  Floppies are already very failure-prone as it is; back when I last used them (a decade ago, for fuck's sake) they would often get corrupted after a couple months of normal usage.  The cellphone probably increases the failure rate, although probably not terribly, you're right about that.  More likely, he was using 10 at once so his chance of getting a bum disk went way up.  Plus, he was reading/writing porn from/to them all the time.  Also, modern floppy drives seem a lot shittier than they used to be.  Maybe not, but it seems to me they're so low-quality nowadays that corruption is much more frequent than when I first used floppies.
     

     Modern floppy drives?  You mean they still make the things?  I haven't seen one advertised anywhere since the 90s.

    And what's this about discs getting corrupted after a few months?  My first computer was an Apple IIe, with dual 5 1/4" floppies.  I used that extensively for almost 5 years (read: played lots of games on it) and never lost any data that I can remember.  I'd occasionally lose something on 3 1/2" discs of later systems, but that was due to abuse or accidents far more often than disc corruption.



  • @XIU said:

    000011101010010000110010101 OGC
     

    All I see now is blonde, brunette, redhead.  Also a couple of vibrators and a strap-on.  And the pizza guy just showed up.



  • @Mason Wheeler said:

     Modern floppy drives?  You mean they still make the things?  I haven't seen one advertised anywhere since the 90s.

    Oh, I'm sure somebody makes them.  But specifically I'm referring to ones made since 1998 or so, which is still "modern" by floppy standards.



  • Totally OT, but I'm wondering...

    [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"](such as the 'é' in "resumé").[/quote] A quick lmgtfy didn't reallly indicate what the answer was, but if they're messing with graves in the word to begin with, shouldn't there be another grave there?




  • Those are acutes. Grave accents are like acutes flipped horizontally, as in these: 'à', 'è', 'ò'.

    And though you found résumé first, resumé is also valid.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @Mason Wheeler said:

     Modern floppy drives?  You mean they still make the things?  I haven't seen one advertised anywhere since the 90s.

    Oh, I'm sure somebody makes them.  But specifically I'm referring to ones made since 1998 or so, which is still "modern" by floppy standards.

     

    floppy guy



  • @arty said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @Mason Wheeler said:

     Modern floppy drives?  You mean they still make the things?  I haven't seen one advertised anywhere since the 90s.

    Oh, I'm sure somebody makes them.  But specifically I'm referring to ones made since 1998 or so, which is still "modern" by floppy standards.

     

    floppy guy

    I find the crest on that guy's head extremely disturbing.



  •  I have a C-64 that I still drag out of storage occasionally, disks still work fine. 

     Where I work we send customers information on floppy disk (still to this day) and 1 in 5 of the disks is bad right off the bat. We have an oldschool disk-duplicator machine that still faithfully chugs away and as time goes on the statistics on pass/fail get worse and worse (and it's not the machine, it is serviced regularly). Luckily our office is full of packrats so we still have all the old "original" floppy drives (including 5.25 ones) around the office to use when we need them on rare occasion. New floppy drives do seem to have just about as good a failure rate as new disks, they won't read "known good" disks 1 out of 5 times or so. 



  • @Mason Wheeler said:

    And what's this about discs getting corrupted after a few months?  My first computer was an Apple IIe, with dual 5 1/4" floppies.  I used that extensively for almost 5 years (read: played lots of games on it) and never lost any data that I can remember.  I'd occasionally lose something on 3 1/2" discs of later systems, but that was due to abuse or accidents far more often than disc corruption.
     

    Oddly, the integrity of data on the floppy disks I own is inversely proportional to how old they are.  The old 5.25" floppies from my PCjr are still perfectly readable (at least as of the last time I checked... the disks outlived all the computers with compatible 5.25" drives, unfortunately).  Early 3.5" floppies for my IBM PS/1 mostly work, though ones used for personal data storage have a greater likelyhood of having gone bad than commercialy written disks, probably due to the far-more-frequent re-writes on the data storage floppies.  Very few of the floppies used with my Windows 95 PC are still readable, and now I consider floppies I use for computer fixes (Ethernet drivers, boot disks, etc.) to be disposable, as they are usually unreadable weeks to months after being used. 

    It has gotten to the point where I fear trying to update my BIOS from a floppy, any longer.  Instead I prefer the in-Windows route, error-prone as that is.  (In fact, my last BIOS update from 3.5" disk failed miserably.  I have yet to see a failure during a live update, though.)



  • @EJ_ said:

    I have a C-64 that I still drag out of storage occasionally, disks still work fine. 

    I have a TI-99/4A that I still drag out of storage occasionally, with lots of BASIC programs stored on cassette tapes.  Sadly, many sections of those have degraded beyond readability.  (Still fun to listen to the melodic attempts to read them with the cassette player, though.)

    @EJ_ said:

    Where I work we send customers information on floppy disk (still to this day)
     

    Okay, I'll bite: where do you work (and what do you work with) that customers need to get floppy disks by mail?



  • @Mason Wheeler said:

     Modern floppy drives?  You mean they still make the things?  I haven't seen one advertised anywhere since the 90s.
     

    Me neither, but the Dell computer my workplace bought me last year has a stinkin' floppy drive in it. I have no idea why they selected that particular option in the build screen... it's an Optiplex 960.



  • @EJ_ said:

     I have a C-64 that I still drag out of storage occasionally, disks still work fine. 
     

    Believe me, you're lucky. My C-64 game disks are all bad, I tried them a couple years ago.

    From my understanding, the disks live longer if you pull them out every year or so and just load all the data from the disk, then put them back away. The drive "refreshes" the magnetic signal as it reads the data.



  •  Floppies are still used with legacy embedded solutions. For example:

    • automation manipulators (store programs on floppies)
    • musical samplers (samples)
    • digital oscilloscopes (save plots)
    Modern embedded systems slowly introduce USB storage, but remember that the upgrade velocity is slower in the embedded world. (My sampler works perfectly, why change it?)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Also, modern floppy drives seem a lot shittier than they used to be.
    This is in fact true. Floppy drives produced ages ago are notoriously more reliable than newer ones.

    Newer disks are also poorer as well. I have 8" and 5.25" disks from the dawn of time that still work flawlessly (often outlasting the equipment they were designed to work with), and ancient AOL floppies that still work, but new-in-box disks come with bad sectors already on them. The reason there may actually be down to logistics - electric forklifts that spew huge magnetic fields are now the norm, but were much less so just 15 years ago.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     Fun floppy-related story. When I first bought my PC's current chassis, Windows XP was the hot shit. However, most mainboards required an aftermarket driver for their SATA chips if you weren't running them in crippleware IDE emulation mode - and the XP disks of the era didn't have a clue about them. The XP installer, for those of you who are clueless, can only load aftermarket mass storage drivers off a floppy. Yes, yes, slipstream blah blah yawn I don't give a rat's ass that shit takes work.

     

    So I installed a floppy drive, seeing as Vista was still in the distance and I figured I'd need it more than once. However, to avoid spoiling the aesthetics, I installed the drive BACKWARDS, so it's completely internal to the chassis. Later, I did a large hardware upgrade just when Vista came out. I was going to use Vista on the new build, so I disconnected the cables to the floppy drive but forgot to actually remove it.

     

    Ages passed. Windows Vista grew old, and Windows 7 came out and was installed. The floppy requirement was long forgotten. And then I did another hardware upgrade. I opened the chassis and said aloud "what in the fuck is that?"

    The floppy drive. Still mounted.

     

    An overwhelming sense of nostalgia caused me to re-cable it, and indeed set it to the first item in the new boot sequence. This is why my quad-core, 8gb-of-RAM, multi-terabyte monstrosity of a PC still makes the 1992-esque floppy-seek-on-boot noise.



  • This is rather off-topic, but I will just drop this here:



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @EJ_ said:

     I have a C-64 that I still drag out of storage occasionally, disks still work fine. 
     

    Believe me, you're lucky. My C-64 game disks are all bad, I tried them a couple years ago.

    From my understanding, the disks live longer if you pull them out every year or so and just load all the data from the disk, then put them back away. The drive "refreshes" the magnetic signal as it reads the data.

     

     

    Faraday is spinning in his grave



  • @WhiskeyJack said:

    [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]

    ...having trouble with his floppies again.

     Tee-hee.

    I, er, "know a guy" who as a teenager used to save porn on floppy disks, then take them to his room.  The only PC in there was an old 8088 XT with a monochrome amber, CGA resolution monitor, so nobody suspected it of even being capable of displaying pictures.

    [/quote] 

    My first computer porn experience was in 1994 (I was in grade 9), with monochrome "video" in a FLI file: "Bunny likes to go to the beach. She likes to have fun and get wet. She really likes it when he DRIVES HER HOME" (Something like this). An older kid had handed me a disk and told me to check it out. I did - in the school computer labs. Luckily no teacher saw it.



  • @pbean said:

    This is rather off-topic, but I will just drop this here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FlashPath

     

     

    Never seen one of those before. 

    An employee of SmartDisk was living at No.2 floppy road and he needed to deliver a letter to No.4 Floppy Road, i.e next house in the block. He went out into his garden and crossed all the neighbours gardens until he got to the end of the block at No.64 Floppy Road.  He then got onto the front of the houses of Floppy road and walked back down the row to No.4 and delivered the letter.  Later at work he would design a device that provided Flash media access for floppy drives by going 'around the houses'.




  • @WhiskeyJack said:

    I, er, "know a guy" who as a teenager used to save porn on floppy disks, then take them to his room.  The only PC in there was an old 8088 XT with a monochrome amber, CGA resolution monitor, so nobody suspected it of even being capable of displaying pictures.
    animate.exe? let's see how many remember/know this :)



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @EJ_ said:

     I have a C-64 that I still drag out of storage occasionally, disks still work fine. 
     

    Believe me, you're lucky. My C-64 game disks are all bad, I tried them a couple years ago.

    From my understanding, the disks live longer if you pull them out every year or so and just load all the data from the disk, then put them back away. The drive "refreshes" the magnetic signal as it reads the data.


    I have never heard of such thing, and googling gave me nothing. I may suck at googling.



  •  floppy guy

     

    1)  "External USB"?  Someone might want to tell that guy that they're external use only.

     

    2) Why did they rip off the Tampax design for their box?  Because, I know I'm just a guy, but I'm pretty sure those ARE internal use only?



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    1)  "External USB"?  Someone might want to tell that guy that they're external use only.

     No they're not.  My laptop has a built-in USB keyboard and trackpad



  • @blakeyrat said:

    From my understanding, the disks live longer if you pull them out every year or so and just load all the data from the disk, then put them back away. The drive "refreshes" the magnetic signal as it reads the data.

    It's possible for a drive to be designed to do this.  I seem to recall hearing that the C64 floppy drives were.

    I believe most floppy drives do not re-write the data they just read, so hauling your floppy disks out once a year to simply read them with those drives would actually wear out the disks faster.

    Back at the end of my using floppy disks, I found that reformatted very old floppies worked much better than new floppies.  Admittedly, my new floppies in that experiment were from a box of 150 floppy disks for $45, with a $45 rebate.  So, basically, they cost the sales tax on $45 (because they didn't refund that, and I'd pretty much bet they didn't send it on to Uncle Sam) plus the interest on $45 over the 8 weeks it took for them to process the refund, minus the presort rate on their mail back to me.  At that price, I can't imagine anyone having a sustainable business making them.



  • @halcyon1234 said:

    1)  "External USB"?  Someone might want to tell that guy that they're external use only.
    I guess you haven't seen devices that plug directly into USB headers on motherboards. Card readers that fit the 3,5" bays are most common such devices, but there are such floppy drives, too. (and then there are also motherboards with internal A connectors).



  • @ender said:

    @halcyon1234 said:
    1)  "External USB"?  Someone might want to tell that guy that they're external use only.
    I guess you haven't seen devices that plug directly into USB headers on motherboards. Card readers that fit the 3,5" bays are most common such devices, but there are such floppy drives, too. (and then there are also motherboards with internal A connectors).
    You can add laptop webcams to the list.



  • @tgape said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    From my understanding, the disks live longer if you pull them out every year or so and just load all the data from the disk, then put them back away. The drive "refreshes" the magnetic signal as it reads the data.

    It's possible for a drive to be designed to do this.  I seem to recall hearing that the C64 floppy drives were.

    I believe most floppy drives do not re-write the data they just read, so hauling your floppy disks out once a year to simply read them with those drives would actually wear out the disks faster.

    I can't speak for the C64, but I seem to remember a recommendation from very long ago (Zenith Z89 ?) for 5 1/4 in disks, to read the data, reformat the disk and rewrite the data, about once a year. IIRC, this was allegedly because the disks changed shape slightly over time, so the tracks became egg-shaped and no longer aligned with the heads (non-servoed heads). I believe the distortion was due to the disks being stamped from non-isotropic material.

    Disclaimer: Please don't pick holes in the details, I'm dredging up this memory from nearly thirty years ago !



  • @Weng said:

     Fun floppy-related story. When I first bought my PC's current chassis, Windows XP was the hot shit. However, most mainboards required an aftermarket driver for their SATA chips if you weren't running them in crippleware IDE emulation mode - and the XP disks of the era didn't have a clue about them. The XP installer, for those of you who are clueless, can only load aftermarket mass storage drivers off a floppy. Yes, yes, slipstream blah blah yawn I don't give a rat's ass that shit takes work.

     

    So I installed a floppy drive, seeing as Vista was still in the distance and I figured I'd need it more than once. However, to avoid spoiling the aesthetics, I installed the drive BACKWARDS, so it's completely internal to the chassis. Later, I did a large hardware upgrade just when Vista came out. I was going to use Vista on the new build, so I disconnected the cables to the floppy drive but forgot to actually remove it.

     

    Ages passed. Windows Vista grew old, and Windows 7 came out and was installed. The floppy requirement was long forgotten. And then I did another hardware upgrade. I opened the chassis and said aloud "what in the fuck is that?"

    The floppy drive. Still mounted.

     

    An overwhelming sense of nostalgia caused me to re-cable it, and indeed set it to the first item in the new boot sequence. This is why my quad-core, 8gb-of-RAM, multi-terabyte monstrosity of a PC still makes the 1992-esque floppy-seek-on-boot noise.

    This made my day. I could so see myself doing the same...



  • @ender said:

    @halcyon1234 said:
    1)  "External USB"?  Someone might want to tell that guy that they're external use only.
    I guess you haven't seen devices that plug directly into USB headers on motherboards. Card readers that fit the 3,5" bays are most common such devices, but there are such floppy drives, too. (and then there are also motherboards with internal A connectors).
     

    I know that-- but the guy still shoved floppy disks directly into his skull.



  • @tgape said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    From my understanding, the disks live longer if you pull them out every year or so and just load all the data from the disk, then put them back away. The drive "refreshes" the magnetic signal as it reads the data.

    It's possible for a drive to be designed to do this.  I seem to recall hearing that the C64 floppy drives were.

    I believe most floppy drives do not re-write the data they just read, so hauling your floppy disks out once a year to simply read them with those drives would actually wear out the disks faster.

    Back at the end of my using floppy disks, I found that reformatted very old floppies worked much better than new floppies.  Admittedly, my new floppies in that experiment were from a box of 150 floppy disks for $45, with a $45 rebate.  So, basically, they cost the sales tax on $45 (because they didn't refund that, and I'd pretty much bet they didn't send it on to Uncle Sam) plus the interest on $45 over the 8 weeks it took for them to process the refund, minus the presort rate on their mail back to me.  At that price, I can't imagine anyone having a sustainable business making them.

     

    Well, I could be full of shit, it's just something I heard second-hand. But I know other magnetic medias do that, VCRs specifically... so it's not completely unreasonable in any case. :)

    Either way, my C-64 disks are all dead.



  • Reading the disk won't do anything, but I remember being told to diskcopy a floppy to itself every year or so to keep it readable.

    A few years ago I needed a floppy to install RAID drivers for a Win2K server. The only one I could find was a CDROM driver disk, and of course trying to format it gave "track 0 bad, disk unusable". Not having many options available (it was a Sunday), I used rawrite to write a linux boot image to the disk. After the third write the disk worked again.

     


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