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Emulation (Games) Technology

Emulation For Preservation of Digital Artifacts 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the sitting-at-his-virtual-desk dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Author Salman Rushdie donated his papers and notes to Emory University a while ago. Not surprisingly, many of Rushdie's original notes, drafts, and correspondence existed in electronic form. Rather than printing them out or converting them to other formats, archivists at the university created an emulated image of Rushdie's old computer, complete with old software. Researchers visiting the archive can read his email in Eudora and his Stickies notes, or read drafts of his books in ClarisWorks. When you leave your legacy to future generations, would you like a virtualized copy of your personal system to be included?"
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Emulation For Preservation of Digital Artifacts

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  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:55PM (#31961416)
    But it will totally mess up talking to our grandkids! They will know exactly how bad it was.
    • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:01PM (#31961508)
      Why, when I was young, there was no streaming video from "pornhub.com"... I had to download ASCII porn from a dial-up BBS over a 1200 baud modem!

      Now that "the network is the computer", it is not enough to emulate just the local machine... much of what a computer does relies on interaction with a network that will be radically different in just a few years. E.g. how will all those DRM encumbered videos and tunes authenticate? Most of what my daughter regards as being "on the computer" is actually just the local interface of an application running on a server thousands of miles away.
      • Now that "the network is the computer", it is not enough to emulate just the local machine... much of what a computer does relies on interaction with a network that will be radically different in just a few years. E.g. how will all those DRM encumbered videos and tunes authenticate?

        Simple: take a snapshot of environment that the authentication requires, and then emulate that in perpetuity.

        • by shogun (657)

          Now that "the network is the computer", it is not enough to emulate just the local machine... much of what a computer does relies on interaction with a network that will be radically different in just a few years. E.g. how will all those DRM encumbered videos and tunes authenticate?

          Simple: take a snapshot of environment that the authentication requires, and then emulate that in perpetuity.

          Sounds simple... so why aren't pirates currently doing just that?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by ClickOnThis (137803)

            Sounds simple... so why aren't pirates currently doing just that?

            Well I don't know, maybe they are ... but the issue is how to maintain the authentication long after the authenticators no longer exist on a network. I assume that a digital museum could obtain the co-operation of the rights-holders to perform the needed authentication emulation.

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          take a snapshot of environment that the authentication requires I tried, but for some reason Blizzard and Steam won't let me take a snapshot of their servers. Go figure!
      • When I was young (actually in my mid 20's) only the rich people had 1200 baud. The rest of us had 300 baud.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Good, perhaps in the future the elders won't have it so easy to paint their views as more valuable than they really are. Who knows, it might even help them realise a) who funds their well being now b) who covers majority of their medical expenses. Perhaps resulting in decency not to frak things up (say, while voting) many years down the line, when they are long gone.

  • Who the hell is going to want to go through my old electronic junk? There is so little of value spaced out amongst so much cruft that it wouldn't be worth anyone's time to sort it all out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Beelzebud (1361137)
      No one is, and that's because you're no Salmon Rushdie...
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Send it to me, ill go thru it.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Who the hell is going to want to go through my old electronic junk? "

      Tell that to the guy who was using the Rosetta stone as a doorstopper.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Trash dumps are one of the most valuable objects for archeologists. They tell quite a lot about people who left the trash, indiscriminately, without really any whitewashing from the culture you want to study.

      • by plover (150551) *

        Most of our fascination with the past is not "how they lived" but rather "how they survived given the hardships of their existence". Nobody in the future is going to care how we lived or died, other than to note that we turned more raw resources into garbage in a single century than all of humanity consumed in all prior centuries combined.

        There are exceptional people, of course, that are fascinating to study for reasons other than "how they survived." I will not be one of them, not even with significant c

    • by Joe Tie. (567096)
      A year after you die, almost nobody. A hundred years, possibly quite a few. Two hundred, I'm betting it'd quite possibly of historic importance. Recording and understanding history is very limited by how little "guy on the street" information we have for so much of it.
  • How well will this sit with Apple and other copyright owners of non-free operating systems, applications, and media files that were on the decedent's drive?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Given what Apple offers free for download on their site [apple.com], I would tend to say somewhere between "pretty well" and "don't care."

      • Mostly that's updaters they have for free download. You can't download Claris Works.

        They do have MacOS 7.53 available.

        (I don't need to, have it on original CD)

        • I find it funny that Rushdie was a Mac user back then, and used ClarisWorks. I actually liked that package a lot, as it did about enough for most people. I just think it's funny that he used it and Eudora at about the same time that I did.
    • Why would this be an issue? It's not like you or I can download it and experience it, we have to go and visit the archive to see it.

      Having an emulation of the computer just helps preserve the original, while only 1 copy of the OS/App/Media is active at all.

      This is how VMWare can justify Virtualization. You can use 1 license for everything, and have multiple copies of the machine available, but only 1 running.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Why would this be an issue?

        Do they make sure to run the emulated Mac OS only on an Apple Labeled Computer as per the EULA?

        • Maybe they stuck one of those Rainbow stickers on it that you get in the package with many Apple products.

          Any computer can be Apple Labeled if you've got those stickers.

          (I've always liked placing the Intel Inside stickers on wastebaskets.)

    • by maxume (22995)

      Well, licenses are still transferable, so their opinion probably doesn't need to matter.

      I imagine that the legal apparatus in the U.S. would also, eventually, tend to side with the archivists (there are lots of judges that, in the event a lawyer came into their court to complain about a librarian making an archival copy of a 15 year software system that is no longer available for sale, would tell the lawyer to get bent, in approximately so many words).

  • cd /porn
    rm -rf

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zill (1690130)
      Don't forget to zero it out!

      Better yet, use the Gutmann method [wikipedia.org].
      • The Gutmann wipe has been overkill for a very long time. Disk density is high enough that a single random pass is enough.
  • Depends... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...do you still have a working ext3 driver in the future and do you want 100 gigs of tranny porn and bad PHP programs?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Velex (120469)

      do you want 100 gigs of tranny porn

      As a tranny myself, all I have to say is, "Link plz."

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:06PM (#31961590) Homepage

    My ideas are not original. In fact, the idea sort of comes from various story lines from popular SciFi shows like Star Trek and SG-1. Not only should we be creating digital archives, we should be creating digital archives inside of orbital vehicles that are capable of sustaining their own orbits indefinitely. We should then beam up any and all data we can about ourselves to survive as evidence of our existence. If 2012 "end of the world as we know it" really were to happen, such digital archives in space would be at the very least pretty interesting to any beings that emerge after us or who happen along through our star system.

    This would be rather like voyager but would be continually updated as time and technology progresses. Keeping it in orbit is just about the best way to preserve it whether the data storage is in our local orbit or on the moon.

    • by maxume (22995)

      I'm all for it, if you pay for it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Until the public get spaceships, then someone will drunkenly ram the digital archive with a megatanker and deorbit it along with hundreds of years of history. On the other hand, bounty hunters chasing outlaw ship jackers may get it blown up as collateral damage. Orrrr someone accidentally feeds the wrong targeting data into a kinetic kill missile.

      Pff, orbital museums. It's just best to store that data in the 'net, cyberpunk genre systems are more reliable than space sci-fi.

    • My ideas are not original. In fact, the idea sort of comes from various story lines from popular SciFi shows like Star Trek and SG-1. Not only should we be creating digital archives, we should be creating digital archives inside of orbital vehicles that are capable of sustaining their own orbits indefinitely.

      And when another civilization comes across it, it takes control of their captain's mind, has him/her/it experience a lifetime as a member of the other culture, then permanently wipes itself and leaves them with nothing but a flute?

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Keeping it in orbit is just about the best way to preserve it whether the data storage is in our local orbit or on the moon.

      If you meant there orbit around the Moon...that's a bad idea, orbits there are highly unstable. But placing most of the data storage under the lunar surface is probably the best place. Kinda like second monolith...

    • If the future people would even notice. They might just visit a few times in 1969 and never go back. http://www.webscription.net/p-291-mutineers-moon.aspx [webscription.net]
  • Why do they need to emulate Eudora. I still use my copy every day. It runs fine under 64-bit Windows 7.

    • by dryo (989455)
      I'm still using Eudora too... after all of these years. 13 years I think. WinXP64 currently.
    • by adavies42 (746183)
      they're clearly talking about eudora for classic mac os, given the references to clarisworks and stickies.
  • The problem is too far into the future the host you chose to emulate on may not exist either..

    • Well then just emulate the computer used to host the emulator!

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Of course, but it will be a question of how many layers can you go until things become unusable. At some point it wont be realistic.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Of course, but it will be a question of how many layers can you go until things become unusable. At some point it wont be realistic.

          So long as you have a few generations of hardware between the 'layered' emulators it shouldn't be a big deal; back in the 90s I remember running a DOS-based Sinclair Spectrum emulator on a PC Emulator on a Sparc laptop and the games ran at the same speed as the original Spectrum despite having two layers of emulation between them and the real CPU.

          Of course emulation bugs will tend to accumulate through the layers, so if you have fifteen layers you may find that it doesn't run the way it's supposed to :).

        • Why would it not be realistic? PCs today is literally thousands of times faster than the last common PCs that can't run binary-compatible software with them. I don't see any reason to think this won't remain the case in the future, even if it always seems like there are show stopping performance limiting problems in the short-term.
    • I've just downloaded an emulator for an old system I used to use (George 3 on an ICL 1900).

      The emulator wants to run on Windows.

      Bugger, I'll have to run it under wine.

  • When you leave your legacy to future generations, would you like a virtualized copy of your personal system to be included?

    Sure, but the writing on the walls of the cell gets kind of hard to read in the corners.

  • Information has a shelf life: Most of the stuff on anybody's computer is really uninteresting, even to the owner of the information, and becomes more uninteresting as time passes.

    Add to that the fact that a lot of the contents of any given person's computer is the same as those of everybody elses. (E.g. how many copies of windows and word would be saving if this practice was to be widespread? How many viagra and cheap mortgage offers in the junk folder of the email program?)

    OK, so some of it may be historic

  • Good Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joebok (457904) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:43PM (#31961994) Homepage Journal

    When my Dad died last year, I made a VM of his laptop so I could help my mom out finding documents and other things that she would need for taxes and getting everything sorted out in her name.

    That is pretty much done now, but I still keep my dad's VM around. I was his tech support and I was always answering questions and sorting things out when they got messed up. He had made some funny personalizations to it (sounds and such). So even though I don't need it anymore, I still fire it up when I miss him. I even apply all the pending updates - I guess it is part of my grieving process.

  • Interesting idea. I don't know if its for me, per se, especially since I'm not a very prolific, writer, thinker, inventor, or all-around brilliant mind, but it is a way to leave a virtual presence postmortem.

  • We need to get the roms from pinball games and other Redemption games that still have not had there roms dumped.

    But pinmame / vpinmame and visual pinball have saved most of them but the ones that we still don't have rom dumps for are some of the ones that need to be saved.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      ... but the ones that we still don't have rom dumps for are some of the ones that need to be saved.

      That is very profound.

  • Digital Artifacts: Save The Jaggies!
  • Rushdie is an Indian-born Brit, educated at Cambridge, a winner of Booker Prize (as well as Booker of Booker). Why are his papers entrusted to Emory?
  • by Nimey (114278) on Friday April 23, 2010 @11:20PM (#31964214) Homepage Journal

    my journal is in flat 7-bit ASCII, a choice I deliberately made back in the '90s.

    I don't expect anybody but my daughter to be interested, though.

  • I hold a master's degree in Library and Information Science, and I honestly believe that the only way libraries will continue to be relevant 30+ years from now is if they jump on the digital bandwagon.

    Just think about all of the rare, exclusive info that's been published in the last 100 years of many of the "small time" newspapers alone!

    House plans, original artist renderings, articles that were lyrical and powerful and educational all at once (because let's face it, we're about 80 years past the height of

  • KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable) will develop an Emulation Access Platform to enable accurate rendering of both static and dynamic digital objects: text, sound, and image files; multimedia documents, websites, databases, videogames etc. It's a project supported by the EU and several National Archives across Europe.

  • I recently implemented this exact feature for my employer's image-based backup product for Windows systems. I hesitated to post this, at the risk of sounding like a commercial, but I think it's relevant.

    The product itself (ShadowProtect) makes snapshot-based backup images. The relevant feature, called VirtualBoot, can be used to immediately boot a specified backup image within a Sun VirtualBox VM, without the need to restore the backup or to convert it to any other file format (lengthy operations). There

  • This is the best thing for ever Film [solarcontrolfilmsinc.com]

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