Sunday Funnies – LOLs, May 22nd, 2022

The caption does a good job of picking up on some terminology that is deep deep geezerdom, beyond even the floppies themselves.

And I recently noticed some folks referring to the 💾emoji as “save file” rather than anything about “disk”.

From the “Ain’t it the truth!” brand of complaint humor:

The dog is up to something, hmm?

Bonus Bliss, with a somewhat less communicative canine:

34 Comments

  1. Good grief! If 3+1/2 inch “floppies” are geezer jokes, what of those of us who remember not only 5+1/4 “floppies” but also their 8 inch progenitors? Cassette drives? Am I really still on the green side of the grass?

  2. How ’bout when Apple first came out, without any disks at all?? There wasn’t much you (I) could do on it besides make the cursor move and program colors, etc. (Apple IIc and IIe was what my library first had, back in about 1982.)

  3. Was the “Save” icon really about disks, except incidentally? What other picture would you use to represent “Save”? Floppy disks were already not the most common to save to by the time icons became significant, but hard drives don’t have a single recognizable look.

  4. Worse than floppy disks were the 12 or so CD’s we’d get mailed to us every week containing installation software, mostly from AOL. There were recycling ideas passed around, like mobile artwork and anti-bird devices. Lots of creativity.

  5. The AOL installation CDs padraig mentions, and similar USPS Spam, are where I recall the “makes a nice coaster” meme starting from.

  6. Brian sez: Some programs, Acrobat for one, use that icon for “Save file”.

    Oh yes, and that was meant to be the point! (Or to underlie the point.) *Because* it is so widely use to mean “Save” in current program UI design, many young’uns have that as their main experience of that shape, and call the design element “Save” rather than making a step to the physical object it ultimately represents.

  7. I don’t think there’s a program with a save function out there that doesn’t use at least a stylized image of a 3.5″ floppy. It’s hardly limited to Save. Almost every icon involving telephony uses an old handset, if not an actual pre-princess phone, complete with dial. The term for it is skeuomorphism and it’s not just in software. Lots of things have expected design elements that stem from older methods of manufacture or reference something that’s no longer necessary.

  8. The original versions of most of the graphic interfaces still in use today(&Dagger), as well as a number of others that have since landed in the bit-bucket(†), were all initially distributed on floppy disks, long before CD (and later network) distribution became possible. The corresponding “save” icons were therefore perfectly appropriate to those systems when they were designed, and have since been retained only because of familiarity(x).

    P.S. (&Dagger) – Including Windows 3.0/3.1/95, Apple/Mac, and other niche products still loving maintained by devoted nerds …

    P.P.S. (&dagger) – … such as GEM, OS/2, NeXT, and a few other technically impressive, but unmarketable dinosaurs.

    P.P.P.S. (x) – Just think how long the ridiculously restrictive 8.3-naming format has held on to its (minor) significance, or how the 640KB address limit caused compatibility problems for DOS/Win-based systems.

  9. @ DemetriosX – As illiterate toddlers, my kids were instantly able to identify any drawing of an old style telephone in picturebooks, even though we did not (then) have anything like that in the house.

    P.S. I have since ressurected an old “corded” US telephone as a reserve, both for its easier to use “instant dial” buttons, and to guard against the disappearance of all the wireless handsets, which seem to migrate everywhere else, but not back to the living room. It does not help during power outages (because it is attached to our DSL modem), but power outages are exceedingly rare in Germany. I can only recall one in the last 20 years, and that didn’t hit us at all, just friends and relatives about 10-20 miles away. Compare that to the Washington area, where there are often thunderstorm outages several times a month during the summer.

  10. For a brief period of time in the late 90s and early 2000s, some Macintosh software used an image that looked like an Iomega Zip drive disk as the “Save” icon, rather than a 3.5″ diskette. Microsoft Office 2001 and 2004, notably, used a Zip disk in place of the diskette seen on the comparable Windows versions of Office from the time (2000 and 2003).

    I assume this direction came from Apple itself, which had removed diskette drives from all of their models by 2000 but offered built-in Zip disk drives in their Power Macintosh towers from the late 90s through about 2002-2003. Those high capacity disk drives were a pretty popular accessory for about 4-5 years, with a brief format war being fought by the likes of Iomega, Syquest, Imation, and others that was ended when USB flash drives came out and quickly matched or exceeded the disks in storage capacity. I recall my first flash drive, bought in 2003, cost $40 and held 16 MB (more than 10 floppies, they said!). A year later I spent $30 on a 256 MB one. A few years ago I spent $15 on one that holds 8 GB and backed up an old 40 GB hard drive onto a flash drive that holds 64 GB and cost less than the $40 my first 16 MB drive did.

  11. I would have liked to have one of those ZIP drives (had it been available) when I was installing OS/2. I don’t remember the exact number, but I know that before IBM started supplying it on CD, (approximately) 20 (!) of those microfloppy disks were required to install OS/2. Early versions were very sensitive to memory glitches, and because of a motherboard error on my newly purchased PC tower, I ended up performing that installation multiple times. Looking back at it now, I wish I had bought a Mac back then, or switched to Linux.

  12. If you have old-fashioned copper service, then a wired phone is useful during power outages.

  13. @ Kilby

    I have several vintage Macintoshes and I used to have time to fiddle with them for my own amusement and seek out old copies of Mac software to see if I could get it to run on these old machines (my proudest moment, getting Civilization II to run slowwwwwwly on a Macintosh IIsi, which was released 6 years prior to the game). Once, I was able to acquire a copy of Microsoft Office 3, which was spread across 40+ diskettes. Perfect! I was going to install it on a Mac with a 3.5″ drive that still worked and an external CD-ROM that I was still trying to get to work (it eventually did). I spent who knows how long swapping out disks until it asked me to load disk #39. I couldn’t find it! I never was able to find it, I guess the copy was incomplete. This bricked the whole installation that I had invested hours in. I always think this story will get more laughs than it does at parties…

  14. My father and grandfather were computer programmers. As a child my brother and I were given IBM flow chart templates to draw with. Made of somewhat brittle transparent plastic, I still have bits and pieces of them kicking around. I had no idea what the shapes represented, but they were fun to play with.

  15. The idea that children don’t know what an old telephone is/how to use same –

    We have niblings who currently vary in age from early 30s down to junior high. My niece and nephew – the two oldest of the group had no trouble figuring out how to dial the wall phone in my mom’s den where they played alone, back when they were preschoolers and did so standing on assorted pieces of furniture. Husband’s niece who is a college student now – when she first came to our house for us to watch her once a week – the day there was no babysitter at SlL’s gym – had no problem figuring out that toy teddy bear phone with dial was same and how to dial it. (I am presuming my step-nephew also knows about phones as he is extremely intelligent. Robert’s other niece – the one in junior high – I am sure also know would what a dial phone is also.)

  16. Grawlix – I grew up playing with old tax forms and office supplies – I liked to play library and the section of the old, blank returns for name and SSN were cut off and used as the application for a library card with the person’s library card number written in the SSN area – my poor grandparents ended up playing library with me. I also had a 1960s multi-line phone (the big ones with many lines not the one with the buttons on the bottom edge of a regular phone) to play office with.

    I start adding up payroll books for my dad when I was 12. It was just bred into me – dad was an accountant, mom was an accountant – her mother was a bookkeeper.

    One of the companies I used to add up the payroll books for dad – I am still doing personal tax returns for the daughter of the owner of that business. Another client of dad’s – an artist (he had a gallery as a client so he had a lot of artists as clients also) and his wife are still clients. I needed information from their broker to do their 2020 taxes – the wife emailed him and said I would be calling. While speaking to him he said how nice they were (which they are) and that there were “long time clients of his” – since the early 2000s. I agreed they were nice and said nothing else. I had to contact him again this year and he said the same things and I could not resist and told that between my dad and myself they have been clients since the 1960s or 70s.

    My youngest sister is not an accountant, being a renegade she has her degrees in business management instead. 🙂

  17. Lastly, I promise – Robert’s first home computer was an Atari. When he started with it one used a cassette tape for data storage and installing software. Then the disk drive came out for it. I remember him being in some computer store looking at some program and there were a group of boys around. He was in his late 20s or early 30s and the boys thought “old man, he does not what he is doing” as he looked at the program -“Mister, you need a disk drive for THAT program.” When he told them he had one they were all ohhing and ahhing.

    It is still upstairs along with Atari game, the Commodore 128, and most of the computers since – though I think we did take some of the middle times ones for recycling at some point.

    We have stacks of ZIP and mini-Zip disks. We tried to hook one of the several drives for them that we have and none would work in terms of connection – whether parallel connection or later connection type of the drives. I did find and misplace instructions on destroying the disks and their data and then misplaced same – found it again and have to deal with the disks as they contain client information and take up too much room.

    And in college he had no idea of what was going on and copied my homework of BASIC problems I had written, being sure to rename variables and such so the teacher would not find out.

  18. @ Grawlix (re: “flowcharts”) – We were given a brief introduction to those flowchart symbols in a high school programming class, and I think I had a template, but we never really had to use them. As I recall, the only symbols that really made sense were the diamond (for IF/THEN branches) and a “scroll-like” symbol for paper output. The rest were completely arbitrary, so if you didn’t remember the definitions for rectangles, parallelograms, triangles, and circles, then you just had to guess.

    Even though my work has always involved computers, I have never taken a programming class since then. I almost did register for a Fortran course in college, but as I stood in front of the professor’s office, I looked at some of the assignments that the other students were about to ask for help with. There was nothing more complicated than what I had already learned in high school. The only “challenging” feature was that the professor seemed to insist on a very neat box of asterisks to surround the comments about the variables at the beginning of each program. This was absolutely idiotic, of course, since any minor change to the text required a complementary fix to adjust the right side of the box. I decided I didn’t need a moronic instructor obsessed with beautiful commentary, shredded the “add course” card, and left.

    P.P.S. @ Meryl A – Renaming variables is not always enough. A year later, as a TA (teaching assistant) for an undergraduate course in “graphic programming” (for a different, more sensible professor), I noticed that one student was typing in the same illogical sequence of commands that I had already noticed in another student’s programming project. Apparently he had filched a printout of the other student’s program, but didn’t understand enough to recognize and eliminate the incidental errors before duplicating the code. I reported it to the professor, and he failed the course.

  19. Now that I remember it I did have some BASIC instruction in Junior High, but don’t remember anything of it.

  20. A regular plumber’s blowtorch will do an excellent job of destroying old Zip disks. (Outdoors, upwind)

  21. Working in 1974, I was writing flowcharts with my IBM flowchart template, but at some point I stopped, maybe around 1985 or so. It’s been a long time since I had to write “READ NEXT RECORD INTO RECORD-BUFFER AT END GO TO ALL-DONE ON ERROR GO TO FILE-ERROR.”

  22. @ MiB – Just for its silly verbosity, my favorite COBOL command is
    DECIMAL POINT IS COMMA

  23. COBOL is still the only language I know of (except for IBM 360/370 machine language and possibly other machine languages) in which you can get both the quotient and remainder in a single operation: DIVIDE X BY Y YIELDING Q REMAINDER R.

    Even Python requires two operations, although they can be in a single statement:
    (q,r) = (x//y, x%y)

  24. That last one (the one with the double-ended dog) is so stupid that I couldn’t stop laughing.

  25. Mark in Boston wrote:

    Even Python requires two operations, although they can be in a single statement:

    (q,r) = (x//y, x%y)

    Python has a “divmod()” builtin function that lets you calculate both the quotient and a remainder in one statement:

    q, r = divmod(x, y)

    While it’s a single function call, I’m not exactly sure what goes on under the hood. But to be fair, it is a single statement.

  26. @Kilby

    } Just for its silly verbosity, my favorite
    } COBOL command is DECIMAL POINT IS COMMA

    An essential setting for several hundred million people.

  27. @Ooten Aboot

    } Good grief! If 3+1/2 inch “floppies” are geezer jokes, what of those of us who
    } remember not only 5+1/4 “floppies” but also their 8 inch progenitors?
    } Cassette drives? Am I really still on the green side of the grass?

    Yes – I remember both of those sizes.

    And exchangable disk packs with a whole 5MB capacity.

    @Kilby

    } the 640KB address limit

    I worked once for a company which made Intel based multiprocessor systems. If you watched the console whilst powering up a 64-processor system with 64GB of memory you’d see a message “INITIALIZING 640KB BASE MEMORY”

  28. Coincidence? I think not . . . in one of the books I’m currently reading, I came across this line today: “Remember floppy disks, the once-ubiquitous, now-obsolete medium whose major lasting impact is the inspiration for the otherwise-inscrutable ‘save’ icon?”

    The book, which I highly recommend, is ‘How to Take Over theWorld: Practical Schemes and Scientific Solutions for the Aspiring Supervillain’.

  29. MikeP – What I found involves breaking open the plastic with a screwdriver (by force, not by unscrewing something) and then shredding the media inside.

    All in all sounds a bit easier than when Robert drilled holes and/or hit with hammer old hard drives before we got rid of them.

  30. I had a bunch of 5-1/4 disks from when I used the computers at work. I never owned one at home. Some years ago I was interested in checking the disks to see if any of my old games would work. I thought I could probably find a USB drive for that. There are tons of inexpensive 3.5 drives like that, but not the larger ones. That still seems to be he case.

  31. I still have a box of 5.25 and 3.5 disks with software on them. Rest have been shredded (3.5 opened and shredded) long ago. In addition to the zip disks I have mini zip disks to deal with.

    Have always kept data off of the hard drive except for one or two (maybe) programs which required data on the hard drive. In addition to the desktop computer(s) I have had laptops for work since the last century and needed to be able the data back and forth plus I did not like to take any client’s data other than that of the client I was going to out with me. Even now they are kept on separate USB flash sticks.

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