Sunday, May 24, 2015

Found Memories

While walking across the neighborhood yesterday, I found a small flash drive on the sidewalk. Without thinking much about it, I stooped and picked it up, stuffed it into one corner of my pocket and promptly forgot about it until I got back home, hours later. I suppose I could've left it, but there's no guarantee the owner lived close enough to be able to find it and it was one of those small PNY jobbies, about the size of  a fingernail. If I'd put it back where I'd found it, it probably would have stayed lost.

Always a weird thing finding USB drives. You never know what's going to happen when you plug it in. Infected with a virus? Plans for the Death Star? You just don't know.

In my case, I usually plug them into my computer and take a look on the off chance it's something someone will miss.

The owner of this one was Vietnamese, judging by the name. Had a bunch of important-looking insurance documents in the root of the drive. I opened one, noted down his address and I'm going to mail it back to him next time I'm near a mailbox.

I've lost my own share of drives in the past. Have to wonder what the discoverers thought when they looked at them, if they bothered at all.

For instance...

I usually keep a dozen bad movies in reserve in the off chance I'm at a friend's place and they want to see something mind-blisteringly awful, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.

There's also other stuff--the usual useful utilities IT people tend to tote around with them. File recovery tools, antivirus installers, diagnostic tools and the like. Sometimes I have a spare copy of my financials, encrypted out the wazoo. Not so much these days because even with the military-grade encryption I use on Things That Matter, it's still unsafe.

It's funny how flash drives have become the equivalent of a purse or satchel. Everybody uses them slightly differently.

It's great reading old science fiction and seeing the overly pessimistic view writers had about the ubiquity of data storage.

There's an old science fiction role-playing game called Cyberpunk 2020. Came out in the late 80's with all the hallmarks of 80's cyberpunk: interior art showcasing glam metal and punk rock influences. Dystopian visions of the future, all William Gibson virtual reality and Max Headroom-esque media/political commentary. People warming themselves around trash can fires in the shadows of glittering high corporate arcologies.

Great stuff, in other words.

Reading through the equipment section is always good for a laugh: there's an upgrade you can get for cybernetic eye implants. Turns your eye into a camera, but due to space limitations, you can only take six pictures with it.

Six pictures.

That 8 gb PNY I found on the sidewalk has enough storage for roughly five thousand pictures and that's with decidedly low compression and largish resolution. And that's not even including such factors you'd expect from a modern piece of equipment. I mean, really, if you're gouging out your eye and replacing it with a bit of machinery, you'd expect at least a mobile data plan, Bluetooth, wi-fi support and a robust app store.

Another game (Shadowrun, I believe) had a chip you could implant in your jaw which would act as your own personal Walkman. I think it had a three album capacity.

The future is never what you expect it to be: it's always simultaneously better and more disappointing than you expect.

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