Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thumbs Up to Thumb Drives...har har

I love these things.  Nothing makes moving large amounts of data around easier.  To think that only fourteen years ago I was saving files to 3 1/4 inch floppy discs with the waistband busting girth of...wait for it...  1.4 MEGABYTES!  And now I've got a USB thumb drive the size of my middle finger that holds more than 11,000 times that amount.  Sixteen gigabytes of data residing in around 1.5 square inches of space.

Boggles the mind.  My mind at least.  It's equally mind-boggling that there are people walking the planet whose minds are thoroughly unboggled by all of this.  Unboggled enough to work out how to build the magical memory stick sitting in front of me.  Trul the technology is straddling Merlin territory.  Thumb drives are solid state.  No moving parts.  They require no power source, getting all they need from the computer they interface with.  And yet they hold a static charge strong enough and stable enough to safely store up to tens of thousands of bytes of data without a single error.

And their capacity continues to grow.  The first thumb drive I owned, which I purchased four or five years ago held 256 megabytes.  Sizable compared to floppies, sure, but minuscule compared to my sixteen gig powerhouse, which really isn't that impressive considering there are already 64 gig drives available.  Let's say it took five years for these drives to mushroom from 256 megs to sixteen gigs.  That's an increase factor of 84.

Since my history is slightly suspect let's assume a growth rate factor of 50.  With that, using the the mid-range 32 gig drives as a jumping off point, we'll be enjoying drive capacities over one terabyte in less than five years.  That's over 1,000 gigabytes of data, not just in the palm of your hand, but in the crook of the palm of your hand.  If you hung eight to ten of those off your key chain you could carry the entire printed collection of the library of congress in your backpack (along with your Dungeon Masters Guide and your empty address book.)

I love this stuff.

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