Archiving and Its Role in Keeping the Office Tidy

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DISC STORAGESource: Lok’nStore
Have you heard the idea that a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind? Apparently this is true, so if you expand that to a cluttered office instead, well… you can imagine how cluttered your mind would feel. Where is everything? Where’s that piece of paperwork you had to file? What about that order that came in – where did that go?
In short you spend so much time trying to find things; you can easily get frustrated and get less work done as a result. Fast forward a few years when you have a few more years’ worth of paperwork on top of the horrors mentioned above, you get the idea.

Archiving keeps all the old paperwork well-organized and yet still easy to access, just in case you should ever need to lay your hands on it. Furthermore you don’t even have to keep archived stuff in the office anymore. Thanks to the rise and rise of self-storage you’ve now got a practical and cheap solution to finding somewhere to put it all. After all it’s still easy to lay your hands on it all if you need it, and yet you don’t need that much space to keep it all in.

So let’s assume you decide to go for the archiving in self-storage solution. What would your office space look like now? The chances are it would be leaner, meaner and a lot tidier than before. You’d have more space. With everything neatly archived or filed away, you’d have more desk space and the whole room would seem more relaxing. In fact you might find that once you get rid of the clutter, your mind will feel a lot clearer too. Why not try it and see how it works for you?

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Platinum Photographs: Art from a Noble Metal

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October 16, 2014 by Barbara Orbach Natanson
The following is a guest post by Verna Curtis, Curator of Photography, Prints and Photographs Division.

RODINPortrait of Auguste Rodin in his studio. Platinum photograph on Japanese paper by Gertrude Käsebier, ca. 1906.

Imagine how people understood photographs in 1900, when photography had been around for just over sixty years. Were photographs factual documents? Could they be a new form of artistic expression? Those producing photographic prints knew, but the public was unsure whether photographs could be art.

A highlight of the growing international effort to exhibit photographs as art was the groundbreaking Internationale Ausstellung Künstlerischer Photographien (International Exhibition of Art Photographers) in Vienna in 1891. American Pictorialists (“pictorial” was the favored term for art photography) soon dominated shows in a variety of locations, including Chicago; San Francisco; Pittsburgh; and Newark, Ohio.

The Pictorialists shared with their counterparts in the graphic arts an interest in old master and Japanese prints, subtle printing effects, and technical experimentation. Among the experiments were photographs with the precious platinum metal as their base. The photographs are highly prized for their broad tonal range and delicate non-reflective surface. Their blacks or browns convey the qualities of softness and warmth. Yet, they could last a very long time. The artful platinum photographs of F. Holland Day, Clarence H. White, and Gertrude Käsebier are a special strength within the Prints and Photographs Division’s photography collections.

F. Holland Day (1864-1933), bibliophile, publisher, and photographer, was the New England leader of the Pictorialist Movement. Hallmarks of his style include the innovative use of cutout shapes and colored papers for mounting his photographs.

Platinum15841rClarence H. White (1871-1925), is best known as a teacher and founder of an American art school for photographers. The Library acquired Clarence H. White’s photographs early in 1926. His eponymous New York school for photography was the first in America to integrate design into its curriculum. White’s students were pioneers in the fields of photojournalism and advertising.

Spring. A triptych (Letitia Felix), Newark, Ohio. Platinum photograph by Clarence White, 1898.

The beauty of platinum photographs and their special qualities are receiving particular attention this fall. Twenty outstanding examples of original platinum printing will soon go on display at the Library of Congress (Jefferson Building, 1stFloor, South, October 20 to November 8, 2014). The display coincides with a symposium organized by the National Gallery of Art presenting collaborative research on the technical, chemical, and aesthetic history and practice of platinum photography (Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, October 21-24, 2014).

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October is American Archives Month

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Since 2006, American Archives Month has given the profession an opportunity to tell (or remind) people that items that are important to them are being preserved, cataloged, cared for, and made accessible by archivists. This year, American Archives Month is doubly significant: SAA President Kathleen Roe has kicked off the Year of Living Dangerously for Archives, encouraging archivists to take concerted actions to increase awareness of and advocate for archives. Her first call to action—Demonstrate the Values of Archives—echoes the efforts that many archivists and repositories are taking this October to celebrate American Archives Month.

To help you participate in American Archives Month and the Year of Living Dangerously for Archives, SAA has provided archivists with practical information and great ideas to help make your archives program more visible. Plus, read how your colleagues across the country are celebrating, and email saahq@archivists.org to tell us how you are commemorating the month.

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Blu-ray Burning Software Review

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By Sean Peek

Blu-ray Discs are the best way to experience movies in your home. The picture quality and sound quality is superior to that of other video formats. This is due in part to the fact that Blu-rays have five times the storage capacity as DVDs do.

Blu-ray technology hit the world intent on revolution. It already has left HD DVD smoldering in the wake of the next-generation format war, and the 15-year reign of the DVD is currently under assault. Armed with high-density data storage that supports HD and 3D formats, the Blu-ray upheaval is poised to strike home videos next. If you have a high-definition camcorder, you will also need a Blu-ray burner and Blu-ray burning software to play those videos on your HDTV.

As televisions get wider, the playback of low-capacity DVDs will get blurrier. Only Blu-rays and Blu-ray burner software are prepared to cope with the increasing demand for high-definition videos. With upwards of 50GB of storage capacity, Blu-rays are perfect for backing up important data and burning Blu-ray movies. In addition, an industry standard scratch-resistant polymer coating makes them slightly more durable than DVDs and CDs.
Of all our Blu-ray burning software comparisons and reviews, the leading choices are Leawo Blu-ray Copy, Blue-Cloner and Leawo Blu-ray Creator. If you want to learn more check out our learning center for more articles on Blu-ray burning software.

Blu-ray Burning Software: What to Look For

Before you commit yourself to a Blu-ray burning software package, ask yourself what you want to do with it. There are many specialized options, and you don’t want to be stuck with something that doesn’t suit your needs.

Disc Options

Look for software that retains playback quality as close to the original as possible. If you are looking to copy your discs completely in their original form, look for Blu-ray writing software that creates an exact 1:1 copy of your disc. The best Blu-ray burning software gives you options to customize your copy, such as eliminating or retaining menus and bonus features. Look for software that can retain existing 3D effects from 3D Blu-ray discs.

Feature Set

Look for Blu-ray burning software that either retains existing disc menus or allows you to create customized menus for your burned discs. Exceptional software allows you to even copy 3D Blu-rays. If you have multiple files, look for software that can merge those files so that you can burn them all on one disc. Conversely, good burning software also allows you to split large chunks of information and burn that information on several different discs. It is helpful if Blu-ray writer software can compress the data to smaller discs such as DVDs. Look for software that supports multiple languages so that you have access to the software in your native language. If you have damaged discs, look for software that can retrieve data from corrupted discs. Lastly, if you want to export audio from one of your movies, some burning software allows you to extract audio tracks to burn onto a disc.
Ease of Use
The process of copying Blu-rays can be complicated and potentially confusing. Some software offers lots of options and settings to work with, which can become overwhelming. Look for Blu-ray burning software that is not only easy to install, but also comes with a clean and intuitive user interface. Drag-and-drop support and graphical buttons are desirable, as well as simple menus. Software that has a live preview option enables you to preview your selected options before burning a copy of your disc.
Decryption Power

If you plan to back up your personal Blu-ray collection, you will want an application capable of decrypting and ripping videos. This refers to how effectively Blu-ray burning software can remove the copy protection found on commercial Blu-rays. This is necessary in order to copy an encrypted Blu-ray disc. If the software hasn’t been updated in a while or lacks decryption capabilities, its usefulness is limited to copying non-commercial discs such as videos you record on your own.

Output Media
An important aspect of Blu-ray burning software is its ability to create Blu-ray discs. However, if the software can also burn files to DVDs and CDs, then you are not restricted to only using Blu-ray discs, which are more expensive. Another important feature is the ability to burn disk images. Images are virtual copies of a CD, DVD or Blu-ray Disc that serves as a template to burn physical copies quickly and cleanly. Look for software that will not only create these copies, but that can store them on your hard drive as well.

Help & Support
Blu-ray burning can be a confusing process so look for companies that offer technical support through at least a few methods. Look for a company that has online tutorials, either videos or step-by-step guides, to help you through the process. You should also look for a company that offers support via email or live chat in case you run into problems with the software.
If you are looking for a way to back up your movie collection or save important files, then Blu-ray burner software is an ideal way to store all of that information on high-density Blu-ray discs. The best software is easy to use, creates quality copies and has technical support available for when you need it.

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What is Blu-ray?

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Source: blu-ray.com
Blu-ray, is the name of a new optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of the world’s leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience.

While current optical disc technologies such as DVD, DVD±R, DVD±RW, and DVD-RAM rely on a red laser to read and write data, the new format uses a blue-violet laser instead, hence the name Blu-ray. Despite the different type of lasers used, Blu-ray products can easily be made backwards compatible with CDs and DVDs through the use of a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickup unit. The benefit of using a blue-violet laser (405nm) is that it has a shorter wavelength than a red laser (650nm), which makes it possible to focus the laser spot with even greater precision. This allows data to be packed more tightly and stored in less space, so it’s possible to fit more data on the disc even though it’s the same size as a CD/DVD. This together with the change of numerical aperture to 0.85 is what enables Blu-ray Discs to hold 25GB/50GB. Recent development by Pioneer has pushed the storage capacity to 500GB on a single disc by using 20 layers.

Blu-ray is currently supported by about 200 of the world’s leading consumer electronics, personal computer, recording media, video game and music companies. The format also has support from all Hollywood studios and countless smaller studios as a successor to today’s DVD format. Many studios have also announced that they will begin releasing new feature films on Blu-ray Disc day-and-date with DVD, as well as a continuous slate of catalog titles every month. For more information about Blu-ray movies, check out our Blu-ray movies and Blu-ray reviewssection which offers information about new and upcoming Blu-ray releases, as well as what movies are currently available in the Blu-ray format.

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Why Facebook has chosen to stockpile Blu-ray discs for data storage

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Source: CNN Money
By James O’Toole  @jtotoole August 21, 2014

Facebook director of hardware design Gio Coglitore shows off Blu-ray discs used in the prototype.

There aren’t too many people collecting Blu-ray discs these days. But while the technology is fast becoming obsolete for movie viewers, Facebook sees it as a promising new means for handling data storage.

Given Facebook’s immense data needs, the company has a big incentive to find ways of handling storage.

Facebook (FBTech30) users have uploaded more than 400 billion photos, adding an average of more than 350 million each day.

Those data demands will only increase with time, particularly as personal cameras and smartphones become capable of capturing higher-quality images. That’s why Facebook engineers have developed a storage prototype using Blu-ray discs that they believe could greatly reduce the cost of archiving all that data.

When you upload a photo to Facebook, it gets copied and stored across multiple servers, each of which consumes a huge amount of power. This ensures that users won’t face delays when they access those images.

But most of the photos and videos are only popular for a few days (you probably won’t be watching all those Ice Bucket Challenge clips a year from now). Just 8% of Facebook photos — generally the most recent — generate 82% of the site’s overall traffic.

Keeping multiple copies of old photos on active, power-hungry servers isn’t energy-efficient or cost-effective, so Facebook engineers have developed a “cold storage” system for the backup images.

As images begin to be viewed less, Facebook reduces the number of active servers on which they’re stored. Once images can be maintained on just one active server, the backup copies go into cold storage.

Active, “hot” servers contain not only the images themselves but also the software needed to deliver them to users. With cold storage, the backup images are stored on racks of hard drives that are spun up and accessed individually when the files need to be rebuilt on the “hot” servers.

But hard drives are vulnerable to physical damage, and it takes a long time to restore all the data they contain. The alternative? Blu-ray.

Facebook is now experimenting with a storage prototype that uses racks of Blu-ray discs instead of hard drives. The discs are held in groups of 12 in locked cartridges and are extracted by a robotic arm whenever they’re needed.

One rack contains 10,000 discs, and is capable of storing a petabyte of data, or one million gigabytes.

Blu-ray discs offer a number of advantages versus hard drives. For one thing, the discs are more resilient: they’re water- and dust-resistant, and better able to withstand temperature swings. Their data can be restored more quickly, and they’re easier to transport.

Most important, though, is cost. Because the Blu-ray system doesn’t need to be powered when the discs aren’t in use, it uses 80% less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half.

An initial hurdle for the project was the fact that before a few years ago, manufacturers weren’t producing discs larger than 25 gigabytes, which is all you need to store a feature-length movie. But the capacity on Blu-ray and similar disc-based technologies has been increasing, with Sony and Panasonic announcing plans earlier this year to offer 300 GB discs by the summer of 2015.

So far, Facebook’s storage prototype is still in the testing phase, but if the system continues to perform well, it will be deployed across the company to handle photo archiving.

“We now feel that we have a way to store things online for many years reliably,” said Gio Coglitore, director of hardware design at Facebook. “Facebook is really pioneering a way to do that economically.”

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Feast Your Eyes: Food of the Middle East

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Source: Library of Congress
By: Kristi Finefield

The following is a  guest post for the Feast Your Eyes series by Arden Alexander, Cataloging Specialist, Prints and Photographs Division.

Numerous photographs in the Prints and Photographs Division’s over 75,000 historical images of the Middle East show the people of the region harvesting, preparing, cooking, selling and enjoying food and drink.  Included in these are images which document Middle Eastern food traditions brought by immigrants to theUnited States.

This photograph shows men gathered at a restaurant in what was known as “Little Syria” in lower Manhattan, New York City, around 1910-1915. The residents of this neighborhood were mostly Arab Americans, including Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians from areas which were part of the Ottoman Empire at the time.

Pastry counter, Syrian restaurant. Photo by Bain News Service, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915.

 

Pans of food rest on a long counter where employees wearing aprons serve the hungry customers. The first three pans in the front look like baklava, a multi-layered pastry. Many variants of this treat exist, but baklava is usually made with thin sheets of buttered dough (called filo or phyllo) which alternate with layers of chopped walnuts, pistachios or other nuts.  A cold sugar or honey syrup, sometimes flavored with rosewater or lemon juice, is poured over the hot pastry after it comes out of the oven. This delicious dessert is common throughout the Middle East and other places including Greece, Armenia and Central Asia.

Here are samples of more Middle East food images, taken in the early to mid-20th century:

River scenes on the Tigris. Barges of watermelons with typical Iraqi boys. Photo by American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo Dept., 1932.

 

 

Roasting coffee. Photo, between 1934 and 1935, from album “Bedouins in Jordan and other locations” by John D. Whiting.

 

 

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Take a Ride with Prints and Photos: Bicycles and Balance Required

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Source: Library of Congress
August 7, 2014 by Kristi Finefield

When I was a kid, I was happy to tool around the neighborhood on my red, white and blue bike, handlebar tassels flowing in the breeze. My brother, on the other hand, once attempted to jump a Volkswagen Beetle on his two wheeler. Bicycles can tempt certain people to go fast, go high and try almost anything. Take the Gaynells, otherwise known as “The 7 Wild Wheel Whirl Wonders,” whose act was featured in this 1902 circus poster.

“The 7 Wild Wheel Whirl Wonders,” whose act was featured in this 1902 circus poster.

Early cycling enthusiasts rode all kinds of contraptions as the bicycle evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries. To my eye, just riding an early bicycle such as a ‘penny-farthing’ or ‘ordinary’ was an exercise in daring. An 1890 photo (below, left) shows that people even raced on these tall bikes, though clearly needed a bit of help to line up for the start. The act of getting on a bike of this proportion even seems tricky, as evidenced by a photo from around 1920.

Bicycle Race–The start. Photo copyrighted by Geo. Barker, 1890

And when it comes to daring deeds, let’s not forget the daredevil Allo Diavolo, who put his bicycle – and nerves – to the test doing this loop-the-loop trick for an audience in 1905.

Diavolo performing his bicycle daredevil act before a large audience. Photo by Fred G. Mathiessen, copyrighted 1905.

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Touring French History Through Political Cartoons

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Source: Library of Congress
By Barbara Orbach Natanson

The following is a guest post by Woody Woodis, Cataloger, Prints and Photographs Division

Pariser poisarden. Aquatint and etching by C. Katz, 1794

In honor of Bastille Day, or La Fête Nationale, marking the beginning of the French Revolution, we feature highlights from the French Political Cartoon Collection. This small but exemplary collection of 365 prints spans almost two centuries and touches on every aspect of French political culture from Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, to Napoleon III, the last emperor to rule France.

The Library of Congress obtained the prints from a variety of sources; many came as part of a substantial purchase of the Windsor Library collection in 1926.

Suggesting the conditions the led to revolution, Calendrier royal indiquant le cours du soleil (1706) shows Louis XIV sitting on a crude throne at the center of the sun whose rays are filled with text that often present the low-lights of his reign; in the upper left corner, reference to the eclipse of 1705 further casts a shadow on the dimming light of the Sun King’s final years.

Commemorating the storming of the Bastille in July 1789, Adieu Bastille (ca. 1789) presents the rise of the peasantry as an enormous, imposing figure who treats the aristocracy and the clergy as figures in a child’s game, while in the background,  workers dismantle the Bastille.

Pariser Poisarden (ca. 1794) illustrates the role of women during the insurrectionary days of the French Revolution.

In France, censorship of the press was a major issue throughout the
19th century.

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Learning with Prints

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Source: Library of Congress
By: Barbara Orbach Natanson

School may be out for the summer, but around the Library of Congress there’s always something new to learn. This week I joined teachers attending one of the Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institute sessions to display examples of primary sources that might be suited to classroom exercises. It set me to reflecting on examples in our collections of pictures intended for classrooms past.

Among the items that were clearly designed for classroom use are a series of prints found in our historical print collections. Issued by Louis Prang & Co., a prolific publisher of chromolithographs, “Prang’s Aids for Object Teaching” included this picture of a kitchen as a work site.

Prang’s aids for object teaching–The kitchen. Lithograph by L. Prang & Co., copyrighted 1874.

The accompanying teacher’s manual for using the prints in the classroom outlines a basic exercise for the youngest students: name the objects in the print. How many can you name? Some utensils in the list would be familiar from today’s kitchens, others not so much: “shovel, tongs, poker, grate, stove, griddle, oven, range, boiler, pot, tea-kettle, teapot, saucepan, spider, gridiron, ladle, pail, coal-scuttle, dipper, bucket, pan, bowl, broiler, coffee-mill, cup, mug, plate, broom, bellows…”

The teacher’s manual offers a graduated series of exercises where children at higher levels would explain the what, why, and how of the tools and processes depicted in the prints. Those relating to the tinsmith and the carpenter offer still more wonders for the modern viewer seeking to understand work places and educational approaches of the past.

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