We're still in Paris for another couple of days. But to tide you over:
I had one of those "whoa" moments a while ago. Ars Technica (good site; I read it often) had a write-up about the latest generation of hard drives being too big for current computers. They've reached 3Tb (terabytes), and current-generation computers can't handle more than 2.1Tb per drive.
I hear that and I think that "oh, that's interesting I guess, but nothing to do with me". After all, we're talking Terabytes here; who would ever need a terabyte or more on their own machine, right? It's a near-mythical size. This is a problem for big datacenters, not for ordinary people. I mean I only have a 250Gb drive, which is.. a quarter of a terabyte.. in my laptop.....
A quarter of a terabyte, in a laptop the size of an A4 paper.
And 1/4 Tb isn't even very big, come to think of it. My desktop has a half-Terabyte drive, and so does our networked backup drive. So "terabyte" has silently moved from being near mythical to become humdrum and I haven't even noticed. Between my laptop, desktop and network drive I have a terabyte and a half of personal storage. 1.5 Terabytes. It's a magical number to me - and now, pedestrian. Ordinary. What's next - Exabyte? I didn't know, honestly; I had to look it up.
It's not all empty either. I use about 39% of this laptop drive at the moment. When I got this computer, Ubuntu (try it; it's good) and all my data from my previous machine took about 35%, so I've used up another 4% (about 6 gigabytes) since May.
Where does it all go? I have a lot of work-related data, research papers and so on, but a lot of my data is pictures. I store more pictures over time of course, but the size of each image increases too. My first digital camera gave me jpeg images less than a megabyte in size. The K10 gives me raw images of about 10 megabytes. And a good-quality 24-bit color scan from my Pentax 67 takes 400 megabytes. Needless to say, I don't keep the scanned files (I can always rescan the negative after all), but even the processed and compressed Jpeg files takes about 10Mb each. And while I process such an image I may have a couple of gigabytes worth of intermediate files laying about.
But even with this growth of data, disk space seems to grow even faster. I used to be really careful about saving space on my computers. I'd clear out old data, uninstall applications I don't use, and make backups to free some extra space. And still, when I got a new computer the disk on the old one would be almost completely full.
This is no longer the case. When I got my current computer, the disk on the ond one was only 2/3 full, and I had never once made a real effort to clean out old data. Abundance has crept up on us. When was the last time any of us worried even for a moment about the size of a software package, and how to clear out disk space for it? Storage has become unlimited for most of us today, and nobody's even told us.