Sunday, November 20, 2016

The closest drawer, and the death of USB flash drives

It didn't take me long to go through the small number of books that I have remaining on the shelf under the credenza, as I had already entered almost all of them into LibraryThing a few years ago. The only ones missing were my father's high school yearbook and some books that had been published in the past few years.  I have no doubt that I'll have a major LibraryThing project once I turn my attention to my bookcase. But that project is for next year.

Back to the credenza. It has two top drawers, and two file drawers under those. The closest top drawer is the one that needs my immediate attention. It (and the file drawer under it) can be easily reached while I work at my computer, so I need to have in it only those things that I might need immediate access to.

Throughout our homes we are all likely to have junk drawers, so named because they tend to accumulate everything that doesn't seem to fit neatly into a single category. But you don't want drawers like that right next to where you work every day, because that means you're endlessly rummaging through it to find what you need.

My closest drawer has a sliding organizer on top. I use it to store a single pen (the one I talk about in Organize Your Genealogy); a letter opener, a pair of scissors, and a pen knife for opening envelopes and packages; and rechargeable batteries for my keyboard and mouse. As I cleared it out, I discovered a lens wipe buried under other things, so I moved it to a more visible location. The drawer has a lot of other things too, but when I look at them, I realize that I almost never use them.

It also has 10 USB flash drives. Many of these were giveaways by Ancestry, FamilySearch, or various state society conferences. I have no idea at the moment what's on them, if anything, but ideally, I should go through all of them, transfer any important files to my computer (so that they are backed up), delete everything on them, and toss the oldest ones, especially those that have relatively low storage capabilities.

It has been estimated that flash drives may last no longer than 5 years (10 at best), and so they should never be depended on for long-term data storage (and do not use them as backup devices). They really serve only one valid purpose: temporary storage for transferring data from one device to another. You'll always want a few with you on a research trip (more than one in case one suddenly fails), so that you can transfer files from scanners or other researchers to your laptop or desktop computer.

It occurs to me that if you obtain a new one, you should put a small label on it indicating the year it was first used, so that you'll know when it has reached the end of its reasonable lifespan. I also always label mine with at least my first name and last initial, so that it can be identified if I leave it behind somewhere.