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Slowly They Modernize: A Federal Agency That Still Uses Floppy Disks
The New York Times ^ | December 7, 2013 | JADA F. SMITH

Posted on 12/07/2013 8:53:47 AM PST by Hojczyk

The technology troubles that plagued the HealthCare.gov website rollout may not have come as a shock to people who work for certain agencies of the government — especially those who still use floppy disks, the cutting-edge technology of the 1980s.

Agencies are also permitted to submit the documents on CD-ROMs and floppy disks, but not on flash drives or SD cards. “The Federal Register Act says that an agency has to submit the original and two duplicate originals or two certified copies,” said Amy P. Bunk, The Federal Register’s director of legal affairs and policy. As long as an agency does that through one of the approved methods of transmission, she said, “they’ve met the statutory requirement.”

But the secure email system — which uses software called Public Key Infrastructure technology — is expensive, and some government agencies have not yet upgraded to it. As a result, some agencies still scan documents on to a computer and save them on floppy disks. The disks are then sent by courier to the register.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government
KEYWORDS: federalregister; floppydisks
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1 posted on 12/07/2013 8:53:47 AM PST by Hojczyk
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To: Hojczyk

2 posted on 12/07/2013 8:57:57 AM PST by shove_it (old Old Guardsman 1962-63)
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To: Hojczyk

I think the last time I used a computer that COULD even use a floppy disc was at least six years ago, perhaps longer.


3 posted on 12/07/2013 8:58:10 AM PST by Fzob (Jesus + anything = nothing, Jesus + nothing = everything)
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To: Hojczyk

It is time to cut half the departments…and cut the ones left in half….the only people making money are government workers and welfare class…the rest are going downhill fast….look for Sears, and jc penney to go out of business soon..it back to rice and beans…forget the 15 dollar an hour fast food…we can not afford the prices now...


4 posted on 12/07/2013 8:58:35 AM PST by Hojczyk
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To: Hojczyk

“...still receive some of it on the 3.5-inch...”

That’s not to bad. Wouldn’t be surprised if they were still using 5 1/4 floppy’s.


5 posted on 12/07/2013 8:58:57 AM PST by duckman (I'm part of the group pulling the wagon!)
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To: Hojczyk

A few months ago I tried to help my mother submit a certification that she had not remarried to SS. She’d sent one earlier, but it was ‘lost’. They would accept a fax, but I could not email a scanned copy of the document. It was hell just trying to find an email address on their website & there was no way to attach a document. I sent a note asking how I could send a pdf file. I got a response to my question two weeks later that they do not accept pdf files. By that time, my mother had already mailed (registered, of course) the second document.

Too many federal agencies are still technologically in the 80’s or early 90’s. Just ridiculous!


6 posted on 12/07/2013 9:01:31 AM PST by Twotone (Marte Et Clypeo)
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To: Hojczyk

I always get a charge out of federal cube critters pedantically following rules while higher-ups abuse their powers of office in cahoots with their lefty political comrades. IRS, NSA et al


7 posted on 12/07/2013 9:04:00 AM PST by relictele (Principiis obsta & Finem respice - Resist The Beginnings & Consider The End)
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To: Hojczyk

Flash drives are a security risk. And not a reliable storage media. They are easily corrupted.

CD’s are better.

Floppies? not large enough to do useful work today. Possibly Zip drives. I know lots of businesses that use them for daily backup.

But then again, HHS is run by idiots. But what do you expect from ComDem POLs?


8 posted on 12/07/2013 9:08:29 AM PST by Texas Fossil
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To: Hojczyk


9 posted on 12/07/2013 9:10:50 AM PST by Iron Munro (Orwell: There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.)
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To: Hojczyk; GeronL; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows

In that case, I’d recommend that no one board a space shuttle.


10 posted on 12/07/2013 9:12:51 AM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Fzob

Older computers still require a floppy disk for OS installation. Had to buy a usb floppy drive a couple of years ago.


11 posted on 12/07/2013 9:13:17 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: duckman; Revolting cat!
That’s not to bad. Wouldn’t be surprised if they were still using 5 1/4 floppy’s.

Back in Arkansas, it was common knowledge that Gov. Bill Clinton had an 8" floppy.


12 posted on 12/07/2013 9:15:14 AM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Hojczyk

Haven’t had a computer with a diskette drive for years. It’s time the Federal Government received an 80% haircut.


13 posted on 12/07/2013 9:15:39 AM PST by dinodino
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To: Twotone

“”By that time, my mother had already mailed (registered, of course) the second document””

I thought you were going to say - by that time, my mother had already remarried.


14 posted on 12/07/2013 9:22:52 AM PST by Thank You Rush
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To: Hojczyk
"Hello IRS Audit Department? Yes, I'll be bringing all my data with me".


15 posted on 12/07/2013 9:23:35 AM PST by bigbob (The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. Abraham Lincoln)
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To: Texas Fossil
Agreed.

Interesting though — the new cool technology is a flash disk for the os and boot. Faster boot time, etc.

Wonder what will happen when the disks start failing. Maybe they are more reliable and redundant.

CD and DVD media has a limited shelf life, too ~ 10 years at best. The cheap disks, just a couple of years. Storage is important, too. Certainly, they guarantee the media life for 20 years, etc. but will only replace the defective disk — so sorry that your family pictures are gone.

The down side of our modern digital lives — all of the families pictures are on digital media. Many people don't back up their hard drives and then of course, there is the shelf life of the media.

I have good ol family photographs that are 110 years old. No way digital media will last that long.

I bought a raid drive sever plus I back it up to two places.

16 posted on 12/07/2013 9:25:36 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: bigbob

That is an IBM 3330-1 (or maybe -2) HDA assembly (or a generic copy from STK/StorageTek)... last time I had my hands on one was about 1985.


17 posted on 12/07/2013 9:36:53 AM PST by Neidermeyer (I used to be disgusted , now I try to be amused.)
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To: a fool in paradise

Last time I saw the 8” floppy was in the “museum” section of a university. It was next to the punchcard keyboard, funny enough.


18 posted on 12/07/2013 9:37:10 AM PST by Olog-hai
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To: Hojczyk

Why not a CD and a DVD? They’re two separate forms of media - they just look identical.


19 posted on 12/07/2013 9:37:10 AM PST by eclecticEel ("The petty man forsakes what lies within his power and longs for what lies with Heaven." - Xunzi)
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To: dhs12345
As did I. Nice that they are still available for around $20. There are things I like about the 3.5” floppy. Durability and ease/cheapness of mailing for one thing. The CDs require about $2.10 extra for postage, case and padded mailing envelope. Yeah, you can send them in a plain envelope and take a chance that they won't get there intact . . . or will be stolen. But NOBODY steals 3.5” floppies.
20 posted on 12/07/2013 9:37:33 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: duckman

8 inch floppies. Single Sided. Single Density. That was the way to go!

21 posted on 12/07/2013 9:39:02 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: Neidermeyer

I have to correct myself , that’s a 3340 which had a removable head of string and then the rest of the string was 3350... That HDA doesn’t have enough platters for a 3330.


22 posted on 12/07/2013 9:39:11 AM PST by Neidermeyer (I used to be disgusted , now I try to be amused.)
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To: Hojczyk

Actually, I could see a non-volatile medium requirement for some sorts of documents: paper, CD-ROM or DVD-ROM but not floppies, flash drives or SD cards.

But allowing floppies, but not flash drives or SD cards makes no sense at all — either can be rewritten.


23 posted on 12/07/2013 9:39:33 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know...)
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To: The_Reader_David
But allowing floppies, but not flash drives or SD cards makes no sense at all — either can be rewritten.

Somebody's brother-in-law has a whole bunch of floppies to unload.

24 posted on 12/07/2013 9:41:14 AM PST by tacticalogic
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To: Vigilanteman
Lol. Good point.

Some of our equipment and the PCs that run them use floppy disks. We had to search the Internet for a 5.25” floppy drive and floppy disks. Paid $20 for a box. A lot more than I would have paid many years ago. Lol. Supply and demand.

The equipment is old but it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace.

25 posted on 12/07/2013 9:43:48 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: markomalley

Wang Compatible eh?
Back in the day, nothing said computing like a Wang on your desk. Old data processing joke.


26 posted on 12/07/2013 9:43:54 AM PST by duckman (I'm part of the group pulling the wagon!)
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To: markomalley

Wang Compatible eh?
Back in the day, nothing said computing like a Wang on your desk. Old data processing joke.


27 posted on 12/07/2013 9:43:54 AM PST by duckman (I'm part of the group pulling the wagon!)
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To: Twotone

Sounds like my last trip(s) to the Maryland MVA. To get license plates on a used car required 4 trips and at least nine hours.

THe needed a release of lien. Trip 2-Would not accept the fax. Trip 3, would not accept the sealed envelope form the bank. Trip 4. Would accept a fax directly to them.

Total government hack morons.


28 posted on 12/07/2013 9:44:08 AM PST by cyclotic (Hey BSA-I'm gone. Walk Worthy-traillifeusa.com)
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To: a fool in paradise
Gov. Bill Clinton had an 8" floppy.

Only with a concrete block tied to it. :-)

29 posted on 12/07/2013 9:49:33 AM PST by Hardastarboard (Temporary tag line - RIP Paul Walker)
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To: Hojczyk

It is my understanding that the Air Traffic Control for the US still has paper slips that contain Aircraft ID, equipment code, flight plan, destination, fuel, etc.

Now, granted, this is the “backup” for when the computers are down.

OTOH, the computers DO go down. Sometimes with the COMs as well.

I was looking at this recently... because I wanted to add a particular remark (place for a special note) on a flight plan, and was told that “Remarks” ONLY appears on the paper slip, and not carried in the computer packets that controllers view on their displays.


30 posted on 12/07/2013 9:49:59 AM PST by C210N (When people fear government there is tyranny; when government fears people there is liberty)
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To: relictele
I always get a charge out of federal cube critters pedantically following rules while higher-ups abuse their powers of office in cahoots with their lefty political comrades. IRS, NSA et al

Sort of like journalists who pedantically parrot the party line in hopes they will eventually get promoted to a large news bureau in Los Angelese, Chicago, New York or, the biggest plumb of all, Washington, DC.

31 posted on 12/07/2013 9:51:27 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Hojczyk

Flash drives and SD cards are seen as too easy to compromise and counterfeit, even having the equivalent of hardware viruses in their wiring. Plug them in once and you’re boned. In many government agencies, US and foreign, they are banned outright.


32 posted on 12/07/2013 9:51:55 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Last Obamacare Promise: "If You Like Your Eternal Soul, You Can Keep It.")
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To: dhs12345

Interesting.

Thanks


33 posted on 12/07/2013 9:53:28 AM PST by Texas Fossil
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To: a fool in paradise

Nah... he strikes me as a 5 1/4” kind of guy.


34 posted on 12/07/2013 9:55:31 AM PST by bigdaddy45
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To: Twotone
They would accept a fax, but I could not email a scanned copy of the document.

That is standard operating procedure. Sending personal info with SS numbers via unsecured email is a big no no.

35 posted on 12/07/2013 9:58:15 AM PST by EVO X
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To: Neidermeyer

It was considered “old” in 1985. That’s ‘70’s tech there. First generation hard-disk. What was the capacity of a stack like that? About 1 MB?


36 posted on 12/07/2013 10:00:40 AM PST by Cyber Liberty (H.L. Mencken: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.")
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To: Texas Fossil

Then there is the issue of play back. Good luck trying to find a CD or DVD drive in 20 years.

Storage is very important for writeable disks. Cool and dark.

And the file formats will be different then too. Will JPEG or MPEG be readable in 20 to 30 years. Lets hope so.

Requires maintenance and update every few years. Check, back up, verify, check and update if necessary.

Ironically, low technology is the best way to go. Photographs.


37 posted on 12/07/2013 10:04:48 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: EVO X

Exactly. And very wise.


38 posted on 12/07/2013 10:06:23 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: dhs12345

It struck me as odd some years ago when I upgraded to Win 7 64 bit it would not take just any exterior CD drive. I had to buy a Samsung CD to get it to work because Samsung had developed the new drivers.

But my 20 year old exterior floppy drive worked with the new program. So perhaps some of that is going on, floppy drives survive the updates and require no new drivers.


39 posted on 12/07/2013 10:10:27 AM PST by angry elephant (Endangered species in Seattle)
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To: bigdaddy45
By the time Bill Clinton took the White House, 3.5" was the rage.


40 posted on 12/07/2013 10:13:26 AM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: dhs12345

You think you have storage problems, the Library of Congress tries to maintain original playback devices. So many file formats. So many codecs.


41 posted on 12/07/2013 10:14:51 AM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Cyber Liberty

If it was a 3340-1 it would be about 350mb (half of one CD),, the biggest baddest hdd of that time was the IBM 3380-K , it held about 2.1 GB.


42 posted on 12/07/2013 10:16:36 AM PST by Neidermeyer (I used to be disgusted , now I try to be amused.)
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To: a fool in paradise

They keep promising we’re going to be upgraded to the more advanced IBM AT from our XTs. We can hardly wait. (We just got the fancy amber monitors,..those green ones were so ancient.) /s


43 posted on 12/07/2013 10:18:34 AM PST by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: a fool in paradise
Exactly. The oldest recordable media to the most modern.

But many many thanks to them and for what they do.

In the end, in a couple hundred years, all of it may be lost. Even photographs won't last forever.

Will probably involve some form of re-recording and conversion in order to preserve it well after the originals are lost.

Even printing out a digital picture will not last as long as a photo. The dies in your ink jet printer have a shelf life.

44 posted on 12/07/2013 10:24:06 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: Hojczyk

I wonder if i could get one of those machines just to check what’s on the old disks in the basement that i’m afraid to throw away.


45 posted on 12/07/2013 10:25:18 AM PST by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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To: markomalley

And the 3M doesn’t stand for 3 Megabytes — not by a long shot!


46 posted on 12/07/2013 10:27:32 AM PST by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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To: angry elephant
Lol. That is weird. I guess that it makes sense though.

Not certain why an OS installation requires a floppy disk. I am referring to XP. Haven't had to install Win 7 from scratch.

Who knows... maybe a floppy drive is easier to support, drivers, etc. than a DVD drive when installing the OS.

47 posted on 12/07/2013 10:28:52 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: dhs12345

They say that over 70% of all silent feature movies are lost to time (flamable/decomposing nitrate film stock).

I’d bet that more that 50% of all website pages created between 1994 and 2000 are lost. And there are blogs, ramblings, personal history accounts, genealogical data, etc that was posted.

People take thousands of photos with digital cameras yet are not so prone to saving all of those images to some cloud storage or hardcopy.

I’ve never received numerous “cellphone photos” when the phone was lost/broken/stolen etc. before it was transmitted to me.

The current “documents” are prone to being lost within 20 years.

You can go to a antique show or yardsale and buy old postcards or photo albums. NO ONE will be selling an unwiped harddrive at a yardsale with the intention that you will be rummaging through the content.


48 posted on 12/07/2013 10:39:30 AM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: shove_it
"Wages $25 per week"

Damn good wages for a teenager. Gold was $20 an ounce. So a teenager could make $1535 clear a week.

sarcasm> Thank goodness for the Federal Reserve and all the laws, control, taxes, and regulation that came with it over the last 100 years, got rid of that darned Gold Standard. /sarcasm>

49 posted on 12/07/2013 10:40:23 AM PST by Partisan Gunslinger
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To: Partisan Gunslinger
So a teenager could make $1535 clear a week.

In today's dollars I should have said.

50 posted on 12/07/2013 10:41:56 AM PST by Partisan Gunslinger
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