Aug 19, 2014

How Long Will CDs Actually Last?

Once upon a time, CDs were a shiny new technology with a promise of lasting (nearly) forever. In those halcyon days of the 1990s, museums and symphonies began transferring their archives to CDs—a decision that in retrospect may not have been so wise. The catch is that some CDs are durable and others are not; we just had no way of knowing back then.

On NPR's All Things Considered, Laura Sydell peeks inside the Library of Congress, where archivists are actively researching how long a CD can last. Since the first CD was only made about 30 years ago, the answer is not so easy to figure out. To hasten up the aging process, CDs can be stored in warm and humid boxes, where conditions speed up the chemical reactions that contribute to the CDs' breakdown.

One thing the archivists have noted is that CDs can be of varying quality. Manufacturing standards differ depending on when and by whom a CD was produced. Take the phenomenon of bronzing, for example, which is when a CD's coating breaks down. Michele Youket, a Library of Congress preservation specialist, tells NPR:

"This phenomenon of bronzing was particular to only discs that were manufactured at one particular plant in Blackburn, Lancashire, in England," and only between 1988 and 1993, Youket explains.

"Everyone always wants to know the answer to the same question, 'How long do CDs last? What's the average age?' " Youket says. But "there is no average, because there is no average disc."

But if you want to keep your vintage Britney Spears* CDs from going to rot, storing them in a cool dry place is a good start. Head over to NPR to learn more about CD preservation. More here.

Aug 3, 2014

How To Portion Pasta When You're As Hungry As a T-Rex

The original version of this pasta portioner was a clever play on the phrase "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse." But DOIY Design has improved on the original in every way with a new version featuring a famished T-Rex in pursuit of a fleeing family.

Available starting in October for just over $13, the T-Rex portion probably isn't enough pasta to satiate a starving thunder lizard, but it should be more than enough to feed a family of four. And if there's less of you dining, the man, woman, and child cutouts will let you portion out exactly as much as you need to make growling stomachs extinct. More here.