Baby Boomers: Digital photos and a fast disappearing past

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Baby Boomers: Digital photos and a fast disappearing past
By Ray Hanania

I still have photographs of my family taken at the turn of the century in Palestine. I have photos of my dad, George, and uncle, Moussa, serving during World War II to defeat the Nazis. I have photos of when I was born, as a child, as a teenager and through College and several on-and off-again marriages.

Those are in print. The negatives are in disarray, but the prints are still clear. To be honest, even the old ones have more character as they show some signs of fading with age, even a decade later.

These days, I have “digital photos.” They look sharp. They are easy to move, copy and even edit. But they don’t last long.

The one thing about a print photograph is that it is there. The only thing that can destroy it is fire, flooding or emotional outbursts in which the owner’s rip the old photographs to pieces.

You can’t say that about digital images. Photographs I took in 1985 using a digital camera attached to my old IBM PC Jr., are gone. They are still on old 5 ¼ in disks – remember those? They’re like the 8-Track Tapes of today’s digital technology.

The problem with digital images isn’t that they fade or disappear. The problem is that the technology keeps changing. Computer laptops crash and content on hard drives vanish. A hard drive crashing is worse than a fire or a flood. At least in a fire or a flood you have something that can be salvaged. In a computer crash that destroys your hard drive, nothing survives. Nothing.

I have purchased a little technology that let’s me scrub old hard drives and search them using a USB port to find any documents and images that have survived. But when I move those to other hard drives for storage, those hard drives eventually crash, too.

In fact, I spent $200 for a Western Digital backup hard drive. It lasted 6 months and died. I took it back to Best Buy – when will I ever learn? And Best Buy said they couldn’t promise anything but for $100 they would try to salvage it and for another $100, or more, they could put anything they “saved” on CDs.

I have purchased 15 digital cameras over the years. Each one is different and uses a different Memory Card.

The Memory Card is a new scam from the computer industry to fleece me of more money. They keep getting bigger and they are practically all incompatible with older cameras. So the old Memory Cards don’t work on many of the old cameras and the old memory cards are not accessible on a lot of today’s technology.

And while I might have lost a few photos through mishandling in the past, losing a memory card or a hard drive crash can cost you a thousands photos.

That’s just the start of how technology has done two terrible things to our lives. First, they make us pay a lot of money for unreliable products. And two, the issue of compatibility and access are questionable. Many of your old digital photos are just gone and you will never see them, unless of course, you are willing to cough up hundreds of dollars and pay a monthly bill to store them forever on one of those clouds.

I prefer storing photos on the pages of a photo album. They take up space but they are so much easier to enjoy. I can scan the pages of a photo book far easier and faster than I can scan images on a hard drive.

Images are coded, too. They don’t have names. You have to rename each image and even give them a date if you want to find something that is important to you, or else you have to separate them into sub-directories grouping them by topic, event or subject.

Technology really sucks. The reason is the computer morons who develop and design the software and computers are not normal people. They don’t have normal lives so they have no idea what normal people need. They have no idea how normal people do things. They only know the ones and zeros of programming and how to create things that satisfy their lack of knowledge of normal people.

Computer software programs are not user friendly from the standpoint of the user’s needs. They are user friendly from the standpoint of the Egghead who designed them, answering his, or in a few cases, her needs. Not your needs.

And, the computer programmers are driven by greed. They know most people are addicted to their services like drug addicts returning to the drug pushers. I used to be able to program and even sold a few software programs back in the 1980s, but today, computer programming is so sophisticated and complex, you can’t do it as a hobby. Just like I can no longer fix the carburetor on my 2010 Nissan. Does today’s car have a carburetor by the way? I have no idea. I don’t open the hood any more to check the engine. I have to pay someone to do that, something I used to be able to do myself.

We had it better as Baby Boomers and I feel sorry for all you new generation mopes out there. Fifty years from now, you will be reminiscing about life at the turn of the century, most of you having lost all of the photos to technology growth which I call technology garble.

They’ll have new technologies that will make your old technologies obsolete and worthless. Piles of whatever stacked on top of each other like old cassettes gathering dust.

I have stacks of old 5 ¼ inch disks, 3 ½ inch disks, old CDs, old DVD’s, old hard drives recovered from dead computers – most computers have a life of about one year.

You’ll have stacks of God knows what.


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania