Archive those memories!

One of my childhood memories is of the family sitting in the dark around the slide projector watching family history click by, one frame at a time accompanied by the soundtrack of the hum of the fan that kept the bulb from burning out. So what happened to those slides? They live in the basement of my father's house, of course, where nobody sees them, ever.

Recently my mother decided to scan some of these slides and sent out the results. No offense to her well-intentioned efforts, but the results were terrible. Fortunately, I had an option. I begged her to send the slides to ScanCafe to be scanned by professionals. Eventually she did and the results were spectacular!

The procedure is simple and convenient. Collect whatever media you want scanned; prints, newspaper clippings, slides, negatives, whatever you have, go to the website, open an account, and list the quantity of what you're sending. ScanCafe will give you an estimate (generally $0.20 to $0.35 per image, often discounted), create a UPS shipping label for you to print and give instructions on how to box your images. Then you drop the package off at UPS and wait a month for the scanning to be done.

ScanCafe will let you know that they've received your package, and then when your images are ready they'll send a URL where you can go to choose which images you want and which you don't. You make your selections and ScanCafe will send you a DVD (or more than one if you're sharing with others in your family) with your images. ScanCafe also offers a variety of additional services, including retouching and archival work.

Why am I sharing this? Because the lifespan on physical media is fast ending. Sure, you can keep what you have, but you have only the one picture, the one negative, the one slide. With a digital version of that image you can share it with your entire family, you can ensure that it it's in a format in which it will be seen and enjoyed. I scanned negatives I haven't seen in 20 years!

Here's the real worry, though. If you have a Zip Disk you need files off, we're going to have a few issues. Zip Drives aren't made now, so we need to find someone who has kept one. The connection that they used most frequently isn't common now. We're running out of time, and it's the same with scanning. Not too long ago Nikon stopped making their slide scanner. It was long regarded as the best available, but even if you can find one, it connects via SCSI and you'll also need to hunt down software to run it. There's an alternative, a company called Plustek makes a nice one, but it's not a market that will see much advancement. If you want your slides time is running out...

And, if you don't worry about these images for you, think of the rest of your family!

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