Matt GarrisonElectrical EngineerETC - Dimming & ArchitecturalMiddleton, WI
"What I am trying to do is
make the risky buisness of handling shows on 3-1/2in. A: Floppy disks
I wouldn't worry too much about the risk of problems with the 3.5. In general, the Express is reliable to the point that you won't lose your show data even if you don't back up to floppy. Some backup toughts:
- Backup a test show, clear the system and re-load, doing it a few times. If you have errors, then call tech. support to discuss why and options.
- Backup to multiple floppies. I used to use 3
- Don't re-use floppies after a show. Save to EOL
- Save a copy on a PC that has Expression Off-Line, especially basic config files.
- Stock up on diskettes, buy a few hundred if you think you're keeping the console for a while.
With 10,000 Express consoles sold, I'd guess that ETC is going to be able to support the 3.5 drives for a bit, even if you have a failure, a used replacement would probably work for a long time to come.
I agree with Steve that floppys are not as risky as you suspect. People saving just two copies of a show have lost very little in 25 years of light board development. (On the other hand, how risky is it to make an important phone call on a miserable cell phone, or to think that an MP3 version of a tune actually sounds like the real thing? Not trying to start an argument, just pointing out that new technology is not always "better" than old technology.)
To add to Steve's list of prudent practices:
Don't smoke around floppy disks or your console.
Vacuum your console and the area once a month.
Buy new diskettes and use them only in the Express. That is, avoid using floppies that have been written to in a PC for regular daily storage with the light board. That is: Use a floppy to transfer an EOL show to the board, and then return the transfer floppy to your regular office PC floppy library. (This rule is based on occasional misalignment of read/write heads in floppy drives. If you always use the same drive, the misalignment becomes the "right" alignment.)
To be honest, I haven't paid money for a floppy in some time, because they used to be available with huge rebates or free with purchases. But there are good floppies and bad ones. If you have two failures from one box of inexpensive diskettes, discard the rest of the box immediately.