Welcome to the community! Here are the three rules of data restoration:
- You can’t do everything yourself.
- Absolutely no NEV-hacking. Not ever.
- People are allowed to disagree with you.
Stay safe out there, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s finds this week.
Written and produced by Kale Brown. Artwork by Kale Brown.
All music and sound effects used are available under a CC0 license. Music was ‘Sphere’ by Andrew Kn. [LOUD EERIE NOISE] was ‘Sci-fi Ambient Drone’ by Niedec.
Visit us on Twitter at @sinkholepodcast or visit the website at sinkholepodcast.com.
INTRO: [Someone inhales deeply; their inhale has a distant, echoing quality to it. A strange, rattling sound grows in volume and speed before fading into eerie, warbling music. There’s a strange crackling sound. The voice whispers “Sinkhole.” The pitch and speed of the music drop, fading into the next track.]
[A low, slow hum fills the background. The melody is subtle and largely ambient.]
Let’s talk pre-NEV tech.
We’ve gotten a lot of new members lately, so I thought it might not be a terrible idea to start making new source posts… since we lost all the old ones when D2 tried to tank the platform.
So, first rule of data restoration: you can’t do everything yourself. Some of these projects should be seen to professionally. If you’re not sure if you can do it on your own, ask around. Post specs and be prepared to hear ‘no.’ There are plenty of people in this community who can tell you whether or not you’re equipped to solo restore a device.
Second rule of data restoration: absolutely no NEV-hacking. Not ever.
You will have to physically engage the interface. There’s just no getting around that. How much is gonna vary from item to item, but you’ve got to stop trying to NEV-hack things that were never meant to be NEV-compatible.
Even when it works, it doesn’t really work. You may think you’re seeing some promising results at first, but these are things that were never designed to handle the data transference rate of even the most basic sort of nerve-tech. They can’t keep up with you, which means that all of these workarounds require you to override your speed link minimum.
If you’re transferring a lot of data over from one of these devices, you’re going to end up with a severe case of download lag- and when that happens, it not as simple as just cancelling a transfer that’s taking too long.
The real, tangible danger here is that if you’re experiencing download lag, you’re probably not going to know. Overriding your speed link minimum causes your cognitive function to slow down to match the processing speed of the device you’re interfacing with, and none of these things are anywhere near as fast as a human brain.
What we’re talking about is a form of perceptual time dilation.
If it’s just a small amount of data, you might not really notice, because a certain amount of perceptual time dilation is actually normal- for most people, realizing an hour has gone by in what felt like minutes is just something that happens sometimes.
Where you get real problems is when you’re dealing with a lot of data. NEV-hackers connected to especially slow devices have ended up needing emergency medical treatment for severe dehydration because they spent multiple days caught in download lag and didn’t realize it.
People have died doing this. The risk just isn’t worth the honestly tiny amount of convenience it offers. For something like an old cellphone, you still have to physically interact with the device to make sure it’s unlocked and remotely accessible to you in the first place. It’s an experimental novelty, not a viable method of data restoration.
Not only is it dangerous, there are more steps involved than the alternative.
Pulling the onboard memory from a digital device is usually a relatively simple process.
Finding a way to unlock it is usually the most complicated part.
After that, all you have to do is adjust the settings, connect it to an intermediary upload system, and start the transference process. It might seem like it’s taking a while, but it would take the exact same amount of time if you NEV-hacked it.
You just wouldn’t know.
At least this way, you’ll be free to do whatever you want while you wait.
Third rule of data restoration:
Okay, this one is actually only sort of about data restoration. This is a community rule, and one the mods have only recently implemented.
People are allowed to disagree with you.
If you’re new to this community, it won’t be long before you encounter… certain opinions.
One of those opinions is that you should never use a remote proxy of any kind to operate a pre-NEV device. Not even a proxthesis, which is explicitly designed to allow a person without full mobility to enjoy full mobility in a humanlike proxy- often one which perfectly mirrors their living, human body.
You’ll hear some-
[LOUD, EERIE SOUND]
[trying again] You’ll hear-
[creaking as speaker shifts in their chair] Come on!
[speaker shifts in their chair again]
[speaking quickly] You’ll hear some things about motor skill desync causing droppages and inconsistent response times when dealing with touchscreens and you’ll hear… [sighs] you’ll hear just a whole lot of things about a loss of “the authentic technological experience central to engaging in data restoration.”
I’m gonna be the one to paint a big ol’ target on my back here and say… I personally think this is snobbery. I don’t think this attitude is founded in anything tangible.
In fact, I think it’s not only cruel and exclusionary to some of the members of our community, I think it’s actively detrimental to restoration efforts- particularly when it comes to analog tech.
For those of you who aren’t well-versed in technological history, analog is pre-digital. It’s one step further removed from pre-NEV.
If we’re in the nerve-tech age, then the age before this was the digital age, and the age before that was the analog age. Make sense?
When it comes to analog storage devices, most of what you’re going to be dealing with as a hobbyist is either optical discs like CDs and DVDs or things like cassettes and tapes.
Now, in terms of the latter, that usually means magnetic tape. There also exist things like magnetic wire recordings, but you’re unlikely to come across one of those unless you’re actively looking for it.
The first thing you need to know about magnetic tape is that it’s… sensitive. It doesn’t handle heat well, it’s sensitive to moisture, and it absolutely hates being dirty. Ideal conditions for handling tapes are cool, dry, and clean.
So, as far as tape is concerned, your living human body is mostly just water and oil and dust.
Under most conditions, you’re probably not warm enough to pose a heat issue, but if you’re working in a small, poorly-ventilated room, you could hypothetically raise its ambient temperature above the safety threshold, and that’s because human breath has a relative humidity of one hundred percent.
For reference, the recommended conditions for magnetic tape storage ask for a relative humidity of forty percent or below at room temperature. The higher the relative humidity of the air, the colder the room should be to compensate.
On top of that, your skin produces natural oils to protect itself, and while it’s easy enough to wash your hands or wear gloves, you’re also constantly in the process of shedding dead cells. The human body is a dust factory.
Now, when it comes to optical discs, this isn’t nearly as much of a problem. Things like dust and fingerprints can cause read errors, for sure, but optical discs are infinitely easier to clean than magnetic tape is. You need specialized equipment to clean magnetic tape- to clean an optical disc, you usually just need rubbing alcohol or a glass cleaning solution along with a soft, clean, non-abrasive cloth. It’s that simple.
With all that said, not only would I say it’s not a bad idea to handle analog storage devices via remote proxy, I might actually go as far as to recommend it in certain cases, such as with magnetic tape.
Insisting on championing a narrative which has not been proven and positions community members who do not enjoy full mobility as somehow being detrimental to the efforts of the community as a whole… sucks. It’s cruel and unnecessary.
And, if I’m being honest, I feel as though the impulse to do so stems from something entirely unrelated to data restoration.
I’ve said it.
Let’s talk a little bit more about magnetic tape.
Since so many of you are new to the community, I’d like to go ahead and manage some expectations. I know tape is experiencing a little bit of a renaissance, and that’s probably exactly what brought some of you here- so I don’t want anyone getting all excited just to get their heart broken when their tape read comes back with nothing but junk data.
Proper tape storage is a bit of a science, so when you find a tape, depending on how it was stored, you might already be looking at something with a pretty significant amount of distortion or degradation.
And, yeah, getting a tape ready to go can be a little bit of an adventure: before you attempt to load your tape into a playback device and IUS, you need to confirm tape tension and casing integrity. It’s not always a fast or simple process, and trying to read an improperly cased and tensioned tape can damage it further, so by the time you get it ready to read, it’s natural to have developed a bit of an investment in the result.
But you got to keep your expectations reasonable. You’re gonna get some junk tapes. Everybody does.
And that’s without even getting into what happens to tapes that have spent any amount of time near the Hole.
The Sinkhole does something really fuckin’ weird to magnetic tape. It’s not magnetic interference- it doesn’t cause that kind of distortion, it just…
Just look up Sinkhole tapes if you don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ll see what I mean. It’s a whole thing. People are completely obsessed with it, so you’ll find plenty of examples if you go looking.
If you’re a new community member who lives near the Hole and is thinking about getting into analog… don’t.
No, I’m- I’m joking. If you live near the Hole, just make sure you’re storing any tapes you’re working on somewhere else. Somewhere well outside the Sink.
Unless you’re one of those people who actively brings magnetic tape into the Sink to create more Sinkhole tapes, in which case… welcome, I guess? Uh… this community was a weird choice, but as long as you’re pulling the raw data from the tape before bringing it into the Sink, I think most people here will probably be fine with you?
Anyway, I hope this new format helps. A couple of you have been asking for more audio format content to help with NEV-compatibility, so I figured I’d oblige. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do or if you have any questions. It might take me a little longer than usual to respond because I’m still getting used to this format, but… you’ll hear from me. Literally.
Stay safe out there, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s finds this week.
[The ambient music fades into the next track.]
[An eerie, warbling music akin to the opening music plays, rising in volume and then slowing and quieting.]