Retro Talk: Stealthy Terabyte 2.0

Back in 2015, Retro 51 and Anderson Pens released the original Terabyte Tornado as a limited edition of 500. I loved the design, and, having assumed it would be a hot item, I pre-ordered one immediately. It turns out that it actually took a couple of years to move all those pens, but it was apparently still successful enough to launch a follow up: The Terabyte 2.0

I like the barrel design of the Terabyte 2.0. However, as far as I can tell, it’s identical to the original – hidden Anderson Pen’s logo and all – except that the green motherboard color has been replaced with black. Beyond that, there isn’t much to say about this pen that I didn’t already mention in my write-up for the 1.0.

This disc at the top of the 2.0’s twist even popped off, just like it did for the original. Luckily, that’s an easy fix with some super glue.

I like the stealthy style of the 2.0, but Retro 51 and Anderson Pens probably could have done a little more to make it stand apart – acid etching or a new circuit pattern, for example. That disc at the top has a new bull’s-eye pattern, I guess, but that is hardly significant. It’s really more of a version 1.1.

So, if you feel that you missed out on the Terabyte 1.0, then you’ll be pleased with the Terabyte 2.0. But unlike the original Terabyte, the 2.0 isn’t a limited or numbered edition, so there’s probably no need to rush your order.

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Off Topic: The Internet Sometimes Forgets

I’ll begin with two short anecdotes:

The first comes from the sci-fi book Death’s End by Cixin Liu. In the story, our solar system is facing the threat of a catastrophic destruction, and the main characters are discussing the construction of a Museum of Humanity. The goal is to save our history, our beliefs, and our greatest works of art in hope that some alien civilization will discover it in possibly millions (or billions!) of years. The question is, how do you preserve all this information for such a long time? Well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers – it is a very good book series – but I will tell you that the idea of storing this information on data drives, the same ones that form the backbone of the internet, is quickly dismissed because that hardware degrades too fast.

The second anecdote – and the reason I decided to write this piece – started when I began to re-read a few of my old blog posts. I noticed that a lot of outgoing links (that is, other webpages that I’d linked to) were broken or dead. Sometimes the pages had been moved, sometimes they’d been edited or deleted, and sometimes it seemed like an entire website had disappeared off the internet. Mind you, these were sites that seemed perfectly fine two or three years ago, and now they’re just gone.

This happens because websites and internet services require upkeep. For this blog, that upkeep is as simple as remembering to pay my hosting bill, but for others it involves complicated stuff like server maintenance and security patches. When a blogger/webmaster/company decides it’s no longer worth their time and money, all that information and data can vanish.

This isn’t a phenomena known to only smaller websites either. Geocities, which hosted many personal websites in the early days of the internet, shut down in 2009 and deleted all its old content. Google Plus, a once viable contender for social media dominance, recently ended its services. And there’s no guarantee that bigger companies like WordPress, Facebook, or Amazon will be around forever. Even The Internet Archive, which runs the incredibly useful Wayback Machine, has had fires and funding issues.

I’ll admit that all of this worrying seems odd. If anything, the common concern is that too much of our past will be archived online. Teens are often warned to be mindful of what they post on social media because “the internet never forgets!” You don’t want something you did online when you were 15 to ruin your career when you’re 45. We certainly don’t think about digital preservation very often, but we should.

So if you want to save your content – pictures, writings, etc. – what should you do? In Death’s End, the solution was to carve the most important work of humanity onto the walls of a cave on Pluto – something like that could potentially last millions of years. But that might be overkill for most of us. A more practical solution would be to burn all of your important information to an archival DVD, which could last over 100 years. Though, you might potentially run into data compatibility issues sometime in the future.

But if you really want your stuff to last a long time, a better solution might simply involve paper and ink. Print your stuff or write it down using archival quality supplies. If preserved properly, it could last hundreds of years. For proof, look no further than The New York Public Library’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible; it is over 500 years old and still looks beautiful.

So, if you want your digital stuff to last, take action. Back it up or print it out. You just have to first figure out what’s worth saving – a complicated topic on its own. But that’s a blog post for another time.

Notes on Heartbeat Field Notes

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018 (i.e. Valentines Day), Field Notes announced the Heartbeat Edition. A combination of the Wednesday and the Red Blooded editions, the Heartbeat notebooks were not for sale. Instead, 2-packs were included as a free bonus to any order placed on that one specific day.

The Heartbeat Edition is what I’ll call a “re-skinned” edition. The innards are identical to what you’ll currently find in a standard Kraft Field Notes notebook: a light brown graph grid on 60# white paper in the standard pocket-sized (3.5” x 5.5”) dimensions. The cover, however, is different. The outside is a deep (“Sanguine”) red with tan (“Manila Yellow Kraft”) lettering, and that color scheme is reversed on the inside.

There’s nothing spectacularly new to see, but what makes the Heartbeat Edition special is the heart replacing the letter “O” in the Field Notes logo. So don’t fret about the $40+ people are charging for this edition on secondary markets like eBay. While it’s true that Valentines Day doesn’t fall on a Wednesday again until 2024, I’m sure the company will run a similar promotion sooner than that.

Additional Notes

  • Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “03. Meet-Cute Orchestrations”; “06. Times Had at ‘Hello'”; and “30. #9 Recipe.”
  • Apparently some people got Heartbeat pencils! I, sadly, did not.
  • No edition size is listed. So we’ll never know how many Heartbeats are out there.
  • I keep accidentally calling this the “Heartbreak Edition.” Maybe that’ll be the next one!

Off Topic: Oreo Flavor Obsession

Since 1912, when the Oreo was first introduced, Nabisco had been content with their cookie’s traditional flavor: a vanilla frosting sandwiched between two chocolate wafers. Of course, the company fiddled with the recipe over the years. Ingredients like trans fats and lard were removed or replaced, the filling was occasionally dyed into fun colors, and the cookies were both shrunken and enlarged to create different product lines.

Nabisco even sporadically produced new flavor varieties like lemon, mint, and peanut butter. But that was nothing compared to the flavor explosion that occurred in the 2010s, right around the time Mondelez took over as the brand’s parent company. At some point, the shackles were loosened on the Oreo R&D department, and the whole brand went berserk.

Oreo flavors like birthday cake and red velvet, novelties a few years ago, have become standard, and they’re now are available on store shelves year-round. The newer flavors these days are released in “limited edition” runs, which come and go after couple of months. These limited editions are usually where Oreo releases the really weird flavors, like “waffles & syrup” or “cherry cola.”

The Oreo is the most popular cookie in the world with billions in sales every year, making three times more money than it’s nearest competitor. It seems risky for a big company to mess around with such a successful formula. So why do it?

I tried to contact Oreo for an explanation, but (not surprisingly) they didn’t respond. But, having consumed my fair share of Oreo flavors, I suspect that their strategy is three-fold:

  1. Get some media attention. Oreo is an old cookie, but some of these new flavors can get some buzz. When they release particularly odd flavors (like Watermelon or Kettle Corn), they seem to get a lot of it.
  2. Capitalize on seasonal trends. Apparently, pumpkin spice products do hundreds of millions of dollars in sales each year, so it’s not surprising that Oreo jumped on that bandwagon. But that’s not all, they release new Oreo flavors to coincide with many holidays: Peppermint Bark for Christmas, Peeps during Easter, Hot & Spicy Cinnamon around Valentine’s Day, etc.
  3. Market test new ideas. I suspect that the tamer flavors, like coconut or dark chocolate, are really just broad market tests. Ditto for brand mash-ups like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Dunkin’ Donuts Mocha Oreos. Mondelez is probably fishing for a new hit flavor, hoping to create the next Doritos Locos Taco.

But whatever the case, this “new flavor” strategy must be working because they don’t seem to be slowing down. For myself, I can say that I’ll grab a new flavor of Oreo every time I see one, and I probably wouldn’t buy Oreos otherwise.

I can’t explain why I like trying these new Oreo flavors. They’re rarely as good as the original cookie, and sometimes they are far worse (I’m looking at you Swedish Fish Oreo) But it’s still a lot of fun to try them all.

For the last few years, I’ve even been documenting these new flavors on Twitter (and I’ve compiled them into a list here). I’ve tried dozens of them already, and I’m still interested to see what comes next. Eventually, these flavors will start to get predictable and boring. Oreo’s flavor obsession will die, as will my interest to try them. But, for the time being, the Oreo R&D department still seems able to come up with weird and creative ideas. So, even though I probably don’t need the extra calories, I hope Oreo keeps it up.

Notes on MxLxBxD Field Notes

When the Dead Prints Edition Field Notes were released in 2015, they were an immediate hit. They were so popular and so sought-after that there was bound to be a follow-up edition, and that’s exactly what happened in February 2018. Mondo, Landland, and Draplin Design Co. got together again, this time inviting Burlesque of North America along for the ride, to create the MxLxBxD Edition Field Notes.

Although Dead Prints Field Notes were created from each company’s leftover scraps, which made for designs that varied wildly depending on where you bought them, the MxLxBxD Field Notes was more of a group effort to create a single product. According to the Field Notes website, the image files for the cover design were passed from company to company (a total of 84 times) with new elements being continually added. The end result is a bunch of notebooks that look like a heavily graffitied wall.

Other specs of note: the Field Notes logo (and all the cover text) are printed with turquoise foil press, and the notebooks are the standard 5.5” x 3.5” pocked size. Inside, you get turquoise grid ruling on 50# white paper. A total of 11,500 3-packs were made (as apposed to the measly 3,000 made for the Dead Prints edition), and some are still available. As of this writing, you can purchase them directly from here, here and here.

Though these books aren’t as unique as the Dead Prints Edition, I like their loud and creative look. If you use Field Notes and are a fan of one or more of these companies, it’s worth grabbing a pack or two as long as they’re still available. But, of course, if these companies ever team up again, I’m sure whatever they come up with will be just as cool.

Additional Notes

  • Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “01. Hot Dog Stands To Avoid”; “16. Weekly Cheese Tally”; and “26. Ink-Mixing Ratios.”
  • For more info and good pictures, check out the write-up on the MxLxBxD Edition at Three Staples.
  • If you like these, they remind me a lot of the Two Rivers Edition. Though, those aren’t so easy to get hold of these days.