Post written by: Zach Vowell
A Project Finding:
Most everyone who’s been involved in the Software Preservation Network has long suspected that license key authentication would be a roadblock to preserving software in a usable way. But it takes a project like FCoP to demonstrate that such suspicions are true (or not). And in the past two months, the FCoP teams at the University of Virginia and Georgia Tech have run up against this very real obstacle, when they were unable to run a piece of architectural design software (VectorWorks and AutoCad) because the software attempted to authenticate the license key against an online authentication server. Establishing an internet connection from the emulated operating system environment may be possible, but even then will the authentication work? Is the authentication server still online? The project teams will continue to explore these questions.
Cohort Resource Sharing
License key authentication is but one layer in what is turning out to be a complex set of workflows that each member of the FCoP cohort faces. At the monthly May meeting, the group heard from Ethan Gates, who is currently working at Yale as a Software Preservation Analyst, and as a member of the EaaSI team. The cohort spoke with Ethan about a number of topics related to workflow, emulation environment configuration, documentation, and training, and shared ideas and resources. One interesting question that came out of the discussion around training is: how do you (quickly) teach younger students about previous computing environments and the history of computing in general?
Cohort Projects: Status Reports
University of Arizona
University of Arizona has been bringing interns associated with their project into the stacks where the game archives are stored. It is taking a surprising amount of time working with folks who have never seen vintage game hardware before, and Arizona is diligently tracking that sometimes hidden time spent on orientation and training.
The University of Illinois
The University of Illinois team successfully emulated a Macintosh 8.6 environment that they imaged from Macbook laptop. As great as that feat is, the team is trying to go one step further and play MIDI audio from the emulated environment!
Georgia Tech and the Living Computer Museum + Labs
Georgia Tech and the Living Computer Labs + Museum have been independently working with Apple II emulators, to varying degrees of success. There are several Apple II emulators out there, some open source, and others that are not.
Planning is in the works to produce a podcast with Henry Zhu for his Maintainers Anonymous program. At least four members of the cohort have signed up to participate, and we’re excited to hear how it turns out! Other pitches to programs with a “broad spectrum” audience are also being developed.
Meanwhile, a group of three FCoP members submitted a panel presentation proposal to iPRES 2019, which will be held in Amsterdam in September 2019, and is actively on the lookout for other conferences to present their work to, including Maintainers III conference.
And the workshops outreach group has two efforts planned for the Society of American Archivists 2019 annual meeting. First, team leads from the University of Illinois, the University of Virginia, and the Living Computer Labs + Museum will partner with the EaaSI team to put on a free, full-day workshop entitled Multithreading Software Preservation: A Software Preservation and Emulation Workshop. The workshop will take place on August 2, the first official day of the SAA meeting, and it is offering 4 travel support scholarships. Jump on over to the workshop webpage for more details!
Also from the workshop group, team leads from the University of Illinois and the University of Virginia are proposing a pop-up session during the SAA meeting. It will be a busy time in Austin!
Field Reports by Dr. Amelia Acker
In Dr. Acker’s first Field Report, she discusses the properties and function of field reports: “As shared documents, field reports create bridges between existing theories about phenomena and observations about people in their environments as detailed by the researcher. Each and everyday we observe people in places and how they interact, with structured field report techniques, we can capture these observations with details, evidence, synthesis, and interpretations that allow researchers to systematically observe and accurately describe different situations.”
She also describes her preparations for field work including design of her protocols around interviews and informed consent. “Once IRB approval was secured, I was able start to tying down specific dates for visits.”