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Mark Ward | 13:13 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010

Starcraft II artworkOn Tech Brief today: Old data, old-school gaming and the oldest Usenet server.

• Gamers who cannot wait to get their hands on Starcraft 2 can soothe their craving with an 8-bit version of the game. David Hinkle is enraptured:

"...after checking out this 8-bit recreation of the game that started it all, we're inclined to cancel our pre-order and spend the rest of our days praying for a playable version. It takes us back to our elementary school days, when we thought getting to play Oregon Trail in school was about the best thing ever. Can you imagine if we had this instead? Zerg rushing would be at, like, a whole 'nother level."

For Mr Hinkle it answers a deep spiritual need:

"Instead of pining for what could've been, you should head past the break to watch the game in action and hope for what could be: an actual playable release of this charming 8-bit recreation. What else could you possibly want in life?"

• A security conference should be, you might think, the last place you should have to worry about contracting a computer virus. Foolish mortal. At the AusCert security shindig, IBM was handing out flash drives loaded with malware:

"The unlovely gift was supplied to an unknown number of delegates to the Gold Coast, Queensland conference who visited IBM's booth. Big Blue does not identify the strain of malware involved in the attack beyond saying it's a type of virus widely detected for at least two years which takes advantage of Windows autorun to spread."

• One of the earliest parts of the net's history has been shut down. The original Usenet server at Duke University has gone offline for the last time. John Naughton wipes away a tear:

"Usenet archives provided a wonderful treasure-trove. They also provided a picture of the Net as it was before the arrival of AOL's redneck hordes. When the groups and alt.drugs were started (after a hoohah) on April 3, 1988, for example, it was immediately felt necessary to start alt.rock-n-roll. One has to be consistent in these matters. Those were the days."

• It is not just seeds that need preserving; obsolete data formats need help too. A secret bunker in the Swiss alps has become the home of a digital genome that will help our children's children's children read future formats. Adam Farquhar of the British Library spells out the problems:

"In 25 years people will be astonished to see how little time must pass to render data carriers unusable because they break or because you don't have the devices anymore... The second shock will probably be what fraction of the objects we can't use or access in 25 years and that's hard to predict."

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Links in full

David Hinkle | Joystiq | We really wish 8-bit StarCraft was a thing we could play
John Leyden | The Register | IBM hands out malware-stuffed USB
John Naughton | Memex 1.1 | My old Carolina Home
Jason Rhodes | Reuters | "Digital genome" safeguards dying data formats

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