ASCII by Jason Scott

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CD.TEXTFILES.COM gets subdirectories —

So I turned around and realized that CD.TEXTFILES.COM has over 400 CD-ROMs on it. That’s pretty crazy. I remember a few days that felt like they’d never end where I was shoving CD-ROM after CD-ROM into drives, making ISOs, extracting information from them. But I had no idea that over the years I’d gotten it to be so large.

The directory had gotten to the point that it was basically a massive scrollfest to get through, and there was little to no indication of what anything was. In other words, I’d tweaked the knob from “archive” to shitpile and control was being lost. This is my biggest issue with places that just go “and here is 3,000 photos from the 1920s” and then sit quietly, smiling – you can’t really find anything too easily and browsing things for serendipitous delight is heavily muted.

So I blew things into sub-directories where I can. Right now it’s for CD-ROM series. A set of CDs called the “Night Owl” collection is a staple of most people’s ideas of what a shareware CD-ROM is; now there’s a subdirectory of Night Owl. (Note that I’m missing a bunch in the numbered collection and am always on the hunt for more of them. Feel free to contact me if you have them.) The directories for specific series could stand to have some contextual notes at the top of the directory – I may do that in the future as well.

I’ve considered plunking all of, say, the Amiga or Atari CD-ROMs together in a directory, but I haven’t completely won over to that argument yet. I still have no easy way to present the Macintosh stuff online except as massive ISOs and I’m not quite ready for that hit. Time is, however, on my side and it seems we’ll be in the realm of 300 megabyte downloads in the near future, without too much pain.

All of this, by the way, is generated by scripts: the directories, the layouts, and the calculations of how many files are on the site. If that sort of information makes you happy, here’s the script that does the main directory. I work in Bourne Shell because I know it best and I work best with it. I use Perl like some people use formal wear – for special occasions and needs but not to take out the garbage.

What stuns me, by the way, is how even though I have all these CD-ROMs, I am still finding new ones with such frequency. Even when I am focusing on the pure “shareware for BBSes” collection, I still get my hands on metric tons of new data. Somewhere in the future is someone’s thesis project going through my millions of files and creating evaluating scripts and databases from it. Good luck, overeager imaginary future kid.

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  1. Jed says:

    Thank you

  2. Byron says:

    On the Macintosh collection:

    I don’t know how difficult it would be to create a script that would recreate the directory structure of an HFS CD, but the hfsutils will gladly dig files off of an HFS CD and encode them in BinHex or MacBinary II format. All of the hfsutils (except for the front end) are run from the Unix shell, so at least it is scriptable.