December 2005, V4#12: Genealogy Tuesday, Jan 6 2009 

Retrieving Data on Thermal Paper
By Alice Syman in Saint Augustine, Florida, USA

I have some old files containing faxes on that old fax [thermal] paper that eventually fades. I heard that there was some type of light that would restore them, but couldn’t find out the name and probably couldn’t have afforded it anyway. I wondered, what is it that restores them — light or heat or a combination of both and possibly with something else.

I turned on a burner on my gas stove and began running the paper, print side down, back and forth over the flame. When I saw a strip of paper turning dark I looked and eureka! I could read almost every word of the print, typed and handwritten. A miracle. I was able to send an adopted person information about his adoption that he had lost long ago.

This has to be done slowly and carefully and the flame shouldn’t be too high because one can get a nasty burn. I placed the restored copies in clear sheets. How long they will be legible, I don’t know. But they’ll last at least until one can transcribe the information from them.

I sent this bit of info to many other researchers. To date none have said they knew about it already. I would be interested to know from your readers if I was just way behind the times on this valuable (to me) secret.

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 12 October 2005, Vol. 8, No. 41

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August 2005, V4#8: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Software: Maintenance

A computer is a wonderful thing, but unless you change computers yearly (sometimes even then), a little simple maintenance may head off problems in the future.  We’ll take the time this issue, and future months to mention some of the “high points”.

It’s always a good idea, to start with general hard disk cleaning (XP: Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Clean Up) and “defragging” (XP: Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter).  Of the two, run Disk Clean Up first.  It will empty your Recycle bin, delete many temporary files, etc. – nothing you have actually saved into your files, and compress some into smaller space.  Think of all the data you have saved, deleted, moved, etc.  They are all little chunks of data that can dot your hard drive.  Large files may even be stuck here and there, taking quite a bit of system resources to even open it.  With defragmenting, you are allowing your computer to bring all your bits together and order them in a much smaller block on the hard drive.