Remembering Binghamton, 2001

With technical assistance from Ruth Ellis, I have finally marked off a 16-year-old action item. (I'm sure the fact that I had a 16-year-old action item says a lot about me, but no comments are needed. I already know. On a more positive note, I am proud to say that I persisted in completing this task.)

Back in 2001, I led the team that planned and executed the second International Olin Reunion, in Binghamton, New York. The reunion went well. Afterwards, I took the task of preparing and distributing copies of the group photo. I had a few photos to work with. (A history lesson for you young'uns: Back then, we used real cameras, not smartphones, for taking pictures. Digital cameras were still relatively new and had dreadfully low resolution by today's standards. Film was still in widespread use.)

I selected the best photo I had. Then I went about assembling the caption from the list of names that we had meticulously collected. I was considering different ways of formatting the final product - names below the image; names on the back of the image, etc. In any event, I hoped to print it on photo stock and mail it to the attendees. I identified everyone, added the caption to the photo, and generated a PDF file, ready for the final step.

Then, apparently, something(s) happened. About 16 years worth of things.

One of those things happened earlier this year, when I updated the web site software. That necessitated a search for a new site theme, the look-and-feel of the site. Ruth found an attractive theme that featured an automatic slideshow on the home page. We ultimately traded that one for a related one, which you now see, that also has a slide show. We installed a photo from the 2016 reunion Ashtabula in all three slide positions.

I got tired of looking at the same image fading into itself, and that got me thinking about that photo from 2001. I found the PDF file without difficulty, but mysteriously, it no longer displayed the entire image or the caption. I could see less than half of the picture. I'd like to blame bitrot - a technical term used when computer programmers don't understand why something stops working correctly - but the problem was probably that the PDF format had changed at some point in the past 16 years and today's software didn't understand what the 16-year-old file was trying to say.

Fortunately, I knew Ruth had the software needed to extract the data hidden in that file. So I sent it off to her, and she soon returned a complete image and the caption I had prepared so many years ago.

You might have noticed the 2001 picture on our slideshow, along with the 2011 picture from Ontario, but below is a bigger version including the caption. Click on it for a full-resolution view.

Although I didn't end up printing and mailing hardcopies of that photo, I consider the essential task complete. Sorry for the delay.

Were you at the 2001 reunion? Add a comment below with your memories of that weekend.