New technologies are good things, especially ones such as SATA that give us simple cabling, lightning-fast data transfer rates, and new toys to buy. There is, however, another, more unfortunate side to progress. That side is discarded technology. Many times, a SATA upgrade happens because an IDE drive has run the race, done its part, then died gracefully, old and fulfilled. After the drive has finally passed on, it can be all too easy to think of the drive itself wistfully and with a twinkle in our eye, all without sparing a thought for the real victims of this tragedy, the IDE cables. All over our great nation, thousands of discarded cables sit idle and unloved in garages, junk drawers, shoe boxes, and safe deposit boxes, wondering if they'll ever see the light of day and the thrill of usefulness again. This is their story, and this is the beginning of their new chapter of life. They'll rise again, not to stream music or to archive XKCD, but to mark our places in beloved works of literature, Firefly fanfic, or possibly programming command references.
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Step 1: Materials/Tools
To start this journey, you'll need one or more IDE cables (the 80-conductor cables are better, as they use finer, more flexible wires), a sharp utility knife, a pair of scissors (maybe not your very best ones, as you'll be cutting tiny wires with them, and they'll probably come away from this process less sharp than they went in), a business card, a sharpie, a couple of different-sized washers, and a ruler (not pictured here).
Step 2: Off With Shorty
Many IDE cables have one connector for the motherboard, a good length of cable, then two connectors close together, so they can connect drives in adjacent bays without a lot of slack. The bit of cable between the two drive connectors is too short to use as a bookmark, so use the utility knife to cut that length off. You can use the edge of the connector as a guide, and cut the cable off flush with the connector you're keeping.
Step 3: Measure, Square, and Cut
Using the ruler (now pictured!), make a small tick mark on the cable at the length you want the bookmark to be. You can cut the cable into two equal halves, or measure the height of your favorite book and subtract an inch or two. This part is up to you. I chose to cut one short one (6” or so) for paperbacks, and one longer one for my CCNA study guide. After you've made your mark(s), lay the business card on the cable, long edge along the length of the cable, and draw a line onto the cable up the short edge of the card, so that you have a cut line that's square with the cable. Finally, use the scissors to cut nice and straight along this line.
Step 4: Flatten Out the Kinks
Often, IDE cables are a bunched up mess, due to storage or cramming them into dusty drive bays. To flatten your bookmarks out, squeeze them between the edge of a desk/table and the heel of your hand, then slowly pull them downward, applying firm pressure with the heel of your hand. After each pull, flip the cable over and pull it through again. After each stroke, the cable will be super curly, but after several (5-10) strokes, it'll be curly and kink-free. Finish by pulling the cable between your index and middle fingers to get rid of the curl.
Step 5: Mark and Round the Ends
Choose whichever washer has a diameter that looks like you'll want on the ends of your cable. Put the washer on the corners of the cable end, then use the sharpie to mark the radius on the cable. After they're marked, use your scissors to cut the rounded ends onto the cables.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Placeholding!
There you have it! From lifeless cable to useful bookmarks, the legend continues for these noble, discarded data conduits! Bonus irony points if you use it to mark your place in an arcane document detailing SATA3 or Firewire3200 specifications! Negative one million points if you point out to me this this isn't, in fact, an example of irony!
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