Monday, November 19, 2012

Some bad Verbatim MCC 004 DVD+R discs

I took advantage of a deal at Staples to get a 100 pack of Verbatim MCC 004 DVD+R discs. The 50 pack was good before. Unfortunately, the 100 pack has some damaged discs. I tried to write at 8x and first noticed the problem when speed failed to rise to 8x at the usual spot. Instead, the top speed was 6x. Even verification was slowed down in some areas.

I looked at the recording surface, thinking I probably wouldn't notice anything. The damage was very obvious: many shiny points on the disk surface. When looked at more carefully, they look like short lines, so they're probably scratches. I was careful when handling the spindle and discs, so this must have happened before they were in my possession. I wonder if the spindle was subject to shock or if this is a defect from the factory.

Surprisingly, the PIE/PIF scan wasn't too bad. I would have expected more PI failures. However, there certainly were a lot more PI errors than on discs from the other pack.


I made a mistake in assuming that the problems I was having with the first few discs were just due to the visible spots. Even the discs without visible damage are of low quality. There are read speed decreases over large areas of the disc, and PIE/PIF scan results are much worse than with previous good Verbatim discs. After some online research, I found that these the infamous PAP6 discs. My previous good discs were PAPA. That's the start of a code you can see on the transparent area in the middle. Here are two photos comparing PAP6 and PAPA. It's hard to make good photos of this, because it's embossed transparent plastic lettering in transparent plastic. Note how the PAP6 disc has air bubbles in the plastic.

Unfortunately, according to online information, you need to open a package to see if it contains PAP6 or PAPA discs. This means Verbatim media cannot be trusted these days. What trustworthy brands are left? Taiyo Yuden? I used to think that it's weird how some people insist on that brand. Now, it seems they were right. Unfortunately, those cannot be found in local stores. Fortunately, hard drive prices have dropped so much that this is a good time to give up on optical media.

Why the drive slows down

I normally do PIE/PIF scans at 5x, because of the increase in errors at higher speeds. At that speed, the PAP6 discs don't seem too terrible. The total PIF count is very high, but the maximum tends to be below 2. At 16x I get a very different picture. Here's a comparison of PAP6 and PAPA discs at 16x.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Religious images are fine when viewed as mythology

As I was appreciating the Noah’s Ark display at the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, I asked myself a question: why was I enjoying it?

The image comes from a story about a terrible atrocity, which involved the killing of many people and animals.  It’s also something that very obviously didn’t happen according to the geological record. Believing that the Great Flood happened is delusional, and thinking that such mass killing is good is terribly wrong. Because of such things, serious worship of that God is both inaccurate and immoral.

The image wasn’t bothering me because I was looking at it as something from a myth. In other words I was looking at it as a fictional story.  That’s similar to how I was enjoying the Disney displays. With such a perspective, objections relating to religion become irrelevant.

This seems like a good thing. Openly accepting religious stories and imagery as fictional mythology is better than trying to suppress them. For example, look at various past religions. People don’t care about suppressing the Greek or Norse mythology. Instead, it’s just something that’s appreciated and played with. Things like that enrich culture.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Using sed to copy Firefox RES settings to Chrome

Reddit Enhancement Suite settings are stored in a JSON file in Firefox and an SQlite database in Chrome. As a result, one cannot simply copy a file to copy settings from Firefox to Chrome. I like doing twisted things with sed, so I used it to transform the JSON file into an SQL file that can be imported via sqlite3:

sed 's/[^\]"\([^\"]*\)":/\necho -n "INSERT INTO '\''ItemTable'\'' VALUES('\''\1'\'',X'\''" ; echo ~~~/g; s/`/\\`/g' store.json | sed 'sX~~~\(.*\)$X-n \1 | iconv -f UTF-8 -t UTF-16LE | od -vt x1 | sed -n '\''s/^[0-9]* //; ${ x; s/ //g; s/\\n//g; s/0a$//; s/$/'\'\\\\\'\'');/p; }; H;'\''X' | sh > res.sql
cat ~/res.sql | sqlite3 chrome-extension_kbmfpngjjgdllneeigpgjifpgocmfgmb_0.localstorage

You can find store.json in your Firefox profile. The Chrome extension ID can be seen in chrome://chrome/extensions when you enable developer mode, and then you can find the database among your Chrome configuration files. I didn't test this extensively, but it seems to work well so far.