INFO: “M-Disc” & Long-term Personal Archive Storage

September 17, 2012

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A couple months ago, I popped in a DVD that I’d burned that contained archives of some old data that I wanted preserved.  I had in fact used the disc before to retrieve some data off of it and now, 3 years later, I found myself again, putting it in the exact same disk drive that was used to originally burn it to retrieve even more data.

Disk unreadable.

Wow.  Nothing like having your belief system rocked by a loss of one-of-a-kind data.  I’d always assumed that my data on DVD was going to be good for at least a decade or so… and by then I probably wouldn’t need it any more.  But here I was, with a completely unreadable DVD.  Yes, I tried everything.  Recovery software, other drives, cleaning the disc, blahblahblah.  No use.  The disc has GONE BAD.

Fortunately, I have everything also backed up into the cloud so at least I have that backup even though it would take forever to restore, however I started thinking, “Man – what if this had been my kid’s birth photos & videos were on here and I didn’t have a backup?”

ENTER M-DISC.

M-Disc:  Write-once & Read Forever
You might feel like you’re making a “permanent” backup of your files when you copy them onto a DVD or backup to a computer hard-drive, but the truth is these devices suffer from natural decay and degradation.

Current DVD technology uses organic dyes and low laser power to make marks on the data layer of a standard recordable DVD. Over time, these marks become unreadable because organic dyes degrade when exposed to minimal levels of light, heat, and humidity. This means all the data you thought was safely stored could be lost because the discs you used have an average lifespan of only about 3 to 5 years! Why would you risk your data based on an average; hundreds of discs taken into account in that average were corrupt and unreadable after only a few months. With Millenniata, we don’t subject you to the possibility of losing your data. When we say “Write Once and Read Forever™”, we mean it.

Read more at http://millenniata.com/m-disc/

The whole rig – M-Disc Writer & 50 M-Disc DVD’s – was about $200.  Now I know what you’re thinking:  WOW.  $200 for 200GB in platters and a DVD writer?  Really?  Well, here’s the thing:  Magnetic media fails… Flash media has no long term life testing done on it, and y’never know what’s gonna happen to your data long term in the cloud.

So for my purposes:  Mostly photos… video… music… stuff like that that would easily fit on 4.7GB platters, this makes a lot of sense.  And the knowledge that the data is safely stored for 1000 years on these discs without degradation is comforting. 

Here’s a link to what I bought, and a link to a study that was done on the platter’s durability:

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Publishing to Twitter & Facebook… via SMS/MMS messaging

September 16, 2012

imageToday I learned… that data bandwidth on 3G networks suck in Los Angeles because they’re oversubscribed.  This is one of the major reasons the cell companies are pushing 4G so hard… to reduce pressure on the existing 3G networks.

It’s so bad, that in large concentrations of people, you’ll find that basic services & apps requiring TCP/IP DATA networking can completely fail – EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE “4 BARS” – whereas VOICE services will work just fine.  This is because, as I understand it, digital “voice services” transmission is relatively low bandwidth and executed in a different manner than Digital “data services” transmission, using different channels.

Example:  The Rose Bowl in Pasadena
During UCLA football games, there may be 80,000 people in attendance & the majority of them have phones that operate on AT&T & Verizon.  As a result data services… will… SUCK.  Meanwhile, Sprint users & T-Mobile users will often find their data networks work just fine.  @#$^%.

The bottom line is:  If you attempt to hit up Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn or any number of other social networks in a location where the cellular towers are over accessed, (football games at the Rose Bowl for example [ahem]) you won’t be able to get anything through, nor will you get a response.  Your apps won’t work, and web browsing is probably next to complete fail.

USING TEXT/MEDIA MESSAGING
It turns out that SMS text messaging & MMS media messaging services operate on the same system as VOICE services, meaning that you can still post updates and pictures to Twitter & Facebook through these services if your data services are failing.

(Note:  I personally haven’t had to use SMS or MMS messaging to communicate with Twitter or Facebook in years since the emergence of comprehensive mobile apps that serve the same function but if data networking doesn’t work, these apps are worthless – hence my “interest” in these services all of a sudden.)

Here’s the text messaging numbers to use when your data service isn’t working:

  • Twitter:  Text message to 40404
  • Facebook:  Text message to 32665 (FBOOK)

I realize that this isn’t news however it’s something to consider when you can’t frickin’ get a data signal from your area.

REFERENCES


INFO: Sony VAIO error – “The installed battery may not be properly connected to the computer or it may not be compatible with the computer.”

September 16, 2012

imageToday, I booted up my Sony VAIO S, which I’ve been in love with for the past week now.  Fast, light, beautiful… it’s got me smitten over my previous computer which is right now in the process of being reimaged in an attempt to make it useful again.  (System crash… may be hardware related.  Don’t know.)

5 minutes into using it, I get the following error message (via dialog box) on the screen:

Caution
The installed battery may not be properly connected to the computer or it may not be compatible with the computer.
Click “OK” to enter Hibernate mode, and remove and reinsert the battery.
See the electronic VAIO® User Guide for more information about using the battery.

The dialog box is always on top and automatically centers itself into the middle of the screen every 3 seconds, making it a true visual nuisance.  There is no way to ‘move it out of the way’ or ‘get rid of it’ and clicking OK will put the machine into hibernation – whether you like it or not.

WAIT…WTF?  LET’S TRACK THIS DOWN.
Yeah, that’s what I said.  This isn’t a cheap PC, and probably 2nd in cost & technology only to the Sony VAIO Z, which is the crème de la crème of Sony laptops and their flagship SKU.  So I got pretty upset at this failure.  How could a brand new Sony OEM Battery be burnt out or faulty already? 

So I open up Task Manager, and click the Applications Tab.  I right-mouse click the “CAUTION” dialog box. and select “GO TO PROCESS”, which takes me to the Processes Tab.  This is where it gets interesting.  There’s a process running called “ISBMgr.exe” with no description other than “ISBMgr.exe”.  Lovely. 

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So like with most problems I have on my system, I start with more advanced tool, Security Task Manager, and do some discovery around what this ISBMgr.exe program is.  Sure enough, it’s from Sony.

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I use CCLEANER.EXE to look at what is loaded at start up and lo-and-behold, there’s ISBMgr.exe.  I start to dig into “What the heck is this ISBMgr.exe program?”

“ISBMGR.EXE” – SONY’S POLICE STATE SOFTWARE
My first hint was the comments left by the folks using Security Task Manager, basically panning it as Sony’s own brand of spyware of sorts, designed to compel people to use their accessories & more importantly, their LiIon batteries, exclusively.:
http://www.neuber.com/taskmanager/process/isbmgr.exe.html

If you prefer not to read all that’s in the Neuber Library, the short answer is that ISBMgr.exe is Sony’s nefarious means of compelling less technical users of only using Sony-authorized OEM equipment, accessories & parts, specifically SONY-BRANDED LiION BATTERIES.

But here’s the problem:  I’m using a Sony-branded LiIon battery.  I didn’t eBay some cheap Chinese battery and self-install it on my Sony Vaio S.  This entire Sony unit is a company purchase:  I didn’t buy it on the cheap or anything.  It was actually purchased & sourced directly from Sony.  So what gives?

BUGS!  BUGS, BUGS, BUGS!
It turns out that Sony’s software is apparently, according to forum comments, ‘crap’ and often times misidentifies genuine & authentic Sony batteries as 3rd party clones.  The result is, in an overly aggressive and phenomenally STUPID move, Sony’s own control software forces legitimate & official Sony hardware & accessories to sometimes shutdown.

Of course the resolution is to DISABLE the ISBMgr.exe service on your machine and/or kill it completely if running.

I’m not sure but the software my prevent certain Function Keys from working – like Display Brightness. (Fn-F5 & Fn-F6)  You can however control Display Brightness by pressing “Windows Key-X” which will provide you with all sort of mobile adjustments.

EPILOGUE
Interestingly, I’m not the only one that’s discovered this ridiculous scheme of Sony’s – see below for a list of references I found about Sony’s ISBMGR.EXE program.  (Although, from the makers of such fine “lock-you-in-to-Sony” technologies like Blu-Ray, UMD, BetaMax, Memory Stick, Sony ATRAC Streaming Media format, etc. – I’d expect nothing else.)


“Ooooh. You didn’t get AppleCare?”

September 10, 2012

Some of the comments on these videos are better than the actual video.

Shit Apple Fanatics Say, Part 1

“And Thunderbolt is totally catching on.”

Shit Apple Fanatics Say, Part 2

Another great documentary: "Warren Buffett Revealed: Bloomberg Game Changers”

September 8, 2012

imageHere’s another great documentary called “Warren Buffett Revealed” from Bloomberg, May 4th, 2012 featuring comments from Bill Gates. (48 min)

Warren Buffett Revealed: Bloomberg Game Changers

“Bloomberg Game Changers” profiles Warren Buffett. Now in his eighties, Buffett has – for decades – held an unparalleled position in American finance. He is not only a legendary investor with an astounding success rate, and a billionaire forty times over; he is also – by far – the most respected businessman in America. This program includes interviews with Buffett, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, his Berkshire Hathaway partner Charlie Munger, his daughter Susie Buffett, early investor Chuck Peterson, newspaper publisher Stan Lipsey, former Salomon CEO John Guttfreund and Vice Chairman Deryck Maughan, and Buffett biographers Roger Lowenstein and Alice Schroeder. (Source: Bloomberg)

http://bloom.bg/IPwZBy


BBS: The Documentary – Now online in its entirety

September 7, 2012

image[If you don’t know what a BBS is or you weren’t part of the BBS scene in the 80’s, please skip this post because it won’t likely mean anything to you.]

I love documentaries and one of my favorite documentaries of all time was called BBS The Documentary by Jason Scott.  It was a MASSIVE 3 disc DVD set.  I wrote about it back in April 2007 on my personal blog here:
https://kurtsthoughts.com/2007/04/11/bbs-the-documentary-the-arc-vs-zip-compression-war/

Apparently the whole thing is available on YouTube now.  Here’s the first chapter:

BBS The Documentary Part 1 – Baud

 

The rest of the chapters are linked to below:

If you enjoy the documentary, please consider picking up a copy here.  It’s worth the money for a piece of our history:
http://bbsdocumentary.com/order/