safecopy is the anydvd of linux

Before you try anything here – this guide does really bad things to the atapi bus. If your computer suddenly reboots and hasn’t written consistent files due to a bus crash, don’t blame me or the utilities mentioned in here. Just buy a computer that doesn’t suck or buy a USB drive.

I want to buy someone a beer.

I have had a hell of a time with my kid biting everything (including his tongue) and that includes DVDs. I know I’m not alone – DVDs which come from Netflix are great examples of CSI work. You know the previous guy has little kids about the same age because you can look on the DVD and get their dental records.

I’ve talked about this before, but kids trash media. Not only do they trash media but the media itself tends to have copy protection which is intentional trash already on the media before your kids got to it. Disney does this to an extreme. The way it looks is a bunch of chapters on the disk which might be the right size and time except they’re filled with garbage. You need the physical copy of the disk. Previously you could use dd on the disk and that’s how I used to do it. I happened to run across safecopy when reading up on disaster recovery stuff for work and wow.

Here’s how safecopy works – it’s very similar to dd where you set the block size to huge and no read retries. The problem with the dd method is that if you have two files spanning the block size (and remember that DVDs don’t really have blocks, so “yes”), you discard the start of the next file. I’ve been getting around it by setting the block size to low for DVDs with “copy protection”, but this gives me plenty of time to make a list of people to kill while I research who came up with this. If the disk is scratched, I set the block size to a larger value (10M) because you know you’re going to hit that same scratch for literally the entire 8.5GB or whatever disk. This generally worked well so long as you didn’t hit the transition of the files.

safecopy changes that entirely.

You run safecopy in passes. The first pass is no recovery past bad blocks, and it skips a lot of blocks. In fact it’s no different from running dd. dd hits a bad block and skips to the next. safecopy hits a bad block and skips to the next and it keeps track of which addresses have bad blocks in a file it’s written. The magic is in the options – safecopy lets you specify a size of blocks to skip in bytes (16 is the default) or percent of size. That second one is the magic one, because block size changes physically as you move closer to the edge of the disk, and the edge of the disk is the part that goes in your little biters mouth. The question is – how many blocks are destroyed under each tooth mark?

How did I use it?

safecopy –stage1 /dev/sr1 /home/knarrj/tmp/damaged.iso

That makes safecopy do a fast pass and write off 10% of the total disk size (8.7GB) to bad sectors when it hits a bad sector. It writes a stage1.badblocks file and makes a note of the addresses it skipped. The ISO there is padded. If you try playing this ISO in VLC or whatever you’ll probably play it a bit and then VLC will crash when it tries to jump to a sector with the content BaDBlOcK. Then follows the magic:

safecopy –stage2 -I stage1.badblocks /dev/sr1 /home/knarrj/tmp/damaged.iso

Cool huh? Now safecopy goes back and reads the disk backwards from the boundary of the amount of bytes that it skipped to find the last, best sector. If we ran stage 3, it would be like dd again and attempt to read every byte on the disk. The first pass is about 15 minutes or so and the second pass is about 45 minutes meaning you can beat teeth marks and structural copy protection in about 1 hour.

Your kid is racist part 12


We had taught Alex to make the “funny face” when people say funny face or make faces at him. He tilts his head back, half closes his eyes, scrunches up his nose and laughs while sticking his tongue out.

I was at the center city (norristown) Burger king for whopper Wednesday and everyone was saying hi to him. A sekh in a turban and huge beard comes up to him and says “hello there little fellow”

Alex freezes, the gears grind for a minute and he tilts his head back and makes the funny face unprompted.

Posted while trying not to laugh out loud at the poor Guy.

Regurgitating the Apple

This is absolutely worth a read. It’s a aritcle about how liberals think.

The only thing that rubs me wrong is the invocation of Brokeback Mountain. Really it falls prey to itself here because Brokeback isn’t something used in line with the argument. In fact, the way it’s used is counter to the argument. The argument being made here is for self-determination and discrimination (or judgement). Brokeback is a movie about two cowboys who want to be gay on their ranch. Fine, great, it’s not my thing. If they had wanted to make the correct point, they should have pointed out towns where they have pride parades, etc. There’s no pride in being “straight” and they make the point with Desperate Housewives saying the message isn’t “you’ll make a great family” but that “your life will suck if you’re a housewife”. It’s the tyranny of standards argument being put forward. That being said, towns with pride parades do represent a form of tyranny. With no pride parade celebrating wanting to be straight, or (my favorite) the white heritage day, celebrating any other holiday is flat out wrong. While this argument itself plays into the problem raised in the article that we’re treating everything as mediocre, I believe this is the point. If there’s no discernible mediocrity, if there’s nothing which is obviously evil then we can coexist. But this requires judgement and this is the crux of the article. The Brokeback reference is used wrongly.

On the other hand I am sympathetic to the idea that we have no moral compass as a society. If one group is off murdering your group, then you probably should go over there and kill them before they get you. As pointed out in the article and that godawful song Imagine (which is another pet peeve of mine I happened to lol at when I saw it come up), Hitler started in a beer hall. He didn’t have his own nation. Germany didn’t wake up one day and say “well lets give this nazi thing a go and hand out microwaves! we’ll tell those jews that they’re hats!”. There is evil in the hearts of men and we should seek to stamp it out and lament the fact that doing so requires armed conflict. Another opportunity is missed here, but brought up under the guise of Abu Graib. Treating people badly to prevent or persuade them from evil should be preferable to killing them outright. This is what separates the west from the middle east. We don’t go around bombing their civilian centers. We do give them a trial. We treat them badly, but we don’t actually hurt them. Again, the point is lost in the articles writing but the point he wants to make is restraint is a virtue. You should own a gun. You should know how to use it, be comfortable with it, and pop off rounds every weekend. This doesn’t mean when there is conflict you immediately smoke the guy, but it means that you understand the zen of gun ownership. You’re willing to treat people badly (pointing a gun at them) to prevent further evil (shooting them). Of course when their potential for evil outweighs the actual cost in terms of real evil of keeping them alive, our heros should be perfectly willing to shoot them with confidence and sleep like babies at night.

Try putting that on TV. It will be made an action movie, rather than a movie about self doubt, moral exploration and finally confidence and sorrow at conflict.

Minor quibbles about framing aside, it’s a decent read. I said to my brother the other day that we had, as a society, fallen prey to the spiritual danger of not owning a farm. The topic was the LL Bean catalog. The version they sent us, supposedly the full catalog, didn’t include any of the hunting section. Well it turns out they do have a hunting section and it seems to have some nice stuff. But the point was that a lot of these places make up crap so we can play dress up. We own boots which don’t keep our feet warm, we buy camo jackets which only serve to make our corpses harder to find when we freeze to death, etc. When we do make value judgements on things, we don’t make them because they’re rational or just, we make them because we want to play dress up and this camo is more military than that camo, etc. I realize this flies in the face of the plea above saying that barring egregious offenses to the general morality of society (murder), we simply shouldn’t care.

As above, so below, or what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If we say that something is crap we should ensure that we ourselves can pass our own judgement. This is why I’m not huge on EMS or Cabelas either. There might be good stuff there, it might work as advertised, but it’s overpriced and therefor it is vanity. My favorite hunting jacket is still an M65 Field Jacket. It’s warm, it’s built correctly (who in gods name thought velcro was smart to put on tactical stuff?), it’s camo, it’s got pockets in the right places and the best part is that they’re $20 when they’re on sale. Can’t be beat. But this is a good example of the middle road. Traps are on each side of the line. It’s possible to be too permissive as it is to be too iron fisted. How do we maintain the middle ground? We examine ourselves and we judge.


I touch on these every now and again because they’re cool. I’m talking about the Foxfire Books.

My great uncle (I would love to know his name if anyone has the family history) was apparently the last or one of the last coal engineers in pennsylvania. One of these years I mean to take my kid to Strasburg for the rail tour and pick their brains to find out who he is and what sort of strange cancers I can expect to get. But anyway, the family has been living and working in Pennsylvania for the last few generations and while not all of us are rail engineers or police, we at least can say we contributed something to the landscape.

I will link to the first three books, the remainder of the text is available online or sold online. The introduction is long but the relevant part follows:

Many older people in this area, for example, still plant today by the signs of the zodiac and the stages of the moon. I had heard them mention it, but I didn’t know what it meant. Rather than interrupt a con- versation to find out, I figured I’d get my students to tell me. They’d probably know since it was mostly their parents and grand- parents who were doing it. But my kids didn’t really know what it was either, and soon they were as curious as I was. Why not find out and turn the information into an article?So they went home and talked—really talked—to their own rela- tives, some of them for the first time. From those conversations came superstitions, old home remedies, weather signs, a story about a hog hunt, a taped interview with the retired sheriff about the time the local bank was robbed—and directions for planting by the signs.

In short, it is appalachian history and makes for a wonderful read. Please enjoy the first, second, third, fouth and fifth issue. Another fun book in the same vein but less folky is the American Boys Book of Camp Lore and Woodcraft.

Prop 8 Overturned on 14th Amendment

Proposition 8 was overturned, which I think is a good thing as I believe being gay is something central to someone’s identity, much in the same way someone’s race is central to someones identity, and therefor cannot be legislated. If you read the link to the ruling above, you can see that Prop 8 was overturned with the 14th Amendment. The 14th amendment I generally feel is a gross violation of the spirit of the constitution and I feel it’s a great example of backwards thinking. The spirit was probably in the right place when it was originally written – the authors were seeking to prevent discrimination. What it led to – affirmative action, no child left behind, fair housing act and our hilarious current mortgage problem – were unforseen consequences and a problem with the application of what amounts to a socialist law in a capitolist environment. When you try to legislate away poverty by claiming discrimination against poor people and thus a violation of the 14th amendment, banks end up making loans they wouldn’t even consider.

The wording of the ruling is absolutely bizarre. The challenge says “The Due Process Clause provides that no ‘State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'” Except that Proposition 8 is the due process of the law. (The spirit of this is that you must have a trial). Unfortunately this is a great example of working within someone elses framework. The state (in a general sense) treats marriage as something the state is party to, but treats it as something divine which the state does not regulate. Therefor it would seem to me, being the worst of the armchair lawyers, that a challenge to the regulation of marriage should call into question the state’s ability to regulate marriage prima facie. The answer is no, you can get a “quaker marriage” license and perform any such ceremony you wish and the license only serves as the regulation of paperwork. This should have been carried on through the ruling and in fact it seems like the judge was aware and sympathetic to this argument but looking for something to crouch the argument in. The state does not regulate being gay, or being a gun owner, or a racecar driver. The state regulates sodomy, murder and speeding. The entire body of laws is crouched in the idea that who you are doesn’t matter as much as what you do. This is both Just and Correct, and this is why the 14th amendment seems like such a miss. A church-and-state challenge is where I really wanted this to go and I would be interested in seeing someone challenge a similar law on that basis.

The 14th Amendment allows protected peoples to basically put their rule over the common agreements of society. The argument within the context of the 14th amendment therefor is an argument of entitlement. We could not argue that sodomy is legal between two consenting adults, because of their consent. The covenant of their consent would therefor be a marriage license, but we’ve fallen so far as a society that we’ve made womens rights such that consent can be withdrawn after the fact. Instead of strengthening the institution of marriage by making it inclusive of all, we’ve chosen to make gays a protected class (like the handicapped and the elderly) via the 14th amendment and therefor say a law is discriminatory by furthering legal discrimination. The problem here is that laws are based on the common good of society, and this was the original spirit of the sodomy laws in the first place. That being said, the problem with Proposition 8 was that it was poorly worded from the get-to and barely literate, so a challenge to it is roughly the same. This is why I believe the wording of the ruling is so strange.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys

The first and possibly most offensive thing you will notice about this show is that it preys on every gay stereotype there is. Both of them are obsessed with personal appearances. The effeminate one is the mother figure, the provider, who slaves over a desk (or an oven). The masculine one (cleanshaven) orders the other one around almost to the point of being abusive and apparently is friends in addition to working with Martha Stewart. Both of them make it a point to let you know they’re gay. Both of them are obsessed with fashion and appearances. Both of them weirdly quote Sex in the City. I don’t watch Sex in the City and it’s heavy handed enough even I recognise the quotations. Which is to say they don’t seem like genuine, normal people – they seem interested in talking with a lisp and making convoluted gestures and trying to say we’re women in mens bodies. Therefor the show seems more about a gay couple than about a farm – albeit a gay couple who seems to be forcing a relationship. It feels awkward, frankly, much in the same vein as Tom Cruise and Kate Holmes. Seeing how I ran across this on Planet Green and not Logo, it surprised me when they also offered up “Farmer Joe”, who’s a Mike Rowe-ish manly man who tends the farm. Therefor we’re left with a program which isn’t about being green per se but more about being gay on a farm. Seeing as how nothing of value about farming is presented in the few episodes I watched, I’m wondering why this is on Planet Green at all. Talk about building raised gardens, or the goats and llamas, or the politics of pig farms which are innumerable and topical in the “animal rights” age. Now we’ve got a Gay Green Acres complete with meeting Martha Stewart in New York City.

One of the recurring topics on the show is “running a business”. This is where Farmer Joe fits in, he apparently does the actual farming while these two fuck off building raised flower beds. I can’t help but feel like these are two examples of missed opportunity. You could have a show which really ministers to the Future Farmers of America group or even people like myself who think owning a farm might be neat. You could have a show about building raised garden beds and the time over money investment. Instead we’re presented with the idea of one of these guys going into a local cheese shop to deliver cheese. Where did the cheese come from? What’s involved in “running the business”? Is it cheaper to take the train to NY or rent a truck for this cheese? What’s the cheese sold for versus the overhead of owning a goat, a farm, and the time it takes to make it versus what the goat is eating this week? We’ll never know, the show focuses more on their relationship than the specifics of the farm. This isn’t a plea to make it Dirty Jobs, it’s just that I was sold a show about two men owning a farm and the business aspects of it and that’s not what the show is about. It’s puzzling considering the fact that they have a website selling farm goods but there’s no mention of the production on the show. Cheese doesn’t make itself, and when they go on to describe the process and selling it to a cheese boutique, it would have been really neat to see them actually making the cheese and working out a deal with the cheese shop.

Now it’s not to say the show isn’t fun. There’s a guilty pleasure in seeing two people completely unprepared for the mud and blood of farming get eaten alive by it. This gets spoiled by the feeling that the farm is merely a set piece but seeing someone bounce an axe head off a log trying to split wood is fun. Seeing people getting knocked over by pigs into the mud is fun. Watching goats narrowly avoid having sex on camera is fun as is watching the llama fight the goats over food. It’s also cute. It looks like Pottery Barn threw up on the show but it manages to have enough trials to keep it fresh against the backdrop. It does have it’s moments of introspection, and this is nice because they do feel genuine. Talking about autumn and living close to the elements and the earth is a welcome change from the flash bang TV we’re used to. It’s something you don’t get out of the outstanding Dirty Jobs or Deadliest Catch which are entertaining but seem to lack a spiritual connection to the work.