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So there I was on Saturday evening with the µSD card from my phone plugged into the computer. I was renaming video files to something more meaningful than the likes of "MOV_1234.MP4" and deleting the rubbish.
Suddenly, I got an obscure message about the device not being ready. The data was no longer accessible. E: was no longer listed for dismount, so I ejected and reinserted the card.

The µSD was not formatted (and would I like to format it now?), Windows asked me.

I tried chkdsk which faulted not being able to work with RAW media.

I put the card into my phone, and it failed to mount, telling me it was a blank card.


It's that dizzy feeling when you realise that a number of apps copied to SD might not be easy to replace. Or the collection of music, some of which I don't have copies I can easily lay my hands upon to rebuild. Or the 1,800 photos (many of which are rubbish, some are not) which would be lost. As well as things like video footage of Woof...
It was particularly galling that this happened while getting everything ready for copying for a backup.


So I started TestDisk and selected the device and anticipated format (Intel/PC partition). The device was detected as CHS 1923 255 63 (1923×255×63×512 = 14.73GiB, so that looks correct).

Selecting basic Analyse reported:

     Disk /dev/sdc - 15 GB / 14 GiB - CHS 1923 255 63
     Current partition structure:
          Partition                  Start        End    Size in sectors

     Invalid FAT boot sector
      1 * FAT32                    0 130  3   141 128 51    2265088
      1 * FAT32                    0 130  3   141 128 51    2265088

The Quick Search found nothing, so I tried the Deeper Search and after some warnings, found a valid FAT32 table.

     Warning: number of heads/cylinder mismatches 1 (FAT) != 255 (HD)
     Warning: number of sectors per track mismatches 61063 (FAT) != 63 (HD)
       FAT32                    0 130  3   141 112 35    2264064
     Disk /dev/sdc - 15 GB / 14 GiB - CHS 1923 255 63
          Partition               Start        End    Size in sectors
     >* FAT32                    0 130  3   141 128 51    2265088

In theory I should have been able to write this as the master FAT and rebuild the damaged boot sector (why the hell was the boot sector corrupted while renaming files?) but TestDisk didn't want to do that. It kept asking "Is this the root directory?" offering many things that were not, before giving up with an error message about a broken filesystem. It doesn't matter, because once I had the FAT32 showing, I could step through the files listed, tag and copy. So I took the step of copying out the files one by one. I lost a few things (six or seven items in the digital camera photos folder, and something in the Android apps-on-SD folder). These things had bogus filesizes and/or names. Corruption in the FAT? Junk from deleted files? I can't say I'm aware of actually missing anything specific. However, thanks to TestDisk, I was able to extract ~14GiB of data. In other words, that little bit of corruption aside, everything. Videos, JPEGs, MP3s... no doubt some of it was fragmented, but it all turned up in the copy.

     TestDisk 6.14-WIP, Data Recovery Utility, May 2012
     Christophe GRENIER
        * FAT32                    0 130  3   141 128 51    2265088
     Directory /

     >drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 30-Aug-2012 23:09 MUSIC
      -rwxr-xr-x     0     0  27043000  5-Mar-2012 17:43 PC_Companion_2.02.015_Web.exe
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:06 Android
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:08 APP-DATA
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:08 AppProjects
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 15-Sep-2012 16:17 backup_apps
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:08 deezer-music
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:09 documents
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:10 DOSBOX
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 15-Sep-2012 20:50 DOWNLOAD
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:11 Groundhog
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:12 Japanese
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 11-Sep-2012 19:20 JED
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:13 MEDIA
      drwxr-xr-x     0     0         0 13-Jun-2012 05:13 notifications
     Use Right to change directory, h to hide deleted files
         q to quit, : to select the current file, a to select all files
         C to copy the selected files, c to copy the current file

Once all the files had been extracted, I reformatted the µSD and copied 'em back.

Screenshot of the phone, all restored. Phew!!!

Kaerimichi wo Nakushite - saved!



So publication and further distribution of Closer has been banned. They must be removed from circulation within 24 hours of 11:20 British time Tuesday. This evening, there was a stack of Closer in my local supermarket. I guess it'll be gone by tomorrow, but notwithstanding the stack was about as large today as it was yesterday. Even with a ban in place, and disappearance imminent, they weren't exactly flying off the shelves. The newsagents selling out and copies going for thirty quid on eBay must be city folk.
Around these parts... people are more wondering what the fuss is all about. Yeah, it was an invasion of privacy. But by the same token, yeah women have boobs. There's nothing particularly unusual here. Perhaps a little un-royal to frolic around like this, but given the plethora of butt-naked pseudo-celebs adorning other pages of similarily trashy magazines. It all seems a bit storm-in-a-teacup. The deep irony, I feel, is if nothing was said it would probably be a "look, royal tits!" mostly ignored on a website for a week or two until something else more interesting came along. But following all the hoo-ha, it's practically a meme. Indeed, publications in Italy and Ireland are planning to go ahead with printing these pictures, and probably only because of all the fuss being made.

If you want to see for yourself, jeezuz, don't naked girls mostly look alike? Just use your imagination!

Here's the front cover of the "tawdry publication" (as the Daily Mail referred to it, as if they are a standard of journalism to aspire to, managing to call Kirsten Dunst "Kirsten Dunce" (here, caption below first pic)).
Should I blur these photos or something? I dunno, maybe I ought to write an filter script that detects British IP addresses and slaps animé-style censorship whiteout all over the place? For people around these parts don't seem that interested in this. And frankly, neither am I.

Privacy invaded, storm in a teacup


Amazon's Cloud Player

Upon visiting Amazon, I saw an advert pushing their new "Cloud Player" service. Essentiall, music you buy from Amazon is available "in the cloud" and can be syncronised with up to ten devices. Not a bad idea, if the player app allows offline downloads (otherwise data charges could stack up; not to mention latency on slow networks).
One thing caught my attention, however. It's the third paragraph.
Amazon's Cloud Player introduction

The English translation reads (my emphasis):

We've also made it easy to get the rest of the music that's on your computer to Cloud Player, even music purchased from iTunes or uploaded from CDs. We'll match the songs on your computer to's catalogue of over 20 million songs. All songs we match are instantly made available in Cloud Player and upgraded to high-quality 256 kbps audio. Music we can't match will be uploaded to Cloud Player, so your entire digital music collection will be available.

So you can rip music from a CD (legally dubious at the best of times) and submit it to a cloud-based service that, if the said piece of music cannot be matched to something Amazon already has, it will be uploaded to Amazon's cloud.

How is this not a copyright infringement? I think it would be possible (but hard, and immoral) to rule on ripping a CD as an unlawful act - for the idea of Fair Use should surely allow format shifting for the playback device of a person's choice (most mobile phones can play MP3s, I'm not aware of a single one that can play CDs).
But to rip a CD, and then transmit the data to a remote server? Okay, the service is aimed at providing you with a personal service, but how far could this go, when control and distribution of your music is no longer your responsibility but is instead tasked off to a third party?


I was going to upload 「帰り路をなくして」 鬼束ちひろ (Kaerimichi wo Nakushite, by Chihiro Onitsuka), but decided that I was actually quite happy with my current setup (on my phone, using WinAMP). Ironic timing, really, given the opening story in this entry.

I would, however, have considered buying that song as an MP3, but Amazon doesn't offer that. Shame. They have a CD single (as shown on the right) running to a rather astonishing €23 - it is listed on as 1000 and currently on offer for 390. That's approximately €10 and €4 respectively!

I wish Amazon luck with this. It is an interesting venture, given there appear to be two competing avenues. The first, Amazon's Cloud Player. The pro is you can store some of your own music (there's probably a subscription if you need a lot of storage) but conversely you must pay for the music you get from Amazon.
The alternative is a setup like Deezer or Spotify that allow you, for a monthly sub, to listen to anything on their catalogue freely and as-and-when you like. I quite enjoyed Deezer on my first Android and had a real nostalgia kick with stuff from the '80s. The pro is a massive catalogue of music and you don't pay per track. The downside is the services tend to be unfriendly towards external music (as of last year, Deezer's "My MP3s" was for music you bought from Deezer but not your own MP3s); plus the obvious - when the subscription is up you walk away with nothing (unless you bought a copy).

It is also worth pointing out that Deezer claimed to sell you 128kbit MP3s (FAIL!); while Amazon's Cloud Player appears to offer 256kbit ones. Better quality, though I could have sworn they used to offer music at 320kbit?

I'll need to put together something demonstrating the difference in quality between the various sampling rates, suffice to say that when recording stuff off TV I use AAC at 128kbit (technical reasons: MP3 doesn't go higher than 128kbit on my PVR and AAC sounds a lot better at the same bitrate), 160kbit MP3 for DVD rips (my ripper doesn't have AAC!), and 160-256kbit MP3 for music (I tend to use VBR). You can hear the difference between 256kbit and 128kbit. As I said, I'll need to put something together...


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Rob, 20th September 2012, 23:39
SD cards ... one of the reasons I copy stuff off the card in my camera regularly, and do any changes on the PC. Even so, I still have several "Incompatible JPEG"s when viewing past pictures on the camera! 
Never trust anything to a single media location!
Rick, 22nd September 2012, 22:23
I can understand aging/failure of bad flash media (how long do these things *really* store data reliably?), but bad hardware is one thing. The OS arbitrarily trashing the data required to find said data - that's a whole different kettle of fish[*]. 
I use Verbatim/SanDisk and try to stay away from budget makes. 
Something that worries me a little is DVD archival. Don't DVDs use an organic substrate layer? What is the expected lifespan of this? What environmental conditions are unfriendly to it? 
* - ick! who puts fish in a kettle? it'd make subsequent cups of tea taste bloody awful!

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