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Comment Re: Only SOME Optical Media Is Durable (Score 1) 374

I blame a lot of my particular anomoly on writing all of these discs with a Plextor PR-820, which is still a thing that is somewhat revered in pro audio circles.

It was not at all inexpensive at the time.

At the time, there were lots of other drives that were just junk, with lots of folks experiencing incompatibility between burners, media, and various playback devices.

I never experienced any of that with the Plextor: Stuff just worked. Always. I tried hard to find combinations that didn't work, and failed.

I didn't have another optical drive to test with until the DVD-R became a thing, which is a whole different set of tradeoffs. Maybe the results would have been different. Impossible to repeat now.

I might opine that my burns were simply of better quality from the beginning. But I never tried to conduct such an experiment.

Comment Re: Only SOME Optical Media Is Durable (Score 1) 374

First, things in cars do suffer from effects of UV, although the glass does slow this down. My current 21-year-old daily driver has plenty of plastics that are somewhat bleached from the sun, including the once-black carpet on the rear deck. (This, incidentally, is the same manufacturing year as the car that I tested with.)

Second, CD-R media back then was designed to be reactive principally with infrared light (because CDs themselves use IR), of which there was plenty. (I suspect that the dye formulations have shifted with the transition to the shorter red wavelength used by modern optical drives.)

Third, it is plain that IR was plentiful in this environment.

Fourth, it is plain that by your standard, almost zero optical media ever sees significant exposure to direct sunlight.

I don't have a dog in this race. It was simply a curiosity at the time: I'd heard that CD-R media hae a limited lifespan, so I subjected it to the most extreme environment I had at my disposal.

Media included Kodak archival with a gold reflective surface and an extra protective layer over the laquer, TDK Certified+ with a silver reflective surface, and a couple of varieties of store-branded media with the common aluminum surface.

Environment went from crazy-dry and bitter cold, to ridiculous hot and humid, with occasional condensation due to weather changes, and random chemicals and surfactants (from cleaning the window).

I also had a control group of the same data on the same media, stored properly indoors in jewel cases. These, unsurprisingly, also worked fine.

But yeah, I'm sure that it was luck. Or maybe that I made it all up, as if anyone gives a shit about a 650MB optical disk these days.

Comment Re:My Back door to the Internet (Score 1) 136

Upon further thought, maybe they did have a plan for charging people money -- if they weren't getting monetary kickbacks from the phone company for a particular user.

Or maybe the plans really were 30 days. It's been a long, long time. It was a strange place and I sometimes saw discussions over what they were doing was legal or not.

I was an IO customer for probably 3 or 4 years, ending somewhere around 2000.

Comment Re:Generations (Score 1) 219

I think technology skips generations, sometimes.

One of my grandfathers worked for The Power Company (back when that meant something), and his job involved rural electrification. He was a high-tech guy for his time and even owned a (probably ludicrously-expensive) wire recorder when my dad was young. I (and my kinfolk) still have archives of the only known, existing recording produced by that machine, which were first professionally transferred to cassette by a (now) friend of mine when I was young, and then moved to CD by me a decade and a half ago.

My other grandfather was a businessman who bought the first (also ludicrously-expensive) TRS-80 sold in town, because he could see -- early on -- that having computers around was going to make him more money than without. He owned an *early*, drum-scanner fax machine. He went on to sell computers as part of his various business dealings, and had a licensed VHF radio repeater and car-mounted 2-way radios, to keep track of his employees decades before "cell phones" were a thing at all.

Both people went their own ways with tech, but neither of them struggled particularly to keep up. Had Grandfather #1 seen any merit to himself in computers, he would have learned them, learned them well, and been able to explain them as simply as he explained everything else that he knew.

If I had a digital or electronic communications question, it want to Gandpa #2. If I had an electrical question, whether on the basis of a transformer's operation or an explanation of how an inductive motor works, or how to maintain a machine (he grew up on a farm) it went to Grandpa #1.

Neither of them grokked the Internet much, but by then (middle-1990s) they were just happy to see their grandkids and great grandkids and didn't need to learn more tech because it wasn't going to further their happiness.

My own dad, on the other hand? He's one of the most intelligent people I've ever met, but refuses to learn anything digital. I'd call him a luddite, but getting a wire pulled from a basement breaker box to a room on the second floor, or a black iron gas line run for a kitchen, with absolutely minimal destruction? He can do this in his sleep. And instead of learning new tech, he's used his brain to study history and multiple foreign languages. (He used to teach American-born Chinese kids how to read and write their parents' language, and now he's teaching Spanish-speaking immigrants how to coexist in an English-speaking America.)

If there's any point to this rant, it is that people learn different things that are useful to them.

Mom, meanwhile: I had to rescue her from her brazen attempt to replace one of the fans in an aging Asus laptop just yesterday, but that's mostly Asus's fault for making the flex leads so short that it's impossible to fold anything out flat for easy assembly: If it weren't for needing to suspend a board with one hand, while fucking with ZIF connectors with the other, with the workspace (and light) getting less and less each time a new wire was connected, she'd have had it nailed.

Kids, these days, where things "just work" (and then you sign up for another 2-year contract for today's hotness when it fails to "just work")? No, just no.

Comment Re:My Back door to the Internet (Score 3, Interesting) 136

Are you me?

I remember it being, not .com. I also recall that it wasn't a trial at all, but that it survived on kick-backs from the local telco for connection fees from long-distance callers. The phone bills - those are things my parents will never forget. Likewise on the MS-DOS based SLIP connections: It sure seemed like it ought to be better, but packetization delays with TCP/IP over a 14.4k modem made it fairly hellish compared to just using a Telemate for a terminal emulator.

Around the same time I was also using a borrowed, freebie alumni account on the local University's VAX, with almost no storage quota. It was nice, but their modems were only 9600bps, backed by a 56k leased line to Sprint.

Later on, I discovered and their 10 megabyte disk quota (with lots more, temporarily, for free if you asked nice) seemed dreamy in comparison. This lead to IRC and a decent Usenet feed, which lead to a lost childhood. 9600 became kind of slow for this use, but Delphi provided just enough Unix-y stuff to get to an shell reliably at somewhat higher speeds. (I still hate web-based forums and long for the simplicity of tin, even though tin itself was considered ridiculously featureful at the time.)

Security was lax, but people (everywhere) made the Internet a much friendlier and trusting place than it is in today's secure-by-default, impossible-to-share-anything mentality (which isn't really any better). It wasn't long after I discovered that /home/* wasn't locked down at all, that I also discovered how to keep some of my own files to myself.

I also liked's announcements, where jrcloose and company would rant, often in some depth, about whatever nefarious technical struggle they were solving today, and Steve Jackson himself would sometimes write about...whatever the fuck Steve wanted to write about. I learned a lot from those pages (though I can't call them blogs, because blogs weren't a thing yet).

Muscle memory still requires me to type "ping" when checking a system for DNS and IP connectivity.

Ah, the freewheeling days of yore, where building a mail server just meant setting up Sendmail, some manner of POP3 and IMAP access, sorting out the MX record, and just leaving port 25 open for all and sundry to use -- because there was just no need to do anything more restrictive at the time.

And the Corel NetWinder, where everyone was sure that ARM was the future -- 18 years ago.

Are we there yet?

Oh. Right: Back on topic, I was a kid then. Getting this shit working in useful (and/or interesting) ways required problem-solving skills, which are processes that are now indelibly burned into my brain's wiring.

These days, I can troubleshoot just about anything.

Comment Re:High failure rate (Score 1) 209

So, to synopsize: Yep, things are the same -- mechanically. Therefore, they'll probably wear out at the same rate, whether "Enterprise" or "Consumer."

I'll accept that enterprise drives are faster. I'll also accept that they're more demanding on their requisite (internal and external) power supplies, to keep the heat actuator moving as fast as is possible.

And I'd like to suggest that the main difference there is indeed firmware: Seagate, at one point (around a decade ago, it seems), stopped allowing end-users to modify the acoustics of their drives. This used to be a common thing amongst the tweaker crowd: The silent PC folks would dial down the acceleration of the head stack, and the performance folks would go for full-loud.

These used to be user-adjustable parameters inside Seagate hard drives.

Obviously, with feedback, the more-silent settings draw less power and offer less performance. And the louder settings used more power, and offered greater performance. (Negative feedback is obviously at play here on all sides, as it is in any assembly involving an amplifier, a voice coil actuator, and a head which must be quickly and precisely positioned.)

I also remember when there was a time when that "Enterprise" drives and "Consumer" drives were manufactured very differently. I think I still have some 4.5GB and 9GB IBM 9ES 7200RPM SCSI drives in a drawer, which I once paid dearly for, and toward which I'd bet a vacation on them still working fine.

They're almost 20 years old, but things aren't expensive like those were at the time and perhaps it shows.

I'm lead to wonder, then: Was the time that Seagate got rid of (or started ignoring) the acoustic adjustment parameters coincident with the same time when their drives became mechanically-identical?

And therefore, can this not all be extrapolated to mean that there was a time when high-dollar spinning rust was actually generally more reliable than lower-dollar spinning rust? And can we assume that this time -- if it existed -- is past?

Comment Re:High failure rate (Score 1) 209

Is there a real mechanical difference between "consumer" and "enterprise" drives, these days, at the bleeding edge of the storage-per-unit curve?

Mostly I see differences in firmware, which (IMHO) ought to be end-user selectable anyway.

(Before anyone replies, I chose those words carefully to avoid outliers like Raptor little-drive-in-a-big-heatsink configurations, or any other stuff that puts any metric other than capacity-per-dollar as a primary criteria.)

Comment Re: "3d printed" - does nobody MAKE anything anymo (Score 1) 80

And to add to the confusion, I recently used some nice wall-mount brackets for iPads.

These were not injection molded, per se. And they weren't 3D printed.

These were milled from thick, injection-molded plastic. The tool marks were obvious on the hidden side of the thing.

So now, we've got one more method to produce low volume parts to consider.


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