reading k2000 / k2500 / k2600 / k2661 cdroms on a pc for free

Not too long ago my last SCSI CD-ROM drive failed. I still have a number of Kurzweil CDROM discs with useful sample libraries on them that I’ve been unable to read as a result – they were made prior to the 3.61 update that added ISO-9660 support.

Marc Halbruegge wrote a fantastic program, KCDRead.exe, that lets you read these older CDROMs and dump the files to a folder on a Win 95/NT/2000 machine. Sadly it didn’t work on XP or newer 32- or 64-bit Windows releases…until now.

In newer Windows, there is a SCSI PassThrough Interface (SPTI) that replaces the old ASPI interface. Someone wrote an ASPI-to-SPTI converter called FrogASPI that runs in usermode and requires no kernel module or driver.

To make this work with kcdread.exe:

0) Download KCDRead from http://www.marc-halbruegge.de/kcdread/kcdread.htm .

1) Download FrogASPI from http://www.softpedia.com/get/CD-DVD-Tools/CD-DVD-Rip-Other-Tools/FrogAspi.shtml .

2) Extract the frogaspi.dll file. Rename it to wnaspi32.dll and copy it to the same directory as kcdread.exe.

3) Run kcdread.exe. It will be able to directly read Kurzweil CDROMs in your physical CDROM drive.

Thanks to Marc again for creating such a useful program!

i don’t hate you.

A friend recently told me he thought I was upset with him because I “defriended” him on Facebook. Remembering similar drama that came with LiveJournal’s friend system, I wanted to post this picture:

FB login screenshotI deactivated my Facebook account a few years ago. (I needed to cut down distractions in my life and focus on being productive; it’s not a slam on the service at all.)

About a year ago, much to my surprise, someone hacked back into that account from an iPhone somewhere in California and spammed the former list of “friends.” When that happened, I recovered my password, logged back in and filed a formal account deletion with Facebook. I then did the same with my old LiveJournal account.

So no, friends, I didn’t “defriend” you, don’t worry :)

leased texbooks

Daily, I continue to refer to physical textbooks (and books) printed anywhere from 2 to 100 years ago. I barely can access digital content I wrote less than 10 years ago due to format rot, vintage software and hardware dependencies, licensing problems, and more. (In other words, nothing the cloud can help with today.)

I kept hoping that enough SF novels, films or stories depicting a bleak future controlled by the wealthy, the shrewd or the lucky would make it into the mainstream to prevent it from happening, but it’s already here. Unless you’re made of disposable income, you’re not going to be able to read that digital textbook you’re leasing (not buying!) next year, let alone in 5 when the reading device no longer functions. And don’t kid yourself; with Pearson supporting SOPA, the intent is clear – information is borrowed, the copy never belonging to you.

When the next Library of Alexandria is burned to the ground, will the used book stores be stripped to the bare walls within days? Or will they even exist?

Update: This recent article, and its comment thread, is also relevant.

ssl != privacy

so I read about this new personalization of Google Search yesterday, and the further social-media-darling gushing about it today, flew past the supposed “motivational” features, down to the security and privacy section. they list 3 things that are supposed to reflect they are taking privacy & security seriously:

  • SSL encryption. OK, so random sniffers/proxies will have a harder time seeing what you’re searching for, presuming you requested your search through a secure page in the first place. At least this is the default if you’re signed in. This is fodder against “the big bad hacker” always looking over your shoulder. Are we all that paranoid?
  • Visual indication of results visibility scope. In general, the human mind can easily intuit this (“oh look, a link to my private journal.”) without the visual hint.
  • Toggle for unpersonalized results. I guess this is if someone is looking over your shoulder (in real life), or if you don’t trust your employer to be sniffing inside your SSL connections. (They are.) But it’d be arguably more useful to log out first, wouldn’t it?

And that’s it. It’s semi-security, not privacy, as always – and hardly “unprecedented” protection. It always boils down to a very basic fact: if you’re logged in, everything you do at that site is known to the service provider, and mapped to you, and possible elsewhere (cookies, JS, other tracking mechanisms). Even when you’re not logged in, guesswork to figure out who you are and what you’re doing is fairly straightforward.

Flirting with the “angry-old-woman” stereotype briefly: does this upset no one else?

There is absolutely nothing private about web-service-provided personalized search.

laryngitis movie trailers – trailergytis

the worst part of my recent holiday trip to san francisco was bringing back a horrible cough/cold. (coffee connection, i blame you!)

the best part of having laryngitis is using my freakishly affected voice to record some Don LaFontaine-style fake movie trailers. i’m accepting trailer text via twitter #trailergytis or @wohali, and via comments on this form. assuming i still have the ailment when i get your message, i’ll record up a new one. state if you have any preference for the backing track, too.

trailers so far:

  1. Watership 2: Easter Time (1:00 mp3)
  2. Cheesefood the Usurper (0:45 mp3)
  3. The Fellowship of the Hirsuite (0:45 mp3)

The original inspiration:

help me read something good

OK, embarrassing truth time. I haven’t read any novels in a long time. A very long time. So long, in fact, that I can’t remember the last one I actually made it through. It’s been at least a year, if not longer.

Reading has started to feel like a chore. I think this is mostly because I keep returning to the same books I am told “I must read” or “I must enjoy,” such as Pratchett. I’ve tried 4 of his books now, and while I appreciate the humour a lot, I just can’t read them. I only made it through about 100 pages of “The News,” and that’s the farthest I’ve made it through any of his books. And my immediate sources of friends with books tend to focus on sci-fi, fantasy, or non-fiction military history.

It’s time for a change. Can you help me? Suggest 1 good book that will get me back into the habit of reading. My criteria are simple: it can’t be anything I’ve read before, it must be in print (or easily obtained from a used book store, not ebook), it must not be pulp fiction or poorly written, and it must be in English.

Suggestions?