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Scanning CDs with CCD/LED scanners

Scanning CDs with CCD/LED scanners

So, back on my recommended scanners post, I made a note that CCD sensor scanners that use LED lighting – which at this point is basically all of them – have an issue with scanning CDs. It looks like this: A CD scanned with a CCD/LED scanner has an annoying complex rainbow pattern This is, frankly, quite awful. It’s hard to read anything with the light pattern that appears, and it doesn’t look anything like the classic highlight that you see when holding a CD under a single light source, or on a CCFL-lit scanner. But I’ve finally found a solution!

One of the releases I picked up recently had its CDs in little translucent plastic sleeves. If I scanned the CD through the sleeve, rather than directly on the scanner bed, the rainbow pattern completely disappeared! It turned out that the frosted sleeve diffused the light enough to give a clean scan. Unfortunately, the sleeves that came with that release were too wrinkled to get good results, so I had to go look for alternate materials.

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Recommended Scanners for Album Art Scanning

Recommended Scanners for Album Art Scanning

Here’s a quick list of currently available scanner models that I recommend for people doing album art scanning.

The Criteria

I’m not covering scanning 12″ vinyl in this guide. For that, you need a large format scanner, which is a completely different price category of professional equipment.

I generally recommend a CCD sensor (not a CIS/Contact Image Sensor). This is important in particular if you’re scanning digipak cases – with a CCD sensor, you can scan right through the tray without disassembling the case. It also improves the quality when scanning exterior of boxes or thick booklets that don’t lay completely flat. CIS sensors can only get a sharp image if the thing being scanned is perfectly flat against the glass surface.

The scanner must be able to do 600dpi scanning (non-interpolated). This is pretty much a given at this point, of course, since even the cheapest current model scanner can usually pull off 1200dpi or higher. But keep this in mind when looking for used or older model scanners.

The scanner must be a direct-connection USB device. Many network scanners and all-in-one devices apply compression and pre-filtering that often can’t be disabled; this reduces the effectiveness of later descreening steps. Scanners marketed as “Photo” scanners are usually good at preserving fine detail without compression artifacts.

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Incomplete Sci-Fi Story

Incomplete Sci-Fi Story

So, when poking around my Documents directory, I found this incomplete short piece of Science Fiction. Might as well share it…


I wake up to find him still sitting at the workbench he’d been hunched over hours ago when I’d given up for the night. He hears the rustle as I search the nearby floor for the cleanest of my uniforms and asks, without turning around, “You awake?”

I am, barely.

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Digital Dark Age

I vow: To not delete content. To preserve URLs (or redirect them if all else fails). To keep this site up for as long as I am able. To make sure that the Internet Archive can see my content, in case I fail at any of the above.

Ender’s Game Movie

Ender’s Game Movie

All in all, I’m actually quite surprised with how well the adaption of the Ender’s Game novel to the big screen went. There were changes made – but for the most part, they really did make sense. A fairly significant amount of material was dropped, but for the most part it wasn’t really story-critical and mostly served to reduce the amount of character development given to side characters.

(Note that if you haven’t read the novels or seen the movie, the following will contain spoilers; but honestly, who hasn’t read Ender’s Game by now?)

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The pull of MusicBrainz contributing

The pull of MusicBrainz contributing

MusicBrainz contributors tend to be quite… thorough sorts of folks. Lets take a look at what I’ve been up to over the course of the past few days.

Day 1

I’ve worked on a few Picard patches recently, including one that allows tagger script to access metadata from loaded files, and another that saves MusicBrainz track IDs to files. In the interest of giving these a thorough workout, I loaded my entire music library into Picard and went through album-by-album, reviewing the changes that Picard was going to apply and saving if the changes looked good.

Now, it’s been a few months since I’ve last done this, and the metadata in my collection is fairly out of date. There’s a fair number of changes being made to my files, so I’m making a few tweaks as I go – selecting the correct edition of a few albums which have gotten newly added data, and keeping an eye out for any “bad” edits that I may have missed.

Along the way, I notice that one of the CardCaptor Sakura soundtrack albums doesn’t have a catalog number or barcode. “An easy fix!” I think, as I go to look up the release in the MINC database, which is run by the Japanese music industry and has pretty comprehensive details on major label releases from the past 25 years or so.

Naturally, the soundtracks are also missing ISRCs, which I add, and are missing works, which I also add. I manage to finish adding these details to the first 3 CardCaptor Sakura albums before heading off to bed.

Day 2

Along the way while editing the soundtrack albums, I had noticed that the data for 丹下桜 (Tange Sakura) was a bit of a mess. I had left a tab open on her page to remind me to take a look later – and since it is now later, I take a look. A good place to start when cleaning up an artist is always recording merges. There’s usually a few fairly obvious ones: recordings off pseudo-releases that should be merged with the corresponding ones from the real releases, recordings off compilations that should be merged with the ones from the original releases.

Next I take a quick look at her works page, and… it’s practically empty. (And also has a duplicate, which I go ahead and merge.) So I open up an album in the release editor, and start looking up work info. (For Japanese releases in this genre, cross-referencing Wikipedia, VGMdb, and the MINC database will give very comprehensive information.)

Out of curiosity, I start following links in the MINC database to see what other releases the songs I’m looking at have been released on – and I find out that 丹下桜’s is far, far from complete.

By some time very early in the next morning, I have managed to put something like 1 compilation, 2 albums, and 3 or 4 singles into their rightful place on MusicBrainz, all complete with crosslinked recording and work information.

Day 3

There hasn’t really been any new revelations on this day. I simply continue to fill in 丹下桜’s discography by following links to see where else particular songs have appeared. By the end of the day, I’ve added another 2 albums, 1 mini-album, 5 singles, and 2 compilations. The number of tabs I have open containing things to look at has been going down steadily – and with each release, I find more and more recordings that I can reuse, or works that are already present in the database. Things are going well!

Perhaps one more day and I can finish adding works to the 4th CardCaptor Sakura soundtrack (and maybe the movie soundtrack and some of the compilations too).

I wonder if I’ll manage to ever finish retagging my music collection in Picard like I had originally intended.