Simple and cheap data recovery!

My middle step-brother, Mike, recently returned home from Iraq and is now on a month of leave before going back to his base, with the possibility of yet another deployment. Luckily he had an internet connection out there, and I was able to keep in touch with him here and there on Facebook, MySpace, and even AIM.

One day while out there he asked me if I could check out his laptop, because it was having problems booting. About two weeks later, I had his laptop and everything else back, directly from Iraq! I started the machine up, and sure enough it wouldn’t let anyone log in. After trying a few different things, I still could never get the machine to finish booting. Eventually I tried ‘chkdsk’, which failed at 50% checking the disk.

I assumed a failing hard drive, which proved to be the problem when starting to recover some of the data. But how should I go about getting this data back off? I don’t have any programs to help me with this or to help repair the drive. He has 30+ gigs of valuable documents, pictures, videos, and music.

In my previous work, I was a sysadmin, so some valuable knowledge sat in, and I got to work. I downloaded the newest version of Ubuntu. This should have NTFS read/write built into the LiveCD. Next, reformatted my iPod to Windows, and hooked everything up.

I booted the laptop the fist time hooked up to network, but for some reason, none of the LiveCD’s (Ubuntu and some others) would not recognize his network interface. So I rebooted, this time plugging in the iPod, and it mounted on the first try!

After many HOURS of copying data off, having to hit ‘skip’ to the ‘I/O failure’ prompts, I was able to recover 99% of all of his data, and now on the road to recovery with a brand new Hard Drive! I would recommend this method to anyone to save a few bucks and some time on what can usually be a very difficult process.

Listening To: ‘Secret Machines’ – Lightning Blue Eyes


(Dont) Give Up on Vista

After a lot of thought (and in the end, a lot of work), I finally gave up on Vista. While I wish it was because of this ad (and we all had new Macs), its because I was just tired of all the crap. Vista is awesome to use, and I would actually be using it at home if I had a PC, but for work, I really just find it to be more of a hassle/burden/general P.I.T.A than using the latest and greatest technology.

Our development team has 3 pretty new Dell Precision laptops, all running Core 2 Duos, 2 GB of RAM, etc. They came with Vista Business installed, which is one of the more ‘powerful’ Vista flavors, mainly designed for great compatibility, higher security, and more corporate uses. Since in my previous job I was a Mac guy, it was really nice to start off with the Mac-like Vista.

Well, when setting up one of the laptops for the new Project Manager, we decided to try out XP rather than Vista. The results were amazing. The machine was blazing fast. The machine was much more stable, much more responsive, and everything just worked better. We installed all the other common software, and we have not had a problem since.

The only thing holding us back on wiping our machines then was that we were in the middle of a huge project that needed to get out the door, and we couldn’t loose any time or data. Now that things have cooled down, it was time to get to work.

So, with my massive amount of time i have taken off this month, I dedicated some time to finding all the software I needed, backing up everything I had (story about this process to come later), and starting a fresh install. Now, with some help from Chris (he did the original setups on these machines, so I did not know where half the software was), I now have a fully working machine again, thats running faster than ever. That, and I dont have to wait 30 minutes for VMWare Server to boot my XP Virtual Machine so I can program in Visual Studio 2003.

But of course, after yet another week off, everything didn’t go without a hitch – I walked into a dead T1 this morning. It had been knocked out sometime late last night, and after numerous resets, nothing worked. Luckily after 2 hours, I receive an email from someone outside. It actually took a few moments to register – most of the time I just see emails come through and ignore until I get a chance. Well, of course I did the same for this one, and then remembered – ‘oh wait…wow….our internet is back’.

Now emails are flowing, music is playing, and im really back into the groove at work. Next week will be my first ‘almost’ full week in a month…and im really excited to start hammering away at some of the big projects for 2008.

Listening To: ‘Reason is Treason’ by Kasabian

New Duke Nukem: Forever info!

Today, the guys at 3DRealms gave everyone a little present.

A trailer, with in-game play, of what Duke Nukem currently looks like. I think its amazing. Of course no one can really say if the 10 YEAR development cycle has been worth it, but I sure like the way it looks.

For those who dont know, my middle step brother, Rob, works for 3DRealms as a developer, and is actually working on this game. I can’t wait to see what stories he has to share while hes back in town for the next few weeks (of course, I can’t share them here though…).

I embeded the tailer below from youtube.

More links are available for other info going around online right now about this…

Listening To: ‘The Hardest Part’ by Coldplay

Do your REALLY believe that’t a business model that works?

A while ago, Gene Simmons of KISS announced his feelings about the record industry today, and how things have been going with him. Those who know me personally know that I have been a huge KISS fan for years, but not so much in the last year or two. I always really liked Gene the most, but that stops at the music/stage presence. I utterly HATE Gene Simmons’ TV shows, theories, etc. Hes got such an edgy attitude that just isn’t cool these days. And no matter how hard he tries, hes not going to make it cool himself.

So I was pretty happy to read this article as well as some of the feedback on engadget and digg. It really follows what I feel about it all.

The best part is how Gene has to go and knock Trent Reznor and his recent endeavors as being the wrong way to go. Its just a model that doesn’t work…Its obviously working!

Gene is stuck on a old ‘tried and true’ model, thats starting to loose credibility, at least in the music industry today. Don’t get me wrong – this is working great for Gene. He would sell his chest hair or anything else to make the money off of it if he could. Gene makes good music (as long as its with Ace, Peter, and Paul – Gene’s solo album was a complete waste). And I guess lying is a great thing to do to fans as well! I took my dad to see the ‘Farewell Tour’ back in 2001. Debs and I have seen KISS twice since then…

The thing is, Trent is connecting with his fans like very few artists have ever before. The entire record industry has created a middle man that has really diluted how an artist can present his or her work directly to the interested public. This is great for the artist and the consumer. Never before (or at least in a really long time) have artists been able to almost feel one on one with their consumers.

The big thing that Gene is missing here is the fact that the business, world, and music changes. While that business model is tried and true, it has stagnated, and we need people like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails leading the way for the future.

Listening To: ‘I Of the Mourning’ by The Smashing Pumpkins


Debs and I took our first vacation since our honeymoon last week. Since I have been so busy at work with deploying the new site, I had to wait until it was deployed to take a break. I had almost 2 full weeks to use in one month, so not only did I take last week off, I also got to take at least a day per week off!

There was only one real ‘goal’ of the week – to do nothing according to a plan. Ever since we got married, everything has always been so scheduled, and it was time to just take a breather.

Monday was the warmest day in a while – it got up to 79 in Richmond – beating a record high. I was outside in shorts raking the yard. I stayed at home while Debs hung out with our newest nieces, because I was waiting for FedEx to bring my new toy (which ill comment about later in the post)

Tuesday we left town to go to Washington DC. We didn’t even hit any traffic the entire way up, until we were a mile away from our hotel (it took about 20 minutes to go half a mile). Thanks to Google Maps for my phone (and debs phone), we found our way through some back roads. We then went and checked out the National Cathedral. We started to head into Maryland to go to the National Aquarium, but we didnt want to get stuck in traffic, so we checked into the hotel and then headed to the Metro. We walked around Downtown DC for quite a while that night, walking at least 8 miles (though, with some of the back-tracking we did it may be closer to 10).

Wednesday we packed up early to head up to Baltimore to check out the Aquarium, and then hang out around the city for a while. After a lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, we headed back to Northern Virginia to check out IKEA. Then back on the road to Richmond – again hitting really no traffic!

The rest of the week was just random fun and getting stuff done around the house. I honestly dont remember much because it all blurred together, but I did at least get to beat Halo 3 on ‘Legendary’ with some friends. The week ended up yesterday with loosing power. We were cooking for a Christmas party, and our power went out at 3. After going to the party, we got home around 6, with it still out. It didn’t come back on until 10:45 – which was nice – I almost went to sleep at 7:30 last night!

So, I also got my new toy in last week – a new Canon Digital Rebel XTi. Many of you know my interest in photography, and we had been shopping around for one of these for a few months. I finally found a great deal and got it in 3 days! You can check out a lot of the pictures on Flickr from our trip, which were all taken with the XTi. Its been pretty dreary in Richmond until today, so I have not been able to use the camera much outside yet…but plan to soon. This also means I should be doing a LOT more updates on my OTHER blog soon!

Listening To: ‘Boom!’ by The Roots

What I have been doing…

Well, as you have seen in my previous post, our site FINALLY went live, and now I can breathe a little. Only just a little though, there are plenty projects still on the plate, and RDC07 still has a lot of things coming! Ill be posting over time some more ‘technical’ stuff about some things I learned through this project as well!

Ive been trying to ‘relax’ as much as I can otherwise, and I will be doing a lot of that this month. From last week until sometime in January, I will not be working any more than 4 days a week. Debs and I are also taking our first vacations since the honeymoon.

Lots of pictures have been taken on the new camera, and i’ve been posting them to Flickr like crazy. The flickr team FINALLY put out a new beta version of their Uploadr tool, which doesnt seem to mess the order up anymore.

This week is full of events including our Christmas party, a ‘tacky light tour’ on a bus, and the beginning of some time off. It looks like debs and I are booking our hotel in Washington DC tonight, staying right off the Red line on the metro. Should be a fun time!

Lastly, I need to decorate this office. But I have NO clue what to do in here. My only special touch is my red Swingline Stapler. Does anyone have any ideas or want to help?

Listening To:  ‘Space Dog’ by Tori Amos

The new is finally live!

This is one day that I have been waiting for a few months now!

After almost a year of planning, design, and development we were finally able to fully deploy the new site! Its been a crazy few past weeks trying to fix a bunch of things, update stuff, but in the end, I really think it has paid off! Its a long story on why we had to push it back a bit, but its live, and I am much happier now!

This has to be the largest project I have worked on to date!

There are so many more ideas and projects in the pipeline (coming to and our other products) that I finally have more time to devote to, so its not all over yet, but a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Listening To: ‘Spies’ by Coldplay