Fixed the Broken Hard Drive

After nearly two weeks, and many frustrating hours, I recovered about ninety-three percent of my data from the broken hard drive. What I lost did cost me, some valuable files, and my emails were mostly complete, but they suffered too as the archive file had to rebuilt with a loss of about four percent. Just to create the four tare-byte image took one hundred and twenty-six hours. Then another eighty hours to recover the data from the image. I had to buy a six terabyte hard drive just to capture the image onto it with. So, a lot of patients, worrying and money.

The program I used is called Testdisk, a mainly Linux command program that runs on the Terminal. The idea is to clone the hard drive, one byte at a time, into an image onto another hard drive. The programs ignores any bad sectors, and will keep copying until the whole drive is done–including the empty spaces. Once done, I can begin extracting the data left in the image on a healthy drive. This usually takes less time than creating the image, but still, a four terabyte drive is huge; a time vampire.

I was impressed at how much data I was able to get. I had about nine hundred and eighty gigabytes worth of data, and was able to recover nearly nine hundred and sixty. Not bad at all considering the damage to the drive. The hard drive would not mount–period.

Now, I should point out that the file structure was corrupted, so Testdisk was not able to create that for me, so any files that were recovered was renamed, and almost randomly placed in order of the placement from the image. But the key main files I wanted were found. In fact, files that were deleted, were also recovered. That was freaky to see. So remember, when you thought you deleted something, think again. Unless you copied over top of it, the file is still on your hard drive.

I am still a little sore about having the hard drive crash on me–OK, a little angry and foolish–it was an emotional time. The external hard drive was almost brand new, maybe less than five hours on it. But at least I could recover most of the data–thinking positive.

Next time, two back up copies, and use drives that I know are in good condition. Even though upgrades are fairly routine with me, I should have take more precautions. Maybe even transferring valuable data onto a live PC for good measure.

My Old Home From 1972

Last Friday, I took a walk around the block, the one that I live on now, and for one reason and one reason only, I wanted to see my old home from 1972-73. When I was just we lad, way back, I lived here (see images). My parents were just starting out, and it was just me and my sister at the time. Thornhill and Terrace, BC were totally different then they are now today, as the populations of the towns was much smaller. There were more kids then, but it the place was not kid friendly, or at least from my point of view. But we kids made due with what we had, and somehow we made it work. But it was fun to see the old apartment buildings up close, and I was amazed that they are still standing!

A few notes of interest. The pine trees on the right, those were about a little taller than I was in 1972. I figure the building are at least fifty-five years old, built circa 1960. Back then, they were a kind white stucco, with crushed glass in it for siding, and it was not paved. In general, all the buildings are exactly the same as they were back then.

The apartment we lived was number three, about where the red mini van is parked. My parents move around quite a bit when I was young, so I really never had a “attached” home that I called my own except this one, other than our home out in Old Remo, about eight kilometres from Terrace. So when I look back at this place, this was truly one of my most memorable childhood memories growing up.

I cannot believe that these buildings are still standing!

Questions, Questions, and Not One Peep Back.

Dealing with “telemarketers” is one thing, you can hang up on them, but dealing with customer service people, well, that is entirely a different matter altogether. My quest was to somehow lower my ballooning rate per month with my cable/internet/phone provider. For lack of a better word, I am pissed at how much this monthly bill has shot up in the last year. So, my goal today was to lower it, even it means cutting the cord. For now the cord is still intact, but my patients is very thin, and my time with this service provider is nearing its end. It was my exchange of Q & As with the person on other end of the phone call that made me rethink my strategy of dealing with this business going forward.

The circular argument was three-fold. I asked for add-ons to be cut, and more specific, my entire “bundle” to be lowered to the lowest “pack” they had listed on their website. The counter argument was that none of the bundles could be broken, or reactivated unless I was a new customer. My final argument was to cut the cord completely, then re-enlist with the preferred services that I wanted at a later date. The answer was…, yes, but…, no.

We went over this thought experiment for nearly thirty minutes before I had to give up.

Then I brought up the point that what I saw on their website through my VPN was slightly different from when I was seeing it through my local I.P. Address. There was a pause. Silence; not a peep from her. I said “hello” a few times, and waited until she said something. After a minute, she asked me what was different on website, and then spewed off that use of a VPN maybe a violation of my user agreement. I laughed. I said that viewing the website through my VPN, I get to see all the bundles in their entirety, WITH PRICES, where as viewing it locally, I only see the upgrade bundles being offered. The mic drops. I added that “this is a very sad way of marketing and dealing with your customers.” She insisted that this was not the case. My B.S. meter’s needle just broke off from being buried in the red so far.

The cord will be cut very soon!

Beware the Scammer

It was a couple a weeks ago now, as I was nonchalantly looking at the rental market up in Northern British Columbia, that I came across an ad that seemed to good to be true. I was delighted when I got a response almost within hours of my query to the ad. I was inspired, and felt hopeful glee, when I was told that this particular home was available, and that I was the only one who has responded. However, in the end, once it was evident that this was a scammer hard at work, trying to dupe me, I whisked away the happy thoughts and moved on.

So, yes, scammers are everywhere, and sadly, not even our law enforcement in British Columbia, the RCMP, can do much about it. It is buyer beware, and due diligence that must be practice when combing the ads of both printed and on-line media. Scammers are everywhere, and they have no moral values; they are human parasites in today’s world.

What was obvious at first for me was how awesome the ad was. It was too good to be true. The price for the dwelling was, unreal, to say the least. So moving forward, looking at the price, and how it was a deal, was the first sign of the scam. In a market that is flush with little competition, where prices were outrageous, seeing a deal that was unbelievably fifty precent below market value, was a dead giveaway. But I kept going with the email exchanges anyway, hoping that this could be the real deal, but doubting it more and more as time went on. Added to this, all utilities were included, even cable and Internet. Yes, he was going to pay for my Internet! My B.S. meter/detector was pointing off the scale now.

The second warning sign came in the form of how fast the acceptance was, and the rush to move to the actual rental agreement form. I should also point out that the replies I received were typed in very poor English, almost to the point that this person was using a spell-checker, while doing “cut and paste” chunks of phrases from other emails. The poor grammar, and ward choice, coupled with flawless paragraphs in the same email proved that this scammer was luring several victims at once. Yes, I had one section where he was speaking to me as a female. Not to mention how basic the rental agreement was, and how little information I had to give, I laughed when he added that to the text of  the email–no attachment or signature in return. It was obvious that all I needed was a pulse, to prove that I was alive, and money, to give to the scammer.

Third, was when I asked to see the place first before I would give out any money for the damage deposit. Now this is where things got murky. In British Columbia, the laws are different from other jurisdictions about what a land lord can, or cannot, ask for as far as money, information and types of contracts rental agreements. To pay for “site unseen” is, well, not the proper way of doing business here in Canada. So when I asked to have the address of the dwelling before I would consider paying with any money, the answer was no: “pay first, then you get the keys” was the reply. The exchange was to priceless. First was the Trans Union Money address in the Untied States, and then the promise of the keys and receipts delivered to me by Fedex. Then was a possible visit, once I was moved in, to see how I would enjoy my new home.

I stopped my conversation with David, the scammer. He never bothered to continue as well. It all stopped as it began. However, I could imagine him waiting for his next prey, another unsuspecting person searching for a place to live here in British Columbia with his deceptive ad.  All I could do was hope that his ad be taken down after my complaint and rid the net of this parasite for about thirty seconds.

Please use your head when shopping on-line, or from printed media, especially about renting. If it seems to good to be true, than it will be a scammer hard at work ready to take your money. Do your research, and please report these ads to the appropriate authorities once you have determined them to be scammers.

Above the Clouds in Never Ever Land

This post was a long time coming. As most Canadians know, the price of a house is way beyond the average wage earner now, especially here in the Lower Mainland and surrounding Vancouver area. As money from Banks gets cheaper, with super low mortgage rates, and the supposed Off-Shore buyers, the prices for a house have gone passed the clouds. The effect is not just here in the lower part of British Columbia, but have spread everywhere, where there are meaningful services and work. The North Coast, for example, has also seen its share of higher real estate prices, just like the South, but not as strong, yet. I was doing some searching on-line, and saw something disturbing, in my opinion. 

Buying a house up North seems to be relatively easier than here in the Vancouver area, with almost a two-third difference, but I noticed that the rent rates are almost in tune with each other. As a good friend told me, gouging seems to be the flavour almost everywhere in British Columbia, as both job and house seekers alike scramble to get their share of the pie. Sure, makes sense, if everyone cranks up the rent, hey, that is a good thing for home owners, right? Now it seems that everywhere there is a house shortage…, or is there?

I say no! There are lots of homes to be lived in for everyone, but who has the money to live in one when rent rates have to keep in pace with the mortgages. It seems you need a 70k plus per year job to keep pace with the housing markets. So, if you’re not a drug dealer, C.E.O. of a off-shore corporation, have rich parents, or won the lottery, then where are you getting your money from?

This goes into my next question: what happens when the prime lending rate bounces back? I mean, a full on gain of say, five percent, by the Bank of Canada? Market crash, as the big correction take place? The bubble explodes and prices tumble? Something tells the Bank of Canada will not let this happen, unless…

The crash of ’06 seems to teach us a lesson that we are all greedy, and some more than other’s, when money is at play. The United States taught us that it is not just the head of fish that rots first, but the whole body at the some time. Canada follows the U.S. lead well, although there are more ridged rules in place to prevent financial institutions in Canada from imploding the market from this type of mismanagement, we are on the path in my opinion. But I think Canada is just a decade behind the U.S., and we only out lasted the impending melt-down with these rules, but we will get there.

At my work, I am tied directly to the housing market. I see people doing renovations, upgrades and complete construction projects, and the do-it-yourself-er. I see the cost of those materials going up, and cost of labour climbing even higher. The race to upgrade the house for the already set homeowner to cash in on the white hot market has created it own super local economy. Sadly retail has also become a race to bottom, as customers demand the lowest prices, and competition make the profit margin that much thinner. This leaves the worker at a huge disadvantage now–where to live?

The Growing Homeless Problem

Each day, as I drive to work, I see them, the homeless. In the field, along 64th Avenue, as I drive over the overpass above the railway tracks off from Glover Road in Langley, Township, huddled among the low bushes are tarps and sheets of plastic used as tents. Strewn along the bushes and tents are shopping buggies and bicycles, some with baby trailers attached, and most are adorned with boxes and makeshift saddle bags designed for hauling heavy items and personal belongings. Sometimes I see them, but mostly I just see the small tent community in groups on the vacant field.

During the work week I see the RCMP, their cars parked along the road, officers with gloves on, walking or huddled in the middle of this field. Near their cars, sits a pile of plastic and a circle of shopping carts, just thrown into a large heap waiting for pick-up to the landfill. But more often that not, the tent community returns. Each morning, its members pack up and start their day, leaving only a small group of tents behind. Those are the tents that get taken down, and their occupants taken away.

It is hard to count their numbers. If I go by the rule that there is one occupant to one tent, then I would say there are at least twenty people living there. Then the question I ask, is twenty too many? Are there more? Are they the same people returning each day.

The vacant land is up for sale. It is prime real estate for commercial use. Like all land development around here in Langley, the market is hot, and options for cheap housing are almost non-existent. Affordably and housing are heard most often now by special interest groups, and some say we have reached a crises point. Government is hard to pin down as to how much help they are willing to offer the homeless. Perhaps if there are homeless people sleeping on this vacant land, then Government has failed?

Regardless, the homeless are there, and they are not going to go away. If the RCMP do keep them out, then it seems to me that the homeless will simply find another vacant field to stay the night in.

Anyway, that is what I see every day I drive to my work.

The Possibility of Buying a Home!

Today is a bit of a mile stone: I reached my goal of a set amount in my savings. This means that I can, for the first time in my life, even consider the possibility of joining the exclusive club of free hold land owners. I am not talking about condominiums, strata or lease properties, which seem to be flooding the markets (and no one wants) but rather, owning the dirt under your feet land, with a house that has a foundation and driveway. The catch, it is not in the Lower Mainland, but still in British Columbia. I have no glorious job that yields a six figure pay cheque, or am I a member of high ranking criminal organization, but rather a low wage hourly worker, who somehow manages to scrape out an existence, honestly, with both hands. For this, where I work and currently rent, I cannot afford the land.

“The land owner is the highest status a commoner can hold in Canada,” an old friend once told me long ago. And he is right, in general terms. 

When I went into the Bank today, and asked for my balance, a pleasant smile came from the wonderful woman behind the desk as she scribe out the dollar amount onto the back of my receipt. She handed it to me, and I smiled back, saying, “Thank you!” It was a wonderful feeling seeing that number. I worked hard for it.

For now, I will keep going with it, keeping the money in the Bank while I continue to work, keeping my plans on track. More is better in the world of greed and gouging, so I will continue to keep adding my earned money to the account, knowing that at any time as soon as I see an opportunity, I can jump on it.

Politics

It is about 2:00am, and I am ready to end the day (I work afternoons by the way). I just thought I would type a few words about today, and what is going on South of the border from my perspective. I try hard not to get too involved in other countries’ political affairs, but today is different as I see the voting U.S. results have yet again shocked me. Yup, it looks like Trump is in; will the world as we know it—end?

So, Trump. Well… what will this mean? My first thought is, will the world economies collapse and take us all with it. But then this probably will not happen right-a-way. Like our Rob Ford here in Canada, Trump maybe all talk and no action on matters that will affect us around the world, and with his record of “foot-in-mouth” and flip-flopping, I can see many issues going off in weird directions, which would probably amount to the same old State that has always been. Though I kind of ponder at the idea of the U.S. building a wall around itself. I think if the “Iron Curtain” from the Russian-Soviet era when I heard Trump talk about the “Wall” between it and Mexico. Walls are the opposite of two-way streets, as they not only stop what comes in, but block what goes out too. And what will the U.S. do without all that cheep labour? I can see everything getting more expensive, especially with charging high taxes on imported goods from China.

I noticed the shock in the Stock Markets as the Eastern markets start to open. The CBC news is saying that markets are jolted with the U.S. elections results, and the reaction is very negative. We will have to see how far this goes. Hey, maybe gasoline prices will come back down! Sweet!

I just watched Trump’s victory speech. I am some what surprised. He actually sounds “presidential,” as opposed to a man flailing insults, shooting from the hip with his words. Words from his Teleprompter I bet.

Why Having No Neighbours is So Nice

Listening to my ex-neighbour who moved to another neighbourhood, telling me about his new problems, makes me appreciate the peace and quiet of my little corner of the universe. I could not live in a trailer park, or condo, or any other place that has people crammed so close together. When I thought about his tails of the weird and wacky people that have moved close to him, I realized that half of his trouble were his alone: he wants his privacy, yet craves the social interactions at the same time.

Sure, having people around is human. We humans like to live in colonies, families, and sometimes in metropolitan centres and cities. I even heard this called “human nature” while taking my undergrad classes university. Ultimately, we take on a mate, and raise children, and build our own families. In turn, we live close to populated areas for jobs, schools and stores, which give us securities.  We in our homes, towns and cities, governments to give us Rule of Law and build roads, schools and keep us safe. Some how, in this human utopia, chaos can ensue.

For my friend, in his trailer park, the mix was spoilt over time. Drug users, which are common among low income sites, were part of his problem as they moved in, but also tenants who wanted the joy and happiness that they claimed of their properties, also interfered with his peace and enjoyment. Then there were the whores and prostitutes that occupied the park as well; many are also drug users, and bring their own troubles. The neighbourhood is now labelled as a haven for lawlessness. Law enforcement even fears venturing into the area, and unless they have to, it is with body armour.

As I look across the farm fields and forests from my front door, I am happy. I live where many would not choose to. My neighbours are far enough from me that I like them. I can leave my windows open, and car unlocked and barbecue out on my patio without a chain. Good ridden to the trailer park trash; my friend, I feel for you–honest.

Fort Langley’s Little Bumpy Problem

What can I say, Fort Langley has a parking problem. This post is more of a rant, than a piece on constructive criticism. I offer no solution and point my finger at no one, only offering a few bits of observations from the twenty plus years I have lived here.

Have you driven down Glover Road, going through Fort Langley lately? It is not a pretty sight. The road, for about four blocks, is like driving on one great big—never ending—endless series of speed bumps. In fact, I think my exhaust system on my vehicle is ready to fall off because of it.

This is stupid. It has been over half a year now since the construction of underground power lines were installed (which by the way, I think was a complete waist of time and money, and I am glad I don’t live there any more to pay those taxes). Next to parking, this is my biggest gripe about the village.

I still have to drive through twice a day, as I go to and from work. It is by far the shortest route for me. Anyway, that is my rant for today. Hurry up and fix the damn road! Grrrrrrr