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.

Rescuing The Dead Hard-Drive

Two weeks ago, I started an upgrade on my main PC, totally redoing the operating system, and starting with a fresh machine. I wiped the hard-drive, and installed the latest version of Linux Mint. Like a good user, I backed up my data, including my web browser’s data, email and four other programs I use often. Everything was going tick-it-eey-boo, until it came time to add the data files back to my PC. I posted on this before last week about my broken four terabyte external hard-drive. 

 Today, my brand new six terabyte internal hard-drive arrived! So the work began. I knew my data was on the four terabyte expansion drive, but it had dead sectors on it, preventing it from mounting. The only way was to either fix it, or try and crudely recover what data I could get from it. I could not fix the bad sectors. Also it was not enough to extract the files; my files I wanted were to big for Testdisk/Photorec to work. On my PC, I had a one terabyte drive, so not enough to image the expansion drive. Now with the six terabyte drive, I can image four terabytes with no troubles.

Let use pause for a moment. I have tried several forensic software programs in the past. When I was in university, I had access to the same programs as the Government had, sometimes even better. I concluded that the Linux forensic programs worked just as good as what the university had as far as data extraction goes. Instead of a nice fancy GUI, in Linux you use command-line software. In the end, I found that running this sort recovery software through a terminal is way better, and being “free” does not hurt either.

So let me introduce you to Testdisk. I will not go into how the program works here, but it is good and powerful. I think it is very straight foreword, but it will be very intimidating to the first tine user–but fear not! 

Recovering four terabytes is a long…, (make that a) “very long” process. The analysis of the drive took nearly one hundred and twenty hours. So far, imaging the drive, at twenty-five percent, has taken ten hours. So this is something you let run in the background, and make sure you turn off all power saving settings on your PC when you go to bed. 

So hopefully, by Thursday, I will have my data. I will write a post after I have completed this process. I think there are not enough help files to guide people through this. So stay tuned. 

The Saturday Hike: Upon a Pile of Rocks

Me and Suz went hiking today, more or less, along the Skeena river first, and then off in town to warm up with some warm beverages, then some more hiking on Ferry Island, in Terrace. But the main hike was along the Skeena River, just off of the New Bridge, then off on the West shore before the Old Bridge. The hike was less than three kilometers, but there were some spots where we had to climb over rocks, and up and down some slippery hills. We had our workout.

This one shot caught my eye. As always, I take my camera with me, and I take lots of photos, but anyways, I took this shot, and left it. As I was going through them after the hike, this one stuck out for me. I did a little editing: bumped up the exposure; added more clarity to add more blur. These are the rocks natural colours, and I never touched the pile. I think it is a cool photo.

I shot these with a 30mm Marco lens. These rocks are almost 1:1, about 6cm in width, in this shot.

When traveling between the Old and new Bridges, we encountered several homeless/squatters camps. Some were alive with people, and we saw one place that was abandon. All these places had that smell, and everywhere you looked along the trails, garbage could be found. Well protected from the eyes of the town, once you are right in the bush, you really do not know that the homeless are there. We never actually seen anyone, but we could hear them–you know they are there. 

And just on the other side of the river, along Ferry Island, fishers abound, probably counting nearly thirty people, fifteen of them casting their fishing rods into the Skeena River. Every day, from before the Sun comes up, until way pass sunset, they fish. Standing there like solders. 

The rain held off just before got back to the car.

Like the good-old North Coast, standing out from rest, we lay in overcast skies and near one-hundred percent precipitation, while the rest of British Columbia sits in the worst forest-fire season in recorded history. It would take a lot to get a fire going around here without some dry wood to start it with. I think once the weekend is over, the Forest Fire Rating Sign will go from “Moderate,” back to “Low” once again. There is not much of a threat of our forests going up in flames around here. But then again that is climate change for you; maybe a heat-wave for us next week?

I think we are feeling this hike. Another good workout for us office people!

My Upgrade Woes

As you probably figured out, I have been lagging behind with my posts, getting them posted almost a week late. Well, the short version of the tail, I bought a new hard drive, and it failed shortly after I did a major upgrade on my main PC. Sadly, it has taken me nearly two weeks to fix, but I still have recovered my critical data files, just mainly general content. The good news is, I have the data, and it is all there. The bad news, I bought a four terabytes hard drive, and it takes five days just to scan it. So, it is a long process.

I had to buy another hard drive, one also four terabytes, just to do the transfer of the scanned data. So it has been expensive. I followed all the precautions on this, but to no avail, this was hardware failure. It could have happened at any time, but unfortunately it happened just after an upgrade, when I was ready to transfer my files.

Later on, I will post on my process. For now all I have done is scan the drive (five days), and did a basic recovery (one day), but even that is limited with what can be recovered and the type of files saved. Unfortunately, one of the files I need is an archived file that is three-and-half gigabyte in size, and the recovery does not allow anything that size on a FAT 32 Table formatted disk. So the last step in forensic scan is to image the drive, and for that I needed the external hard drive to dump it on. So far, at nine hundred and sixty two gigabytes, it has taken ten hours to create it. I have over three terabytes to go.

The lesson here is do back-ups—twice.

Slowly, when I get access to my PC, will get these posts uploaded. But for now, hang-tight, I will get caught up.

Calculating

I decided to check how long, and how much fuel I need for the trip up to Terrace, BC from Langley, or Glen Valley were I am living right now. I got a couple of different answers. And on top of that, I am not sure how much fuel I will need for the trip. So for the mean time, I have my previous trips from Terrace to Vancouver, BC, roughly twenty hours. So I just took a couple of hours off of that, somewhere around nineteen to seventeen hours, I figure.

According to Google Maps, I am looking at roughly 1318 km to Terrace BC. Map Quest estimate I might do the trip in seventeen hours, while Google says about fourteen. I think Google has got it wrong. Again, I am leaning towards nineteen hours for the whole trip.

The last time I drove this route, I was looking at roughly $250.00 in gas cost, in a 1979 Ford 150 pick-up truck, back in 1995. Now gasoline was somewhere around fifty cents per litre, and the truck was on it’s last legs as far as it fuel economy goes. The truck went to the bone right after that trip. So, I figure it might cost me $245.00 in today’s dollars for the trip. Perhaps even $300.00, based on towing a trailer with a ten foot U Haul truck. The U Haul website was no help either. To bad fuel was included in the rental cost too?

Now I did a trip to Alberta, near Rocky Mountain House, about seven years ago, and that took me about thirteen hours, and burnt about seventy litres of gasoline, roughly about eighty dollars, in a small pick-up. Again, Google says about one thousand and four kilometres, and about ten and a half hours to drive it. Maybe Google speeds?

Oh Mr Egg Head

While on the verge of moving, a major change in my life, I had some time to kill. I created some images of Mr. Egg Head in various poses, just to see how well my rigging was when I created Egg Head. All this, of course, was just for fun. I have no practical ideas for Mr. Egg Head, other than to practice my work on Blender, the 3D software I use. Here is some of the stuff I had Mr. Egg Head do.

So, anyway, I will have fun with him/her, and I am sure there are many more things I will have him/her do before I put Egg Head to rest and delete him/her. I am not sure if it a he or she, but I like the idea of a gender natural character. I sure there is an animation or two to come.

I look back at what I typed, and saw all the red squiggly lines underneath about twenty-five percent of the words. Woe, my spelling sucks today.

Some Hula Hoop Boogie Action With Mr. Egg Head (I Have Some Time to Kill)

I have some time to kill, now that the weekend draws to a close, and tomorrow is a work day. I thought I would spend some time with my newly animated character, Mr. Egg Head, which I created a couple of weeks ago. This time I wanted to spruce things up a bit, and have him dancing. After some thought, a dancing video might be too much for the amount of time I have, so I am sticking with these short animated GIF images that I can post right onto the posts. So, I went with Mr. Egg Head doing some hula hoop action, doing the dirty boogie dance over and over and over at twenty-two frames per second.

I get tired just looking at it. LOL

So, what brought this on, creating Mr. Egg Head hula hoop animation? I thought about making him do a short dance video, you know, with some heavy beat techno song playing away, and Mr. Egg Head dancing away to it, doing some cool funky moves. But then time is hard to come by for me this time of year with being busy both at work and me personal life. So I kept it simple. I also wanted to see how easy it is to animate other mech objects with an animated charter. It is pretty darn easy in Blender. I thought of the hula hoop dancer, and thought Mr. Egg Head can do that–this should be simple. In less than an hour, I was finished.

You go Mr. Egg Head! You go!

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!

Second Try: Got it!

As per my May 12, 2017 post, I have been trying character animation in Blender, where I can create a human looking mesh, and make it move in a video. I have been experimenting and learning how to do the rigging and animation, and so far, I am getting it. I mean, I have figured out the basics, such as creating the armature, or bones structure, as they are called, and creating a good mesh to parent to the armature, but now it is the actual creation process that has bogged me down. So many ideas, and so little time to do them with. I mean, rendering out a thirty second video on my machine in Blender Cycles mode, takes about two to three hours. Patients is what I lack now, as I move forward in this newly discovered art form.

But I have to admit, this walk cycle animation is really good in my opinion, although I see room for improvement if I want to master this. Not bad for my second try! And I think I got the motion just right too.

Of course I am only animating legs and body. I want to start off simple, then work my way up to more complex characters later on. I also switched render modes to, using the old Blender Render settings as they are a lot faster to render out, but not as nice to look at as Cycles Render is. On my machine, it takes about two minutes to render out the same thirty second video as it did from using Cycles.

The rigging and mesh only took me about half hour to make from scratch, and the above jif animation took about an hour to create on my P.C. at home. The walk cycle is 20 frames in this one. Yes, I am excited!

First Try: When You Learn From Your Mistakes

I laughed when I first rendered this. I was trying to create a simple 3D walk cycle animation, re-learning the ropes becuase it had been so long since I played with animating moving objects. When this spewed out, I thought I had created a good animation, but when ran it, it quickly became apparent that I needed to do a lot more work with it. But then I thought, maybe I did succeed with this result, and I was closer to a polished animation than I could have been if I was learning this for the first time. Nonetheless, I am posting this becuase it is funny to watch.

Oh, before you read this, unless you have some knowledge of using 3D software, like Blender, this maybe a pointless post to read. If you are remotely interested, then why not check out the Blender website. Blender is free, and is open source, and works on all major platforms.

The first problem that I saw, even though I was using the Inverse Kinematics Constraint, I made the legs straight. Having that natural bend in the legs would have prevented the way the knees seem to buckle backwards each time each leg moved upwards.

The second issue I see, I should have added more leg meshes (or blocks), so I would have had a dedicated knee mesh–something that would pivot while the leg and thigh moved independently.  If I had five blocks in each leg, then I think the armature (or skeleton) would have worked right the first time. This ties with having a natural bend in each leg. In this case, I kept the legs straight in Pose Mode, so Blender assumed that the knees would work forward or backwards.

Still, I made this in about an hour, from start to finish. After getting used to Blender’s interface and the work-flow, it took no time to create. But tweaking this “Egg man” guy, may take from time to prefect. Will I do it; hard to say.

Hey, it killed a Friday night before it was my bed time. 🙂