Saturday, April 17, 2010

Recovering Data From A Disk That Will Not Boot

My dad owns a K50IN 15.6" laptop that was purchased in October, 2009. In March of this year the laptop stopped booting up. We would get far enough to see the Windows splashscreen, but it would not go any further. We were able to get into the BIOS without problem.

Since the laptop comes with a 12M manufacturer warranty, we called ASUS. After having us try a few different troubleshooting efforts, they agreed that there seems to be a hardware problem and asked us to ship it in. My dad had some lectures and presentations on the machine that were not backed up (yeah, yeah - always backup).

Anyway, ASUS said that they would not backup the data for us, and we were free to try to salvage it before sending the machine in for repair. Hence, this little home project.

First, we purchased a USB Adapter for IDE/SATA.

Newegg is absolutely awesome, I ordered the product on a Saturday with regular (free) shipping and received it in hand on Wednesday!

Next I needed to open the laptop and pull out the hard drive. It wasn't too obvious as there were a number of screws on the bottom. I found many online videos on how to do this for Dell. A friend tells me that HP makes little images next to the screws to indicate what would open up with those screws. I found similar indicators on my Lenovo. However, ASUS wasn't that easy. Now, I did see some images next to four screws. Hard to say what it is, here is a (pretty bad) picture:

Anyway, first I took out the battery. Then I unscrewed these four. Finally, there was a fifth screw right next to the battery compartment that was holding this panel in. On taking this out, I was able to slide this panel out. And, here is what the inside looks like:

Another four screws allowed me to pull out the SATA HDD. Closer view of the HDD Compartment:

Next step, connecting the adapter. This was fairly straightforward. Connect the SATA power cable to the drive. Keep it powered down until the data cable is connected to the Rosewill USB cable. Turn the power on, connect the USB to another laptop (a Lenovo T60). Since the HDD has multiple partitions, each one is mounted as a separate drive letter in my Windows laptop. Here is the external HDD connected via the adapter:

Final step, get the files. First I tried using simple Windows Explorer, it would fail without copying even a single file. I was able to copy some individual files, but it would fail on others. So much for the GUI, time to use the commandline. I tried the regular windows 'copy' command, it was a step better than Windows Explorer. It would copy files until it hit one that it could not read. But then it would exit. Not too good. played around with xcopy and it didn't seem to be smart enough. I wanted a tool that I could re-run in case of a failure, and expect it to pick up from the point of failure. Enter Robocopy, this is part of the Windows Resource Kit.

This is smart, the timestamp and size of a file in the source/destination match, it will not try to copy it again. It is apparently an enhanced version of xcopy. Here is the command I used:

robocopy c:\users\mk\desktop "C:\papa laptop backup" /s /zb /r:0 /LOG+:"v:\backupLaptop.log"

I set the retries to 0 (/r:0) as the default is 1 million! I setup a log file as well.

I found that certain files were causing it to really struggle, these were bitmaps and some videos. We didn't really need those, so I setup a filter to remove them:

robocopy c:\users\mk\desktop "C:\papa laptop backup" /s /zb /r:0 /LOG+:"v:\backupLaptop.log" /V /XF *.VOB *.bmp

I also downloaded baretail to watch the logfile in real time. This is the equivalent of UNIX 'tail' for Windows. It was pretty popular amongst my ex-colleagues at Vamosa. Not sure, though, that the GUI adds much value. I should go back to my Cygwin emulator.

Either way, tail/Baretail is a bit of an overkill in this case, as robocopy has an option to TEE output to the screen:

robocopy c:\users\mk\desktop "C:\papa laptop backup" /s /zb /r:0 /LOG+:"v:\backupLaptop.log" /V /TEE /XF *.VOB *.bmp

Here is a screenshot of robocopy and baretail in action:

As you can see, every so often, a file will fail copy due to an I/O error. At least we have the log file to know what we lost.

And there we go, data saved :-)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Knowledge Management: Doing Away with Human Splashscreens

My second corporate blog entry was posted a while ago:

Doing Away with Human Splashscreens

Hopefully, this is less dry and more interesting than the first entry!

As usual, comments invited either on the blog itself or via email.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Learnings from Mel Gibson's Apocalypto

I recently saw Apocalypto. This article will make a lot more sense to those that have had a chance to see the movie. It is a list of what I have learnt from watching this epic movie!

  • The number of tattoos and amount of body art in the Mayan Civilization was directly proportional to the vileness of the person.
  • Evil men do not have wives and children. Maybe a few concubines that are equally vicious.
  • How to remove a person's heart: Take a sharp knife. Look the subject in the eye. While subject screams, make faces with your best attempt to scare him. Then strike at the chest. As long as the cameras do not follow the knife into the subject, the target's heart will readily jump out for you to grab and display publicly. It happens so fluidly indeed, that the subject has a chance to stare at his own extricated heart before passing away.
  • Be very afraid if someone brings blue paint to the party. Everyone painted blue will be offered to Gods by expert knife-men as laid out in the previous bullet.
  • All villains are stupid. They like to play Gladiator before killing the innocent, nice guys. Needless to say, one of these innocent, nice guys (the hero of the movie) will turn out to be damn lucky. He will run in a zig zag fashion, thereby evading all archers, shot-putters and javeline throwers of the villian's army. I am sure, secretly he will attribute his dumb luck to his valor and think of himself as a Maximus Decimus Meridius of sorts.
  • A man injured by an arrow can run faster than a jaguar. Hence, when in the jungle and being checked out by a jaguar for a chase, quickly pull out an arrow and stab yourself.
  • Corollary to previous bullet: If you have a debilitating injury that is causing you to sweat profusely and you can barely walk, find a jaguar to chase you. A chasing jaguar will make you run faster than Usain Bolt.
  • The chief villain's henchmen are like guided missiles. Once launched, even if the chief villain is killed, they will continue to hunt the warrior against all odds. They continue to get more and more scared, but not one of them thinks of turning around as a feasible plan.
  • In the jungle, it rains 5-6 feet of water within 20 minutes. Take that, Cherrapunji! Hero's wife finds herself in a big hole in the ground. And while the hero is knocking off the bad guys one by one, it starts to rain.
  • Mayan women can do labor while in labor. Within 20 minutes, she finds herself standing on a rock, with her 4-year old son on her shoulders to evade drowning. Oh, did I mention that she is pregnant and gives birth in that stance?
  • If you are a Mayan woman or child, even though you live right next to an ocean, no one teaches you how to float, let alone swim! Of course, once you grow up and have to jump off a waterfall, you magically learn there and then!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Content Management: Conundrum of Consolidation

I had my first corporate blog entry published:

Conundrum of Consolidation

Comments invited. I think it is a bit dry, planning on the next one being more interesting. It has been authored, is awaiting review/publish some time this month.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tendulkar's Nervous 90s in ODIs?

As we all know, Sachin Tendulkar has been extremely consistent throughout his career in converting the big scores to centuries. Consequently, as of February 3, 2009, he has 42 ODI centuries in 422 ODI matches. That is an amazing statistic - a century every 10 matches. Add the fact that his first ODI century did not happen till his 80th (or so) ODI match, the statistic becomes quite tremendous.

It is a common belief that on many of those occasions he had slowed down his strike rate in the 90s to reach the landmark, even if it was to the detriment of the team's interest.

1998 was, of course, one of the most prolific years of his career. 9 ODI centuries in 34 matches, an average of 65.31. There was only one score in the 90s for this year.

Lately, however, he still does slow down, but has failed to reach the milestone. In his last two years (Feb 3, 2007 to Feb 3, 2009; 44 ODIs), he has one 100+ scores and 7 scores in the nineties (3 of them 99!). On each occasion, it wasn't as if he ran out of time to get there. He was out. Nervous 90s?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hum par jafaa se ...

Hum par jafaa se tarq-e-wafa ka ghumaan nahin,
Ek chain hai, wa'garna bura imtihaan nahin;

[jafaa = injustice, injury; tarq-e-wafa = end of fidelity; ghumaan = doubt]

I have no misconception that pain might ever break its bond with me,
Yet my mind is calm, otherwise it might have been a good test;

Humko sitam azeez, sitam'gar ko hum azeez,
Na-meherbaan nahi hai, agar meherbaan nahin;

I have an affection for torture, and the tyrant has an affection for me,
She may not be kind-hearted, yet she is not unkind either;

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Airline Fees

More from a friend:
With airlines now charging fees for what used to be free, this new fees page from Kayak outlines many of the charges for the most popular airlines.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Live Traffic Monitoring!!

Anand, one of my most resourceful friends sent this interesting tidbit to me:

* Real-time monitoring of road traffic in 20 important junctions of Bangalore & updated every 15 seconds....
* Does any site have it for US cities with info updated every 15 seconds??

It is pretty amazing how quickly India is adopting new technology. Despite some legacy obstacles (population, under-developed infrastructure), it is commendable to see innovative steps such as these!

The same site/group provides live traffic, bus/train combos to go from 1 place to other.

It also has a fully functional version for Hyderabad & has "beta" versions to traffic in Delhi, Chennai & Pune:

* Hyderabad:
* Delhi :
* Chennai:
* Pune :

Another cool service for India is Just Dial - it has been there from 1998 & one just needs to call their number (in various cities) and get info. about which movie is running where, tel. numbers of establishments, etc, etc. Now they have a cool javascript enabled & google suggest like webpage...Try out how it works for Delhi


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thought for the Day

Aur kya ahed-e-wafa hote hain,
Log milte hain, juda hote hain;

Kab bichar jaaye, humsafar hi to hai,
Kab badal jaaye, ek nazar hi to hai,
Jaan-o-dil jis pe fida hote hain,
Aur kya ahed-e-wafa hote hain;

Baat nikli thi ek zamaane ki,
Jisko aadat hai bhool jaane ki,
Aap kyon hum se khafa hote hain?
Aur kya ahed-e-wafa hote hain;

Jab rula lete hain ji bhar ke humein,
Jab sata lete hain ji bhar ke humein,
Tab kahin khush wo zara hote hain,
Aur kya ahed-e-wafa hote hain;

- From Movie 'Sunny', Singer 'Asha Bhosle'

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Whtie Water Kayaking

Here are pictures from my May 24/25/26 long weekend trip to Penobscot (Maine). We took a beginner course on White Water Kayaking. It was more exhilerating than I imagined!

Photos on the water:

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Dancers that make you want to dance

I guess everyone has their favorites, here are some of mine:

Kum Kum from the movie 'Ujala' ('Sunrise/Brightness'). Every part of her body dances.

Artist unknown to me, from Satyajit Ray's classic 'Jalsaghar' ('The Music Room'). Pure energy with impeccable control of each action.

Donald O'Connor from the classic 'Singing in the Rain'. Effortless while adding the dimension of comedy.

Fred Astaire, miscellaneous clips with Mazzy Star in the background. The man does not walk or dance, he floats.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Katahdin hike

Update: Here are pictures from the hike ->

Planning to hike up Katahdin this weekend (Sep 21/22/23). Anyone interested in joining us, drop me an email and I will send you details.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Joost Chain ...

Guess the latest buzz is around Joost, supposedly the next Youtube. Only, it is currently by invite only. The way it is set up, we need an invite to try it out. Once we have an invite, we can invite as many people as we want.

So, a smart guy out there has an idea to leverage the power of community and get an invite to as many people as possible. Check this out:

The basic idea is pretty cool, create a chain. X invites three people. Those three people invite three others and so on. The problem is that people are like Microsoft Windows - unreliable. (Ok, ok - just kidding, Windows ain't that bad. Any longer.) So, a small addition to the idea is to track people that got missed/skipped. And for the community to do the tracking. So, I set up a little collaborative wiki-page:

Would be interesting to see how this little experiment goes. Probably just goes bust, it may be that no one has enough time/energy to jump through so many hoops to get an invite to Joost!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Its not what you know, its who you know!

Recently my company rolled out the beta of a new chat product. But the link to install it was pulled within a day (apparently, from the chat below, they had reached their 'numbers' for the beta). I happened to get in on time, but a friend of mine missed the boat. So, on the promise of two sambhar/dosa/idli dinners, I offered to try and get him the new product.

And it led to the funniest chat conversation I have ever had with desktop support:
Status: Analyst {Agent} is here and your issue status is: working
Problem: Please upgrade my {Chat Product} version {old version} to {new version}

{Agent}>Hello, you've reached TechLine, please give me a moment to review your information.


{Agent}>Dear beloved {Customer}, you have good intentions and great desires, and I admire that, hoiwever unless you are on the BETA test for {Chat Product} you won't be able to receive the same until the same becomes part of production.

{Customer}>Dear beloved {Agent} - what does it take to get on the Beta test?

{Agent}>Unfortunately the members of that team were choosen by the group in charge or deploying the application, and the already have the numbers needed..I myself wanted to become part however was not able to.

{Customer}>Dear beloved {Agent} - I am sorry for you. Who leads the team? I would like to contact them.

{Agent}>Let me get a name for you...
At this point in time, one of our friends walked into the cube. And, wonder of wonders, he knows the Tech guy we are chatting with. So, here is what happens next:
{Customer}>By the way, do you know {Joe}?

{Agent}>{Joe} {Schmoe}


{Agent}>absolutely.. his is my friend.

{Agent}>a good man...

{Customer}>Nice friends you have!

{Customer}>He is standing here

{Customer}>and telling us you can get {Chat Product} {new version} for us

{Agent}>he he.. oh that he does well to..stand around doing nothing.. :-)


{Customer}>looks like everyone knows him very well :-)

{Agent}>only kidding.. give him my greatings.. I love him as a person, his humble heart and care for people make of him a great example.

{Customer}>he is beaming from ear to ear - just like the cheshire cat

{Customer}>hey, so you think its possible to get {new version}?

{Agent}>{Customer}, the fact that you are friend with {Joe} have made you part of my exception list, therefore I will send you the package inmediately.

{Agent}>what is your machine or IP address?

{Agent}>Please do me a favor, goto start, run, type cmd, press enter, and when black window comes up, type IPCONFIG and press enter, them read me the IP address.
Two sumptuous, home made dinners in the kitty!!!!