Wednesday 21 December 2005

Coping with data loss

Only two words: you can't.

This is, of course, assuming you were full of bravado and kept putting off taking regular backups. If you don't belong to this category, and nonchalantly whip out your backup media and restore everything with the click of a mouse, please curl up in a corner and die somewhere. You're not helping the non-backup-taking people at all. And yep, this goes without saying, but I'll say it anyways - wipe that smug look off your face.

One word of advice to non-backup-taking people - never play around with partitions on your HD 'just because you feel like it'. The consequences may not be very pretty.

If you should choose to disregard aforementioned advice, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE THE WINDOWS DISK MANAGER WHILE ON WINDOWS XP!!

It is NOT meant to be a tool to fiddle around with partitions with data still on them. Use a real partition manager, like Symantec [erstwhile PowerQuest] PartitionMagic or Acronis Disk Director Suite. Of course, these cost money, but you can never put a price on data. [Okay, maybe you can, but I digress...] You could also use the Ranish doodad or Terabyte's BootItNG, or what the hey, even FIPS.

I used Windows Disk Manager exactly once. All I did was delete an ext2 partition (which incidentally STILL shows up as "Unknown Filesystem" - and WinXP came out MUCH MUCH later than, say, Slackware 8.0. I wonder when Microsoft will grow up and accept that competition exists and it's good to get along...) and quit the tool. The next thing I notice - My Computer no longer displays my MP3, Movie and My Documents partitions. That's 55 GB of data gone. Just like that.

After experiencing that sinking feeling for about 15 minutes and just sitting there on the verge of tears, I decide to try out an Acronis demo, and sure enough, it tells me my partition table's gone pear-shaped, and even helpfully restores it, and the partitions, along with all the data. Only, itturns out to be not-so-helpful later, when it politely informs me that the demo does only that - demo the capabilities of the full product.

That was the closest I came to blowing US Dollars 50 on software.

Googling (googlying?) around in a rather defeatist manner leads me to TestDisk, which I will continue to revere for as long as I live. In spite of its clunky fdisk-like interface, it not only set right my partition table and let me embrace my not-too-long-lost-but-all-too-precious data, it also did it in a way that PartitionMagic does NOT get anal about!

I did cry this time - tears of joy.

Never has any software made me feel so happy. When I can afford to make random donations for the sake of free software, I will do so first and foremost to the makers of TestDisk. And then to Ubuntu, but that's a different blog post altogether...

Shock #2

Finding out that a colleague of yours in an I.T company - with at least 5 years experience in the I.T industry - actually thinks the Olympics started sometime in the early 1980s, and that all the continents weren't discovered until late into the 20th century.

Some might say this is pardonable. Okay, I grant that. But when the same person refers to Googly, that's not too funny...

Codemonkeys takes on an entirely new meaning :-/

Shock #1

Finding out that a classmate of yours - while doing Information Technology in college - believes processors can be exchanged on CDs, needs a half-hour walkthrough on cut/copy-paste and has no clue what WinAmp is.

Actually, once you get over the initial shock, it's kinda funny...

Radio Ga-Ga

I think I already gave this title to a post some time back, but what the hey...

One of the downsides to having such easy access to the T.V and live broadcasts of sporting events, is not that radio commentary has been killed, but that it is being subjected to the verbal equivalent of medieval torture tools.

And by medieval torture tools, I mean the radio commentators. The Hindi commentators are the most insipid of all. While they spare us the lame attempts at trying to sound exciting, they also ensure that they leave no leaf unturned in going to the exact opposite extreme.

Sample this - commentary when Irfan Pathan was out bolwed by Murali yesterday:
Murali comes in to Pathan, bowls an offbreak. It bounces more than normal, and Pathan turns it round the corner for a single.
Pathan is out bowled by Murali between ihs legs off the bat. Good ball by Murali.
and that's that. Says something happens, then says something else happened, all in the same breath, same monotone. If I weren't paying attention to the words, I definitely would not have known that a wicket just fell.

But there are times when you wish you just had some doodad with which ti record radio stuff instantly..English commentary by Milind Wagle today morning, when Sri Lanka starts off their innings needing a target of 509:
Sri Lanka faces a very difficult challenge indeed. As tall as a T.V tower. Even as tall as the Eiffel Tower. Almost a Mount Everest to scale. In fact, take anything that's really tall, and this task is as tall as that.
I kid you not, this is exactly what he said. Decent commentator he is, but gets his feet all tangled up in the jumprope sometimes...

Wednesday 7 December 2005


I never realized just how used I am to the Gmail interface. It smacked me like a Mack truck between the eyes when I see today they'd changed "Move To Trash" to "Delete".

Why oh why?!

Oh, and it also sucks that Microsoft Word doesn't accept :wq as a valid method of saving a document and exiting the editor. Sharp ones may point out that MS Word is not an editor, but a word processor. To these I say - go jump in a well.

Tuesday 6 December 2005

Oh dear God

I always figured I was a little strange.

Just how strange, I came to know earlier today, when I took the Nerd Quiz. Frankly, the results are rather depressing - I thought I'd be somewhere in the 70s range :-(((

I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

This basically says that I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Which is just NOT true. People who know me, shaddup :p

Friday 2 December 2005

You scam me, I damn you

By some freakish coincidence, I stumble onto 3 (THREE!) very, very similar stories yesternight. All involving some generally idiotic behaviour by a 'seller' over some relatively trivial thing, which results in not-so-pretty things happening to them.

In short, selling party tries to pull one over buying party, and realizes - the hard way - that they've screwed with the wrong people. Not quite "Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less", but actually much worse. In that amazing book (and not-so-amazing movie) the victims just scheme to get theyir money back. In these following cases, the scamsters lost a BLOODY GREAT DEAL more than they would have gained through their shady activities..

Precautionary note: When relating these stories to a colleague, he found them intensely boring. It's probably me. But they really do make for compelling reading. The scam itself is not too innovative, but the retaliation that follows is simply awesome.

This one has the most violent response ever. It actually gets physical here. And interestingly, this case has a Wikipedia entry too. The 'scamster' does end up apologizing, but not out of any feeling of guilt, more out of fear for his life.

Lesson learnt: NEVER mess with road rashers. Even online. Especially if you're a snotty brat.

Orbitz, an Internet travel company (damned if they're getting any PageRank through my blog!) based in Chicago, decided to sell Maddox an 'impossible itinerary', accepted their error, and refused to refund him. This guy's really popular, and puts up his experience on his site. Immediate result: MASSIVE losses to Orbitz. Then Orbitz actually tries to justify their stance by attempting to discredit Maddox's claims, only to end up going "Ow, ow, ow...ooohhh bullet in foot hurts ooohhh". And losing still more customers.

Lesson learnt: None. Orbitz still hasn't issued an apology. Unless you count some random fake email Maddox received. But on some level, they're now more wary of who they decide to screw over.

(This, I found through Slashdot) This is very similar to the regular online shopping scam deals. Guy orders dirt cheap camera, only to be taken for a ride he's not likely to forget. PriceRitePhoto, the retailer in question (once again, no PageRank from here, dude) is gradually being de-listed from various shopping sites, and the icing on the cake would be that it's also been reported to the New York State Attorney-General's office. Read the comments on the Slashdot post for more horror stories.

Lesson learnt: Listen to good ol' Abe when he says, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Thursday 1 December 2005

Fun with avatars

Yahoo! Avatars is definitely something to be checked out, if only for its initial "oooh-there's-an-interesting-widget" value.

I did notice one really, really interesting thing. I'm not sure if Y! did this intentionally or not. When customizing your avatar, you get to pick a hairstyle. Y! Avatars offers you FOUR pages of hairstyles alone, so I decided to go through them all. And what do I see? The fourth (and last) page has only one hairstyle.

Yup, you guessed it - 'No hair'. Egghead!