Monthly Archives: April 2010

Linux to the Rescue (Again)

My secretary’s machine blue-screened a couple of days ago with a STOP 24 message, which tells you (or rather, doesn’t tell you) that either the disk or the filesystem is broken.

Crash 1 - Windows PC

Fortunately(!) we’d just gone through a couple of weeks restoring everything after a virus infestation, so there wasn’t much on it of value, except for the Quicken bookkeeping data.

I spent awhile learning about Windows recovery disks, and made a WinPE disk that I ought to have been able to boot off. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t, and — honestly — I don’t have time to figure out how to route around Microsoft stupidity.

Today, finally, I had a half hour to spare, so I extracted the hard drive from the Windows box, slapped it into an external USB housing, and connected it to my linux backup server. (Elapsed time: about 10 minutes. That’s too long, but I didn’t have a good phillips screwdriver and had to use my leatherman. Also I was flummoxed briefly by the easy-to-open case on the Dell Dimension 3000.)

Sadly, it didn’t automount on my desktop. I run Ubuntu 9.10, and have become accustomed to it “just working” no matter what I need doing. But apparently support for NTFS USB drives doesn’t come in the out-of-box configuration.

No matter. I hit the internet (specifically, I did a single Google search for “ubuntu external drive ntfs“) and found out I needed to install ntfs-config. The search and subsequent installation took about 2 minutes. I cycled the power on the external drive, and — voila! — there was the drive. I popped into terminal, ran a quick find|cpio, and Bob’s your uncle.

Funny Videos

I really enjoyed the Catalyst (West) conference again this year. I’m too old and its target audience is younger, etc., but there it is: I still enjoyed it.

One of the reasons I enjoyed it was Tripp and Tyler.

When a series of speakers challenge everything you think you know about a series of important topics, it’s useful to have some court-jester emcee types between them, to lighten things up. Otherwise you’ll just hunker down and miss everything the following speaker is saying.

Here’s an example of how it works: before Donald Miller came out to talk about whatever he had to say, Tripp and Tyler ran this video about him.

Last Laughs

My secretary’s PC crashed today. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, and didn’t have time to investigate. So I made some obnoxious Mac fanboy-type remarks about silly Microsoft and its sad excuses for operating systems. (Then I told her to make do as well as she could with a pencil and calculator.)

So this afternoon, my MacBook Pro BSOD’d on me:

Crash 2 - MacBook

Ah, snap! I really liked that email!

Which is pretty shocking. I’m not sure if this might be the first time it’s done that. I know I’ve seen this BSOD screen before today, but it might have been on the iMac at work, or the other Mac at home.

But I just got a second chance to study the phenomenon. Just as I was blogging the above, it panicked again:

Mac Crash 2

A BSOD, Apple-style

Twice. In one day. The day my secretary’s ancient PC belly-upped and I made superior remarks about the sad, sad mistake called Windows XP. Oh the irony of it all.

What the heck did Apple put in that last Security Update? Or was it Snow Leopard 10.6.3?

Blue Screens

Man, I’m sick of Windows. The secretary’s machine at church got infected with something a couple of weeks ago. I was only able to get rid of it by reinstalling Windows. I got an antivirus solution set-up and spent, well, a couple of hours, but it seemed like a month, uninstalling all the crap-ware and getting everything down to the bare minimum. My next project was to make a Ghost-type image, to avoid all that work the next time. But I don’t know how to make a Ghost image on Windows, so I put it off until I had a couple of hours to figure out what to do.

That was a bad decision. Today, we got this:

Crash 1 - Windows PC

The infamous Blue Screen of Death

And we got it every time we rebooted, early in the boot process. So early, I don’t know any way past it. So now I need to come up with some kind of recovery media and boot off that, and save all her data.

Then I need to migrate us away from using Quicken and replace it with some kind of cloud-based Web 2.0 service in its place.

And, honestly, if I get that far, then we’re replacing Windows with Linux, because Quicken is the last Windows-only app we use.

Playing with Evernote

It’s been popular for 2 years, so I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth getting excited about Evernote.

I like Dropbox a lot. (A whole lot, but that’s another story.)

I’ve experimented with Google and Yahoo sites as a way of storing information online, and it’s just too much, because they’re not really filing systems as much as authoring systems. I want something like Dropbox, but for odds and ends.

Posterous and Tumblr aren’t really filing systems either, and, at a glance, they don’t really work for private information.

So I’m experimenting with Evernote. I’m intrigued with its purported ability to OCR text off the images I upload.

(D’oh! that reminds me: I figured out, eventually, how to get Tesseract working. It was about a half day of work, but when I finished, for the sample documents I fed it, it did better than I.R.I.S. Your mileage may vary. I need to locate and write up my notes.)