Recovering Files with Runtime Software’s GetDataBack

I like to think I am fairly decent at data recovery, or I used to be, though I have not really had a need in more recent times, and being “fairly decent” is mostly, “Knowing where to find what tools to use.” It’s not like I am out here replacing drive power boards or, I don’t know, manually laser imaging disc platters or something. I used to use a piece of software called R-Studio. I am not sure it even really exists anymore. Whatever the case, the key I have for that is from a version from the mid-2000s.

It’s… Like 20 years old…

Fuck I am old.

….

Anyway, my experience with R-Studio was pretty great, I mostly used it in my old office IT job. We bought a copy when one night the automation system we used to run the TV station had a drive failure. Reprogramming it would have been a bitch (but doable). I pulled the PC out, we thought about our options and went with this data recovery route. The drive was able to be reimaged onto a good drive and the system was up and running again.

Yay.

Over the years I used it pretty regularly to recover crashed laptops from coworkers. Generally just the Documents and PST files in those cases though. It was also useful for my own drives and drives of people I knew.

The years, however, made me a bit jaded about being IT Support for everyone I had ever met. There are quite a few jokes about this around online, and it’s true. These days, I basically will just “play dumb” because if you fix one problem for one neighbor, now you will be fixing everyone’s PC issues.

And let me tell you, that is often self-inflicted on what those issues are, which is worse than dealing with real technical problems. Sorry I can’t recover your Pentium, no I can’t make it run Facebook Faster, it’s just too old.

Anyway, at one point I lost some family photos when an external drive crashed on me. This caused two things to happen. One, I will never ever buy a USB drive again, or at least not trust them with important data. I am talking about things like those Seagate drives that have a TB or more that plug into the wall and your PC. It doesn’t help that they also are designed in a way that the plastic housing can’t be removed easily and often requires DESTROYING the housing to recover them. Two, it caused me to get serious about backup, and the cloud. I have used a few different services over the years, but for a long time, I have been at the point where my entire house could burn to the ground and my data would be safe and recoverable.

I have a cloud-synced backup with some versioning and the whole “recycle bin” option in One Drive and I keep an incremental backup on a hard drive in a static bag in a fire safe in the house. Plus all the data is in a RAID on my NAS.

But I don’t back up EVERYTHING. That would be too much data because I am a bit of a data hoarder. And a lot of the non-essential stuff gets stored on an assortment of “dodgy drives” that I have collected over the years from a variety of places. For example, I am currently using my previous “Degraded per Synology” NAS drive as a base to build a PLEX server. I mean, it didn’t technically fail, Synology just didn’t like it, and so I replaced it in the NAS, and now it’s a 4TB drive that, is probably mostly still sort of good.

Anyway, I had one of those USB drives that I mentioned above as having sworn off that was previously working for this task. My wife goes to a LOT of estate sales as part of her business and I often tag along. At one I found this drive stuck buried on a bookshelf, so I bought it for like $5. I figured it was probably good, and it worked, for a bit. But as they usually seem to do, this sucker decided to die on me.

I tried to see if I could get it to read with some Linux tools, but I had little luck. I went online looking for data recovery tools and remembered using straight search is a bad idea for this because it’s going to be 99% “articles” from companies recommending their own software. So I went to Reddit, and had GetDataBack suggested.

I downloaded it and it managed to detect the drive and files. I decided to bite the bullet and paid for the full version, which is not cheap at $80, but I have some other drives I could run through this and it’s a “lifetime license” so I will eventually feel like I am getting my money’s worth.

And it’s working just great. The only real problem I am having is that it won’t recover to a network drive and my PC’s internal drive does not have 2TB of space on it, so I have to recover things in chunks, then copy it over to its final storage place. Well, that and the normal issues that come with a failed/failing drive where sometimes things get hung up and just don’t recover. The interface is straightforward and nice as well, though not super pretty.

Like I said, I am sure I will get my money’s worth. I have a drive that was my brother’s somewhere that I can try to recover. I also have some NVME drives that I will need to get a USB hook up for, but I wouldn’t mind trying to get data back off of those.

Weekly Wrap Up (01.14.2024 to 01.20.2024)

Hey yo, not dead, just busy mostly. I forget if I mentioned it at all before, but starting right off at the beginning of the year I started doing some night classes through a work deal, so that has been eating up a lot of time. They run 3 nights a week for like 5 hours. The last one is on Tuesday though, so that will be over, until the next one I’ve signed up for at the end of February.

The class currently is a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Administrator) prep class. I am pretty sure it also includes taking the exam at least once. It’s a Zoom class with an actual instructor, none of this self-paced online class stuff, like I normally do. It’s kind of weird being in a class like this, it’s been a while since I had an actual in-person class of any kind. My training for work was kind of that, I think I had a very brief Cloud Computing one a few years ago, and other than that was in college, back 20+ years ago.

It’s interesting, I already know some of it or know the general idea of some of it. My overall Achilles heel on this sort of thing is I am very very bad at “Industry jargon”. I can tell you the dookicky connects to the whoosits and I understand the what and the why of it doing it’s thing, but when it comes to actual terminology, I tend to lose it a bit. This is on a bit of a sliding scale though for how actually relevant it is. If the jargon is relevant and meaningful, I can usually remember it, when you get off into things like, corporate inspiring double speak jargon, I completely glaze over and don’t even hear it.

The future class and a third that I am on a waitlist for because it may already be full, will be much more interesting I think. And much more in line with any sort of potential “career pivot” in the future (look at me, using jargon like a pro!). The one I’m signed up for is Pen Testing for Cybersecurity, and the one I’m on the waitlist for is prep for some cybersecurity exam.

Notice I can’t remember the names of these certs, because, for the most part, certs fall into that “out there abstract jargon” area. It’s like this weird, pay-to-win gray area between self-paced learning and an actual university-level diploma or some sort of official license. I actually have the latter two, FWIW, a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I am (I think) a licensed Engineering Intern (I think it doesn’t expire). If I ever got a job working under a Professional Engineer, after 5 years I could take another test and become a licensed Professional Engineer.

Anyway, aside from class stuff, the most exciting recent developments has been with my car. Two things, one, for at least a year now, the heating/cooling has been out of whack. I mostly just sort of dealt with it. I tried a few things, like changing some fuses and relays, adding coolant, etc. I finally scheduled with a mechanic to get it checked, and I suspected a leak in the coolant line, which it was. But, a week ago, a week before the mechanic was scheduled, we got this horrible winter storm and the battery died died. I’m actually not sure I’ve ever changed the battery in this car, I probably have though. It’s 9 years old now, give or take, and just under 100,000 miles.

This battery thing wouldn’t have been a huge issue except that one, it’s been freezing ass cold out, which makes it hard to get outside and pull the old one out. And two, I’ve been taking the above-mentioned night classes, which eats up the daylight time I had. I think Tuesday, after work, I pulled the old battery out, Wednesday I took it over to AutoZone on my lunch break to get checked. It was dead dead as expected. The AutoZone tech, looked up the new battery, and then suggested I could “pay quite a bit less elsewhere” and suggested a few other places in town. Which was nice of him, though I don’t think he quite understood his job.

Anyway, Thursday, the day before my car appointment, I went to a local battery shop around the corner from work, the first suggested place to go. Online reviews said it was the best place in town and they sell Exide batteries for very affordable prices. Irritatingly, they were closed, they were supposed to be open, according to the signage, but the door was locked and no one was around. So I rushed over to the second option, at the farm store a bit farther away. Got the new battery, stuck it in, and sure enough, car started just fine.

Then Friday I got the heating fixed, and it’s quite nice to have heat again in my car. There was a leak in the temperature sensor housing area. Cost a couple hundred for the part and then another couple hundred for labor, but it was overall about what I had hoped to pay. The place seemed decent as well, so I’ll have to go there if possible in the future when I need a mechanic. My old mechanic is down in Pana where I used to live, and my wife’s father, who was also a mechanic and did some work on our vehicles, passed away a few years ago.

Oh, and I got a new phone at the start of the year, I don’t think I mentioned the phone yet. I went with a 2023 Motorola Edge+. I’ll post more on that later, maybe, probably.

Journaling in Public and Journaling in Private

Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different methods for writing. Pen and paper way in the past. Microsoft Word for a while, because, that’s what Word is for right? Windows Live Writer was a good one for a while, though it’s been discontinued, there is an open-source iteration called Open Live Writer. Sometimes I’ll just write right in the WordPress editor. I was writing into OneNote for a while.

These days I’m much more into controlling my data, well, I’ve kind of always been into that, but lately, it’s about formats. I am constantly trying to reorganize my files into the best format for the long term, and more recently, I compiled all my writing together into one blob in a folder called “Journal”. Well, some of it is just under “Writing”, but things like, well, this post, off-the-cuff, free flow of thought random writing about nothing, are in the Journal folder. A lot of it came from some old blog archives and WordPress exports. I wrote a little Python Script that would spit out a series of Markdown files with appropriate file names from a WordPress XML file a while back.

It’s not perfect, it converts some of the most obvious syntax changes, but others are just, left as HTML code. The spirit of the writing is there, and that’s what matters. Plus, I don’t use a ton of fancy formatting, so those leftovers are not that common. During this time I also comb through and collected and sorted all my reviews and other writings from over the years. These are the things that don’t go in “Journal”. A lot of them I reposted to Lameazoid.com in a cleaned-up format, which took a while, especially when gathering up the images again. Some stuff like my shitty lame fan-fics from the early 2000s and other little stories aren’t currently posted anywhere.

After getting it all organized, I reworked my flow around the new system. Which is probably the best one yet. Everything is sorted by year, the files have my usual, YYYY.MM.DD – Description format I use all over for file naming. I have an additional folder called WIP, for “Work In Progress” writing. Vague ideas that have not been fleshed out, sometimes they are just empty files with a description to remind myself “I wanted to write about that.”

Step one is to come into this WIP folder, and create a new Markdown file with a name, sometimes a date, or a vague date like YYYY.MM.

Markdown is the format of choice here. It allows for some formatting, which makes it more useful than a text file. But it also it’s just raw data, like a text file. No proprietary formatting, no funny characters, no extra hidden returns and paragraphs and line breaks or code. The most formatting I do is bolding headings and italicizing titles when appropriate.

Once written, I can easily copy and paste it into WordPress and throw in a few images if needed.

I also have started using Joplin for notes, and more secure private writing. It’s something I started last year, I think. Joplin is just a note-taking app that uses Markdown as its base. I keep a lot of what I used to use One Note for, though I still also use One Note. It’s nice because it syncs through One Drive, so I can access it across devices, but it’s all encrypted. Joplin contains ideas, lists, and journals made on the go, or sometimes just, on the toilet, where a phone is more handy.

The lists are pretty basic. I have lists of log-ins for various games, especially games where I have more than one account. There are lists of media to look into, sorted by type, music, books, movies, tv shows, video games, etc.

The journal part is just like any other journaling, but a bit more… we’ll say personal. Dumb dream notes, venting of frustrations, and some WIP blogs here and there. I keep anything I don’t really care about anyone else ever reading in the Journal folder, I keep things I might care about people reading in Joplin. Occasionally I clean out some of the regular Journal writing into my folder system, just to keep the Joplin list cleaner.

The real key to all of this is two things. It’s all in a simple clear format, Markdown. It’s also all backed up, in this case, through the NAS, through One Drive. Since it’s all small text files now, it also means I don’t care about just syncing this One Drive folder to everything. I converted quite a few .doc files and the space savings were pretty substantial, especially since it’s all just basic text that doesn’t need everything that Word has. The backup is the most important part though.

2023 Daylio and A Year of Moods

I mentioned my huge 5-year streak on Duolingo, but it’s not the biggest streak I have going in an app. The other app I use daily has it beat by an entire year, at 2190 Days, or 6 years. That app is the mood-tracking app Daylio. I may have actually gotten a code from the developer for this app off of Reddit when it first launched, I don’t remember. I know I heard about it on Reddit when someone posted about developing it. It’s changed over the years, but not as annoyingly as Duolingo has.

Side note: I went looking into when this app launched, and while I didn’t find it (I didn’t look super hard), it seems it has gotten a bit pricey with a subscription or a $60+ “Lifetime membership”. I like the app, but that seems like a bit much. However, it is part of the Google Play Subscription thing, which is much more affordable and pretty nice, I’ll probably blog about it at some point. I have a paid lifetime (for maybe $5) on my old Google account but I recently got a new phone and I’m trying to shift everything to my other Google Account and I’m not sure I would rebuy this at $60. Especially since everything is local, it’s not server-based as far as I can tell, I think it uses your own Google Drive as the backend and I had to export/import to transfer my data.

ANYWAY.

Year in review. I like this app, though I admit, I’m not sure what the data is really telling me or what to really do with the data. I’ve been trying to use some of the newer features like photos and actual notes. With my previously mentioned new phone, I am trying the whole “Selfie every day” thing, though I don’t post them anywhere. This app may be a good place, along with maybe a quick bullet list of what I accomplished for the day.

I also have a whole slew of sorted custom activities and moods going in this app.

Generally speaking, my moods were mostly “Meh” to “Ok”. I try to keep things fairly honest, I think I’ve had maybe like, 2 of the absolutely terrible days since I started using the app, and probably fewer than 5 “Perfect Days”. I can say that my “Perfect Days” are almost always, exclusively, days when I went to concerts. On this chart here, on August 13th I went to see Alanis Morrissette, and on September 23rd, I saw Lauren Mayberry. Both the two max level mood days.

Basically, if I’m having a normal “good day” I pick 4/5, usually with “Mostly Ok”, other days, more often, I pick 3/5, with “Meh”. Maybe “meh” is bad I suppose, because it’s basically indifference. “Meh” feels like the most common, and this year it is, but “Mostly OK” is surprisingly up there. Most of the 2/5 days are “kind of shitty days” with a custom mood of “Meh but worse”. 2/5 also has a custom mood for “sick” when is usually used when I’m not feeling well. There are a lot of other custom moods I’ve set up, but these are the most common ones used.

For activities, I definitely use “Family” the most, but this is basically just, “Was I at home, and interacted with my family at all.” Which is basically every day, but sometimes not because someone went out of town. I also put “Gaming” pretty frequently, because it’s a bit of a catch-all. If I just check my dailies in Sky, I’ll put “gaming”. I have other more specific additions for games I play, or in some cases, used to play, more frequently. In contrast to this, I have one for “Learn Language” but if I make minimal effort in Duolingo, I don’t enter this. This is for “Extra effort” days.

Another frequently used entry is “Computer Stuff”, which is a catch-all, usually if I use the computer at all, but often if it’s kind of aimless like sorting files or something. The other, related, is “coding” which is any time I do any sort of programming. Another common one is “shopping” which can be anything from “I went to Target at lunch to look for toys” to “I went shopping for Groceries after work”. I don’t count online shopping though.

A pair I often use, especially on weekends or vacations are “Lazy” and “Relax”. These are mostly the same thing, but the difference is essentially, how well I feel about doing it. Relax usually means more “I did some productive things, but also things I enjoy,” and Lazy means “I did some things, but feel like I kind of wasted the day”. Lazy is more likely to be accompanied by a lower mood score.

I have a lot of others, but I often forget to enter them, which I should try to get better about. There are also some residual ones in there from when I was trying to track habits better. For a while, I would do a morning entry and an evening entry, and the morning entry including habits like remembering to take my morning medication and vitamins. Partly this was to help push the habit since I hadn’t had any regular meds at the time. PS, it’s nothing super critical, an allergy pill, and an omeprazole for acid reflux.

I also tend to miss adding activities I do later at night or more often before bed. These are things like reading, sometimes watching movies, etc. The reminder goes off at 8PM, and I’m more likely to do some of these missed activities later than that.

While my “Mood stability” here seems pretty good, I will say that it’s down from the previous year. I won’t lie, I can tell. The main issue I can kind of see rising out of this sort of tracking is that over time, as the indifference rises, the scores will converge on “Meh.” This kind of touches on what I mentioned before about maybe “meh” is worse. The good days are less, but also the bad days are less, because more days are simply “nothing days”.

I guess I am using this data a bit after all.

2023 Podcast Wrap-Up

I listen to a lot of Podcasts. I’ve been doing it for a very, very long time. Some have come and gone and some have been stalwarts in my line up. I’ve used a variety of Podcatcher apps, but this year, my current one, AntennaPod, gave me a little mini wrap up for the year. It seemed like a good time to talk about my Podcast habits.

This list has no surprises for me anyway. Other than I subscribed to ClubTWIT halfway through the year, so I kind of wonder if things would change any with the non Club versions of the shows added in. Probably not. Both TWIT shows are on top, and I listen to every episode of both.

This Week in Tech

I’ve listened to TWIT for longer than any other podcast. Since the mid 2000s sometime, probably around 2005 or 2006 or something. Quite possibly from the beginning. When I started listening, Leo was doing the shows from his home in proper Podcast fashion. There was no Brickhouse or video feeds or anything.

I listen to every episode except the yearly best-of shows, mostly because I have already heard all of it before, since I listen to every episode.

Windows Weekly

Another long term mainstay. I am pretty sure when I started listening, it was just Paul and Leo. Mary Jo Foley had not come on yet, and these days she has left and been replaced by Richard Campbell. I really enjoy Paul’s takes a lot, they tend to align with a lot of my own.

Random side note, a few years ago Paul Thurrott did a give away to clean out a bunch of stuff, and I got a copy of some version of Mac OSX from him. Which I find incredibly amusing because, you know, it’s Mac OS, not Windows. I kind of wish I could have gotten him to sign it for extra LOLZ.

WTF@TFW

I had a different Transformers podcast i used to listen to, that I can’t remember the name of at all now, but it ended, so I replaced it with WTF@TFW, which I’ve been listening to for a few years now. They used to alternate each week with different hosts, but one pair of hosts decided to stop doing the show, which kind of sucked because, while I like the line up now, I kind of preferred the other group, because I really liked Gogdog and Seth Buzzard.

If Books Could Kill

One that has become pretty popular recently. The two hosts basically mock a bunch of “self help” style books. They also have a Patreon only show that is a bit more of a broader range of topics which I also subscribe to.

Community Voices

A podcast from the local NPR station where the hosts talk to various people in the community. Of the shows I currently subscribe and listen to, which is basically just this list, I skip the most of these. Sometimes I just don’t find the topics interesting. Often they talk about local food places or music events in the area. It’s also more local to Springfield than Decatur, but it’s local enough.