Recovering Pictures from a Formatted Memory Card



Zero Assumption Recovery

Oops! You formatted your SD memory card and deleted all those pictures and music. There are a few things to get your files back. First, do not use the memory card for anything. Don’t put it back in your camera or phone. This will prevent you from overwriting the data on the memory card. In order to recover the files, you will need to connect the memory card on your computer. If you don’t have an SD card slot on your computer, get a SanDisk ImageMate All-in-1 Flash Memory Card Reader. After you connect the memory card on your computer the next step is to run some software.

Download and install zero assumption recovery tool. There is a free trial but it will only let you drill down 4 levels deep into folders. If your pictures are important to you should shell out the $30 for the software. The website has a tutorial that explains exactly how to use the software.

Barnes and Noble Nook Review

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I got my wife a Barnes and Noble Nook for Christmas… well I ordered it before Christmas. It shipped some time in January. In any case, I was really deciding between the Nook and the Amazon Kindle. Both of them were priced the same so it was a matter of the features that was going to determine the winner. They both have the same basic functionality such as E-Ink paper-like greyscale display, free wireless network access to download books, approximatly the same size screen and weight, and the ability to play mp3s. Some key features that I thought were an advantage over the Kindle:

  • Andrioid OS
  • Expandable memory slot (you have to remove the back cover to get to it)
  • PDF and EPUB format native support
  • 802.11b Wireless (only for use at B&N… for now)
  • replaceable battery
  • Small Color LCD screen (Menu and displays book covers…in color)

The Andriod OS has been making a splash on phones and many apps have been written for it. It is also fairly open which it was not a surprise when I found out that they hacked to nook to play Pandora over the free AT&T wireless network. Add the expandable memory slot with the 802.11b wireless capablitity and the possibilities are endless. Ok, maybe I’m overdoing it. The fact that you have a free AT&T wireless connection and an Android OS based device appeals to the hacker in me.

As far as reading ebooks, it does what is expected. You can adjust the font, font size and contrast so text is easier to see. Reading PDFs are as easy as connecting the nook to you PC via USB and copying the PDF to the mydocuments folder on the Nook’s internal memory storage. While you have your Nook connected, you can add some family photos to the mybackgrounds folder to see a grayscale version of your photo as a screen saver. You could also add some MP3 to listen to while you read, but at mono sound and with all the other mp3 players available, why bother. Since the Nook only uses battery to change the text on the screen and to power to tiny LCD screen, the battery life is  long as expected (days between charges). However, I noticed that if you have an extending reading session, like my wife sometimes does, you will have to charge it sooner than expected. One issue I had was the Nook would not charge when using the AC adapter, but it did charge using the USB directly to the PC. I called B&N support and after talking to an English speaking person, they shipped me a new AC adapter at no charge and with no hassle.

If you are considering an iPad versus a Nook for reading e-books, you are comparing apples to oranges. There is a distinct difference between an Apple iPad and the Kindle or Nook. That is the back-lit screen. There is a camp of people that can not spend an extended period of time reading text on a monitor or LCD. That’s why e-book readers have an advantage over a netbook or PDA. The e-ink technology is as close to reading paper as you can get and the battery life sweetens the deal. If you can spend hours reading on a monitor, don’t bother getting an e-book reader. Go out and get yourself a netbook or drop extra cash on the latest Apple gadget.

That said, the additional features on the Nook was the deciding factor in the battle of the e-readers. The only thing that I am worried about is how the Kindle market share will effect the number of ebooks available for Nook. Hope my decision pays off. Only time will tell.

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Query notification processing failed due to a sql exception

We got this SCOM error last week along with a ton of the following warnings. Microsoft claims that this is a known issue that was supposed to be fixed with SCOM 2007 SP1 / SCOM 2007 R2, but I still encountered it running R2.

Event Type: Error
Event Source: DataAccessLayer
Event Category: None
Event ID: 26308
Date:  3/11/2010
Time:  11:30:01 AM
User:  N/A
Computer:
Description:
Query notification processing failed due to a sql exception.

System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: A transport-level error has occurred when receiving results from the server. (provider: TCP Provider, error: 0 – The semaphore timeout period has expired.)
at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection.OnError(SqlException exception, Boolean breakConnection)
at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlInternalConnection.OnError(SqlException exception, Boolean breakConnection)
at System.Data.SqlClient.TdsParser.ThrowExceptionAndWarning(TdsParserStateObject stateObj)
at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand.CheckThrowSNIException()
at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand.InternalEndExecuteReader(IAsyncResult asyncResult, String endMethod)
at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand.EndExecuteReader(IAsyncResult asyncResult)
at Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.Mom.DataAccess.QueryNotificationManager.HandleNotifications(Object state)

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Health Service Modules
Event Category: Data Warehouse
Event ID: 31569
Date:  3/11/2010
Time:  11:30:03 AM
User:  N/A
Computer:
Description:
Report deployment process failed to request management pack list from Data Warehouse. The operation will be retried.Exception ‘InvalidConnectionException’: ExecuteScalar requires an open and available Connection. The connection’s current state is closed.

One or more workflows were affected by this.

Workflow name: Microsoft.SystemCenter.DataWarehouse.Deployment.Report
Instance name:
Instance ID: {A18674C9-F1A9-98DA-3B94-DD88EAE278FB}
Management group:

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: HealthService
Event Category: None
Event ID: 2115
Date:  3/11/2010
Time:  11:30:39 AM
User:  N/A
Computer:
Description:
A Bind Data Source in Management Group has posted items to the workflow, but has not received a response in 61 seconds.  This indicates a performance or functional problem with the workflow.
Workflow Id : Microsoft.SystemCenter.CollectDiscoveryData
Instance    :
Instance Id : {A18674C9-F1A9-98DA-3B94-DD88EAE278FB}
For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: HealthService
Event Category: None
Event ID: 2115
Date:  3/11/2010
Time:  11:30:39 AM
User:  N/A
Computer:
Description:
A Bind Data Source in Management Group  has posted items to the workflow, but has not received a response in 61 seconds.  This indicates a performance or functional problem with the workflow.
Workflow Id : Microsoft.SystemCenter.CollectAlerts
Instance    :
Instance Id : {A18674C9-F1A9-98DA-3B94-DD88EAE278FB}
For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: HealthService
Event Category: None
Event ID: 2115
Date:  3/11/2010
Time:  11:30:39 AM
User:  N/A
Computer:
Description:
A Bind Data Source in Management Group  has posted items to the workflow, but has not received a response in 61 seconds.  This indicates a performance or functional problem with the workflow.
Workflow Id : Microsoft.SystemCenter.CollectPerformanceData
Instance    : yksc1s3.ehit.org
Instance Id : {A18674C9-F1A9-98DA-3B94-DD88EAE278FB}

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: HealthService
Event Category: None
Event ID: 2115
Date:  3/11/2010
Time:  11:31:18 AM
User:  N/A
Computer:
Description:
A Bind Data Source in Management Group  has posted items to the workflow, but has not received a response in 61 seconds.  This indicates a performance or functional problem with the workflow.
Workflow Id : Microsoft.SystemCenter.CollectEventData
Instance    :
Instance Id : {A18674C9-F1A9-98DA-3B94-DD88EAE278FB}
For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: HealthService
Event Category: None
Event ID: 2115
Date:  3/11/2010
Time:  11:31:18 AM
User:  N/A
Computer:
Description:
A Bind Data Source in Management Group  has posted items to the workflow, but has not received a response in 61 seconds.  This indicates a performance or functional problem with the workflow.
Workflow Id : Microsoft.SystemCenter.CollectSignatureData
Instance    : yksc1s3.ehit.org
Instance Id : {A18674C9-F1A9-98DA-3B94-DD88EAE278FB}
For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

This is caused by a high number of sql queries to the Datawarehouse database. The work around is to add an override for the Event Data Collector rule in the Data warehouse connection server scope.
The Execution Attempt Timeout Interval Seconds property was changed from 0 to 6 and the Max Execution Attempt Count was set from 0 to 10. Restart the System Center service on the RMS and any gateway servers.

 

How Not to Upgrade Your Wireless Router


The other day I was having some performance issues on my network, so I decided to see if there was an update to my Linksys router’s firmware. It’s a good idea to update your firmware occasionally since the manufacture can fix bugs, add functionality, and increase security and performance. Check your router’s documentation on how to update the firmware.
On my Linksys router, I open a browser and type the router’s IP address (192.168.1.1 is the default on a Linksys router). Download the firmware file from the Linksys website. The router administration page displays, among other things, the current firm version of the router.  My router was version 1.02.6 and the latest was 1.02.7 so I decide to upgrade it. As part of the firmware upgrade process, the router will restart itself after the update.

The upgrade was successful according to the status page. The router restarted and my web browser refreshed to the administration page that I was on before. Here’s where things got interesting.

I noticed that after the upgrade my the firmware version on the router was 1.01.6 and not 1.02.7 as I expected. I thought that this was strange. “Did I download the wrong firmware file?”, I thought. So I re-downloaded the file and started the firmware upgrade process from the same page, just as I did before.

This is when I noticed the wireless signal strength bars at the bottom of my taskbar were low. Usually, they are full. That’s when I realized I was not connected to my router. I was upgrading my neighbor’s router!! Luckily it came back up fine.

The mistake I made was upgrading my firmware via wireless. So when my router restarted, my computer automatically connected to an unsecured wireless connection. Coincidentally, this was the same router I was using and I was the screens that I would have seen on my router.  The lesson learned here is to connect your computer to a wired Ethernet port if you are going to upgrade your router.

SCOM 2007 Stopped Receiving Alerts


I noticed one day that I stopped getting any SCOM alerts in my System Center Operation Manager 2007 R2 environment. As part of my troubleshooting I found a ton of the following warnings in the Operations Manager Event Viewer. I contacted Microsoft tech support and discovered that my RMS was in maintenance mode. I had put my RMS in maintenance mode for 30 minutes when I did some windows updates, but it never come out of it. After stopping maintenance mode and re-starting the System Center Management service on the Root Management Server, alerts started coming in again. The Microsoft tech told me that you should never put your RMS in maintenance mode and when I asked to have some documentation where it said that, he said it does not exist. This a tip that they have discovered in their troubleshooting. During this time the RMS was unable to process agent requests, so the agent holds on to the notifications in a buffer until it can communicate with the RMS again. If you are getting this warning on the RMS there is a good chance that you lost any alerts that the agent was unable to store in the buffer.

Event Type:      Warning

Event Source:   OpsMgr Connector

Event Category:            None

Event ID:          20058

Date:                2/6/2010

Time:                2:00:17 PM

User:                N/A

Computer:

Description:

The Root Connector has received bad packets which have been dropped. It received 8374 such packet(s) in the last five minutes

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

What to do before you run AntiSpyware software

funny-pictures-virus-cat
Does your Windows machine feel more sluggish than usual? Are you getting little notifications on your taskbar that “You may not be protected”? You may have spyware or malware running a muck on your pc. Malware is getting increasingly crafty and find new places to hide and make it very difficult to get rid of. Some malware even disables your anti-virus protection to avoid being detected. The best way to deal with spyware and malware is stop them from running so anti-virus and anti-spyware programs can better clean your machine. Here are a few steps and places to check to stop spyware and malware before you run a scan.

1. Boot into Safe Mode

Booting into safe mode starts the computer with a minimum set of programs and drivers, which means some Spyware won’t run either. Restart the computer and hit the F8 key repeatedly before Windows starts. Choose Safe Mode when presented with a menu.

2. Log in as administrator

Don’t login with your normal user name. Your profile will automatically run some programs that you are not aware of and that includes malware. Once you have cleaned up your machine a bit you can then login with your account to finish cleaning. If your computer automatically logs in, Click start and Log Off. After you are at the logon screen, hit Ctlr+Alt+Del twice to bring up the user dialog box. Type in administrator and hit Enter since the password should be blank. If this doesn’t work, just login with you account. We’ll still get’em.

3. Edit or Replace your host file windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file

This file bypasses DNS and can be used by malware to redirect you to a malicious website. When you type citibank.com it could be taking you to a site that looks like citibank but isn’t. Unless you have a good reason to have any data in this file it is better to delete the contents of the file. Go to Windows\system32\drivers\etc\ and double click on the hosts file. Choose notepad as the program to open this with. Highlight and delete the information in this file and save it.

4. Check the corners of you registry.

Before editing the registry you should save a backup of it. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322756

Note: you need to log in to each user account on the computer and check the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry key for each user since it will be different for each user that logs in or you risk getting infected again after that user logs on.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices]
“Program”=”c:\runfolder\program.exe”

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServicesOnce]
“Program”=”c:\runfolder\program.exe”

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]
“Program”=”c:\runfolder\program.exe”

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce]
“Program”=”c:\runfolder\program.exe”

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]
“Program”=”c:\runfolder\program.exe”

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce]
“Program”=”c:\runfolder\program.exe”

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices]
“Program”=”c:\runfolder\program.exe”

These reg keys will run programs. The key should have a default value of Value “%1 %*”, if this is changed to “program.exe %1 %*”, the program.exe will be executed EVERYTIME an exe/pif/com/bat/hta is executed.

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\comfile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\batfile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\htafile\Shell\Open\Command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\piffile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\CLASSES\batfile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\CLASSES\comfile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\CLASSES\exefile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\CLASSES\htafile\Shell\Open\Command] @=”\”%1\” %*”
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\CLASSES\piffile\shell\open\command] @=”\”%1\” %*”

Explorer start-up:

Explorer runs your start menu and desktop and start every time you start windows. Check to see if the registry is pointing to explorer.exe or if it is pointed to another executable.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon] Shell

Active-X Component:

This key starts the program that it has in its path BEFORE the explorer.exe file and any other program starts in your computer, so if you can understand why your antivirus can’t detect the virus when you boot up. It could even kill your antivirus software before your antivirus starts up.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\KeyName]
StubPath=C:\PathToFile\Filename.exe

5. Start Up

Here are the many places where programs get run at startup. Look at each item carefully. Find the name and path of the program that is being run. If you do not recognize it, search for it on the web to see if it is legit.

Look in the following folders and check that the registry entry to verify that they pointing to the default location listed

C:\windows\start menu\programs\startup

* [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders]
Startup=”C:\windows\start menu\programs\startup”

* [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders]
Startup=”C:\windows\start menu\programs\startup”

* [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\User Shell Folders]
“Common Startup”=”C:\windows\start menu\programs\startup”

* [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\Shell Folders]
“Common Startup”=”C:\windows\start menu\programs\startup”

6. Windows Scheduler:

Scheduled Tasks are a place where normally you can set a program or command to run at a certain time or every 5 minutes, so it’s a good place to check.

Go to Start-> Accessories-> System Tools-> Task Scheduler

Some tasks don’t show up in the GUI so in a command prompt type: “at”

Press enter.  You should see a list of tasks that are in the Task Scheduler GUI and some that may not.

7. Batch files

Open the following files in notepad and look for any odd programs that are listed. You can comment out the program by putting REM at the start of the line so it will be ignored.

c:\windows\winstart.bat

c:\Autoexec.bat

Removing  Spyware and viruses

After checking all these dark corners of you computer and removing any potentially malicious programs from starting, you are giving you anti-virus and anti-spyware software the best chance to find and remove the malware.

AVG Free is a good free Antivirus program that detects many types of malware as well as viruses. Three effective anti-spyware programs are Spybot Search & Destroy, Malware Bytes, and AdAware. One pass of each of these programs will clear your system of any unwanted processes slowing your machine down. Good Luck.

Green Christmas


As a parent, the part of Christmas that was the least fun was the cleaning up of packaging materials after opening the gift. The big clean up the day after Christmas was filled with bulky bags of plastic and styrofoam and impossible to open packaging. But this year I noticed the packaging using more cardboard for filler and recycled cardboard molds holding products in place instead of the plastic molds and styrofoam. Clean up this year was easier than previous years since most of the cardboard was folded flat. I guess manufactures have been making this eco-friendly change for a while and I have never noticed until I saw many products being opened at once. I hope this trend keeps up.

HTC Touch Pro 2 Review


htc-touch-pro2-verizon

My wife recently had a chance to use the HTC Touch Pro 2 and this is what she had to say about it:

I tested the HTC Touch Pro 2 over the past month.  My first impression of the phone was that it was surprisingly heavy.  I don’t mind electronics that have some heft to them, the phone seems sturdy, well put together and I don’t wince every time I place the phone down or worry about carrying it around.  The phone is easy to hold and comfortable in my hand.  The phone also felt a lot thicker than what I’m used to, a little bulky and cumbersome in my hand if I were to flip it over.

The screen is really bright and very vivid on the phone.  It is definitely eye catching and the home screen has a huge clock which I really enjoy.  Sometimes, the simple things being right up front and at-a-glance are really important.  The screen is crystal clear and sharp.  The navigation at the bottom of the screen takes some getting used to, and with my settings I found that moving from the mail icon to the settings icon a bit sticky and not as fluid as I would like from time to time.  However, maneuvering through the menu from the home screen is intuitive.  The screen reorients itself based on flipping it sidewise fairly quickly in most instances.

Pushing the phone open to access the keyboard isn’t as smooth as I would have expected, you have to push a little harder and I was almost afraid something was wrong with the phone until I adjusted to it.  I think I would’ve appreciated a smoother opening.  However, the keyboard is worth the effort, the keys have just the right “feel”, they are at the right sensitivity and the spaces between the keys are prefect, I rarely find myself mistyping.  The phone also has a vibrant virtual keyboard, which is easy to use but I preferred actually touching typing with my thumbs.  I really enjoyed that the keyboard was in QWERTY format, I despise having to press a key 3 times to spell a word.

The phone is very customizable and most things that I would like to have “my” way were not difficult to find, although I would have liked to easily order the applications from the “Start” screen.  It is also odd that while 4 rows of icons fit easily on the screen, one cannot read the last line of text under the fourth row. Browsing the internet was an enjoyable experience, I went to some graphic intensive websites and they looked really sharp, even when I would zoom in quite close.  Video on the Touch Pro is impressive and fun. What is not impressive, however, it the camera.  Photos look grainy, too dark regardless of the light settings, washed out and dull.  It was a major disappointment considering how well most everything else works on the phone.

Overall, I enjoyed using the HTC Touch Pro 2.  Using it inspired me to upgrade from a typical cell phone to get a smart phone of my own.

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HTC Imagio Review


htc-imagio-verizon

My first impression of the Verizon HTC Imagio was how similar it physically looked like the iPhone. It’s a light and compact phone running Windows Mobile 6.5. The single touch surface was responsive and the phone overall had decent speed. Unlocking the screen lock is similar to the The screen is bright and make viewing pictures and watching video very enjoyable. The camera is great for both still and video shots and it appeared to have camera stablizer which took some great shots even when the phone was shaky. The internet browsing when connected to a local WiFi hotspot was easy and better than expected. I had a good experience veiwing webpages in their entirety including java scripts and flash. Internet browsing was not so fun on the 3G network but it got the job done in a pinch. The on-screen keyboard was just barely usable for someone with big fingers, but there was always the stylus to fall back on. The expandable microSD memory slot is only accessible by removing the back cover, but the extra storage is nice for video, pictures and music. The Imagio also has a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, which let you use any set of headphones.

Imagio Kickstand
Imagio Kickstand

I found the “kick stand” curious at first but I did find it useful when watching a video on my desk. This phone was surprisingly short on battery life. An AC adapter was included, but my primary mode of charging was usb to the PC and I’m not sure if that effected battery life. The Verizon coverage is good, but I occasionally get crackle or break up. Mail and text services worked as expected. The NotifyLink software did not seem to install properly on this phone, so I was not able to test it. Overall it is a sleek phone that has all the productivity and entertainment functions you want.
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XFX GeForce SLI Card Failure


xfx-GeForce-9800GT

A few days ago the fan on one of the XFX nVidia GeForce 8800GS Alpha Dog cards in my gaming rig died. There are a pair of them in a SLI configuration and when the fan died on one, it overheated and shut down the system. As a safe gaurd, the system would not turn on with the bad card installed.

At first I thought it was the power supply. I got a RMA on the Ultra 650W power supply and got a 750W upgrade. After replacing the PS, the system would still not even post. So as part of troubleshooting, I stripped the system down to minimum components (No hard drive, single memory stick, one video card). The system booted with one video card installed, and started beeping at me with the other card installed.

I contacted XFX to get my 1 year old video card replaced/fixed. I an RMA for the card and XFX determined it was a faulty card. No sooner that I got the email from XFX about the faultly card, the other card went bad. I actually heard the fan come to a screeching halt. XFX informed me that they no longer make the 8800GS card and offered me a free upgrade to the GeForce 9800GT! Before they even knew the second card went south, XFX offered a free RMA upgrade to a 9800GT for the second card since they were in an SLI configuration. So kudos to XFX for standing behind their products and offering great service.

 

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