Monday, May 30, 2005

broadband ? Forums ? BellSouth ? 100Mbps DSL

broadband ? Forums ? BellSouth ? 100Mbps DSL

Rumors abound regarding the future of BellSouth's high speed network. With fiber to the curb already for a lot of newer subdivisions this could bode well for next gen speed upgrades. The only questions are, When? and How Much?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Verizon Fios - Thank You

Verizon Fios - Future Notification

As I stated a while back, the submit button on the form for information about fios did not work. It appears they caught the error and it is now working again. Yay!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

USB Hard Drives, NFTS, and MFT

USB Hard Drives, NFTS, and MFT

Seems to be an interesting issue that should become more common in the near future. Large USB and firewire based drives… and data corruption. Why?

Many people have data. They want it backed up. Tapes are (usually) slow and legacy technology, CDs are small nowadays almost to the point of floppy drives in the late ‘90s. DVDs are still pricy and also somewhat slow. Today you can buy a 120, 250, 300, or larger external drive and have fast movable storage. Great, eh?

Perhaps, as long as you plan for how to use it. Remember this is just a normal hard drive in an enclosure, of which almost none of them offer any sort of shock absorption. Most manufacturers are concerned with heat dissipation. Now you have a normal computer hard drive in an easily movable format... and one which people may actually move while the drive is spinning… eGads!

We began to explore the usage of these drives to get around a data storage crunch. Images of drives made for service grow exponentially each year along side Moore’s Law. Each year drives are bigger and people cram more files onto them, however even as drive sizes increase and prices fall, truly redundant network storage is still expensive.

We bought six (6) external USB/Firewire enclosures and large drives to store images on until the network groups are able to upgrade the SAN arrays (They just did this past year). To support the images and document storage needed. Great, fast portable drives to store and move data. Simple and cost effective right?

Well the first drive took a vacation. Not a terribly big issue, we plan on the drives failing usually not this soon (less than six weeks out). It is easily recoverable just means a loss of time to replicate the work which generated the data.

However, we are also looking deeper into the function of external drives. A drive failure could be just a manufacturing flaw, damage from shipping after manufacture, improper usage practices by the user, or some other uncataloged flaw. In this case with external drives there are 4-6 more points of failure which we needed to look into. Many we have not checked out before based on no actual need.

On the drive that failed the issue is a more problematic one… the partition structure was completely corrupted and in the first trace of the problem actually wiped out.

The drive was moved to a known good configuration; none of the partitions were seen. A blank drive according to the CPU. We used some hard drive recovery tools to recover the partition information. This worked, however mere minutes later the drive was corrupted again.

At this point we checked into the connection of the drive to the PC,

Was the cable damaged or loose?
What drive policies were assigned to the USB device?
Is the drive overheating?

All checks provided no answers. We then swapped USB cable just to be sure.

We were able to recover the logical partition not the primary, which is present and has a corrupted MFT (Master File Table) thus rendering any of the data inaccessible.

All check disk tools report the disk is fine (No impending hardware failures) all partition tools report the partition as either fine or corrupted, however those that report it corrupt (e.g. Partition Magic) are not able to reconstruct the data they just toss up a nifty little error message.

The drive was scanned with Ontrack to see if that would repair the MFT structure or if the data is lost from conventional (non-service related recovery) recovery means. This would not repair the MFT; however we were able to successfully extract data from the drive to another drive.

Based upon some quick research the some of the following are areas which can cause or contribute to these types of errors when used in a Windows environment.

Drive Policies
System Restore
Safe Hardware Removal

Proper planning and usage of these external large storage media is required to save yourself from a rather large data recovery bill or a lot of lost time and data… Take the time to think about what you are putting on the drives and whether you can afford to loose it when the drive fails. If not, come up with a different solution.

The following keyword search on Google, will generate a listing of results, the following are some of the interesting ones,

How do I repair a corrupt master file table?
Error Message: The File or Directory Is Corrupt...
Inside NTFS

Friday, May 20, 2005

Kent's Farewell

A few people gathered to say farewell to Kent. He is moving to the other side of the country. I managed to snag a shot of Karl taking a photo of Kent.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How do you take your music?

I take mine in many flavors. I have CDs, .MP3s, and .WMA files; I have not gotten esoteric enough to play with other file formats. I have looked at them, but as my collection grows I find it better to standardize on one or two formats, however as the collection grows it gets harder to consider converting to another format.

New music services are pushing .WMA files for the copy protection, .MP3s are the tried and true and have much greater device support (right now) than other formats, so I will stick with those for a while.

I currently take my music in the following ways,

1. Streaming – I privately stream my own collection to wherever I am. This is great, but is it limited to the upload of my ISP, and any bandwidth (currently to leave enough room for remote administration of my LAN I can only stream 192Kb files) or ToS (Terms of Service) restrictions they may or may not have.

Currently using Andromeda for HTML display and streaming of my collection

2. CDR – The car stereo is wondrous for those long commutes (35 miles one way). This means I can churn through a lot of radio, audio CDs, and MP3 files. It is even more wondrous when it can read CDRs, MP3 and WMA files.

3. Portable Hard Drives - Yes, this a great if not a little bit bulky. Drives are large enough and cost effective enough right now that you can very easily move just about any moderate to large music collection with a portable drive today.

Need storage with redundancy? The entry level network attached storage devices from Lacie and Buffalo should get you going well.

4. Music services who needs these right? This is the natural evolution of online music, IMO they are in a state of infancy and should offer some real break throughs in the coming years. The talk of pros and cons of these is another article of its own. Napster, Yahoo Music, Rhapsody, iTunes, and more? Who will be left standing?

Patch Experience Databases

On the mailing list, there has been some discussion about a tracking database for patch management experiences. There are a couple of folks who have started efforts to fill that need and I am sure more will pop up in the coming weeks or months.

Here are those from that list,

PDA Based

Monday, May 16, 2005

Verizon Fios - Fios For Home

Verizon Fios - Fios For Home

A friend tosse me a link for Fios and the article for about it in Keller, TX. 15Mbps + speed with fiber to the house... for $35.00/mo plus a hefty set-up fee. Well I checked to see if it was available in my area (Yeah, right!)... Nope. They have a nice an nifty form to fill out to be informed on future news and rollouts, but guess what... The damn submit button does not work! (Morons!).

Talk about a clogged nozzle!

A friend of mine stated the following to me, “there” being a place of work.

“dentist was a little less fun this time, i almost passed out a couple of times still better than being there though”

Clogged or not… You decide!

Many Questions

What do you do when everything is urgent!?

Where has the art of triage gone? It seems few people are left with the art/skill of diagnosing issues, which can wait with those that cannot wait. Is this common in other fields and businesses? If so, I worry…

Growth by acquisition.

Lately at work we have gotten a lot busier. Enough that some people complain, others withdraw into themselves, and few even manage to continue on unphased.

They also stop thinking about how to work smarter… A few minutes here or there to re-work or automate a process can save literally hundreds of hours of labor over the coming weeks/months… yet it is not done... Despite attempts to introduce such improvements into the fold. It really is amazing some times.

What about personal skills development? I have always viewed life as a constant learning experience. Some people think they can actually “stop” learning. “Hey, I completed my degree, I am done!”.

Yet, when it comes time to turn around the landscape has changed, new legislation, new IT infrastructures, new software versions, new markets all advancing at an exponential rate… yet, the skill sets are from 3, 5, 7 years ago!

Where is the balance, where does it end? I guess I am filled with many questions today.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Do you have a clogged nozzle?

BITS, SUS, and Windows Update...

We had recently been battling an issue with a laptop; whereas a user was not able to pull updates form SUS or Windows Updates. We had run through a listing of normal troubleshooting steps and were not able to resolve the issue. We finally got to the heart of the issue. The BITS queue was clogged with errored out or suspended transfers.

Windows Update, SUS, and SMS 2003 use BITS. Also a number of third party applications are starting to use BITS as well. (What is BITS? Background Intelligent Transfer Service) BITS has an Admin tool which is part of the Windows XP Service Pack 2 Support Tools.

Full information and instructions can be found at

In the case of this machine, the command syntax needed was,


12-14 bad transfers in the queue.


Once the queue was cleared, Windows Update was able to download and install updates normally.

I am going to start to post on this section again after a few years off. Check back later.