Archive for May, 2009

Hard Drive Recovery Trick

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

So, there you are, listening to hard drive grind away, when all the sudden you are presented with the Blue Screen of Death and your OS will not come back up. You have a bad hard drive. It happens, and usually you are left with only one option. Scrap the Hard Drive!

Take note that I said “grind away” above. This usually isn’t a good thing, and it means that something with the drive head is going wrong. Usually, from my experience, the standard measures used to extract data from a drive with this problem don’t work. You’re welcome to try though.

The standard measures I’m talking about involve utilities, like ones that can be found on Recovery Console. Fixboot, Fixmbr and chkdsk. Other utilities that are great for drives not experiencing physical failure are included on The Ultimate Boot CD. You will see me referencing this awesome set of utilities in many of my posts.

Ok, the standard measures didn’t work for this problem. So what happens when you have something on the failed drive that you need. What? Didn’t backup? Ooops! Well, there are services that can sometimes extract information from drives that experience failure. There is one small catch though, they cost money!
Want a possible solution that is more cost effective? Here’s what to do!

First of all, I want to mention that if your computer is covered under a warranty this will probably void it. So, if you want to maintain your warranty, then I don’t suggest you try this.

The first step in this process is to remove your failed hard drive from the computer. Place the hard drive in a zip lock bag and place it in your freezer over night! Sometimes this procedure can buy you a couple hours to extract your valuable data off of the drive. This is not a 100% guaranteed fix, but I have been successful with about half of the drives I have done this with.

I always hook the failed drive up as a slave, this is in case the OS is damaged. You don’t want to spend your limited time on trying to do a repair install of Windows. Hook the drive up, get your data and get out. I’ve managed to keep a drive going for over an hour using this method. One thing you could do is use a Drive to Drive Copy Utility, sometimes you won’t have enough time though.

One other trick I’ve done, when I didn’t have time to wait for the freezer, was to use canned air. I don’t recommend that you try this, but I made sure that I was in a well ventilated area, held the can upside down and continuously sprayed down the hard drive.
Canned Air describes the cooling effect I am talking about, in case you want to know more.

71-680: Windows 7 Beta exam

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

 Do NOT take this exam for granted!

I just got back from the testing center…. I have to be honest, I think there is a good chance I failed this one. It was tough! I think coming off fresh from the Vista exam, allowed me to make the mistake of underestimating this exam.

I have 2 major regrets about this exam. The first is not having a 2008 Domain Environment with Windows & clients to play with. The other thing I regret, is really my own fault, but I should have spent a lot more time with the new features.

I watched all the videos posted in the resource link here, but I got lazy when it came to reading for this exam. I think that again, I misjudged how hard this exam was going to be.

The exam objectives are listed on here. That is a great place to start. I can tell you right now that I should have focused more on the following:

BitLocker To Go

I knew enough about these feature to be dangerous. LOL. Watching the Video presentations on these technologies alone, in most cases only lead me to a 50/50 shot of answering the question… In the other cases, I drew a blank.

I felt comfortable with 60% of the test
I narrowed down between 2 options on about 15% of the test
The rest of the test… I honestly and regrettably didn’t know.

If I end up passing this one, it will be 60% know how and the rest… Dumb Luck.

Good luck to everyone taking this exam!


I never did post back on this, since I’m in an updating mood today I figured that I would address this. I did not pass this Beta, but I did end up picking up the Sybex book for the Windows 7 exam and studied for a good month and passed the live exam. The new features in Windows 7 (Especially in the corporate environment) are actually pretty amazing and worthwhile.

I also took a couple of Beta exams for the Windows 7 desktop support and enterprise administrator. I passed both of those Beta exams.

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Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

This was the error that I receiving during some data conversion in Access today. The version of Access that I was using was 2003, the project, an in-house call accounting system that I developed a couple years ago.  The conflict that needed to be resolved is some what complicated, but I’ll try to explain briefly.

When we switched providers for our phone system, it changed the output of the file that I capture from the PBX. All the fields from March 2008 onward no longer looked quite right. This obviously caused my reporting tools and everything to be off. So, I reformated the Linked Table Specs, but I ddn’t go back to convert the January thru March data.

You see, all the data still existed, it was just formated a little differently. Seeing as how we don’t need to run phone reports very often, it just became an “out of sight out of mind” deal.

Ok, enough babble about my project, let’s get to the problem in the title! I decided to create a few update queries, using the date field I was able to create the criteria as <“03/01” to single out just the problem records! Awesome! So all of the update queries worked beautifully except 1!


Server+ 2009 Beta

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Today I took the SK1-003 exam.  The exam is in many ways exactly what it should be. To give you an example of what I mean, take a look at the Exam description.

 CompTIA Server+ 2009 Description

The part that I want to highlight the most out of that description is the Work Experience (18 -24 months). I can definitly see someone who has worked in the field for that long being able to pass this exam with little to no book time.

I felt that the exam was easy, even without being familiar with some of the technologies, I think I probably walked out of that exam with at least 85%… I will admit that I will be very embarrassed in a few months if I find out that I failed the exam. I have been working as an all around IT guy at my job for 9 years…. I work on a lot of server equipment, this is why I thought it felt easy.

CompTIA Server+ 2009  Objectives

Most of the questions for this exam seemed straight forward, but I did comment on a number of questions that I thought were vague or could have better answers. I think I commented on more questions for this BETA than on all the others I’ve ever taken combined. It’s not because there was that much wrong with it though. The reasons I think include:

  • I was familiar and comfortable with a lot of the technologies on this exam
  • I was able to appreciate some “trick” questions and comment that I liked the difficulty
  • There were some vague questions, I made it known that I was not sure if I was right, because the question could imply multiple things
  • I made suggestions for better answers

Due to NDA, I will not discuss any examples of questions, but I will say that the Objectives in the link above are pretty accurate.  If you are preparing for this Beta, or eventually the Public release, I think it would be helpful to go through that Objective link and make sure you know everything in it.

Good luck to everyone taking this! I’ll try to remember to come back to this post in a few months when the scores are released!


I did pass the beta with a fairly high score. It seems to me that CompTIA is pretty accurate in assessing the “Work Experience” focused toward this exam. I’ve been working on servers for around 10 years now and this exam suggests that the certification is equivalent to 2 years of knowledge. I would say that someone working in a server environment for 2 years should have no problem passing the exam, although a study guide (I prefer Sybex) wouldn’t hurt. Heck you might even learn something new.