Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

Windows 7 System Image Restore – Three Days of Frustration

December 18, 2013 10:00 pm

If you ever need to recover a Windows 7 system image onto a new hard drive, I hope you don’t have to go through the same pain I just did. It took me three days to get my main PC back in working condition…

A few days ago Windows finally alerted me to an impending disk failure (after having silently logged the problem to the event log for over three months – gee, thanks Windows!) It was trying to be helpful by encouraging me to make a system image backup before replacing the drive, which I did. That took a while, of course, with 336 GB to transfer. I used an external USB-to-SATA bridge for this. But it took nowhere near as long as the recovery odyssey I ended up with.

My surprises started when attempting to restore this image on a fresh drive. My system has three hard drives, one for the OS and two for data. I attempted to restore the image using a regular Windows 7 install DVD. I had several lying around, but none of them would work. I ended up burning a new one with Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 and using that.

The first attempt at restoring took over 20 hours. I had connected both the new drive and the old drive (plus my two data drives) to the system via its plentiful SATA connectors, so it was a SATA-to-SATA transfer, which I expected to go really fast. Nope. And, apparently, having all disks connected and active while restoring is bad, since (as I think I’ve now concluded) that messes up the drive letter assignment of the restored image. Somehow the restored image ends up with a non-C:\ drive letter.

Not realizing that this was the problem, I tried using Acronis True Image Home 2012 to create a fresh backup image of the failing drive, and then restored that. Same problem. At least Acronis didn’t take over 20 hours to restore the data…

I ended up with two things that needed to be done: The boot configuration had to be fixed (as I later found out this was because somehow my original drive configuration had been messed up between creating the original Windows System Image Backup and the Acronis Image backup). On top of that, I had to somehow fix up the drive letter mapping so that C: would once again be C: – and not F: The drive letter mapping problem showed itself in that the OS would boot (once the boot config was fixed), but after logging in, it would be stuck at “Preparing Your Desktop”, and sometimes even get to a blank blue screen. From there I could start Task Manager via Ctrl+Alt+Del, and then a command prompt, which showed me that the OS thought it was living on the F: drive.

Here’s the boot configuration fix (applied by booting from a Recovery Disk or Windows install DVD):

bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
c:
cd boot
attrib bcd -s -h -r
ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
bootrec /RebuildBcd

The drive letter mapping was harder. I couldn’t do it from the Recovery Disk (which I also created along the way), nor by the Task Manager trick (halfway “booted” into the user account). I finally found the trick: Boot from the old disk, load the SYSTEM registry hive from the new disk, and swap the value \DosDevices\F: in HKLM\SYSTEM\MountedDevices with \DosDevices\C:

So here’s the boot drive letter assignment fix based on the above trick for modifying the registry of a non-booting system:

  1. Note what drive letter the non-working disk has for itself based on the “boot halfway” command-prompt (F:, in this case);
  2. Boot the working disk;
  3. Determine what drive letter the working disk has (C:, in this case);
  4. Start regedit, highlight the [HKLM] branch, select the
    regedit option ‘File->Load Hive’, and load the file
    ‘F:\Windows\system32\config\system’ under a {dummy} name;
  5. Locate the two registry entries:
    [HKLM\{dummy}\MountedDevices  \DosDevices\F:]
    [HKLM\{dummy}\MountedDevices  \DosDevices\C:]

  6. Rename the value \DosDevices\C: to some other name, such as \DosDevices\Z:
  7. Rename the value \DosDevices\F: to \DosDevices\C:
  8. Rename the value \DosDevices\Z: to \DosDevices\F: 
  9. Highlight the {dummy} branch, select the regedit option ‘File->Unload Hive’, and exit regedit.

I don’t think I’ve ever had this much trouble restoring an image. I guess the real lesson is “don’t restore the image with any other drives active on the system, and if possible, use a USB bridge for the disk you’re restoring from”. Microsoft, this should be easier!!!

Custom RSS feeds for BUILD 2011 videos

September 17, 2011 11:26 am

Now that //build/ is over, lots of people want to download the sessions they missed because there was an ocean of stuff being presented and you couldn’t possibly catch it all live.

One way to do this is to use a PowerShell script (I found one here).

Here’s the script code in case you don’t want to follow the link:

cd "C:\build11"
[Environment]::CurrentDirectory=(Get-Location -PSProvider FileSystem).ProviderPath
$a = ([xml](new-object net.webclient).downloadstring("http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/BUILD/BUILD2011/RSS/wmvhigh"))
$a.rss.channel.item | foreach{
    $url = New-Object System.Uri($_.enclosure.url)
    $file = $url.Segments[-1]
    $file
    if (!(test-path $file))
    {
        (New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($url, $file)
    }
}

One problem with this might be that you don’t want all videos. So you’d have to filter the RSS feed that the script pulls down. There’s no documentation on how to do that, but a little experimentation shows that you can do this:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/BUILD/BUILD2011/RSS/wmvhigh?t=.net%2Bframework

The available filters (for the t parameter) are:

.NET%2BFramework

Access%2BControl

Applications

ASP.NET

Assessment%2Band%2BDeployment Kit

Async

C#

C++

Certification

Charms

Cloud

Compliance

Continuous%2BAvailability

Data

Database

Debugging

DirectX

Drivers

Elasticity

Expression%2BBlend

Files

Games

Graphics

HTML5%2Band%2BJavaScript

Hyper-V

IHV

Keynote

Manageability

Media

Metro%2Bstyle%2Bapps

Metro%2Bstyle%2Bdevice%2Bapps

Networking

Odata

OEM

Parallel%2BComputing

Performance

Power

Pre-Recorded

Printing

Remote%2BDesktop

REST

Roaming

Scalability

Security

Sensors

Silicon

SQL

Storage

Touch

UI

Platform

User%2BExperience

Virtualization

Visual%2BBasic

Visual%2BStudio

WCF

Web

Windows%2BAzure

Windows%2BPhone

Windows%2BRuntime

Windows%2BStore

Wireless

Workflow

XAML

If you’re just interested in the slides, use a query like this:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/BUILD/BUILD2011/RSS/slides?t=.net%2Bframework

In general, the query can be constructed like this:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/BUILD/BUILD2011/RSS/
[type]?t=[tag]&term=[free text]

Where [type] can be one of: wmv, wmvhigh, mp4, slides

You can add multiple t arguments.

So if you’re interested in slides related to “client” topics, this might be your query:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/BUILD/BUILD2011/RSS/slides?t=async&t=charms&t=expression%2Bblend&t=files&t=games&t=metro%2Bstyle%2Bapps&t=metro%2Bstyle%2Bdevice%2Bapps&t=touch&t=ui%2Bplatform&t=user%2Bexperience&t=windows%2Bphone&t=windows%2Bruntime&t=windows%2Bstore&t=xaml

Apple’s new Cupertino campus: Wow!

June 7, 2011 11:14 pm

Here are some still images from a recent presentation Steve Jobs gave to the Cupertino City council. Amazing stuff. Sorry about the low res quality, these came off of the 240p video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtuz5OmOh_M

Old_And_New_Campus
Old and new campus land

New Campus Buildings
New campus building

New Campus Aerial View
New campus aerial shot

New Campus Aerial View 2
New campus aerial shot

New Campus Aerial View 3
New campus aerial shot

New Campus View 1
New campus view

New Campus View 2
New campus view

Landscape Current
Landscaping current

Landscape Future
Landscaping future

New Campus View 3
Campus view

Trees Current
Trees current

Trees Future
Trees future

New Campus View 4
New campus view

New Campus Buildings Detail
New campus building details

New Campus Statistics
New campus statistics

New Campus View 5
New campus view

New Campus View 6
New campus view of cafeteria

New Campus Aerial View 4
New campus aerial view

Thoroughly impressive. Wow.

HP TouchSmart PC product design videos on YouTube

January 2, 2009 11:27 am

For anyone who is curious about what kind of audience the HP TouchSmart IQ500/800 series was designed for, you may find these two videos interesting. You get a bit of the story behind the market research, the user panel that was put together, and how the design evolved. I’m not sure how long these videos will stay up, so if you’re curious, better watch them soon.

 

  

 

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