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I can’t figure out what to write about so I’ll write about everything I can think of.

Cars. I just found out today that one of my coworkers owns four vehicles. And that’s not counting his Harley. I wondered the same thing everyone else did: What’s a single guy need four cars for?
I guess it would be handy for some things. Like this morning, I started my car, hopped out, started scraping, and when I got back inside, I looked down at my gas gauge and saw the yellow indicator light staring back at me. If I had four cars like (ahem) some people, I could have just shut it down and hopped in another car that had more gas in it. Of course, then I’d just have three more cars I could run down to E, so maybe that wouldn’t work.

I guess the other advantage would be driving something different to work every day, so people can’t keep track of whether you’re there or not. But I’m still having a hard time justifying it to myself.

The Cure. The Cure retired a year ago. Of course, the only thing harder than keeping track of how many times they’ve retired is how many band members they’ve had. So they recorded new material and released their third greatest hits collection, fulfilled their obligation to their record label, and said they’re still a band, but they’re staying unsigned.

As clueless as the record industry has become, it’s probably a smart move. It’d be nice if a few financially well-off artists would get together and form a privately-held record label that’s just about the music, rather than about pleasing shareholders or building huge financial conglomerates.

Cleveland Indians. The disassembly of the franchise continues. Manny Ramirez departed a year ago, replaced by a damaged-goods Juan Gonzalez. Now that Gonzalez has recaptured his old form, he’s gone. Roberto Alomar’s been traded to the Mets for a handful of prospects, plus ex-Twins outfielder Matt Lawton. Speedster Kenny Lofton is gone.

Cleveland was the model franchise of the 1990s. They signed their young players to long-term contracts early and they were only wrong about one of them (Carlos Baerga). The first two young stars they let go, Baerga and Albert Belle, are out of baseball now. They built a new stadium and kept it full. But for all the things they did right, they didn’t get a World Series win to show for it.

And I don’t see any indication with this trade that the Indians have learned their lesson. Clearly they’re in rebuilding mode, dumping salary and getting younger, cheaper players in the hopes of making a run for it again in a few years. But they traded Alomar for two outfielders and a relief pitcher. The Cleveland teams from the mid-90s on featured terrific offense and enviable defense that was at times spectacular, but little in the way of pitching. And the lesson of Arizona is that starting pitching plus one big bat is all you really need, even in these high-offense days.

So I’m shocked to say that between the Royals and the Indians, right now the pitcher-hoarding Royals are much closer to doing the right thing.

Should I be laughing at this? Gatermann sent me this link and I got a good laugh out of it. I can’t figure out if I should feel bad about that.

Viruses. My work laptop, or, more specifically, the Windows partition on my work laptop, was a victim of last week’s data recovery efforts. I have no excuse. I temporarily took leave of my senses and I didn’t write-protect the DOS boot floppies I made. So I booted off the troubled computer, then I booted the laptop off the same disks, and the next thing I knew, the laptop was infected too. It was, to say the least, my finest moment.

Yesterday I finished rebuilding the Windows partition and booted the laptop into Windows for the first time in half a week. I didn’t do any special tricks; I just wiped and reformatted the partition. But since installing Windows wipes out your Linux boot sector, I used a trick. I booted into Linux, inserted a floppy, and issued the command dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/fd0 bs=512 count=1 to save the boot sector to a floppy. Then, after Windows was installed, I booted off a single-disk Linux distro, replaced the floppy, and reversed the command: dd if=/dev/fd0 of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1 Bingo! I had a dual-boot system again.

Virus hoaxes. I just got e-mail from Wendy (the friend whose computer taught me a whole lot about data recovery last week), who got e-mail from a classmate. She’d received a fairly common virus hoax via e-mail, one that advises you to search for and delete the file SULFNBK.EXE
alleging it to be a virus. In actuality that file is part of Windows, so it’ll be present on every Windows 9x system. I personally can’t remember if it’s critical or not, but Steve DeLassus tells me it is.

I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but any time you get virus e-mail like that, check it out with an IT professional. My rule of thumb is this: I disregard any virus information I get via e-mail unless I’ve also heard about it on the news. And by the news, I mean the morning news, the news on the morning drive on the radio, the front page of the local newspaper–stuff like that. Believe me, any time there’s a legitimate virus story, it’s big news. Many of the powers that be in the media are still computerphobes, so they relish any bad news regarding computers that they find. So the mainstream media is really good at hunting down and reporting virus stories.

Meanwhile, I hope she didn’t delete that file. But at least it’s easy enough to replace if she did.

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6 thoughts on “I can’t figure out what to write about so I’ll write about everything I can think of.”

  1. As usual I have very little time, but I’ve enjoyed the last few days’ discussion of your data recovery efforts a lot. The whole story reminds me why I will continue to use a secure OS, like Windows 2000 with NTFS or Linux, and avoid being logged on with admin rights unless I need to be. Hopefully that, a router with a firewall, and up-to-date virus sigs for my antivirus software will help me avoid such problems.

    As I read the story, I pictured myself in your shoes. Being less advanced in my skills than you, I immediately thought of ghosting the problematic drive, lest I screw up things irretrieveably. Reminds me that I need to Ghost some more of my data. The part about Ghost not laying down a bit by bit copy and being useful for data recovery was news to me. One never knows when such information may prove useful.

    As for Gatermann’s link, I found it hilarious. The Onion does occasionally come up with something really funny. If you’re feeling bad about finding it funny, then I guess you’d better feel bad for me too.

  2. I should remove my foot from my mouth… Actually, SULFNBK.EXE is a Win9X/ME utility to restore long file names if they get "corrupted". NOT a vital file, if you trust Windows (ahem) to keep your long filenames safe. My memory failed me…

  3. Steve D., then it is something you’re likely to need at some point. You can’t trust Windows to keep anything safe.

    Steve M., I learned something else about Ghost yesterday. I tried backing up my corrupted NTFS partition, and Ghost wouldn’t do it because it started to interpret it, then got confused. Now if I overwrote the first 512 bytes of the partition with garbage–Linux to the rescue again–it would treat it as a raw partition and do an (allegedly) bit-for-bit copy.

    Remember though, NTFS is every bit as vulnerable to boot sector viruses as a DOS-based OS. Theoretically Linux could be as well. (In practice I find it less so, but someone else may not.) So, to keep your system truly safe, turn on your boot sector protection in your BIOS and pull the floppy drive out of the boot order.

  4. What do you think about Disk Image by company that makes Partition Magic?

    I have been using it lately and it seems wonderful! It copies partitions to a file (via a boot into DOS) that can be used to restore a hard drive partition or move partitions to another drive.

    I also just noticed that you can view these partition files in Windows and extract individual files, which should come in very handy if that file becomes corrupted.

    – Bruce

  5. I know Drive Image works. I don’t know anything specific about how it works, or any quirks about it, because I’ve only used it once or twice.

  6. Dave, I must admit that you give me too much credit in saying "remember" that NTFS and Linux are vulnerable to boot sector viruses. I hadn’t thought about that, but I suppose it makes sense. You have to be able to read the boot sector before you can load all the code that supports secure file systems, so it makes sense that the boot sector has to be easily readable. One would think that a secure OS would prevent writing to it once the OS was loaded, but I guess that’s not the case. I generally take the a: out of the boot seek in the bios, but I’ll have to check my boot sector protection settings.

    My only recent virus encounter was getting an email from someone I didn’t know–probably a friend of a friend sort of thing so that I wound up in her address book. The mail had an executable attachment, so I decided to save it to a directory that I use to scan anything suspicious. McAfee warned me as I tried to save it that it had a virus, so I aborted and sent an email to the sender.

    As for Drive Image, I used to use it, but the version that I had didn’t support NTFS. I’ve only recently changed careers to the IT field and wanted to have experience with what corporations use so I upgraded to a recent version of Ghost rather than a newer version of Drive Image.

    My impression of both is that they work pretty well, but with a little "voodoo factor". Sometimes they don’t work and you just don’t know why. Probably not a bad idea to have both in your toolkit.

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