Monthly Archives: December 2004

The System Rebuild – Phase 5 – Utilities and Finishing Touches

I’ve finished installing my developer tools (phase four) so now its just the finishing touches like search tools (MSN Search BETA), NewsGator, iPodder, WinZip, BlogJet as well as a whole host of other little bits and pieces that make the machine feel like home. Thanks for tuning in!

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The System Rebuild – Phase 4 – Developer Tools

The productivity applications are all on and all patched up, so thats phase three over. So the next thing that I need to look at is getting my usual stock of development tools installed. This includes things like Visual Studio 2003, BizTalk, and ofcourse SQL Server. I am also investigating Host Integration Server at the moment and noticed that it had a developer addition so I will check that out too. In this phase (phase four) I usually remember that I forgot to install MSMQ, although this time I remembered and did it in phase two.

Yay for me. Don’t you find you install stories riviting reading? No? I don’t care 🙂

The System Rebuild – Phase 3 – Productivity Applications

I’ve now got my offline files all synced up and I am logged into the domain at work, so thats phase two over and phase three starting up. In phase three I basically install all my productivity applications, this includes things like Office, Project and OneNote. That’ll let me hook up to my various e-mail accounts so I am contactable again (via something other than web-mail).

The System Rebuild – Phase 1 – OS Installation

I’ve just finished phase zero of the system rebuild. I’m now entering phase one which involves installing the operating system. I’ll be installing Windows XP, and in order to get back to a usable state I will need my Windows XP CD (in MSDN wallet – check), the product key from MSDN Subscriber Downloads (printed – check), my video and network interface drives (on thumb drive – check) and the Windows XP SP2 CD (in MSDN wallet – check).

I’ll report back here when I am up and running again.

The System Rebuild – Phase 2 – Remote Access

OK, so I have the OS on and SP2 on, and automatic updates are pulling down the latest patches right now – so thats phase one over. In phase two I typically set about connecting myself up to the company network so that I can log in using my domain credentials. This involves establishing a VPN connection whilst I am logged in as the local administrator and adding the laptop to the domain.

Once I have done that I give my domain user account system administrator rights on the local machine (just temporarily while I set things up). This is also the time that I download and install any anti-virus software and set up my offline-files. I’ll check back here once that is done – it could be later tonight.

The System Rebuild – Phase 0 – Backup

I’ve started preparing for some work that is coming up early next year (next year starts tomorrow – happy new year!). Unfortunately that means I need to ditch my VS2005B1/Avalon CTP build in favor of a VS2003 build.

Of course, after Cameron’s recent experience I’m going to be very careful and ensure I grab everything I need to get up and running by tonight. I break my re-install up into phases – phase zero, which I am in now involves hunting down every piece of information that I want to keep. Here is the list I have so far.

  • E-mail archives.
  • Source code.
  • OneNote notes.
  • Podcasts.
  • OPML files.
  • Drivers.

I typically don’t bother backing up my favorites since I hardly use them anyway (isn’t that what Google is for?). This screenshot should give you some indication of my current progress. I’m still copying across my e-mail archives, I’m adding and commiting my source code snippets to the CVS repository at work. My OneNote’s are already backed up via offline files (just finished syncing up), my podcasts are being copied, my OPML files are on the server at work (via offline files again), and the drives just finished copying over to my wifes machine where I can get easy access via a thumb-drive.

Phase one should commence in about an hour and a half. I’ll report in then.

How to recover from an oh-shit hard disk moment

I’ve been reading all about Cameron’s saga with his PC rebuild. In the latest installment Cameron needs to contact some old Microsoft buddies because the MBR of his backup disk has been trashed. Unfortunately they couldn’t help him and have given him a bet either way. But maybe I can help, here’s why (Cameron, skip to the end and grab the link).

Earlier this year (yes, its still this year), I was rebuilding my laptop and I was using an external firewire drive to backup some data. Firewire is 100% reliable on my Dell laptop, and to almost all operating systems it just looks like a standard drive. The problem started when I finished the backup and rebooted with the Windows XP CD in ready to do the re-install.

Unfortunately the external disk also mounted and when I was trashing the old partition on the built-in disk I also trashed the partition on the external drive. About one micro-second after it happened I realised my mistake and had a sinking feeling – you know, that feeling you have when you have lost four years worth of e-mail archives.

I find its best not to panic in these situations, especially if you know how the technology works – actually, if you don’t know how the technology works, feel free to panic . . .

What I had done under the covers was delete the partition table, the file allocation table should have still be intact so all I had to do was re-create the partition table and I should have access to my data. The trick is – while I understand in theory what has happened, in practice I had no idea how to fix it myself. So if I went surfing the web and searching newsgroups.

I ended up finding this tool. I purchased it and downloaded the files and then spent three hours trying to get it running off a bootable CD (my Dell doesn’t have a floppy disk drive). Once I had it up and running it was able to find the disk and restore the partition table. I’m fairly confident that it could recover the MBR too.