Sunday, February 19, 2012


It has been known (although I would like to think very rarely) for my software to crash. As the user could be anywhere, it normally means several e-mails to track down what they have been doing, upto the point of failing.

I have just discovered a very useful Microsoft feature - part of Windows 7 - that may help considerably in the future.  It is called PSR - and can be launched from the command prompt, or Windows start prompt.  It will very simply record screens and produce a sensible size file that can be e-mailed for investigation.  The user can see what is being sent so there can be no question of possible spying.  There is also no requirement to load software on the user PC, or change security settings (beyond setting administrator rights for the PSR to run).

Credit for this information should really go to PC-PRO magazine in UK, April 2012 - thanks.

Friday, February 10, 2012

4K sector size

I am sure we have all read about hard drives with sector sizes greater than 512 bytes (0x200).  This week I saw my first one. A 1TB Iomega drive, with USB 3.0 connection.  The customer had lost their data, and sure enough when plugged into a Mac, there was nothing.

Looking at the disk, the first surprise was the sector size was 4096  (0x1000) bytes.  On first loading, my software did not like it but fortunately the fix was very quick to implement.  The software was expecting the boot sector signature of 0x55 0xAA to be at the end of the sector, rather than the end of the first 0x200 area.  By fixing this small problen, CnW recovery read the disk without problems.  Logically, the Mac disk is still based on 0x200 byte sectors so the program has a simple read function that translates a logical sector number into a disk logical block address (LBA) and the extracts the sector.

Be warned, more of these disks will be on their way.