Sunday, December 7, 2014

3.5" floppy disks and Word 6

I thought I had seen the last of 3.5" floppies until last week.  A customer turned up on my door step with 4 3.5" floppies, and wanted back documents she had written 20 years ago.

Fortunately I still have a few PCs with internal floppy drives (on XP boxes).  These I could see were DS-DD 720K rather than the normal 1.44MB disks.  The customer mentioned an Apricot system, very popular in the mid 80s, but not totally PC compatible.  On placing the disk in the PC, it suggested a reformat, as the disk was not recognised.  Fortunately on examining the sectors it was clear that the disk was still sound, with not obvious sector errors.

Trying to read it was not an instant success.  It was FAT12, but as there were no subdirectories the CnW automatic parameters program failed.  The next stage was top fire up an old copy of InterMedia for Windows.  Being a 16 bit program, this had to be on an XP box.  InterMedia for Windows has a routine called MS Auto that will try and determine disk parameters automatically for floppy disks, and with this the directory was soon visible.

I could now read the files, a mixture of .DOC and associated .BAK files.  However, to be expected, trying to open the .DOC file indicated it was from a Word 6  system.  Word 2003 is meant to have a filter to read this, but it would not work (mswrd632.wpc) so the files could be seen, but with a lot of binary code included.  I am not sure that Word 2003 is supported anymore, being an XP era program.

The next stage was to use InterMedia for Windows again that has protocol handlers for hundreds of old word processing packages, including Word (several versions).  This then  produced nice clean text, with embedded  commands (IMIC2) for some formatting.  These commands were then stripped out using translation tables to generate a simple text file that could be read on a modern PC.

InterMedia for Windows now looks like an old program - it is over 10 years since I last updated it, but it did produce a nice clean result.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Windows 10

I have an oldish PC, bought originally to run Vista.  This I then updated to 7 and 8.  This week I download the Microsoft Technical Preview, otherwise to be called Windows 10.

The installation required DVD to be burnt and then the occasion button pressing while loading.

The final loaded PC was almost exactly as I had it setup in Windows 8.  All programs ran, in particular CnW Recovery.  ie the upgrade could not have been more painless - although it is reported that come April, it might all stop working.  It even worked as a remote desk top with no additional attention.

I cannot comment on performance as the PC is an old Core Duo but it does have 8GB RAM.  I am currently using it on video file recovery testing and after a few days it has just worked.

The famous start menu is back, with a few tweaks, and a bit of the metro style start at the same time.

The only downside is that Norton 360 does not work, so the system is protected by the free Microsoft Defender.

So far, so good.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Viewing H264 raw video files

This is a very useful link I would like to share.

Often one has a video file that one cannot view - maybe from a CCTV system.  It is quite common to be H264 or similar, but does not have a standard wrapper, eg .MOV, or .MP4.

The very good free program VLC does have a feature to allow you to do this.  The following Youtube link does describe how to

As a very quick summary, the following may help

  1.   Tools
  2.   Preferences
  3.   At the bottom select 'All'
  4.   In Stream output  select 'Demuxers'
  5.   Then select the  Mux module  - (Automatic is the default)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Companies that promise something they cannot provide

I am not going to name names, but recently I have several reports from my satisfied customers moaning about other companies who have taken their money for software that cannot do what they say.  The main focus is on recovery of video deleted from the camera memory chip.

As I have written here several times, when video is recorded in the camera, the physical sequence of data is different to the logical sequence, the video is written in fragments, but the FAT keeps track of the logical order.  When the file is deleted, this sequence is also lost.  Recovery is complex and cannot be done by simple data carving.

If a video is written to a hard drive, it will normally be sequential and thus a data carving approach to recovery will often work.  I believe that software companies just test hard disk deletions and say it will work.  I have tried a few demo products with my 'favourite' GoPro camera images.  They fall flat on their face.  The software will report files, that look the correct size, but will never ever be viewable.

From CnW Recovery point of view, I have an uphill struggle (on a low budget) to let potentials users know that there is a product that will have a very high success rate of recovery of MP4, MOV, AVI, MTS videos that have been deleted from the camera memory chip.

It is a shame that the internet has to boast and boast even when something does not work.  At CnW, not everything works, but there is always free backup to resolve the problem - fairly quickly.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Apple disk that was a FAT32

I see a fair number of Apple disks and most start with sector 0 having the letter 'ER' in the first two bytes.  Others have a GPT boot sector.  They then always have an HFS+ file system.

I have just seen a new variation.  It started with a normal ER boot sector.  The next sector started, as normal with PM and was the Apple Partition map pointers.  The third sector then very unusually pointed to DOS_FAT_32.

First attempt to read the disk with CnW failed, but with a few manual inputs it was possible.  Firs I had to set the partition type to be FAT32, and the partition start to be 0x40.  After this, the disk read OK with CnW Recovery software.  Due to hardware issues (the reason I had the drive in the first place) I could not try the drive on a MAC, so I do not know if a standard MAC would read the drive or not.

A future version of CnW will understand this type of drive automatically.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Deleted GoPro video with high and low resolution

MP4 video is often recorded out of sequence.  This is because when the recording starts there is no knowledge of the file size.  Thus the meta data is added physically at the end of the physical file, though logically it is stored near the file start.

CnW can process this type of deleted file.  A new variation found in one version of the GoPro Hero 3+ Black camera is stored both high and low resolution video.  In this case, the video is multiplexed so physically on the disk there will be sections of high resolution, followed by low resolution.  The programming challenge is to determine which cluster is part of which video stream.  By examining the meta data this is possible and current results are very encouraging.  The next stage will be to ensure there are no glitches in the recovered streams