Category Archives: Tech - Page 3

Picasa 3, people’s names, and “Why doesn’t this work right, Google?”


Image via Wikipedia

So, I’ve been using Picasa 3 to organize photos. Great software, except for one big let-down.

One of the cool features I read about before downloading version 3, was the new face recognition engine. Unfortunately, it turns out that this is web-only. Meaning, all the work you do labeling the faces doesn’t get synced back to the local client which seems to limit it’s usefulness for no reason.

Evernote and AutoIt

The AutoIt SciTE editor.

Image via Wikipedia

I’m obsessive about using Evernote to keep track of everything I may ever want to remember. Recently, I’ve been writing some AutoIt code to help me automate the workflow I use to scan paper documents into Evernote. For anyone else who is interested in doing such a thing, I’ve released my _CreateNote AutoIt function here.

How I recovered my photos and much of the metadata with a few tools (Part 1)

There I was looking to centralize all the storage in my house on a Windows Home Server. I have 8 hard drives that were scattered among 4 PCs and it was just getting impossible to manage in any sane way. As part of this process, I was taking all but one of the hard drives out of each PC while at the same time carefully managing the process of backing the important data on each one into the free space amongst the others.

The Problem

Where I ran into problems is when I went to bed one night during this process. When I woke up the next morning I forgot that I hadn’t finished completely backing up one of the most important hard drives in the house. So, I went ahead with my plan and formatted it.

Big mistake.

It was a little while before I realized what I had done and by the time I did realize it, I had already installed a fresh copy of Vista on it and a few applications. As anyone who has tried to recover data before will tell you, the first thing you should do after accidentally formatting/deleting data is immediately stop writing data to the hard drive!

This hard drive contained all of our personal photos. While the fact that these were personal photos was bad enough, what was even worse was that a huge portion of them (gigabytes) were photos that my wife had spent countless hours manually scanning in and she was in the process of organizing and labeling them.

Getting the data back

So, after realizing my error, I immediately shut off the computer and removed the hard drive.  While I knew the general ideas behind data recovery, I wasn’t really aware of what I should do next, so I hit the internet and did some research.  After awhile I decided to put the hard drive into another PC and try out some various utilities I had come across to scan it and see what kind of data could be recovered.  This turned out to be an exercise in frustration, as all the tools I used just turned out reams of information that would of taken me years to go through and find anything of use.

I was beginning to brace myself for the inevitable storm that would follow after telling my wife that all the photos were gone.  At this point, a friend of mine pointed me towards a tool called PhotoRec.  At a high level, PhotoRec operates like many data recovery tools in that it looks at the unused space on your hard drive for orphaned data, which is often the data you had on their previously.  Where PhotoRec saved me was that it was written specifically to recognize photo data, which saves me from being buried in a mountain of information.

Since we had thousands and thousands of photos, I don’t really have any way to know if any of our photos were lost, but PhotoRec recoverd so many (after 6+ hours of processing) that it seems like I have our whole library back.

In my next post on the subject, I’ll talk about how PhotoRec wasn’t all I needed.

See part 2 of this post here.

I’m a computer

No, I’m not, but soon I could be.

In an experiment known as the Turing Test after the great British mathematician Alan Turing, the six Artificial Conversational Entities (ACEs) tried to fool human interrogators into thinking they were also human. All the ACEs managed to fool at least one of their human interrogators and organisers feel it will only be a matter of time before the test is passed. But none could pass the threshold set by Turing in 1950 of fooling 30 per cent of the human interrogators.

Aquaduct bike. Say what?

A large problem in much of the world is easy access to clean drinking water. This bike brings a solution to both problems. It aids access by virtue of it’s bikeyness, and it provides clean water by virtue of it’s pedal-powered filtering system. Check it out here.

GPass. Anonymous browsing doohickey.

Lifehacker mentions what seems like a great little tool for private browsing.

After you install GPass, launching an application using the proxy is as simple as double-clicking the app from inside the GPass interface.

User Account Control

I’ve really been enjoying the Engineering Windows 7 blog. The latest post is by Ben Fathi, the VP of core OS development for Microsoft. He talks about all the reasons the much-maligned User Account Control of Vista is the way it is, and what they’ve taken away from the tons of feedback they’ve gotten on it.

In the first several months after Vista was available for use, people were experiencing a UAC prompt in 50% of their “sessions” – a session is everything that happens from logon to logoff or within 24 hours. Furthermore, there were 775,312 unique applications (note: this shows the volume of unique software that Windows supports!) producing prompts (note that installers and the application itself are not counted as the same program.) This seems large, and it is since much of the software ecosystem unnecessarily required admin privileges to run. As the ecosystem has updated their software, far fewer applications are requiring admin privileges. Customer Experience Improvement Program data from August 2008 indicates the number of applications and tasks generating a prompt has declined from 775,312 to 168,149.

Fix pen not working on waking from sleep on a TC4200 running Vista


Ok, so this isn’t really a fix.  It’s more of a work around.  First of all you need to obtain devcon.exe.  This is basically a command-line Device Manager provided by MS.

Drop devcon in c:\Windows\System32.  I chose this directoy only because it’s in the path.

Create a batch file with the following commands in it:

devcon disable ACPI\WACF006
devcon enable ACPI\WACF006

Use Task Scheduler to create a new scheduled task.  The trigger for this task should be set as in the following screenshot.

The set the “Action” to start the batch file created above.

Now, when your tablet is woken from sleep it will run the batch file which disables and then re-enables the Wacom driver.  This takes probably 15 seconds so you still can’t use your pen immediately, but it’s much better than having to open the tablet so you can use the keyboard.

Precision Computing – Getting Started with PowerShell

Want to learn PowerShell (formerly codenamed Monad)? Go here and commence the learning. 

No One Cares About HD?

Despite Scoble’s love of HD, I see the reality as being a bit closer to this survey that Gizmodo reports on.

While most people I know really like it when they see HD on their new HDTV set, it’s just too complicated to figure out how to get HD programming, and often they don’t even realize they are watching standard def!

I don’t know how many people I’ve seen buying HD sets without knowing what they were doing.  A plasma or LCD set is just cool to have.  A status symbol. 

I recently found out that my wife’s boss bought some plasma screen TV awhile back because they’re cool basically.  He’s been watching standard def on it because he had no idea that he had to subscribe to HD programming from his satellite provider.

Currently, HD is too complicated for most people.