The next online auction site

If you’re like me, you know many people that sell items on ebay. Let’s be honest, where would the internet and thousands of home businesses be without it? You may have also heard many complaints about their pricing system. They charge for listing; they charge for uploading images; they charge for selling; and (through Paypal) they charge for transactions.

Most people I know are tired of all the fees and “publicly owned company” mentality and decided to build an online auction site of their own. You can check it out at www.mondro.com. What’s interesting, and I believe good, is that they conscientiously kept the layout as simple and direct as possible. They explained it as a cross between ebay with the feel of Craigslist. Personally, I think it looks better than Craigslist but I understand where they’re coming from. Almost everything is text with the exception of the site logo and the images of the items up for auction. There are no ads or “latest do-dad” or “most popular widget” screaming for your attention.

What I like best and I think most people will agree, is that it’s free. Free to register, post, sell, and buy. The site also allows you to upload up to 10 high resolution* images for each item. That means you can upload an image directly from your 10.1 megapixel camera. Also, if you’re savvy enough, you can embed youtube videos into the description section.

mondro just launched so there aren’t too many users and items right now. Hopefully, it’ll catch on and become a player in the online auction community. I’m an avid believer in capitalism and market competition is always good news for the consumers/users/public.

*4 MB maximum

Put your hard drive in the freezer to fix it?

When my hard drive died a few weeks ago, a part of me died too? Seriously, I had some important images and files that that I really needed wanted but didn’t have the foresight (or common sense) to backup. What happened was I left my machine on overnight and when I woke to wish my pc a good morning, I heard a strange ticking sound from within the tower and screen read something along the lines of “Corrupt or Invalid boot partition”. I didn’t start panicking until at least the fifth reboot with the same result. Logically I opened the tower to find that the ticking was coming from the drive. To me it sounded like the head was trying to move into position but was stuck. Every time I rebooted, the ticking started and lasted for 10 seconds before giving up and the drive stopped spinning altogether.

 

So I ran the diagnostics and it came back with an error stating that it can’t find a hard drive to diagnose. Not good.

 

The next step was to call HP as my machine was still under warranty. I was on the phone with someone in India for an hour pretty much duplicating the tests I had just run.

“Ok, you determined my hard drive is dead*. Ok, so you’ll send me a new drive and when I receive it, I’ll send you the dead one. But what about my data? How do I get all my data back? Oh ok, you have a “data transfer”** service and it’s not guaranteed to get all the data but you’ll charge me $50 if any data is found. That’s not too bad. Wait what’s that? In order to do that, I need to send you the entire tower??? But why? To ensure that the issue is with the drive and now with some other component of the machine? How long will it take to get my machine back? 5 TO 7 WEEKS???!!! Forget it, just send me the replacement drive.”

 

Now on to what this blog title entailed. The replacement drive was due to arrive in 2 days. Then I had 3 days to return the old drive in order to get it to HP in time and not incur a charge. Before then, I had to get to my data. My first thought was to use a data recovery service. I called around and for a mechanical failure, they charge anywhere $995 to $1500. I’m not sure if I wanted my pictures and files that badly. There must another way. One of my co-workers heard that if you put the drive in the freezer, you’ll be able to get it working just long enough to extract the data. I called BS and did some research on it. To my amazement, there are many articles and forum threads detailing this process. You can find some of them here, here, and here. Some posts even described the same ticking sound I experienced. According to the articles, the cold affects the metallics in the drive allowing for easier transference of electricity and sometimes moving the metals just enough to allow proper movement (in my case, the head). Worth a try right?

 

That night, I put the drive in two Ziploc bags and tried to remove as much air as possible to reduce condensation. Waited 3 hours and hooked up. Same ticking. Same result. Remembered that a forum post said to tap it gently to try to know the pieces in place. Tried that. Same result. Tapped it more aggressively this time but that didn’t help. Hmmmm. Didn’t I read somewhere that someone left the drive in the freezer for 24 hours and it worked for them. Back in the Ziplocs and back in the freezer the drive goes.

 

24 hours later, tried again but no joy. Disheartened and feeling stupid with a freezing cold hard drive in my hand, I finally gave up. It was time to let it defrost*** and pack it up to ship to HP. I’m not saying the freezer trick doesn’t work, it just didn’t work for me. Oh well. I learned a hard lesson this time and still feel I lost a part of myself in the process.

 

And by the way HP, thank you sooooo much for sending me a newly
REFERBISHED drive. I’m going back to Dell for my next pc.

 

*Wow! Really?!

**Not “data recovery”. So this sounds like they can only get the data if actual drive still works.

***Didn’t want any trace of my activities found when HP got the drive.

UPDATE: In case anyone is wondering what my drive sounded like, go here and click on Head Damage 1.

And if you need a visual…

What is up with Windows and Flash?

I had a total hard drive failure this weekend which of course sucked because I hadn’t done a real backup in months*. If there was any bright sides to it, it would be that now I get to install Windows 7 RTM. I had RC1 installed before the crash and it really impressed me. Almost everything ran better than I had hoped. A trip to Fry’s, two 320GB hard drives**, and a day later, I was up and running. After a few hours of playing with the system, I was in a sour mood again. Ahhh, well played MS. The old bait and switch. RTM is a TOTAL DOWNGRADE compared to RC1. Why do app install just fine in RC1 but not in RTM? Why can I install my McAfee 8.5i problem free in RC1 but RTM won’t even let me pass the Incompatibility screen? How is it possible I can installed the drivers for my MICROSOFT wireless keyboard on RC1 but the RTM Incompatibilty Troll won’t let me cross the bridge to Wireless Land? Not even if I answer those riddle three? And what is up with Flash movies on a site??? Yes I have a 64-bit system. Yes, I’ve read that the Flash player is not supported on these. But c’mon. REALLY!? I know this is not completely MS’s fault but 64-bit technology has been around for so long***. Why has there not been a fix for this? Someone told me today, that I have to run the 32-bit version of Firefox. Turns out, FF only comes in 32-bit. Even IE8 freezes up on me. All I want to do is play Karoshi Suicide Salaryman. Won’t someone please let me play???

*Luckily, I have TFS on another box and have most of my projects.
**Learned my lesson. It’s all about redundancy.
***Relatively speaking.

System.Net.Mail on GoDaddy.com

Personally I think GoDaddy is great for purchasing domain names. Alright, not great because of all the upsells they make you  go through when buying a domain. The price sure beats Register.com and NetworkSolutions. But I won’t host on GoDaddy for two reasons. First, I don’t like keeping all my eggs in one basket. Regardless of the fact that there are only 2 eggs. Second, I’ve read many stories of hardships with people trying to get their site to work on GoDaddy.

Now I can add myself to the list. It seems like when you are sending emails with System.Net.Mail, you need to hunt for the name of the mail server. The site was for a side project. My function to send the email kept bombing out with a connection timeout error. GoDaddy tech support said to use smtpout.secureserver.net and so I did. For a week I did, and could not figure out why it kept failing. I had to do my own research to find out that the real server is relay-hosting.secureserver.net. Wow! So much for relying on a definitive answer from tech support. Now I’m really never going to host with them.