Thursday, September 1, 2016

How did I get into "tech"?

I came across an unsent draft, from December 22nd 2013, and decided instead of discarding it, I would go ahead and post it to my blog so it could come up in a search result sometime later.

My younger brother Max and I were having a conversation about how we grew up on a farm, and how he "always knew" that he wanted to work outside, and how I "always knew" that I wanted to work inside; both from our experiences of working on the farm.

Since we didn't really grow up "with computers", Max asked me "How did I get into computers"? And I believe this is what happened.

So in this town of 800 people in the Texas panhandle, even with access to a car; it was put into my mind that because of the costs of gas, but more importantly, the time it would take to travel; you did not just leave and go somewhere else. If you wanted to visit someone, you could if they were in town; if they weren't, you would have to wait until the weekend, or if they lived really far away, once a year like to see relatives for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

So when I'm about 14 or so, one of my really good friends moves away; probably less than a 2 hour drive away, and I told him "Well it was good knowing you". I had no allusions to the fact that we would never talk to each other again. And I knew that because I knew I was terrible at writing letters to other friends that had moved away.

And this was also back when long distance phone calls weren't free, so at 14 how do you justify spending $5 on a conversation with another 14 year old? It would have been impossible. Let's say I spent my entire allowance on that, it would have meant very few calls to very few people, and then nothing to spend on anything else.

Why did letter writing fail for me? I think because it took so long and took so much effort to get those few paragraphs of information to that other person, and took so long to get a reply, as to forget what questions you even asked in the first place.

It seemed so wasteful. And I've always hated waste

So when I first heard of email, it became a passion of mine to contact people that weren't local to me anymore, I was so attracted to the efficiency of it.

So attracted to those few paragraphs.

So now that I'm even more of a "techie" or "interested in technology", I feel like I should be finding "those few paragraphs" and finding ways for technology to get them to each other; without having to go through so much waste, so much trouble.

Waste: Shipping, travel
Those few paragraph examples: Text, Pictures, Video, Music, Conversations

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The sale of - it's over?

A brief recap of events for :

  1. My brother needed help and I couldn't email him
  2. I create the page on TinyEmpire in 2002
  3. People start emailing me asking for more details
  4. I change the website for a broad audience instead of just for my brother, put up a donate button and google ads.
  5. Donations and advertising flow in, also a lot of phone calls asking for more help, every time I get a call I change the page to be more explicit in how to make the solution. Develop CD fix, at some point develop a USB fix but that might have come later, it's hard to say.
  6. Four years later, I notice the traffic (and money) suddenly stops
  7. I google "ntldr is missing" and find out I've gone from page 1 to page 11
  8. I try to find out why, and find others with similar stories, google has changed some algorithms
  9. I register for 10 years, to expire in 2018, and go to the pages that are now on page 1 of google and mention my site and point them to my tinyempire page.
  10. It helps, people also comment on "this Windows error has it's own domain".
  11. In 2007, maybe, I had my best year, earning $800. I remember we had already filed our taxes so I had to file an amended return.
  12. I turn down the google ads, figuring if I keep it under $500 I won't need to worry about the paperwork of taxes.
  13. At some point, the webpage editor I use to update the site (cPanel), I discover is stripping out the code that makes the google ads work, so it's possible I ran the site for years with no ads, I just assumed it was because I turned down the ads, or more adblockers, or less WindowsXP installs.
  14. I sell advertising on the site monthly, and some advertisers who like the high page rank buy ads, at first it was more money than Google Ads, then it goes to half of what it was, then it goes to half of that, then the advertisers interested in page rank don't want it at all.
  15. I sell advertising for a "pay" version of my same fix (that also does more stuff), to me this is fine, if you read my instructions and you could not find out how to make the drive (to be fair, it should be a lot simpler, but I've never been able to figure out how to make it like the pay guys do), so an ad for Lazesoft Recovery Suite Professional shows up after the instructions.
  16. A few months later, I ask if they would like to renew their advertising, and they tell me they aren't interested since it didn't drive enough traffic, but would I be interested in selling the domain?
  17. So I make an offer for and and they make a counter offer of $500 for, and I accept.
  18. After the first $250 goes through, I ask my wife what to do with the money, and we are going to buy a vacuum cleaner.

So thank you internet for buying me a vacuum cleaner.

Does this mean it's all over? Maybe. If I google ntldr is missing right now, the third return is pointing at and not to, so it's possible these pages will just disappear far down the rabbit hole of google search results (have you ever gone past page 3 of google search results?). I was already earning less than $100 a year in advertising over the last two years, so it's possible I won't even reach the next $100 dollars to get paid out, what with adblockers being so much more active now.

I see no reason to take down my fix at and until someone offers me $5000 for TinyEmpire, it's going to stay there. And even then I'll probably move it over to instead of just deleting it. Internet storage is cheap, and my hosting is paid up for the next 2 years.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

USB drive - standard sector size

I've been spending some time trying to find why "NTLDR is missing" sometimes happens on Windows Vista/7/8/10, and I was reading an article about unbootable Windows 7 systems, and it mentioned that the BIOS loads the MBR into RAM, then executes the MBR code, the MBR code then loads the first sector of the active partition (called the WBR) into RAM, then executes the  WBR code. This code is NTLDR for NT/2000/XP and bootmgr for Vista/7/8/10.

So I figured I would make a Windows PE disc and play around inside my Windows 10 laptop, and while trying to use a 2 gig flash drive with Rufus, I got this error:

Nonstandard sector size detected
Conventional drives use a 512-byte sector size but this drive uses a 2048-byte one. In many cases, this means you will NOT be able to boot from this drive.
Rufus can try to create a bootable drive, but there is NO WARRANTY that it will work.

This might be especially important to me, because I always wondered why some USB drives would work for my NTLDR boot disk, and why some wouldn't. Perhaps this sector size issue is related.

I'll try to test more, and perhaps if Rufus is a better way to make the USB stick, use it instead.

Until then, if you have been having a problem with making the bootable drive, and you are using a 2gig or smaller USB, try larger than 2gigs, or the opposite; if larger wasn't working, try smaller.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Preaching to the choir - online backup and offsite backup

I was "vanity searching" for ntldr to see how I was doing in the rankings, and came across a post about the bad software that will encrypt all of your data until you pay them in BitCoin or MoneyPack.

I hope that you, dear reader, have already signed up for an online backup service like DropBox or SpiderOak or OneDrive or GoogleDrive or iCloud or something, so that even if the house burns down, the data on your PC isn't lost forever.

However I'm writing to encourage you to go one step further. Purchase an external hard drive, or even an external flash drive; every couple of years, and backup your data onto it, and preferably, leave it with a friend or relative. Bonus points if you create encrypted volumes.

I understand that this system isn't perfect, but it's close, and it's cheap, and I hope if you just got done reviving your PC, you'll at least try it.

Also for 2016, new website design. Yay colors!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How not to ask for help

I'll get the occasional email asking for help, sometimes asking to call, I've probably done it a dozen times, and once even paid international long distance rates to help out a stranger, for free.

This email exchange happened the other day, and in case you weren't sure, this isn't how to ask for help, I've hidden the persons name and phone number, because I'm sure they were having a bad day, and we all need more forgiveness.

I also had to censure some of the email since I don't want this blog to be considered "explicit".

To: mc (that's me)
From: (withheld, let's call them "jb")
Subject: Ntldr missing....PLEASE help sir
Tue, Oct 6, 2015 at 10:28 PM
jb: I'm just a step away from getting thin right

10:38 PM mc: ? Where are you in the process? Have you already made the boot disk downloaded from ? Try the YouTube videos on the page to see if they help.

10:54 PM jb: I'm stuck..... And I am utterly lost.... (505) 306­#### J## B#########. Need help lol

10:54 PM jb: I have indeed made the boot disc but getting problems

10:55 PM mc: Don't see the list of 10 options?

10:56 PM jb: No sir

10:56 PM mc: USB?

10:57 PM jb: Yes....complete mayhem

10:58 PM mc: My recommendation on USB is try a different USB stick, not sure why but even I have not gotten it to work on some models, but then works fine on others

10:59 PM mc: And if you have watched YouTube video , do; I think it describes it better than the screenshots

10:59 PM mc: I meant to say "haven't"

10:59 PM jb: If we could talk I could explain

10:59 PM jb: I don't have another USB stick

11:00 PM jb: (505)306­####

11:01 PM jb: XP Dell Dimension A02BIOS

11:01 PM mc: It's 11 o'clock at night here, the rest of the house is asleep. The good news is your data is likely still there, you can get to it by using a live Linux CD or attaching the hard drive to another computer. I will probably still be up for awhile but otherwise this is going to be a tomorrow thing

11:10 PM jb: Ok. Thank you. Just not sure what to do... this is my daughter's computer and she's in the fifth grade and for whatever reason this machine got screwed with and her homework assignment is locked inside the machine a friend of mine sent me a link to make the memory stick boot and it didn't work I got stuck so I thought I'd email you because your information was in there not trying to keep you awake I'm here in New Mexico an hour ahead of you so it's 12:09 a.m. right here but if you feel like getting hold of me tomorrow I would really greatly appreciate it

11:11 PM jb: Is there a sea lion to Mandeville make this work right now possibly

11:12 PM mc: What was that last part?

11:12 PM jb: C: line command

11:13 PM mc: Oh lol What is it doing right now if you boot up without the USB? Ntldr is missing ?

11:14 PM mc: And I assume you have access to another PC to make changes to the USB?

11:14 PM jb: Yes

11:15 PM mc: Oh hey, Hirens boot CD includes my ntldr fix, and they might have an easier way to make it than I do

11:15 PM mc: I'm going to Google Hirens right quick (although I'm always a little hesitant of download sites)

11:16 PM jb: Yes

11:17 PM jb: I am poor and only have this machine.....geez man

11:19 PM mc: Oh... Wait let me back up a second. Do you only have one machine at the place, and it's broken?

11:23 PM mc: If you get to the point of using Hirens, this looks like a legit download: And I believe this is the info on putting that ISO onto a USB:­on­usb­disk Why use Hirens? If following my instructions can't get the USB to get you to the 10 choices

11:23 PM jb: Yes. Xp on a Dell Dimension 3000....only computer in the house besides a droid

11:25 PM mc: Okay, I had started with the assumption that you had already tried to make the bootdisk but were having trouble. If you can't make the boot disk, the troubleshooting steps you could do otherwise is unplug everything USB and try booting PC

11:25 PM jb: You s##k

11:25 PM mc: Even try unplugging the USB keyboard

11:26 PM jb: No help at ALL

11:27 PM jb: All you have to f****** do is call me. And you'll understand what I'm going through Jesus Christ man

11:27 PM mc: It's possible this error can come up if a USB drive is plugged into the PC that isn't set to boot, and the PC is rebooted; that's why I'm telling you to unplug everything USB and try rebooting

11:29 PM jb: Already f****** did that did and its not working if you were to call me it would take like two minutes to figure it out cuz I could explain it to you why would you even put your name and email address out there if you don't really want to help it is beyond me dude this could be taken care of like 20 minutes ago

11:30 PM jb: It's not like I would call you again once the problem is fixed is this machine is never hooked up to the internet or anything this thing would go for another 40 f****** years without a problem

11:31 PM jb: I've unplugged everything dude seriously

11:32 PM mc: There's nothing else you can do tonight then. Not without another computer

11:33 PM mc: You can probably search Craigslist for a local person who fixes PC's for cheap, or if you can go to another place and make the USB stick there and bring it back

11:34 PM jb: I have a laptop

11:34 PM mc: I would recommend stopping right now, getting some sleep, and take the machine somewhere in the morning where you can get help for it.

11:39 PM mc: If you have access to another machine and want to keep working on this, try the Hirens links I sent you earlier.  But I recommend you stop, and look at it tomorrow. Good luck! No need to contact me further, you have the information and someone who can see the machine would be a better option for fixing it than me.

11:41 PM jb: How about you go F##K yourself

I was never sure if he did or didn't have access to a second PC.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tire Pressure Sensor Fault - If it goes away - electronic interference

Tire Pressure Senor Fault

I got this error on my vehicle, and then it went away. I took it into the dealership and they tell me all tire pressure sensor's "trained" correctly and nothing was wrong.

Why did I get the error? The dealership tells me that the pressure sensor inside the tire uses wireless communication to let the car know about the tire pressure, and if something happens to block or interfere with the signal, this is the error message the car will give you.

At the time, I was streaming music from SomaFM on my iPhone via Bluetooth to the Ford Sync speakers, using my passengers iPhone to do Google Maps turn by turn direction, while at the same time my passenger was using an iPad to do research on the next location on the internet.

So if it happens and goes away, ignore it.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Winbook backup

I should flesh this out more later, but for now: