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!