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   new data recovery technique
Monday, July 7 2003

setting: Hurley, Ulster County, New York, United States of America

I attempted a new data recovery technique today. I was in possession of a hard drive belonging to a woman who needed the data recovered if at all possible. The problem was that the hard drive's controller card was damaged. One of the chips had obviously overheated, experienced thermal runaway, and sent up a cloud of smoke. The damage was so bad that it was actually visible. One of the little black integrated circuits had been inscribed with a T-shaped scar out of which the smoke had poured forth.
To recover the data, I needed a replacement controller board for this particular make and model of hard drive. In the old days this would have been nearly impossible to find, but today there's a way to track down the things you need to buy, no matter how esoteric. I did Ebay and Google searches and found no exact matches, though I did find a near match. Since it was the only option available, I ordered the near match from a small California company that said they had one. The old hard drive had been a 6.0 Gigabyte Quantum Fireball CX IDE drive belonging to an iMac. The near match was a 6.4 GByte Quantum Fireball CX IDE drive pulled from a Dell.
The drive arrived today by Federal Express. It was in a cardboard envelope that had been ripped open slightly. Someone - Was it Homeland Security? Was it the DEA? - had investigated to see if I was taking delivery of contraband. Interesting. Anyway, I immediately attached the controller from this board to the drive with the blown controller. To make an extremely long technical-term-filled story short, I was successful at recovering the data. And very proud of myself too.
Instructively, the old Dell drive I'd received still contained all the data from whomever had last used it. This included the files associated with their Outlook Express email program. Remember this the next time you dispose of your computer.

Montreal hadn't been a total news blackout. Down along the St. Lawrence I'd seen the front page of a French-language newspaper featuring an angry brown-skinned man and a large-type caption reading "Mort aux Américains." I'd wondered if there were any American papers running this same story. I'd also wanted to see what Canadian television news was saying about the Iraq situation, but Gretchen is so disturbed by the news of the day that she has more or less forbidden me from watching news programming on the teevee when we're together.
So I had to catch up on the news once I got back home to my computer. Aside from nascent unrest among the families of indefinitely-deployed American troops, the news is as depressing as ever. Now we learn that there are a couple of British citizens up for a secret trial and execution down in Guantanamo, Cuba, if they don't cop a plea and accept a 20 year prison sentence. No one knows the charges, not even the defendants. The British, still civilized as ever, are getting a little worked up about this one. They're pointing out (correctly, any non-fascist should agree) that one can't treat prisoners like this in a country that claims to be free, democratic, and subject to the rule of law. The British feel they should be the ones to try their own citizens, if indeed there is any need for a trial at all. No doubt they think they're owed a little more for being the sole reason we hear "coalition" instead of "American" on our news broadcasts with respect to the failing occupation of Iraq.
Whenever I hear about a rush to execute people, I'm always suspicious about the motives of those who wish to carry out the executions. With regard to those our troops have captured in Afghanistan, brutalized in Bagram, and imprisoned in Guantanamo, it seems there is an effort being made to either keep us from finding out the horror of their ordeal or their past connections to our government. In support of the time-honored American system of justice, I consider all those imprisoned at Guantanamo innocent until something else is proven in a fair and open trial. In this case I am no radical; mine is a conservative view to have. If they are executed in the absence of a fair and open trial, their death is murder, and Guantanamo is just another death camp. To those who think these are extraordinary circumstances and that these guys have what's coming to them in a wild west kind of way, I ask, what other trappings of an open democracy are your heated emotions willing to sacrifice to a cold, methodical, thoroughly unchecked bureaucracy?

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