Fix Windows Backup Error: 0x8078002A on 2.5TB and 3TB WD Drives

“One of the backup files could not be created. Detailed Error: The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error”

Hard DriveLook familiar? Have a Western Digital hard drive that you are trying to back up to?

I would like to quickly mention a solution that I found for larger (2.5TB or more) Western Digital hard drives that use “advanced format” 4KB physical sector sizes. Many users complain about an issue with Windows 7 Backup and Windows Server backup which spits out the useless Error 0x8078002A.

This worked for my 3TB WD Elements drive. Out of the box this drive did not work with Windows backup at all. WD support actually came through for me on this issue and pointed me to the following solution:

http://wdc.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6618/session/L3RpbWUvMTMxMzUzNzc5My9zaWQvT1hrMSpJQms%3D

Basically it consists of formatting the drive with their external drive formatting utility in “Factory Default” mode rather than XP-Compatible mode which (ironically) is how the drive ships. After performing the format, the drive works fine with Windows backup in both Windows 7 and Windows Server, but is incompatible with Windows XP. In my case, this is an acceptable compromise.

This is how the drive appeared out of the box:

C:Windowssystem32>fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo H:
Bytes Per Sector  :               4096
Bytes Per Physical Sector :       <Not Supported>
Bytes Per Cluster :               4096
Bytes Per FileRecord Segment    : 4096

This is how the drive appeared after the “Factory Default” format:

C:Windowssystem32>fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo H:
Bytes Per Sector  :               512
Bytes Per Physical Sector :       <Not Supported>
Bytes Per Cluster :               4096
Bytes Per FileRecord Segment    : 1024

Finally, I should point out that this utility will probably not work for drives from manufacturers other than Western Digital as it scans for WD drives specifically on launch and is likely working directly with their drives’ firmware. That said, I do believe this should cover all WD drives 2.5TB and larger to correct this issue.

Writing Regular Expressions for .htaccess and IIS 7 URL Rewrites

Regular ExpressionsWhen I was in the throws of transferring this site from Joomla to WordPress, one issue that I had to contend with was the URL changes. The solution is the 301 redirect. That flows link juice from the old URL to the new one and if possible to implement is far more useful for users.

This would be a huge pain to implement manually for every URL and thus had to be systematic. The easiest way to accomplish this is through the use of regular expressions in what is known as a .htaccess file on Linux/Apache or Microsoft’s IIS 7 equivalent functionality known as the URL Rewrite module.

To use this guide, you’ll need to know the basics of setting up rewrite rules. Turns out that the regex not that hard though. In fact, a simple chart can describe all the behaviors that regular expressions follow.

Values:

All the values you will find in this section will be matching against a single character.

. Period matches any single character including numbers, letters and symbols.
ex.:
A, a, 1, %, etc.

[ ] Square brackets will match against a range of characters.
ex.:
[a-z] matches all lowercase letters
[0-9] matches all numbers
[abC] matches a, b or C
[a-f0-3z] matches a to f, 0 to 3 and z

[^] Matches against anything not in brackets. Basically a negation.
ex.: [^a-c0] matches any character that is not a to c or 0.

Anchors

All the values you will find in this section will be matching against a single character.

^ Means the string must start here
ex.:
cats will match “I like cats”
^cats will not match “I like cats”
^cats will match “cats like me”

$ Means the string must end here.
ex.:
cats$ will match “I like cats”
cats$ will not match “cats like me”
^cats$ will match only “cats”

Quantifiers

All the values you will find in this section will be matching against a many characters. You should always use the most specific one possible to reduce overhead and false positives.

* matches zero or more of the previous character.
ex.: lo*l will match “ll” “lol” “lool” “loool” and so on.

+ matches one or more of the previous expression
ex.: lo+l will match “lol” “lool” loool” and so on.

? matches zero or one of the previous character
ex.: pi?e will match “pine” and “pie”

Others

| means OR.
ex.: “gray|grey” will match “gray or “grey”

() will group an expression together and allow it to be reused later (more on this later)
ex.:
The example above could be simplified to “gr(e|a)y”.

Escape Character

Since regex use special characters as defined above, we need a way to tell the computer to read the character literally. This is done with a backslash .
ex.: “.htm” must be escaped as “.htm” to treat the period literally.

Example in Practice

So lets put all this together and put it to good use. We’ll use the case of this site as an example. The first thing to do is observe the structure of what you have and see which strings can be easily grouped together in addition to which parts of the URL you want to keep and which you don’t. Take this for instance:

Old URL
www.cmoullas.net/reviews/34-mobile/46-latitudereview

New URL
www.cmoullas.net/latitudereview

We can see a few things here. First, the end of the URL will be staying the same “latitudereview”. That means we want to isolate the end of the URL. We also want to be as specific as possible to avoid false positives and avoid overhead. Finally, we know that we only need to match after the first slash and don’t need to worry about the www.cmoullas.net/. So consider the following solution:

[a-z]+/ matches “reviews/”
[0-9]+- matches “34-”
[a-z]+/ matches “mobile/”
[0-9]+- matches “46-”
(.+) matches “latitudereview” and saves it for later referencing

Putting that all together:

[a-z]+/[0-9]+-[a-z]+/[0-9]+-(.+)

This will great, but we can still improve on it. How you might ask? Well remember in this case our only goal is to get at the string “latitudereview”. As a result, we actually only need to match “/34-mobile/46-latitudereview” as that will be sufficiently unique to not create any false positives. Thus we can get away with just:

[0-9]+-[a-z]+/[0-9]+-(.+)

A couple more notes on this and you can call yourself an expert! Notice the specificity here. We matched as follows:

Any numbers and a dash
Any letters and a forward slash
Any numbers and a dash
Any string and saved it

We can do this because we know that the URL will always follow that pattern. At the end, we had to match any string because the title could be far more complex with any letters, numbers or even symbols, such as latitude-review-2, for example. The rest will always follow the same specific pattern.

And that’s it! If you followed all this, you’ll be following all the best practice rules with regex and will be rewriting like an expert! Look forward to another article in the new future explaining how to use back-references in both mod_rewrite .htaccess files as well as in IIS!

cmoullas.net is Back and Better Than Ever!

Back to the FutureWell, this many not be a surprised to anybody who used to follow my blog regularly, but for the most part, this site has been quite dead for nearly a year now. Some wondered why the regular stream of posts stopped, myself included. The only reason I can propose is that I got so busy with working on web design projects that I became largely uninterested in playing around with my own web presence.

My main goal in starting cmoullas.net back in 2009 was to learn much more about web design. I remember the painful experience of messing with CSS styles and the awe that I had when consulting people that could write even just basic PHP code. A the time I could hardly ever read it. In that sense, cmoullas.net has been a huge success: I now work in a field where I work on SEO regularly and design sites on a daily basis. I pushed though and learned everything I needed to know to get into a field that I love.

Other aspects were not quite as successful, however. I also wanted to be able to share all the knowledge I accumulated about technology on a daily basis to be archived somewhere for everyone to be able to reference, myself included. I can easily say that I’m learning new things every single day but that never got reflected here for which I am sorry.

What prompted this re-launch was a couple of things. On one hand, I lost a fair amount of data including family pictures from when I was a kid, among other things. What became very apparent at the time is how fallible memory can be and the importance of writing things down. I intend on this being the place for that.

Secondly, I did feel that from a technological standpoint, not only had the site fallen well behind the times in just 2 and a half very shot years, but I was also losing touch with the latest and greatest web design technologies. Despite working on websites on a daily basis, there is always tremendous pressure to squeeze a project into far too little time. Not only does that mean that testing gets cut (for instance, cross-browser compatibility), but also that implementing the latest and greatest that HTML5 and CSS3 has to offer gets put on the backburner. It’s certainly fastest to stick to what you already know!

I’ve really enjoyed being able to do with web design what originally attracted me to it, which is to be creative and innovative in my own right. I might not be doing something that’s never been done before, but I’m doing things that I’ve never done before. And that’s exciting.

In the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve also launched myself into the world of motorsport and cars which have both become a great hobby of mine. I find it unfortunate that I haven’t been throwing down everything I learn about cars on a daily basis and helping others out with the knowledge I’ve acquired often the hard way. I’m going to do my best to backtrack on as much as I can and piece together as many cool things that I’ve come across in the time I’ve been gone.

So enough of the past, now to the brand spanking new cmoullas.net! I’ve learned a lot just in putting this page together and there will be some great web design articles forthcoming. The SEO (search-engine optimization) on this page is by far the best I’ve ever done on any site in the past, and the most recent standards are employed. I’m really motivated to furiously throw out content and so I strongly believe that this site will grow along with me. I whole-heartedly welcome everybody to come along for the ride and hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

The Truth About Microsoft

Apple vs. MicrosoftI’m continually amazed by news columnists that predict the death of Microsoft. Just this morning I was reading the news and saw a slew of articles in Google News about predicting a death within the next decade and possibly within just five years from now. So many people seem to hear the knell of the death bells. So are a bunch of people really hearing things that aren’t there? Yep. Here’s what they are hearing, why they are hearing it and why it’s all in their imaginations.

Usually the main point that is brought up is that Microsoft has no idea about what Web 2.0 is. After all, their browser market share has been taking a beating for years now and is now below 60% from near total domination. This comes amid allegations from Google that the browser is the way of the future and the OS won’t matter sooner rather than later. I wrote a very popular, if not controversial column on why Chrome OS will fail.

Regardless, Microsoft won’t dominate the browser market, that much is for certain. But there are other markets to consider. The phone market. Okay, well they lost that too. Clearly they don’t stand a chance then.

You also hear people cry foul about the fact that Microsoft has dumped Windows Live Journal (their mostly unheard of blogging platform) in favor of collaborating with WordPres to provide a better blogging experience for their end users.

Tablets? Microsoft has been pushing them for years without much success. Then Apple comes along and shows everybody a radical new way of doing it which has becoming a huge success.

Wow, that really does sound grim, doesn’t it? Those bells are ringing louder than ever now… But no matter, it’s all in your mind for one simple reason: most people have absolutely no understanding of what Microsoft actually does. Lets start with that and then go on to explain why Microsoft is actually stronger than ever (not to mention that their stock is soaring for the Q3 2010 and analysts are in full agreement). No, we aren’t all nuts. Here is the real story.

First of all, all that the average person off the street sees from Microsoft is Windows and Office on their home computer. They probably also have a work computer with a Microsoft installed whether it be 2000, XP, probably not Vista or 7. You might ask yourself  a question that rarely gets adequately answered: why do businesses run with Windows all the time? It’s horrendous. Then some people will say that they simply have old applications that were built for Windows which would be a pain to port over to something better or newer. Maybe, but that’s a very myopic view of the whole situation.

The reason that the Windows OS is run in the corporate world is simple: domain controllers equipped with Active Directory and desktops that fall in line with whatever the domain controller says. Say what? Active directory is one of the many things that most people don’t know about that is a prime example of how little most realize is going on. It is quite simply a way to manage groups of computers centrally from a server. You can remotely turn a computer joined to a domain to anything from a kiosk that runs one application and is totally locked down to a full development machine. You can enforce corporate policy and create a uniform and managed experience for all your users. The truth of the matter is, companies absolutely love it, and it really is all that.

Windows is actually built from the ground up to be run in a managed environment. The version that most people run at home has almost always traditionally been a port from the corporate built that allows users to run standalone machines. It was always an afterthought though, and the focus always has been on business requirements.

Google: I am Extremely Terrified of…

While this may not be and definitely isn’t news at all, it’s still pretty funny. Google can do a lot of nifty things like search, email, news, calculations, advertising, analytics and is even entering the phone and OS space with a bang. But despite all the great things that come out of the Google empire, it is still prone to some strange behaviors and mistakes. One such example is the suggestions you get when you start typing the seemingly innocuous string “i am extremely” into the search bar. Here is what Google will suggest:

Google: I am Extremely Terrified of...
Wow Google, you’ve got some strange phobias there!

Another fun Google trick is fooling it into being unable to do simple arithmetic. As some of you may know, Google got its name from the number called “googol” which represents 1 followed by 100 zeros. Interestingly, the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, intended to call their search engine “googol” but accidentally misspelled the number when they registered the company name.

So why this little story? Well one such example of Google being unable to do simple arithmetic is quite ironic: 1 googol -1 – 1 googol. Now of course most anybody who is reasonably good at arithmetic could tell you that should equal “-1″ but Google wrongly calculates that out to be equal to 0. For anybody interested in why, you can check out this CNET article.

Top 3 Super Bowl Tech Ads!

In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl was today and as is the case every year, we got some really great ads. Being a complete geek myself I can assure you I’m not watching for the sports portion of it! Anyways, you don’t want to read what I have to say, you just want the top 3 list so without further ado – here it is ladies and gentlemen!

3. Cars.com

[youtube_video id=”DqT2xbODNr8″]

2. Google

[youtube_video id=”nnsSUqgkDwU”]

1. Motorola

[youtube_video id=”gX_eF-8tlqY&hl”]

My Official Response to the Apple iPad

Well, the iPad has been upon us for a week now and most of you have had time to mull over what it means for the tech industry. I actually wrote a little opinion piece last week about how ridiculous speculating about the iPad was. After having watched the entire press event live, as it turns out, the iPad is quite a bit different from what many people expected. For starters, nobody really speculated that Apple would come up with a name that would be the butt of jokes about female hygiene. Then there is the blatant lack of even simple things we take for granted on netbooks and computers today; simple things like flash and multitasking.

Now in fact I’m not really very funny, so rather than even trying to sum up the things the iPad lacks in writing, I’ll simply consult Hitler himself:

[youtube_video id=”9_EcybyLJS8&hl”]

Now of course the iPad will be a smash hit. It’s coming in at a $499 price point of the 16GB non-3G model. But more importantly it has the backing of the App Store, iTunes and a new eBook store Apple will be launching. Apple’s biggest advantage in this game comes down to their strengths in content distribution. The iPad will be a device that people will use to consume content, nothing more. And for the consumer space, that’s exactly what’s needed.

Artificial Beauty

The other day I got into an interesting debate with a good friend of mine regarding louche women on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. The first thing that came to mind was of course the “Myspace angle”. In case you’ve never heard of this mystical angle, allow me to help illustrate:

MySpace Angle
Fig. 1: The “MySpace Angle”

Now I went ahead and took this idea a step further – no, not to just women wearing makeup. Me? What? Just a little bronzer, plenty of men use it, I swear! No, but seriously it occurred to me how distorted our perception of reality has become because of the images that appear in fashion magazines and all over the web. I know all too well how much you can distort reality using graphics software like Photoshop in very little time. Now as I was the one who brought this up, my friend of course asked me to prove it. Tack 16 minutes of amateur work onto an image of a girl that honestly looked okay before and this was the end result:

Artificial Beauty
 Fig. 2: Artificial Beauty

Not perfect, but enough to give you a pretty good idea of how much the lines of reality can really be blurred with very little work. I’ll be honest, every time that I go and modify a picture of a person like that it really does pain me in many ways. You really do feel like you’re chopping a person up. What’s more, it’s a total objectification of people – the kinds of thoughts that pass through your mind are of course “Hey, this doesn’t look too good” and “She’d look better this way!”.

I think the message here is awfully clear, as cliché as it may be: stop aiming to look like people do in magazines and online. You can find thousands if not millions of pictures online that have been touched up to a point that the end result is convincingly good looking but only moderately resembles the person it started as. Now don’t get me wrong and don’t try to misconstrue the message as being “Ignore how you look”. Just do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up over every the little imperfection you see. Nobody is perfect, not even those seemingly perfect models you’ll find online.

GNILLEY: Yell at your Computer to Win!

Hard day at school or work this week? Need a little time to de-stress? Well I’ve got your solution boys and girls: a great new game called GNILLEY! The premise of the game couldn’t be any simpler. As the creators so eloquently put it, Yell—>succeed.

All you need to play GNILLEY is a Windows PC, a working microphone and a keyboard. The creators of the game showed it off at Game Jam in Sydney on January 31. Scroll down for a link to this great free game, and enjoy the awesome presentation!

[youtube_video id=”QYPwYfbi8jA&hl”]

So what are you waiting for?

DOWNLOAD GNILLEY!

The author’s original page can be found here.

Apple’s New Tablet: Get a Life!

Apple Tablet!!!Okay, this is going to be a short one because without any shadow of a doubt it could easily end up being 5000 words long and my rant still wouldn’t be over. So here goes…

Please, for the love of god, stop making stuff up about Apple’s new tablet! In fact, Apple hasn’t even confirmed they are going to be making a tablet and we won’t hear a word until Wednesday. I’ve seen incredibly ridiculous (incredulous really) headings online about an unreleased and unannounced device that make it so incredibly obvious how much the media and consumers are Apple tools…

And the worst part is that despite the fact that I’m awesome, I’ve still been turned into a tool. See, I spent exactly 7 minutes mocking up my own Apple tablet for use on this blog entry. I think it turned out pretty good for a 7 minute mock-up job. The best part is that I only needed two shapes and a screenshot of OSX and I could have fooled you all into thinking it was Apple promo material.

Some classics over the past week include:

Apple Tablet an Ideal Business Tool

What that should have read is “I’d Love to Play with a Tablet at Work“. Then they start trying to guess names for this thing: “It could be an iSlate, or an iSlab, or an iTablet, or perhaps even an iPod Tablet Edition.” Aside from the fact that all those names are laughable (iSlate, really?) why are we even discussing it? Don’t we have better things to do with our lives than get wet over the name of an ideal business tablet that isn’t even confirmed to exist yet?

Apple’s Tablet: a gizmo to save the world

Wow, this is going to be good, Apple is going to save our planet. I don’t think the word “overhyped” even fits this article. I mean think about it, the whole premise here is that we are all going to die and Apple’s unannounced tablet will save us all. Then again, I should be ecstatic – we aren’t all going to go the way of the dinosaur in 2012! Reason enough to fork out cash for Apple’s new mystery device.

iTablet may save publishing

I think that finally we are starting to cool down a bit here – at least the word overhyped fits the bill this time. Still, you have to appreciate the irony here, the media bringing you an article published online asking the question whether a tablet will save the very publishing we know, love and read online today.

Can Apple save the written word?

Yes, obviously all languages will cease to exist without Apple making a tablet… Obviously!

Now don’t take any of this the wrong way, I’m sure that Apple and its engineers have put a huge amount of work into whatever device it is that they are launching. What’s more, I’m sure it will be a great product with some really cool applications. In fact in case you hadn’t noticed that I never actually spend time complaining about Apple so I’ll spell it out for you: I can’t stand Apple tools. It’s such an incredible shame that I can’t rightfully go and buy an Apple product without looking and feeling like a Jobs drone…

As per usual though, props to Steve Jobs for making a fool out of all of us.