TideLog Archive for the “Hobbies” Category

My hobbies posts

Didn’t we say a while back we’d introduce a sweet Japanese Supergirl? Today we just shot three new sets featuring Yurie, our cute new Japanese heroine to join our super lineup! There’s something about a cute innocent Japanese honey in a superheroine costume, cape and boots that make my heart race, SuperKana Zor-El will vouch for that! She might be cute on the outside, but as our promos show, she’s a cute kickass caped goddess!

Yurie is an ex Martial Arts student of Kana’s who spent three years learning the arts of self defence, Kana became really close to her as a friend, she has now backed up her skills with the iconic and equally colourful cape, costume and boots of everyone’s favourite female sci-fi superheroine! She loved every minute of it, and we love her <3

These promos are full size, click them for the full image, feel free to save them too, and let SuperYurie save you in your dreams 🙂 She blew us away when she jumped into the costume for us, the colours really suit her:

Set 1: SuperYurie kicks alien lobster ass!

This set shows how Yurie has turned from a sweet innocent Japanese angel into a kickass caped and booted superheroine, all thanks to her real life training with Kana at White Tiger Martial Arts Academy. An alien lobster/crabby thing appears, and she kicks it straight to crustacean hell, all the while looking really mean and sexy throwing high kicks! But, in the full set, it comes back and illuminates itself with a Kryptonite coating, revealing itself as a KryptoKrab (TM KanaPhotographics), weakening our cute heroine. What will happen next?



Set 2: SuperYurie is cornered and conquered by her evil clone SuperAkiko!

In this set SuperYurie gets a surprise, out of nowhere an evil (and rather curvy and cuddly!) clone Supergirl appears who goes by SuperAkiko, and proceeds to conquer and defeat SuperYurie. Can Yurie survive? She must try to, SuperAkiko would wreak havoc if she got away:

With the KryptoNecklace round her neck, SuperYurie must be doomed…..or must she? Find out when they’re released! We are actually shooting two different endings….. We’re trying a new mix of heroine peril, as the superheroine always winning can get boring. Just ask SuperKana after I trapped her in KryptoGunge recently, she wasn’t expecting her superhero to turn nasty on her (lovingly, of course, I wanted to see if she still had her acting skills, which she did!)

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After a slightly longer hiatus than normal due to mine & Kana’s work lives getting busier, the superheroine site also took a break. Today though we had a bit of messy roleplay fun together! Kana decided to transform into Kana Zor-El for me, swooping around the house, she does it a lot as she knows I really like her as my own personal superheroine, with her fitness and sexy physique, the Supergirl costume makes the fantasy even more real, especially when she shows off her Martial Arts skills, as a sexy caped-and-booted superheroine it’s much more erotic to me. Except today, Ms Zor-El was in she-devil mode, and didn’t want to allow me to touch her, as she knows she really turns me on in costume, you know what that leads to 😉 She kept swooping away from me every time I tried embracing her, the cheeky minx! I could never catch her!

I didn’t drive all those miles the early hours of this morning, to see my sexy superheroine, only to have her rebel against me! So, I decided to be Kana Zor-El’s enemy, instead of her Superman, and concocted a rather messy trap plan with Mika. I told her that Mika needed her in the spa room, once we trapped her, Mika embraced her, got her down on the floor, kissed her a few times, and then suddenly began covering her in KryptoGunge! SuperKana soon weakened up, and couldn’t swoop off, lying there writhing on the floor in (pretend) agony, covered in debilitating green goo!

Look at her trying to resist it! Her costume and cape’s all gooey so she ain’t getting away! Mwahahaha! I finally got SuperKana in front of the camera, begging us not to humiliate her! She’s so cute when in gooey Krypto-peril! She’s a really good actress and played the part well 🙂

She’d hidden my Superman costume, too, so this was perfect payback to get her to tell me where she’d hidden it (I couldn’t rescue her until I was in it!), and I could be her enemy until she did! It reminded me of the scene from the 1984 Supergirl film where Helen Slater falls into the pit of blue gunge after being lured to the Phantom Zone, and gets weaker and weaker trying to escape as she has no superpowers there. It was the best part!

I’m tempted to fill our outdoor pond and have SuperKana re-enact that in our tasty green goo! To stick to the family friendly nature of TideLog, let’s just say what happened next was very messy, naughty and energetic (I “rescued” her but she had to love-wrestle me first to get me back for trapping her!), but the WAM fans in us loved it! That is what roleplay love is all about!

Don’t worry, our KryptoGunge doesn’t ruin the sexy costumes, it’s actually edible, but I’m not giving the recipe! It isn’t washing up liquid, that foams up too quick even without contact with water. It was all good pretend messy tasty fun. No superheroes, superheroines or their costumes were hurt 🙂 You need to be careful what you use for things like this, as the colours of the costume can be affected by certain substances. Kana and I have really expensive Supergirl/Superman costumes for conventions, which are replicas of film/comic ones, and then we have the cheaper ones for our WAM and private sexual play which don’t really matter as they can be replaced if damaged.

Kana’s back on the seasonal Martial Arts school shifts this month until August, to keep her superhuman strength in check 🙂 We’re working on some new content too, and not all clean as it has been previously, but a bit messier than SuperKana above 🙂

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Since Mika and me bought Kana her new jet-ski (who Kana has christened Jenny the Jetski), we’ve run it twice. Once when Mika and me got it from the dealer in Wales, and then again on Xmas Day when Kana lovingly, expertly and excitedly rode us round the lake in the meadow near us in the Midlands. This week, because we’ve had some nice weather in the UK, we took Jenny The Jetski out to Brighton beach, donned our wetsuits, and had wet wild fun!

On the second day the ski just suddenly went limp to a cruise speed. I thought Kana had lost her nerve, and urged her to open the throttle more:

Me: “C’mon K, faster, faster! Open Jen up a bit more! Mika’s loving it back here!”

Kana: “Throttle’s wide open! She’s gone limp! I think she’s scared of water, she’s a newbie!”

After some juddering and hiccuping she stalled completely and wouldn’t start again. The symptoms pointed to either misfueling, or seawater had entered the engine somewhere. Kana has never accidentally misfueled a vehicle, ever, and she confirmed she hadn’t, as we keep the jet-ski octane fuel in special containers, they don’t run on diesel or petrol, only octane based fuel.

I confirmed no leaks had occurred, and on the second restart attempt, fault code P0606 appeared in the infodisplay, which according to the SeaDoo fault diagnosis manual relates to engine ECU failure. At just over a total of 8 hours old, Kana’s new jetski is a paperweight, and cut our watersports trip to Brighton & Hove short and we had to come back to Birmingham. It’s a good job we have a dealer warranty, the ECU’s alone are over half a grand, and that’s un-programmed!

I suspect the dealer has misdiagnosed (or completely missed, if it was intermittent) the fault when the original owner returned it, and it’s come back for us! They’re coming out to us on Wednesday, thankfully 🙂

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This is another wear related symptom, and often occurs on power down of an old system after a power cut. It is again to do with the input regulation circuit (the main resistor, diodes, and rectifier transistors bolted to the keypad chassis). If your Optima starts OK on battery, but not on just the mains, the cause of this is the CPU isn’t getting enough power to start up from the AC to DC rectification stage. The start sequence goes visually like this:

  1. Power is applied, the regulators get up to working voltage, and start supplying power to the CPU.
  2. The LED’s all come on, briefly, as the CPU boots up, doing its self test of itself, and the NVRAM, containing your code and exit/entry timers.
  3. Within a few milliseconds of 2 above, once the CPU has started, the LED’s go out, and the alarm now goes into a full alarm condition, leaving just the Power LED on, and any open Zone LED’s. If no zones are open, just the power LED is on.

If the LED’s all stay on with no more activity or sound, the CPU isn’t starting correctly, because the voltage to it is insufficient coming from the AC to DC rectifier stage. Allowing the alarm to start here going into full alarm, would cause too much current inrush, and voltage drop to sustain keeping itself running, due to the strobe/bell and 13v PIR’s drawing power when there isn’t enough.

The transformer puts out 16.2v AC. If the voltage at your battery charge terminals with no battery connected is less than 14v, (the last one I did was 10v) the whole system is being starved of power. The two transistors that are bolted through the keypad chassis need to be replaced, the big three-legged things top right of this picture with the holes through the tags:

Optima-XM-board-faulty-regulators

I always replace both to make sure, as they can be quite stressed out at such an old age, and be breaking down under load, as does the 47 ohm battery resistor. I also check the capacitors accompanying them. The leftmost transistor is a Toshiba TA7805S Positive Voltage Regulator which seems to be the battery regulator, I’ve uploaded the datasheet to Tidelog HERE. The second (rightmost) transistor is an ST Microelectronics LT8I5CV, for which I cannot find a datasheet, and I assume is the AC rectifier stage’s main DC regulator.

I am attempting to find suitable modern equivalents for these regulators, so if any electronics guys out there can help, I’d be most grateful, as finding info on these 15+ year old components is tricky! I’m running out of working ones to cannibalize off old unrepairable Optima boards! A good alternative to the Toshiba TA7805S is the Panasonic AN7805F, the datasheet is on TideLog, HERE, for you to take a peek at, if you understand electronics 🙂

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Kana and Mika both want the three of us to be together when we’re out jet-skiing, so Mika and me have decided to band together to get her a new 3 seater ski to go with Sadie, her yellow 2009 2 seater one, as a Christmas surprise this year. I’ve sold off shares in companies which I no longer need, and Mika used some of her life savings. We all like Sadie, so don’t want to sell her or trade her in.

We’ve found a dealer in Porthmadog, Wales, offering a gorgeous 2015 GTX 300 that had only been used for 3 hours, then returned, for financial reasons. A jet-ski is like a car, as soon as a new one is used, it loses quite a bit of value, so we got this one for the super reasonable price of £9,000 instead of the usual £16,000. Mika and me went up to Wales one day last week when Kana was working, to check the new one out, and she’s a beauty:

Kana's-new-2015-SeaDoo-GTX-300-three-seater-jet-ski-at-the-dealerNeedless to say, we bought her the same day! Her spec list is as impressive as her looks:

Engine: 1.6 litre Rotax 4-Tec 1630 ACE 3 cylinder 300HP supercharged

Primary Color: Black & Deep Pewter Satin with gold seats/front stowage compartment trim

Year: 2016

Make: Sea-Doo

Model: GTX Limited 300

Type: Three Seater

Class: Personal Watercraft (PWC)

Length: 11′ 6″ (11ft 6in, a lot longer than Sadie!)

Weight: 412kg unladen

Features: Electronic iBR reverse system (allows quicker stopping, and dock manoeuvering), iControl Learning Key (A special programmable lanyard starter key that allows engine HP to be limited to teach learners to drive it, like Mika for example), Touring/Sport modes, safety kit, 3 position ski pylon for towed water-ski rider.

We took her on the water for a test run, she looks really mean against dark grey UK clouds, and she actually looks bigger and longer out on the water than she did at the dealership:

Kana's-new-2015-SeaDoo-GTX-300-three-seater-jet-ski-on-the-water

It was Mika’s first go as a jet-ski driver (and her first time in a wetsuit, which she was so cute in!), so I used the learning key to limit the horsepower, she absolutely had a blast, especially when I drove and opened the throttle a lot! I REALLY need to get a waterproof camera to take on-water shots of us! She’s so powerful, 300HP is quite a lot. The GTX 300 is a top end sports ski, if you’ve ever wanted to ride the water equivalent of a Kawasaki Ninja motorbike, the GTX is your girl, but fear not, she won’t bite your head off. Throttle response is gentle, yet rapid if you want it to be, just make sure you tell your passengers to hold on if you’re going to be a boy/girl water-racer, opening the throttle up!

The handlebars are adjustable for different riders, and the electronically assisted steering makes jet-skiing really addictive. I have Kana to thank for introducing me to this very addictive hobby, anyone thinking of doing it, go for it, get your wetsuit on and go get wet ‘n’ wild! But remember, it’s a dangerous sport, always adhere to rules, and speed limits, using common sense you’ll be fine.

Kana is going to LOVE her new present! I just wish we lived closer to water rather than having to drive out so far! It’s worth it for a day out, just make sure you carry enough octane fuel!

 

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It’s hard work being a superhero, even a pretend one, as Melissa will tell you! I found some more pics of her, this time in action on set, and I can kind of relate to her as an actress. Every time I’ve been to ComicCon I’ve had to do action role play for numerous children at the events, running around in a sweaty bodysuit, trunks, boots and REALLY heavy pleather cape pretending to capture baddies is EXHAUSTING but great fun, especially the time I wrestled the ultimate X-Men goddess Rogue in the sweltering San Diego heat, she really pushed me!

Except Mel probably has to do the same scene over and over again, following several cries of “CUT!” and her cape looks just as heavy as my Superman Returns one, and probably just as expensive!

Melissa-Benoist-SuperMel-on-setShe looks pure Super in the daylight, and shattered! That look says, “Phew, another rescued victim safe with the paramedics!” Let’s just hope not all of them need medical attention! It’s probably her fault they needed an ambulance, she’s just too smokingly beautiful. If only she was REALLY Supergirl….

Melissa-Benoist-Supergirl-4

SuperMel, please rescue me! I wouldn’t mind a kiss of life from you, but have a rest first hun, you look puffed out 🙂 If any of my readers say they don’t want her to fly them home, I’ll eat the lot of you! 🙂

 

 

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I was even more in love with Melissa as soon as I saw this promo pic. When CBS announced they had hired her for auditions, I knew she’d be good, from her Glee days. I was dreading what they’d come up with for the costume, I had a niggling feeling they’d do something like the horrid DC 52 comic outfit. But, I saw her, and the new costume, and I just can’t get enough of her, take a look:

Melissa-Benoist-new-CBS-Supergirl-outfit-full-promo

Just one word…. WOOOW! They’ve kept the look of the 80’s outfit that Helen Slater wore, with the V skirt beltline, the cape still flows nicely over her shoulders. They’ve sexified her by giving her thigh high leather boots over the top of a pair of dark tights, then given the main outfit a sexy armoured look like the Man of Steel one. The diamond S emblem looks really nicely finished, I suspect it’s leather. I was really surprised, and turned on looking at her. The only issue I have is that the whole outfit looks too dark, it clashes with the old Superman III film where the evil one had darker colours in his outfit, so it makes SuperMel look evil. Not really complaining though 🙂

Anyhow, I still wanna be rescued by her! I just hope they do a heroine peril scene in the new film like the 80’s one where Supergirl gets lost on an evil planet, and gets trapped in a pit of kryptonite gunge after slipping into it, trying desperately to wade out of it as she gets weaker and weaker. I would hate to see that lovely costume get messy too much, but hope they have a backup, because hey, the heroines can’t always win, right?

This sexy costume was designed by three-time Oscar-winner Colleen Atwood, so I might give her a bell if we need any costumes making for KanaPhotographics, because she sure knows how to make a superheroine costume functional, sexy and alluring 🙂

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I found this picture while looking through Kana’s KanaPhotographics shoots for new material, updating the site, and my heart melted. This is what makes a real Superwoman in my eyes. Kana shot this picture at ComicCon three years ago, and there’s a really heartwarming story behind it:

Cute-Superwoman-babysitting-so-adorableThis little girl had got lost from her parents. She found Superwoman, who came to her rescue, and took it upon herself to be responsible for the girl, and proceeded to babysit her, whilst they looked for her parents. Superwoman kept her safe the whole time, even posing for pictures with her. The little girl was really at ease with her hero. They both found the girl’s parents, who rewarded her with £200, which Superwoman then donated to a children’s charity. A real human superheroine!

This is what really makes me wish Superwoman really existed, and ladies like the one here really deserve to wear her costume, she’s a real life superheroine in my eyes. A really big heartfelt “Awwwww” is in order. If I ever see this Super Goddess at a convention in the future I’m taking her to dinner, she deserves a medal, and lives up to her idol’s standards 🙂 I can see that little girl following in her footsteps someday when she’s older, becoming Superwoman at a convention, rescuing a little girl herself.

Awwwww, it’s what real humans are supposed to be like. I idolise Superman, and try to be the same as he would, except  without the superpowers. Looking out for neighbours, rescuing lost kids, looking after women, animals, and helping the elderly. It makes me tick, even out of my costume and cape, it’s what I feel a human should do, look out for fellow humans, even if it means putting yourself in danger 🙂

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I’ve had this problem a few times on my laptop. It occurs mostly when the power suddenly goes off and it switches to battery. You lose all capacity monitoring, and can’t tell how much is left. The system tray icon changes to this:

no battery detected

Microsoft’s forums are hilarious. Their “Most Valuable Professionals” give the funniest canned cut ‘n’ paste responses, from, “Your power driver is corrupt” to your “Windows needs reinstalling!”. I know exactly what causes it, and it ain’t anything to do with “power drivers” or corrupt Windows. It’s the little monitoring chip in the battery. Like a lot of integrated electronics, it sometimes gets confused. Sudden switchovers from mains to battery tend to cause it, especially if there’s any surges from the battery as it kicks in.

The age old advice of “Reboot!” is the wise advice. If that doesn’t cure it, turn your machine off, remove the mains and battery, and hold your power button down to discharge the circuitry in your device (apart from the RTC circuit, but this doesn’t matter), that should cure it. Removing the battery opens the circuit to the sensing system in the battery, and resets it.

Simples. I hate MVP’s, they go on a 5 day course and think that gives them a Professional title? I’ve done MVP courses, but have the skills and years of software and electrical experience to further and back them up

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They say looks can be deceptive, they certainly are with our new heroines Silent Assassin and Black Widow! You should all know by now I’m a stickler for girls in capes, and also a girl in a tight catsuit, either Latex, PVC or leather, and also girls with swords, especially Asian babes. We need some Oriental feistiness to take down the evil heroines, don’t we?

Suki – Silent Assassin

Well, first of all I’d like to introduce Suki as Silent Assassin, our Samurai wielding heroine in a very skimpy PVC outfit who has looks as cute as a kitten, but the heart of a pissed off lioness when she’s in battle, and she ain’t afraid to get dirty, wet or gloopy:

Suki as deadly Silent Assassin

That’s Kana’s real Samurai sword, luckily it’s in its holster as it’s really sharp! Suki knows how to handle it unsheathed too, like Kana does, so you’re safe even when it comes out, unless you’re the one she’s aiming for, your head will roll, literally (ewww!). Any sword fight scenes will be done by Suki and Kana, as they’re our two professional Martial experts, and first aiders 🙂 One thing Silent Assassin HATES is evil superheroine clones like Dark Superwoman, so expect her to team up with the good Superwoman to take her down 🙂

Rina as Black Widow

This lil lady is a real sweetheart in real life, but as soon as she dons her catsuit for us, she becomes Black Widow, fighting against the good heroines like Superwoman. She hates good, and wants to help Dark Superwoman take over the world and turn humans into slaves for aliens, so expect big clashes between dark heroines, good heroines and Silent Assassin.

Sexy-assassin-Rina

Don’t let that cute babyface and big sparkly brown eyes fool you, she’s deadly with a gun. It isn’t a normal gun, it fires bullets filled with chemicals that hurt good heroines, like liquid Kryptonite, because we all know bullets alone won’t stop Superwoman. When one of these penetrates her, it injects Krypto-venom into the wound, weakening her, leaving her under Black Widows desires…

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You’ve seen Sarah as Superwoman, several iterations of her, in fact. We recently acquired a Dark Superwoman outfit, Sarah offered to jump into it for us. After Kana had done Sarah’s hair and make up, there was only one word to sum up her evil-ness. Wow. Take a look, she’s stunning, with lovely sea-blue eyes:

SarahDarkSupergirl-test-2

We’ve never had a Dark Superwoman before, but Sarah fits her perfectly, she can be quite feisty. If we pit her against her good counterpart, who do you think would win? Not so much in a messy wrestling match, but just a good old hand to hand combat match? My bets are on pitting her against SuperKate, she’s naturally fit as she’s a fitness trainer for a living. Sarah doesn’t visually look as strong as Kate, but looks can be very deceptive. Evil Superwoman’s costume comes with some different powers of evil, including Kryptonite lasers from both her fingers and eyes, we know what that does to Good Superwoman1 Here’s SuperKate in our 90’s SW costume, look at her Super-fit physique:

Sexy SuperKate showing her Super-Sexy physique

You’ve seen her in my replica Superman costume, but she really fits Superwoman, especially her 90’s one showing her fit legs and tum. Pit her against Dark SuperSarah what will happen? You’ll have to wait and see! Vote in the comments, do you want SuperKate wearing this outfit, or my Superman one?

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I previously posted about the rise in the occurrence of the Optima XM series main regulator resistor blowing. I’ve since had a few boards sent to me for repair, and a few users have also asked me about the resistor colour band codes. Below is my image of what an Optima XM & XM6 resistor SHOULD look like, before it burns up and scorches the board:

OptimaXM-and-XM6-resistor-undamaged

For those who want to know the resistance, the colour bands are the following: Gold, Black, Purple and Yellow, with a space between the gold and black bands. Here’s a diagram I made that shows how to interpret them:

resistor-color-code-allWhen working out the resistance of a pass-through resistor, you start by having the closest-together bands on the left. The resistor in the Optima is a 4 band one, so the resistance is worked out like so:

1. The first band is the Yellow one, which is 4;

2. The 2nd band is Purple, which is 7;

3. The 3rd is the Multiplier, which is Black at 1. The multiplier simply tells you how to multiply the first two values. Any multiplier with a K next to it is kilo (thousands, and the ones with M are Mega. So if our value of 47 was to be multiplied by 1k, a thousand, the value would now be 47,000. The Optima’s is simply a 1 multiplier, so it stays at 47, as you can’t divide it by 1.

4. We jump straight to the Tolerance band, which is Gold, at ±5%. The Tolerance band simply denotes how precise the manufacturing process of the resistor was, they can be 5%, 10% or 20%

Your total resistance is 4 + 7 * 1 = 47 Ohms ± 5%. Do not confuse it with a 47K resistor, it is 47 ohms, not 47,000 ohms, a K after the value indicates thousands.

Note that surface mount resistors and fuses do not have bands, they have the values stamped directly on them. If you are replacing a burnt resistor, clean the board around it with vinegar or contact cleaner to remove the burn marks. 99% of the time I’ve never had any actual board or trace damage, they are just burn marks from the resistor coating. You can use the methodology above for all the other resistors on the board, too, as they are mostly 4 band ones. If you are in any doubt I can do your repair for you, as I can repair traces and board damage professionally, use my contact form on the left sidebar to get in touch with me.

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Bad sectors are little clusters of data on your hard disk that cannot be read. More than that, though, they have the potential to cause real damage to your hard drive (catastrophic failure) if they build up over time, stressing your hard drive’s arm, which contains the read/write head, there are two for each platter, one for each side. Bad sectors are fairly common with normal computer use and the imperfections of the world we live in. Like chip fabrication and LCD panel manufacturing, HDD manufacture is a very critical, precise process, and like a TFT with bad pixels from the factory, you do get bad sectors with a HDD due to imperfections when it’s made. The manufacturers make legal allowances for a certain limit to these imperfections before warranty claims can be made, like the legal limit of 5 dead pixels on a TFT. However, there are several simple steps you can take to prevent HDD bad sectors and to repair any that you do have. Having bad sectors will slow down computer performance as well, as your drive takes time attempting to read them. Here is a step-by-step guide. The most common questions I get as a computer engineer are “What is a sector?”, and “How are HDD bad sectors created?”

A sector is simply a unit of information stored on your hard disk. Rather than being a mass of fluid information, your hard disk stores things neatly into “sectors”, a bit like us humans putting things into boxes, and the box only holds so much, and all boxes are the same size. The standard sector size is 512 bytes.

There are various problems that can cause HDD bad sectors:

  • Improper shutdown of Windows, especially power loss while the HDD is writing data;
  • Defects of the hard disk, including general surface wear, pollution of the air inside the unit due to a dirty or clogged air filter, or the head touching the surface of the disk;
  • Other poor quality or aging hardware, including dodgy data cables, an overheated hard drive, and even a power supply problem, if your drive’s power is erratic;
  • Malware.

Hard and soft bad sectors

There are two types of bad sectors – hard and soft.

Hard bad sectors are the ones that are physically damaged (that can happen because of a head crash if your drive is dropped while running and writing data), or in a fixed magnetic state. If your computer is bumped while the hard disk is writing data, is exposed to extreme heat, or simply has a faulty mechanical part that is allowing the head to contact the disk surface, a “hard bad sector” might be created. Hard bad sectors cannot be repaired, but they can be prevented. The heads of a hard drive float on the air cushion generated by the platters spinning, they fly less than the width of a human hair away from the platters, even a small speck of dust is like a mountain, so knocks are definitely to be avoided.

Soft bad sectors occur when an error correction code (ECC) found in the sector does not match the content of the sector. Whenever a file is written to a sector, the drive calculates a “checksum”, which is used to verify the data, if it doesn’t match upon read, the drive knows the sector is weak. A soft bad sector is sometimes explained as the “hard drive formatting wearing out”, in other words the magnetic field is weakening, like an old video cassette – they are logical errors, not physical damage ones. These are repairable by overwriting everything on the disk with zeros. Like tapes and CD’s, the magnetic surface on a hard disk is not infinite, it is affected by other magnetic fields around it, so data recovery guys like me recommend regularly imaging a drive directly to another, frequently, to keep the data fresh and readable.

Preventing bad sectors

You can help prevent bad sectors (always better than trying to repair them, as they say prevention is better than cure!) by paying attention to both the hardware and the software on your computer.

Preventing bad sectors caused by hardware:

  • Make sure your computer is kept cool and dust free;
  • Make sure you buy good quality hardware from respected brands. Cheap RAM and power supplies are my biggest culprits from experience;
  • Always move your computer carefully, and make sure it is TURNED OFF, not in Sleep mode, it can wake up while being moved, especially a laptop;
  • Keep your data cables as short as possible;
  • Always shut down your computer correctly – use an uninterrupted power supply if your house is prone to blackouts.

Preventing bad sectors using software

  • Use a quality disk defragmenter program with automated scheduling to help prevent head crashes (head crashes can create hard bad sectors). Disk defragmentation reduces hard drive wear and tear, thus prolonging its lifetime and preventing bad sectors;
  • Run a quality anti-virus and anti-malware software and keep the programs updated.

Monitoring bad sectors

If you use a tool like HD Sentinel, or CrystalDiskInfo, and you notice bad sectors on your drive, keep an eye on it. A few sectors bad is not normally a problem, as I mentioned at the start of the article, up to 5 bad pixels on a new TFT is allowed before it becomes a warranty claim, hard drives are allowed a few bad sectors due to the imperfections of their manufacturing process. They are manufactured with what are known as “reserved sectors”, a spare area of the disk only accessible by the controller board. If a sector is weak, the controller will attempt to move the data to the reserved area, if this is successful it then attempts a quick read/write test on the old sector (takes less than a few milliseconds), if it fails it marks it as bad in the sector map, also stored in the drive reserved area, along with drive firmware, so that it doesn’t attempt to use it again.

If the number of bad sectors starts increasing, or you start to experience other symptoms, such as the drive dropping out completely as if you unplugged it, or any clicking, and data taking longer to read or copy, this could indicate a fault with the read/write heads, or the control circuitry. Stop using it immediately and back up any important data to another drive. If the failing drive is under warranty, print a log off from HD Sentinel and take it along with you to return the drive, as evidence.

S.M.A.R.T Values to look for

When looking at S.M.A.R.T (Smart Monitoring And Reporting Tool) analysis, the two main areas to look out for are:

Reallocated Sector Count

This shows how many of the drive’s Reserved sectors have been used. If too many of these are used it generally indicates a problem with the disk surface.

Current Pending Sector

This shows how many bad sectors are currently pending a rewrite. A hard drive will always try to rewrite the sector, if it fails, the sector is reallocated into the reserved, the drive adds the sector on to the Reallocated Sector Count, and the original sector is then marked as unusable. If the rewrite is successful, the Pending Sector count will drop.

 

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A big bug in the Linux version of Pinta has stopped me from using it as my Photoshop replacement. Here’s my situation: I have an image of one of our Superwoman models, for example, that is quite large, but Superwoman herself is quite tiny, in the middle of the background. I select the whole image, and copy it to the clipboard as-is. I don’t want to use the select or crop tool. I create a new canvas that is smaller than the source image in either height or width, and then paste in my image to the new canvas, so I can move it around and position it just right without having to guess using the select tool on the original.

Make sense? Hopefully! Anyhow, Pinta in its default state, SQUASHES the image to fit the canvas, if you tell it not to resize the canvas, and it looks completely wrong, it literally squashes the image from top down, you know what that looks like without a screenshot, right? I’ve fixed it in my own sourcecode copy and Pinta now behaves as I want it to. I’m not sure the devs would want my changes, but I’ll ask anyhow.

1. Grab a copy of the source, by whatever means by using Terminal (install Git first using “sudo apt-get install git”).

2. Then clone the repo with: “git clone git://github.com/PintaProject/Pinta.git”.

3. Now your source tree is ready, it will be in your Home folder under a folder called ‘pinta’. Install MonoDevelop, and open the Pinta.sln solution file using it.

4. Once open, find the Pinta.Core/Classes/Document.cs file, and after line 806, find:

            // If the pasted image would fall off bottom- or right-
// side of image, adjust paste position
x = Math.Max (0, Math.Min (x, canvas_size.Width – cbImage.Width));
y = Math.Max (0, Math.Min (y, canvas_size.Height – cbImage.Height));

Simply change it so it looks like this:

             // Modified by Tidosho. Image would be stretched/squashed if canvas was smaller and user chooses not to resize it.
//
// If the pasted image would fall off bottom- or right-
// side of image, adjust paste position
//x = Math.Max (0, Math.Min (x, canvas_size.Width – cbImage.Width));
//y = Math.Max (0, Math.Min (y, canvas_size.Height – cbImage.Height));

It’s a bit of a dirty hack, as it simply comments the procedure out, but it works. A possible fulltime modification could be a controllable scale type operation like in Photoshop where you control the scale using handles round the image, but I don’t think Pinta has a scale API.

UPDATE: It isn’t as serious as I first thought, but still annoying. The reason the image is squashed when pasted is because Pinta uses squashed thumbnails for use in the open documents list, and the History. As soon as you drag the layer pasted in, it corrects itself, but then you have to drag it back into position.

 

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Mika recently gave me her old eMachines E625 laptop after she bought a new one from me. I dual booted it with Linux Mint, as there was still some of Mika’s files under Vista that she wanted to keep. The only thing that didn’t work was the wireless. The card appeared to be installed under Device Driver Manager, but I received the message “Device not ready – firmware missing.”

I was scratching my head for ages. Using Ethernet for the time being, I tried downloading official Broadcom wireless Linux drivers and building them, but that hit a wall with Error 3 (I never did find out what that was). I swapped drivers under Device Driver Manager, still no luck. Admitting defeat, I phoned my linux chick, Kana, and her simple solution made us both laugh! She told me to open Software Manager, search for “b43”, and install the package “firmware-b43-installer”. It worked! The wireless on/off button light also worked!

She said you can also use Terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-installer”, but to do that you’d need to have known the package name first. I love you, Kana, my gorgeous Japanese geek goddess xxx Seriously, everyone should have a Japanese geeky programmer for a ladyfriend!

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