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The R4DS Corruption Case

Alright, so as part three in today's unfortunate tech trilogy, I'd like to tell you the story of the R4 DS cartridge I've been testing, that this week came across with some unfortunate data corruption.

The R4 is one of many flash carts for the DS, basically a DS cartridge with a slot for an SD card, to be used with content of your choosing. It loads like any other game, but once it's loaded you can load pretty much anything else on it, from apps to games to just any type of file you'd like to view or play. Music, movies, pictures, documents... the hardware's the limit.

Just so you know there's plenty of legal homebrew stuff you can run on these things, even if the most common use is definitely ROMs. I did this last year, for example.

There's something for everything. Both games and apps. You can basically turn your DS into a whole, fully functional, miniature little OS - though be careful about what apps you install as it's definitely possible some of them can corrupt certain data. Or overwrite certain data. Or in all possible ways mess things up - it's not official software after all.

I've been trying this one recently, and since everything was working fine until I did it's not impossible that one was the culprit...

It all started with a corrupted file.

I occasionally plug in the SD card to the computer to make a backup, and do this by simply dragging over the folder from the SD card to a local drive, but recently one arbitrary file just wouldn't move. Corruption, apparently.

It seemed to have no effect on the file system itself, though, so it seemed strange I couldn't move it to another one, corrupt or no. But alright, there wasn't much I could do about that so I let it be, and then one day I booted the DS cart and: it wouldn't run. At all.

I plugged the SD into my computer and it showed up as completely unformatted.

So that was that, I reformatted the drive, ran Recuva to potentially salvage some of the files (deep scan) and it basically recovered a bunch of icons and wallpapers. Good thing I had a backup right?

Doing error checks on the SD card now shows no errors, so I'm not sure as to what caused this issue, but it's possible it has to do with this (same link as above), and more specifically the file operations feature of ditto.

I'll be testing the cart without it from now on to see if corruption occurs without it, and if it does I'm hoping to run a check before it becomes unusable again. It's a quality SD card, and a relatively new one too, so that shouldn't be the issue.

Moral of the story: Not sure. Test your stuff. Figure things out. Solve your problems. And cumulatively, deriving some wisdom from all of these recent three incidents: don't spend too much time on unnecessary tasks or you might find that you give yourself problems you don't even really need.

That's all. At least for today.

Drive Cloning Mishaps

I just accidentally deleted a 1,5 TB chunk of files I'd been moving from a bunch of smaller/older drives onto one larger one, and late night decided to clone onto another drive the same size. For posterity.

I can't say for certain if I somehow accidentally put the drives in the wrong slots, copying the empty drive to the source drive, or if something just went horrible wrong with the cloning process... but whatever happened it definitely went horribly wrong! Opening up the drives today I'm greeted with two identical, and EMPTY drives! Identical drive signatures (that's easy to fix though - just go through disk management and hit the 'offline' notice to fix it - hopefully this wasn't the fix that somehow started this nightmare) aaand identically barren wasteland. Nothing there. Zilch. Nada. Stereotypical synonyms on nothing end burst.

This comes at the end of a few weeks spent backing up files, just in case, and has me realizing two things. Firstly: If you decide to clone a drive, it's best to have a backup of that drive somewhere safe already, because the clone process might in fact impact BOTH drives - not just the additional one. And secondly: I don't really need this particular chunk of data.

It still stings though. I'm running a shallow Recuva scan on one of the drives I copied files FROM - to which I've unfortunately copied new files to after, and running a deep scan on the now empty source drive, hoping that everything will still miraculously be there, just hidden away by the new partition index.

A shallow scan didn't work though. It recovered files that had been previously deleted on the OTHER drive, which had been cloned to this one, so I'm not certain this attempt will do much good either. It's currently running on two hours, with three more to go, so it's still a while left until I find out. Fingers crossed. UPD: Didn't work. Fingers uncrossed.

But it makes you think a bit. About files. About what files you really need. About if all this time you spend copying files to/from and between locations is really worth it... also knowing that a fire or similar freak occurrence could easily wipe away the entirety of these files regardless. Backups or no.

I need to get some backups to a different location, but cloud backup's expensive for large amounts of data, and I don't have that great bandwidth either way. Leaving a copy with a friend is an idea but I'm paranoid by nature, so I'm currently reading up on encryption too. Not that I don't trust my friends, I just don't trust my friends to be paranoid by nature.

So for now I'm backing up locally, and backing up certain selections of smaller files online, and pondering additional backup strategies. Also currently thinking about all that time. All that drive, poured into these drives; so easily dead; so messily revived. Just like my bike.

Not that I ever could revive my bike. Not without a little more alchemy practice. Alchemy drive recovery? Hmm! Unconventional anime spin-off ideas...

Missing Boot File In The Morning

I made a stupid mistake yesterday. I was initiating a drive through a docking station on my laptop, and noticed a 'mark as active drive' option in the activation menu that I wasn't sure I'd seen before.

So I clicked it.

What this does is apparently make this particular partition the boot partition of the drive, and unless you have an operating system on that particular partition then you probably done messed up good.

I read the little help snippet after I'd done this, and rapidly changed back to what I thought was the original partition (the C drive, right?), and thought all would be good again. Seemed like nothing had happened after all. I kept using the computer that day, and today... it wouldn't boot.

Missing boot file.

I should mention I didn't even get a warning during the first change, but I did get a warning when I was changing back, telling me the implications of this dangerous procedure. That if I wasn't choosing a drive with an operating system on it then it'd be fucked up totally.

Needless to say I was pretty distressed about this new message, turned to Google on my regular computer, found a bunch of third-party solutions trying to sell particular recovery software products, a few commandline answers on Super User, and then I found Hiren’s BootCD PE.

I formatted a USB key, installed the ISO, and booted it on my laptop.

It's basically a little miniature OS, made to look like Windows 10, with a wide repertoire of programs that help you with all sorts of computer repair-related tasks, and basic software for anything else, like writing or browsing the web. It's barely a gig large, but works like its own enclosed OS, straight via USB, and though I didn't try any network-related tasks I assume you could as well use this instead of your regular OS.

I assume you can save additional files to the USB stick too if you have some space left. It's basically like Chrome OS but better, in that you can actually manage the hardware that powers it, use it as a dual boot, or carry your entire OS with you between computers.

I'm sure you can do this same thing with a lot of Linux-based OS:s, but I for one am not that accustomed to it, so this was pretty cool.

I tried some MBR and recovery-related apps, since that was my main purpose with using it after all, but that didn't help at all. I tried booting again a few times. Nope. The error message asked me for a Windows Recovery CD, which I didn't think I had - which is why I resorted to Google and alternative methods, but I decided to do some digging around anyway since the above (or my skills in using it) didn't seem sufficient to solve the issue... and what do you know! I had one lying around after all.

Booted with the CD, ran a system recovery thing, and there you go, problem solved. It wasn't such a difficult task after all. Just took me a couple hours to get it all working again.

Moral of the story: don't mess with settings you don't know anything about, and get a recovery CD if you don't already have one.

RELENTLESS DOPPELGANGER

Ever wanted to know what AI-generated Death Metal sounds like? Well here's your chance! It's been streaming for over a month so far and shows no signs of stopping either. Can't say this really suits my earbuds, but I'm curious to hear how it'll sound in another month or so.

If this AI grows: who knows. It'd be a tireless music production powerhouse, ready to spew out an endless repertoire of audial greatness for all possible musical tastes.

Maybe we won't need human musicians after all.

Be Who You Are...

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

If You Never Want To Be Criticized...

If you never want to be criticized, for goodness’ sake don’t do anything new.

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