Friday, December 26, 2008

Why I Will Never Buy a Maxtor Product Ever Again

Couple weeks ago, I took a chance and declared Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois my douchebag of the year. Teach me to jump the gun.

Maxtor Corporation stepped up and took the prize with product behavior so douchebag'ish that it should be criminal (seriously). For the Maxtor weenies that are reading this, neither I nor the companies I have any influence over will ever buy any of your products ever again. That is a solemn promise, and one I will keep.

Here is the story for the curious, and for those unlucky enough to have been stung by these motherf**kers and are stumbling here through Google.

A couple days ago, I was doing a final backup of our old PC file server so I could complete the migration to our Mac file server over Christmas break: 200Gb internal drive being cloned to a 300Gb external drive in a Maxtor One Touch USB case. All our personal files, taxes, photos, etc. (the usual), with a backup procedure I've used >100 times with no trouble.

About 3 hours into the procedure, my old fileserver PC decides to die. It doesn't post, no fans spin, nothing. Dead as a door knob. I suspect a dead power supply. Alas, I now have a bad back up drive, and no easy way to back up the internal drive.

No problem, I'll pull the internal drive out of the file server and put it in the external USB case, and use the external case to copy the files to the new file server (unfortunately, the 300Gb drive in the external Maxtor case now has an incomplete backup and is useless to me).

Couple screws, pop it out, pop it in, plug it in, and my Mac tells me I have an unformatted 128Gb drive(!) Did I run into a Mac'ism? Plug it in to my wife's Windows laptop and the same thing: "E: drive unformated", with a disk size of 128Gb. Oh shit!

Fire up some low level disk management and recovery apps I have, and it finds the 12Gb C: partition, and also my data partition, which is now ~60Gb smaller than it should be with gobs of corrupted files and directories. WTF?

A Google search on "Maxtor One Touch 128Gb?" turns up the answer (take a moment and contemplate how close to magic that would have seemed to someone even 15 years ago)

Turns out the douchebags (a term I VERY rarely use, but much deserved) at Maxtor had decided that if a non-Maxtor hard drive was put into one of their external cases, they would intentionally cripple it by setting the Host Protected Area (HPA) limit of the drive to 128Gb. This is a firmware change on the drive itself, that makes it look like a 128Gb drive to the outside world, whether it is in a Maxtor case or not. Any partitions beyond 128Gb are now corrupt, and that data inaccessible.

Basically, for fear their case would be used with a non-Maxtor drive, these assholes had intentionally crippled and corrupted my harddrive, making a tremendous amount of data unreachable and unrecoverable through normal means.

(Un)Fortunately, others on the internet had already run into this mind-numbingly stupid behavior and solutions were available.

I recovered the disk by:

* Downloading and burning a bootable ISO image with the miraculous HDAT2 program from:

* Popping the now crippled 200Gb drive into an old PC case and booting up with the HDAT2 CD

* Following the instructions to quesion #6 in the HDAT2 FAQ (reproduced here):

Q6: Host Protected Area (HPA) vs. 28/48-bit LBA mode
A6: There is a problem of incompatibility on some hard drives (e.g. Seagate and/or in an external Maxtor One Touch) when you are using 48-bit command for removing Host Protected Area (HPA) created with 28-bit command.
48-bit command cannot remove HPA created with 28-bit command and vice-versa. Following solution is for disk supports 48-bit LBA mode only and if you have HPA greater than 127 GB.

"Some vendor-specific external drive enclosures (Maxtor) are known to use HPA to limit the capacity of unknown replacement hard drives installed into the enclosure. When this occurs, the drive may appear to be limited in size (e.g. 128 GB). In this case, one must use software utilities that use READ NATIVE MAX ADDRESS and SET MAX ADDRESS to change the drive's reported size back to its native size."


1. Power-on PC, boot and start HDAT2.
2. In 'SET MAX (HPA) Menu' select 'Set Max Address'. Change 'LBA mode' from 48 to 28-bit LBA mode and press 'S' key to set maximal address for 28-bit LBA mode (127 GB).
3. Power-off PC (Important !), power-on PC, boot and start HDAT2.
4. In 'SET MAX (HPA) Menu' select 'Set Max Address'. Leave the selected 48-bit 'LBA mode' (or change 'LBA mode' from 28 to 48-bit LBA mode) and then press 'S' key to set maximal address for 48-bit LBA mode.
5. After restart you should get the full (native) capacity of hard drive.

Now my hard drive again registers as a blessed 200Gb, and all the directory and file structures are sound (at least so far as I can tell).

I am doing a final clone to my external 300Gb drive, then I am taking a literal sledgehammer to the Maxtor case. If someone has the mailing address for these assholes (the home address of the CEO would be ideal), let me know and I'll mail the remains to them with a heart felt "F**K YOU!"

On a happier note, Lubomir Cabla (the author of the freeware(!) HDAT2) is a gentleman and a scholar of the first order. Lubomir my friend, I hope the $100 donation I sent you helps keep you a little warmer during the cold Czech winter. Thank you sir, you are a god send.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Earth Rising

I've written already about the time loop that is connecting us to the pain and schisms of 1968, and how the time has come for us to choose to break free.

While much happened in 1968 that turned us upside down, that year ended with the crew of Apollo 8 circling the moon on Christmas Eve, and sharing an image that did more to change our relationship with our world than any other before or since. For a moment, we caught a brief glimpse of ourselves as God sees us, and felt the awe of knowing how much more was in front of us to be worthy of all around us.

As we break free into the New Day, let's celebrate the Earth Rising that we first saw 40 years ago today, and remember that special obligation people the world over felt towards each other on that day.

May the blessings of health and hope for a better tomorrow be with you this Christmas, and may the special joy of being part of something larger than yourself fill your soul in 2009.

Said the king to the people everywhere,
"Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

2008: Album(s) of the Year

Like last year (and again much to my surprise), my album of the year is a treasure from the distant past. More on that later. First, to the niche winners.

Best Album That Channeled A Soul: Songs in A & E (Spiritualized)

I didn't know what to expect with this album. Enough people recommended it that I took a leap (as an aside: how many people get exposed to unexpected books and music because they need to get to the $25 free shipping threshold on Amazon?)

From the very first track, you're listening to karmic reincarnation of Led Zepplin and early Pink Floyd as it should have been.

Listening to Songs in A & E is like mainlining emotion at its most raw. This is slap you upside the head emotional intensity, with an honesty that is shocking.

Anyone who can channel this much of their soul in a recording deserves our attention and respect, and certainly deserves a listen.

Best Album That No One Knows Existed: Love Bits (Unicorn Dream Attack)

In October I was driving home from work listening to our local public radio station. On came a story about a local Minneapolis band that absolutely mesmerized me (link to audio of the piece at the top of the article in the link). Unicorn Dream Attack is a local musician who has interfaced a keyboard to a Nintendo Game Boy and plays through the music synth chip in the device (aka, 8-bit music).

Before you roll your eyes and close the tab, this is not just a gimic. Listening to these tracks evokes the same feeling of impending greatness as watching Reggie Bush play in college or looking at an Andy Warhol painting before he jumped the shark.

There are flashes of blow-you-away-can-he-possibly-be-doing-this-on-purpose-absolute-brilliance in these tracks that made me thankful that an album could still surprise and touch me in this way. Wow.

After listening to the radio piece, I could not get Pill0w F0rt out of my head. Night and day, my brain worked overtime to get wrapped around this tune.

Do me a favor and drop the $10 to buy this CD. There are a lot of misses, but the hints of brilliance are transcendent. This is a talent that should be encouraged and emboldened. I can't wait for the next album.

2008 Album of the Year: Naked Songs (Rickie Lee Jones)

My album of the year is a Rickie Lee Jones album from 1995 that I did not know existed until a couple weeks ago (thanks internets). Naked Songs is a WONDERFUL live recording of Rickie, playing solo with sparse guitar and piano.

20 years ago, I took great pleasure in disconnecting my right brain and soaring with Rickie with her marvelous studio albums. Those that did the same have probably stopped reading so they can buy this gem from Amazon.

On this album, Rickie proves herself to be one of the finest singers alive. With nothing but sparse guitar and piano to accompany herself, she soars higher than I would have thought possible. I am in awe at the texture and sublty of vocals on this album. An extraordinary talent in her studio recordings proved to be even more extraordinary live.

Naked Songs includes the authoritative versions of all her finest songs. From the breathtaking take of Horses opening the set to Young Blood like it was meant to be to a rendition of We Belong Together that made me believe that we actually were.

This is the type of recording that we all wish Van Morrison had captured when he was in his prime.  If you had even a passing interest in Rickie Lee Jones back in the day, set your right brain free, close your eyes, and soar to places we all wish to be. Bravo Rickie.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Home

The Wolf has landed. Excited to be an honest man again.