Foxvideo Productions

October 2015

Hard drive nightmare!

It’s happened before, it’ll happen again - I lost a hard drive, 900Gb of backup stuff. I keep a stack of hard drives on a shelf, these have old, finished projects on them, Final Cut projects saved and exported using Media Manager, DVD Studio Pro projects with master files and other various data files including photo originals. I’d used the drive in question 10 days ago to get a couple of video clips from, there was no indication of any problems.

I needed another file from it 3 days ago, I popped it into a Drive dock connected via USB - the lights came on but the drive wouldn’t spin up, I tried all the usual things you do when that happens, still nothing. Realising it was now probably a hard drive fault I put it in the freezer for 6 hours (believe it or not this has worked before!) still nothing.

Looking around for ideas I came across a post suggesting the PCB on the rear of the drive could be changed, sure enough 5 small screws and board came away from the drive, looking online I found a used identical drive from an eBay seller for £30 with free postage and guaranteed delivery within 2 days. It’s important if you try this to find an almost identical drive, same age, same Rev (Revision) number and the same version Firmware.


So, the drive arrived this morning, first thing was to Mac format it and make sure it worked, then I took the PCB off and put it in the faulty drive - the drive spun to life! However it made a horrible screeching noise when it got to full speed, was giving the ‘click of death’ and didn’t show on the Desktop.

At this point I had nothing to lose so took the drive cover off exposing the platters, Yes I know these are put together under dust free laboratory conditions, but what the heck, I’d effectively lost nearly a 1Tb of data I couldn’t lose any more!

I could see the actuating arm and head moving back and forth across the platters constantly, turning the drive off and looking at the arm it seemed a little stiff - so out comes the WD40 (Disclosure - other lubricating agents are available) and gave it a spray, keeping it away from the platters of course. Plugging it back into the disk dock the drive spun up, got to full speed and SHOWED ON THE DESKTOP!


It was then a matter of drag / dropping folders and files I really needed to keep, some files refused to copy and I had to disconnect and restart the drive many times, it was obvious there was a fault on one platter or section of a platter, but after around 4 hours I’d recovered around 60% of the drive.

Lesson learned - don’t take it for granted a single backup will be safe, if it’s vital to you back it up twice and then once more for safety. I won’t guarantee the above will work for you, if it’s absolutely vital to save your data on a faulty drive - get it done professionally, I could afford to have lost all my data permanently, it would have been a problem but something I could have lived with, as it turned out I got the very important stuff back - I was lucky.

Good things must come to an end.

There’s always a sense of relief when major projects come to an end, there’s also a sense of apprehension that they’ll be appreciated in the way they were first envisaged, a sense of sadness (and loss) that a project you’ve lived with day and night for many months is finally over and lastly a sense of frustration that you could have done something better (or different) despite the work you’ve put into it.

3 of my long term projects have now come to their final conclusion, a video, DVD and website for Wye Invader 2, photography (including the front cover) and photo restoration for the Oxenhall Parish History Group book and full design, implementation and ongoing maintenance for the new TRAC website. I’ve put many, many hours into the projects, sometimes working into the early hours, I’ve made errors, found work-arounds, lost files, redone stuff I wasn’t happy with and drunk endless cups of coffee, thankfully all the clients were pleased with their end result, so here’s to the next major project - whatever that might be!

DVD Sleeve



Apple - Hero or Villain?

Or Why do Apple get it so right yet so wrong?

I’ve been an Apple stalwart since 1993, I currently run a MacPro with 3 different Boot drives, Yosemite for normal day to day use, 10.8.5 (Snow Leopard) with a dedicated Final Cut Pro 7 drive and Yosemite with FCPX, I also have a MacBook Pro with Yosemite, along with an iPad 2 and an iPhone so I think I know Apple and it’s products quite well, compared to friends and family using Windows on PC’s I get none of the reliability or security problems they do!

My local Chapel holds a ‘Review’ each year of the past 12 months activities, a selection of photos taken by several different people, displayed on the projector with someone explaining what was going on and I was asked to gather the photos, put them in date order and produce a slideshow with manual advance - probably one of the simplest jobs any computer should be able to do.

Apple recently replaced iPhoto with Photo, it was an automatic upgrade with Yosemite, I could have chosen any one of hundreds of Slideshow programs but thought Photo would do the job, simply produce it on my MacPro, test it then transfer to the MacBook Pro, connect the projector and away you go..... Wrong!

OK, the photos imported in correct date order, Yes, the slideshow was produced but it had an automatic advance only - you have to set the duration to 28 minutes to be able to advance the slide when the commentator has finished speaking, Yes it’d show on a second screen (or projector) but the slideshow controls displayed for 5 seconds or so with each slide and there is no way to stop it - I don’t want to see the controls hiding part of the photo every time I advance a slide - I’ll use the cursors keys!

In iPhoto there was a way to edit the slideshow icons and make them 100% transparent so they wouldn’t show but that hack doesn’t work in Photo. I do wonder if Apple’s software engineers use their programs in ‘real life’ or do they just sit in their labs marvelling at what a great program they’ve designed without ever actually using it!