• Data Recovery

    R3 Data Recovery

    When my hard drive went down I did a Google search for data recovery and uncovered some real horror stories about certain companies purporting themselves data recovery specialists, so I decided to do some research before I sent my precious data away for recovery.

    There are all sorts of rouge companies out there that will for example ask you to send them your drive for analysis and a free estimate, do not do this, as once they have your drive they can charge you what they like and you are still not guaranteed to get all or any of your data back after paying out huge sums of your hard earned cash for donor parts that you did not need, or would not have helped in the first place. You may also be charged elevated quotes for low cost recoveries in the pretence that they were forensic recoveries.

    Even worse there are some companies out there that will send you a template report without even looking at or attempting to recover your data or you could just be told that your drive is unrecoverable, as the company in question cannot even be bothered to go through the hassle of recovering data when they find out that your drive is in a bad way (like mine was), and it will take them more time and attention than they can be asked to give, in other words they would just take your money and run. So if you have a drive in need of data recovery, do yourself a favour and read this review before you make a decision.

    As already mentioned I did a lot of research before I eventually chose R3 Data Recovery, and have spoken to, and had quotes from at least six data recovery companies, so I thought it my duty to write a report of my findings to stop small businesses and individuals from being ripped off by rouge data recovery companies declaring drives unrecoverable, leading to unnecessary data loss. I am not saying in any way shape or form that the other companies listed here are rouge, read on, and you will see the reasons why R3 Data recovery were my data recovery company of choice.

    And remember this, a reputable company will be able to give you an accurate quote from the error description you give them without ever having to see or examine your drive and R3 Data recovery were spot on with the fault diagnosis, the quote that they gave me and there were no hidden extras, even though as I was soon to find out, my drive was one of the most degraded they had seen out of all the drives they had recovered during that current month (August 2014).

    Whether it was luck or fate the first company I contacted were R3 Data Recovery, who quoted me £249 + VAT, plus the cost of a drive to put the recovered data back on, ok that sounds good a fixed price quote, they are not asking me to send the drive in for assessment and they have already won me around by telling me they need a drive to put my recovered data onto, which is telling me they are confident they can recover my data, brilliant I thought, I like the sound of these guys, all boxes ticked, although I have a list of companies here so let’s see what the rest have to say.

    Next I had a quote from Data Recovery Direct whose economy service was £240-265, which seemed fair enough, although I wanted a fixed price quote so I moved on.

    MjM Data Recovery were next and they quoted me £599, which seemed a bit excessive.

    The Data Hospital quoted me from £175 + Vat, and also told me that it would be difficult to diagnose and provide precise pricing without evaluating the media, so they were out of the equation straight away.

    My next quote was from The Data Clinic who told me that recovery cost would be dependent on fault diagnosis, so in other words they were not prepared to give me a quote until I sent them my drive, they also charged £95 for diagnosis and gave me an estimate for a standard service that would cost between £350 – £650 plus any parts, they are now out of the running.

    I then spoke to TRC Data Recovery who told me that those My Book drives are hardware encrypted, and my data may not be recoverable, thanks mate that’s just what I wanted to hear, and that the drive itself could have two faults, drive firmware, or failure of read write heads, and if the fault is the former the cost will be 275 + vat if the fault is the later therefore mechanical the cost will be 375 + vat. What unnerved me about TRC was that they told me the fault was more likely to be the later as, get this they had about 6 hard drives sitting around at the moment with the same issues. 6 hard drives just sitting around, to me that meant this guy does not care about my data and I feel sorry for the customers whose drives were just sitting around, so obviously these people were out of the running then I was told that either way we will send you a detailed report of what can be recovered and it will be a 5 day turn around and we will send a courier to collect the drive. So they also wanted my drive before they committed to a fixed quote, so, that would make seven drives sitting around, no thanks, next.

    Data Track Labs were next on my list, they quoted me £175 plus VAT, again I hear the old subject to assessment and that the price could go up to £400 plus VAT, I then had several calls and email from them stating that the cost for recovery for a drive with the kind of fault my hard drive had was now on some kind of special deal and that the cost was now only £175 plus VAT, then in the same sentence, please note if the HDD is suffering from multiple faults additional charges will apply, oh really, I am sure you just told me that the fault could not be diagnosed without assessment. So with the hard sell, the mixed messages, and the special deal for my precious data, this lot were completely out of the running.

    The next company I spoke to were Fields Data Recovery, same story, send us your drive and we will assess the fault, send you a report, and the cost for recovery could be anywhere between £2-400 depending on what they find, they also tried the hard sell and I was called at least three times by 3 different people, no thanks, I have a mind and I can make my own decisions, bye.

    So after all this calling around and emailing for quotes I decided that R3 Data Recovery were the right choice and I am so glad, from start to finish R3 Data Recovery were trustworthy, professional, reliable and approachable.

    I am an Apple developer and in my wisdom I decided one day to take all the data from 3 of my external USB drives, a 500 GB, a 300 GB and a 250 GB, which had been purchased as separate drives and caddies and combined together and which I have had for many years without issues, into one 2TB Western Digital My Book.

    Result I thought I now have all my data in one place, the drive seemed reliable, although a bit noisy but this suited me better than swapping around three drives, which were now condemned to a different life, after a format I gave one to my daughter, one was securely erased and binned and the other, which is a NAS drive with all my training on, I thought I would keep as is, I also had a lot of the stuff backed up to DVD, so I thought I was relatively safe.

    Wrong! 3 weeks before the warranty expired the WD died in style, no warning, no data, the WD had died on me completely, it was dead, the light just kept flashing, when I plugged it into my laptop the drive was not recognised, and did not even show up, when I plugged it into my Mac the Mac didn’t acknowledge the drive either, Oh dear I’m in trouble now.

    As even though I had some of my data backed up on DVD, the thought of copying all that data from DVD back to hard drive made me shudder, the data on my drive, which was currently running at 1.6 Terabytes, had been saved over a period of 14 years or more and I have thousands of backup discs all stored in zip cases, the data on the drive was sorted and the data on the discs is mixed and spans many different discs, some have not even been written on, and just say disc 1, disc 2, etc. Not to mention the shelf life of some of the earlier discs is shall we say well passed, although anyway, I was not too concerned with what I had backed up, it is what I did not have backed up that concerned me.

    And what I did not have backed up was all the latest stuff I had been working on, namely all my artwork for a rework of one of my early Apps, the artwork for my last 3 Play Store Apps and Artwork for my last 5 Apple App Store Apps, plus lots and lots of code, all the different App release versions, and the Play Store Key codes had not been backed up to disc, now without any of this a re-release or an update is now impossible.

    We are talking all my Photoshop, Illustrator & Flash documents which are irreplaceable & thousands of lines of code, to rework all of that art and re code all those Apps would have been unbearable and all of it had been backed up to the WD Hard Drive that had just died on me as I got complacent and became too reliant on that HD as it was so much easier to copy everything to the drive as opposed to burning discs as well, big mistake!

    I was in panic mode now, so got out the screw driver and prised the drive case off and removed the SATA hard drive with the intention of plugging it into my desktop PC and attempting to recover the data myself, no chance, little to my knowledge the WD My Book drives have an encryption chip built onto the ports, so the data on the drive was unrecoverable without using this bit of hardware that WD decided to activate on some of their drives, just in case one day you decided to add password protection, but to be fair to Western Digital, Andy has since told me that my drive was in a very bad way and that It is testimony to the quality of the drive that we were able to nurse the heads through without the need of a rebuild, and even if this drive had no encryption chip I would have never been able to get the data back as the drive was in such a state that I needed some professional help.

    How my drive got this way I have no clue, the drive has been babied since new, has never left my house and has been sitting by the side of my Mac for nearly two years, I only moved it a couple of times, and one of those was when I bought the drive back home after purchase, I did ask Andy how my drive could have got so bad and he told me that the damage could have happened anytime in the drives life but been managed by the drives electronics up to the point, more of the drive was being used and more bad sectors were mapped by the error checking functions to the point they could not manage all the bad sectors, more testimony to both Western Digital and the knowledge of Andy, who by the way, is the Operations Manager over at R3 Data Recovery.

    So you just never know when your hard drive could fail on you and your precious data could be lost forever, notice I said could!

    When I realised this was not something that I could try and fix, that is when I decided to Google data recovery and as mentioned above, out of all the companies I spoke with, I am so glad that R3 Data Recovery were my company of choice, I am so thankful to Andy and Mike for the awesome job they did in recovering all of my data, not just a few bits here and there they managed to recover every single file and directory perfectly, and as already mentioned, the data on my drive was running around 1.6 Terabytes.

    Everything was smooth sailing from start to finish, for me anyway as I now knew my drive would be in safe hands. Andy sent a courier to collect my drive which was promptly collected the following day, even though my second contact when I had finally made my decision to go with R3 Data Recovery was on a Sunday at very early hours, Andy emailed me back straight away as he was still working on another job, impressed, I was.

    During the process I spoke to Mike on the phone for an update who informed me that they had to build a custom heat sink so the drive would stay on long enough to get the image from the drive and the heat dissipation was to prevent the motor bearing over heating due to friction as there were just short of 4Billion sectors on my drive and several million of those were bad. One of the worst they had seen, at least amongst their current batch of recoveries, and that even new heads would have struggled to improve the read times by a few percent, and that the only cause for this would be a head crash, most likely during power fluctuations or a knock or drop, pointing to slight spindle to motor angle change, all very technical stuff, again making me feel confident that I had made the right choice in choosing R3 Data Recovery.

    While my drive was in recovery I was informed of every step of the procedure and also had a very nice courtesy email from Andy reassuring me that my data was in the process of recovery and that there was no need for concern, which was very much appreciated and went a long way to calm my peace of mind and as soon as the raw data image was on the recovery machine, Andy had the faulty drive couriered back to me so I could return the drive to WD for a warranty replacement, now that is what I call customer service.

    The recovery did take a bit longer than expected, but considering the state of the drive this was more than acceptable and as soon as my data was recovered from the image and copied to the replacement drive, that was promptly sent back to me with all my data intact and safe, so all in all they sent me three couriers, and recovered every bit of my data, I have no clue how they did it and I really do not know what I would have done without their help, as it certainly would have been the end of my App development days for the foreseeable future.

    I whole heartedly recommend R3 Data Recovery to anyone who is of need of data recovery, and would urge you to look nowhere else for the sake of your data and your sanity. In my humble opinion R3 Data Recovery are more than specialists they are genuine professionals.

    Copyright © Shane Hogan
    Do not copy this article.

    R3 Data Recovery
    Buy ScaleViz To help you Master the Modes, Nail the CAGED system, learn all Major, Minor and Dominant, Chords, Arpeggios, Pentatonics and Modal Shapes in all positions, go from From Cowboy Chords to Soloing and become a Fretboard Master with ScaleViz today!

  • ScaleViz – A journey into Development

    ScaleViz was developed in Flash CS5 using ActionScript 3.0, which I have been learning since February 2011, AS3 was my quickest route to developing for iOS as I have experience working with timeline animation in Flash and some basic AS2 knowledge, although this didn’t help much as the language has changed significantly from AS2…

    I started developing ScaleViz when Adobe first announced their Packager for the iPhone, but at the time I didn’t have an iOS device, then the project was cancelled, and so was ScaleViz, left on the shelf for another year, I did change the development to Flash Lite for a short while but didn’t get very far as device support was dwindling.

    Eventually I got myself an iPod (Gen 2) and it absolutely blew me away, I could actually see ScaleViz working with swipes and my enthusiasm was reborn, within the next few days I joined the Apple Developer Program and guess what I did first, that’s right, the cobwebs were blown away, and ScaleViz was compiled, needless to say it didn’t work, it was all timeline and AS2 based. but, that’s how my AS3 journey started…

    Notes on using Flash for App Development: The AS3.0 code sample’s are the same for all devices, the publish setting you choose when you compile your app, sets the target device.

    For targeting Android devices you need to use, Flash CS5.5 using “Air for Android” as the publish setting (The Flash CS5.0 Air for Android Extension is no longer available).

    For publishing to an iOS device, you need Flash CS5.0 with the “Flash Professional CS5.0 Update for iOS”, which you can find at Adobe’s Flash Support Center, or you can use Flash CS5.5. You also need to be a registered Apple Developer.

    Note: If your not running the Mac version of Flash for iOS development you should have access to a Mac to create your .p12 certificate, and upload your binaries for review.

    Buy ScaleViz To help you Master the Modes, Nail the CAGED system, learn all Major, Minor and Dominant, Chords, Arpeggios, Pentatonics and Modal Shapes in all positions, go from From Cowboy Chords to Soloing and become a Fretboard Master with ScaleViz today!

  • Alex Alien


    I have just finished an App for iPad, well my first game really, and it was approved by Apple on the 11-12-13, sweet, I had lots of fun creating Alex Alien and it just grew and grew, so many ideas kept creeping in, I never thought it would get finished for Christmas 2013, which was my goal date. I did it though and am very pleased with the end result, I spent a long time on the graphics and made sure the space backgrounds were highly detailed and authentic and also made sure the App supported the Retina iPad’s and iPad-mini’s, as you can probably tell I am still buzzing from creating this game and I still have so many more ideas to put into Alex Alien and am looking forward to working on Version 1.01, where you can expect to find lots more logic puzzles, more mazes and lots more meteor shower levels.

    My favourite part of creating the game was the wormhole section in “Alex’s Spaceship”, there are numerous screens each with four wormholes and the idea is to drag Alex to the correct wormhole, pick the wrong one and you may well end up back at the beginning, although if you are lucky you may end up on the same screen or just be put back a few, my partner Rita, spent an hour and a half playing just that section when she was beta testing for me and still never got to the end, there are hints though, watch the background planets and listen to the audio clues and you will survive the wormholes.

    The meteor section in “Alex Leaves Planet Vulcan” was fun as well, I had to make it a bit easier as I couldn’t even get through the meteor showers, so on some levels I removed a couple of meteors and on others I slowed them down, I also changed the code so that you would only be sent back to the same level if you got hit and not all the way back to the beginning as I had first coded in, I may well bring that back though as an ultra hard setting.

    Oh and the Creature Critters in “Creature Chorus” are most amusing they play notes through their behinds which is extremely comical in itself although even more so when you can play tunes with them, I have seen them bring a smile to the most hardened of beta testers, while they were knocking out a rendition of London Bridge 🙂

    You also get to try out the four different sections for free.

    • Play PeekABoo with Alex.
    • Figure out how to wake Alex.
    • Build a puzzle of the Earth
    • Play with the Moon Critters.

    App_Store_Badge_EN_0609Alex Alien is a free to download HD family adventure for iPad, and includes four sections that support in-app purchase; the background story is Alex is on his way to Vulcan’s Circle moon, where he is on his way to catch moon worms for his dinner.

    The first section “Alex Leaves Planet Vulcan” gives a brief introduction to Alex, then goes into a type of Whack A mole game, this bit is free :). When you buy the first section you get to help Alex navigate a meteor shower using his Jetpack, he then meets up with SpaceFly, who with your help shows Alex the way through the Oort clouds.

    The second section “Alex’s Spaceship” contains logic type puzzles, where you have to perform tasks like wake Alex, this bit is free, when you pay for section two you have more logic puzzles, and then you have to navigate your way through some wormholes to finally reach Alex’s goal and catch some moon worms.

    The third section “Alex’s Puzzles” contains jigsaw puzzles of the characters and scenery in the first two sections, the first puzzle is free and some of you may recognize the puzzle from my Udemy tutorial on How to Create Puzzle Pieces using Illustrator & Photoshop. when purchased you get Puzzles of the Planetary System, SpaceFly, Alex, the Moon Worms and a few other drag & drop type puzzles.

    The fourth section is for fun and amusement, and certainly created some amusement in our house, especially when I showed my misses what I was up to. “Creature Chorus” has moon critters that play music from their behinds, you can play with them for ten seconds, then when purchased you can play with them till you can’t laugh no more and you also get access to the included song book which contains five simple tunes to get you started.

    Alex Alien Copyright © Shane Hogan

    Alex-splash-ipadApp_Store_Badge_EN_0609Read More About Alex Alien – Bedtime Adventures Across the Universe

  • Creating Puzzle Pieces with Illustrator and Photoshop

    Learn to create puzzle pieces of any size or shape for use in your latest project or App using Photoshop & Illustrator.

    You will learn how to create a square puzzle template in Adobe Illustrator, then we go on to creating a circle puzzle template in Adobe Illustrator and import the template into Adobe Photoshop where we break it up into pieces, apply effects and export the individual pieces, which we then batch re-size and rename for use in your standard and retina iPad project.

    Recommend for anyone that that would like to have an easy to use reference on how to create puzzle pieces or templates for use in their latest project or App or anyone that has purchased CartoonSmart.com ‘s Story Tellers Kit and would like to know how to create puzzle pieces the easy way.

    Create puzzles quickly and easily with minimum effort and without having to use the pen tool or purchase expensive limited plug-ins.

    Learn how to use the shape tools, line tool and shape builder tool in Illustrator.

    Learn How to use Photoshop’s trim and save for web tools.

    Get the low down on preparing your images for use in your project or App.

    Learn how to create a re-size action.

    Batch rename in Photoshop, adding -ipadhd extension to your images with minimum effort.

    This course is over an hour long and includes examples for creating a square template and a complete circle puzzle, and also includes templates for a triangle, a star, an ellipse and the working Photoshop and Illustrator files.

    Once complete you will be able to create a puzzle of any size or shape imaginable.

    I have also just added a new video on optimizing your workflow with keyboard short cuts.

    This course is available exclusively at Udemy.com and it is priced at $17 but wait, seeing as you lucky people found this course on my blog you can are entitled to a special discount coupon which you can use by clicking redeem a coupon and entering “loyalty-discount”.

    This means you get the complete course for just $5, saving $12 🙂

    So what are you waiting for here’s the discount link

    By Shane Hogan