Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"5 Minutes to What?!"

So, I worked on a film this summer. It was a bloody mess. Just an absolute bloody mess. It was absolutely horrifying...oh, let me clarify. I'm talking about film CONTENT, not the film itself, nor the production. The shoot was fantastic. The cast and crew were fantastic. The overall experience was fan-freakin'-tastic!

What started out as a three day contest evolved into something greater. We signed up for the 48 Hour Film Project, not knowing what we would be getting ourselves into.

The project had to be written, shot, edited, and submitted within 48 hours (hence the name of the contest). We began our weekend of filming on a Friday night, where our team, Suture Films, arrived at Chatham University, the central hub of this weekend event. There, we drew our film genre from a hat, noted the requirements of the short film, and went on our merry way.

Equipment test!
We ended up drawing horror. Though this was my first horror film, I embraced the opportunity to try something new. We went back to our set, where our team of writers cranked out a script, while the rest of us prepared the set for the shoot. By the end of Friday night, all the preparations were complete. We were ready to start filming, and the title of the film was chosen: "5 Minutes..."

The shoot officially kicked off the next day. Drenched with special effect goodness, we shot and
experimented until we were all bloodied (all fake, of course) and sweaty (it was HOT on the set). Though we were pressed for time, due to a few scheduling conflicts, we were still able to get what we needed and wrap by the end of the day. Things were looking good. Really good.

Then day three came. Sunday was dedicated to editing. We did run into some trouble with the process, but we were still able to submit something by the deadline that day. Unfortunately, we decided that the final product still needed some work, so we decided to pull the film from the 48HFP screening.

 We figured that everyone worked so hard on the project, we wanted to release the best possible product. We wanted our contributors to be proud to say that they worked on this production. So, we decided to take our time and spend the next few months recutting the footage until we had something that we could all be proud of. Several days ago, our latest edit went live (embedded below).

I am very happy with the results. Since it is the perfect season for the horror genre, this is the perfect time to unveil a project that all of us put a lot into.

With the release of our film, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in the film. You guys did a great job and showed a level of passion and professionalism that I have never seen before. I would also like to give a shout-out to all my Juniata colleagues that assisted in the production. You guys did a fantastic job and made the production a wonderful experience! That goes for the rest of the cast and crew! You guys made it possible to make a dream come true: to produce my own film! You have all my appreciation and respect. You are all a very talented group and I hope to work with you all again!

Physically and mentally preparing for the next shot!
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters of this project! You guys helped us to move forward with this project and strive to make something that you would all love. We hope that you all enjoy watching this film as much as we enjoyed making it!

A handful of the people who helped to make this possible!
Next, we will be looking to polish the film and begin screening it in a few festivals and contests. Stay tuned for any future updates! Thanks again for all of your love and support! Cheers!

And here it is folks! It's the moment you've all been waiting for:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Climbin' in Our Windows, Snatchin' Our I.D.s Up

Adobe's Response, "Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife...Oh, and Change Your Password."

I received a rather alarming email from Adobe on October 4th. It was a statement detailing an attack on Adobe's network. It seems somebody was able to hack into their system, however it doesn't seem as though it was anything major.

The email stated, "We recently discovered that attackers illegally entered our network. The attackers may have obtained access to your Adobe ID and encrypted password. We currently have no indication that there has been unauthorized activity on your account. If you have placed an order with us, information such as your name, encrypted payment card number, and card expiration date also may have been accessed. We do not believe any decrypted card numbers were removed from our systems."

Well, that's not good. However, the email went on to explain, "To prevent unauthorized access to your account, we have reset your password."

"We recommend that you also change your password on any website where you use the same user ID or password. As always, please be cautious when responding to any email seeking your personal information."

Well, at least it doesn't seem too bad. The personal information stolen was still encrypted, meaning that there is a very small chance that anyone will become a victim of identity theft. Or, at least that's what Adobe is trying to assure. At this point in time, there is "no increased risk to customers as a result of this incident." Whew.

Still, this has me on the edge of my seat. How could such a large and innovative company like Adobe be hacked so easily? And does that mean that larger potential threats could be imminent? Considering that this probably put Adobe on high alert, I would assume not. But sooner or later, they could possibly let their guard down again. Unfortunately, that's just the nature of any business housing millions of private accounts on file. As Jim Gordon, portrayed by Gary Oldman, once said, "We start carrying semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor piercing rounds." The only way to get the upper-hand is to stay on your toes.

Users of Adobe products (or any online resources, for that matter) should definitely change their passwords every so often (6 months to a year), and be smart about who they share their information with. I might be telling you what you already know, but it's important to remind yourself of the ways to stay safe in the digital frontier, especially after what just happened with Adobe. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How To: Hard Drive Recovery/Repair

Recently, I experienced some technical difficulties with my Samsung 320GB hard drive, which I was using to transport video files from my laptop to my desktop PC. It seemed as though something had corrupted the hard drive in the transfer process, resulting in this wonderful message:

The system was unable to read the drive, believing that there is nothing on the disk. Oh, ho, ho, ho. Now what? Are those files officially gone? Not quite. Let me run through how recovered my files.

I started by searching for hard drive recovery tools and came across a nifty little program called the Minitool Partition Wizard Home Edition. This software package includes a simple interface that can be helpful for even the most casual users.

Once the program is installed, open the software. You will be given the option to access either the Partition Wizard or Data Recovery. Choose the Data Recovery option.

And...what's this? It will only recover 2GB of data, unless you pay for the software?! Yeah, this happens. Lesson number one: always watch out for software that says its "free", but once installed, limits what you can do with the software, unless you purchase the "full" version. It'll happen more than you think, so just do some thorough research and look for the hidden fees and limitations.

So, after doing some further research, I found a free version that provides a FULL recovery without paying any of your hard-earned cash. Recuva is a free software package designed for data recovery. The application can be downloaded here. On the software page, hit the big green download button. From there it will take you to the next page. Obviously, you want select the free software bundle (unless you feel like giving them your money). Select where you want to download the software from. I just chose Piriform, since they developed the software. From there, the download should automatically start. If not, you can click on the big green download button to start it. Make sure you don't have any Firewalls in place that are preventing the download from opening. Select the destination of the file and let it download.

Once complete, open the installer to begin software installation process. Once the installation is complete, allow the application to open. A recovery wizard is the first to appear. If your hard drive is completely unresponsive, then the wizard will be of little use. Go ahead and click 'Cancel' to navigate to the main recovery screen. Select your faulty hard drive from the drop-down menu and scan the drive for the missing files.

Once the software has finished scanning the hard drive and assessing the damage, a list of files should appear below the drop-down menu. They should be the files that you currently cannot access on your hard drive. Click the check box next to 'Filename' to select all the files and click the 'Recover' button. You will then need to select a destination on your computer to copy the files. The copying process will begin and may take a while, depending how much data is being recovered.
It's also worth noting that this procedure is done for a hard drive that has irreversible damage to it and cannot be accessed in its current state (with the data on it). There may be a quicker fix for a hard drive that suddenly decides to behave badly but can easily be adjusted to do its job. Google is your best friend. In any case, always consult the Google gods for the best solutions and don't always believe that the first result is the best solutions. Research a couple of methods before deciding on the best solution. This goes for any hardware/software recovery. 

If it turns out that it is an issue of hard drive REPAIR and not recovery (recovery would be for worst case scenarios), I would recommend a program called SeaTools. This allows you to check the specified hard drive and attempt to repair bad sectors of the disk. By clicking the 'Downloads' tab, you can download the program for free. After installation, you can do a simple check for errors (the interface is pretty self explanatory). If a problem occurs, the software will recommend that you run a 'Long Generic' test to repair the bad sectors. Select 'Long Generic' from the drop-down menu, then press F8 to begin the scan/fix. Once again, the scan will take a while, if there is a large amount of data on the hard drive. Be patient. Recovering those important, irreplaceable files will be worth the wait. 

If it seems like a problem beyond repair (such as in my case), then you can shell out the money to have a professional recover the drive, attempt to fix the physical components yourself (not recommended), or try the initial recovery method mentioned above (or use similar recovery software to Recuva). Hopefully, this will help for any future scenarios. Hard drive/flash failure happens, so it's important to know what to do in that situation. Most importantly, always backup your necessities onto another hard drive, so you don't have to go through the recovery process in the first place!