Relocating Windows User Data

Quite some time ago I wrote a post about how to relocate the C:\Users and C:\ProgramData directories of a Windows installation to another drive. This is useful for those of us whom want to use a different hard drive for the operating system and keep documents elsewhere. In my case, my OS is installed to a solid state drive that is simply too small to fit all of my documents, music and pictures. I simply needed a better way to store all the data. When I discovered NTFS junctions (aka: reparse points) I realized I could do just that. I could finally put some breathing room between my operating system and my data.

Now that Windows 8 is here (well almost) I realized I was going to need to move all that data over yet again. In previous years, relocating user data was a pain, specifically because of all the reparse points that have to be fixed recreated once the data is copied to the new drive. Making sure you recreate every reparse point can be quite challenging. Moreso, if you miss one it could mean very bad things when you try to boot the system up again. This got me thinking, why not just write a program to do all that dirty work for me? And so I did.

The program is called MoveUserData. It runs at a command prompt and is intended to be used in the Recovery Console (so that security rights are not an issue). Below you will find the program and full source code.

MoveUserData_v1.zip 
MoveUserData_source.zip

Using the program is quite simple. Copy MoveUserData.exe to a USB drive or CD. Boot the Windows installation disc and go into Windows Recovery mode. Choose Command Prompt from the list of recovery options. Once you are at a command prompt put the CD/USB drive containing MoveUserData.exe into the computer.

Assuming that your Windows installation drive (normally C:) is currently listed as K:, your data drive is D: and that the CD/USB drive is set to E: then you can execute the following commands.

The program will do the rest. Once done, just reboot!

Disclaimer: As stated in my previous article, messing around with your operating system like this is very dangerous. While I have made every effort to ensure the program works as described it is still possible that errors will occur. So make sure to back up your drive first. Use of this program is at your own risk.

Update [October 5, 2012]:
So despite my rigorous testing of the program it appears that it doesn’t actually work in the scenario in which I intended, the command prompt of the Windows Preinstall Environment (installer discs). Truth be told I never actually tested it in this scenario because it would have made development incredibly slow and complicated. Instead I tested using a duplicated data set on a separate pair of drives from my main system. Apparently that was a big mistake on my part since it would seem .NET based applications like mine don’t run at all in Windows PE. Bummer!

An aside: Why on earth would Microsoft develop the .NET framework and market it as the end-all-be-all of Windows’ platform development if they don’t include support in Windows PE? That seems like a huge gap in judgement.

Back to the real issue at hand. Since no C#/.NET programs will work I am rewriting the utility entirely in C++. So stay tuned!

Dissecting the Xyloband

A couple of nights ago I went to the Coldplay concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The show was amazing in every respect but what really grabbed my attention were the wristbands they handed out at the gate. These wristbands immediately lit up and began to flicker to the beat of the music, and coordinated with the rest of the lighting coming from the stage (to see it in action take a look at this video). It was truly impressive to say the least!

Being naturally curious as I am I started researching the little gizmo as soon as I got home. I found this great post on Hackaday that already began the discussion I was interested in; how does this thing work? That quickly led me to the interview with it’s creator, Jason Regler, and finally to the actual patent filed with the USPTO (of which I proceeded to read in detail).

My next step was to actually take the thing apart. I’m lucky to have two of these since my fiance Heather joined me on the occasion.

You can see from the picture above that it is powered by three 3V batteries. The two CR2016 batteries are stacked on the back side of the board while the CR2032 is attached to the front. The circuitry itself seems moderately complex with only two ICs and a number of resistors. The most visible IC is on the bottom left is an Si4313 RF receiver from Silicon Labs. This RF receiver runs in the 240-960 Mhz range. The second IC that is partially visible from underneath the battery clamp appears to be the C8051F980 Microcontroller (MCU), also from Silicon Labs.

And for good measure here is a shot of the back of the circuit board.

It’s a very cool gadget. As I dig a little deeper I hope to be able to turn this thing on at my own will, preferably without Charlie Brown’s help.

 

Help stop SOPA/PIPA

Several companies such as Google, Wikipedia and even some among my own industry (Razer), have declared today as Blackout Day in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Online piracy is a serious concern and should be dealt with appropriately. Unfortunately these powerful pieces of legislation would empower government and anyone with enough lobbying influence (i.e. big corporations) the ability to ban and block users from accessing web sites and services deemed undesirable. This directly violates The First Amendment and should be stopped.

If you care about protecting civil rights and maintaining the freedom of the Internet please help join the fight.

Multi-Touch Table – Construction

After having the opportunity to play with Microsoft Surface first hand I immediately wanted to have one. However after I discovered the hefty price tag for one these tables and the fact that they are not yet available to consumers I decided to build my own. With some help from the great people at NUI Group I am well on my way to completing my new multi-touch coffee table for my living room. The table has been constructed and I am in the process of putting all the final parts together. Stay tuned for updates!

The main construction of the table is complete. I’ve constructed the box out of plywood and use 2×2′s for structural support on the sides. No nails were used around the frame of the table (just a lot of awesome glue).

The big empty space you see on the side is where the access door goes.