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Morning Notes

L.A. Bar and Grill Reopening — After closing for renovations (and because it was late in renewing its state alcohol license) Columbia Pike watering hole L.A. Bar and Grill is planning to reopen this weekend, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. [Facebook, Facebook]

The D.C. Case for the Rosslyn Gondola — “The Gondola will provide anyone within the Metro catchment area a faster trip to Georgetown. With the Gondola, the total travel time to Georgetown drops to less than 30 minutes for a much larger part of the region, including areas of the District with the greatest need for employment opportunities, giving them a faster way to connect with jobs in Georgetown.” [D.C. Policy Center]

Petition Against iPads in Middle School Cafeterias — An online petition, signed by nearly 100 people, seeks to have Arlington Public Schools strengthen its rules regarding iPad use in middle schools. Specifically, the signers want iPads to be used in classrooms and not during lunchtime or recess. Such a policy, the petition creators wrote, would “ensure that APS electronic resources enhance, and do not detract from, the learning process of middle school students.” [Change.org]

More ART Arrival Info IssuesOnce again, Arlington Transit is having problems with its real-time bus arrival system. Officials told ARLnow.com that a technical issue with the contractor that provides the system was to blame. [Twitter]

Native Plant Sale This Weekend — The Long Branch Nature Center will host a sale of “plants that are accustomed to local climate and wildlife” on Saturday afternoon. [Arlington County]

Scott McGeary Lauded — “Decades ago, Scott McGeary’s parents would take him to occasional celebratory dinners at the Key Bridge Marriott, where they would enjoy both the food and the vistas of the nation’s capital… On May 2, McGeary was again at the hotel, this time in the 14th-floor ballroom as he was inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [InsideNova]

Four Mile Run Dye Testing — Arlington County is conducting dye testing along S. Four Mile Run Drive today. Traces of green and red dye may be seen in Four Mile Run as a result. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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DMV Computer Issue Leads to Lines at Four Mile Run Office

Virginia DMV office on Four Mile Run Drive (photo via Commonwealth of Virginia)An issue with the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles’ statewide computer system led to some long waiting times at the Arlington DMV office on Four Mile Run Drive this morning.

The glitch came after a long holiday weekend — DMV offices have been closed since Thanksgiving.

Just after 8:30 a.m. — the office opened at 8 a.m. — a customer told ARLnow.com that some 150 people were waiting around as employees tried to figure out how to get the computers to work.

Luckily, the problem was resolved shortly thereafter.

“We had a brief issue this morning, but it was fixed a little before 9 a.m. and offices should be back up and running,” said Virginia DMV spokeswoman Brandy Brubaker.

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Tech Tidbits: Data Recovery On Hard Drives with Bad Sectors

The following article is written and sponsored by Alexander Chamandy of Arlington Virginia Computer Repair, the IT services provider of ARLnow.com.

Alexander ChamandyData recovery technicians are no stranger to hard drives with bad sectors.  In fact it’s one of the more common forms of hard drive damage we see from client storage devices.  So what  exactly are bad sectors and media errors and how do they effect a hard drive?

What is a hard drive sector?

Let’s start with the basics.  Sectors hold tiny chunks of information.  They embody where and how data is broken up and stored on to hard drives (and other storage devices).  Most sectors are 512 bytes on older drives and 4096 bytes on modern drives.  They are a component that is part of what is referred to as ‘disk geometry’ or the physical location of data stored on the hard drive’s platters.   The sector itself is just a small section of magnetic media surface.  This surface is referred to as the platter(s) of the hard drive.

Your actual data is stored in these very same sectors as fragments.  These fragments are what make up your files, such as documents, photos, music, etc.  When the fragments of data that are stored in each sector are assembled properly your data is accessible to read, edit, save, etc.  But when these fragments of data cannot be accessed properly, it may be due to bad sectors.  And those bad sectors may actually worsen as the drive is accessed.

How do hard drive sectors go bad?

Most of the time hard drive storage sectors go bad because of wear and tear.   Hard drives are spinning around from 5,400 RPM all the way to 15,000 RPM depending on the model.  This force, combined with the heat of a motor and the action reading and writing data all cause the hard drive to begin to stress itself on a molecular level.  Because the surface that data is recorded on is electroplated on to the hard drive platter’s surface, it is quite fragile and can actually begin to degrade or even flake off in to tiny bits of metal over time.  Sectors may also degrade due to direct physical damage, manufacturer defects or other problems.

Bad sectors are defined as a sector that take a long time to access, is no longer readable/writeable or otherwise compromised.  Because bad sectors are a sign of a hard drive failing, it is recommended that hard drives in this condition are retired as they will functionally deteriorate until they are no longer operational.

How can I avoid bad sectors?

You can’t reliably avoid bad sectors, but you can try to ensure that you keep your data on multiple storage devices, so that when (and not if) one dies, you have a copy of your data located somewhere else that is still reliable.  To ensure your drive has a long, healthy life you can be mindful of extreme temperature changes, high humidity, physical shock and not moving the hard drive while it is powered on.

I didn’t backup, is my hard drive’s data lost?

Probably not so don’t lose hope yet!  Arlington Virginia Computer Repair is a small, family-owned and operated company that offers expert data recovery services at competitive prices to the Washington, DC area and beyond.  We will exhaust every option to re-unite you with your data as cost effectively as possible.  Our rates are competitive and our success rate is currently 90%.  That means there’s a very good chance that if you can’t find your data anywhere else, we can recover it from a damaged hard drive with bad sectors (or other maladies).

Read more about our data recovery services and contact us for help.

The preceding article was written by Alexander Chamandy of Arlington Virginia Computer Repair

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Volunteer Opportunities: Swim Instructor for Kids with Disabilities

Volunteer Arlington logoThe rain is coming down in buckets in Arlington — and should continue to do so until tomorrow — so while you’re holed up inside and dry, check out some of these opportunities around the county to bring some sunshine to those in need.

Starting this week, the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation is looking for swim instructors to help children with disabilities learn how to swim. Volunteers will be in the pool providing swimming assistance as well as support and encouragement, and, according to the volunteer announcement, “an important element of this class is building a relationship with ‘your’ class participant.”

Those interested, and free on either Wednesdays or Sundays, should call Kathryn Salyers at (703) 228-4738 or go online. Here are some other opportunities to get involved around the county (from Volunteer Arlington):

  • Weekly Wednesday Food Distribution: The Arlington Career Center has over 1,000 students that walk through its doors. Out of all of those students, a number of them are in need of additional resources to help them succeed. One of those such resources is food. Every week on Wednesday afternoons, between 1:40 p.m. and 3:20 p.m., we distribute free groceries to our students at school. We are in need of individuals or groups who might be available one or more Wednesdays between 1:00 and 3:40 p.m. to help distribute groceries as well as to help with set up and breakdown. If individuals or groups are only available for half of the time, that also would work well. All volunteers who participate will be trained during their initial volunteer engagement. Volunteers who hope to volunteer regularly will also be required to complete a form for a required Arlington Public Schools background check on their first day of volunteerism. Contact: (703) 228-8694.
  • In-School Tutor for Young AdultsAre you looking to make a difference in the lives of nontraditional students looking to obtain their high school diploma? Communities In Schools of Northern Virginia is seeking academic tutors at one of its high school sites to aide students in their English, reading, science or math skills. The individual must be able to commit to volunteering for 2-10 hours per week on site between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday or for math specifically between 5 p.m. and 9:10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Scheduling flexibility from week to week is definitely an option. More information can be found online. Contact: (703) 228-8694.
  • Computer Skills Instructor: This is an opportunity to teach computer skills in using Microsoft Office applications, Social Media and any basic skills as needed to low- and moderate-income adults in Arlington at the Whitefield Commons Community Resource Center; many of whom are immigrants and have limited English. They need patient and sharing individuals like you to become involved. Volunteers must  have proficiency using Microsoft Office, Social Media, Internet Explorer, and email accounts and an ability to patiently explain, in basic terms, how applications work and can be utilized. More information can be found online. Contact: (703) 465-5001.
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DMV Experiences Licensing Outage

The computers that control driver’s license transactions in Virginia went down this morning, causing a backlog that may affect DMV locations this afternoon.

The statewide licensing outage lasted “a couple of hours” and was resolved by noon, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Melanie Stokes.

The problem was caused by a faulty server, Stokes said. Licensing systems at some DMV offices may still be experiencing latency issues as a result.

“We’re still having some locations that are experiencing slow transaction times, but that should be worked out fairly quickly,” she said.

This morning’s outage may increase DMV wait times this afternoon, depending on how many of the customers who were turned away this morning decide to return later today. Stokes said that some customers may have been given “return letters” that will allow them to skip the line when they return.

A similar outage occurred on Wednesday, March 9, but only lasted 20 minutes, Stokes said. Both outages were isolated to DMV licensing computers and did not affect other DMV transactions. Stokes said the outages were not related to the extended Virginia DMV outage last summer, which was caused by statewide computer problems.

This is at least the third time in a month that the Four Mile Run DMV office has had to turn away customers. On Feb. 25, a wind storm damaged a large section of the building’s metal roof, forcing it to close for the day.

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