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#1 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 05:19 AM

ProtectData is a small "freeware" (Had I an alternative, I dare not to use the term) which presently does the following :
  • Recovers data from a damaged floppy
  • Hides data on a floppy using a custom (& inefficient) file system & of course, retrieves, displays & optionally saves them in the form of a file
  • Hides the existing contents of a floppy
  • Reads/Writes the raw sectors of a floppy & displays/save them in a form of a file

Since it's in its BETA, so lots of bugs will be there which need to be addressed. So, I'd like to request you to give it a try & let me know.

As floppy drives are obsolete today, so one can use VFD & simulate a floppy drive with a drive letter A:\ (presently, it's a must)

The program sometimes faces a problem in dismounting the drive to which it opens a handle. In that case, one should unmount & remount the image from within VFD.

Since still I'm not sure about the acceptability & also running in short of time, I couldn't (or didn't) prepare a detailed user guide, but a primitive documentation. I'll request the user to go it through before actually trying it out. Apart from the documentation. please do read the thread & the rest of this post patiently as I'm adding an online user-guide in successive posts.

Any queries posted on this thread will be answered ASAP.

BTW, I've planned to put a bit more detailed user guide & technical documentation after a few days. I'm personally grateful to Nuno for his effort & support in guiding me doing that.

Lastly, I don't consider myself eligible to put my small endeavour here, in Projectforge, which is a breeding ground for large projects. But I started a thread here just to support the moderators' endless effort to "put everything in place". If someone develops a hard feelings, please do look on my signature text.

================================================================================
================================================================================

The UI of the application is quite dull & it's may not be as user friendly as its peer commercial solutions. So, I earnestly request u to keep your eye away from those issues for a while & concentrate on the functionalities.

Let me discuss about the main menu options in brief:

Posted Image

#1. Write to disk: It writes to the raw sectors of a floppy disk. Selecting this option will present u with a choice between sector range(1) & existing file(2).
If u select #1, it'll ask for the starting sector#(where the writing will start from) & sectors to write#. Then it'll ask for data to be written in each of the sectors. The data length or each sector is constrained by the sector size(512 Bytes).
If u select #2, it'll ask for the filename to be entered in DOS 8.3 format & write the entire file in contiguous sectors.

#2. Read from disk: It reads from the raw sectors of a floppy disk. It'll ask for the starting sector#(where the reading will start from) & sectors to read#. Then the application presents u a choice between whether to save retrieved data in a file(#1) or not(#2).
Selecting #1 will again u to require to input the name of the file in DOS 8.3 format.
Selecting #2 will simply display the data.
  • Known bugs: Reading more than two sectors from disk will scroll the data out.
  • Possible usage: #1 & #2 can together act as a primitive disk editor to be used in conjunction to a hex editor.One needs to save the data in a file from the disk, modify it with a hex editor & write it back.

#3. Format the disk: It quick formats the disk using the built-in FORMAT utility of Windows.
  • Known bugs: The output from FORMAT destroys the interface completely.

The following three options claims the understanding of a term coined by me: virtual file (abbreviated as VF, from this point onwards). As I've pointed out earlier that the app fabricates a custom file system on the disk to store files which is not recognized by the OS but the app. To distinguish the "normal" files we are acquainted with from those the app deals with - the term has been used. To summarize, VF are the files not "seen" by the OS but the app only.

#4. Write to file: When this option is selected, the program asks for the name of the file "to be written on the disk" in DOS 8.3 format & residing in the same directory. If it can find & obtain a handle to the file, next it is required to provide the name of the VF. Armed with the above two information, it writes the file on the disk. However, after the writing process is over, one can open the floppy drive in explorer to convince oneself that the file is not displayed there. To convince oneself more, one can even try to uncheck the checkbox Windows Explorer -> Tools -> Folder options -> View -> Hide protect operating system files & select the radiobutton next to "Show hidden files & folders" to verify that this is not being achieved by tuning the Hidden|System bit on or some nasty registry tweaks. A sample listing after writing two files is shown below:

Posted Image

#5. Read from file: This feature reads the VF from the disk & displays them as a numbered list. Entering the number next to a file leads the app to ask whether the retrieved data to be saved as a "normal" file in the same directory as the app. However, even if not required, then also it is advisable to save the retrieved data in the form of a file to avoid scrolling problem. If "Y" is selected, the filename to store the data has to be entered, where as "N" will straightaway display the data. If "0" (Zero) is selected at the very first stage, it returns to the main menu from within #5.

  • Possible usage: First the floppy disk has to be prepared for the operations in #4 & #5. In order to do this, one has to format the floppy first, then select #7 ("Erase data") from the main menu & provide "Y" as the input at both the successive stages. Then the above instruction may be followed.
  • Known bugs: The software "DOES NOT" use any form of encryption as of now & therefore it's possible to explore the data with a disk editor. It only relies on "tricking" the file system for providing a primitive security from "normal computer literate" users. For the reason, till now it's a data hiding rather than an encryption software. Incorporating an encryption algorithm without taking help from a third-party library is in my agenda.

#6. Delete file: This option deletes existing virtual files from disk. When selected, it presents the same options as you can see in the 2nd screenshot of Post#1. Enter the number next to the file to delete the file or enter "0" (Zero) to leave the file system unchanged. One caution is, make sure to enter the correct number as the application doesn't ask for any confirmation as of now.

#7. Erase data: Select this option if you want to erase the data contained in all the sectors or some specific sectors of floppy disk. At first, the application will ask you whether to erase all the sectors.
If you choose "Y", it'll rub off all the sectors.
If you choose "N", it'll ask to to enter the "starting sector number where the erasing will start from" & "number of sectors to erase". Then it'll ask for a final confirmation. Entering "Y|y" will execute the task at hand while "N|n" will abort the operation.

#8. Scan a disk: Prolonged use of a floppy makes some it sectors unreadable. This feature scans a floppy surface area for corruption & reports number of corrupted sectors, % corruption & on the more, all the stats in a graphical format.

#9. Defragment a disk: Prolonged use of a disk to write & delete virtual files decreases the effective storage capacity of a disk. Hence. it becomes a must to defragment the disk with this option to reclaim its storage capacity.

#10. Hide/Unhide from Windows: So far, the application was concerned with dealing with virtual files. But, if the disk is written in usual manner (i.e. from Windows using Windows Explorer or from DOS using copy/xcopy) & then the user wants to hide them, this option comes into play. Selecting this option will present you a choice between hiding & unhiding the data.
If you select #1, then it'll hide the data.
If you select #2, then it'll unhide the data.
Then, the application will confirm one last time whether it should carry on with the hiding process. "Y/y" triggers the operation while "N/n" aborts it.
However, you have to ensure that the disk doesn't contain any bad sector & has at least 16 KB of free space. Otherwise, it'll lead to data lose.

#11. Help: This option launches the help panel in a dual-pane view. The necessary instructions for browsing the help is given at the bottom of the screen. Choosing an option from the left pane elaborates it in the right pane.

#12. Exit: This option is quite self-explanatory. It releases all handles & resources & gracefully shuts the application down on the contrary of the typical, annoying "End Now" dialog box which appears from clicking the "Close" at the upper, right corner.

---------------------------------------------------

Attached Files


Edited by Holmes.Sherlock, 05 September 2010 - 03:12 PM.


#2 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 09:39 AM

Yep, the colours are terrible. :)

They produce a very low readability, and if there was a way to avoid the initial animation (please read as unneeded delay when starting app) it would be a good idea.

Some thoughts :):
  • usually this kind of apps have options by pressing a key (like 0...9 A...Z) and not typing a one or two digit number and pressing [ENTER]
  • since some of the "main" menu choices "fork" in two, I guess commands could be differently grouped.
  • the Format is pretty much unneeded, as it simply calls the host FORMAT.COM (or at least could be put in the "backstage")
  • the use of the term "virtual" seems to me pretty much confusing, maybe "hidden" or "superhidden" better conveys the idea.



I would think about something like:

1. Disk/sectors
2. Files
3. Hidden data
4. Help
5. Exit


1.1 Disk write sector(s)
1.2 Disk read sector(s)
1.3 Format disk
1.4 Check disk
1.5 Defrag disk


2.1 Write to file
2.2 Read from file


3.1 Write hidden file
3.2 Read hidden file
3.3 Delete hidden file
3.4 Hide whole contents
3.5 Unhide whole contents


:)
Wonko

#3 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 04:32 PM

Thank u Wonko for all ur suggestions.

As far as UI is concerned, I'm trying to come up with a Windows version of the app with the basic concepts redesigned. But it'll take a few days, perhaps weeks. Till then, I've planned to explain the features of the present version of the app in the form a brief user guide in my next 2-3 posts. Please do keep an eye on them & let me know if something is incomprehensible, needs further clarification & incomplete.

#4 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 04:47 PM

let me know if something is incomprehensive, needs further clarification & incomplete.

incomprehensive :)
http://www.thefreedi...incomprehensive
or
incomprehensible :cheers:
http://www.thefreedi...ncomprehensible

;)

:)
Wonko

#5 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 05:00 PM

incomprehensive :w00t:
http://www.thefreedi...incomprehensive
or
incomprehensible :cheers:
http://www.thefreedi...ncomprehensible

:)

:)
Wonko


U deserve much more than mere thanks, Wonko. Actually I knew the wrong word. My language knowledge (not talking about my vernacular) is pathetic. ;) Correct me in future also, if I make further mistakes.

#6 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 05:29 PM

My language knowledge (not talking about my vernacular) is pathetic. :w00t: Correct me in future also, if I make further mistakes.

Not at all, I personally find your English much better ;) than that of a number of other non-native-speaking members, rest assured that there have been illustrious precedents in this "field":
http://www.boot-land...?...=2440&st=32

Also whilst you can count on my being picky, I am Italian, and my English tends to be a bit too "latin" for most "real" English speaker/readers....:cheers:

The use of English on the board is just the chosen "least worse" common language, lots of people don't write it "oxford-like" and lots of threads do contain some form of "pidgin English":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pidgin
but that's allright, the idea is to exchange ideas and to communicate, if while doing that and having fun, one learns a few new words or sayings, all the better.


Correct me in future also, if I make further mistakes.

You can bet on it! :) :)

:cheers:
Wonko

#7 mirecek1965

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 05:39 AM

This may be interesting project for someone, but i dont have floppy drive about 2 years :-D and absolutely dont need. Today is floppy replaced by usb sticks which has many advantages over it. Thanks.

#8 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 02:43 PM

This may be interesting project for someone, but i dont have floppy drive about 2 years :-D and absolutely dont need. Today is floppy replaced by usb sticks which has many advantages over it. Thanks.


U didn't go through my Post #1 properly.

As floppy drives are obsolete today, so one can use VFD & simulate a floppy drive........


Ur problem is not at all a problem as far as testing is concerned.

#9 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 03:00 PM

(........continued from Post #2)

The following three options claims the understanding of a term coined by me: virtual file (abbreviated as VF, from this point onwards). As I've pointed out earlier that the app fabricates a custom file system on the disk to store files which is not recognized by the OS but the app. To distinguish the "normal" files we are acquainted with from those the app deals with - the term has been used. To summarize, VF are the files not "seen" by the OS but the app only.


I hadn't doubted for one minute it wasn't you that "invented" the term "Virtual File".

Simply wanted to point out how the term is deceiving, in your own words, it is not a "Virtual File", it os a sort of "virtual filesystem" or "container", both terms widely used, as an example by true-crypt and similar utilities.

But AFAICU, the file is actually WRITTEN somewhere, so it is not really "Virtual" in itself.

Since you are also suggesting the use of a "Virtual" floppy driver, the choice of the term may bre lead to misunderstandings.

;)
Wonko

#10 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 03:12 PM

But AFAICU, the file is actually WRITTEN somewhere, so it is not really "Virtual" in itself.


Yep, it's only a term used in the guide, may be a bit misleading. After all, how can a data be contained in a storage system without being written somewhere?

Since you are also suggesting the use of a "Virtual" floppy driver, the choice of the term may bre lead to misunderstandings.


So far my knowledge goes, installation of driver in Windows requires to have Admin privileges. For this reason, the actual Truecrypt/Free OTFE software needs to have Admin access on the machine which it'll be used on. Probably, Truecrypt Explorer, which is only used to interpret the Truecrypt file system, doesn't require Admin privileges. Hence, Truecrypt disk based volume creation is only possible in the formed case. But, I've never advocated the use of a driver. Rather, the app can be used irrespective of the privilege one have in the system, without compromising with the functionalities offered.

#11 MrMonk

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:57 AM

Hi All, I usually don't take the time to post, but, I wanted to add that I have a "Floppy Drive" in all of my current systems, including a dual core with windows 7. I think that a program for securing data on a floppy is a great idea even if is a little late in technology, as we know it.

#12 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:05 AM

Hi All, I usually don't take the time to post, but, I wanted to add that I have a "Floppy Drive" in all of my current systems, including a dual core with windows 7. I think that a program for securing data on a floppy is a great idea even if is a little late in technology, as we know it.


Thanks a lot MrMonk. If u give a try to ProtectData, please let me know the result, if u face any problem or even if it fails completely due to some reason. As u know, every new development work, if it system dependent, has to be tested on a varied platform. I've done with my part. Now it depends on ur feedback.

#13 MrMonk

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:15 AM

Thanks for your time and efforts, I will certainly give it a try!

MrMonk

#14 gutnik

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 08:32 PM

Hi All, I usually don't take the time to post, but, I wanted to add that I have a "Floppy Drive" in all of my current systems, including a dual core with windows 7. I think that a program for securing data on a floppy is a great idea even if is a little late in technology, as we know it.

It is very pleasant to know that not only I uses floppy now. Sometimes it is very convenient.
Moreover (let me open a secret) I like old programs ande systems (including DOS) also.
Realy some New is forgotten Old.

#15 MrMonk

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 12:09 AM

Thanks Gutnik, i have been saving software since the early 90's. most are simple programs on floppys.

MrMonk

#16 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 12:26 AM

Thanks to Gutnik & MrMonk. Will u please take the pain of trying out the app & let me know about its performance? I need feedback

#17 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 07:58 AM

OT, but as always not much :cheers:, and JFYI:
http://www.msfn.org/...howtopic=136856

;)
Wonko

#18 gutnik

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 02:37 PM

Aft more detailed study theo text I come to conclusion that the offered thing is intweresting.
Where one can dowload it?
L.A.G.

#19 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 03:19 PM

Aft more detailed study theo text I come to conclusion that the offered thing is intweresting.

Seems that u haven't gone through the Post#1 fully or attentively

Where one can dowload it?

The downloads are made available at the end of the Post #1.




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