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ccsslb
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:45 am    Post subject: ASCII Filter Options Reply with quote

When I try to open a saved Open Office doc, I get a pop up title ASCII Filter Options with a list of languages to use to open it. Thinking that perhaps my 'language' had gotten changed somehow and not knowing for sure what it should be set to, I have officially tried to open a document with every language and none of them work. Every language opens a page with only pound signs ##########.

This particular document was saved and opened many times over the spring and summer of this year. Now it won't open at all.

This seems to be the root of another issue I've been having for the past couple of weeks. I have a LOT of documents saved and I had gone through and zipped most of them with ZipGenius to save space. I then deleted the original Open Office files from my system. This worked great and all of the files were able to be opened. Currently, however, none of these files will open. When I try I get an error from ZipGenius saying "List Index Out of Bounds". I thought this was a ZG problem and contacted them. They say it's not a problem with their program.

By the way, both Open Office and Zip Genius are working properly on files that I have saved since I noticed this problem. It is only affectly files that were previously saved and/or zipped.

I'm really starting to panic! I have hundreds of dollars and lots of hours tied up in these files but can't open any of them - whether they have been zipped or not.
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foxcole
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The immediate lesson to take away from this is to not delete originals but archive them off to CD or an external drive.... keep a viable copy in two different locations, in case something happens to one of them.

The first thing to do is make sure the files all have a file extension. There seems to be a rash of cases where the extensions go missing, and the "automatic file name extension" option in the Save dialog is turned off.

If that all looks good, download Hexplorer (an open source, small and capable hexadecimal and binary editor, available here: http://hexplorer.sourceforge.net/) and open one of the OpenOffice files. What do you see, exactly?
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Hagar Delest
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you upload a sample on a file sharing web site (like mediafire.com) ?

There is no need to zip ODF files since they're already zipped (in fact an ODF file is a bunch of XML files with additional folders.
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ccsslb
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I downloaded the Hexplorer and tried to open a sample file, but had the same result. The ASCII Filter Options window opened. This came up with Character set-Western Europe (DOS/OS2-437/US), Times New Roman, English (USA) if it matters. Clicking OK opened a 3 page doc of nothing but ##############.

I uploaded the sample file I've been trying. It's a small insignificate doc that used to work, doesn't now, and is the original file (not the zipped file). It's here:
http://www.mediafire.com/?ckx9j6xbbsg .

I really appreciate your help on this!
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foxcole
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ccsslb wrote:
Ok, I downloaded the Hexplorer and tried to open a sample file, but had the same result. The ASCII Filter Options window opened. This came up with Character set-Western Europe (DOS/OS2-437/US), Times New Roman, English (USA) if it matters. Clicking OK opened a 3 page doc of nothing but ##############.

I am sorry, I should have been more clear. You should try opening a file USING Hexplorer.

I also wanted to know whether this is happening only with OOo documents, or with other files as well. Bad news for this one; the contents appear to be wiped entirely. It's all hex zeroes. Is this on your hard drive? If so , you may have been a victim of a virus attack. If it's on an external drive, it's quite possible the external device was stopped before the write was complete, and that could affect all the files you saved to it. But I've seen a lot of people reporting the same problem (had it happen to some of my own files recently!) so I suspect a virus that's perhaps not identified yet. Please contact Symantec or Sophos and send them a sample. They have ways of finding footprints on a file that a hex editor can't see.

But it's also somewhat possible that you could recover your documents. The first thing to do is look for .bak files -- the location of those files is listed in Tools> Options> OpenOffice.org> Paths. .Bak files might not be the most current version because of the way OOo handles backups, but it would be better than nothing.

The other thing to try is a file recovery software. I like ADRC Data Recovery because it seems to find the most data. This method will work if those areas of memory haven't been overwritten... so while you might be able to expect some success with it, the recovery might not be complete.
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Last edited by foxcole on Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:19 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Hagar Delest
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, nothing worth inside. My guess is that you've been hit by a virus. Is it you foxcole who has had that same experience recently ? I'm sure one of the top posters here has had this very same issue some weeks ago.
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foxcole
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hagar de l'Est wrote:
Yep, nothing worth inside. My guess is that you've been hit by a virus. Is it you foxcole who has had that same experience recently ? I'm sure one of the top posters here has had this very same issue some weeks ago.

Yes, I was the first one I know of who reported it. Fortunately for me, my files were on a USB key which I back up to an encrypted volume on the hard drive, so after my initial panic, I remembered the backups (the backup runs silently so I forget it's there).

[EDIT] -- Which reminds me, ccsslb, by any stroke of luck are your files on a network where the servers and workstations are backed up automatically, or are they just stored on your desktop?
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ccsslb
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is worse than I thought! All documents including .7z (the zipped files), .pdf, .ods and .odt that were previously saved and working, are not now. All of these types that have been saved in the past couple of weeks are working correctly. It would appear that some kind of 'event' happened that wiped these files. I tried opening them all with hexplorer and got the same results....nothing.

So should I just close my eyes (so I don't mourn the loss of every title!) and delete them all or is there any hope of retrieving them? Any ideas on what could have caused this? My security programs are all up to date and haven't found any viruses or other problems.

I am just kicking myself. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. The reason I zipped all of those files (which we now know is NOT the problem) was to back them up to CD. Then my CD-RW wigged out (it's old and cranky!) so I am waiting for my new flash drive to arrive any day. Looks like it's all too late anyway.
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foxcole
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ccsslb wrote:
So should I just close my eyes (so I don't mourn the loss of every title!) and delete them all or is there any hope of retrieving them? Any ideas on what could have caused this? My security programs are all up to date and haven't found any viruses or other problems.

Do try ADRC Data Recovery. It's free (and I think might also be open source) -- and it really does work. You'll be able to rescue more that you might think. I doubt you need to keep the zeroed files but ADRC is just going to add them to a long list of deleted items, and you want to minimize the number of duplicate files you find there, so might as well wait till after running the recovery.

(There are other data recovery tools out there, too, many of which are free or low cost. Try Googling on "free data recovery".)
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Hagar Delest
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ccsslb wrote:
Any ideas on what could have caused this? My security programs are all up to date and haven't found any viruses or other problems.

IMHO, it's clearly a virus (and a bad one not just targeting .doc or most used files). What are your security programs ? Are they up to date (i.e. downloading regularly updates) ?
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, after more investigation, I know more but have no real answers. I did some more checking and realized that all of the affected files were in one particular folder in My Documents. It's strange that it would drill down to hit just that one folder and leave all of the other .pdf, .odt, .7z files and folders in My Documents alone. Not that I'm complaining! At least I have some stuff left, but the one it hit was definitely the most active and had the most costly files. I also know when it happened (if not why or what!). All of the files were modified on October 19, 2007 at 10:47 pm. I'm sure that info might be helpful to someone more techno savvy than me!

Since I don't use Norton, I couldn't find a way to report the unidentified virus to Symantec. I did send a report to Sophos just for the greater good. I also downloaded their little Anti-Virus checker and ran a scan. It didn't find anything either.

I will try the ADRC when my flash drive gets here since you're not supposed to install it on the same drive that you're scanning. I'm not holding out much hope, but it's worth a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

I double checked all of my security programs to manually make sure they were updated and ran them all. None of them found anything. I run WinXP with these programs which are all set to run updates and scans automatically every day:
AVG Anti-Virus
AVG Anti-Spyware (recently added)
Windows Defender
CCleaner
SpyBot Search & Destroy
SpywareBlaster
SpywareGuard

I also have the WinXP Firewall enabled as well as the Lynksys router firewall enabled.

I'm only on our home network, shared with the kids' computers, so there's no network backup.

Thanks to all who helped with this!
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Hagar Delest
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ccsslb wrote:
All of the files were modified on October 19, 2007 at 10:47 pm.

Do you remember any special action within the few minutes or hours before ? Opened a mail attachment or ran some installer ?

I'd made some tests with AVG and had been rather unsatisfied with it so I'd switched to Avast (Home edition is free) when I was running Windows XP.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to event history, this happened right before I shut the system down for the night. I don't have any idea exactly what I would have been doing, but it would be normal for me to either check/delete emails and play some solitaire (offline). I never, ever open email attachments or click on links in emails unless I know the sender personally.

Interesting info about AVG. I've used them for years, but I think I'll check out Avast. I've heard good things about them. But since the Sophos I ran last night didn't find anything either, I think you guys are right that it's not identified yet.

I know nothing about the workings of viruses, but is it even possible that it could be so selective in choosing just one folder out of many in My Documents? And is it possible for it to hit and run (hit on 10/19 but not affect anything saved after that date) or is it just laying in wait to hit again? I'm kind of hesitating to try to recover any of these files or save any more until I know what this is and how to keep it from happening again.
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Hagar Delest
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right, it seems rather strange that it would affect only one folder. But who knows ? But it's possible. The problem with viruses is that you don't know anything about their creators. Are they just experimenting, ... ?

Could it be a Windows issue at shutdown ? First time I would see that kind of problem.

Only advice is to check with different antiviruses if there is nothing suspect then make several backups.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hagar de l'Est wrote:
You're right, it seems rather strange that it would affect only one folder. But who knows ? But it's possible. The problem with viruses is that you don't know anything about their creators. Are they just experimenting, ... ?

Well, it appears that's how this one operates. It's stealthy and doesn't leave a trace, but it seems to randomly find a directory and wipe all the files in it. In my case they were project folders on my flash drive, for projects I was working on at the time. In one case, I had opened a file once, closed it, opened it again, closed it and the third time I tried to open it, it was wiped. That was the one that led to my investigation and conclusion that it was a virus.

I tried all the scanning tools I could find, too, with no joy. (I really like one I found, NOD32, so am running it instead of Symantec.) Nor has it happened since, but of course I'm not taking any chances.
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