Picks and Pans Main: Bytes

updated 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Where did Sting go when a computer crash wiped out his financial records? Whom did Barbara Mandrell turn to when her musical director's hard drive died, trashing 124 arrangements? And how about when Bill Oakley, an executive producer of The Simpsons, came to work one day to find his Mac and a dozen scripts were toast?

DriveSavers, in Novato, Calif., has found its niche rescuing data from computers others deem unsalvageable. Onetime hard-drive salesman Scott Gaidano, 53, founded the company in 1985 with Jay Hagan, 39. "I've never done anything as fulfilling as this," says Gaidano, who got the idea when he lost a year of diary entries to a fizzled floppy.

In the lobby of the 20-person company, a Museum of Bizarre Disk-asters displays one laptop that tumbled off a cruise ship into the Amazon River, another squashed by a bus, and a desktop PC flambéed in a blaze so hot its monitor melted. Technicians de-gunk the delicate "platter" that stores information, then use homegrown software to sort out garbled data. This spring DriveSavers donated its services (which average $700 per job) to help the sheriff's office in flood-stricken Grand Forks County, N. Dak., rescue case reports from its PC. "It was full of sludge and had been sitting in water for a couple of weeks," marvels deputy sheriff Dan Hillebrand, who resolves to stash backup copies on higher ground.


Richard Grieco of 21 Jump Street has starred in cable movies with Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill. Jamie Farr, M*A*S*H's Corporal Klinger, reunited with William Christopher (aka Father Mulcahy) this year for a regional-theater tour of The Odd Couple. The Dukes of Hazzard's John Schneider counsels expectant dads on the video Honey, I'm Pregnant Too.

These are a few of the where-are-they-now gems at WASHED-UPdate (us.imdb.com/washed-update). Greg Bulmash, an L.A. Web designer and freelance writer, uses the Net to track former faves. "It started when I was wondering what happened to Irene Cara from Fame," says Bulmash, 28. A Web search listed her as performing in England. Hooked, Bulmash started the weekly newsletter, which draws about 20,000 readers. Despite its title, he is respectful: "These people are still playing because people will still come and see them."

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