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Unknown Pundit: "The shortest distance between two points is always under construction."
In the Trenches with LAROKE
Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 06.06.1998 (Old Blue becomes the Old Guard Part I)
SITREP: 12:11 P.M. 5/4/98 "Old Blue" is a shell of his former self at this point. All data has been relocated to the new file server/web server, "Johnny Mnemonic" and only system software and the trial version of the Cheyenne backup software remains. The time has come to start reconfiguring Old Blue for his new role as the company's first communications server.
The game plan is to remove the Stacker compressed drive volumes from the physical drive
Step 1: Re-configure the hard drives
All files were deleted from the two Stacker Volumes on physical drive
3:23 P.M. 5/4/98 As an afterthought, I copied the Invisible LAN installation files to a subdirectory on Old Blue's physical drive
Next, Using the "Uncompress drive" command from Stacker's "Tools" Menu, I tried to remove the last Stacker compressed drive,
A Windows 95B OSR2 system diskette was made for Old Blue (using another PC on the network that had this version of Windows) and the FAT32 versions of
Step 2: Install Windows 95
Next, after re-booting Old Blue from the newly formatted drive
I turned on the external HP DataStor SCSI DAT tape drive and TI MicroLaser printer to give the Windows 95 Installer Wizard a better chance of "seeing" them. Old Blue's motherboard is not PnP so it's a toss-up whether they will be recognized or not.
After experiencing the speed of installation of Windows 95 on Johnny Mnemonic (Pentium II 233MHz with 32Mb memory), the installation on Old Blue nearly put me to sleep (486/66MHz with 16Mb memory). Near the end of the process I installed the generic HP LaserJet Series II printer drivers for the TI Microlaser which will emulate a HP printer. The "Generic/Text Only" printer drivers were also installed.
When the setup Wizard was finished, I noticed there was not a "Network Neighborhood" Icon on the desktop. I had instructed the setup Wizard not to install MS Networking components during the setup, only the "NE 2000 Compatible" and "Dial-Up" Adapters.
I was hoping I had not made a mistake here. I did find the "Network" Icon in the Windows 95 "Control Panel", however. I opened it and found the two adapter components there. I checked the properties for the "NE2000 Compatible" NIC and found
The Invisible LAN "Protocol", "Client" and "Server" components were installed (see Step-by-Step "Installing Windows 95 Network Components"). Then I tried to exit the "Network" Dialog to complete the network installation but ran smack-dab into a "catch-22" situation. I was not allowed to leave the Dialog without setting up the computer identification parameters but since I had told the setup Wizard not to install MS Networking components, there was no "Identification" Tab in the Dialog and therefore, I could not enter the parameters! OK, BillG, you win. I installed the "MS Network" Client and
The Invisible LAN components were configured (for the second time) using the settings on Johnny as a template and Old Blue was restarted again. The MS Networking components were now removed from the Network Dialog and Old Blue restarted again. OK. That's better. Now, "User Profiles" were implemented from the "Passwords" Dialog (reached from the Control Panel") and again Old Blue had to be restarted.
3:21 P.M. 5/5/98 Now that Windows 95 and the Invisible LAN components were installed, The WIN95 and LAN installation file subdirectories were moved from drive
Step 3: Install Modem . . . ~!@#$%^ once again into the breach!
2:56 P.M. 5/6/98 Old Blue was ready for a modem. I had downloaded the Trial version of WinGate v2.1 Internet proxy server / fire wall software last night, and Old Blue needed a modem before it could be installed and evaluated. I decided to give Old Blue the SupraExpress 288i PnP internal modem currently installed in 4-Bits. This is a PnP modem but Old Blue's PnP capabilities are extremely limited.
4-Bits was shut-down and taken off-line for the modem removal. The modem was removed and replaced with an expansion slot cover plate (cover plates should be used when removing adapters so that the proper airflow through the computer case is maintained). 4-bits was restarted to make sure she was OK with this change, then shutdown again.
Taking Old Blue off-line always causes me anxiety. Sometimes he will not start up again . . . It's always a "crap shoot" and this time I would be rolling a run of "snake eyes". Old Blue was now shutdown and taken off-line to install the modem. The modem was installed in the only
When it came time to start Old Blue up again, we had problems. At first, he would not start at all until I switched power cables with the DataStor tape drive. Why that should be an issue, I have no idea. Then, after the initial POST tests, he could not find the AdvanSCSI host adapter. All I could get was an
I shutdown Old Blue and removed the modem just in case its PnP feature was interfering with the host adapter's resources . . . No joy, the host adapter was still dead! Time to get the manual out. In the AdvanSCSI Silver User's Manual, in the troubleshooting section I found
"AdvanSCSI ROM BIOS does not appear when the system boots: * If the Advan SCSI BIOS does not appear during the boot process, it could be 'hidden' by another adapter . . . or the BIOS may be disabled. * In either case, boot from the AdvanWare Installation Diskette and follow all instructions. By the end of the program, the AdvanSCSI BIOS will be 'relocated' to avoid being hidden by another card (if necessary) and re-enabled (if disabled)."
I found the AdvanWare VL Ver 2.0 utility diskette and placed it in Old Blue's floppy drive. Old Blue was re-booted and after the
Then came the "Catch-22": The last instruction in the program was the press the computer's "reset switch" to initiate the changes to the AdvanceSCSI adapter. Old Blue has an original IBM AT case, and they did not have reset switches then. The AdvanceWare utility had disabled the "three-finger-salute" method of warm-booting (
Using the PC "HAL", I went to the Advance System Products, Inc. Web site to try to find a way around this dilemma. I did not find much technical info online and the e-mail support form was configured for newer products . . . Catch-22 again. I did make note of the support telephone number, and also managed to find a "utility" download for the AdvanSCSI Silver adapter. After the download I copied the file (an executable) to a system diskette which is what I interpreted the following somewhat cryptic directions to mean:
"These are the available Boot Diagnostic Utilities. To create Boot Diagnostic Disk you will need a blank floppy or the floppy you have created from Specific OS or Multi-OS Drivers"
Next I booted Old Blue with this floppy and tried to run the downloaded executable file. I got back the message that the program must be run with either an
It was five in the afternoon by this time in Boca Raton, Florida where I was. It was early afternoon in San Jose, California, where Advance System Products, Inc. is located. I called the support number. After a relatively short time, I was shuttled to a voice-mailbox and asked to leave a message, which I did. I had no idea of when, or if, I would get a response to my query, so I struck out in another direction.
I got out the manual for Old Blue's motherboard, an ASUS VL/ISA-PB486PC model. Even though Old Blue's case did not have a reset switch, his motherboard had a reset switch connector. I figured maybe I could scavenge a reset switch from one of the depleted remains of the already cannibalized PC's "Krash" or "Christine".
I started with Krash. I found that I would have to get the front plastic faceplate off the chassis to get at the reset switch . . . problem was that after a few minutes I realized I could get at all the retaining screws except two, which were blocked by the motherboard. A bad design.
I was pondering this puzzle when a lady named "Kune" called me back from Advance Systems Support. I was pleasantly surprised at the quick response time. The two of us went through the "cold-boot / AdvanceWare Utility / dip switch toggle / cold-boot" process about ten times. I was starting to feel like Pavlov's dog. This process was not as easy as it sounds. Old Blue's location is almost as inaccessible as the computer "P2" in the reception area (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 02.23.1998 "Moving P2 is as much fun as pulling teeth."). Every time I had to toggle the ~!@#$% dip switch, I had to wedge myself into Old Blue's corner of the Krash Lab and lean him forward to get line-of-sight and hand access to the switch. After ten iterations all the fun had gone out of the procedure for me. Finally, Kune determined that I would have to send the adapter to her and they would reconfigure it or provide me with a new one. I thanked her for her help and told her I wanted to try my jerry-rigged reset switch idea first.
Back to Krash. I abandoned this effort after a few more minutes fiddling with the faceplate and breaking a small section of it off accidentally. Time to try getting the reset switch off the Christine machine instead. The reset switch on Christine turned out to be accessible but it was part of an integrated mini circuit board about ¾" high by 2" wide which also had the computer power LED and the hard drive LED incorporated.
I removed the whole assembly and connected the reset switch connector to Old Blue's motherboard. Old blue had been moved out of his corner to a work space next to the computer "Kato". With his case removed, he was connected to Kato's monitor and power cable. Christine's keyboard was dug out of the salvage yard and connected. I decided I wouldn't need a mouse for these operations.
I started Old Blue in this environment and tried the "cold-boot / AdvanceWare Utility / dip switch toggle / reset switch" process . . . The reset switch did not work, so Old Blue was shut down again.
My hunch was that the reset switch assembly needed a power source to work, so Old Blue's computer power LED connector was disconnected from the motherboard and the matching connector from the reset switch assembly substituted. Old Blue was restarted and the process was tried one more time . . . The good news is the reset switch worked this time. The bad news is that it didn't make a difference. The AdvanceSCSI host adapter still would not work. Curses! I'm near the end of my rope here, but not ready to throw in the towel yet.
There are three combination VLB/ISA slots on the Old Blue motherboard and the AdvanSCSI adapter is the only VLB adapter. In addition, the AdvanSCSI adapter needs a "bus-mastering" slot. The ASUS motherboard manual notes that two of the slots are bus-mastering, but neglects to indicate which slots they are. I made a guess when I first setup Old Blue a few years ago and, as far as I can determine, the AdvanceSCSI adapter has been working properly in the slot I picked. The slot I selected is the one farthest away from the power supply connecters and the CPU.
My last card trick here would be to shuffle the deck. The other two VLB/ISA slots were currently occupied by a generic Adaptec SCSI adapter for the HP DataStor DAT tape drive in the slot closest to the power supply and CPU, and the troublesome PnP modem that started this mess in the middle slot.
I removed the Adaptec SCSI card and the modem, leaving only the AdvanSCSI adapter in its original slot, and restarted Old Blue . . . no change occurred. Next, I moved the AdvanSCSI adapter to the middle VLB/ISA slot and tried again . . . Hurrah! The host adapter was found and the SCSI BIOS initialized. Old Blue booted right into windows like he was supposed to!
Old Blue was shut down again and the Adaptec SCSI tape drive card was returned to its original location. Old Blue was tested again, and both devices were found . . . two for two! The final test was critical. The modem was inserted into the slot farthest away from the power supply and CPU, the one vacated by the AdvanSCSI host. I estimated I had a fifty-fifty chance. Either the modem would screw the AdvanSCSI up again or it wouldn't and, if today's luck had changed, all three cards would work.
Old Blue booted into windows again and asked if I wanted to install drivers for the new modem Windows 95 had found on startup. I declined for the time being. It was 7:30 P.M. I decided to quit while I was slightly ahead. Old Blue was shutdown and his cover replaced. I would place him in his customary spot tomorrow.
MISREP: Enuf carnage for one episode. Time to go home and beat the bird . . . OOPs! I mean complain about my day to Wingnut. Next time we'll finish setting up the modem, fix some nasty hardware conflicts, and finetune the new Windows 95 environment prior to Installing the WinGate proxy server / fire wall software on Old Blue.
LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants
Issued Saturday June 6, 1998
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