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|You are here:||HOME >||TRENCHES INDEX >||CYBERDATE 06.17.1998|
Farnsdick's corollary: "After things have gone from bad to worse, the cycle will repeat itself."
In the Trenches with LAROKE
Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 06.17.1998 (Old Blue becomes the Old Guard Part II)
SITREP: At the end of the last log entry I was feeling relieved at having been successful in bringing Old Blue out of a coma. I didn't know he was still far from being healthy. I still had a lot of work ahead of me before I could begin installing application software.
TACAMO: 11:41 A.M. 5/7/98 When I returned to the scene of the crime this morning, I started Old Blue to see if he was still working. I wasn't sure if I had dreamed it or not. He was. I buttoned him up and put him back in his cramped corner of the Krash Lab. All the cabling connections were made, the DataStor tape drive and TI Microlaser printer turned on, and Old Blue was booted . . . No problemo!
First sign of trouble rears its ugly head
This time when Windows 95 asked if I wanted to install drivers for the SupraExpress 288i PnP modem it found, I agreed. The modem's driver diskette was inserted into Old Blue's floppy drive, but Windows 95 could not find it. I guess my new sense of well-being was premature. Old Blue could recognize the other machines in "Network Neighborhood", however, so the driver diskette was inserted into "Johnny Mnemonic's" floppy drive.
Old Blue's driver installation Wizard was directed to this network drive and it proceeded to install the SupraExpress drivers without complaint. That being finished, I turned to Old Blue's new floppy drive problem. I opened up the "My Computer" Dialog and found, instead of a "3-1/2 Floppy Drive" Icon for drive
Old Blue was recycled again, and after the
The darn PnP modem was thrashing Old Blue's system resources like a rogue elephant run amuck! I guess it had been using the
I had to make a choice now. I could try to assign a new
I took the gamble. Viewing the
The network was back. A test page was also printed across the network from the computer "HAL" to the TI Microlaser printer connected to Old Blue . . . That worked too. A cursory inspection indicated the HP DataStor tape drive was also present.
The modem was tested by opening up the "Modem Properties" Dialog in the Windows 95 "Control Panel", selecting the "Diagnostics" Tab, then the "SupraExpress 288i PnP" item installed on the
Almost twenty-four hours from when this operation started it appeared Old Blue was healthy again. Whew! Just in time. The UPS courier just arrived with the Cybex interface circuit board and cabling I ordered last week to upgrade the Cybex Personal Commander Monitor/Keyboard/Mouse switch. Currently, using the Personal Commander, Old Blue and 4-Bits are controlled with the same monitor, keyboard and mouse. The upgrade parts will allow the new server, "Johnny Mnemonic" to be added to the switch. We'll save that for tomorrow. The Old Blue meltdown has not left me frisky enough to jump into the fray again right this minute.
Backup configuration snafu
4:05 P.M. 5/8/98 It's Friday afternoon when I usually setup a full tape backup for the next network PC in rotation (one PC per week gets a complete backup - the rest of the machines on the network get differential backups see "Make Backups a Religion" for an example of this procedure).
The Cheyenne Backup software for Windows 95 was installed earlier in the week to take over for the trial evaluation version of the same software. When the trial version was obliterated by the FAT32 re-formatting of Old Blue's hard drives and the installation of Windows 95 OSR2, the Cheyenne Backup database of previous backup activities was also obliterated. However, the last backup session last Saturday (after the network differential backup) was a backup of this database.
I brought the tape containing that session to the office this morning with the sole purpose of restoring that database for the new software. I was not successful, because Cheyenne wanted to restore the database to it's original location and that location no longer existed. I finally gave up and started a new database with new drive mappings to the other PC's on the network (for the purpose of backup operations).
tuning Old Blue's Windows 95 environment
2:40 P.M. 5/11/98 I noticed this morning when examining the "Performance" tab in the Windows 95 "System Properties" Dialog for Old Blue that "MS-DOS compatibility mode" was being used for "Virtual Memory" and all the Disk drives. Darn! I did not check these settings before installing the PnP modem, so I do not know if these were the same settings before the modem installation meltdown session interfered with the AdvanSCSI host adapter.
I also noticed that the AdvanSCSI host adapter was missing from the Windows 95 "Device Manager", nor do I ever remember seeing it there. At the Advance Systems Web site there is little mention of the VL Bus AdvanSCSI Silver adapter and no mention of it in the Drivers Download area.
The AdvanSCSI adapter had shipped with several disks of CorelSCSI drivers, but since it was before Windows 95 was released, there were no Windows 95 drivers included. Scanning the "AdvanSCSI Silver User Manual", I came across several references to
3:40 P.M. 5/11/98 The AdvanSCSI Windows 95 drivers file was unzipped into a temporary subdirectory on Old Blue's drive
I instructed the "Install New Hardware Wizard" not to search for new hardware (he hadn't found the adapter yet, so I did not think having him search again would be helpful). From the "Hardware types:" List, I selected "SCSI controllers", then the "Have Disk" Button in the next Dialog. After directing the Wizard to the subdirectory where the downloaded drivers had been copied, he gave me a list of drivers.
Good! The last item on the list was "AdvanSys VL SCSI Host Adapter". After selection, the Wizard installed the driver and indicated it had been installed with
I went back to the Device Manager after restarting and found that the AdvanSys VL SCSI Host Adapter was present but not working . . . There was probably a conflict between the actual adapter's settings and the settings the Wizard had assigned to it. This is often the case in "hybrid" systems where PnP exists with older hardware that knows nothing about PnP.
Old Blue was rebooted. Just after the
Old Blue continued to startup into Windows 95 and this time the Device Manager indicated that the AdvanSys VL SCSI Host Adapter was present and working. In addition, there were entries for the two SCSI hard drives in Device Manager where there had been none before. There was no entry for a floppy drive, however, and the Floppy drive was also the only item still using "MS-DOS compatibility mode".
I was not sure what the problem was with the floppy drive. Since the floppy drive runs off a connector attached to the AdvanSCSI adapter instead of the motherboard, maybe that was the conflict. I tried to use the Hardware Wizard to install Windows 95 standard floppy drivers, but it stated there was a conflict with another device, so I abandoned this line of resolution.
I rebooted Old Blue and entered
That only half worked. The "Standard Floppy Drive Disk Controller" was showing in the Device Manager, but it was not working, and only the two hard drives were listed under "Disk Drives". After removing the "Standard Floppy Drive Disk Controller" from the Device Manager and rebooting Old Blue, the Floppy drive was enabled in the
I decided to let the Hardware Wizard have one last go at finding the drive under this hardware configuration. It's no big deal if the floppy drive has to work in "MS-DOS compatibility mode", but I still don't know why Old Blue is locking up every so often, and it seems a worthwhile goal to eliminate as many potential idiosyncracies as possible. The Wizard found the floppy again and I let it install the Standard drivers again.
MISREP: One last reboot . . . Success! The 3-1/2" Floppy Icon was showing and accessible in the "My Computer" Dialog, both the Floppy Disk and Floppy Disk Controller Items were showing as working in the Device Manager, and under the Performance Tab in the System Properties Dialog, Old Blue was reported as "configured for optimal performance". It's quitting time and the day has finished on a "feel good" note.
Old Blue is almost ready for the WinGate Proxy Server/Fire Wall software installation. Next time we'll fine-tune the Windows 95 environment and install the trial version of WinGate. I'll also encounter a brick wall at high speed while attempting to upgrade Old Blue's
LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants
Issued Wednesday June 17, 1998
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