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In the Trenches with LAROKE

Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 09.19.1999 (Constructing Grumpy Part III)

    Situation Report
    Take Charge And Move Out
    United States of America
    Mission Report
Previous Grumpy Articles:

Cyberdate 05.25.1999 Constructing Grumpy Part II

Cyberdate 03.29.1999 Constructing Grumpy Part I

Other Sources:

New PC Assembly Procedure This procedure describes how to build a modern, Pentium-class Windows 95 personal computer. Starting from components, the instructions here will tell you how to physically assemble the unit, get it running, test it, and even set up and optimize the operating system. This page is from "The PC Guide."


America OnLine Online Service

ASUSTeK Computers, Inc. P5A Super Socket 7 Mainboard, v2740 AGP video adapter

Corel Corporation WordPerfect Office Suite 7

CyberMedia PC911 DOS utility

Hewlett-Packard HP Laserjet 4L printer

Intuit, Inc. QuickBooks Pro v6.0

METZ Software, Inc. Metz Phones v6.01

Microsoft Corporation Windows 98, Internet Exprorer

Qbik New Zealand Ltd. WinGate v2.1 Internet proxy server / fire wall software

QUALCOMM Incorporated Eudora Light E-mail Client

Rhino Software, Inc. FTP Voyager software

Symantec Corporation ViruSweep (formerly from Quarterdeck before Quarterdeck ceased to exist under the Symantec Corporate Banner), Norton AntiVirus

Tumbleweed Software Envoy electronic documents



This log entry will finish my commentary regarding Grumpy for the time being. She is up and running 24/7 and averages reset key lockups two to three times a week. Hal, by contrast, locks up a couple of times a day. Grumpy's user considers lockups unacceptable but what can I say - Grumpy is powered by Microsoft!

As related below, I have been trying to resolve this problem (and will continue to do so) for some time now. It is one of the tricky ones that can't be reproduced - the lockups occur in different applications and there is never an error message.


2:42 PM 2/15/99 Configured Microsoft Networking components. Configured Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 for intranet use . . . Old versions of Envoy files are displaying which indicates problems with the WinGate cache since this is a new machine without any envoy files in the browser cache. Also had trouble getting the VRML viewer to work. Installed and configured Eudora Lite, PC911. Setup NET TIME batch file (allows Grumpy to synchronize her clock with the time server "Johnny Mnenonic" everytime she reboots).

1:16 PM 2/16/99 Installed WordPerfect Office Suite 7, setup initial configuration. Grumpy seems to be having video problems in MSIE (Microsoft Internet Explorer) . . . While scrolling web pages, she will consistantly lockup requiring a reset switch reboot. I tried toggling the BIOS "AGP Bus Turbo Mode" setting from "Enabled" to "Disabled" without effect. The setting was changed back. Next, Under "System Properties" Dialog, "Performance" Tab, "Graphics" Advanced Settings, "Hardware acceleration" was set to "None" for troubleshooting. Grumpy was rebooted and has currently stabilized at this setting . . . Kinda.

2:20 PM 2/17/99 After four tries yesterday, finally downloaded Norton AntiVirus v5.0 for Windows 95 from Symantec Web site (Quarterdeck's ViruSweep will be discontinued and this is our consolation prize). Am now struggling to download latest virus definition file from the Symantec site. Tried three times from Grumpy's browser before trying from HAL (tried FTP Voyager first - but restrictions at Symantec site did not allow me to see the file . . . rather than try to figure that out, I tried the browser method again this time from HAL. It is still downloading in the background.

3:31 PM 2/17/99 While waiting for the Norton download, METZ phones 6.0 was installed and configured. Meanwhile the Norton download aborted prematurely for the fourth time and I've had a belly-full at this point. Determined how to make the Norton LiveUpdate feature work through the WinGate proxy server, then tried that in lieu of downloading the virus definition file manually. That finally worked.

5:59 PM 2/18/99 Installed QuickBooks Pro v6.0. Tried to open shared company file on Johnny Mnemonic that was converted earlier with QuickBooks Pro v6.0 on HAL 9000. I was informed the file would have to be updated. That was confusing but I accepted. It only took a few seconds compared to the earlier conversion process of the original QickBooks v2.0 file by HAL. After opening the file on Grumpy, I attempted to open the file on HAL to experiment with the multi-user capabilities. HAL's Quickbooks informed that the file was a "newer" version and could not be opened!!

Messing around in the help file for a while revealed I could get detailed version information using the "CTRL+1" key combination. Trying this on both machines revealed that Grumpy's QuickBooks Pro which was purchaesd less that a month after HAL's copy from the same source was version "V60.D Release R3P" while HAL's was "V60.D Release R1P" and their file formats were incompatible!!!

I was able to "reinstall" QuickBooks "V60.D Release R3P" using Grumpy's CD over top of HAL's "V60.D Release R1P" installation so both machines could read the file.

1:52 PM 2/24/99 Setup QuickBooks Pro to work thru WinGate proxy server and then registered online . . . Will wait until final setup (and company file translation) to upgrade tax tables. Installed AOL v4.0 from new coaster CD sent out by AOL. Logged on as guest to check configuration and get latest update download - will configure for Grumpy's user over weekend when grumpy is deployed.

1:20 PM 2/27/99 Grumpy was relocated to her permanent location in the reception area for sea trials. Upon bootup, she recognized both the monitor and HP laserjet 4L printer and installed drivers for both devices. MSIE was started and an Internet site that updates the page often (with Java applets) was opened and left on. After awhile Grumpy's screensaver started . . . Still later Grumpy locked up solid and I suspect MSIE. Grumpy was "CTRL-ALT-DEL" restarted and left in the primary user's Desktop state (with nothing else running) to see if the screensaver was causing the lockup.

7:53 AM 3/23/99 Grumpy is still locking up sporadically . . . I now suspect the AGP Video. It was locking up after the screensaver was active for awhile. I changed screensavers . . . no joy. Christine reported it locked up once last week in WordPerfect and once yesterday in WordPerfect. I downloaded latest AGP driver and Video flash BIOS from ASUS Web site. The current BIOS is the latest so I did not flash it. I will check the driver later.

8:27 AM 3/27/99 Managed to get ~!@#$% Windows 98 Update "feature" to work one time today so far after countless attempts ("Windows External Javascript" Security Update downloaded and installed). I suspect that the Windows update servers aren't capable of handling the load of their newest grand scheme. More attempts gained limited progress as I was successful at downloading and installing "Dotless IP Address" Security Update and Windows 98 Year 2000 Update. The latter made some deep system changes because during reboot the PC911 watchdog woke up and noticed critical system file changes. This technology of Microsoft's is not ripe yet. Like green apples, it gives me a bellyache.

4:38 PM 4/1/99 Grumpy locked-up again in WordPerfect yesterday and today. I performed a cold-boot to completely purge her memory since Grumpy is on 24/7. A few minutes ago, she locked up again while her user was playing solitaire. ~!@#$%^ I don't want to give up on AGP graphics for this machine, but in the end that may be the only viable solution. We warm-booted this time and I changed the display settings from 24-bit true color the 16-bit high color to see if that makes a difference.

8:57 AM 4/3/99 After many tries the Windows 98 Update "Feature" managed to download and install the Explorer "Frame Spoof" security fix update (last item in the critical updates category), the Windows Critical Update Notification 1.01 update, and the DirectX 6.1 Technology update (I've been trying to download this for three weeks - hoping it will help resolve the screen lockup problem).

9:30 AM 4/5/9 ~!@#$% screen lockup shortly after starting WordPerfect. Changed to standard SVGA 600x800 display drivers - that was a mistake. Changed back to ASUS AGP adapter drivers - during installation was prompted regarding replacement of a Win 98 code page DLL file and left the existing file in place. During restart Grumpy hung up and I hit the reset button. After restart, many icons were "blacked out" in 600x800 256 color mode

Grumpy was reset to standard VGA driver mode and rebooted. The ASUS AGP drivers were reinstalled for the second time and this time I instructed the installer to overwrite the Win 98 codepage DLL with the ASUS Win 95 version when prompted. After booting into ASUS 640x480 16-bit color resolution, Grumpy was restarted. Resolution was changed to 800x600 and Grumpy was restarted again bringing us back to the point of lockup.

1:06 PM 5/7/99 Today the screen went blank and the monitor indicator light turned amber as if the power saving routines activated. The user, however, was typing and power saving is disabled both in Windows and at the BIOS level, so as usual, I don't have a clue as to what is happening here. Only a reset would get the screen back. ~!@#$%^&


I could continue on at length about Grumpy's video lockup problem (which continues to stump me), but she has settled down to an average of two lockups a week which I consider surprisingly stable for a Microsoft operating system. Grumpy's user has also settled down and learned to be patient with this situation. My favorite definition of patience is "quiet despair masquerading as a virtue".


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LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants
155 East Boca Raton Road
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
(561)368-0659 (Tel & Fax)

Issued Sunday September 19, 1999

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