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Christophers Napkin Sketch by Al Gleichman

In the Trenches with LAROKE

Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 03.29.1997 (A Windows 95 Installation Adventure)

    Situation Report
    Mission Report
    Take Charge And Move Out
    United States of America
    Tactical Procedures Performance Analysis
Later Nemesis Articles:

Cyberdate 06.07.1997 a "Breach-birth" tape drive installation

Other Sources:

Getting ready to install Windows 95 by Ed Lee. This article is on the All Windows Information site.

Installation Tips Windows 95 Installation Tips page on the site.


AOL America OnLine

AT&T Worldnet Service

Borland International, Inc. Visual dBASE (formerly Ashton-Tate dBASE)

Compaq Compaq 800 series presario

CyberMedia Uninstaller (formerly Microhelp Uninstaller)

Evolution Computing FastCAD

Global Village Communication, Inc. FaxWorks for Windows

Hewlett-Packard HP 4L Laserjet printer

Intuit, Inc. Quicken

Iomega Corporation Ditto Tape drive

Microsoft Corporation Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Windows 95, Microsoft Office, Windows 95 Resource Kit

QUALCOMM Incorporated Eudora Email Client

Touchstone Software Corporation WinPro Advisor


SITREP: One of my clients is a "retired Architect", like myself. The architectural profession is not for the "feint-of-heart". It is not a job, it is a way of life, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. You must eat, sleep, and breath Architecture and you are constantly contending with those who have a say in the project but are "three-dimensionally and aesthetically challenged". At any rate, it can wear you out after a while, and some of us move on to other fields of endeavor. This client was one of my mentors in Architecture. Unlike me, he will still offer architectural services to a small select group of former clients. He spends most of his time, however, dealing in financial instruments and services.

He runs his business on one Intel 486 DX4/100 clone machine with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 installed. His Windows applications include Microsoft Office, Faxworks, AT&T Worldnet, Quicken, and America OnLine. In addition he runs FastCAD and a dBASE II commodities application in DOS.

MISREP: This client called me up a couple of weeks ago to tell me he thought it was time to make the move to Windows 95. I told him to purchase the CD-ROM version and we scheduled the upgrade for a Saturday morning. That would give me two days to get him running before the markets opened in case the installation did not go smoothly (you always have to plan for Murphy. If you don't, he will most certainly show up unannounced!). Besides, this machine is my nemesis . . . I always have trouble with it. I can't understand why. It is a well-built, quality PC, but for some reason, It doesn't seem to like me. Since it seems to be my nemesis, I might as well call it that by name from here on out.

TACAMO: On the scheduled Saturday morning, I gathered my tools for the job which included Uninstaller, WinPro Advisor, Iomega Ditto Tape drive and tapes, and Windows 95 Resource Kit and traveled to my client's place of business.

TACPRO: Step-by-Step. First, we cleaned several unused applications off the hard drive with Microhelp's Uninstaller. Then I removed all the misc temporary and backup files I could find (files with extensions like "TMP", "$$$", "BAK", and files with "0" file size). I then changed the Windows for Workgroups permanent swap file to a temporary swap file to reduce its size. I removed Uninstaller and other utilities I had on his machine for my occasional visits, as they would not work in the Windows 95 environment.

Now we were ready for a full backup of his fixed disk (hard drive). I had a new Iomega Ditto 2 gigabyte, parallel port tape drive that I had purchased in December. I had not even broken the shrinkwrap on it yet. I sure hoped it was OK as the "30 return" date was long past. This tape drive comes with software on both 3-1/2" disk and CD-ROM formats. I used the CD-ROM on this occasion which had MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 95 versions. I tried the MS-DOS version, since it would be easier to remove from the Client's system after a successful Windows 95 installation. At first, I thought it might also be faster, unless the Windows versions automatically optimize memory use. On second thought, it is most likely, that the parallel port interface is the most limiting factor. It took over two hours to backup and compare the remaining 350 plus megabytes of programs and data files on the drive which gave us plenty of time to update each other on current events and tell old stories.

At this point I prepared to install Win'95 Advisor from Touchstone Software Corporation. This software "Prepares Your Windows 3.1 System for a Fast, Safe, Easy Upgrade", "Makes Expert Recommendations on Hardware and Software Requirements", and "Optimizes Windows 95 Installation". The claims on the box are true. It's a great piece of software. I had used this package when I upgraded My own Compaq 800 series presario 486/50. It does a nice job of helping you setup for Windows 95, including a printout of a step-by-step checklist for installation that includes tips to keep the Windows 95 setup program from "choking". During installation of this program, a dialog appears requiring you to type in the serial number which is located only on the registration card. Much to my dismay, I could not find the registration card! The software was useless to me. I had to abort the Win'95 Advisor installation, and it was my own damn fault!

This situation brings to the forefront the first of the LAROKE guidelines for trouble-free computing: "When you purchase new hardware and software, take care of your documentation first!". This is a simple guideline, but it takes discipline to follow it. If I had followed this guideline, the serial number would be right there on the installation disks, where there was a blank space for it to be printed. Well there was nothing for it but to wipe the sheepish grin off my face and go on to the next step.

Then we ran SCANDISK and DEFRAG from the DOS prompt to get the fixed disk in the best condition for the Windows 95 installation. We ended up with 175 plus megabytes of free disk space for the installation which was more than enough since the setup process requires between 30MB and 70MB depending on the installation type. The last step before the actual Windows 95 installation was to clean up Nemesis' "CONFIG.SYS" and "AUTOEXEC.BAT" files. Some TSR (terminate, and stay resident) programs will lockup the installation (listed in the Windows 95 setup.txt file). It is best to REMark these out of the AUTOEXEC.BAT file if they exist. My client's system did not have any TSRs, but it's last line started a DOS program menu utility that I removed because it would no longer be used.

We were now ready for the Windows 95 installation. You can install either from the DOS Prompt or from within your existing Windows environment (the recommended option). After starting Windows for Workgroups 3.11, all programs were shut down except for Program Manager, since most Windows setup programs do not like to have anything else running during installation. I put the CD in the CD-ROM drive and ran SETUP.EXE from the "Run" Command on the "File" Menu.

The Windows 95 Setup Wizard started and displayed the first dialog screen. The first step in the Setup is "gathering information". Most info is gathered automatically by the Setup Program. The user is asked for the installation directory and the type of installation (typical, portable, compact or custom). In this case I selected the existing Windows directory, and the Typical Installation (both defaults). Setup then checked available disk space and was satisfied. Next setup asks for name and company information, and Product ID (from the CD sleeve).

We were now at the next milestone in the process, the "Analyzing Your Computer" Dialog Screen. You are given the choice of letting setup find your hardware or entering the info yourself. The recommended choice at this screen is to let Setup try to find all the hardware devices on your computer. We let setup have it's way. This is the first time you "cross your fingers" and click the "Next" Button. The process can take several minutes, and can sometimes lockup the system. If the computer does lockup, you must go through the "safe recovery" process. I was apprehensive due to the fact that I had installed a local bus multi-function adapter on Nemesis a year ago to replace the intermittently failing one that had come with the system. It was the floppy and hard drive controller as well as serial and parallel port I/O board. It added some confusing messages to the system startup (asking the user every time the system starts, if "turbo" mode is desired which it defaults to after a few seconds anyway). As this is the only system I've ever seen this behavior on (I lead a sheltered life), I thought Setup might stumble at this point. We were lucky this day. Nemesis did not choke.

The next dialog screen allows you to alter the "Typical" setup by changing the "Components" which will be installed. Once again I went with the defaults.

The next dialog asks if you want to create a "Startup Disk". If chosen, this will create an emergency startup disk with basic system files that can be used to start Windows 95 when you cannot start the operating system from the hard disk. We took the time to make the startup disk. It's good insurance and a talisman to keep murphy away (if you don't make it, you'll need it!).

It was now time for setup to take over, copy the required files to the hard drive, and complete the setup. Since we were installing from CD-ROM, we could sit back and take it easy. Had we been installing from diskettes, we would be shuffling disks in and out of the 3-1/2" drive for the better part of an hour. I've installed both ways and CD is preferable, but you can't use the CD if you are not upgrading from a previous version of Windows (and have a CD-ROM drive, of course). If a previous windows installation is not on the computer, the upgrade CD setup program will ask for the Windows 3.x installation disk for verification.

We were now at the next "choke point". After removing the CD-ROM, the setup program reboots the computer, and runs Windows 95 for the first time (this takes a while, as Windows 95 completes some processes it will not have to run again). Once again, we were lucky and Setup completed without incident.

Setup had correctly interpreted the Windows for Workgroups program groups and configured the "Start" menu accordingly. It also recognized the Windows 3.x version of Microsoft Office installed on this machine and configured it including the Microsoft Office Shortcut Bar in the "Startup" group. I added desktop "shortcuts" for the Client's most used Windows 3.x programs including "FaxWorks", "AT&T Worldnet" and "Eudora". I also configured "shortcuts" for two MS-DOS CAD programs "FastCAD" and "FastCAD 3D", and one MS-DOS dBase II commodities program written especially for this Client by another consultant. I had been concerned that these DOS applications might not work in the Windows 95 environment, but it seems (at least so far) my fears were groundless. I could not test the FastCAD digitizer interface, since it was not currently connected to the system, so I may be back in the future to wrestle with serial ports (not one of my favorite pastimes).

I opened up each of the programs, in turn and "lightly" tested them by opening files, printing a document, signing on to a service, etc. The only glitch occurred the first time I tried to print to the Hewlett-Packard 4L LaserJet on this system. Even though the printer was shown in the Windows 95 printer folder, nothing sent to it would activate the printer. I shut Windows 95 down and rebooted the system. Upon startup Windows 95 "found new hardware", specifically a HP LaserJet 4L! Printing to the LaserJet now worked in all the programs I tried. I noticed that many of the programs were using their Windows 3.x configurations and drivers, apparently without problems. "AT&T Worldnet ", "Eudora" email, "FaxWorks" and "America OnLine" worked fine, even though the Windows 95 "Device Manager" indicated no modems were installed. I decided to "let sleeping dogs lie" and wait until my client got Windows 95 upgrades to his applications before trying to change this configuration.

It has been over a week now since the Windows 95 upgrade, and I have not received any "it's broke" calls. I still feel as if this installation went too smoothly, and I'm going to be punished by the "electron gods" any day now so I'm keeping those fingers crossed!


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

Issued Saturday March 29, 1997

Updated Monday February 16, 1998

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