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Christophers Napkin Sketch by Al Gleichman

In the Trenches with LAROKE

Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 06.21.1997 (Configuring Max's first PC)

    Situation Report
    Take Charge And Move Out
    United States of America
    Mission Report

Microsoft Corporation Windows for Workgroups 3.11


SITREP: My original plan for this week was to finish a Tech Investigation article "Abusing WordPerfect to produce an Electronic form Part II" (see Part I for more info), but it still has a lot more work than originally anticipated. I was fretting with myself over meeting my self-imposed Saturday morning deadline for posting new content to this site. It was mid-morning Thursday when an unforeseen event turned me in a completely new direction.

My employer's five-year old son, Max, stood in the doorway to my office. "When am I getting my new computer, Larry?" There was no place for me to run. I had been putting off his mom on this issue for awhile now, but how could I tell this young fellow "another month" when his months pass infinitely slower than mine? Summer was already 1/3 gone. I hastily replied "This weekend or the next at the latest, Max. OK?" He accepted this with grace, and I was committed.

Those of you who have read previous In the Trenches installments may remember Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 04.19.1997 (Moving the HAL 9000) where I mentioned reconfiguring the company computer "Christine" for Max's use. That was back in April, and I am still nowhere near retiring Christine from company use. This project for Max had been bearing down on me concurrently with hurricane season. It was time to "Fish or cut bait".

Lucky for me, another PC on the network, "Krash", was available for retirement. Krash, a 486/33 PC with 4MB of RAM, was being used for entry-level CAD trainees. We are in the process of upgrading our CAD software, and Krash doesn't have the ability to run the latest version. A week earlier the fellow using Krash had moved on to a more powerful machine, leaving Krash idle. My boss inquired if Krash could be the PC configured for Max. I couldn't think of any reasons why not.

TACAMO: 11:21 AM 6/20/97 It's Friday morning, and I'm writing this as I configure Krash for his new home and owner. The first order of business for Krash is a complete backup, in case something goes wrong (see LAROKE's rule).

12:31 PM 6/20/97 After the backup, Krash's hard disk was ready for reorganization. since this was a MS-DOS machine, the process was relatively painless. The CAD program directory and files were removed, and the CAD drawing (data) files directory and subdirectory were moved to the server "Old Blue". If the "rookie" who was previously in charge of this machine later came to me tearfully regarding a file he "forgot" to move to his new workstation, I would be able to get it back for him after requiring him to endure my "Dutch Uncle" speech, of course. Except for utilities and the network operating system, Krash's hard drive was now klean. The network directory and files would be removed later after Krash had been setup as a stand-alone machine.

12:56 PM 6/20/97 Krash's CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files were edited to remove network and cad configurations, leaving "skeleton" initialization files suitable for a Windows for Workgroups 3.11 installation. After rebooting to test the edited CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, Krash was shutdown for hardware reconfiguration.

1:11 PM 6/20/97 The Summagraphics digitizer tablet and puck used for CAD input was removed from Krash's COM1 serial port. Later, we will replace this device with a conventional, two-button mouse. Krash was next opened up to remove the Invisible LAN Ethernet network adapter. Krash, being an older system, had a 5-1/4" 1.2 MB floppy drive configured as "A:" and a 3-1/2" 1.44 MB floppy drive configured as "B:". Since new software is rarely produced in the "5-1/4" format, I wanted the newer 3-1/2" drive to be the "A:" drive. This is a simple matter, in Krash's case, of switching the ribbon cable connectors leading to the two drives, and restarting the PC. Upon booting, I pressed the "Delete" key to run the PC's BIOS setup program. This keypress sequence is different for different computers and is usually described in the computer's manual. In the BIOS setup menu, I changed drive A: setting to 3-1/2", 1.44 MB and the drive B: setting to 5-1/4", 1.2 MB. I saved the BIOS changes and exited setup. Krash rebooted and recognized the new floppy drive settings.

3:06 PM 6/20/97 After taking a time-out for lunch, I ran MS-DOS 6.2 SCANDISK and DEFRAG programs to prepare the harddrive for the installation of Windows for Workgroups 3.11. After connecting a microsoft Home, two-button mouse to the COM1 port, we were ready to reboot Krash for the Windows installation. The Windows setup program was run from the DOS prompt and the "Express Setup" was chosen. The setup program proceeded smoothly, identifying all the base hardware including the new mouse. The AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files were further edited as the Windows setup program requested and Windows was started at the DOS prompt after rebooting with the changes in place. At this point the Network Operating System directory and files were erased from the system.

MISREP: Krash is now setup and running in a very basic Windows for Workgroups 3.11 environment. I'm behind deadline for publishing this installment to the LAROKE site. I've also got to do some strategic brainstorming on how to best complete the remaining setup of Krash for Max's use. I've got to build enough safeguards into the environment to protect Krash from Max's inexperience and boldness of youth. I don't wish to become a regular guest at my employer's home, fixing Krash's software, every week. We'll try to finish up the basic setup next installment and scrounge some old applications for Max and his mom to get started with. Time for a cigar, the last nasty habit left to me.

== UPDATE ==

Cyberdate 05.01.1998
Krash's Fate
Since this article was first written, Max's Mom has wisely abandoned the "Krash" computer refit and purchased a Compaq Presario home computer instead. My first "brush with the Compaq PC is recorded in "In the Trenches Cyberdate 09.20.1997 A typical week of headbangers". Krash has been stripped for parts and his violated shell currently resides in the company's "Elephant's Graveyard" of trashed equipment.


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LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants
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Issued Saturday, June 21, 1997

Updated Friday May 1, 1998

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