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Boy Scouts Motto: Be Prepared.
In the Trenches with LAROKE
Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 07.12.1997 (Setting up MAG)
SITREP: I have an out-of-town client for whom I setup a Compaq Presario 954 CDS 486/100 PC about eighteen months ago. At the time the client was suffering along with an old Tandy machine running on TRS-DOS. Neither one of us was sure if she was going to like the "Wintel" world. For the initial foray into the Windows, IBM PC compatible environment, a 486/100 MHz PC running Windows 3.x with a modest 500 MB hard drive was deemed suitable. In addition, we setup an America Online account. My client not only adapted to the new system like a "fish to water", but envolved herself in graphics programs and desktop publishing. She soon outgrew the "general-purpose" Presario. We discussed upgrade options, but eventually settled on a new custom-built PC.
It was decided that a vendor, Sullivan Computer Services, (local to my client) that we were both comfortable with would build the PC to specification, and then I would move software and data files to the new machine from the Presario. The specifications we ended up with are as follows:
I made travel arrangements to setup the PC, and the vendor scheduled delivery to coincide with my arrival.
TACAMO: After my arrival, My client and I relocated the existing Presario off to the side to make room for the new PC. The vendor's assistant arrived at the scheduled time and date, connected all the cabling, and left. After briefly checking out the new PC, I prepared an "Emergency Startup Disk" by double-clicking the "Add/Remove Programs" icon in Windows 95 "Control Panel" and clicking the "Startup Disk" tab in the resulting dialog.
The following work was completed over a three-day weekend with plenty of rest periods for contemplation and off-site recreation.
STEP 1: Rig some temporary cabling
We planned to keep the Compag in operation while we setup the new PC which my client christened "MAG" because it was "bigger" in every way than the Presario except physical size. I connected the modem cables in series, so both machines could access the phone line. I brought a program with me called "Fastmove" by Touchstone Software which allows you to transfer files between computers with a special parallel port cable. The printers for both systems were disconnected, and the special parallel data cable was attached to the
Both PC's were started up, and the Fastmove software was installed, Windows 95 version on MAG and Windows 3.x version on the Presario. After starting Fastmove in "Local" mode on MAG, I attempted to start it in "Remote" mode on the Presario. Nothing happened. After some investigation in the Fastmove options and connections dialogs on both machines, we discovered that MAG listed
In the interest of time, I decided to try to bypass this problem by installing the
STEP 2: Move the most important software applications from the Presario to MAG
My client's America OnLine account was first on this list. At this point we ran into our first minor setback. Little did we know there were major ones in front of us "down the road". After checking the Windows 95 "Device Manager" it was discovered that although the Zoom internal fax/modem was physically installed, Windows 95 was not aware of it's existence.
Even though America Online accesses the modem directly in lieu of using the Windows 95 connection, I wouldn't have the "warm fuzzies" until the Windows 95 environment was also aware of the modem. MAG had more serial port devices attached than the average PC, and the potential for conflict was high. It would be a good idea to resolve the first potential conflict now.
Double-clicking the "Modems" icon in the Windows 95 "Control Panel" displayed the Windows 95 "Modems Properties" dialog. No modems were listed. Clicking the "Add" button started the "Install New Modem" Wizard. By default, the modem wizard wants to try to detect the modem by itself. We agreed, and sent it on it's merry way. When finished, the Wizard had installed a generic "Hayes-compatible" modem on
We continued with the America Online installation. MAG had the setup for AOL 3.0 for Windows 95 which uses Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.x for the browser pre-installed by the vendor. You still have to use AOL's mail system instead of MS Mail, and AOL accesses the modem directly instead of using Windows 95's modem connection, so it is only partly Windows 95 compliant (maybe AOL 4.0 will be better).
We followed the pre-installed setup program prompts, entering the client's primary "Screenname" and password from the Presario in lieu of setting up a new account. The AOL setup program did not have any problems with the Zoom modem, and dialed the "800" number to retrieve current access numbers without incident. We now had a basic AOL installation on MAG. After restarting MAG, we ran the Fastmove file transfer program again and, after a bit of sleuthing, successfully copied the Presario's AOL configuration files including the remaining screenames, passwords, filing cabinets, favorite places and e-mail address books to MAG. A little testing, and we were finished with AOL.
Using a similar procedure, we installed Intuit's Quicken accounting and Fractal Design's Dabbler Graphics applications. That is, we installed the programs from their original CD-ROM's on MAG, then transferred data files from the Presario with Fastmove. Dabbler can take full advantage of the Wacom Artpad II graphics tablet we spec'd for the vendor to install. The Artpad II is a 4" by 5" digitizer tablet with a wireless stylus that has a slim rocker switch on the side for double-clicks and right-clicks. The stylus is pressure-sensitive (the harder you push, the darker the line you get), and if you turn it upside down and use the "eraser", Dabbler (and other programs that understand the Artpad) enter eraser mode. Pretty slick, but my client is having trouble adjusting to it since she had been limited to drawing with a mouse up to now (I guess once you become adept at driving finishing nails with a sledgehammer, it's hard to wield a more delicate tool =^) We decided to break-off at this point and renew the configuration on the following day.
1ST MAJOR SETBACK:
The client noticed when she next turned MAG on, that the clock in the Windows Task Bar "System Tray" was showing the incorrect time. After some basic testing, during which we installed additional software applications, we came to the conclusion that MAG had a failing
Unlike the Boy Scouts, I was not prepared. A BIOS backup utility was not one of the items I had brought with me in my bag of tricks. I had these utilities at my home base, but that was a plane ride away. Logging on to my AOL account as a "Guest" from MAG, I accessed C/NET's shareware.com and found the freeware
2ND MAJOR SETBACK:
The client has a Kodak DC20 digital camera. After a photo(s) are taken with the Kodak, they can be downloaded to a PC through a serial port with software that is provided with the camera, and saved in various graphics file formats. MAG had two free serial port connectors, a
We connected the cable and installed the Kodak software without incident. My client took a photo of me for testing (and possible litigation purposes, should the MAG setup take a bad turn?), which she subsequently provided me copy to post on my personal home page. After connecting the other end of the serial cable to the camera, we started the camera software and tried to download the photo into MAG. The
We knew that the camera and software worked because my client had originally installed it herself on the Presario where it had been operating just fine, thank you. At first, I thought this was a
The mouse was PS/2 mouse, so it wasn't using a
While we were trying to download the photo, one of the indicator lights on the Kodak began flashing, which we found out indicated a low battery. We got lucky because the battery in the flash unit was the same type, and after switching batteries, the flashing stopped. The
I tried several other things, I'd rather not mention, short of bashing MAG in the side. The reason I rather not mention them is because one of the things I tried was switching COM port devices (Artpad and Kodak cable). This little trick caused the Artpad driver to lockup the Windows 95 environment with the following "China Syndrome" error message:
We tried to download the photo one more time. The TWAIN driver found the new
The Colorado Memory Systems tape drive backup software had been pre-installed and tested by the vendor, who had also provided one Travan TR-3 tape. The "corrupt registry" error message had put the "fear of God" in me. I thought this was an excellent time to apply LAROKE's cardinal rule. We started a full system backup. We were both "plum tuckered out" at this point. It was a good time to quit for the day.
1ST MAJOR SETBACK, PART II:
On Monday we went to the vendor's store and got a new
We reset MAG's clock, and finished installing software and transferring data files from the Presario. Finally we shutdown MAG overnight.
STEP 3: Cleaning up the Presario.
After bootup on Tuesday morning, MAG's system clock was still displaying the correct time. We disconnected the Fastmove cable from the printer ports of both PC's and reconnected MAG's new Canon inkjet printer to
Quarterdeck's CleanSweep for Windows 3.x was installed, and we removed all the software from the Presario that had been installed on MAG. Finally, I removed Fastmove and CleanSweep from the Presario, and ran the
MISREP: As a final step, Another complete system backup was attempted, but it seemed to hang-up with no tape drive or hard disk activity. I had not been entirely satisfied the day before with the tape drive's backup software performance, so I decided to uninstall and reinstall the backup software. After reinstalling the software a "modified file backup" was attempted (see sample backup procedure). The software again locked up and I reset the system.
I had to turnoff and reboot several times before Windows 95 would startup. We uninstalled and reinstalled the backup software a third time, and finally it appeared to work properly, so we performed another full backup. Over the several days of MAG's installation we have heard odd, intermittent, pinging sounds from the vicinity of hard drive's location in MAG. I suspect a possible mechanical problem with the hard drive, but since I've never heard sounds like this before from a PC, I can't be sure. This 4.00.950b version of Windows 95 uses the new
I uninstalled Fastmove from MAG and began to gather my tools for departure. I could not find the Fastmove software CD, only it's sleeve. Oh, Oh . . . With a red face, I unpacked the Presario. I used a paperclip to open the CD-ROM drawer manually (this is what the small, paperclip-sized, hole on the front of most CD-ROM drives is for), rather than re-cable and start the Presario, and there it was, the Fastmove CD. Well there goes my facade of professionalism again, folks.
LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants
Issued Saturday, July 12, 1997
Updated Wednesday May 20, 1998
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