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Christophers Napkin Sketch by Al Gleichman

In the Trenches with LAROKE

Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 09.20.1997 (A typical week of headbangers)

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

Cyberdate 09.13.1997 A tune-up for Old Blue

Cyberdate 06.14.1997 When it rains, it pours

Cyberdate 04.19.1997 Moving the HAL 9000

Cyberdate 12.19.1996 Restoring the file server "Old Blue"

Cyberdate 08.06.1996 Upgrading the file server "Old Blue"

Later Old Blue Articles:

Cyberdate 10.11.1997 P2's transformation slips into high gear

Cyberdate 10.25.1997 More fun with P2, HAL and 4-Bits

Cyberdate 02.11.1998 The Domino Effect

Cyberdate 06.06.1998 Old Blue becomes the Old Guard Part I

Cyberdate 06.17.1998 Old Blue becomes the Old Guard Part II

Cyberdate 07.22.1998 Old Blue becomes the Old Guard Part III

Cyberdate 08.06.1998 WinGate - A Proxy Server / Firewall for Everyman

Cyberdate 12.30.1998 Old Blue survives his sea trials

Cyberdate 01.28.1999 Countdown to midnight Part I - Y2K Preparations

Cyberdate 04.14.1999 Countdown to midnight Part II - Y2K Preparations

Previous P2 Articles:

Cyberdate 06.28.1997 Restoring a Flash BIOS Meltdown

Cyberdate 05.03.1997 Feeding Softwarez to HAL 9000

Cyberdate 04.12.1997 Case of the Phantom Printer

Cyberdate 02.24.1997 Where's my !@#$% FONT MENU??

Later P2 Articles:

Cyberdate 09.27.1997 Getting P2 ready for his new user

Cyberdate 10.11.1997 P2's transformation slips into high gear

Cyberdate 10.25.1997 More fun with P2, HAL and 4-Bits

Cyberdate 11.08.1997 P2 and 4-Bits - Light at the end of the tunnel

Cyberdate 12.06.1997 P2's configuration suffers a relapse

Cyberdate 12.23.1997 Re-glazing P2

Cyberdate 02.04.1998 P2's lobotomy recovery

Cyberdate 02.23.1998 Moving P2 is as much fun as pulling teeth

Cyberdate 01.28.1999 Countdown to midnight Part I - Y2K Preparations

Cyberdate 04.14.1999 Countdown to midnight Part II - Y2K Preparations

Other Sources:

DOS Command Index from the book "DOS the Easy Way" by Everett Murdock Ph.D.

Everything Computers the web site for the "O'Donnell on Computers" radio show, the Personal Computer Secrets book, and several other computer-related ventures, including television, magazines, consulting and more. This site has a good how-to article on Creating a "Real" Windows 95 (or 98) Boot Disk.


America OnLine Online Service

Compaq Compaq Presario desktop PC

Corel Corporation WordPerfect word processing software

Hewlett Packard HP Deskjet and Laserjet 4L printers

Iomega Corporation Ditto Easy 800 tape drive

IMSI HiJaak PRO (formerly from Quarterdeck before being sold to IMSI)

Microsoft Corporation Regclean v4.1a utility software

Symantec Corporation WinProbe 95 (formerly from Quarterdeck before Quarterdeck ceased to exist under the Symantec Corporate Banner), Norton Utilities

Trend Micro PC-Cillin 95 (formerly from Touchstone Corporation before Touchstone sold the product to Trend Micro), HouseCall Internet based virus scanner

Stac, Inc. Stacker 4.0/4.1 compression software


SITREP: This installment is a potpourri of "odds 'n ends" clogging my daily logbook. We'll finish up maintenance on the server "Old Blue" that was started in the last installment (see In the trenches Cyberdate 09.13.1996 "A tune-up for Old Blue") by preparing an emergency boot disk.

There has been some progress in setting up a new computer for my employer's son, Max, and we'll get into that next (see In the trenches Cyberdate 06.21.1996 "Configuring Max's first PC").

I've had some peculiar problems with a graphics conversion application that I use daily on the PC called "P2". The program is "HiJaak PRO" for Windows 95 and it's problem and repair will be described.

I'll "bring up the rear" with the beginnings of a network printer malfunction investigation for one of my off-site clients.


1:27 PM 9/8/97 Wintune 97 was installed on Old Blue. The initial report was processed, and stored with the system's documentation. Wintune advised I install more memory (Old Blue only has 8MB), and that the disks be optimized which I had already tried to do previously, unsuccessfully.

6:43 AM 9/9/97 A new Windows 95 emergency boot disk was prepared for Old Blue. After checking a new diskette with HAL's anti-virus software, Old Blue was restarted in DOS mode and SCANDISK, including a surface scan, was run on the diskette to check it's integrity.

In accord with the Stacker manual, the DOS command "FORMAT A: /S" was next issued from the "C:" prompt which reformated the diskette and installed the required system files to make it a bootable disk. When prompted, I named it "System04 EBD". Next, still following the Stacker manual, "CONFIG A:" was entered at the command prompt, and the Stacker files were added to the diskette.

Old Blue was rebooted into Windows 95, the "Control Panel" opened and the "Add/Remove Programs" icon double-clicked to bring up the "Add/Remove Programs Properties" dialog. Under the "Startup Disk" tab, the "Create disk" button was clicked.

Because Windows 95 had been installed on Old Blue from diskettes, not a CD-ROM, and copies of the installation "CAB" files were not placed on any of Old Blue's drives, the Startup Disk creation program requested first that the Windows 95 installation "Disk 1", and then "Disk 2" be placed in drive A:. After assembling the files needed from the installation disks, the program requested the diskette to be used as the "Startup Disk" be placed in drive A: and warned that any existing files on this disk would be erased. I placed a blank diskette in Old Blue's drive A: and clicked the "OK" button, and the process was completed. Now I had a Stacker boot disk and a Windows 95 startup disk. The next step was to combine them.

8:06 AM 9/10/97 The Windows Startup disk was placed in HAL's drive A: and the Stacker boot disk was placed in Old Blue's drive A: since it would be the Emergency Boot Disk when the operation was complete (see LAROKE maintenance procedures). All the files on the Windows Startup disk were copied to the Stacker boot disk over the network, except for the system files which were already on the Stacker disk.

Finally, Old Blue was cold-booted from the new Emergency Boot Disk. Two errors were reported, both pertaining to the CONFIG.SYS file on the new boot disk.

The first line in the Startup disk CONFIG.SYS file,
caused a "Stacker already loaded" error message and the second line,
caused a "file not found or corrupted" error.

SSWAP.COM was not to be found anywhere on Old Blue, so I pulled out the Stacker manual. In Chapter 4, "Advanced Stacker", these two CONFIG.SYS lines were found in a section about "Nonpreloading Systems". In the "Preloading Systems" section, it was indicated that these lines were replaced by the line
in the CONFIG.SYS, and this is the line that is in Old Blue's normal CONFIG.SYS in the drive C: root directory.

Once again, being in an area where my knowledge is vastly exceeded by my ignorance, I decided to proceed with kaution. I commented out the two lines that were causing error messages by placing a semi-colon in front of them in the Startup disk CONFIG.SYS file, and I added the
line. (In newer versions of MS-DOS, the system will not process a CONFIG.SYS line that has a semi-colon at the beginning. Older versions will not process these lines either, but will not be silent about it. They will produce an error message)

Old Blue was again cold-booted from the new Stacker/Windows 95 Bootup disk. No error messages were reported this time, but I have no idea what will happen if Old Blue's drive C: compressed volume ever becomes corrupted and inaccessible. Hopefully, I will never find out.

For those of you prudent enuf to make a Windows 95 Startup disk for your Win 95 systems and actually test it to see if it works, you may be disappointed to find that it does not load Windows 95. It simply puts you in DOS Command Mode where you can try to use the DOS utilities on the Startup disk to try to fix whatever is keeping Windows 95 from booting up. This requires more tech know-how than most of us want to be involved with. I just wanted to warn you that the Startup disk is a "Lifeboat" to try to save your system, not a "spare tire" that you can ride around on until your system gets fixed.

== UPDATE ==

Cyberdate 04.15.1999
Boot Disk Update
Since this article was first written, Old Blue has been converted from a file server / web server to a communications server. At the time of conversion, Windows 95B OSR2 was installed as the operating system and both hard drives were reformatted as FAT32, eliminating the need for the Stacker compressed volumes, so I never did have to use the Stacker boot disk. Old Blue is happily toiling away twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in his new role.
If you want make your own Windows 95 Startup Disk and add your CD-ROM drivers to it so you can access the CD-ROM drive when you boot from it, here is an excellent source for step-by-step instructions: Creating a "Real" Windows 95 (or 98) Boot Disk by Bob O'Donnell at the Everything Computers Web site.

1:44 PM 9/10/97 Next, I ran Quarterdeck's WINProbe 95 Recovery Utility on Old Blue. This utility checks the Windows 95 Registry and copies all required system files it can find to a single compressed file that you can put away elsewhere for safekeeping. As you can see, I use several different utilities to maintain and backup the various computer systems I am responsible for. A "bag of tricks" isn't any good if it's empty.

== UPDATE ==

Cyberdate 04.16.1999
WinProbe 95 Update
Since this article was first written, Quarterdeck has been absorbed into Symantec Corporation with the result that many of its products are being discontinued. WinProbe was discontinued before the acquisition, however. I believe many of it's functions were to be taken over by RealHelp, another dead Quarterdeck product. I did not use WinProbe for much except its reports and the system file backup capability described above.

2:24 PM 9/10/97 Installed and ran the RegClean.exe v4.1 (build 97.71) Windows 95 Registry cleaning utility downloaded from the Microsoft Web site. It choked with an "The REGCLEAN.EXE file is linked to missing export OLEAUT32.DLL:421." error message.

The RegClean utility was known to work on HAL, so I compared the OLEAUT32.DLL dynamic link library file on the two systems which resided in the \WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory on each machine. The file on HAL was much newer and twice as big. I renamed the file on Old Blue to OLEAUT32.DD_ and copied the newer OLEAUT32.DLL from HAL to Old Blue's \WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory.

REGCLEAN.EXE was activated again and this time it ran fine. I left the older, renamed OLEAUT32.DL_ in Old Blue's \WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory just in case some older program that uses it "blows-up" the next time it accesses the newer OLEAUT32.EXE file. Always "mark your trail" and leave yourself a way out of the woods when it gets dark.

== UPDATE ==

Cyberdate 04.16.1999
Regclean Update
The latest version of the Windows 95 Registry cleaning utility is RegClean.exe v4.1a (build 7364.1).
Info about the utility can be found in the Microsoft Knowledgebase article ID Q147769

Back in June when I was trying to configure one of the old office PC's, "Krash", as Max's first PC, I was running into problems because of the machine's limitations. Krash is a 486/33 clone with only 4MB of memory. He does not have a sound card or a CD-ROM drive. If you've cruised the software stores lately, you'll find that diskette-based software is getting hard to come by. Only CD-ROM titles are getting shelf space anymore. Based on my komplaints about trying to make a "silk purse out of a sow's ear", Max's Mom decided to purchase a Windows 95 Pentium system in the $1,200 to $1,600 range.

11:17 AM 9/1/97 Max and his Mom bought a Compaq yesterday. They had scheduled me to come over and help them set it up today, but between then and now they decided to "take the plunge" and try to set it up themselves. They did just fine and got Windows 95 running on their own initiative.

They ended up a printer cable short, but this has been one of the idiosyncrasies of the PC world from the beginning. When it comes to parallel printer cables, not all cables "are created equal" and "one size fits all" does not apply. This is another unnecessary complexity in an already too-complex world, and hopefully someday it will be relegated to the "outdated technology dustbin", but for now it's an irritation we still have to live with.

6:27 AM 9/4/97 I dropped by the house to help Max and his Mom with the printer setup. They weren't getting very far with the HP Deskjet they were trying to connect to their new Presario.

I don't know if it was because of the previous botched setup, or because I didn't read the instructions, but I found the setup to be very difficult and practically impossible for a novice. This does not match my previous experience with HP printers so I can't be too critical of HP here. You be the judge.

I checked the Windows 95 "Start Menu", "Printer Folder" and "Control Panel" in that order for evidence of the previous failed attempt. The "bonus programs" that came on the printer CD-ROM were the only related items on the Start Menu. There were no HP icons in the Control Panel. There was an HP printer icon in the Printer Folder, but it was the wrong model and would not print a test page.

Lisa (Max's Mom) said their HP model was not one of the choices displayed during setup and she picked this one as the closest (something I would have tried myself). I deleted this printer icon, rebooted the PC with the printer on, and inserted the HP setup CD-ROM.

We had to suffer through several multimedia screens of marketing hype before a useful menu appeared with setup as an option. After an initial "splash screen" we were transferred to the Windows 95 "Add Printer Wizard". I found this situation extremely irritating. We have a whole CD-ROM of "stuff" and aren't provided with an automatic setup for this particular printer! No wonder Lisa and Max were confused.

The Add Printer Wizard did not have a listing for this printer. I pressed the "Have Disk" button and "browsed" the CD-ROM until I found an "INF" device information file one directory-level deep on the CD. This was the "special" file that would unlock the secrets of the printer. When I double-clicked it, their printer showed up in the Wizard picklist (well, their "series" of printers, if not the particular DeskJet model, anyway).

The printer installed, and I was asked if I wanted to install the fonts that came with the printer package. I mistakenly clicked the "Yes" button. We were presented with an input field to type a filepath into. I had no idea where the fonts were hidden on the CD-ROM and there wasn't a "browse" option.

I could not get to the Windows 95 Start Menu to open Windows Explorer file manager, so we were stuck. I tried to back out of the fonts installation. Clicking the "Cancel" button caused the program to ask if I really wanted to exit Setup? Not knowing if this action would "break" the printer installation, I canceled the Exit process which brought us back to the fonts filepath dialog. I clicked the "OK" button, knowing no fonts would be found. A brief message displayed indicating it was trying to install a font with a particular name, and then not finding it, blew us out of the setup program.

If HP could hard code the names of the fonts into their setup program, why couldn't they include the path to the fonts on the CD, instead of expecting the User to magically know it?

We went to the Printer Folder, right-clicked on the new HP DeskJet icon, and selected properties from the Context-sensitive menu. In the Properties Dialog, under the "General" tab, the "Print Test Page" button was clicked. The test page printed without problems, and we were presented with a "New print cartridge detected - Alignment" dialog which indicated that the Enhanced Printer Port two-way communication was also working.

Lisa did say she got diskettes for the printer along with the CD-ROM. Maybe they were setup diskettes that would have automatically installed the printer like the CD-ROM should have. Another method I didn't attempt was going to the Windows 95 "Control Panel" and having Windows 95 "look for new hardware". I've seen a few situations where HP Laserjet 4L printers were found by and installed automatically by Windows 95 using this process.

We also setup an America OnLine account. This was marred by the fact it was approaching the busy time of day for AOL access and we had trouble connecting to AOL.

We continued to get the "Check your connections" message that I knew was "bogus" since the "800" number used to get the access numbers dialed and logged correctly early in the process. We had to pick a "Hayes-compatible with error correction" generic modem from AOL's modem setup list since the "Compaq 336 56k upgradeable" modem was not listed.

This process makes me irritable every time I have to deal with it. "AOL for Windows 95" should be Windows 95 compliant with regards to modem selection, but isn't. It should pick from a list of Windows 95 installed modems, not access the modem directly.

OK, enuf ranting, I'm sorry. It was late in the day. We got Lisa and Max both setup with their own "screen names", and I went home to compose email messages to both, so they could see how it worked.

== UPDATE ==

Cyberdate 04.20.1999
America OnLine Update
At the time of this update, the latest version AOL for Windows 95/98 operating systems is AOL v4.0 Revision 148.13 (32-bit). It still appears to access the modem directly.

9:57 AM 9/5/97 In the process of producing "thumbnail" GIF images of CAD DWG files for the company intranet yesterday, the graphics manipulation program, HiJaak Pro, started to malfunction. Under the "Raster Processing Options" tab of the "GIF Processing Options" dialog, the "Scaling" drop-down list synchronization with the "Maximum width", "Maximum height" and "Distort Aspect" entry fields became erratic. Shortly after this malfunction, HiJaak blew-up with a "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down" Windows 95 error message. Pressing the "Details" button yielded the following "Hieroglyphics":

HIJAAK caused an invalid page fault in module POINT32.DLL at 014f:0105cfda. Registers: EAX=00000000 CS=014f EIP=0105cfda EFLGS=00010287 EBX=00000000 SS=0157 ESP=006ef794 EBP=00000000 ECX=006ef7d8 DS=0157 ESI=00b30098 FS=31d7 EDX=006ef7dc ES=0157 EDI=0000005c GS=0000 Bytes at CS:EIP: 8b 4e 04 80 e1 03 80 f9 01 75 3b 8b 3e 8b 5e 04 Stack dump: 00000000 0000005c 815703f8 00000000 0105ce8b 0000005c 006ef7e0 00000001 815703f8 00000000 0105ce5e 0000005b 00000000 0105c605 0000005b 00000001

This is one of those cases where "the Devil is in the details". Those of you that understand the above code, go to the head of the class. The rest of you come over to the "dunce's corner" and keep me company.

8:22 AM 9/6/97 I did not restart the program until after bootup this morning, hoping the problem was a fleeting one that would disappear. No such luck. The problem remained, including the "invalid page fault". P2 was shutdown and cold-booted. Symantec's Norton Utilities Disk Doctor for Windows 95 (a disk repair utility) was run, and it gave P2 "a clean bill of health".

Next PC-cillin95 was run to eliminate a virus as a suspect of causing the HiJaak problem. PC-cillin reported that two URL files in the "C:\WINDOWS\FAVORITES" were infected with the "WORD_Kilo.B" virus. I deleted these files which were Internet "shortcuts", but it's highly unlikely they are the cause of the HiJaak malfunction or that they were actually virus infections.

== UPDATE ==

Cyberdate 04.20.1999
PC-Cillin' Update
On October 1, 1998, TouchStone Software returned all rights to the PC-cillin anti-virus program to Trend Micro. As of October 1, 1998, TouchStone Software has no connection to the PC-cillin program. All PC-cillin sales, upgrades, pattern file updates and support is now handled by Trend Micro.
Trend Micro also has the excellent java-based Internet virus-scanner "HouseCall" on their site. HouseCall is Trend Micro’s free virus scanning service - the only online scanning service available to all Web users. There is nothing to install; just follow the simple instructions.
Go to HouseCallI use HouseCall during regular maintenance on all the PCs I service that have Internet connections. I use it in addition to other virus scanning utilities installed. It never hurts to get more than one diagnosis. I highly recommend HouseCall. Give it a try.

I decided to try opening HiJaak first to see if maybe the problem is being caused by a conflict with another active application. That did not relieve the situation. At this point it certainly looks as if the GIF conversion module is corrupted.

I couldn't think of anymore "easy-fix" solutions for the HiJaak problem, and I definitely needed it working properly on P2 for my intranet construction project. I determined it was time to uninstall HiJaak, cleanup P2's disk drive, and reinstall HiJaak.

I opened up the Windows 95 "Control Panel" on P2 and double-clicked the "Add/Remove Programs" icon. In the Picklist under the "Install/Uninstall" tab, I clicked the "HiJaak Pro" line item, then the "Add/Remove" button below. This started the "HiJaak PRO Uninstall" program. From this dialog I clicked the "Remove" button, and off we went. At the end of the process, I was presented with a "Reboot System" dialog and the message that some files would not be removed until Windows was restarted. I answered "Yes" to the reboot request.

After P2 rebooted, I used Symantec's Norton Disk Doctor to check the integrity of drive C:, and then ran Norton Speed Disk to perform a "Full Optimization" defragmentation of drive C: to prepare P2 for the reinstallation of HiJaak Pro. No problems were found with drive C:.

Some time back, the CD-ROM drive on P2 quit working, and I haven't gotten around to fixing it yet, so I would have to try to reinstall HiJaak Pro across the network from HAL's CD-ROM drive. P2 was warm-booted again. When the "Network Logon" dialog appeared, I typed in my "User Name" and "Password", held down the "Shift" key and clicked the "OK" button.

Holding down the Shift key for the remainder of Windows 95 bootup would prevent the programs in the Windows 95 "Start" folder from loading. Most installation programs like to have the Windows 95 environment "all to themselves" without any other applications running.

Once the Windows 95 "Desktop" appeared, the "My Computer" icon was right-clicked and "Map Network Drive" was chosen from the resulting context-sensitive menu (this choice will be available only on machines with networks installed). The "Map Network Drive" that displayed listed E: as the next available drive letter for P2. The path to HAL's CD-ROM had been used at some previous time by P2, so it was listed in the "Path" drop-down list and I didn't have to type it from memory (\\HAL9000\GOLF). I made sure the "Reconnect at logon" checkbox was empty, otherwise, P2 would try to access HAL's CD-ROM every time he started up. I clicked the "OK" button. P2 connected to HAL and an "Install" dialog displayed asking if I wanted to Install HiJaak PRO 4.0. I clicked the "Yes" button.

The installation utility started, and I responded to the prompts when requested and accepted defaults when provided. When complete, install asked if I wanted to restart the computer, and I responded "Yes". The setup had installed some fonts and since at one time or another some rogue setup program had screwed-up my Windows 95 "Fonts" folder on more than one system, (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 02.24.1997 "Where's my !@#$% FONT MENU??"), I went to P2's Fonts folder to see if everything was "kosher". It was OK and HiJaak Pro gets good marks "in my book" for proper font installation.

It was time to test the new HiJaak installation. The GIF conversion Options dialog was back to normal. What had happened to it to make it malfunction? "I haven't the foggiest notion", but its fixed now, and I'll settle for that.

3:00 PM 9/5/97 Almost a year ago I setup a Windows 95 network for a real estate development client consisting of two generic "Wintel" Pentium PC's, one Hewlett-Packard Laserjet 4L printer and a Iomega Ditto Easy 800 tape drive backup.

About a week back the client called to report that the "WordPerfect" application on the PC with the tape drive could not print across the network to the HP Laserjet on the other PC. We tried to fix it over the phone but were unsuccessful. When I paid a field-visit, I "pecked" at the problem for over a hour without success.

When I first set this system up, I was new to Windows 95 networking, and the network names for the two PCs had spaces in them. The WordPerfect application was Windows 3.x version 6.x, and most of their other programs are also Windows 3.x or DOS versions.

My strategy was to reset the network resources with DOS-compatible naming conventions and, after that, reinstall WordPerfect, if necessary (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 04.19.1997 "Moving the HAL 9000" and naming conventions). The only flaw in my logic that was nagging me was why did WordPerfect work before if the naming conventions were the reason it wasn't working now?

MISREP: It was late on a Friday afternoon, and we were experiencing "monsoon storm conditions" in South Florida, and I didn't want a power blackout hitting me in the middle of these operations. I also had to have the system to myself, so they gave me a key to come back during the next clear weather when the office was closed. While I steered "Renegade", my jeep, back home, navigating by the taillights of the car (or truck, or bus, I could only see the lights) ahead of me, I figured this would also be a good opportunity to perform some preventative disk maintenance on my client's system, since I'm fairly certain they don't do anything beyond the tape backups.

Gee! Some weather. We've had a nasty low front hanging over us for two days now but, if it keeps the hurricane, "Erika", that is bearing down on us from the Southeast, away from the mainland, I'll be happy.


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

Issued Saturday September 20, 1997

Updated Wednesday April 21, 1999

copyright © 1997-1999 LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants all rights reserved

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