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In this area I will relate some of my horrible (and not so horrible) experiences in the realm of PC consulting (hardware and software installation, trouble shooting, and general head scratching) in the hopes some of you may avoid the same dead ends I have traversed, or at least get a chuckle out of my misadventures.
Christophers Napkin Sketch by Al Gleichman

Woods's Incomplete Maxim #3: "Don't leave things unfinishe"

In the Trenches with LAROKE


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Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 10.25.1997 (More Fun with P2, HAL, and 4-bits)


    Situation Report
    Take Charge And Move Out
    United States of America
  • CM
    Configuration Management
    Intelligence Summary
    Mission Report

SITREP: I'm finally getting squared away with these three machines. One or two more "In the Trenches" installments after this one and we should be finished with the relocation and transformation of P2. LAROKE's new PC, "4-bits", should also be up to speed as P2's replacement.

This time we will install two uninstallation utilities on P2 to help with his final cleanup. My main workstation, "HAL", will get an IBM Antivirus update and QuarterDeck's new service after I take time out to fix a problem with his mouse.

The lion's share of this article will deal with the connection of 4-bits to the company network since I finally found the network operating system software I thought I had misplaced (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 10.11.1997 "P2's transformation slips into high gear").


Part I: P2 gets new utilities for his final cleanup.

CyberMedia Uninstaller v4.51: 9:07 AM 9/25/97 Uninstaller was setup on P2 for testing with the removal of the remaining LAROKE applications. I wanted to see how Uninstaller stacked up against it's rival, CleanSweep.

Before Uninstaller was setup, Norton Utilities "Disk Doctor" and "Speed Disk" were run on P2's hard drive. These are more robust programs that perform the same functions as the SCANDISK and DEFRAG utilities that come with Windows.

The Uninstaller CD was placed in HAL's CD-ROM drive since P2's drive was still malfunctioning. P2 was restarted (with no startup programs) and HAL's CD-ROM drive was mapped across the network as P2's drive E:. The mapping operation caused the Uninstaller setup program to start on P2.

I let Uninstaller set up in the default directory, answered "No" to the "Limited CyberMedia Oil Change installation," and accepted the rest of the setup program's defaults. Setup finished without incident.

I double-clicked the new Uninstaller "Shortcut" icon on P2's Desktop to run Uninstaller for the first time. The first dialog requested permission to scan the system to build a "SmartLinks" database on which future Uninstaller operations would be based. I clicked the "Yes" button. After the scan operation was complete, Uninstaller was closed.

QuarterDeck CleanSweep Deluxe v1.0: 2:00 P.M. 10/1/97 My personal Rep, Basil Taube, at QuarterDeck Select called a couple of days ago to report on available QuarterDeck product updates and convinced me I couldn't live without some of this new software.

I managed to keep my new purchases limited to " CleanSweep Deluxe," the successor to CleanSweep 3.0, and "QuarterDeck TuneUp v1.0," the interface CD-ROM for the PCTUNEUP.COM Web site subscription service that Quarterdeck had recently purchased. These goodies arrived today in a flattened, beat-up "PRIORITY MAIL" parcel from the U.S. Postal Service. I guess the Postal Service defines PRIORITY as fast but not necessarily intact.

I decided to install CleanSweep Deluxe on P2 first, after uninstalling CleanSweep 3.0. I employed the "Uninstall CleanSweep" utility, then, after it had finished, deleted the remaining CleanSweep subdirectories and "residual" files the uninstaller utility could not remove (like itself).

I again initiated the Setup program across the network by placing the CleanSweep Deluxe CD in HAL's CD-ROM drive and mapping to it from P2. The User Information dialog appeared with the serial number already in place. I accepted the "Run Smart Sweep/Internet Sweep on Startup" option while declining "Run Usage Watch on Startup." I allowed setup to place a CleanSweep Deluxe icon on the Desktop but disallowed "shell extension" support.

After setup finished copying and installing files, it asked to be allowed to analyze the hard drive which I permitted it to do. Upon completion, setup asked to restart the computer. I let it restart P2, in the process updating the configuration files.

I decided to put off a CleanSweep Deluxe upgrade on HAL until I get the final MSIE 4.0 "shrinkwrap version" installed (supposedly "in the mail" as I write this). CleanSweep interfaces with the Internet Browser to clean up " Downloads", " Cache", " Cookie", " Plug-in" and " ActiveX" components. I did not trust it to "play nice" with the unstable MSIE 4.0 Platform Preview 1 version that is currently on HAL.

Part II: HAL gets more new software after a hardware stumble.

8:00 A.M. 9/24/97 Last night, HAL got hung-up while I was editing a large spreadsheet in QuattroPro. The mouse cursor would not move. I did a CTRL-ALT-DEL to bring up the Windows 95 "Close Program" dialog that showed that QuattroPro was OK. I clicked the "End Task" button anyway and was able to restart Windows using keyboard commands.

There were no "Mouse not present" error messages, but neither was a mouse cursor present. Recycling HAL (cold-boot) did not help. I eventually remembered that since HAL's mouse was a wireless radio device, it contained batteries.

Looking at the receiving unit under my desk while moving the mouse revealed that the normal signal lights were not flashing. Changing the frequency control on the receiver made no difference. This morning I replaced the two AAA batteries in the mouse and everything was well again. My Dad's spirit whispered to me from over my shoulder, "First, see if you've got gas."

IBM Antivirus v2.4.1: 11:03 A.M. 9/25/97 Antivirus update (the hard way): Since I've been having trouble with the IBM Aptive Update Connector on HAL (see Kurrent Konundrum #1), I could not get automatic updates to the IBM Antivirus v2.4.1 software that came pre-installed on HAL. When I visit the IBM Antivirus Online Web site for virus updates, I have to manoeuver down about three levels, download a zipped signature file, decompress it, update IBM Antivirus by choosing "Update" from its Menu Bar and typing out the drive and directory path in the resulting dialog (there is no "Browse" button, so I have to rely on memory). After the update completes, I tidy up by deleting the just-downloaded files.

7:15 A.M. 10/1/97 Microsoft Internet Explorer was officially released today. Interestingly enough, when I re-booted HAL for the first time today, I got an error message on startup "Your prevue version of Internet Explorer has expired. Please contact Microsoft for an upgrade." Is this merely coincidental, or does MSIE 4.0 contact the Microsoft Web site in the background on a regular basis?

QuarterDeck TuneUp v1.0: 11:04 A.M. 10/2/97 Installed QuarterDeck's TuneUp v1.0 with the CleanSweep SmartSweep agent running. At the end of the setup process, I got an "This program has preformed and illegal operation and will be shut down" error message with the following details:

GRPCONV executed an invalid instruction in module GRPCONV.EXE at 014f:00401fd5. Registers: EAX=00000001 CS=014f EIP=00401fd5 EFLGS=00010202 EBX=00530000 SS=0157 ESP=0063faac EBP=0063fdc8 ECX=00000000 DS=0157 ESI=00001486 FS=4657 EDX=c10c7b00 ES=0157 EDI=bff62b5a GS=0000 Bytes at CS:EIP: ff ff 06 06 06 06 00 00 04 00 00 fc fc fc fc fc Stack dump: 00000157 00000157 00000157 00000157 8157ad90 00400000 575c3a43 4f444e49 005c5357 00400001 00000002 0063fae8 000000d1 000000ff 00400000 0000137c

Despite this error, both the setup utility and SmartSweep reported a successful installation. I lightly scanned the "" file and then logged onto the Internet to register at the TUNEUP.COM Web site. After registration, both the TuneUp and the TuneUp AV (Antivirus) programs were run for the first time without incident.

It was time for HAL's "hourly reboot" at this point, and I recycled HAL with some trepidation. I was concerned with possible conflicts between the memory-resident portions of the IBM Anti-virus utility that shipped with HAL and the newly-installed TuneUp AV anti-virus program. HAL had to be cold-booted twice but, from then on, he began acting in a fashion I'm used to.

Part III: Assimilating 4-of-8 into the collective (Borg-speak for connecting 4-bits to the network).

1:06 P.M. 10/8/97 After the initial setup of "4-bits", my new Compaq DeskPro 2000 replacement for "P2," my efforts were "put in a holding pattern" by the LAN operating system software I'd managed to misplace (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 10.11.1997 "P2's transformation slips into high gear").

My ONE copy of the network operating system installation software turned out to be right where it was supposed to be, with the software and documentation for "Old Blue," the file server. I just overlooked it the first time I searched. As a result, for the last two weeks I've been systematically cleaning and reorganizing my office while trying to find the missing software. Now that I've found it, I'm going to do what I should have done long ago . . . make backup copies.

Our company's LAN software is Invisible LAN, published by Invisisoft. Every time upgrades are published, we pay a nominal fee and are provided one set of software disks and documentation. We use Invisible LAN instead of the Microsoft Networking that comes with Windows 95 because, Unlike Microsoft Networking (as provided with Windows 95), Invisible LAN works with Windows 3.x and MS-DOS machines as well as Windows 95. It is also fast. Invisisoft licenses their customers to use the software on every machine that has one of their network adapters installed, 10 computers in our case. I've been living dangerously by using that one set of disks every time I've set up a new system on the network. This situation puts me in the kind of position that "Murphy" just loves to punish. I took the time to make a set of installation disks for every adapter on the network.

The office "search and destroy" mission wasn't an unnecessary exercise as I was also able to find the Invisisoft LAN adapter I was going to install in 4-bits along with its configuration software and manual. I had put this aside when I removed it from the PC called "Krash" (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 06.21.1997 "Configuring Max's first PC"), and it quickly disappeared in one of the piles of stuff I'm constantly moving around in my office.

I keep a maintenance log for each machine in the office, and I periodically publish updates of the logs to the company intranet (Windows 95 users can goto the LAROKE Downloads area to get a copy of the Maintenance Log Form). I accessed the log for Krash and found that this LAN adapter, an Invisible LAN model 2000s, had been originally installed in Krash on 09.04.1994 using the default settings. Armed with this information, I searched the Adapter manual for the " I/O Base Address" and " Interrupt Line" default settings which I found to be "300h" and "IRQ 3", respectively.

4-bits was fired-up to find out if these resource settings were free for the network adapter to use. This information was found by right-clicking the "My Computer" icon on the Windows 95 Desktop, then choosing "Properties" from the context-sensitive menu popup. Under the "Device Manager" tab in the resulting "System Properties" dialog, click the "Computer" line item at the top of the list of devices (if not already high-lighted), and then click the "Properties" button below the list. The "Computer Properties" dialog is displayed. Under the "View Resources" tab, click the "Interrupt request (IRQ)" Radio Button if it is not already chosen. A list of the IRQ resources in use is displayed below the Radio Buttons.

In 4-bits' case, IRQ 03 was not on the list, so the network adapter was free to use it . . . one down, one to go. Next, clicking the "Input/Output (I/O)" Radio Button causes the list of used I/O addresses to replace the IRQ resources list. The "addresses" on this list are in " hexadecimal" notation. I scrolled down the list to find that the address space between 01F7 and 0376 was not being used. I was safe to use the adapter's default setting of 300h (0300). This little investigation we just went through revealed that I would not have to configure the adapter's EEPROM with a DOS utility like I did for HAL's Linksys network adapter (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 06.14.1997 "When it rains, it pours").

3:59 P.M. 10/9/97 Having assembled all the necessary hardware, software and documentation, it was time to connect 4-bits to the company network. 4-bits' cover was removed by taking out two thumbscrews at the rear of the PC, sliding the cover back approximately 1/2" and lifting it off. The DeskPro 2000 has an "Expansion Riser Board," that PCI and ISA adapters can plug into on both sides, instead of the more common design of having the expansion slots directly on the main system board (motherboard).

Compaq still secures its expansion slot covers with ~!@#$%^ torque screws, but at least these ones have an additional slot so you can remove them with a small standard slot-type screwdriver if you don't have the special torque-type screwdriver.

The Invisible LAN adapter is an older ISA 16-bit adapter and it would not go onto the first ISA slot in which I tried to insert it. It actually was an ISA/PCI combination slot if you want to be picky about it. After a few impolite words, I successfully seated it in my second choice of available ISA slots.

Next, I dutifully walked around the office repeating my "bring out your dead" chant . . . In truth I was informing everybody that the network would be dead for a few minutes while I disturbed the Ethernet segment to which all the machines were connected in order to add 4-bits to the segment.

This is a 10Base2 (Thinnet) Ethernet network where all the PCs on a segment are like "pearls on a string" ( a BUS Topology). When you want to add a pearl, you have to break the string. 4-Bits was quickly connected to the network, which also included adding an additional ten feet of coax cable to the segment. I hoped I hadn't gone beyond the segment length maximum of 600 feet. I don't know how long this segment is, and I don't install enough networks to justify the expense of a quality cable tester that can tell me the length of a segment.

After notifying everyone that the network was up and running again, I went to the PC named "Merlin" in the clerical area, started a DOS-based network diagnostic utility. I let it run for a few hours to see if I would get an unacceptable level of network errors.

CM: 4-bits was turned on and, after the Windows 95 Desktop appeared, the Windows 95 Control Panel was opened by clicking the "Start" button, then the "Settings" Menu Item, then the "Control Panel" Submenu Item. In the "Control Panel" Dialog, the "Add New Hardware" icon was double-clicked to start the "Add New Hardware Wizard."

I followed the Wizard's recommendations and let it try to find the new hardware, the network adaptor in this case. After several minutes the Wizard came back and announced it was ready to install drivers for the new hardware it had found. I clicked the "Details" Button to find out what the Wizard thought it had found. There was one item in the details list: an "NE2000 Compatible" Ethernet adapter. The Wizard was korrect. This was what it was supposed to find . . . so far, so good. The Wizard installed the adapter drivers and 4-bits was re-booted for good measure.

Now that 4-bits had a network card, the Windows 95 "Logon" Dialog appeared for the first time during the Windows 95 startup process. I entered "4-of-8" as the default "User," and entered a "Password" for "4-of-8". After confirming the Password by entering it again, the Windows 95 startup process completed.

Again, the Windows 95 Control Panel was opened and this time the "Network" Icon was double-clicked to open the "Network" Dialog. Under the "Configuration" Tab in "The following network components are installed" List were line items for the "NE2000 Compatible" adapter, and " NetBEUI," " Novell" and " IPX/SPX Compatible" protocols. I deleted the Novell and IPX/SPX protocols by clicking each of them in turn and clicking the "Remove" Button, since they would not be used on this network.

The next task was to install the three components of the Invisible LAN NOS (Network Operating System). The 1st component, the Invisible LAN protocol was installed by clicking the "Add" Button below "The following network components are installed" List. This action produced the "Select Network Component Type" Dialog, and I selected "Protocol" from the "Select the type of network component you want to install:" List in that Dialog. The "Add" button was clicked next, which produced the "Select Network Protocol" Dialog. Since Invisible LAN is not listed among the "Manufacturers:" or "Network Protocols:" lists provided in this Dialog, the "Have Disk" Button was clicked.

This is where the LAN software disks I'd been searching for earlier in the week (and just made backup copies of above) enter the picture. After answering an additional Dialog, telling Windows that the manufacturer's installation disk would be in drive A: (and placing said disk in drive A:), Windows came back with two possible Invisible LAN protocols for me to install: "TransBIOS for Ethernet" and "TransBIOS for Token Ring". Since ours was an Ethernet network, I selected that protocol and Windows installed it. The second and third network components " Client for Invisible LAN" and "File and printer sharing ( server) for Invisible LAN", respectively, were added in like manner.

Back at the Network Dialog, each of these three, newly-installed components were selected and their "Properties" examined and adjusted where necessary. In the "TransBIOS for Ethernet Properties" Dialog, under the "Advanced" Tab, the "Set this protocol to be the default protocol" Checkbox was checked. All the other TransBIOS settings were left in their default states.

In the "Client for Invisible LAN Properties" Dialog, under the "Advanced" Tab, the "Logon Dialog Box" was "Enabled." This action would allow the Invisible LAN Logon to replace the Microsoft Networking Logon Dialog every time 4-bits starts. The "Station Name" Property was changed to "4-of-8", and all other client settings were left at their default values.

In the "File and printer sharing for Invisible LAN Properties" Dialog, under the "Advanced" Tab, "LAROKE_08" was entered for the "Server Name" Property, and the other default settings were left alone. Finally, In the Network dialog, the "File and Print Sharing" Button was clicked, and both Checkboxes in the resulting Dialog: "I want to be able to give others access to my files" and "I want to be able to allow others to print to my printer(s)" were checked. The "OK" Button in the Network Dialog was clicked to complete the setup of the network components.

Files were copied and installed from the Invisible LAN installation disk in drive A:, then the network setup program decided it needed some Windows 95 installation files. After stumbling around for a few seconds the error dialog "Please insert the disk labeled 'Windows 95 CD-ROM', and then click OK." appeared.

I said "setup program" above instead of "setup wizard" because any software worthy of the appellation "Wizard" would not have asked for a CD-ROM on a machine that does not have a CD-ROM drive! I clicked OK, and it stumbled around again trying to find the file "netapi.dll" on the "Windows 95 CD-ROM" until it gave up and gave me a dialog where I could specify where the Windows 95 installation files were.

The default location suggested by the Dialog was "A:\", but since I didn't have Windows 95 Installation Disks for 4-bits either, I clicked the "Arrow" Button for the Drop-down List below A:\ to see if I had any other choices. There were two, the most likely being "C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS", which I selected and clicked "OK". This proved to be the correct location.

The network setup program finished installing files and then prompted me to restart 4-bits, with which I complied. Upon bootup, the Microsoft Networking Logon appeared instead of the desired Invisible LAN Logon. In the Network Dialog I found that "Client for Microsoft Networks" and "File and printer sharing for Microsoft Networks" had been installed along with the Invisible LAN components. I didn't need these two components yet so I deleted them with the "Remove" Button. 4-bits had to be rebooted again, and this time she came back up with the Invisible LAN Logon as desired.

INTSUM: 3:25 P.M. 10/10/97 At this junction, it was possible to map (connect to) 4-bit's hard drive from Old Blue and run a complete tape backup of 4-bits. While the tape backup of 4-bits was in motion, I logged onto the Internet from P2 and went in search of some building codes for Cary, North Carolina that my boss at the architectural firm needed. I found the required code sections, and started printing them. P2 does not have a printer and this print job was being sent across the network to the old TI Microlaser connected to Old Blue.

Suddenly, I heard a beep of protest from the corner of my office where Old Blue was. I switched the Cybex Personal Commander monitor, keyboard and mouse-sharing switch on my desk from P2 to Old Blue to see what was going on. Apparently, trying to backup 4-bits and run several print jobs from P2 at the same time was too much for Old Blue. He had given up and was in the process of warm-booting himself.

When Old Blue's Windows 95 Desktop was up, he produced a Dialog to inform me he still had four pending print jobs from P2. These machines never cease to amaze me. I let Old Blue finish the pending print jobs, then I printed the remainder of the code sections I needed from the Internet session on P2. That finished, I started 4-bits' backup from the beginning, and was careful not to overtax Old Blue this time.

MISREP: This session has turned out to be the best time I've had since my last root canal. Next week, we will deal with a trio of monitor problems that are not so tough to solve. We need to rest up for our next major battle with the "electron gods" which will be upon us in a few weeks as "the hard drive upgrade from hell."


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

Issued Saturday, October 25, 1997

copyright © 1997 LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants all rights reserved