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.
Murphy's Technology Laws: #7. The attention span of a computer is only as long as it electrical cord.
In the Trenches with LAROKE
Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 12.06.1997 (P2's configuration suffers a relapse)
SITREP: Last week, the PC I call 4-Bits was at last configured, leaving the way clear to finish the setup of the computer P2 for his new role in the day-to-day operations at the architectural firm. The tasks that remain are to remove the remaining software applications from P2 (that his new user won't be using), installing the new user's software, and physically moving P2 to his new location.
Task 1: Remove old software from P2.
Next, the Windows 95 Control Panel was opened and the "Network" Icon double-clicked to open it. The "Dial-Up Adapter" component was selected and the "Remove" Button clicked. Then the "TCP/IP -> Dial-Up Adapter" component was removed the same way.
The Network Folder was closed and the "Modems" Icon in the Control Panel opened. The "SupraExpress 288i PnP" modem was selected and the "Remove" Button clicked. All of the items thus far removed are because P2 no longer has a modem. These same items were left in place at the time the modem was physically removed from P2 so that I could still refer to the settings for reference during the modem installation in 4-Bits.
I rebooted P2 at this point to let Windows 95 update its configuration files. Back in September, Cybermedia's Uninstaller v4.51 had been installed on P2 for testing (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 10.25.1997). I used it now to remove Marketwave's Hit List Standard v3 from P2, since Hit List was installed and running properly on 4-Bits. As far as I can tell, Uninstaller removed all references to Hit List from P2. My only complaint is the long time that Uninstaller takes to update its "SmartLinks" database whenever it removes an application.
A doomed diversion: P2's CD-ROM drive has been malfunctioning for some time now. Since it is only used for software installation, which can be accomplished over the network from another PC with a working CD-ROM, I've been ignoring this problem with P2 in favor of more pressing repairs. I'm currently having problems with a CD-ROM drive on a client's system, so I thought now would be a good time to fix P2's drive. Maybe I would stumble across a solution applicable to both systems.
First, I tried deleting the CD-ROM drive from the Windows 95 Device Manager, then rebooting P2. I was hoping Windows 95 might reinstall the CD-ROM drivers upon startup and restore the drive to a functional condition . . . no such luck . . . the CD-ROM was back in the device manager without evidence of having been reinstalled, and it still could not be accessed.
I went back to the Device Manager and, this time, I deleted both the CD-ROM drive and the SCSI controller it was attached to. P2 was again rebooted. Both items were missing from the Device Manager. So far, so good . . . I opened up P2's Control Panel and double-clicked the "Add New Hardware" Icon. I let the Add New Hardware Wizard search for the CD-ROM drive and SCSI Adapter . . . It found them, and I allowed it to install drivers for both devices.
P2 was rebooted, and during the startup process I observed that the light on the CD-ROM drive "pulsed" every few seconds. This encouraged me to believe a solution was at hand. Upon testing a CD in the drive, I was disappointed to see that the malfunction remained. Checking the Device Manager, was no help, as it indicated that both devices were working properly. Finally, I fiddled around for a while experimenting small adjustments to the CD-ROM's settings in Device Manager, then rebooting to check the results. None of my adjustments caused the CD-ROM to work. Drat! I gave up on the CD-ROM drive for the time being.
Back to Task 1: 2:53 P.M. 10/22/97 Cybermedia's Uninstaller was used to remove America Online v3.0 and the Microsoft Network Setup Link from P2. Having installed HiJaak Pro on 4-Bits, it was also removed from P2 with Uninstaller.
The legacy DOS application, GrandView, had been transported to 4-Bits with CleanSweep Deluxe. It was now removed from P2 by finding the associated files with the Windows Explorer file manager and deleting them. Since only a few files were involved, and I knew where they were, deleting them was quicker than using Uninstaller.
I removed Norton Navigator for Windows 95 v1.0 with Uninstaller . . . This was probably my first BIG mistake . . . too many small ones were made to count them. Navigator replaces the "shell" for the Windows 95 Desktop and many of the Desktop modules. It was very strongly integrated with the Windows system, too much so to remove with Uninstaller or CleanSweep.
After the Navigator uninstallation, P2 was rebooted again, and the Cybermedia PC911 DOS utility reported a missing "
12:35 P.M. 10/23/97 Norton Utilities for Windows 95 was removed with Uninstaller and, upon restart, everything seems OK. Next, PC-cillin 95 v1.02 was removed with it's own uninstallation utility. Uninstaller was again started to remove the ActiveX Uninstaller shareware utility and the Logitech Senseware mouse software that came with the trackball that was now connected to 4-Bits and Old Blue through the Cybex switch (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 11.08.1997).
P2 was rebooted and PC911 noticed changes to the
Next, the Microsoft Intellitype software that ships with the Microsoft Natural Keyboard was removed using the Windows 95 "Add/Remove Programs" wizard in the Control Panel.
Early after Windows 95 had first been installed on P2, I changed the standard Windows 95 startup sequence by editing the
P2 still had subdirectories for MS-DOS 6.2 and the Invisible LAN DOS Network Operating System files that were no longer necessary. They were "surgically removed" with the Windows Explorer file manager.
Miscellaneous scattered files on P2's hard drive . . . backups, orphans, etc . . . were deleted using Uninstaller's file cleanup applet. This utility works well, but once again I found myself tapping my desk with impatience while waiting for the time-consuming Smartlink database updates to complete.
Poking around with Windows Explorer I noticed the Norton Navigator subdirectory and files still existed under the "
A few months ago I had downloaded from the Microsoft Web site and installed the Microsoft Word Internet Assistant to help me publish Microsoft Word documents as Web pages. I removed this applet with the "Add/Remove Programs" Wizard. P2's new user would not need this software.
Every bootup since the MS-DOS 6.2 and the Invisible LAN DOS Network Operating System files were deleted above caused the PC911 watchdog utility to interrupt the process because it couldn't find critical network operating system files (it had been charged to protect) in their proper location. PC911 was opened from the DOS prompt in maintenance mode and directed to no longer monitor these nonexistent files. After this action P2 booted normally again.
A Windows 95 "User Profile" was setup for Christine, P2's new user at this point. Christine was also made the default user for logon purposes. For those of you out there who don't know about User Profiles, They are mainly used on network systems but can also be set up for standalone machines. They allow each user of a Windows 95 PC to have his/her own desktop settings including applications, menu items, shortcuts, wallpaper, screensavers, etc. When you set up Windows 95 for multiple users a logon screen will appear every time Windows 95 starts and after you enter a User Name and Password, Windows will load your Desktop to finish the Windows 95 startup. This is why the Windows 95 Registry is made up of the two files
Garbage Strike - Trash piles up.. I noticed the Windows 95 "Recycle Bin" had become nonfunctional on P2. It was on the Desktop, but it could not be opened. Right-clicking to bring up the Recycle Bin's context-sensitive menu revealed missing menu items, the most important being "Empty Recycle Bin". The Recycle Bin's "Properties" were different too . . . they were now the properties of a normal "Folder" or subdirectory. In effect P2's Recycle Bin had become less than useless. I had a feeling this predicament was the result of the botched Norton Navigator/Utilities uninstallation since these programs "enhanced the functionality" of the normal Recycle Bin back when they had been installed.
I fired up CleanSweep Deluxe and used its "Registry Genie" module to remove Norton Recycle Bin references from P2's Registry . . . references that I thought should have already been removed either by the Cybermedia Uninstaller 4 or Norton's own uninstaller utility . . . No joy, the Recycle Bin was still nonfunctional.
Next, I started the CleanSweep "Registry Genie" on both P2 and 4-Bits. I searched for "Norton" references in the Registries of both machines. Only one reference was found on 4-Bits, a machine on which the Norton Navigator and Utilities applications had not been installed. This same reference and a whole lot more were found in P2's Registry . . . a complete uninstallation, my AS~!@#$%! I removed all the Norton references from P2's Registry except the one found on 4-Bits and rebooted P2 . . . No change . . . P2's Recycle Bin was still dead.
I checked the "
Out of desperation, I deleted the Recycle Bin Folder on P2 and, after emptying the Recycle Bin on 4-Bits, copied its Folder to P2 . . . I suspected this would not work, and it didn't.
I debated with myself whether this Recycle Bin problem was bad enough to justify a Windows 95 reinstallation on P2 or a complete hard drive restoration from backup tape . . . which would, incidently, undo all the software uninstallation I had just struggled through . . . I decided it wasn't that critical. Deleted files appeared to be going to the Recycle folder just as they were supposed to, and I thought I could get one out of there if I had to. Besides, Christine never deletes files . . . She figures file maintenance on her PC is my job.
Back to Task 1 again: 12:21 P.M. 10/24/97 Cybermedia's Uninstaller 4 was removed from P2 with its own uninstallation module. I used CleanSweep's Cleanup module to remove all the "Duplicate" files, "Redundant" DLL files, and "Orphan" files that it could find on P2's hard drive. I have to say that I am not entirely happy with either Uninstaller or CleanSweep . . . They are both very good programs, but they do not come near to living up to the marketing hype spewed out by Cybermedia and Quarterdeck regarding their respective products.
The setup of Christine's Desktop was continued by using the Windows 95 "Customize Start Menu" Dialog to eliminate deadends from her Start Menu.
At this point, Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 was set up with the company intranet main page as its Start Page, and a MSIE Shortcut was put on Christine's Desktop. Most programs were deleted from the "default" User Profile Start Menu and Desktop (This is the Desktop that loads if an unknown user logs on).
P2 had a LAROKE owned copy of Microsoft Office for Windows 95 installed. I left this intact as P2's new user planned to take some courses in Microsoft Office. I added the MS Office "Toolbar" to Christine's "Start" Folder so she would have easy access to the Microsoft Office applications when she started her courses.
MISREP: With much consternation, I noticed that P2's Windows 95 environment was becoming increasingly unstable . . . Double-clicking on a Desktop Icon would not open it. Double-clicking twice was required . . . When a Window in Windows 95 is resized by left-clicking and dragging an edge or corner, the Window normally changes its size dynamically as the cursor is dragged . . . As the Metz Phones Window was resized this way, the screen did not refresh correctly . . . I ended up with a series of slightly different sized Metz windows stacked up on top of each other. Besides everything else, Windows 95 on P2 was very sluggish, even after removing so much software.
~!@#$%^damn! I knew what was required, but I didn't want to face up to it - A Windows 95 removal from P2, a thorough hard drive cleanup, and a clean Windows 95 reinstallation. Well heck, nothing for it but to do it. We didn't even get finished with Task 1 this session. The only good thing about this situation is that I've already done all the work as I write this . . . The pain and suffering has already passed except the relived horrors as I relate this sad tale. Next time we'll clean up P2 and configure him for his new user the second time. It's just a "cosmic coincidence" that this article is appearing the day before Pearl Harbor Day.
LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants
Issued Saturday, December 6, 1997
copyright © 1997 LAROKE Microcomputer Consultants all rights reserved