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Christophers Napkin Sketch by Al Gleichman
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In the Trenches with LAROKE

Konsultant's Log, Cyberdate 12.24.1997 (Re-glazing P2)

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


SITREP: At last session's disappointing conclusion I had decided it would be necessary to remove Windows 95 from P2 and reinstall it. It took me some time to come to this determination as I didn't really want to do it. As a part-time PC consultant I've found almost every task I tackle to be a new adventure or misadventure filled with uncertainties . . . Generally, by the time you establish a "standard" procedure for dealing with a task, the ~!@#$%^ technology has quantum-leaped you, and you're back to square one!

My experience as an Architect has prepared me for this chaotic process somewhat since building construction projects tend to be "ad hoc" organizations of people and processes and no two are ever alike. This Windows 95 installation would turn out to be different from previous Windows 95 installations too.

I had installed Windows 95 on new machines and upgraded Windows 3.x PCs to Windows 95, but had never removed Windows 95 from a machine with the intention of leaving other software on the computer intact, then reinstalling Windows 95 again. These forays into the unknown usually produce emotions in me of restless anxiety during the preparation stage, fevered energy during the execution stage, resulting in either successful euphoria or dismal resignation to failure at the end of the job. Time to find out which this would be.

TACAMO: My first problem was a hardware problem. Windows 95 is operating system software. It cannot be installed across the network since the network software relies on it . . . well, that's not entirely true, but it would be extremely difficult for me to effect in P2's case. Those of you that have read the previous articles regarding the computer P2 might recall he has a currently nonfunctional CD-ROM drive and an ancient 5-1/4" 1.2Mb floppy drive from an original IBM AT. The Windows 95 installation software I had at hand was in CD-ROM and 3-1/2", 1.44Mb media formats.

I reasoned P2's new user, Christine, would not have any use for a CD-ROM drive. Also, the AT 5-1/2" drive did not fit well in P2's case . . . It was too wide for the drive bay with the drive rails I had available for it and, as a result, stuck out about 1-1/2" beyond the front of the box. I decided to cannibalize "Krash," a currently mothballed computer residing in the company's "elephants graveyard" of computer parts, for his two floppy disk drives (and drive rails). Krash had both a 3-1/2" drive and a newer 5-1/4" drive that would better fit P2's two available external drive bays.

The last time we worked on Krash was back in June when he was being configured as a first PC for my employer's son, Max (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 06.21.1997 "Configuring Max's first PC"). That effort was abandoned when Max got a new PC instead (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 09.20.1997 "A typical week of headbangers"). Krash has been gathering dust, forlorn and unused, ever since.

It was late on a Friday afternoon. I figured it would take me about a half hour to remove the floppy drives from Krash and install them in P2 after removing P2's CD-ROM and floppy drive . . . I figured wrong.

Before shutting down P2 for surgery, I opened up P2's Windows 95 Device Manager. I "removed" the Floppy Disk Controller, the CD-ROM Drive, and the SCSI Controller for the CD-ROM drive. This was done to keep the already sick Windows 95 environment from possibly being confused by the new hardware in place of the old devices.

P2 was shutoff and his case removed. The CD-ROM, AT floppy drive, and SCSI Controller were removed and set aside for storage. I found an expansion slot cover in a spare parts box to place in the opening on the back of P2 left by the removal of the SCSI adapter.

Krash was opened up and his two floppy drives unceremoniously salvaged. The 3-1/2" drive was positioned in P2's upper bay while the 5-1/4" drive was placed in his lower external bay. P2's old chassis uses "L" shaped retainers to lock the drive rails in place, and the drive rails on these two drives were a good match so both drives ended up exactly where they were supposed to be with respect to the front of P2's casing.

Time to connect the ribbon data cables and power cables . . . Oops! P2's power supply was an old IBM AT type with several of the old, large, 4-pin power connectors. The 3-1/2" drive used the newer, smaller, 4-pin connector used by many "half-height" devices. Newer power supplies come equipped with both types of connectors. The 3-1/2" drive also used the newer "pin" type data cable connector instead of the older style "finger" type . . . Not to worry, I had adapters for both connectors in my office . . . or at least, I thought I did.

I searched and searched. My efforts turned up a handful of the data connector adapters but none of the power connector adapters . . . ~!@#$% . . . I rampaged around the office for a while, cursing the apparent early onset of Alzheimers disease. Finally, I quit crying and headed for the nearest Radio Shack.

I hadn't been to this Radio Shack for about six months. They had completely rearranged their inventory, and it didn't look as if they were finished. There was half as much shelf space devoted to computer parts as I remember the last time I was here . . . I could feel Murphy looking over my shoulder as I scanned the display racks for the power adapter . . . It was not here, but I did find a Pentium CPU fan and heat sink that P2 needed since his had become noisy (Radio Shack cat #273-246). I've had several of these fans go bad on me. They don't impress me as being well engineered (these fans are generic - I'm not complaining about Radio Shack's in particular).

On the road again to the next closest (and larger) Radio Shack in Boca Raton. This store had the power adapter I needed (Radio Shack cat #278-765B) as well as a "Y" splitter adapter (Radio Shack #278-761) which I got for my toolbox. The splitter connects to one of the older large power connectors to provide two of the smaller power connectors . . . Back to the office and P2.

I didn't really need the pin-to-finger data cable connector adapter for the 3-1/2" drive since the data ribbon cable in P2 had both types of connectors on it. When I connected the ribbon cable, I ran into a little problem of my own making . . . The finger type connector is made so it can only be connected in the correct manner . . . not so with the pin type connector. With the pin type connector, it is necessary to line up the "red" wire of the ribbon cable with "pin 1" of the floppy drive connector . . . If I had been careful to note the existing connection when I had removed the 3-1/2" drive from Krash, this would have been easy . . . Alas! Once again, I had set myself up for a sucker punch from Murphy. Most of the hard drive devices I've worked with have had pin 1 near the center of the back of the drive, so this was my first guess.

P2 was started and the CMOS system setup program was accessed where the 3-1/2" drive was set up as "Drive A:" and the 5-1/4" drive was set up as "Drive B:". The new settings were saved and P2 was allowed to reboot. Drive A: was not responding, so I knew I had guessed wrong about pin 1 on the drive . . . P2 was shutdown, and the ribbon cable connector was reversed with a curt expletive or two directed at myself. This time, when P2 booted, both floppy drives were found and when Windows 95 started, it "discovered" these two new devices and installed drivers for them.

9:08 A.M. 10/25/97 When P2 got his hardware refit in 1995 MS-DOS v6.2 was installed as the initial operating system and Windows 95 was installed soon after from 3-1/2" diskettes. Windows 3.x had never been on P2. Since I did not have to worry about "residual" Windows 3.x files "cluttering" the Windows subdirectory, I decided the only programs worth saving on P2 were the few MS-DOS applications which could easily be set up once Windows 95 was reinstalled.

With this in mind, I ruthlessly attacked P2's hard drive with the Windows Explorer file manager, deleting whole directories with reckless abandon . . . This gave me a small measure of emotional relief from the frustration previously caused by struggling with "less than perfect" unistallers on this machine. I blamed these uninstallers, in part, of having caused the unstable Windows 95 environment. After satiating myself with the blunt surgery I had wreaked on P2's hard drive, it was time to run SCANDISK and DEFRAG on the decimated drive.


SCANDISK can be run from the Windows 95 interface or in MS-DOS mode (not in a DOS Window).
Windows 95 SCANDISK Interface
  1. Double-click the "My Computer" Icon on the Windows 95 "Desktop" to open it.
  2. Right-click the "(C:)" hard drive Icon on the Windows 95 "Desktop" to display its context-sensitive menu, then choose "Properties". (SCANDISK can also be used on floppy disks).
  3. In the resulting "(C:) Properties" Dialog, click the "Tools" Tab, then the "Check Now" Button in the "Error-checking status" Section.
  4. The Windows 95 Interface Dialog for SCANDISK will appear with "C:" drive selected. It is best to accept the Windows 95 defaults until you learn more about this utility. Click the "Start" Button in this Dialog to run SCANDISK.
MS-DOS Mode SCANDISK Interface
NOTE: If your PC has Windows 95 v4.00.950 B installed, the MS-DOS Mode SCANDISK will automatically start at bootup if Windows 95 did not shutdown properly the last time the Windows 95 was used. A power outage can cause this situation, for example.
  1. Click the "Start" Button on the Windows 95 "Taskbar" to open the "Start" Menu, then select the "Shut Down" Menu choice (at the bottom).
  2. In the resulting "Shut down Windows" Dialog select the "Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode?" Radio Button, then click the "Yes" Button.
  3. The Computer will close Windows 95 and restart in MS-DOS mode with something like the following Command Prompt
    To check (and repair) the current drive (drive C: in this example), type "SCANDISK" at the prompt as follows, and press the "Enter" Key.
    If you want to finetune the way SCANDISK runs in MS-DOS mode, there are several parameters that can be added at the Command Prompt. To see what these parameters are and the required syntax for their use, run SCANDISK with the "Help" parameter "/?" as follows:
    Note that the "space" between the command (SCANDISK) and the parameter (/?) is required.
Updated 12.16.1997

The next task was to remove Windows 95 from P2. This was accomplished following step-by-step instructions provided in the "Windows 95 Resource Kit." For those of you unfamiliar with the Resource Kit, it is the 1,344 page Windows 95 Manual and CD-ROM that should be shipped with Windows but is not. The section describing the removal of Windows 95 begins on page 227.

The first step is to make sure a boot disk with an earlier version of MS-DOS and its SYS.COM file is available. The boot disk is necessary because after the removal of Windows 95 by this method, the hard drive will be temporarily unbootable, and the boot disk will be used to make the hard drive bootable again. In P2's case this was MS-DOS 6.2. I went to one of the other computers on the company network that had MS-DOS 6.2 as the operating system and made a MS-DOS 6.2 system disk. Then I copied SYS.COM from that machine's DOS directory to the newly made system disk.

Briefly, Windows was removed from P2 as follows:

  1. P2 was started in MS-DOS mode.
  2. The Windows 95 version the the DOS command DELTREE.EXE was copied to P2's root directory from the C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND directory.
  3. Likewise, The Windows 95 SCANDISK.* files were copied to the root directory from the C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND directory.
  4. SCANDISK.INI (in the root directory) was edited to add the following lines: "labelcheck=on" to make SCANDISK check disk volume labels for invalid characters, and "spacecheck=on" to make SCANDISK check for invalid spaces in filenames.
  5. SCANDISK (in the root directory) was run at this point to remove all entries on P2's hard drive that the earlier version of MS-DOS might see as invalid.
  6. Windows 95 and all its subdirectories were removed using the DELTREE.EXE command in the root directory.
  7. DELTREE.EXE was then used to remove CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, SETUPLOG.*, BOOTLOG.*, DETLOG.*, IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM. This was the "crossing the Rubicon" step as C: was rendered unbootable by this action.
  8. The MS-DOS 6.2 boot disk was inserted in P2's drive A: and P2 was rebooted, or "the system was recycled" as the NASA boys say when they aren't busy polishing the rocket.
  9. P2 booted into MS-DOS 6.2 from the floppy and C: drive was again made bootable by typing SYS C: at the A:> prompt. The system disk was removed from drive A: and P2 was booted into MS-DOS 6.2 again, this time from C: drive.

I've recorded three different Windows 95 installations in previous log entries at various levels of detail (see In The Trenches Cyberdates 12.19.1996, 03.29.1997, and 10.18.1997). If you've read those articles, you'll know that no two Windows 95 installations are alike, and this time would again introduce new quirks in the process.

This time Windows 95 was to be installed from thirteen 3-1/2" floppy disks rather than one CD-ROM. "Disk 1 - Setup" was inserted in P2's drive A: and "A:\SETUP" typed at the Command Prompt to start the installer program.

The Setup Wizard wanted to install Windows 95 in "C:\WINDOWS.000" directory. I overrode this suggestion with "C:\WINDOWS". The Wizard probably made the suggestion because DELTREE.EXE had not been completely successful at wiping out all traces of the old Windows directory, and the Wizard didn't want to overwrite an existing installation.

Next, I chose "Custom" setup over the default "Standard" setup so I could finetune the installation. At this point I was interrupted with a rude "COPYRIGHT WARNING: THIS DISK HAS ALREADY BEEN USED" announcement . . . a reminder from Bill G of my obligations as a Licensee. Honest users do not need this warning and software pirates don't care, so what's the point, Microsoft?

Then, the Wizard proceeded with the "Analyzing Phase." Part way through this process I was asked to enter Network Adapter settings (the network adapter was not PnP and the Wizard could not determine its settings).

I opened P2's maintenance log where I record this type of information when I install hardware (see LAROKE Download area for an example of the Maintenance Log). Oops . . . the network adapter had been cannibalized from another system, "Suzi", on 09.24.1995, and the settings were not recorded . . . Next stop, Suzi's maintenance log where the passage dealing with the network adapter's settings was recorded on 09.04.1994. In the log entry I had written "default NIC configuration (factory settings)."

Confound it! Cursing to myself, I rummaged around until I found the Adapter's manual which had been placed with P2's documentation at the same time the adapter had been moved from Suzi. Somewhat winded, I found the default settings of "3" for the IRQ and "300h" for the I/O address. These settings were passed on to the Windows 95 Setup Wizard.

At this point I also had the opportunity to change other hardware settings the Wizard had "guessed" at, The Wizard's settings for the Video Adapter were changed from the generic "S3" to the actual "Diamond Stealth 64" adapter in P2, and the "Unknown" Monitor was changed to the generic "Super VGA 800x600" Monitor since P2's Panasonic Monitor was not on the list. Advanced Power Management was turned off.

When the Setup Wizard asked if I wanted to "Create a Startup Disk," I replied positively, and we continued on through the "Copy Files" phase . . . This allowed me to exercise my forearm by shuffling the thirteen diskettes in and out of P2's drive A: This arm had been getting steadily weaker since I quit drinking in 1992 . . . no more of those "12 oz bud curls" to keep it toned. After the files were copied, I was led through the process of creating the Startup Disk.

Finally, we arrived at the big test - the "Starting Windows 95 for the first time" Phase . . . a milestone where things can go seriously wrong. I let P2 restart and the first hurdle arrived in the form of the PC911 DOS utility watchdog . . . PC911 is one of the DOS applications I had decided to keep on P2's hard drive. PC911 found changes in system files it is supposed to guard. I instructed PC911 to accept the changes and P2's restart process was allowed to continue.

Next, I got a cryptic DOS "LOCK COMMAND WARNING." I had never seen anything like this before and hadn't a clue what it was about. I was allowed to "press any key to continue..", however, and I did. A DOS "LOCK COMMAND FAILED" message arrived next, then Startup continued and completed successfully.

Before finetuning the new Windows 95 environment, I wanted to clear up the mysterious "LOCK COMMAND" glitch. P2 was restarted again. PC911 popped up with new system file changes again which I accepted and continued on. The LOCK COMMAND warning and failure messages repeated, demonstrating it was not a one time anomaly.

I edited the DOS "CONFIG.SYS" and "AUTOEXEC.BAT" system files to remove all references to the Invisible LAN Network Operating System drivers, mappings and path entries, then rebooted P2 again. PC911 recognized the system file changes again and was instructed to save them. The "LOCK COMMAND" must have had something to do with the Invisible LAN NOS because the warning messages no longer appeared.

P2's monitor was a new Panasonic PanaSync E50 15" monitor which had been purchased in October (see In the Trenches Cyberdate 11.01.1997), and a Windows 95 drivers disk was included with the monitor.

I right-clicked P2's desktop and selected "Properties" from the resulting Context-sensitive Menu to produce the "Display Properties" Dialog. The "Settings" Tab was clicked and then the "Change Display Type" Button to bring up the "Change Display Type" Dialog. In the "Monitor Type" Section the "Change" Button was clicked then, in the resulting "Select Device" Dialog, the "Have Disk" Button was clicked.

The Panasonic Display "INF" file was selected from the Panasonic drivers diskette which had been inserted in drive A: . . . Windows 95 incorporated the INF file into its list of display drivers and then the new monitor was picked from this list . . . for some reason Windows 95 had lost track of the Video Adapter and had reverted to the generic "S3" adapter . . . The "Diamond Stealth 64" video adapter was again selected and resolution was set to 800x600 . . . These setting were saved and P2 was restarted. Checking the Display settings after the restart revealed that they were still correct this time and had not reverted to generic settings.


Well, darn it! Once again, we've got a fairly long log entry here and little progress to show for it. The network operating system has to be reinstalled and configured on P2 and then all of the Windows application software for P2's new user has to be installed for the second time along with shortcuts to the DOS programs I was able to save . . . Then, P2's physical move to the front office . . . which is where the real fun begins . . . I end up cursing like a sailor and turnin' the air blue. My brother JR, a real sailor, would be proud.

But that's another day. Happy holidays to all, 'an we'll pick this up after the 1st of the new year.


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155 East Boca Raton Road
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Last revised Wednesday, December 24, 1997

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