Thomas (boggyb) wrote,

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Un-mangling computers

So I've spent the day battling a misbehaving Win98 box, which makes a change from battling my own Win2k box.

There's several thing wrong with it: some of the networking stack is missing, something is blocking the system on shutdown (when it actually starts), the McAfee SpamKiller randomly fails to start, and if the camera's not plugged in then the filesystem goes AWOL shortly after the desktop loads, with all the fun that ensues (non-stop bluescreens and gibberish). Oh, and DSL is fscked somewhere along the line.

The last one was quickly narrowed down to a disagreement between the camera (a Kodak one) and the built-in promise ide controller that the disk was hanging off. It booted fine with the camera connected and on, so I fired it up and uninstalled the Kodak EasyShare software. Rebooted with camera unplugged and it came up fine, for a given value of fine (the network stack was still b0rked).

Next step was to netuer the filesharing in it, as the only network-related thing the computer was plugged into was a phone line and somehow I think it might be a bad idea to run NetBIOS over that. The fact that port 139 is one of the most-hammered ones out there kinda gave me a hint. Anyway, unbound filesharing from the TCP/IP on the dial-up adapter (the ADSL modem only had NDISWAN sitting on it), and rebooted. That zapped the error about vredir.vxd and msnp32.dll, leaving just dfs.vxd unaccounted for. One extract from cab files later and that was gone too.

At this point I brought up the dsl link and trundled along to windows update to download the various updates. Started it pulling down IE6 and wandered down to have some food. Came back to find that the ms server had got bored of sending me bytes and the download had timed out.

Oh, and the DSL modem had an absence of pretty green lights. Which is Not Good. Rebooting brought the pretty green lights back, and I told it to resume the download. Watched the numbers blur away for a bit, until they stopped blurring. And the pretty green lights had gone again.


Not to worry, it's probably a driver issue, so I unzipped the latest drivers from my CD o' drivers (after installing WinZip from one of the CDs o' utilities). Ran the install, and it told me that it was going to uninstall them. Fine, whatever. Rebooted and ran the same install, which told me it was going to install the drivers and then asked me to tell it which driver. Of course, the people that did the dsl didn't say which one of those to use.

Fine, so reinstall from their CD. Oh, look, the installer wins full marks for ease-of-use by providing no options whatsoever. Plugged in the modem when it said and one reboot later I had a return of the pretty green lights, and a return of the internet.

Until about 2 minutes after I connected.

At this point I gave up on it for the night, took a full report of the system with AIDA32, and went home to download the drivers over a *working* DSL link. I like Demon Internet.

I should also add what's happened with my main box recently. I decided another disk would be nice, but to do so would require another IDE channel, so I scrounged a Promise 133 card from my dad along with a 60GB Maxtor. Opened my case up, and then stared at it for a few minutes trying to decide how to make everything fit. To do anything involving the disk meant I needed to get the disk cage out, which because my graphics card is extra-long meant that had to go as well. Which meant unplugging some of the internal sound cables (in the end I pulled everything bar the CPU fan).

I then had to shift the floppy drive up a bay to mount the disk, which meant I had to shift the blanking plates in the case. Oh, and I had to get some screws for the disk, at which point I found that there are two near-identical screws that get used, of which only one fits IDE drives.

And after screwing it in I realised I had to shift all the disk round to run the IDE cables sensibly (don't you just love ribbon cables that have a few inches spare in the wrong place). One day I'll buy some ribbon cable and plugs and make my own cables to fit. I don't need 6 inches between drives when 1 would do.

And then I ended up re-running the power to balance the load a bit. I still don't know why I have 2 foot on the main ATX feed, all I know is that I only need about half a foot.

Then I found that if I do all the screws up tightly I can't get the disk cage back in, because that makes it shrink slightly! Loosen screws that I can get at, push cage back into place, contemplate using a hammer to make it fit, and then tighten everything back up while cursing shoddily-designed ATX cases.

Finally, I wired it all back up, only to find the cable I was planning on using for the new drive had a wire cut. Hmm. Good job I had a spare. About 2 or so hours after I'd first started (including supper and ice-cream breaks), I got the side panel back on.

And it booted up perfectly first time. Good to know that blood sacrifice worked.

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