The Gray Bunny (graybunny) wrote,
The Gray Bunny

Stuff that doesn't work

My writing laptop is still sitting in a corner, after three different operating systems and multiple attempts at getting it going. I started out trying to put Windows 2000 on it, because I wanted to save my files onto a flash card in a PCMCIA slot for crashproofness. Windows 98 would be a better match for the hardware (P120 with 72M RAM), but Win98 also has a terrible habit of either not noticing PCMCIA (and USB) storage like that, or noticing it but never assigning it a drive letter, which means it's unreachable and unusable. So I put Windows 2000 on it, and all was happy until I started installing service packs. The service pack broke the PCMCIA driver, in the process breaking the entire point of using Windows 2000. I also wanted to be able to use a PCMCIA wireless card in it when I was home, to transfer my writings off the machine to my websites and such...

So I tried XP. XP was an even worse match for the hardware, but if it fixed the PCMCIA problem... never mind, it didn't.

Oh, and installing OSes on this laptop is fun because it only has one bay, which is shared between the floppy and the CD. I can run one or the other but not both.

At this point I decided to take a different strategy. I bought a 350M flash card (on clearance for $50), put it in a 2.5" IDE converter, and installed it as the laptop's hard drive. If Windows 98 won't recognize PCMCIA flash, I'll make the whole thing solid state! Unfortunately, 98SE is no better with the PCMCIA slots than any of the other OSes. I went out on the web searching for better drivers, and mostly what I found was other people looking for drivers that worked. But no working drivers.

Time for another change in strategy. Never mind the PCMCIA, I don't really need it. I decided to buy one of those parallel-port Ethernet dongles from Xircom. There are plenty on Ebay and they're supported under 98SE. Officially. Yes, you can transmit and receive a few packets with one, it turns out. You might even be able to get a directory listing. Actually copying files, forget it. The 16-bit drivers just aren't up to it.

Increasing desperate, I tried to make a direct serial cable PPP connection. In order to do this under Win98, you have to install a direct cable connection as a modem. It would install, but the only part of Windows which could see it was the hardware manager. The modem applet couldn't, and neither could DUN, so therefore I couldn't create a connection.

And that's where it stands right now. I may attempt to install NT4 next, since that OS was supported on this laptop by the manufacturer and hence might actually work. I hope. We'll find out next month sometime when I next have time to work on the thing.

Speaking of things that don't work, there's my car. Last weekend I got about a mile or so from home and then the engine fan came loose! Fortunately I turned off the engine before it ate the radiator, so I was able to summon help who bolted the fan back on, but I think this was my final warning. So I'm looking for cars this weekend.

The copier is still being tempermental, too. At least we've figured out what parts need to be replaced when it starts to make trouble, but nobody knows why it's going through separator claws so quickly. They only last a few thousand copies now, which is a problem because the jobs I'm running are larger than that, so it runs for a few days and then needs to be repaired again. It's especially one claw on the end, so right now I'm dodging the problem by running paper in landscape mode instead of portrait, which is allowing me to catch up with the backlog a bit before getting the thing repaired yet again...

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