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THAT’s Quick Service!

January 28, 2005 at 8:45 PM

On Wednesday, I went over to Larry's to take a look at his printer, and see if the USB-to-parallel-port cable would allow his printer to be connected to the laptop. I didn't get a chance to check it last time I was there, and I wanted to make sure I had the right wire first, so I had asked him to look at the connection for the printer, and describe its appearance (which sounded like it was a parallel port).

I remembered (from a search I did the last time I was there) that such a cable could be purchased online, but I wanted to see if it could be found somewhere closer. I went to Armstrong Microsystems to see if they had it, but they didn't have that part at all (they said I was the first one to ask for that). I didn't get the wire before heading back over, but that ended up being a good thing - After looking at the inside of Larry's printer, I noticed that the printer actually used a Centronics port, not a parallel port (and so I would've got the wrong wire anyway)...And I remembered then that the parallel-port side was for the computer, not the printer...

...The good news? I took a closer look, and there was a USB port right above the Centronics port...And Armstrong Microsystems did have standard USB cables in stock. Before I left, I made sure to order some RAM for his system, from Crucial (512 MB in total - two separate 256 MB sticks), having Larry pay for it (it's for his system, after all).

After going home to get some rest (I had to take a Civil Service test on Thursday), I got up pretty early, as I thought I had to be at Pittsburgh to take that test at 11:00 AM...But I was going to be taking two tests (on different days), and the one at 11:00 AM was on the 31st - The one for this day (the 27th) was at 1:00 PM, so I had quite a bit of time to waste. I went ahead and got the USB cable before heading out to take a Civil Service test...Which I hope I have passed (I won't know till I get the results in the mail).

Today, I went to Larry's to get the connection between the printer and his laptop working, so he could start printing again. It only took me a moment to get it to work on the laptop (I just plugged it in, and the device was recognized, and the necessary drivers were installed), with a successful test page printed out just a moment later. Also, I found out the RAM from Crucial had arrived today, and we ordered it on Wednesday, just two days ago - THAT's quick service!

Since Dad had dropped me off there, he stayed around to help get the RAM put in (I've only attempted to install RAM one other time, in my old Gateway computer). After removing all the plugs from the back of the system, and while touching the metal part of the case (to avoid static discharge that could cause damage to the computer), we both tried to get the RAM sticks in all the way, but we couldn't, and tried snapping the tabs over the sides manually, as they were high enough to do so - it worked, but (after everything was put back together) the system wouldn't boot at all. We shut it down and started it back up a second time, and it still didn't work, and we were pretty sure it was related to the RAM.

We shut down the system again, unplugged the plugs, grounded ourselves on the case, unsnapped the tabs, and pushed the RAM sticks in again, this time making sure the tabs snapped over the sticks by themselves. We put the system back together again, booted it up again, and this time it worked - It counted up the memory, followed by an error message, but other than that, it started up properly (this only showed up the first time - it did not happen on future reboots of the system). It also ran a lot faster than it did before, thanks to the newly-added RAM (512 MB, up from 64 MB)!

After that, Dad had to leave, and I was going to try and get Windows 2000 installed on that computer again. While doing so, I went ahead and fixed up a few things on the laptop, as well as finding out how to import the database files for Larry's HMS program, so nothing he did in it would be lost (all I really did was copy a backup of that folder [from the desktop] over the [empty] copy of it in the laptop). His HMS program is an old one, by the way - going by its manual, it's been around since the days of Windows 95, and the way it looks (and works) reminds me of an old Windows 3.1 (!) application (anyone remember the 8.3 filename convention?).

Once Windows 2000 was finished installing, I plugged the printer's USB cable into the computer and (except for the drivers), it also set itself up automatically (I'll get the drivers for it at a later time). I also got its connection to the Internet working, and started getting all of the necessary Windows Updates downloaded and installed. After that, I got the local area network connection between it and the laptop working - and this time, I can read/write files in both directions on both computers!

After doing that, I spent the rest of the time I had there trying to export addresses from Larry's address book in Outlook Express into Thunderbird...And, unfortunately, I failed every time - all of the addresses (including duplicates in groups within the address book) were put into the main address book in Thunderbird, and though the groups were created, they were all empty.

Oh well, that's just a minor setback - I'll figure out some way to get the addresses properly imported later on (mail and settings have already been successfully transferred over, and are working great). That, the printer drivers, and figuring out exactly how Larry wants his network set up are the only things I have left to take care of there now.

There’s Always One Thing I Need…

January 25, 2005 at 9:14 PM

...And it's always the one thing I can't get. That's how my day was:

I got up around 6:00 AM to get ready to go to Mac's Health Club and try to get Larry's computers networked again. This time, I decided to downgrade the desktop from Windows 2000 to 98, due to sluggishness from a lack of RAM. When I got there (with my Windows 98 FE and SE CDs in hand), the first thing I did was back up all of the data on his desktop to the laptop. I spent at least an hour or two just copying everything over from the old computer to the new one (and making sure everything was there), before formatting the desktop's drive to put on Windows 98.

I tried SE first, but it didn't work...And then I recalled that it was an upgrade for FE, not a standalone edition. I then tried installing FE, and when I was just about done...I noticed that I forgot my product key for it. I searched online to find a key that would work, and after going through a few keys, I found one that worked.

Once I got FE up and running, I then prepared to upgrade it to SE...And I forgot my key for that as well (I later recalled that I had it on the CD's label, but I didn't think to look there at the time). Once I got a key for that, I continued with upgrading the computer to SE, and then I tried to set up a network connection...But unfortunately, due to a missing video driver, and the fact that the router's setup program wouldn't fit at a 640-by-480 pixel resolution (I couldn't even click on the buttons), I couldn't get that set up on his computer.

I then tried to use his laptop to download drivers for the desktop's video card...And I realized that I left my keydrive (which is the only thing I could use to transfer files between the computers at this time) at home. This was about an hour or two before 5:00 PM, which is when my Mom said I would have to leave (as I had been there long enough already). I called my parents, and told them to bring the keydrive, plus the installation CD (to install the drivers for my keydrive on Windows 98).

They brought that down, and after installing the drivers for the keydrive, I tried looking for (and downloading, to the keydrive) drivers for his desktop's monitor...But none of those files worked. As I left, I decided that the best thing to do at this point would be to add more RAM to his system (after looking for a good brand that would work in it), and try installing 2000 again after that.

It’s Been One LONG Day…

January 22, 2005 at 2:30 AM

Last week, I got another USB Flash Drive/Keydrive (or whatever the appropriate name for it is =P)...This time, it's from I/O Magic, and is a four gigabyte model - it can hold sixteen times the amount of stuff that my old one could! =D

Also, after taking a look at the page for Portable Thunderbird, and after reading how to add a custom drive icon for a for, I decided to try it out on my own keydrive. Now I have my site mascot's icon for the icon, with "Wolfey's Keydrive" as the description =)

(With my [limited] experience in Windows XP, I noticed you can use icons with alpha transparency...But they're only displayed properly in that version of Windows. In any of the previous versions, the icon will only have single-layer transparency, and will look rather ugly then, even if the icon in use has both alpha-transparent and single-color-transparent/opaque versions of it in the file. If only there were a way to specify which icon to use, depending on which version of Windows it's being used on...)

Also, it's been rather busy this week, especially with getting my room redone (the walls are painted and the linoleum's been put in)...I haven't been on the computer that much as a result.

Older Updates Completed; New Room Revisions

January 16, 2005 at 12:16 AM

All right - Not only have I finished adding all of the older updates from the front page of my site to my weblog, I've also got them all properly formatted too, so now I can start work on other things =)

My parents have been doing a lot of work on my room lately...And I have some updates from my previous post, regarding how it will be set up:

  • The floor: The old linoleum has been cleaned up and removed (in case anyone wanted it =P). The new linoleum floor is a tile pattern with a blue color to it. Also, the new carpet (adjacent to the linoleum) will be a white and light-blue mix.
  • The walls: The walls will be painted a slate-blue color, to go with the floor.
  • The shelves: They will be removed entirely.
  • The refrigerator: Part of the cupboard (which is the length of one side of the wall) below the shelves will be removed, to make room for the refrigerator; its handle has also been switched to the right side so it can be opened easily from where it will be.
  • The sink: The only problem it had was a leaky faucet, so that will be fixed, and there'll be a usable sink again here.

Redoing My Room…

January 11, 2005 at 3:00 AM

My parents and I have worked on getting my newer computer (desk and all) moved out of the downstairs kitchen to the [downstairs] living room (and moving around the older computer, plus desk, to allow room for both) . It took awhile...Especially when having to clean out all the dust in both of the computers in the meantime =P

What's the reason for moving the computers around? Well, the downstairs kitchen is my "work" room, as well as a "storage" room; it hasn't been used as a kitchen in a long time (also, the sink that's there leaks when used, so we don't use it...Though we do use its basin as a temporary storage bin, when necessary). For that matter, excluding the addition of a few things, it hasn't been changed at all since its addition - it's in need of fixing up, namely in three places:

  • The linoleum floor: It's been there for as long as I can remember (orange and yellow, with a slightly-simplified fleur-de-lis pattern all over), and is torn (and slightly chipped) right where it and the carpet come together (I had dial-up at the time, and tearing that part up was the only way to get a phone line across to it).
  • The walls: They've been the same light-yellow color for as long as I can remember. Since the floor's being changed, the walls will probably need to be repainted with a different color as well.
  • The shelves: The boards for the first set split apart shortly after Dad set one too many boxes of Lions Club mints (our club's using us for storage =P) on them awhile back. They've since put in another set (moving the rails all to the left, to a part of the wall that can support the rails better), and the shelves themselves have been replaced with sturdier boards as well (they don't look as good as the originals, but at least they work). I'm not sure if the current shelves will actually be replaced, but the marks left from the previous set will need filled in and painted over.

My room will probably be empty for awhile, until everything's fixed up in there. Hopefully it'll look a lot better once it's all fixed up =D


Also, as you may have noticed, I've managed to get all of the updates from my current site update list added to the blog. I'll have to go through all of them again, though, to fix up any formatting errors that I didn't get around to when adding them in.

End of 2004 Recap

January 3, 2005 at 1:43 AM

First off, let me start by wishing everyone here a (belated) Happy New Year!

Also...Here's what I got for Christmas (combining Christmas Eve's gifts as well), as I mentioned earlier:

  • Books (8)
    • 1,001 Reasons to Love America
    • The Book of Totally Useless Information
    • A Compendium of Indispensable Facts
    • How Come?
    • Life's Imponderables
    • The Next Fifty Years (Science in the First Half of the Twenty-First Century)
    • Ripley's Believe It or Not!
    • Stuff You Should Have Learned at School
  • Sweaters (2)
  • Sports Jacket (it's got an inner lining that I can take out, if it's not too cold out =P)
  • Calendars (2)
    • Einstein (Wall Calendar)
    • Murphy's Law (Desk Calendar)
  • Detailer (for cleaning up around the desk/keyboard/etc. - unlike the little desktop vacuum I had before, I can tell that this one will definitely work)
  • Handheld Body Scrubber
  • Various snacks (including pistachios and [I think] sugar-coated walnuts/almonds)
  • A card with a lot of money, from my parents - I didn't ask for anything in particular for Christmas, which is why I got that instead =D

Also, on Thursday, I helped Connie out with the bulletin, showing her the basics of setting up everything - So far, so good. I'll have to help her out a few more times, but she's figuring out how to take care of doing the bulletin =)

That same day (after the bulletin was finished), I also helped Larry (of Mac's Health Club, a local gym - no, I don't go to it, except to help with computer problems =P) set up a simple wireless network between his desktop computer (running Windows ME, and connected directly to the router) and his fairly-recently-purchased laptop (running Windows XP, "connected" by a wireless PC card). It was the second time I've set up a simple network between computers (the first being between my own computers at home), and the first time I've done so with a wireless router (a Linksys model, with a four-port switch built in) and PC card.

After failing to get it to work the first few times on the desktop, I realized the big reason why it wasn't working was because of the connection used: It was a USB connection (between the modem and the computer) instead of an Ethernet connection (between the modem and the router, and the router and the computer)...And we needed a second Ethernet cable to be able to set this up properly ^^;

After Larry came back from Radio Shack with a second Ethernet cable, I shut down and unplugged the router, modem, and computer connected to the computer, replaced the USB cable with the Ethernet cable (setting that up properly), plugged everything back in (in the order specified by the manual), and had no trouble getting it set up afterwards. The laptop was even simpler - I just put in the wireless PC card, turned the computer on, let it boot up, and it took care of setting it up automatically =D

I took the laptop to one of the rooms in his building, closed the door, plugged it in (the battery wasn't installed, so I still need one cord - to power the system), and turned it on. The connection worked great - Now (if I understand it correctly) he can take it pretty much anywhere in his building and be online at the same time, without having to be directly connected to the modem or router =D

On Friday (New Year's Eve), we received a call from one of Mom's friends: She told us that my parents were on TV - Family Life TV (a local TV channel), to be exact. It showed the members of the Kittanning Lions Club (including my parents) working at a dinner at the East Franklin Twp. Fire Hall.

That night, we watched two movies to pass the time - "Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid" and "School of Rock". We finished watching both of them just in time to see the ball drop (about one second before it happened =P) - However, both of my parents missed it (Mom was asleep at the moment, and Dad was in the bathroom). That was about it for that day - Not really that exciting =P

As for the weekend, not much happened - I can't recall what happened Saturday; on Sunday, we went to Grandma's, then with one of Mom's friends to a movie ("Meet the Fockers"), then to Kings (to get something to eat) then to Granny's (to see how Aunt Bonnie was doing - she wasn't there at the time), and then we went home (my parents went first - I went later, after Steve brought Aunt Bonnie to Granny's, and I talked to her for awhile before she went to sleep).

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