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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.

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