Here it is, the last Web Master Wanderings for 1999 and this
century. Everyone seems to be making a big fuss about the year
2000. The SCPCUG has of course added to this with our Y2K Special
Interest Group and our web site Y2K Links page. Personally I
can't bring myself to get too excited about it. Seems I mellow
as I get older. Guess after you have experienced life past 50
years you more often tend to say "been there, done that".
Our Journal Editor Steve Gaul had suggested this last column
of 1999 and the century should be something special. I thought
about this and the first thing that came to mind was write about
the "history of the Internet". Then the smart side
of me kicked in and said, "Wait a minute. That's probably
been done before and most likely much better than you could do
it." So why reinvent the wheel? Harness the power of the
Internet! A check with several search engines did indeed show
there were many articles on Internet history. All I had to do
was read through a bunch of them and offer several of the best
articles as links in this column. I had bookmarked the search
engine results and was about to embark on finding the best Internet
history articles when things suddenly took an unexpected turn.
As a result this column will be special but not in the way Steve
Gaul had suggested.
I suppose I could say "It was a dark and stormy night",
the night that my computing luck ran out. I had always prided
myself on keeping my computer ship shape by running ScanDisk
and defragging every week. For four years and one month I had
survived the PC computing world without a major crash. Maybe
the odds were against me. I had heard tales of woe from others
and was proud of the fact that I must have been doing something
right. Then it happened, around 1 a.m. on a Thursday night. I
had gotten off the Internet earlier and was running ScanDisk
on my drives. The C drive was about 75% complete when I get that
non-informative message that "something" caused an
error in "something else" and "this program will
be terminated". I was back to my Desktop so decided to shutdown.
The computer hung on shutdown but I did not think much of it
as this had happened before. Usually you just hit Reset, reboot
and run ScanDisk to see if you have any lost clusters that need
correcting. Not this time! I rebooted and Win95 was just about
completely loaded when reality hit. The desktop icons were appearing
at the end of the boot process but some of them had white boxes
where the names should be. Immediately I got "Explorer has
caused an error" and "this program will be terminated".
Any subsequent reboot landed me automatically in Safe Mode.
The next day I started on what turned out to be a very frustrating
week of troubleshooting. With the help of my friend Herb Goodman
and especially my son Chris I made it through the "tunnel
of darkness" to once again join the "up and running"
The troubleshooting started by running the Win95 ERU (Emergency
Recovery Utility) disk. I had backed up my critical configuration
information and system files, including the Windows Registry,
several days before. Ron Ingraham as well as others I know had
been saved by this program. (To learn more about the ERU read
Ron's article "One of Windows 95's Hidden Gems" on
page 6 of the March 1998 PC Journal.) I had never used the ERU
for recovery but figured this would surely set things straight.
How wrong I was! Next we tried a Win95 reinstall. This resulted
in dialog boxes saying "error in copying CAB files"
and "you have interrupted setup" when we had not touched
anything. After several reinstalls we finally completed, only
to end up booting to Safe Mode. By now things were really looking
bad. We decided to do a clean install so the C drive was reformatted.
I did not really think carefully about the data I would be losing
in the reformat. Most data files were on my second physical hard
drive that had partitions "D" through "K".
I knew that I had backed up my Netscape files recently when I
installed Netscape 4.61. That thinking subsequently turned out
to be flawed as my Netscape files, namely bookmarks and messages,
were from the end of July. Somehow I completely missed saving
the Netscape Address Book. That has turned out to be the major
recovery rebuilding problem. But I digress. Back to my story.
The clean reinstall of Win95 resulted in the same boot to Safe
Mode. It was suggested that Win98 installs much smoother than
Win95. I had resisted updating for a long time but now with my
C drive files gone and the programs on my second hard drive unrunable
(because their associated windows files on the C drive were gone),
why not? Win98 installed smoother but still came up with errors
in setting up system files. The result was the same, booting
into Safe Mode. How about something in the BIOS? Chris changed
a couple of settings in the BIOS to "plug and play"
and wow! Win98 was magically working.
Next came Hurricane Irene and we lost power for 8 hours. Guess
that's the stormy part. Since Win98 was working, I cautiously
installed a few programs and tried to get on the Internet. How
Dial-Up Networking is setup had changed from Win95 to Win98 and
ultimately I had to rely on Palmnet's Tech Support to get connected
to the Internet. Even after they gave me the correct settings
it did not work until I uninstalled and then reinstalled Dial-Up
Networking. Things were looking up. I got on the Internet and
had 45 messages waiting for me. My joy soon ended. It was now
Tuesday night and while replying to an e-mail from my friend
Jock in Australia, disaster struck again. I got the "blue
screen of death". Subsequently, my computer would again
only boot into Safe Mode.
The next day we went through more reformatting of the C drive,
more reinstalling of Win98, and changed out the EDO memory for
known good memory. Nothing worked. We tied going step by step
in Safe Mode but each time it came up with a different file as
the source of the problem. Finally we pulled my two physical
hard drives. Chris installed them on his computer and they worked
fine. Somewhere in the confusion of all this we accidentally
reformatted the E partition on my second hard drive. There went
my voice recognition history files as well as a few other data
files! Things were just not getting any better.
It was now Thursday. This saga had started a week ago. We
were beginning to suspect the motherboard. All the add-in cards
(video, sound, video capture, modem) were pulled. We replaced
the video card with my old known good video card. So now the
only thing that would be running is the motherboard and a known
good video card. We reinstalled the two hard drives. The computer
booted and worked... for 5 minutes. It was back to telling us
Explorer caused an error and booting into Safe Mode. What now?
It seemed like a long shot but the only thing left was to
change the processor. The processor had not been suspect because
it seemed to work fine with DOS commands and for the most part
during trying to install Win95 and Win98. If you read my September
Web Master Wanderings column you know that I had upgraded my
processor in July using the PNY Technologies (http://www.pny.com/)
QuickChip 233MHz 3D processor. When we pulled the QuickChip it
was extremely hot to the touch. We installed my old Pentium 100
MHz processor and there was "light at the end of the tunnel".
Win98 was working! Subsequent testing indicated the fan on the
QuickChip processor had quit working. I am now waiting to see
how well PNY Technologies lives up to its lifetime replacement
warranty. It took 3 phone calls and 4 days of waiting before
I finally received a return phone call providing me with a Return
Authorization Number. Will let you know how that turns out. I
still have not seen my $30 rebate. PNY Technologies is investigating
Now begins the massive rebuilding job of reinstalling and
updating all those programs I have accumulated over the past
four years. The bright side is it provides a house cleaning opportunity.
I can skip all those programs I downloaded, installed, and then
never really used. The downside is many of the programs I did
use had updates which I never got around to downloading and installing.
As you probably know, keeping all your programs up-to-date can
be a full time job if you let it. My philosophy has been to skip
the upgrades if the program does what I want it to. Now since
I am starting clean I might as well get the latest version.
So as 1999 draws to a close what does the future hold? At
the rate things move on the Internet, my answer has to be "many
new and exciting things". As many of you know, I'm a great
fan of "voice recognition" and "text to speech"
software. One recent announcement that intrigued me was by a
company called "One Voice Technologies". They
are promising to combine voice recognition with artificial intelligence
and text to speech. A consumer version is supposed to be available
the first quarter of 2000. If this works as advertised it could
be just like "Star Trek". You talk to your computer,
it understands and interprets what you have said, it voice confirms
your request, and then it performs the requested operation. Wow!
You can read more about this at their web site http://www.onevoicetech.com/.
Finally, in keeping with the spirit of looking forward to
the year 2000, I offer you a program with "2000" in
it's name. (Have you noticed how many software companies have
incorporated "2000" into the name of their products?)
It's called "1stPage2000" and billed as "The
world's ultimate free HTML/Script Editor". This 5.2 MB download
is available at http://www.evrsoft.com/1stpage/.
If you have not gotten around to building your home page or web
site yet, check out this free program. I chose the custom install
and selected all 12 items which added 1017 files occupying over
13 MB to my hard drive. 1stPage2000 has working profiles for
Easy, Expert, Hardcore, and Normal. Thus it is useable by everyone.
It is a complete HTML editor with much valuable reference material.
It contains 15 DHTML scripts, 17 Perl scripts, 6 HTML scripts,
Reference. It is amazing how much Evrsoft has packed into this
Note: Web Master Wanderings
articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are
constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information
links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date
beyond the date that this article is originally published.