I swapped my mouse at home last night for a generic optical mouse. Everyone says they’re better, after all. My old mouse wasn’t horrible, but had seen better days and was of an all too common shape seemingly designed to hurt my hand and wrist.

Anyway, the new mouse jumps around. No smooth, predictable scrolling across the screen. It steps backwards in little blips. It deviates up or down. Sometimes it looks for all the world as if the mouse pointer is climbing over a bump. It’s hard to get fine control to click on small things, which is the problem with the old mouse, only less so. Yeesh.

At first I blamed the mouse pad. It has colors and patterns that could have explained the odd movements. The fake wood grain was no better. Plain white paper was no better. Apparently this is just the way it is.

A shame, because it is more comfortable, with a lower profile. My favorite mouse ever also had the lowest profile every. It was a Mouse Systems brand serial mouse, which I still have for the Pentium 200 I never run anymore. Heck, I suppose I could hook it to a more modern machine and see if it works. It is not rounded side to side at all. It never gets very high, with a longer flat slope on the hand end, which starts down a short slope on the button end, just before the buttons begin. Most comfortable mouse ever.

I need to start paying particular attention to my mouse and desk usage and hardware. My hand is bothering me so much it’s almost debilitating at times.

Not The Floppy!

Argh. NT4 doesn’t talk to hardware interrupts and can’t see drives via the BIOS the same way DOS and Win9x can. That Dell server with serial ATA RAID, even with a FAT16 partition ready, even installing from a directory on that partition, cannot handle the drive.

I obtained a driver that had an ever so slight possibility of making the whole thing work. What happened? NT could not see the floppy drive to add a final insult to the whole debacle.

So it turns out we will need to get Windows 2000 Server to make this work. Not Windows 2003 Server, because the network remains a mix with NT4 and 2000 is okay with that.

I’m very disappointed.


Turns out it sees the floppy if you hit F6 at the right time when NT4 setup starts. However, trying both Dell’s Windows 2000 driver for SATA and one from Adaptec for a similar controller, I got “file caused an unexpected error (0) at line 1213 in d:\nt\private\ntos\boot\setup\oemdisk.c” and that ended the attempt.

NT and Serial ATA RAID

I have been told by a trusted source that if the SATA RAID drive has already been created through the RAID BIOS utilities, NT4 can be installed and will see that a drive is there to the limits of its size recognition. When NT has been installed on its own partition, then service-packed to death, disk manager can then partition the rest, treating it as a normal IDE drive.

You lose the speed benefits and any utilities that would come with a driver recognized by the OS. It should get me through to a time when they can be updated to Windows 2000 or 2003 Server across the board. The main thing is that Exchange keeps humming along with no data loss.

Here goes…


I started setting up a new Dell PowerEdge SC 1420 that has CERC 6 channel SATA RAID with three drives for an effective drive size just under 150 GB. Nice.

But I have to install NT 4.0 until next year when a more complete upgrade of the whole network takes place. It appears that will be a challenge…

Perhaps not so much as I had expected, if Adaptec has a driver after all. In diving into online mentions of this and similar situations, I found both No. Way. Ever. for NT4 and SATA such as this, and apparent workarounds or references to drivers.

Promise has a driver for NT for their FastTrak TX4000/S150 available, and I saw mention of Adaptec having one too. I have to return to the fray and find out for real.

This is a lesson in what happens when you try to keep going on obsolete software and systems for too long.

Speaking of Tech Support for Friends and Family…

I just received an entertaining plea for computer help from a friend. The subject? “Bill Gates sucks wet farts out of dead pigeons.” Alrighty then.

Now, this is a great guy, tops at what he does, but sometimes surprising when it comes to computers, given how long he’s been using them. His first paragraph:

I can’t access the internet. My IE (windows?) is corrupt, the DNS doesn’t work. The only reason I can get mail is the nice (and smart) guy at verizon diagnosed my problem and walked me through typing my numerical address into OE.

So far so good, except my answer to the IE part was that he’s crazy not to be using Firefox and to start ASAP, because he is susceptible to malware (adware/spyware), almost definitely has malware, and possibly can blame either that or an attempted removal of that on the problem.

I centered my advice around the possibility of malware corrupting networking on the machine, though there’s also the standard thought of trying a different DNS address or two.

The next three paragraphs:

None of the stores sells browsers because you can download them so easily from the net (you can’t get there from here).

Talked to a guy at circuit city who told me how to do a system restore, got the “I’m sorry Dave” response from windows.

He also gave me a AOL disc and told me how to bypass the AOL crap and try to install netscape from it but it didn’t work or I couldn’t work it.

The browser observation is amusing. That’s when you have a friend download and burn one for you. Or you have someone obtain the IP address of a site where you want to download a browser. All of which is moot, because the chances of it being solved by a different browser are vanishingly remote. That’s like saying “my car can’t back out of the driveway because there’s a concrete barrier between the driveway and the road, so give me another car in my driveway so I can back that out instead.”

Last time I had a similar problem, system restore was a wonderful thing. I think that was a fine approach, assuming there were saved checkpoints and he went back far enough. Chances are something is corrupted in regard to network components, and a restore would set things back. I also suggested safe mode with networking support, or running msconfig and disabling all startup items as a test.

Finally, the OS rant:

I always hated XP, but this takes the cake. Do I have to buy a new computer? If I do, will it have something better than XP in it? As far as I can see, microsoft gets it right every other time. I loved 3.1. I hated 95. I loved 98. I hate hate hate XP. At least on my machine its less stable than 95 dreamed of being.

I love XP. More XP Pro than Home edition, and more on a workstation than a laptop, but I have had fine luck with it. I just hate hate hate product activation. Yet even that hasn’t been as painful or tragic as it could have been. You can use XP into the ground like any other OS. You can fail to have a firewall, keep using IE, surf in bad neighborhoods, fail to check for malware, and so forth, until you think your OS sucks dead pigeons out of Bill Gates or something.

Windows 3.1 better than 95? In sheer usability there was no contest, and I am still supporting an install of original 95 that is absurdly stable dating back to 1996. On a crappy quality computer, no less.

I will grant that I hate the new Start menu and some other details in XP, so the first thing I do is change back to the old style menu and so forth. I hate that everything in XP and 2003 is wizardy and wants to treat you like a novice even if you’ve been doing it forever. Some of the things I’ve seen wizards for are absurd and simply cause tasks to take more time. However, ordinary usage it’s fine, and XP Pro is rock stable in every install I have encountered on a reasonably quality machine.

Is my experience unusual, would you say?

I believe what the situation includes is a computer of questionable quality, probably with Home rather than Pro edition of XP. It includes being loaded with tons of stuff that loads at startup, mostly superfluous, bogging the machine down. It may or may not be checked in a cursory way periodically and cleaned up at all. Surfing is with IE and unconstrained. A firewall doesn’t exist on a DSL connection. There is probably virus scanning taking place. Something like that. Take away quality ingredients, crud it up, minimize servicing, and you are bound to have problems after a while.

The Basics

Is. It. Plugged. In.

Really, are you sure you checked?

If you help people for money or free, it’s often the first question to ask. It’s also one that people Will Lie About. Well, maybe not lie, but presume about, gloss over, fail to check carefully, not take seriously.

Happens all the time. That’s why I often tell people to unplug and replug cables, rather than merely asking are they plugged in properly. Network cables especially lend themself to that.

So please, if you’re the hapless computer user with the problem, please pay attention to the basics like this. Never assume. Never brush it off.

Microsoft: Root of All Evil

This is an interesting thread of comments at Wizbang. In my experience, a DVD drive from the supplier either comes with software, or you can pay $5 extra to get it. If I build a computer with DVD, I install that software, and the software goes along with the computer in case it has to be reinstalled. Anything else would be wrong on the part of… the computer maker! Not Microsoft.