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BlueWolf's Howl

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January 09, 2003

Upside Down

Sit down for this one. Yes, my computer has been down for a few days. *gasp*

I know, it's hard to believe...but it happens sometimes. And, as usual, it's a hardware issue. (I hate hardware...)

Hardware issues always go something like this: Play with it in various combinations until it works. Unfortunately, this takes various iterations of "play with it" until I get to the part of "it works." Between those two parts, there is much gnashing of teeth and cursing becomes an art form. I eventually fix whatever's wrong, but it takes a long time and much effort. No, I'm not A+ certified. No, I don't want to be A+ certified. And, no, I'm not mechanically inclined (which is obvious).

Many years ago...when dinosaurs ruled the earth...you could be "good at computers" and know it all from hardware to programming. Those days are long gone. I know programmers that can't make web pages. I know good admins that can't write code. And I know people who can configure software, but struggle through hardware. I'm one of those people.

So...now that I've swapped around some of the pieces of two computers...I'm having a fit getting the two of them to work right. The computer I'm on is sitting beside me with the case open and its guts hanging out. I had to detach a few devices to get the "main" computer to boot and connect to the Internet. Ta-da! I'm here and I've checked my mail. Whew. Now to put these devices back on (one by one) and make it all play nice. This may take all weekend...

And life is not without its irony. The two computers that aren't working are the Windows computers. And the whole problem started with adding another NIC card to the main computer. This should have been an easy task. I do this kind of stuff all the time at work and it always works right the first time without glitches. Perhaps it was because I had three computers open at once and was playing three-card-monte with the parts. Maybe it was because I was watching Enterprise while working on those computers. Good thing they don't have a tv in my office.

To further the irony... the Linux box is sitting here fat, dumb and happy. It's working fine. I played with its hardware too - and reinstalled the software. It worked like a charm.

Then irony gets taken to a whole new level... We had a SPARCstation5 at work that needed to be "disposed of" and taken off the network. [For the non-techies -- that's another kind of Unix (different from Linux).] I have a SPARCstation10 at home, but I haven't had a chance to play with it much. It would take quite a bit of stretching the term to call me a "Solaris user," but I have logged in to Sun servers and workstations a time or two. I've never seen the operating system installed and I know nothing about the hardware. The SPARCstation was having serious problems. It kept rebooting over and over... A co-worker tried to stick a Win98 boot disk in it and it wouldn't come out. Well, it's not that it wouldn't come out...it didn't have an eject button, so the floppy was stuck. I took it over to my desk and started playing. I got the box opened, manually ejected the floppy, found the eject button (you poke at it through the tiny hole with a paper clip to manually eject the floppy) and put the box back together. Then I figured out how to break the constant reboot. Then I figured out how to install the OS. I found a copy of an older version of Solaris and used it to reformat the hard drive. Task accomplished. I called the contact and reported that the device had been taken off the network and the hard drive was reformatted. Then I put it on the shelf in the storage area. I had no idea that I could do an install of Solaris. If you would have told me yesterday that I could figure out how do that, I probably would have called you crazy. But it worked. And it was without a massive amount of effort on my part. Who'da thunk?

So then I come home and fight with the blue screen of death on my Windows computers. Well, at least I got here tonight.

Posted by BlueWolf on January 9, 2003 11:32 PM