Technical News and Views from a hole in the ground: 2007
Time Line 2007: page edited: Friday, October 16, 2009
Time Line Base

Separate page about the Fujitsu, eBay, GreatDeals00 charade

GreatDeals (Best Deals Anywhere): falsity in advertising
The naming of drives: Fujitsu ModusLnk conundrum

Dell Precision dynamic drive problem

Dynamic drive problem is independent of SCSI adapter
Diskpart.exe fails, too
Even on basic drives
Except that the eServer does accept dynamic designation, after all
Other Precision 650 computers at Computer Supply House work properly
Second machine, with the original Dell XP Pro drive, does not work correctly
Finally, the drives on the original Dell can all be made dynamic

And, necessary secure National Capital Freenet DSL email settings change


Pinfi.Parite virus attack
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core: Windows Update problem

January 6th., 2007: New Year, a new problem. On December 31st., 2006, I cleared the screen savers on each of my Windows 2k Servers and was met with a statement in a box on each screen. Windows Defender Beta has expired, and the box stated one should visit the link and update the software. I did that once and downloaded the Defender application. It would not install because it wasn't an XP Pro SP2 or a Windows 2003 Server machine.

What a load of bollocks, a transparent marketing ploy, because it is quite clear that it's only that that worries Microsoft. What about all of the other perfectly good Windows 2000 Servers out there in the wide, wide world that are running now without this extra. Microsoft states that Win2k is out of the product support cycle, even though there is a section for it on their Support pages, but I don't care: it's good enough for lots of things, and why throw out perfectly good machines that run good software? I should have kept a screen shot of the message, but maybe I can do that on one machine I haven't used for a while: I am waiting to find hot-swap drives, 12 in total, for this Compaq ML570 beastie. Heavy, heavy, heavy but good looking, unlike the extra hippopotami in Colombia. Yes, Colombia not deepest Africa.

January 14th., 2007: Every time I have to restart a Windows 2000 Server there is an error message regarding Windows Defender and a service that won't start. It means I have to uninstall the programme. Here is the message about the only update for January left to install, even though it will fail:

This is a painful chore, and it won't work on one machine. Why? It's because it is, unlike the other boxes, not listed as an application through the Control Panel applet. Final comment is that with this lost application, these boxes can be a little more useful in allowing unwanted intruders.

February 1st., 2007: Recently, the old white box PII 350, named Oxford, that has been working steadily for around a decade, has started to misbehave. Probably, it's related to IE7 hanging, and FireFox not starting quickly enough. So, I have moved the Outlook PST to another machine, as well as using FrontPage on another. That means that all I will use Oxford for is surfing.

The current Outlook machine, an old Compaq ProLiant 800 server, named Monmouth, has been working quite well running XP SP2 plus updates, except for an odd quirk last week whilst I was sick with stomach flu. All of the desktop icons went generic. I tried to fix them and largely succeeded. Most were easy except for IE: can't be done. Left it, and strangely, two days later, the icon changed back itself. Really odd, methinks.

The other thing is that a page on this site, that mentions the internet café on Bank/Somerset in Ottawa, has been viewed frequently, following Lori McConkey misbehaving when the police tried to enter the store following a stabbing. I worked there in 2002, which is where you can find the stories in the Time Line for that year.

February 7th., 2007: This update is being written on a ProLiant 800 running Windows XP Pro SP2+ which will soon have six running Ultra3 SCSI drives, on the requisite cable. At least I hope it will, since updates cause svchost.exe to fail on a particular memory position. And, recently, the machine simply instantaneously rebooted for some unknown cause. So, like another example of this machine, Gloucester, running Win2kAS, it isn't absolutely reliable.

February 20th., 2007: Yesterday the third of the set of Dell 21" Sony Trinitron monitors, that I purchased together, failed. Given that my old, probably around 20 years, Sony XBR still runs like new; and that I have other monitors that are equally as old as the Dell monitors and they all work properly makes me wonder what was wrong with this batch. It's really odd that they would all quit but it may be that Dell uses cheap power supplies. But, we'll never know, because I threw it out just like I did the other two. Now, until I obtain some cash, this is a room with three computers on the network working well without eyes. Will have to obtain the smallest physical batch of monitors with 1600 x 1200 pixel capability.

February 22nd., 2007: Now I need to research SCSI cabling and drives some more, because even though I have the correct cable and terminator, the drives don't run on Monmouth at 160MBps as expected. They run at 40MBps and also, because I wanted to remove an old drive on another SCSI card, doing that means that the OS can't find the boot drive. What? So, I have to replace the drive, which is an old SCSI-3 6.4MB beastie and then the computer, XP Pro SP2+, will start. Cannot understand this, it's cost me lots of money and time to try to have it work with six drives, all Ultra160, working on a single cable.

February 27th., 2007: The problem I had five days ago was cured by inserting a second Adaptec 29160n and the associated Ultra160 cables. There was a mismatch error shown the first time the box was started, but that ceased at reboot and the machine is running smoothly at the correct rates on the SCSI bus. I had to ensure that each drive had a different ID, taken over both adapters. That enabled me to remove the old, slow SCSI-3 drive, which I will use with the HP PA-RISC box. Later, I discovered that one can have full use of the IDs for each 29160n.

But, don't ever do this: I have another Dell PowerEdge 2400 case that has nothing much except a working pair of redundant power supplies. So, I thought, that would help me protect my Active Directory server, another 2400. I followed the instructions to the letter and when trying to start the box it gave me a cryptic error: the system backplane is not present. Nothing I have done following the instructions on the Dell website has helped. Not only that, but the web search for this error has brought up several thousand relevant articles. Seemingly, Dell has had constant problems with their backplanes, both system and SCSI.

What happened elsewhere on the network has given me four straight days of Active Directory hell. I tried to install AD on another box, one that was a DNS server. Screwballed, because it of course couldn't find the original AD PDC that was installed on the failed Dell 2400. Consequently, I created a new network domain, and then I tried to make another server another DC. Not possible, because of errors about a missing domain or server over the network. When I had dynamic updates between the two servers set up in DNS, then I left this mess to ripen overnight. Voila, the new server became another DC on the new network. Then, one by one, I had all  my other machines join the new domain, but that is simply not easy to do. Hidden folders and files prevented me from importing settings, and having an administrative user on two machines gave problems on security settings. The administrators could not open system directories or even share folders.

Then, on another machine, I found that it was taking tens of minutes to start up, although previously it had worked well. Cured by changing the SCSI termination.

A salutary story of the joys of only having one DC, when I knew that there should always be another one present as a backup. One is always wise after the event. I had had two DCs in a previous arrangement, but that proved problematic, especially when one failed, and yet sustained itself as a malevolent ghost, seemingly, when checking DC parameters, and finding frequently that it was preventing me from setting up computers with names I had used before, but which had been replaced.

But, I would rather have the safety of two DCs, and its attendant problems, and the probability of constant network continuity than what I went through in the past few days. One other matter that I had forgotten is to visit each client computer and reset the DNS pointer in each so that they will easily connect at start up. Forgot to do that, did I not!

February 28th., 2007: Still impossible to start the Lancaster machine, the Dell DC. Presumably it is time to bite the bullet and take all of the decent parts out of it and put them in some other, better designed server. The box this page is written on is a Compaq ML570, named Cornwall, with four 900MHz processors and a lot of RAM. It is the back up DC and a DNS server. It will take twelve hot-swap drives in two cages. That will be nice, to have the capacity that will offer running along at some date in the future.

March 26th., 2007: I have found another store that has cheap parts, Computer Recyclers on Macfarlane, South Nepean, Ottawa, but it takes considerable effort using the bus to go there and back. Nevertheless, I found parts that were precisely those I needed: ProLiant 800 rails, Ultra160 cables, some hot-swap sleds for the IBM x220 and the ML570 Compaq, and PCI video cards.

All I have to do for a while is wait for a replacement for Lancaster, the malfunctioning Dell PowerEdge 2400, to appear at Retro Computers, and reinstall the RAID-5 setup in it. I shall also have to find another Adaptec 29160n for my odd collection of Ultra160 drives. And, eventually find somewhere an 06P5849 SCSI 2-drop cable for my x220 eServer so that I can enable the hot swap cage. Rare as hen's teeth in Canada, seemingly. At least at the price I can afford.

March 29th., 2007: DNS problems arising between where and where? This is not exactly an informative error message:

Something to do with a memory address, but DNS is still, apparently working, since I can open the MMC item and check on the two DNS servers, allied with AD, that work on the network. So, as long as things still work? And, it keeps occurring, especially when it's not expected: when nothing has been changed. The same error happened on both of the Domain Controllers at different times, and I cannot find this error on the Microsoft Support pages.

The cure was to stop Forwarding, and to stop recursion, that had been recommended on the Petri site. I don't want to use the network's DNS servers over the internet, since I have a router to do that. One should really read the damn manual, or at least understand what it is that one intends to do. Trial and error, indubitably.

April 5th., 2007: It's quite possible that my sister Lynn has started her journey from Auckland to reach here at 00:55hrs Friday. Long, horrid journey with three flights and lots of waiting time. And the torture implied in the ever-changing entrance procedures in US airports.

My father is looking forward to seeing her again: let's hope it's not for the last time, but one never knows, does one? Other than that, I had to uninstall PHP, Apache and MySQL from the main domain controller, because of snafus with DCOM, SMTP, and other necessaries for proper communication with the other DC, and for DNS to work correctly on both machines. So, let's download the latest packages I thought and install them on my better XP Pro box, Monmouth. So, unfortunately, having forgotten what transpired in the past, I downloaded the PHP .msi file. That was installed and worked until I closed it for the night. Next morning, nothing that I could do would make it work.

Searching the internet, I eventually came across a comment about downloading the .zip file and expanding that. Then one was required to copy everything over the original PHP installation, when Apache was stopped, and amazingly, after a few corrections, everything is now back to working order and I was even able to expand an SQL file, exported from one of my web sites, into an empty MySQL database (see also below about the wine store database) and work with it in PhpMyAdmin. What a sense of satisfaction after tearing my hair out for a whole day, trying to cure what was not curable. Never use the PHP .msi file.

Not completely there yet, however. My PHP book, an O'Reilly publication, Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL, has files and allows one to use EasyPHP or another setup of the three or four programmes needed.

I used the files available from http://www.webdatabasebook.com and was partially successful. What happened is that I was able to import the winestore database per instructions and then open it with PhpMyAdmin: exactly as I could do with any other database I have installed.

After going through the PEAR installation and update rigmarole and altering the db.inc files to suit the book's requirements, I still cannot use the winestore php examples. These images may be useful: the first shows the drive folder structure (on an XP Pro SP2 dual processor ProLiant); the second shows the 'winestore' database under PhpMyAdmin; the third shows the wda2-winestore's index.html; and the fourth on the right shows the blank page that arises when pressing 'Use the application' link visible near the top of the third image. I have enabled the correct extensions within php.ini and can open other setups properly, for example that used from a copy of SAMS Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache.

Specifically, in the folder listing in the left hand picture one can find, under Apache2.2\htdocs, folders for wda and wda2-winestore, as well as a working PhpMyAdmin folder. Under MySQL\MySQLServer_5.0\data one can find the database winestore. Under PHP, the PEAR folder implies its installation and also the PHP_PDF shows the similar setup for native pdf handling. Everything as clear as mud?


click to enlarge

I wonder what I can do to fix this? It's really irritating to find that when taking care to install things properly that bugs remain. Always altering the programmes with updates to the four core programmes means that anomalies may arise with older files. But, shouldn't it be possible? Even now, one can open older Microsoft files in their Office Suite programmes, at least up to Office 11.

May 9th., 2007: It's a year since I found an IBM X220 eServer, and only now have I obtained, from Mod1 in Texas, a 2-drop U160 SCSI cable so that the drives in the hot-swap cage will be recognised. I still need a sled and a drive to complete the set-up, but there is no real hurry. Everything comes along little by little.

As I mentioned previously, down in the south of Ottawa lies Computer Recyclers, and I have found some parts still missing from my computers when perusing their stock. Last week I discovered five Compaq sleds, which has allowed me to use the idle Adaptec 3200s SCSI adapter in Cornwall, my Compaq ML570. After taking the hard drives out of the Dell sleds, and placing them in the Compaq in the same arrangement that I had had originally, I discovered that all of the data was viewable and I can finally forget the Dell boxes. That flaw with the backplanes, that seems to be common, has soured my relationship with Dell servers and their output in total. After all, it was Dell that my three Sony monitors were produced for, and their life was strangely limited.

Update Tuesday brought this fubar. This IE 6 update repeatedly states it is successfully installed, and then wants to do it again. I have emailed MS from the KB867801 page. Really frustrating, because it doesn't happen with XP Pro boxes. But it does this dance with every Win2k Server box I run, and there are a few. The background to the image is another error that occurs occasionally on a ProLiant 800 although it occurs on other models, too. CqmHost.exe produces a memory error, but it doesn't happen all of the time.

May 23rd., 2007: On the day that Liverpool played out of sorts with a poor team choice, (and lost to AC Milan, who should not even have been in the Champions League, given their illegal activities with their national league, but won 2-1), I have been searching for an IBM part on their site. What a waste of time. This item, YGLv3 S2, belongs on the SCSI hot-swap linkage between the cage and the motherboard. Nothing on IBM's site actually informs me of what the device is or does. However, it does not prevent the computer running. Odd but similar to the part on a Dell I had, where Device Manager also had an unknown device. If this is common on these machines, why doesn't Microsoft know about this problem? I emailed IBM and had a response: but nothing offered worked. It is strange that the manual and parts listing both lack any mention of this particular item.

I have had a poor experience with a computer store in the Glebe, a part of Ottawa. Currently I am waiting for the fourth motherboard to fit into a box I have bought. This motherboard has been ordered via Tiger Direct, Canada. Should fly if it works, and be the first of a couple of machines I need to fulfil some testing obligations that have come my way.

May 28th., 2007: And now I have fixed the problem with the new mobo and processor that I obtained through TigerDirect.ca. The processor had a bent pin, which I corrected using a needle. Now the machine works, although I am in the middle of setting everything up properly after the usual MS activation dance. Seems to be a really quick machine: I replaced a PII 350 with an Athlon 3800 64 X2 in a new motherboard. Further in debt, of course, to obtain it, but it will be worth it. I will change the boot drive shortly, and remove the other two, small PATA drives. The files are being copied to the two new SATA drives, and there is room for at least two more. That's what's nice about new machines, now that PATA is disappearing. I shall use a larger PATA replacement for the boot drive, and shall use WinPE to clone the current old, 20GB drive with one at least five times larger.

The case I bought had a small beeper speaker. When I mislaid it I decided to visit the store where I bought the whole item. I was informed that they only supply the speaker with the case. They have never had a similar instance in twelve years. That I don't believe. This is Network Supply on Colonnade, South Nepean. I am not going back there, especially since it is a long and convoluted bus trip.

That makes two stores I won't use any more: and that's a shame, because as my pension grows and if I become gainfully employed to boot, then I will only return to the stores who have been good to me. And as I pay off some of my debts.

June 2nd., 2007: Somewhat worried about an order made with ShopSpares: this was for a peripheral board that stopped working in my Compaq ML570 G1 server. I had come home to discover no video, keyboard or mouse activity was present. Googling brought up several sites referring to the peripheral board as being the culprit. I visited several sites for this item. I tried ordering on one that gave me a credit card adress error. I tried ShopSpares where, after I checked that they sent goods to Canada, I ordered the board. If the goods arrive on Monday or Tuesday next week, then it will be time to see if the problem was indeed the peripheral board.

WinPE disk cloning (see the WinPE and ImageX page on this site) was attempted on my new Oxford updated computer: it caused problems mainly because I forgot to force the drive letter at the correct time, and was astonished to find that a necessary repair of the computer showed that something had changed the new, larger boot drive from C: to G:, and that caused major programme problems. I replaced the boot drive with the old, 20GB, item and it started up with aplomb. So, will try again later, when I have lots of time.

What I must ensure is that the disk numbering within Windows, and what diskpart expects will have to be researched so that no mistakes occur. Also, constant rebooting or shutdown may affect the BIOS. One does hope not.

Another problem has arisen to do with Office 11. This concerns two lost two computers, Rutland and Durham. What it means is that an Office repair on Oxford won't work because these two computers supposedly have the necessary .MSI files. Even if I browse, and that's given as an option, to wherever the files are now, actually on Oxford, the repair fails.

June 4th., 2007: The box came from California, and it was the peripheral board, which is now installed and working well.

What I should also have mentioned about Oxford, the updated computer, is that I could not join it to the network, what with umpteen error messages saying that Oxford# was already there and that access was denied. This was an Active Directory error, with several different error messages. I researched every one that was numbered, but never found a fix. Eventually, I came across this suggestion: firstly delete the name of the computer from the DCs. Then, join the problem computer to a workgroup, using a name one dreams up, and, after the necessary reboot, rejoin the computer to the network, which, unbelievably it did, right away. This was a problem that had caused me to become balder over about three weeks. Keep trying, keep researching, that's the only answer, methinks. Not only that, but being able to use a named user, brought back all of the settings that I needed. Don't delete any user name folders, or at least back them up somewhere safe. Then one can copy them back if required.

June 5th., 2007: Stupid, stupid, stupid: I had taken out the drives when the ML570 G1 was down; there was so much dust to remove and it was worth it, I thought. However, when I had started the machine with the new peripheral board installed, all I received was a high-pitched squeal from the Adaptec board. One of the drives didn't seem to be working. Taking it out, checking it and tightening the screws and then returning it cured that problem. But then I did something daft. Now it was recognised and the other RAID-5 array had been established meant I should just have started the machine: all of the files and folders would have been there. But the stupid thing was forgetting this and doing a rebuild under the Adaptec Control-A screens. That removed the formatting and the drive was unreadable under Windows.

What a complete ass I was: luckily I had copied most of the files to other machines, but not some, so I had to download Windows Server 2003 SP2 again, all 372MB of it. And then extract it to a folder so that it could be used later. Thimk, thimk, thimk as they thay. Before you do anything: ask yourself why, is there a good reason, and what did you do correctly before?

June 20th., 2007: I have had some major Outlook errors and here is a page to read about them. I had also recently installed Safari beta for Windows on my latest XP Pro box. This seemed fine, except when an update of QuickTime appeared and included what I had thought was an update for the Safari web browser. It wasn't and it installed itself into the default windows folder where I do not install programmes. What the installer failed to notice was that Safari was installed on another drive than that which boots the machine. Plus, it fails whenever it tries to run video even on the Apple site. These bugs have been reported, but it must be said that ZiffDavis Net and Windows ITPro also have articles delineating a list of bugs so it's not just me that's having problems.

June 25th., 2007: Having thought that the Outlook errors had been cured, the damned problem returned today. No cure that I can determine. With another error on another computer, this is not a day for ease of mind. The refurbished Oxford, with an MSI motherboard, won't run its live update programme. What happens is that the LH column on the web page that opens asks for a file that isn't there, and shouldn't be, given that one is told to install Live Update 3, and the file is supposedly in a version 2.03 folder. Here is the error message:


Will reply to an email that I was sent from MSI about these problems. At least the DigiCell programme is starting correctly again, that had started to give me error messages after I had changed one item in the BIOS. Now, it is seemingly cured. Don't know why, didn't do anything!

July 1st., 2007: Just what the hell happened? I tried to do a back up of the C: drive onto a SATA drive with tons of space. That worked. Then I did an ASR backup just to see if that worked. That did, too. Then I tried to do an ASR, an Automated System Restore. That failed by not finding the drive where the backups were. That should have warned me. I did an XP Pro SP2 updated install and then tried to do the original restore from backup. That failed because it couldn't find the drive. Both the SATA drives have been wiped with no warning to me, and for no clear reason, because the other IDE drive is untouched. This has meant that I have lost an inordinate number of programmes and associated data.

What the hell goes with trying to follow the prompts and all of the instructions properly, doing things by the book, only to find the sodding thing is ruined. I had needed, and still do, to back up the C: drive and replace it with one that is four times larger, because it is/was an old 20GB that is almost full.

July 2nd., 2007: Old disk returned to the box, most programmes reinstalled into the SATA drives and then I ran a backup of the boot/system drive. Old disk then removed, and luckily the new, larger drive still retained its C: assignation as it had become under ASR. I then installed XP Pro SP2 and, eventually  (because all of the irritating rubbish concomitant with a basic install prevents one from working efficiently), ntbackup was run in restore mode. This actually worked, and when rebooting, the normal user account appeared, and voilà, here came a working, somewhat faster computer.

Eventually, checking on the PATH statement, and on other machines, I updated or installed the missing folders on the SATA drives. Naturally, not all of the drive letters were correct, but disk management and reboots corrected those errors. Not what one wanted to do on a Bank holiday, what? This is the day after Canada's 140th birthday. Lots of drunks and fools about last night after the fireworks on Parliament Hill.

One other thing: complete uninstall of Office 12 was required, because it leaves hidden folders on the drive, and of course, the SATA wipe removed them. Could not, of course, run a repair, so it was necessary to reinstall everything and then a Windows Update to repair the Outlook errors: small business additions.

Once more into the breach, dear friends. Another Outlook gotcha: the email from Microsoft about Network Monitor 3.1 release arrived with the main text in a Greek typeface. Pressing reply showed the correct English text, so I don't know if this is an Outlook bug or a source error. Probably the former. Will change email machines, and determine if Outlook 11 under Windows 2KAS will perform properly compared with it installed on an XP Pro box.

July 3rd., 2007: Two odd things today: the Globe Tech Alert email was correctly shown for the first time in over a week. Why now? Secondly, the Google Pack that I installed on my new box has, amongst its spectrum, a programme named Spyware Doctor. It has the persistent error when closing the programme that is shown below. It has to be clicked over twenty times for it to disappear. The memory errors are seemingly random, and each time one clicks OK, it has referenced a different instruction at a different memory position.

July 24th., 2007: Four months as a pensioner today, and, nicely, the incremental additions are slowly arriving regarding my allotments from Canada and the UK. It has enabled me to set up my own eBay and PayPal accounts, since I had previously used those of friends. Within a week I will probably buy a SCA drive to test if the procedures work. I have already bought two Ultra-2 SCSI drives for Cornwall, the ML570 ProLiant, at a local store. That brings me up to 5 and one more will fill that cage, when I've found the three trays required. I need two more Ultra160 drives and trays for the other cage. That will produce a fully filled system, and will need a redundant power supply to complete the set up.

Silly things that upset one. Two boxes running XP Pro SP2, with all updates and IE7. If one presses the links on a web page, for downloads, or pdfs, or something similar, on one box, they work. Not on the other: that requires using Open New Page. What?!! Nothing different within the options parameters, all updates installed correctly. No clue. And, this flaw includes pages on Microsoft's support/download/information servers.

August 1st., 2007: Last night at the Microsoft, Ottawa, User's Group social at Darcy McGee's watering hole: some interesting chatter and a few free goodies. Other than that, it's hot here, and it's cooler in my room. Air conditioning was installed last Sunday: and it took a lot of effort to do it. What transpired was a decent night's sleep, without waking up drenched in sweat.

This morning was spent replacing a failing 3Com NIC with a NetGear FA311 that was in a spares box. Took a while finding the correct driver, but now everything is working as it should.

Have obtained a PayPal account, but the cash transfer is taking too long: I have bought some trays, and a drive, on eBay, but can't pay until a Canada to USA transaction is completed. When it completes I also need to find three more U160 SCA drives, and two SATA. Then the boxes will be almost completed, other than RAM additions to a couple of them.

If my ears are burning it's because both of the women I married are together in London. My elder daughter, Sarah, is having a celebration in three days time. Would like to have been there, but not with those two stirring a certain pot.

August 8th., 2007: What's with PayPal and its idiotic system? I wanted to use a credit card to pay two eBay purchases. Their system, owned by eBay, insisted that I use my bank account. That had little in it: to be replenished on the 10th inst. Now I have been charged CA$80 for not sufficient funds. Bollocks! I had tried to pay using a cash transfer, but that took 10 days to arrive. Given what happened, I decided that, having received notification from PayPal, as soon as it arrived I would return it to my bank account. There is adequate balance in my prepaid credit card to honour the debt, but no, that couldn't be used. Using PayPal help is not at all helpful. Turning to the eBay/PayPal blogs reached from PayPal, one finds a lot of worries, experiences of errors and nasty items referring to criminal purchasers and similar. Not at all pleasant.

I have been lucky in that the trays arrived today, that I thought had been paid for correctly, and PemcoGroup were considerate when I emailed them about the delays relating to my cash transfer. If only it was easy to discover that I should be able to charge my bank account directly. I know that now, but it was not obvious when I set up my accounts: with eBay and PayPal. The latter is owned by the former.

I do not find PayPal to be user friendly. I had a response from my first email, but the one I sent today, albeit that I received a receipt, has not been dealt with so far. I laid out my findings and my incurred costs: I doubt that I will be recompensed.

I had received four trays, which were cheap, from PemcoGroup,  for my ML570, and was able to add four Ultra 2 18.2GB drives to one of the two cages. I tried to use the Windows Adaptec Storage application, and had to reboot and add the drives it found to the relevant array. The DOS based expansion process, found after tapping Ctrl-A at the proper point, took hours and hours. When I rebooted I had to copy off the original array what was necessary to keep, and then, using Administrative Tools/Computer Management/Disk Management, I had to delete the partition and add the space that was there but unallocated. Then, whilst I write this, the copying back of all the data is being undertaken. At least it worked, but not intuitive, just like PayPal, what?

August 20th., 2007: Decided it was time to retire the ProLiant 800 boxes. One of them, an XP Pro OEM SP2, has been acting strangely, with constant network activity. This was probably some kind of hi-jack, since a lot of bounced mail reactions occurred in Outlook on my ML570. The other two ProLiant 800 boxes here have been scavenged just like the other one; lots of spare drives and cards. Basically decided to do this since I have obtained larger SATA hard drives for one computer and am bringing in a Dell Precision 650, for which object there are four Ultra320 drives and other parts ready to install when I have the time to pick it up. It's a dual Xeon, with hyperthreading, and Ultra320 is native. Hyperthreading is not without fault, but helps mightily. It has to be activated in the BIOS, and then double the number of virtual processors is shown. In this case, there are two physical P4 Xeons, and the result is that XP PRo recognises four processors. It's Intel's version of symmetric multi-processing. Does not work well with certain single-threaded programmes, where it chugs along slowly, because the option of threads confuses the operator.

I might have to upgrade the graphics card, but I have two 21" Panasonics available to give me maximum working room. The use of eBay has proven its worth: I have won, most still in transit, several hard drives and a significant amount of RAM for two of my remaining machines. So far, only one problem, which was a drive sent to me which was half the size and a lower speed. That was quickly remedied.

August 24th., 2007: The reinvigorated box named Oxford now flies along. This name has been held by one of my computers over the past two decades. It is currently held by an Athlon 64x2 Dual Core 3800+ based machine, now with 4GB of PC3200 400MHz RAM. The extra 2GB came via Canada Post today. It only runs at 333MHz, but that board snafu is acceptable. After installation the speed of operation of any programme was notably improved. Nice to see, and that means I shall certainly increase the amount of RAM within the Dell Precision 650 that comes into this tiny room next week. The box comes with 512MB x 2 PC2100 266MHz RAM. According to the guys at Computer Supply House, who have taken a couple home with them, they are fast as they stand. With the extra RAM there will be even more zip apparent. I have two 1GB PC2100 ECC DIMMs in hand, and will search eBay for two more. And I will also search for an AGP card with significantly more RAM than the 32MB held by the card installed. It will do for now, and I have a splitter to use on the DVI connector, which will enable me to use both available monitors. But, something like an ATI Radeon 9550, with 256MB RAM, which costs about CA$60, would improve matters. Time will tell.

Dell Precision 650 drive problems:
August 29th., 2007:
These things are sent to try us, etc. Was able to bring the Dell Precision 650 home, for which I had obtained disk drives, RAM and speakers and had NICs and other odds and ends assembled. Firstly, the PC2100 ECC 1GB sticks were not accepted. Subsequent to that, I discovered that two drives that I had found for the new box have not been what I hoped for: one was half the size and the other one could not be assigned a workable SCSI ID. It promptly screwed the other drives on the chain. The machine came with a valid copy of Windows XP Pro, SP2, for which all relevant updates have been done. It is correctly set up with hyperthreading, giving four virtual processors.

The other problem is Logical Disk Manager, where the message shown below constantly appears. I cannot yet determine whether it is XP or the LSI SCSI manager that is at fault. I cannot enable these drives, or name them. They are shown as healthy in Disk Manager, but the reboot that is asked for does not cure the error. If one opens the properties page of either drive (Disk 1 properties page is shown in the second image, clickable below) they are stated as enabled and working properly. Strange that one can give the two healthy drives a drive letter each, but they won't show up in Explorer, or remain if one reboots.

What I did notice is that if I removed Disk 1 from the SCSI cable, the other drives were not recognised. The computer was unable to boot, therefore. Also, if I changed the faulty Maxtor drive's ID, nothing good occurred: it took the boot drive, and all of the others, out of service. Nothing but the LSI adapter was present at boot up.

(I have contacted the two eBay vendors, and hope to find out soon if they will send replacements for the faulty drives I received. Also, Brian Ouimet at Retro Computers is somewhere in the city, I hope. He is closing his store to open 'somewhere else' and the company's web site has been updated. But, he's nowhere to be found. I need to replace the yellow faced monitor that I am writing this rubbish upon. The settings for the monitor state there is a green error in the colour balance section, it states fix, but one cannot adjust that setting, only the R or B settings. Rats!)

Neither of the 73GB drives have therefore been what I expected. Neither of the two new 36GB U320 drives can be named or assigned a drive letter.

August 30th., 2007: Now it becomes even more interesting after I found a 73GB U320 today in a second-hand store. It is in good condition, and it was shown to be formatted under FAT32. When the Dell Precision was started up it recognised the drive, having been given a SCSI id of 1 when it was installed, and upon opening Explorer after starting up XP, the drive was there as D:. However, immediately after reformatting it to NTFS and making it dynamic, it became invisible to Explorer again. Changing back to basic was not allowed, and changing other drives in any way, other than the C: drive which has been untouched, proved equally problematic.

I am, as I write this, in the process of verifying the drives under the LSI DOS programme. What this will do I know not. But, I shall have to try everything I can think of.

(One of the two drives that proved faulty is being replaced by the vendor, as I was informed almost immediately after my email to him. The other vendor has not returned another email. Almost time to contact eBay/PayPal, what?)

An update of the earlier screed of the past two days: constant reboots have resulted in the drives becoming visible to Explorer. The formatting within Disk Management fails with the usual message. But, for whatever reasons, the drives are now all formatted, are shown in Explorer and regarded as healthy. Really strange: they are all shown correctly as basic disks and I really don't want to change them to dynamic, as most are in my other computers, in case they lose faith with me again.

August 31st., 2007: The second vendor has replied, tardily because of shifting of premises. I will return the wrong-sized drive when apprised of the new address and await the larger one to appear here.

The Dell is quicker than I expected, given that it only has 1GB ECC RAM. I trust it will be even quicker when I obtain DIMMs that will conform to Dell's requirements. It will take two pairs of PC3200 ECC RAM up to 4GB in total. Not that the computer, with its 32 bit OS, can use all of its memory. Just like me?

Dell Precision: problem is independent of SCSI adapter:
September 3rd., 2007:
I proved to my own disgust that only basic disks seem to be recognised by the Dell Precision. After attaching a drive to an Adaptec 29160n, I changed the drive to dynamic, and it promptly disappeared from Explorer. It took several reboots and attempts within Disk Management to change back to basic and to apply a drive letter. The drive was eventually usable after Windows Explorer had recognised the new drive and asked me if I wanted to format and name it. So, somewhere in the code XP has a bug, what? Otherwise, unlike the only other XP Pro box I currently use, it is system specific.

Now, this snafu was on the Adaptec, and I can't find anything relevant on their site. Although I have never had an LSI U320 adapter, it is odd that the problem relates equally to both adapters. I can't tell if it's to do with SCSI drives alone, since there are no other types in the machine, or that the use of hyperthreading in the computer confuses the OS. I do not know the answer. I talked to the techies at Computer Supply House but no answers were forthcoming. Putting queries in the Dell and Petri forums has not produced any response.

The few programmes that had been installed on the disappearing drive were, once the drive was reacquired, easily reinstalled by copying over the folders from another computer. As long as the drive folder names were the same the programmes restarted normally. This because no part of the registry was affected, it being on the boot drive as was the Documents and Settings folder for the particular user.

Another email sent to Retro: his store is being emptied, but he seemingly never reads his email. This is not a good sign, nicht wahr?

Another thing: searching on the HP/Compaq web site is difficult. I have both an early ML570, quick specs here, and also an early ML350, likewise, and only by using Google could I find either of these pages. Both were near the top of the Google list, but almost impossible to find on the HP site. This is ridiculous. I also have an eServer X220 8645 for which the URL for the support pages has changed twice in the couple of years I've possessed the box. Probably related to the purchase of the IBM desktops by Lenovo. Or, more likely, someone cannot leave well alone.

Diskpart.exe fails, too
September 7th., 2007:
Received one of the expected replacement drives. It was installed and works fine. Then, thinking about dynamic/basic again, decided that I should try diskpart.exe. I converted a 36GB U320 on the LSI bus, one that I shall replace with a larger, to dynamic. It said it was successful. I named it in Disk Management. It remained invisible to Explorer once more. Rebooting did not change that. The usual palaver with XP ensued to make the drive once again visible to Explorer. So, another fruitless attempt at discovering what is problematic with the Dell. It's a very nice machine, and I expect to have it set up to my wishes, but it is so frustrating to have this problem: no one so far has ever heard of what I have been experiencing.

September 17th., 2007: Once more into the breach, etc., as I tried to activate a 147GB U320 drive I had installed in the Dell Precision 650. It was recognised at boot up, but not in Explorer. In Disk Management it appeared as a dynamic disk. It could not be changed to basic, because the right-click options on both of the drive letter sections were greyed out, and the drive, therefore, could not be dealt with adequately. Therefore, it was removed from the Dell, sledded, and placed in the ML570, which runs MS Windows 2000 Advanced Server, where it was easily changed to basic and formatted as NTFS.

When it was returned to the Dell it could be seen in Disk Management, but it could neither be named, nor formatted. The usual failure message appeared. A reboot was needed, and after that the drive was recognised by Explorer. There it was formatted and named. Then the data that was on the drive it replaced was imported over the network.

I took the opportunity of changing the DHCP NIC, which although working had been given a generic name. I could not make the Dell recognise a NetGear FA310TX. I installed an Intel 10/100 NIC and had to use its setup programme to change the WOL properties since it stalled the boot up.

So, I hope that the hard drive charade is not repeated when the two other 147GB drives I am still waiting for arrive. Three other 73GB U320 drives that are in transit are to be used in my IBM x220, so there should not be any problem with drive management there. The hot-swap bay in the x220 currently contains three 18.2GB U160 drives. Soon that bay will have enough storage to suit my needs for the machine. It's been satisfying to buy drives on eBay until lately.

What I have noticed is that bidding has heated up and drives are not as cheap as they once were. I suspect it is something to do with students returning to college and needing storage. For them, downloading from the internet is much less expensive than the cost of textbooks. The prices one sees seem like taxation for education. And, some lecturers cheat by changing recommended texts each year. No second-hand books. Nevertheless, I can't complain at the prices I paid, both for books in the distant past, and for hard drives currently.

September 19th., 2007: UPS upsets a lot of people, according to a Google search for UPS brokerage. Yesterday, I missed UPS and the delivery note stated that I owed CA$40+ for a package. I became worried about the incoming set of packages I was expecting. If all of them had this anomalous extra then the use of eBay becomes less of an asset. However, today was not so bad, in that the package came, but contained four drives, not just one. What a relief. I had emailed the supplier because of the problems many are finding with UPS, which is using third-party brokers, and which adds major cost and delay. I informed them that in my opinion they should only use USPS, the surface United States Postal Service, which includes a small fixed cost to mailings to Canada.

Given my problems with dynamic drives with the Dell, I didn't even try to install them directly after receiving the last two 147GB U320 drives that I had bought. Straight into the ML570 they went and were, of course, revealed as new dynamic drives. Nearly all SCSI drives are intended for servers, and Windows will not allow Basic Disks, upgraded to Dynamic, to have nearly any of the options available to an 'original' dynamic drive. I immediately used Disk Management to revert them to basic disks and have removed them for installation in the Dell. All that remains to do for the Dell, other than install the two drives, is add RAM, and that arrived yesterday by FedEx, which also has the brokerage problem extant with UPS.

The two 73GB U320 drives that came in today's package, were installed into the IBM eServer x220. They, as usual, were dynamic, but were immediately recognised as such and were, as I expected, formatted and named and shared over the network without any problem whatever. The machine runs W2kAS with all relevant updates.

September 20th., 2007: I have talked about the Dell dynamic disk problem with a friend at CHS who also has a Dell Precision 650 dual Xeon hyperthreading beastie. He told me he would try to change a couple of drives to dynamic and determine whether the same problem arises or that it turns out it is only happening with my specific machine.

Yesterday, I picked up 3GB PC3200 DIMMs for the Dell. They are now installed, painlessly, and the machine really is quick, surprisingly so. Not that I am overly concerned about that, nor would you be. The two Ultra320 147GB drives are now in the machine, but I await two adapters for them, so that, as with the other 147GB that is there, their SCA connections are changed to 68 pin that attaches to the SCSI cable.

September 24th., 2007: The two SCA/68 pin adapters are now in the Dell, and the drives are usable. But, only after the procedure required was taken to solve the problem after they were not recognised in Windows Explorer after boot up, even if shown correctly in the LSI BIOS. The drives were recognised in Disk Management. However, using Administrative Tools/Computer Management/Disk Management resulted in a failure message after attempting a drive format, necessitating a reboot. This was necessary because the drives were purportedly not enabled. Not true, because they were, as shown in the properties box, usable, like all of the other drives in the box. These were the two 147GB U320 ModusLnk (nominally Fujitsu) drives I installed after I had reverted them to basic in another computer.

Every drive, other than the original, that has been placed in this Dell has given recognition errors. The problem is neither dependent on maker, nor if dynamic or basic, nor on what adapter it may have been placed, nor on size of drive.

It means that basic or dynamic drive enablement fails in Disk Management. Multiple reboots and ultimate recognition in Windows Explorer corrects the situation. Painful, painful nonsense.

However, the two reboots, a quick format and naming of the drives now means I can use them for the programmes I want to install. And there will be no need, given the longevity of SCSI drives, for replacement for some time. Perhaps someone will offer a cure, or at least a reason, before that happens, although I am not holding my breath.

And now, another pet peeve: every Windows 2000 box has IE6, because it can't have IE7, and lots more pages one visits partially fail with a runtime error. Painful of Microsoft to stop allowing an upgrade, what? It's not as if there aren't millions of W2k Servers hanging around. If it works, etc.

September 28th., 2007: I received the final drive for my eServer xSeries 220. Problems occurred with the drive, because it wanted to be regarded as basic only, and after googling for information I found this, with attendant comments. These notes were added to both the Dell and the Petri XP forums:

A possible cause of this problem is maybe a result of the drives used.
This is from Google Groups for comp.sys.sun.hardware, where the following was written:

"Ebay. http://stores.ebay.com/The-Best-Deals-Anywhere <--- I've bought
all mine at this dealer. Price depends on the other bidders. Shipping
is always $15.99 with no combined shipping discount though if you order
multiples you can contact them by email to get the ORDERS combined into
a single payment and they will box them in a single package. I paid
under $60 each total with shipping.

They are refurb Fujitsu drives that come back showing up as "ModusLnk"
drives. Under Linux the 73GB drive shows as "ModusLnk MXJ3073SC800600X
5704" and the 147GB drives show *ONLY* "ModusLnk" with no serial/model
number. I need to play with that a bit as it's giving me fits
identifying the drives. Hot-swap is twitchy because drive
identification is VERY slot specific when they show no identifying
serial numbers for udev to pick up on.

I can't find any info on ModusLnk. Full drive refurb right down to the
firmware though."


I have discovered in my Microsoft boxes, especially the Dell Precision, that these drives can cause problems because they lack model and other recognition enablers. These are drives that the seller states are particular Fujitsu model designations in the eBay listings. When one receives the drives, either ModusLnk or Qualitas is shown as labelling, and nothing other than that, except in the eServer, is shown in device manager. The only drive in the IBM eServer that gave me a problem was a ModusLnk with no identifier. The other two ModusLnk 73GB U320 drives had a model designation, and gave no problems. The one that did could not be kept dynamic, and kept giving me a 'name illegal' when trying to access it under Windows Explorer. When I changed it to basic, it worked fine. The opposite to what my problem was in the Dell with the U320 147GB drives.

September 29th., 2007: These are the hard drive allocations for Durham and Devon:


Note that for Durham, XP Pro SP2, above, each of the 147GB drives is simply listed as ModusLnk, as does the properties box for each device, and they are enabled by default. For Devon, W2kAS SP4, below, the 15k ModusLnk drive has no details, and is the one that can't be made dynamic, but the other two 10k 73GB U320 drives do show details, and are as dynamic as they were when installed, and as they are when checked in Disk Management.  Odd, indeed. The Maxtor drives noted are PATA 40GB.



Fascinating, if this is one of the reasons I've had so many problems. Note that one of the 73GB Maxtor hard drives in the Dell gave me the dynamic drive snafu, not just the 147GB ModusLnk/Fujitsu varieties. The other Maxtor 73GB was cloned using Acronis software from the original Fujitsu 36GB as the XP Pro boot and system drive. Both of these are basic drives. I retain the 36GB drive in case I have problems: it would be easy enough to reinstall or clone it.

Given what the quotation above states, it will be interesting to see how the Adaptec 3200s, in the Compaq ML570 G server, to which I shall attach four U320 147GB ModusLnk drives (the eBay seller, Great Deals, quotes them as Fujitsu as usual) to begin with, copes with lack of details/serial numbers. These drives are currently in transit.

Currently, the upper cage in the ML570 has four U160 18.2GB drives which I want to replace with the larger drives. If I am successful, then the remaining slots in the cage will receive two more 147GB drives and the two 36GB U320 drives currently in those slots can be moved elsewhere. I shall then attempt to expand the RAID-5 arrangement to encompass all six U320 147GB drives. If that works then the six Ultra2 80MB/s 18.2GB drives that occupy the lower cage will be replaced by more U320 147GB drives.

I do hope that everything works, but sod's law applies inexorably.

I downloaded from Fujitsu a Windows diagnostic tool (right click to download), which failed to recognise any of the drives in the Dell. Apparently, and not unexpectedly, the ModusLnk refurbishing removes all identifiers in the drives. As the blurb above mentions, one cannot find ModusLnk on the Web. Only references to problems people are having can be discovered, mainly not in English: I really wonder about that. These drives are readily available on eBay from the US vendor. I really don't know if ModusLnk is a sub-contractor to Fujitsu or otherwise related. I am at a loss to understand why the vendor can quote them as being Fujitsu and they patently are not. When properly installed they seem as good as anything else. I shouldn't press my luck, should I?

October 1st., 2007: Now then, there is not a problem with dynamic drives, as I had thought, on the eServer. I have used Disk Management again and changed the ModusLnk, the one with no other descriptor, to dynamic. Although it would not accept the name I had given it immediately after altering its type, a reboot brought the drive up named and usable in Windows Explorer. Disk Management added the usual 8MB unallocated space to the end of the drive. I have copied and deleted files and installed a programme using this drive and everything works properly. So, what now with the Dell? The Compaq ML570 will be used for the next Fujitsu/ModusLnk batch of purchased drives.

The next drives to arrive will be the four 147GB U320 from Great Deals, aka Best Deals Anywhere (see above). There are other suppliers on eBay, and I will attempt to capture a couple from one of them and ultimately determine their usability. Mix and match, no doubt, to test them all.

It will be interesting to see what happens on the ML570. But, given that although the Dell works well, I will not add a RAID card to it if the computer cannot allow dynamic drives and possibly be unusable, although external attachment to a drive array is a possibility.

October 3rd., 2007: Office has a poor relation. I have the latest version of Office installed on Oxford, XP Pro SP2+, and hoped that having imported the gigantic .pst file into the programme that Outlook would work, especially since I had to change all of my email server settings to beat a DSL problem that arose at http://ncf.ca, my internet access provider. I had decided to move my email programme from the PDC, Cornwall. That server will continue to be used for Active Directory, and, because it has the capability, remain as one of several data repositories.

Here are the most relevant images of settings that were necessary for changes for this domain, and were used, with corrections, for my other domains.



The Incoming mail server had to be changed to the secure email server that is provided by my domain hosting service. The outgoing mail server remains that given by my internet DSL access provider. Then, the following changes were made:



Note the check in My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication, and the Log on using button is checked, too. Then User Name and Password for ncf members is entered.

The above image refers to the port settings for secure email. Note that the ports differ considerably from normal email set up. Notice one has to check the SSL requirements. If, as I do, one has an email address based on a hosted domain (or, in other words, I am not using the ncf mail server) then the settings they demand must be entered. My settings include the username and password for each email account, but, instead of mail.mattoid.com for the POP3 as was standard, we now have to use securemail.myhosting.com as can be seen in the images above. Once these changes were made to each of my email accounts, for each domain, the sending of messages returned to normal. All of these settings refer to Outlook 11, the email programme in Office 2003.

To confirm, the cure for email operation was to set both ends, SMTP and POP3, to use SSL security. Unless that was done, one could receive but not send emails. The System Administrator errors received from NCF started earlier this morning.

The changes required were not trivial, but the problem became moot for a while when every time that Outlook 2007 was started it crashed. Repairs, of various types, including an automatic Office 2007 diagnostics run, failed to stop the failures, and I can't remember how many times Microsoft was sent an error message. I don't know what caused the crashes, because several googling attempts produced many different reasons for many users. I don't run certain programmes, but I do know that Business Manager for Outlook seems to be one possible cause, because it wouldn't work and Outlook started crashing after that.

Consequently, I moved the .pst file to Durham, the Dell Precision, and set up Office 2003's version of Outlook to suit. This is working well, and it matters not that I don't know when the problem with Office 2007 Outlook will be cured. Furthermore, I have installed OmniPage, PageMaker and Acrobat/Distiller onto Durham to allow me to print and scan data/images as required.

It is clear that many users, having only one computer, would be in serious trouble, given the large number of Outlook crashes that are referenced. Uninstalling Office 2007 might be the only recourse. Web mail has uses but is not recommended if you are worried about security, in my view. On my domains, if I am away, I can access my email through the web, and download all of it whenever I return to base.

October 4th., 2007: The only programme in Office 2007 that fails, on Oxford (the only machine with this version), is Outlook, and so far, nothing done has helped. Searching everywhere and following clues still fails to allow the programme to even start without generating an error. That means I will continue to use Outlook from Office 2003 on Durham, the Dell, to receive my email. Basically, it means that unless there is an update when the specific Tuesday comes each month, there will be nothing that changes my opinion of the 2007 version of Outlook: utter rubbish.

October 5th., 2007: Four U320 drives arrived today, sent via UPS and not by USPS (note the difference!), which resulted in a significant increase in the average cost of these items won on eBay. This is my current argument with the vendor.

They were placed in the ML570, Cornwall. Firstly, Disk Management was used to delete the volume for the old set of drives (six 18.2GB Ultra-2). Secondly, the Adaptec Storage Manager was used in Windows to break the RAID-5 arrangement in the lower cage. While the computer was still running, the four Ultra-2 drives I decided to replace were removed and de-sledded. The four U320 drives were themselves sledded and placed in the relevant slots.

Then the computer was restarted, and at the proper moment Ctrl-A was pressed to bring up the Adaptec 3200s administrative screen. The four new drives were chosen, and set as a RAID-5 arrangement. When the other two U320 drives arrive they will be used to expand the storage total. On the left below is a thumbnail of the Adaptec screen, showing how the drives are currently delineated:


After the machine was restarted and loaded up Win2kAS, Disk Management was used to format and name the new RAID-5 unit. No problems at all, even with the ModusLnk denominators. So, the (RAID) drive space has been enlarged successfully and there was nothing like the disaster that happens on the Dell Precision 650 when installing any drive. Above on the right is the Device Manager of the Dell, showing how the drives are mentioned in hardware. Compare this lot with those in your own machines, they will normally have information similar to the Maxtor drives. Unless they're ModusLnk too, of course. For comparison purposes, the IBM Device Manager (eServer x220 8645) is shown in the centre above. Note where the 15k ModusLnk has no information cf the two 10k U320 73GB drives. This is a recap of what was shown earlier in September.


Note that all of the new drives for the ML570 were dynamic to begin with, and remain that way. The Adaptec 3200s has had no difficulty with these U320 imports.


I shall test my abilities when I try to import the next two drives, one after the other, and find out if Windows and Adaptec drivers allow seamless expansion. If one looks at the Adaptec image, Channel 1 will become totally ModusLnk, and, in time, Channel 0 will be similarly afflicted. Possibly, the two 36GB U320 in Channel 0 will go to my back up Domain Controller (the BDC, Lancaster, is also SCSI, currently U160, based).

October 11th., 2007: This is what I placed on the Dell Workstation and the Petri OS/XP forums:
I have reserved another Dell Precision (a fool for punishment?) at the same store I bought the one under discussion.

Given that I had a new unused 36GB U320 in hand, which I am selling to another Precision 650 owner, I took it down to the store. We placed the drive in my reserved machine, and, after fixing an error with ID numbering, the machine started up cleanly.

Now, this is the sole proviso, it is a Windows 2000 machine. But, it recognised the drive, which was immediately formatted and named, and it was a dynamic drive out of the box.

Seemingly, my original 650 has a flaw, that I cannot cure. When it's brought home, the second machine will be updated to XP Pro, and then we'll see if it still can natively accept U320 dynamic drives.
END

Future experience will tell whether my deductions are true or false. I'm still buying larger drives when opportunity arises, given my contemporaneous monetary status.

October 13th., 2007: The day is lucky for some, unlucky for others: the U320 dynamic/basic saga continues. On the 11th., as shown above, a U320 drive that was new and unused, and I know that since all four of the jumpers were on the SCSI ID pins (which, not looking at where the LED was caused an error concerning ID allocation to begin with), was taken down to Computer Supply House, on O'Connor in Ottawa. There, as mentioned, it was placed in the Win2k Pro Precision 650, that I will bring home whenever. To repeat, yesterday under Win2k the added drive was recognised as dynamic, formatted and named.
The drive was then, today, placed in the buyer's machine and voilà, it was recognised as it should be. This machine is running XP Pro SP2, and has its original (boot) drive as supplied from Dell, updated as required. The two images below show how it turned up in Disk Management: firstly as a foreign drive, and then after it was imported and recognised with the name, 'mine', that we had given it whilst it was in the Win2k box.



To summarise: my Precision 650 will not allow dynamic drives; the one I am buying as an extra does; one other example in the same store, bought by another customer, works properly, too. The same drive was used for the latter two machines.

I am not going to mess around just yet with the box at home now it works: that's asking for trouble. The final comparison will be to place the original drive from my 650 into the one I bring home. It should start up cleanly as it has an identical configuration, and another drive, dynamic, will be added to see what happens. Not for a while, at least until I accumulate some cash, simply because I need to complete other drive acquisitions, for which see below.

The other significant thing that happened today is thankfully rare: one of the four new U320 147GB ModusLnk drives died in the RAID-5 array in Cornwall, the W2kAS domain controller. (I have contacted the vendor to see if I can obtain a replacement.) The neat thing, however, is that Windows still sees the storage space as if the whole array was still viable.

I had tried to copy something over the network and the operation failed because it couldn't reach the RAID drive. Then, on a reboot, the Adaptec card set off its audible failure signal. Ctrl-A revealed a failed drive, and a degraded array. However, the machine started up and Adaptec Storage Manager was opened to check the situation. I had removed the drive before I thought of making an image of the Adaptec screen with its big red X where it designated the drive in Channel 1 (1:01:0) of the lower cage as dead. An image of the array can be seen in the entry for October 5th., above. Some of the current drive assignments have altered, but not with regard to this particular RAID-5 array.

Of course, I immediately copied all of the newer data, using xcopy, to other storage destinations on my network. There are two drives at the Post Office, and one will replace the failed drive. I need to acquire even more drives to fill the cages to my satisfaction. This unfortunate event is a temporary glitch before that can happen.

October 15th., 2007: An interesting time with the drives and the Adaptec 3200s RAID adapter. I picked up the two drives at the Post Office. I returned home and placed them in the lower cage, alongside the remaining three U320 147GB drives. I decided to try the supposedly dead drive in slot 6 (id 5). There was a major problem with a small (1.26MB) drive at ID 06 apparently a part of the particular RAID-5 set up, and this was giving the system fits. I removed the 'dead' drive, and set up the two new drives in the Adaptec Storage Manager in Windows, after using Disk Management to see what it had found. I managed eventually to gather these five drives into a running RAID-5 array, that is building at its snail like pace as I write this. The tiny drive disappeared entirely at some stage. It must have been a part of the 'dead' drive.

One extra thing is that I had copied off all of the data this morning, and therefore there was nothing new. The phantom tiny drive that was shown in Ctrl-A screens caused me to delete the original RAID-5 array and recreate it. I have no clue what caused the drive error, it could have been dust, an electrical brown-out or equally easily something else entirely. Whatever it was it caused this particular drive to play dead: I think the tiny volume appeared at the beginning of the drive, and the necessity to have equal volumes throughout the array obviously caused the Adaptec failure indication.

Placing the supposed dead drive into the top slot in the cage resulted in it being recognised within the Ctrl-A Adaptec DOS set up, and it seems to work. I shall add it to the array when it finishes its build. At the same time as it's building it allows me, under Win2k, to copy all of the data back. After all, one has to try everything to determine what or what's not allowable. After 16 hours, the build is at 24%, truly snail like even though Adaptec Storage Manager Pro states it's running at 'high speed'. At this rate adding the sixth drive to the array will not be possible for another two days.

October 16th., 2007: Below is the status at just before 3pm today. Looks like tomorrow evening might might come before completion of the build of the five U320 147GB drives into a RAID-5 array. Then is the time that I can import the sixth indicated in the Channel 1 cage. The upper cage should, within two weeks, have four more of the ModusLnk/Worldisk drives installed, which is why, right now, the sleds in Channel 0 contain JBOD 18.2GB U160 SCA drives. They are unrecognised in Windows except for one which is large enough to contain the folders needed at the moment to run the machine without Services errors arising.

One other item I discovered in the Adaptec 3200s Ctrl-A pages: all of the ModusLnk are at revision 5704, except for 1:01:0 which is 6688. There are some differences between drives, I see. But, no software or BIOS on the other computers containing ModusLnk drives gives anything like this degree of information.

October 17th., 2007: The build actually completed at about 1am this morning. The sixth drive has now been added to the array and the whole process of expanding, not building, is now taking place at the usual snail's pace. This will be a longer wait, given the extra drive. Maybe finished by Friday evening. And, whereas when the fault in the array resulted in Windows not being aware of the loss of a drive, equally in this case the OS still only recognises 547GB and not the ca 619GB that should appear when Disk Management can be run after the expansion reconfiguration completes.

One problem with the Dell that has nothing to do with drive configuration is that the use of xcopy to the machine always fails with the message 'invalid drive specification'. However, using xcopy on the Dell one can transfer files between any other two machines on the network, of any Windows OS. I suspect it has something to do with XP Pro Security settings, or the idiotic Firewall that is a default setting but has been turned off here. Security states it is using basic AD constraints. Since that isn't stopping me using xcopy anywhere else, what that has to do with it is uncertain. Basically, I can't find the reason, but as long as I can do a simple copy, which is true, then it's not too bad a flaw. Just like the drives on the Dell, they're not dynamic, but they work.

October 24th., 2007: One of the Dell Precision 650 drives was reported, at every boot up, by the LSI software telling me that drive 3 on its chain seemed to be heading for failure.

I replaced it in the normal way for the Dell: install the replacement drive; start up the computer, and go to Disk Management; change the drive to basic from dynamic; reboot and determine if the drive is shown in Windows Explorer; if not, reboot again, but if so, then format, name and share the drive as desired. Then, because I always check, I placed the nominally faulty drive in the ML570. It is accepted but, just like it did in the Dell, it requires a disk check. Carry on with that until the computer starts, and go to the Disk Management for the ML570. The drive is immediately made dynamic, formatted, and data copied thereon. It works fine! So, what is it with the Dell? Is it merely extremely finicky or simply a bloody minded elf sits within.

I'm waiting for more drives to fill the upper cage of the ML570: I now apparently need only four, and the next Precision already has two or three of the drives that will inhabit it when it joins its neighbours here in my tiny room. All because two nominally faulty drives that I bought within the past two months have proved to work properly in other computers. Strange fruit.

October 28th., 2007: The cell, my workroom, has been slightly improved. Rearrangement of certain objects allows me access to the window again, but mismeasurement prevented an optimal improvement. C'est la vie.

Here is the increasingly normal response to page access using IE6 on a Win2k machine:

Naturally, the error does not occur on the same line on every page, but the inevitability of changes that IE7 can handle has not been brought to its earlier version. Simply clicking on No normally brings one to the page desired. There will be something missing on the page, but it will be mainly readable.

Along with the Defender denial for Win2k machines, it's another blow against those using the stability of Win2k in preference to, say, Windows 2003 Server, which is soon to be replaced itself. Progress, in some people's eyes. Not in mine. Doesn't Microsoft pay attention to the numbers of fundamentally sound but non-supported operating systems? There are millions of them. And all are left out of the security updates freely given to the later OS versions. Short-sightedness, personified.

October 30th., 2007: The drives for the ML570 are slowly arriving so that I can update the total storage space available in the upper drive cage. Two to go.

One drive was seemingly acting up, of the drives already present, but a format and reactivation and a deletion of missing drives in Disk Management has cured that. I had forgotten to remove the indicator in Disk Management for drives that have been replaced in the cage: doing that cleared the error report. Note, in the image above, that there are minor differences in the total space available for each nominal 147GB drive. Note also that one of the Fujitsu/ModusLnk/Worldisk drives has no model number. Sometimes that will cause problems in an array. If it's the only one here, that shouldn't hurt. Chip sets are obviously not equivalent throughout the examples in the cages. So far, so good.

The drives arrive one by one because I don't want to use UPS, since the brokerage fees at the border from their third-party partners is extortionate, as I have previously mentioned. We'll see if the array for the upper cage can be built starting some day this week. I expect the building of the RAID-5 array to take about three days. When completed it will provide enough space for mostly anything I can dream of.

November 5th., 2007: Still waiting for hard drives and for SCA/68 pin adapters. Also waiting for a replacement air conditioner, something that should have been done before the weather turned to late Autumn as it has done. However, this Haier unit never worked properly from the very beginning, but I should have been warned off when it lacked any sticker/metal tag delineating what it was. Most other things do, don't they? The Haier company has a PR group that I have dealt with: but one can't send them emails with html settings. Neither can one approach the earth-bound version of Home Depot, but surely they must have an agreement with Haier to mutually assure good equipment?

If this is not settled properly, to my satisfaction, it will necessitate going to small claims court as well as the newspapers and the internet. It's bad enough that Home Depot has two entities, clearly without mutual contact. The earth based section has a DOS based accounting/recording system that won't interact with the internet based entity that obviously (see the emails on the page linked above) has modern software and other equipment. What kind of prior planning went on here? When I visited Home Depot about the faulty air conditioner they were unable to help me: and I do recognise that the blurb on their web pages states that one can't take anything bought thereon to a physical Home Depot store. Something that needs changing, I believe, because when there are time constraints on purchases, as there are with an air conditioner, for example, then matters need clarifying promptly, especially with faulty equipment. There needs to be a process enabling a customer to replace items with those of equal value/technical properties.

November 7th., 2007: Four drives arrived today. The result was that I could, I thought, complete the RAID-5 array on the upper cage of my ML570. Not so, because the 147GB U320 drive I had removed from the Dell Precision gave the system, and the Adaptec RAID adapter, massive hiccoughs. Eventually, I created an array with five drives, each 147GB, but even now, after innumerable reboots, Disk Management cannot see the recalcitrant ex-Dell drive. I shall have to wait for the next new, dynamic drive to come, one that I was going to place in the next Precision that is due to appear in my tiny office. It will be placed in the array, and remain a JBOD drive, so that a couple of services will start. They do not at the moment, because the files were on a drive which is now part of the new array. The array is, of course, in a build pattern, to last until Friday, probably. The state of the build, or the ex-Dell drive, is giving Windows Explorer a fit, because it won't open. I think it is aware of the recalcitrant drive, although the new array should easily be seen. I don't know yet, but I am thankful that the other data array, in the lower cage, is working and I can access it easily.

Whatever, first the recalcitrant drive worked, then trying stupidly to change it back to dynamic screwed up Disk Management. Then, deleting the offline, 'missing' dynamic/basic drive made it disappear altogether. Adaptec Storage Manager Pro decided to fail on a memory address, causing another reboot. And, having to reboot starts the building of the array, again, again and again. So, sod it, the peculiar drive stays invisible until the array finalises, eh?

November 8th., 2007: The drive I needed arrived today: I pulled the recalcitrant drive, took it from it's sled and placed the new therein. It was shoved back into the slot and Disk Management was then opened and found the drive immediately. Formatted, named and working in a few minutes: as the build of the upper cage's 5 drive RAID-5 array continues. We are at 80%, so it should complete by day's end. And that will be that for the updates I had scheduled for the ML570, except for the monitor, working without the full colour spectrum. No blues seen. Retro Computer have altered their URL to admit to having no earthly contact. It would be nice if they found a store, wouldn't it? It was a good place to buy things if one didn't expect perfection.

The array build has completed: much quicker than the previous build for the lower array. Don't know why, but I am pleased it has worked and everything is now stable in the ML570. It may only be a G1 model, but it has proven reliable except for a feature board failure earlier this year. With four processors and more RAM than the machine can handle, it is working well both as a DC and a data repository.

November 10th., 2007: I posted this on the Dell and Petri forums today:

Hello,
Today, just because I haven't brought the second machine home yet (finance at this time of year!), I went down to the store (Computer Supply House on O'Connor in Ottawa, ON).

I took the original drive for the Dell Precision 650 and two other U320 drives. The machine started up with the U320 36GB drive with no problems. It was given ID 0.

I then went to Disk Management and again, as in my original machine, there arose a problem. The drive that I had added, a 73GB U320 at ID 1, was recognised as a dynamic object. However, when it was asked to import this foreign drive it eventually gave a message that it had timed out. It had the option to revert to basic, which I declined.

Then, I shut down the machine and I installed a U320 147GB at ID 1, and it produced the same error.

I conclude that this original XP Pro drive which came with my first Dell Precision 650 must be faulty in some respect.

Now, the kicker will be when I bring the machine home in two weeks and install XP Pro from the green Dell CD (not only because it has the LSI drivers). It will be interesting to see if it will install on a new drive and will work with dynamic disks.

Those who haven't had to work with dynamic drives may think this is unimportant, but I have had to swap drives around on different machines, and many of them are servers and workstations, so dynamic is a preferential type of drive.

To me this is interesting, and another thing is that my original Dell won't recognise USB flash drives in Windows Explorer, even though I know they are there. I have several flash drives, some of them U3, and their CD images arise in Explorer but the drive does not.

Of course, all of my other machines see the USB flash drives and work with them easily!!

It's a good thing that I have several machines to compare things with.

Regards, Paul

It's clear there is a fundamental problem somewhere, probably to do with the XP Pro software, but that might not even yet be the answer. I suspect I shall only find out by installing a fresh copy of XP Pro SP2 on the Dell when I, as mentioned above, bring it home in a fortnight or so.

I think my memory fails me at times: what happened with the U320 147GB in the new Dell was that it was not even seen by Disk Management. This was one that had been placed in the original Dell as a basic drive (not what it was bought as), and now it wasn't recognised. Strange days, indeed. Note that with the Windows 2000 Professional drive installed in this very machine, everything worked as expected.

I shall, with the next Dell Precision, place a U320 73GB 15k drive as ID 0, and install XP Pro cleanly. Then I shall add drives, and post the results.

November 11th., 2007: Remembrance Day:
The Dell is odd, or is it the OS? When saving files from FireFox, it's almost immediate. When saving from IE7 then the system hangs, waiting for a response from me, it states, if, after pressing cancel innumerable times, something happens. Or, as in this particular case, I waited an hour for it. Luckily, I could work on anything else I wanted to on the computer.
 


Eventually, it might save, whether as .htm or .mht types of files. Other programmes seem to work properly, things such as Acronis, or Office, or most anything else. But, as one is aware, IE7 is part of the OS, and that tells me that all is not well with this smelly cabbage.

November 13th., 2007: Well, well, miracle occurred when I ran a Microsoft Office 2007 file, X13-11296.exe, and it uninstalled Business Contact Manager, and the related SQL executable. Running that file immediately afterwards properly reinstalled the Contact Manager, and Outlook 2007 now opens correctly. I had tried that before and it failed. This time it didn't and I can't explain why. But, it is the thirteenth, quoi? This on Oxford, my Dual Athlon powered XP Pro SP2+ white box.

November 15th., 2007: One step forward, three back? I 'saved as' twice with IE7 on the Dell. I thought that maybe the latest Windows Update might have had something to do with that. Of course not, because the next attempt hung the programme for ever, and I had to give the three-fingered salute and stop IE7 before I could do anything more with it. FireFox has no problem whatsoever with saving web pages: None.

November 16th., 2007: The BDC (Back up Domain Controller), Lancaster, a Compaq ML350 Server W2kAS box, needed new, larger drives, and two 147GB SCA arrived today.

I had to take a drive that I had held for the Dell Precision: one drive received today was faulty. It started fine on the first boot, but gave the Adaptec RAID card fits on the necessary reboot. Then, when placed in the Dell, the LSI BIOS reported that there was a predicted failure of the drive at a certain address. In other words, not exactly trustworthy.

The old standard, 68 pin based drive cage was replaced with a SCA cage, and two drives were sledded and placed therein. Nearly painless, except for having to change the two SCSI U160 cables attached to the Compaq feature board. The new drives altered the priority and I had to swap the cables Port to Port.

Windows would, however, only start safely under Directory Services Repair Mode, and the two replacement drives were the cause. They had to be formatted, named for their originals and then, to remove the boot up error message, the WINNT\NTDS folder on the boot drive was copied to both of the new drives. Then, the computer was restarted and a partial, but successful, restore was made of the back up that was made prior to removing the old drives.

The Microsoft Support page about repairing a domain controller that won't start because of an Lsass.exe failure, concerning a missing Ntds.dit file, is found here.

Plus, I took time to clean the computer of the blue fluff that collects everywhere. That chore done, I now have to obtain two more drives to fill the cage and also add more memory and replace the two other drives in the upper front half-height bays (probably with the two 36GB U160 currently in Cornwall) and then that will be that for Lancaster.

Puff, puff, puff the magic dragon; clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop St George's stallion:


My reasonable opinion about some of the troubles I've had with computers lately? Nonetheless, this is genuine Eurostar (railway) Belgian advertising offering their particular view of the British. In other words, the consummate skill of a drunk England Association Football supporter urinating a metre into a china tea cup, without spilling a drop, thank St George!! There are other images of such élan available, but I don't think that I need another one here! Not yet, because I have seemingly, even with a 100% record, been banned from bidding on GreatDeals00 for any more drives. Perhaps it's simply because I want a replacement for my newly received faulty drive? We shall see.

November 18th., 2007: I have emailed Fujitsu Canada to find out, if they respond, what connections with ModusLnk they are aware of. If not, I'll try Fujitsu Japan. Here are three images showing, firstly, the current drive arrays in Cornwall, the ML570 W2kAS AD Domain Controller, and, in the other two, some of the purchases I have made recently on eBay with the relevant naming of the drives by the vendor:

It should be clear that all of the drives from Best Deals Anywhere, appearing on eBay under the name of greatdeals00, are offered as Fujitsu, and are delivered and appear anywhere as ModusLnk. The right-hand image above shows three purchases of U320 147GB drives which include statements that they are Fujitsu models. There are no hits for ModusLnk drives on Google that allow one to determine where in the world they are made, other than, more likely than not, somewhere in Malaysia. The drives do work, but I wonder about the ethical standards perhaps involved here.

Note that an earlier Adaptec ASM Pro illustration can be found above in the entry for October 16th. The lower bay is basically completed, with the addition of the larger drives, and the upper not. But, the interesting point is that there are HP drives below a Fujitsu and Compaq SCA examples. These are genuine articles, presumably.

Also, see September 29th. And, for October 5th: the two right side images can be opened to show that the nominally Fujitsu ModusLnk drives show up strangely and the other drives, eg the Maxtor pair of U320s in Durham, show up as they really are. Interesting, what?

See the latest image, above left, to show the current delineation.

One other thing: I correlated the settings for IE7 on my two XP Pro computers, ensuring the Dell was made the same as Oxford. This has improved my experiences on Durham, the Dell, to the extent that it seems equal to Oxford, my white box. It further strengthens my feeling that everyone should have multiple computers so that one cannot always blame the maker. It's often user error, and my mistakes have proven this cliché.

November 19th., 2007: The strange thing about the apparent transaction blocking of my bids on the hard drive supplier is that actual activity on items for sale has dropped significantly. I wonder whether there is a computer glitch somewhere. I have emailed eBay and Best Deals Anywhere about this apparent anomaly. It would be nice to find out that I had done nothing wrong, because, in fact, I can't think of doing anything untoward at all.

The hilarious blocking situation can be compared with the feedback from this company, relating to the many drives purchased there, that obviously means nothing at all, as shown by the remarks on this image:

Later today: it would appear that I am in fact blocked by Best Deals Anywhere, because of my negative drive transaction feedback comments. Positive but negative, you understand. I was never advised that this would happen. The hint of appalling protocol arises.

Note that I was made aware today (in a phone call) that Fujitsu only refurbishes its drives in their Japanese manufacturing plants. These ModusLnk examples are/were likely refurbished ex-OEM drives, so they could have come from anywhere in the world.

November 20th., 2007: Came home from a Microsoft Seminar,  Unified Communications Launch 2007, to do with Office Communications Server, Office Communicator 2007, to find that no word from GreatDeals00 had arrived. So, I have opened a dispute under PayPal's aegis.
This is the text, that the vendor receives:

Hello,
Two drives received: one of them has not worked, it failed on installation. I have requested RMA and been contacted twice but no other proper response. I have kept all relevant emails and documentation.
Vendor has blocked me from bidding, because I refer to the drives as ModusLnk not Fujitsu. My feedback otherwise has been generally positive, which the vendor has concurred with.
Fujitsu is the name by which the items are described for at least both sizes of drives I have purchased, viz 73 and 147 GB U320 SCSI.
The vendor will be reported by me to Fujitsu if this charade continues. (Whoops! done that, already). I have a 100% record, and have been honest with every purchase made with this or with other vendors.
I believe the action taken by the vendor to ban someone who is properly describing goods when using feedback to be unethical.
There should be an ability to demand punitive damages.
I hope that this problem is resolved quickly.
Regards,
Paul Dickins

In the PayPal object boxes:
ModusLnk in BIOS not Fujitsu
Either this or the other drive proved faulty producing an Adaptec warning signal on start up with one server. It gave a predictive failure message when placed in a Dell Precision with an LSI U320 BIOS, causing an immediate reboot.
This or the other drive, whichever, because there are no distinguishing marks or labels regarding serial or model number on any drive of this nominal example.

Furthermore:
The information in the PayPal report might be garbled, because after I had finished my screed and copied it to WordPad, there arose a time out. After logging in to PayPal once more, I copied and pasted after going through the reporting procedure, but it might not be as I wrote it. PayPal are remiss in creating a time out especially when one is trying to write accurate text on a critical matter.

November 21st., 2007: The SpinRite pages on Gibson's site tell one that modern drives cannot be low-level formatted. This contraindicates what Jas at GreatDeals00 asked me. I had not done a format, and won't, even if the clattery noises that arise are symptomatic of platter or chip control failures. It is, like every other drive that is of late manufacture, of any kind, a SMART drive, and can predict failures, and this clearly is what happened.

I decided, after all, to run the low level format, which was done on the ML570. It failed, see below in the body of the email sent to GreatDeals00. Lots of work for nothing.

Consequently, my response to Jas' latest email was this:
Hello,
The low level format was run, and failed. Even though on a Compaq ML570 the drive was regarded as optimal under Adaptec 3200s adapter Ctrl-A set up pages, the drive was not thereafter available in Windows 2kAs SP4+. The drive, in Disk Management, was regarded as unreadable.
Neither, would a Compaq ML350, using a SCSI hot-swap cage, when the drive was installed there, even allow boot up to continue, since the SMART activator on the drive announced an imminent failure, this after, I repeat after, the format had taken its several hours to run.
The only option was to reboot.
This page, on Gibson's site, the originator of many good programmes, offers the statement that low level formatting is impossible on all late model drives:

http://www.grc.com/sr/faq.htm

Therefore, given the charade that has occurred and the work that I have undertaken to prove this drive is unusable, I reiterate that I should have a new drive sent to me asap.
I am thinking of sending this drive to Fujitsu to determine if they can deconstruct what has happened to it, especially what happened when it transformed itself into a ModusLnk object.
Please advise soonest. And, once more, I reiterate that this is the only drive of about a score that I have obtained from your store that has failed.
Plus, I need another 147GB U320. You could throw one of those in as a peace offering, methinks. Not a joke.

END of message.

Well, it's all up in the air yet, but progressing, what?
And, British I may be, but I was pleased that England lost against Croatia at Wembley and are out of the 2008 European Championship. Shoddy leadership by the FA and it's a beautiful game, but it is clearly run by money in the Premier League.

November 24th., 2007: Here, concerning the ModusLnk Fujitsu dead drive scenario, is my latest email reply to Best Deals Anywhere:

Sir,
This is unacceptable. Did you actually read what I wrote you regarding what was necessary to prove to you that the drive was dead?  

You have prevaricated at your end, failing to send me a reply to earlier emails about the drive, and only doing so when I complained to eBay. Therefore, why allow me a mere 7-day limitation in returning the drive?  

In fact, I require that you send me the drives before I return the dead one to you. Then I can be sure that what I receive is in good condition. You can have no qualms that I would not honour my obligation. This email is copied to certain people who are aware of my good character. (Also, see the final statement below.) 

Further, I have been on your eBay greatdeals00 feedback pages.

I have determined that _most_ of the complaints have indeed related to U320 147GB nominally Fujitsu drives, especially those sent to customers in bunches. Most of these disappointed customers also realised that they were not receiving genuine Fujitsu products. It wouldn't be so bad if you would admit this was the case.  

Does eBay know what is happening? 

I wonder too whether all of the other complainants have been blocked from bidding as I have been. That is an unethical stance; and I doubt that eBay would be in favour of such censorship. 

Note that I was not joking when I mentioned that you should add an extra drive to compensate for the convoluted way you have been attempting to deny your responsibilities. 

I will be contacting Fujitsu immediately (I have already been in contact with them about certain technical issues) unless you do the decent thing, and admit that these drives are not wholly of their manufacture: that, indeed, they have been modified by a third party. Otherwise, this is blatant misrepresentation, is it not? 

Finally, one latest point: most genuine vendors have a website and an attendant email that is not related to webmail and suchlike impermanence. 

Regards,
Paul Dickins 

-----Original Message-----

From: Jas [mailto:greatdeals00@yahoo.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 24, 2007 2:09 PM
To: Paul Dickins
Subject: RE: FW: You've received a question about your eBay item, Fujitsu 147GB 10K SCSI HARDDRIVE MAT3147NC U320 80 PIN

Paul 
Send the one drive back within 7 days and we will replace it.. I have attached and RMA form..
END
I am, if the vendor does not play, obviously intending to send the bad drive to Fujitsu. If that happens, then they can check the innards and find out what goes on with regard to these ModusLnk drives when they are received from whatever source GreatDeals00 (Best Deals Anywhere) discovers them.

November 26th., 2007: The Dell will not reveal any USB flash drives in Windows Explorer. If one has a programme window open and go to Save As, then both USB drives present in the front connectors on the Dell, are easily seen as Removable Disk J: and R: in the image shown below:

The Adobe Photoshop Album software opens its dialogue box and reveals those files it can find that are images. If one adds another USB drive then refreshing the APA dialogue box will show the new drive. One can copy files or folders between the USB drives in, say, Word's Save As dialogue box.  However, one cannot find the Removable Disk objects in Windows Explorer. Nothing that I have found can cure this. It may require a fresh install of XP PRO SP2 later on, to see if that stops the nonsense with USB and dynamic drives, and an insufferable inability to save consistently using IE 7. Or to use xcopy or similar command scripts.

November 28th., 2007: Here is the label on the ModusLnk defective drive:

Malaysia, eh? I don't know, because no one else does either. I have bought an upgrade and now have SpinRite 6. I shall try and run the programme against this drive to determine the problem. Whereas most genuine drives produce information in the BIOS at start up, this drive does not. No proof that this is the serial number.

I have made a couple of purchases lately, that pass through PayPal. Their pratting around with one's basic settings is becoming a real chore, as this email to them in complaint points to:

Hello,
I emailed your company about the eCheck/Credit Card/Bank account scenario.
I really do not like the fact that nothing warns one of the presumption about one's account that PayPal forces on one.
Really poor customer relations, and the time it takes to reply properly to complaints does not help one with problems that have time constraints.
Unfortunately, because I use eBay, which company owns you, I have to use your payment process. You do us a disservice.
Regards,
Paul Dickins

Pompous, I readily admit, but when one has set the payment by Bank Account, it is rubbish not to tell you why they prevent one from using that outlet, and pushing you to use of Credit Card, or an eCheck. The latter places a considerable delay until it is cleared, and frustrates any attempt to satisfy the reason the object was bought for in the first place. Two emails sent, no replies, and when, or if, a reply happens it will likely be boilerplate.

November 30th., 2007: Virus upset for the last two days when logged on with the normal user. Something that came out of the blue, naturally on the differential Dell. It is Pinfi.Parite and the free SpyBotSD found it and seemingly removed it. Except that it remained somewhere. The other free version of Lavasoft's Ad-Aware found the traces but could not delete them. Googling led to what claimed to be a remover, AdwareAlert, which made one purchase the item before one could use it. This I did, but, because of hours spent on technical help with them, the problem remained. They state full refund unconditionally within 60 days. This I have asked for, less than a day gone. This morning I bought a Lavasoft update to the full personal version. It claimed to have found the virus and removed it very quickly, I saw. Except that immediately running SpyBotSD thereafter showed the virus remains. Note that different file name are appended to these purported .tmp objects.

Here is an image of the 172KB files that indicate the presence of the virus. This is in a local user's Local Settings Temp folder. Note that I can delete none of these, even as administrator. The files may become renamed but remain, as can be seen, as tobedeleted, then old_tobedeleted, etc. I have emailed Lavasoft Support about this. It should be easy, one would think, to have something like this removed, given that it is so common.

Here are some more images, showing consequences of a SpyBot run (immediately after an apparently clean Lavasoft Ad-Aware run) showing items fixed. Next, a Local Settings folder showing unremoved and renamed files of 172KB size, the image captured after the SpyBotSD run. All of these are indicators of the virus:
 
Note that there might very well be an entry in HKEY_Current_User\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer named Pinf, which is an engine for the virus.


I wonder whether the replacement 147GB U320 drive will arrive today. It should have only taken 1-3 days, according to the vendor, but it is now nearly six. The drive will be placed in the ML570 to check whether it is in good condition. The defective drive has been placed in the new Dell, which is still at the store, and SpinRite will eventually be run on it, to determine its failings and maybe its origin. TechNet on Microsoft's site has a problem that is intermittent but serious. No access following an error that relates to a '/' but one can't find the perpetrator. This happens constantly on one machine on the network but not on others. Just like the problem on XP Pro boxes on this network: sometimes the administrator user is changed to debugger. Possibly this happens when security updates are being installed, but I cannot tell. This never happens on my W2kAS servers, naturally. Both XP Pro boxes that I use have read-only folders, but the servers have no constraints like this. There is no seeming consistency when using a simple user and an administrator on the XP Pro boxes.

To return to the machine with the virus: this might all be to do with the virus only attacking one particular user. I have, therefore, stopped using that user, and deleted most of the settings.

However, opening Regedit, I found a Pinf file in the registry when operating the machine with a new user. I deleted it and wondered whether when I next run SpyBotSD and Ad-Aware, that what it causes can't be found.

But, and here we go again, there are now virus additions in the Documents and Settings folder for another new user. Does this mean that a clean install is the only answer? Probably. What I have discovered is that this virus prevents the creation of floppy disks, eg., when I tried to create a SpinRite 6 boot floppy. It said it had been created correctly, but was unusable and was not recognised in any other computer. Plus, network settings were put on the fritz, and I could not connect from the infected Dell to the domain controllers normally. The private LAN settings were messed with and one could just about ping or tracert via DHCP. The DHCP settings are only for NICs connected to the internet switches.

Outlook is now running on another machine (luckily the copied PST was not infected), so I can forget that possible problem. Luckily, although ultimately fruitlessly, Outlook 2007 recognised the Outlook 2003 file.

The next job was to format all of the drives and reinstall XP Pro SP2. Yuck! A real pain given all of the programmes that were on the computer. One can't back up the registry, because it's infected, so as a corollary, one can't expect to restore the machine to the state prior to the viral infection.

Next, a nasty interlude indeed. The virus prevented me from installing XP Pro from a folder, producing a stop error. Following that, it should have been a lifesaver when the old boot drive, a U320 36GB item, remaining available, was reinstalled and apparently booted up cleanly. Not only that but it should have been fine except for the missing updates and other programme changes installed since I used Acronis to clone it.

But naturally, later in the evening, I discovered that the whole system, all of the drives, must have been infected: the PINF registry entry appeared on the drive and the 172KB oddments also appeared in the usual places, so it is time to start anew.

Eventually, given the addition of LSI U320 drivers, I was able to install XP Pro SP2 on clean, formatted drives. Then, when opening Disk Management to enable the other drives I found out that all four of the drives could be made dynamic. The programme asked me if I wanted to change them. These were the same drives that were made basic in the Dell previously. A reboot was required and, opening Disk Management, one finds that all of the drives are indeed dynamic, the C: drive the only one with an 8MB partition added to it (part of the required OS disk management consequences).

This, as has been discussed earlier this year, had been impossible to do using the XP Pro SP2 version that came on the original 36GB U320 drive.

All that remains is Microsoft Update, and reinstallation of all of the programmes. MS Update produced an original list of 95 security and other necessities.

Nothing has arrived in the mail this week, and it is not that the postal system is that busy just now. We'll have to wait until Monday or later to determine if I can start to upgrade some of the other machines on the network. My purchases should allow me to shift RAM around, and move hard drives from one server to another.

December 2nd., 2007: What is the problem with Outlook 2007? It is installed, as part of the Office 2007 suite, on the white box, the one with the dual Athlon 64 processor, with 4GB PC 3200 DDR DIMMs, and large drives for optimum space, but that doesn't help at all.

Outlook 2007 still won't start properly, and it can't be repaired. Even uninstalling Office 2007 and reinstalling, because repair failed repeatedly, would not cure the unresponsive nature of Outlook.

I have, on the Dell Precision that has been newly updated, and cured of the virus attack and the dynamic drive nonsense, reinstalled Office 2003. Outlook 11 (2003) is now working as it should, and the PST has been re-imported. Shame that one needs to use the older version, but one needs working software.

One of the U320 147GB drives from our good friend, the shady GreatDeals00 boyo, has stopped working properly, giving serious errors when copying data to it. I am running SpinRite 6 on Lancaster, where the drive resides in the newly acquired hot-swap cage, which is the ML350 BDC and, with 4hrs gone, there are only another 876hrs to go on this operation. That's what it says, honest!

This scenario tells me that I will have to build another machine to hold drives that need a SpinRite repair. As I mentioned, the drive is on the BDC (Active Directory Back Up Domain Controller), and how many times can one divide 876 by 24? One hopes that the PDC continues working, which is highly likely, given the known stability of my Compaq ML570.

Well, I stopped SpinRite because I was using level 2, and that would take a month. So, I escaped, rebooted and am running level 1, which should take only a few hours. One should RTFM, what? Somehow, however, I must have escaped the plot, because it told me the total operation would take a mere 7700 hours. That is some serious work going on to take the 11 months that adds up to, what? I will run SpinRite on the Dell that's coming soon. There should be fewer problems running on native U320 LSI drivers? We'll see.

December 3rd., 2007: PayPal is infuriating. The company took ages to respond to a problem with them changing settings without customer options to allow options regarding transactions with vendors. Then, they reply with the usual boilerplate that includes a phone number, but one cannot find the key to talk to a real person. How can one actually clear up, or merely understand the logic behind their position, if one cannot ask proper questions?

December 6th., 2007: Nothing arrived from GreatDeals00 (Best Deals Anywhere) so far. The drive was supposed, by the vendor's promise, to take only 1-3 days to arrive here. That was a statement made in an email from the vendor on November 26th. I have received another drive bought elsewhere in California after this date and it has already arrived and is waiting for a hot-swap tray for installation into Lancaster. It should have had its partner here before now, qué?

Because the latest PayPal email, received late this afternoon, concerning the defective drive and other matters, stated that the trouble ticket would elapse if not dealt with, I placed this blurb this evening in the additional text box of the trouble ticket form:

Hello,
This case has not been resolved to my satisfaction.
a) The replacement drive purportedly sent November 26th., 2007.
b) If I do not receive this drive, and if another one is not sent to make up for the inordinate delays wrt the defective drive, then I shall be contacting eBay and Fujitsu (Canada, US and Japan offices, for which I have received contact details), to hammer out why these drives are listed as Fujitsu, but are in fact ModusLnk, a refurbisher, and why I as an honest, 100% eBayer, was banned on bidding by this vendor. All that did was invigorate my position.
And, as I suspect others had the same action taken, have had my comments hidden from the feedback. This is dishonest activity.
Regards,
Paul Dickins

Also, PayPal has sent me an email that, of course, includes a name but not a phone number. How do they expect to service people without proper interaction? Here's their response about instant transfer fubars:

Dear Paul Dickins,
Hello my name is Jayne, I apologize that you feel your question has not been answered. As I was unable to determine your question from this email, I read through the previous correspondence. In reviewing your account, I see that there were two payments where instant transfer payments from your bank were declined by our statistical model for risk.

PayPal reviews every transaction before it is approved, and occasionally, we must limit funding options for a given payment. All aspects of the transaction, including the merchant's settings and PayPal's statistical models are reviewed in making this decision. From time to time, these complex security measures may affect some accounts in good standing. I regret any inconvenience this may have caused. (Editor's emphasis)

If this is not what you meant by 'payments to vendors that PayPal forces with no warning,' please contact me back with further information so that I can address your additional concerns.

Thank you for being a valuable member of the PayPal community.
Sincerely,
Jayne
Consumer Support
PayPal, an eBay Company

Original Message Follows:
------------------------
Form Message
Customer Subject: Change of payment without customer options
Customer Message: Additional Information:
'Hello,
No good your company sending me a contact phone number if one cannot ever contact someone to actually talk to.
No one has answered my problem with regard to payments to vendors that PayPal forces with no warning.
Plus, some of the statements relating to PayPal actions, for example refunds, do not relate to the actual situation.
Regards,
Paul Dickins'

Clearly, their statistical modelling is faulty, because they must have software taking the decisions based on algorithms the company has decided are useful. I wonder who the mathematicians are, because the parameters are obviously incorrect when dealing with my account. Not only because the transactions are inexpensive, but also because I have a 100% record with eBay.

Then again, back to GreatDeals00, I receive an email (within ten minutes of posting the information about GreatDeals00 shown at the start of today's screed) from PayPal stating that I am being refunded. Where in fact do I stand in all of this? How can the vendor state that he has sent a drive and now states that I will receive or have received a refund?

Well, time will tell about the actual drive, since my PayPal account has been credited for the last two drives I ordered from the company. Good grief!! I will be very surprised if a drive does turn up. If not, then the company personnel lied, but I can see no reason why. It only leads to further problems for them.

December 7th., 2007: The fifth anniversary of the death of my mother. Tempus fugit.

Two items arrived: one worked, one seems destined to fail. The two 1GB ECC 133MHz DIMMs were placed in the IBM and work. The same vendor sent me a 73GB U320 drive which gives me, at boot up, the message that the drive has exceeded the failure prediction threshold. Oh?

Not to worry, not yet. The DIMMs in the IBM released some there to be placed in another machine, a Compaq ML350, Lancaster. That worked, and the latter machine now has its maximum in allowable RAM. 

So, even though I had to invoke Directory Services Recovery Mode to fix an lsass.exe error, after replacing the 36GB with the 73GB (the drive with the error), and use NTBackup to restore the system state, the main server, Cornwall, still works. I shall run SpinRite in level 4 to see if it can fix the start up error for this new drive.

Not that it should matter unduly, since I have, this evening, won a genuine Fujitsu drive off eBay, that will be held to replace today's arrival should it prove unreliable. I ran SpinRite on level 2 and it revealed nothing wrong. I then started a run at level 4, and it will take about 12 hours.

December 8th., 2007: SpinRite ran overnight and into the morning on level 4, checking the drive. The conclusion: no errors. The drive has been running now in the machine for over a day and is not showing any signs of quitting. Here are two relevant images:

Clicking on the above produces an image that shows the health of the drives under Disk Management. Oddment is the EISA partition at the end of the Daffodil drive. Daffodil is the device in question, a U320 73GB replacement for a U160 36GB SCSI drive. The second image shows Device Manager and Daffodil is the Compaq BD0728856A indicated.

There may be a problem with a chip either in the adapter BIOS or in the drive. I shall try to find diagnostic software.
There were two 36GB drives that I wanted to move out of the ML570. The one is standing by, but the other 36GB will be removed when I install Windows 2003 Enterprise and use ASR to enable another U320 73GB installation as the boot/system drive. It's easier to the pocket , since, for example, purchasing the server version of Acronis, though undoubtedly easier to use, would cost about $1,000. ASR (Automatic System Recovery) comes with the OS.

The two 36GB drives will be relocated in Lancaster, the elderly ML350, and the same operations will be carried out. Disk replacement, F8 at the proper time to invoke Directory Services Repair Mode, and Ntbackup will be run to enable a smooth transition from Win2k to Win2003. I'm so pleased that not only did I back up the drive to be replaced but also the system state. That was a critical part of the operation. Had I not done that, then I would have had to reinstall Windows, because AD is difficult to repair at the best of times.

December 9th., 2007: Back to square one: it was necessary to remove the 73GB U320, because of the warning and the fact that it stopped the boot up process every time. The original 36B U160 was put back and, of course, works as well as it usually did. Then, one ModusLnk giving the system fits, a Seagate version was installed as a replacement in Cornwall, the ML570. The RAID array is rebuilding.

Will have to see what the vendor of the HP/Compaq 73GB U320 comes up with. On the other hand, I'll try it in the other Dell to see if native U320 drivers make a difference. Unlikely.

Update: the final ModusLnk that comes up without any model delineation failed today in Cornwall. Therefore, the RAID-5 array had to be rebuilt, but with four Fujitsu/ModusLnk U320 147GB, since none of that size were available. On the other hand, the peculiar U320 72.8GB U320 drive was installed in the cage, and promptly started to behave correctly. It is, as can be seen in this image, next to the newly installed Seagate.

Consequently, I shall have to berate GreatDeals00 once more about the quality of these drives. Not only fake but refurbished badly. It would seem that those that only come up in the SCSI BIOS of any machine I possess with the cryptic ModusLnk designation are of poorer quality than the others.

There are none of these particular drives remaining in my systems. There is an image on November 18th., above, which shows the presence of the ModusLnk that died today. It's the only one there with no other designation.

December 11th., 2007: There have been three, plus the one that replaced another that died, of the score of 147GB U320 drives sold by GreatDeals00 (Best Deals Anywhere) that have failed in the past week or more. There has, of course, been a good reason for me to contact their company again. Notwithstanding that it is too early to expect a reply, if one is indeed to come, I thought it might be instructive to show a few images. This morning, around 0840hrs, I decided to visit eBay and check 147GB drives.

The first image is of some of the drives that were available.
Please note that six, those with the rising sun next to the word Fujitsu, are being sold by GreatDeals over the next few hours. 
Note particularly that every drive image is of the bottom of the article, or the cover has been removed, but in whatever case never is the label apparent.
There will be many more offered by the vendor today and every day, both under this search, and in other areas, such as 73GB drives, with the same failings that are revealed below:



The next two images are of the drive that is fourth from the top in the picture above, from Unity Electronics:

Both images above and below taken from the vendor's page


It is clear that although the drive shown above is nominally Fujitsu, the vendor clearly states that it is refurbished. Note that it says Worldisk on the drive label. That is one of the same type that is shown on all GreatDeals drives that I have received.

Now, look at this image taken from the vendor description for the first, or any other of this vendor's offerings of any date, that shows how he describes his wares:


Here I believe that I have shown verifiable false advertising. Note the clear statement in the blurb that 'We offer top quality merchandise at very competitive prices. You can be confident that you will receive only the best quality products and services from a trusted eBay seller'.

Given that so many of GreatDeals00 drives have failed, I think that they are clearly of inferior workmanship, refurbished as they are. I hope that no more of them collapse: indeed, I would wish that they 'learn' from their compatriots installed in my network of machines.

It does state in the advertisement that it is factory reconditioned and is in like new condition: but that infers official factory, Fujitsu reconditioning, not some sweatshop deep in the once forested Malaysian zone. Also, the Buy It Now price of Only $169.99 is not exactly comparative to the overall intention?

None of the other drives (i.e. not supplied by GreatDeals00) have failed in at least five years. That plainly shows that even if they were used when I took ownership, their reliability is of far greater magnitude.

Off today to CAA, because I had another fubar by PayPal, who charged an item to my Credit Card and not to the preferred monetary source, my bank. That meant that my CC balance was fractionally lower than the charge for my TechNet subscription. I shall have to top off the CC and resubmit my purchase. There is still time to obtain the, $100 off the original $349, promotional offer.

Tuesday, December 18th., 2007: The vendor continues to ignore me, so I am thinking of involving the LA police/sheriff's department. I did, yesterday, regale eBay concerning this scenario of pathetic drive quality. They responded by thanking me, and there may be developments with the 'Jas man'. I do hope so, because even if I can't be refunded what I have so far lost, in kind or in geld, taking his false goods off the market would be a good Christmas present for eBay customers. And for Fujitsu.

I have also, at last, become a TechNet Direct subscriber, after a mistake I made regarding a PayPal transaction delayed the whole thing by over a week. Read the fine print, especially when the algorithms PayPal uses screws up the payment method. I may have mentioned that before, but it is worth repeating.

Stuff from eBay is slow in arriving lately, especially from the USA. An Adaptec 3200s RAID adapter came from Québec today and was in great condition. Made a big difference to my main DC, once I had the drivers installed.

And, now that I have reformatted two computers and reinstalled one with XP Pro OEM, and the other with Win2kAS SP4, the damned virus that killed one machine has now been removed from my network. The malicious software remover, that Microsoft downloads within its updates, simply could not remove what it had found: the detection box ran for a while and then simply hung for as long as I could possibly wait. The message from Win ITPro Mag is this: According to AusCERT, Australia's Computer Emergency Response Team, the top-selling Anti-Virus solutions let in 80 percent of all new malicious code.

My experience bears this out, and all the trumpeting by consumers that Symantec, or any other brand name, works is really total wishing on a star.

Finally for today: I have been on the New York Times blog space and searched there for articles about eBay: what a mess is exposed. One is not so subtly informed never to use the eBay/PayPal system. My own experiences have not given me confidence in the clarity of their procedures.

Wednesday, December 19th., 2007: Old fashioned 73GB U320 drive arrived, but it was fitted successfully in the ML570, even if it was thicker than usual! There are some items yet to arrive from the States. Slowly, they arrive, sliding erratically through the border.

Having, when I reinstalled XP Pro on Oxford, and gone through the Update brouhaha, to make everything current, especially with the 600MB+ Office 2007 SP1 download, I thought that I should check again today. This time, there was only one offering for my white box, Oxford, a hardware update for the AMD Athlon 64 x2 processor. That was installed: and now the machine can't use Explorer.

The machine boots up, one can log on, and most of the desktop appears. Also, the mouse appears, but turns to an hour glass when positioned over the task bar. Nothing appears there. Other than that, nothing happens, and Explorer.exe stalls when trying to reboot. And, even with several reboots the same situation reappears. I have emailed AMD to see if they know about this quirk.

I cannot find anything on the support pages at Microsoft. It's odd that one can access the computer hard drives over the network. So, something works, but something doesn't. And I know not what.

Still don't know what was exactly wrong with the Windows Update, but I have fixed the problem; I went to the AMD site, using another computer and from this URL downloaded the AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual Core Processor Driver Version 1.3.2.0053 for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 (x86 and x64).  Starting Oxford, the White Box, in Safe Mode with Networking, I went to the other machine and ran the executable. After completing the installation, I was able to install the drivers, although the readme file was inaccurate and unclear. Then, restarting the White Box normally, everything came back. What a relief. How do I tell Microsoft? Probably via AMD if they send me an email. I can reply and tell them what I had to do. The need for multiple, networked computers in one's home/office is clear.

Here is the description of the AMD update, which is not particularly helpful:


Naturally, AMD support told me to ask Microsoft what the update was, but searching for this brings up nothing. I think AMD should be aware of what this is and sort it out with MS. All I did was update as requested, expecting the operation to succeed. It, of course, as can be seen by the green arrow, did succeed, but it subsequently made my computer inoperable. There is no Microsoft reference number, and I can't find one that relates to the date given.

Thursday, December 20th., 2007: Nothing heard from Jas man, or from Fujitsu either. However, I shall be phoning the police/sheriff departments of Lancaster and San Jose to determine how someone in Ottawa can deal with crooks in their Californian back yard.

The other thing is that that damned virus came back from, I should think, infected drives on the two computers that I had to reinstall with their respective OS earlier this week. So, when I do it again, because I am not paying for AV software that won't work, or costs the Earth, I shall format every drive before I do anything else. The data repositories on other computers are fine. So, it is simply a matter of installation of OS, programmes, and update, reboot, update, reboot, update, reboot: probably until the New Year. Which is in fact what is happening.

Sunday, December 23rd., 2007: Early morning, still installing Windows Server 2003 Enterprise, because the adprep scenario wasn't trivial, and I discovered that the Schema manager ownership was scrambled. Using ntdsutil I managed to seize the role for one server, and then adprep worked successfully. One server is in the throes of being upgraded, and I shall do the other when I am watching the Association Football game later this morning. Chelsea v Blackburn, and I am rooting for the team that hasn't a billionaire Russian as lollipop man.

The time of year is great if one is waiting for boxes: today arrived another drive, which meant that I could attempt to use ASR to change the boot/system drive. After making sure that I followed the prompts, and that the actual drive was properly installed, ASR eventually completed successfully. I had made the requisite backup just prior to starting the process, and although at times the process slowed to a glacial pace it finally did finish.

The removal of a 36GB U160 HD, from the ML 570 Windows 2003 Enterprise R2 SP2 box, meant that I could try the same process on the ML350, with the same OS. That worked, although the setting up of network services took a very long time. I think that has something to do with the Windows Firewall, a model of frustration. I think that this is a really poor marketing ploy. It may be secure but these computers are on a private network and don't need this blight. Even if one turns of the firewall, it takes for ever to connect, just not what it was with Windows 2000 AS. This newly installed OS, 2003 Server, yet has definite bonuses compared with its predecessor.

Only that, using IE7 with its basic server security level is the worst experience I have ever had with a browser. I had to copy the latest FireFox executable over the network and install it. This browser has its own set of problems, but it doesn't stop to tell you about a security risk several times before one can, for example, reach Microsoft's own TechNet page.

Monday, December 24th., 2007, Christmas Eve: Nothing with this OS is trivial. I am having a steep learning experience, especially concerning network shares. The change to OU containers, and placing the computers into the upgraded Active Directory possibilities helped. However, there seems to me to be a lot I could learn on Christmas Day: nothing else to do, except read. Not that I resent doing that. Several thousand volumes to peruse, and there are some that I must read again. Not everything is learned on the first run round.

Tuesday, December 25th., 2007, Christmas Day: Read, visit a coffee store on my walk, talk to friends, come home, download Office 2007 SP1 for various parts of the overall suite and extract these files to the respective update folders.

Use the form as shown:
File is to be transferred to the particular Update folder, accepting MS licence:
D:\office2007sp1-kb936982-fullfile-en-us.exe /extract:H:\Office2007Ultimate\Updates\
Obviously, D is the source drive of the SP1 file, and one extracts to the Updates folder in the programme folder where you have copied the Office 2007 CD of whatever flavour. Then, one can write to a CD, or install from the share.

Any subsequent installation will look into the Updates folder after it has completed and follow up by installing the service pack files.

Monday, December 31st., 2007: Final day of the year, isn't that obvious? Except that events transpired to have me repair/reinstall/change users/change computer names, etc., etc. of various machines on the network to repair Active Directory. Eventually, using every method that I could think of, I managed to remove AD from the faulty Domain Controller, that was apparently running the domain but couldn't find it. I had to install AD on my ML570, and, before making it a Windows 2003 domain controller, managed to have, sometimes changing a user, sometimes changing a machine name, and sometimes by using the old-fashioned NetBios name for a computer and domain, had every box join the network properly.

All of this took a very long time, until well into yesterday evening, and I was already tired from having to accompany my father to the hospital after he had had a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), a minor stroke to you. That started an 02:45hrs approx on Sunday morning, but we managed to use a taxi back home by 08:00hrs. He had been really poorly, but today, after a poor night, yet feels better.

I had worked on my machines because I simply didn't want to give up and have to reinstall everything again. This machine, was Durham, now Monmouth, because, etc., managed to retain all of its settings, so I shall have to run ASR on it and on every box that seems to be working correctly. Shadow copying might help, too.

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