Technical News and Views from a hole in the ground: 2005
Time Line 2005: page edited: Friday, October 16, 2009
Time Line Base

March 11th 2005: First input of the year. Not that I haven't had a lot of things happen to the computers on the network and some others that exist in other places. In the last couple of days, I have had problems with explorer.exe and could find no answer in Microsoft's Support pages. I tried defragging and this showed some odd files. So, I ran chkdsk, as it is called, and discovered some errors. Now things are back to normal. Funny that the drives are giving grief, but then I remembered that I have had to forcibly reboot hanged programmes lately.

What one can do with minimum resources: I have a volunteer job that has a room in the UNA-C offices locally. We share with Unifem, and they had an old IBM 300PL PIII 500 lying on its side. 'Want that?' I asked. I was told that it was unreliable. So, they would discover if it could be discarded. Eventually, it was. I carried it home in two trips, because they included a free, good quality 17"monitor. Started it up to discover it had a 6GB drive running Windows 98. No wonder it wouldn't work: FAT16, indeed. It had three 64MB DIMMS so I thought it would take Win2K Server. And it has, with almost rock like solidity on NTFS. It's now the fastest machine on my network. Not that it does anything except act as a test bed for learning PHP, Apache and MySQL of one particular variety. Another variety of the same software suite exists on an adjacent machine. One has to turn off IIS on the servers if one wants to learn the proper form for the Apache framework. So, when the fit takes me, I can practice what I slowly learn.

Among other things is that I have been helping out a friend on a new site ( Fun and games for this non-profit enterprise. Helping others with their computers, too. Some for pocket change. The thing is, if one runs MS operating systems, then one has the option to run their anti-spyware and anti-worm software. It works. And, as I keep telling people, keep up with the updates, and install them. It's for your own safety.

To return to the WKOW (UN What kind of World) volunteer job. That old PI 233MHz box would only work after I had, like the PIII above, removed Win98 and installed Win2KPro SP4 on a 6GB hard disk that I donated. Again, NTFS used. After a while someone, and I don't know who, screwed up the OS and/or the hard disk so that the machine was inoperable. So, I removed the hard disk, took it home, and ran SpinRite (Gibson Research) on it for a day or more until it was renovated. It now works as if new, even if the machine is grinding along. As usual, the processor fan needs renewing. I just hope the promise of a refurbished, later and improved machine will be used to replace this dinosaur.

April 21st 2005: Expunged my cell of AT PI boxes lately. Then, in a fit of wastefulness, bought a second-hand Compaq ProLiant 800 Server. This has five SCSI drives, three in a dynamic RAID 5 allocation. Two of the SCSI drives were in the old machine previously named Gloucester on my network. There is also 576MB of ECC RAM, and two 600MHz PIII processors. I had inserted a winmodem, but this took too many resources, for some unknown reason. It worked at first and then stalled forever on downloading the latest version of Acrobat. And, anyway, I should never have wasted my money on one. Subsequently, I found USB drivers for my old US Robotics 56k Fax Modem, and they work. (Mind you, having the modem incorrectly identified on itself did not help.) This enables me to use the modem on any machine with a USB port, and, specifically, for the ProLiant on its serial connection. However, just like the winmodem, I can connect, but cannot surf or ping or do anything past the gateway at the ISP. What needs to be done perhaps, is to find Winternals software that might work. They have some excellent diagnostic tools, but I would really like to buy there serious tools: money, money, money.

The gifs below are of the normally working machine, Cornwall, and of the non-working machine, Gloucester (the ProLiant). Another machine, Rutland, has an old US Robotics Sportster installed, in the same configuration as Cornwall. Again, that has given no grief when accessing the web through its modem, and it has two NICs, just like the others.
I have installed Win2k Server SP4 on Cornwall, with AD working as a GC. The ProLiant is an Advanced Server, with AD and is the PDC. Note that I am still not gainfully employed, and the consequent lack of high speed connectivity is highly frustrating. Not that I haven't helped many people out with their own computer problems, but this one really bugs me, since I have spent hours trying to fix whatever may be at fault.
Click each image to view:
This is both ipconfig and print route from the good machine, Cornwall:
This is Gloucester's ipconfig: and print route: .
Frankly, I don't see anything significantly different. Do you? Except that I have noticed a difference in the routing tables. I put the problem on Mark Minasi's Forum, specifically in the IP Routing section under Default Gateway, etc heading. I wonder how long it will be before it's fixed.

On another note, I have a Promise Technology Ultra 100 Tx 2. This I installed on Cornwall because a PII can't take drives larger than 31GB. However, I removed it immediately because although I followed the instructions implicitly, the box wouldn't start up correctly. Not only that, the drives were inaccessible to the system. Uninstalling, replacing the drives how they were, gave me not a problem on a restart: drives were as I had had them set up originally.

Yet more: two of my three Trinitron-tubed Dell 21" monitors have gasped their last. I acquired a Compaq P110 as replacement for one of them. Fairly good, but a little faded. I am told that the Dell monitors often end up like this, because of cheap power units. Pathetic, really, especially since the ProLiant, named Gloucester, is using my original TVM 15" monitor. That object is two decades old, almost.

Now, having been to the Minasi site and been advised that there were too many default gateways, I removed what seemed proper, and also disabled the Internet NIC on Gloucester. There is still no improvement. Can connect, cannot surf. These are the details:
Gloucester ipconfig and ping on the left, print route to the right
Now, I had indeed tried this previously: disabling the NIC, and that had done no good then and it hasn't now. So, whatever the problem is, it is not too many default gateways, since Cornwall, the machine on which I am typing these words on the page on this site (ie we are connected), works without worrying what gateways or ports are open. Well, it seems to be like that, hein?

And these two more gifs, which show that, when I re-enabled the Internet NIC on Gloucester, Cornwall was unreachable. Then, after I had pinged Gloucester from Cornwall through the ethernet network, the 10.10.10.xx private stuff, Gloucester could, in return, ping Cornwall back but only over the DHCP connection: Something wicked this way comes, especially because I am now receiving messages about my Internet NICs having an unplugged cable every five minutes or so. What? What? What? That must be the previously rearranged setup on the NetGear RT 314 (to do with default gateways). Must redo that and see if it changes anything on Gloucester. Cured the disconnections, but basic problem remains.

April 22nd 2005: Well, just past midnight. Changed the sound card, no better. Changed the COM port, no better. Uninstalled AD and then DNS, no change. Ran SP4, no change. Connected as easily as before, downloads one page, stalls thereafter, always. So, what allows the modem to work, because I can see it sending packets, but it's not receiving any. Bloody strange, given that the other box, same modem, works without a problem. Having two processors a problem? I notice that the lights for the RAID array are on when the modem is connected. Is that significant? At this stage it could be my ancestors calling from the ether. Or, the fact that I recently ran afoul of my estranged wife, and our ill-begotten child. Well, any credulous fool can prognosticate unwisely.

This problem is really strange. Identical set up on each computer for the modem. One works, and pings and tracerts easily managed. On the other, the modem is flashing, the connection is good, and yet cannot ping past the gateway on the ISP end, or reach either of the stated DNS servers. TCP/IP is correct on Gloucester, because local pinging works. Releasing the DHCP NIC enables pinging over the private network. Renewing affects tracert and pinging, so it's something to do with the set up on Gloucester, but what it is escapes me.

Note that removing the DHCP NIC, or disabling it, or switching the NICs, does NOT cure the problem. Gloucester is fine on the private network, using TCP/IP, but is stuck at the ISP gateway, seemingly forever.

April 23rd 2005: The packet rate for the modem when checking status is diametrically opposite between the two machines. On the working box, the receiving rate far exceeds transmission. On Gloucester, the slow, slow, slow receiving box, the rate is clearly opposite. What is holding the receiving back? I can't determine the problem with Network Monitor, since that itself drops frames. TCP/IP frame size or other technicality is the source of the problem? Perhaps.

April 27th 2005: Out damned spot, and other phrases. Gloucester has not been able to download anything but one page. Routing and Remote Access shows that the connection is unknown, is non-operational and doesn't allow TCP connections: as if I didn't know that. Here are two gifs of the dial-up status and the appropriate RRAS visuals:

It seems as if TCP/IP is wrong for this connection, well of course, but how is it so? Basically, it's the connects that are failing, and the inability to ping past the gateway is why. But, what is the cause? Nothing I have done can cure this. The NICs are working, especially now that the "Web" Netelligent has been given a fixed address.

May 2nd 2005: Given up for the moment on trying to gain internet access for Gloucester. Have, on the other hand, played around with Active Directory, since it is still in mixed mode, with the introduction of an old PI, an IBM 350 Personal Computer, that has 128MB of SIMMs. It, when I re-installed Win98SE, because it couldn't take Win2kPro, could see the network, but the machines on the network couldn't see it. This was finally corrected with both the AD client installation, and a rename of the machine. Because it had been a Win2k box for a short time, AD had had a NetBios problem with the naming/OS combination. Renaming the machine, and deleting the account from AD Users and Computers eventually fixed the problem. I have an old USB 3Com NIC, that only works with Win98, so that will go on the DHCP end of things, attached to the Nexland Pro400 internet router, that I picked up for CA$10.

June 18th 2005: It has been an odd week. I had gone to NetNation's site to check on what my friend George has a plan for at and, just because I could, I checked what is now offered for my own pair, hosted by them in Vancouver. What I discovered led me to approach NetNation to have changes made. This site should be, according to my calculations, some 40% cheaper and double in MB, if I were to pay the charges for their current offering for ProWin, which is what my plan is called.

Equally, it seemed that my other site, Power Linux, had been changed by so much that I wouldn't need it at this time, and it would be better to have their Pro Linux offering. This would still be 800MB cf 500MB and 40% of the current monthly cost.

Both sites would have other associated improvements.

Unfortunately, nothing runs smoothly, does it? Firstly, the changes to were such that my main email was deleted. That was eventually cured when I learnt about the different email programme requirements. But then, and don't forget this company primarily exists to host web sites, I couldn't open mine. Nothing I tried worked. I discovered, by going to the updated management pages, that FrontPage server extensions were apparently not installed. I was eventually told that they were broken. Another snafu was that the subwebs disappeared. I suddenly realised that they had been changed to folders and it took some time to replace the main one that I needed.

Now, my opinion is this: if it is a Windows server, and it was, previously running under Windows 2000, and I had had the server extensions installed by them several years ago, then it should have been an automatic decision to verify everything was normal after the upgrade. This had not apparently been done, and certain parts of the old options are unfinished for the new version at this time.

What it means is that I have had to download my entire site, and there is something strange going on that is causing very slow publishing from the new Windows Server 2003 machine that my site is now hosted on. Luckily, FP 2002 has the ability to restart if one cancels the publishing at any time. Date stamps and such-like details. So far I have probably downloaded about 35% of my site. Other things that I have done, like download 9.1MB of software from the Microsoft Update site only took a short time, even on my 45kps connection.

And now to talk about the billing people have been kind enough to downgrade my plan. But, although the cost has been improved, it's now far cheaper, the site itself is smaller and the management system is still the old one. I had thought, etc., as my emails to NetNation have indicated (and see below), that I would be given what their advertisements tell one to expect.

What I have just proved to myself, by saving this page, and then beginning the FP publishing to this computer, is that some files always have to be saved again. Well, it asks about that, and then it begins to download those pages one has newly created or edited. When that has been done, it continues with the needed "corrections" to my site. At one stage yesterday, FP stalled when it told me that it couldn't publish because the file was altered by me!! Well, what it said was that my username and password (which is what allows me to log on to this network) was the owner of the file, and therefore it couldn't continue. The download immediately terminated. It necessitated a reboot to fix this botheration.

Another thing is the error produced by publishing from the new system, on their Windows 2003 server. Every time I do that I receive this error, and I don't know why, because I have checked and it should not happen:

Now to compare: I connected, through their Live Chat software, to SoftCom, Toronto, who host, and discovered that I could change/upgrade my plan immediately, through their/my management page. I did, and increased my site size from 150MB to 1.5GB for the same price. Not only that, but my emails did not change (admittedly stayed on the existing mail programme), and I have other new software options there, new things to play with. The upgrade took effect immediately, which I proved by logging out and back in.

And yet I am still waiting to hear from NetNation about the problems with .ca and .com. One is astonished, is not one!

Here are the emails that I sent yesterday evening to NetNation, to support and to billing:
First one:

I had gone to this page: to determine what packages were available, and because of the improvements shown had decided to downgrade to the Pro version instead of the Power version I had been paying for. (I have had email discussions with Shannon in Billing, and also with Support about errors that occurred in the upgrade).
Having been emailed a billing change today, I went to the account manager and determined that is still on the old management version. I had thought that it would be on the new version, and would be managed on the same page that is now used for, namely:

So, I had thought that 800MB and the other improvements would have arrived for and not the change from 500 to 300MB as is shown on the old management page here:

Could you advise me what I should have expected to happen? The site for .com is on the new management system, and I had thought, as is shown on the shared-linux page, that .ca would be there, too.

Second one:

This is a polemic on my part. Given the updates to (ProWin) and the snafu with the FP extensions having been broken, not by me, and then this never ending download, at very slow speeds, of my site to my computer, well, why am I not being given a voucher for a month or so?
The time I have wasted so far, if I were to be paid at the rate that anyone there is (not that I would know, having been out of work for far too long), would ensure a free week in Bermuda, or at least a 4GB flash drive.
The download starts and stops and stutters, and when I am tired of it, luckily FP2002 will not forget what it has downloaded to that time, I can start again, but never at the same point. There is no rhyme or reason for this, and I am disappointed that NetNation was not aware of the possibility of problems (and email changes were not clearly researched, either). One comment to me a few days ago on the phone was that the FP server extensions often break. However, that has not happened once before in my history with NetNation on (which has been hosted with you since 1997, I believe).
Please allow me to be somewhat upset. After all, your site states that you listen to your customers!!
End of emails

Late Saturday evening, early Sunday, and so far no response: NetNation professes 24/7 support. Yet Hark! on Sunday morning, 19th., I received an email apology from Support which included a request to contact Sales, which I have done (including referencing this page).

Below are two paragraphs that are shown on the NetNation Products and Services page. At times I have received excellent service, but the "improvements" indicated below that have been incorporated into my .com site make me wonder what the advertised boasts are based upon:

Shared Hosting
All shared hosting plans now come with Unlimited Bandwidth*, and include our 24x7 award-winning live technical support, free web builder, a sophisticated web-based control panel, and the CleanMail anti-virus and anti SPAM system. Find out why 300,000 customers host with us.

E-mail Services
Do you need more email accounts with your own domain name? No problem. NetNation’s E-mail Plans give you the extra accounts you need to send and receive email from your own domain.

Raphael's Fornarina: this lady is someone that he is now thought to have secretly married. The Pope would not have been amused, as the story relates.

June 22nd., 2005: Late last night I uploaded from my computer to a temporary URL related to the upgrade of my ProLinux hosting service. This morning I uploaded the subwebs related to that site. The reason is that NetNation has allowed me to join my two domains on the same, new management package, and they are very similar now to each other. Both have 800MB space allotments, and the same mail software and so forth. Isn't that nice. Obvious difference of OS, but that's by choice.

Finally, assuming the upgrade completes smoothly and everything goes well with the necessary changes in Outlook messaging (and at least I have had the experience of the new system with then the two free months that I have received is a nice bonus. Squeaky wheel, I suppose.

I spoke this morning on the phone to Support, and told them that I had uploaded .ca to the temporary URL, and that they can now transfer my site to the new server. At 17:38 EST this had not been done. On the other side, I find that there is some latency at this end, to the Cyberus boxes, when I tracert to either site I host with NetNation. This might be part of the problem, given that opening and uploading a few files just now to .com took a long time. I do hope that this problem disappears soon. Perhaps is a word I would rather not use.

June 24th., 2005: Today, the upgrade of .ca starts, and my emails have been corrected, at both ends. So, given that the .com downloads eventually ended after the total of around two weeks of wait, wait and wait. Time to cost out a faster connection, which I do think is possible, now that these two domains hosted by NetNation have been made much cheaper to rent.

June 28th., 2005: Still no go. Here is a page showing recent emails, showing the history with this problem. I can receive emails from the new email setup, obviously nothing to do with what, one wonders? Nothing, nothing, nothing.

June 29th., 2005: Today are the final and 3rd place games for the FIFA Confederations Cup. So, I'm watching the games as I do this. First, the 21"Compaq P110 monitor I bought recently has died. So, I moved down the ADi 17" from another machine, and that's because it will run at 1600x1200. Done that and then in compensation, opened in FrontPage this morning. So, I created a page and updated its link, and decided to publish. Fat chance, because I received this error message:

Click on it to read it. So, will have to hunt Microsoft to see if it's recognised, or is it a result of the broken extensions snafu? And, therefore?
Well, the cure was the second option on this page:;en-us;892747.

Well, now, I was able to publish and it took only a short time, relative to what had happened with the first download of subsequent to the recent NetNation changes. Clearly, the corruption of the files that purportedly caused the error was not at this end, because publishing always worked prior to the changes. The failure of the extensions was at NetNation. But now, with luck, all of this should be a thing of the past, at least until my requirements change again. What a thought!

So, a feeling of relief. on Windows seems to have a different set of files to download/update each time it is published. And, the log files sometimes indicate that they have failed to complete, says FP2002, whatever that means, and sometimes not, when it stays quiet. Except that, generally, changes that I have made to files are shown on the NetNation site and in my home computer folder view. There is a fundamental difference between the two sites hosted by NetNation, which I shall have to take care to educate myself about: Windows v Linux.

June 30th., 2005: Not perfect yet: I deleted the web services folder files that mentioned That did not prevent this error message from occurring:

This is a file with today's date, and should have been copied without a problem? Of course, having to find out what errors mean is not always easy. Gloucester still unable to connect to the internet. The second-hand Compaq P110 monitor failing on restart, and I will have to find two monitors now to fill the void. At least the ADi works, although the image fades after a while, although not by much. Usable, in any case, and at 1600x1200 the print is certainly small but visible to me.

July 6th., 2005: Well, things are getting better for the two sites. Had a good chat with Support and cleared up matters about file and folder structure differences with Today, have deleted folders on the published (down to my computer) folder, because they were not deleted automatically by the FP2002 programme. When opening, through NetNation Account Manager, the web tool FTP, I discovered that I could not delete any files/folders outside the www folder. Strange, and NetNation did that for me. It seems that everything should work properly, and I still don't have to use www in front of the usual URLs for either of my domains hosted at NetNation. Here, at NetNation on the Windows 2003 server, is seen the folder structure shown by the FTP client:

Clearly there are, other than administrative folders, no _underscored folders outside the www folder shown. And, their equivalents have also been deleted from the home computer drive. The folders shown in the gif above are not revealed by FP2002 when the site is opened. This is presumably part of the upgrading done by NetNation: that was confirmed in an email I received from NetNation (having told them I couldn't delete files outside www (above)).

July 20th., 2005: Things have been better with the sites, except that I have not been able to open a subweb which is the test bed for RPM Music Weekly: this is a gif of the FP2002 error which I always receive, even if NetNation tell me that they can open it without a problem:

NetNation state that this is a 'lock' file and shouldn't cause a problem. Well, it does, and what the hell are file permissions when at both ends of the internet the relevant authorisations must have been correctly set up?

Here is what was posted on on a page that I could edit, until today, July 22nd., when I could paste this here, which shows that at last the .com site can be edited/altered:

Web Problems: July 21st., 2005: FrontPage 2002 problems:
Could not, recently, open, a subweb, because of a service lock error. NetNation were advised and have told me that it was being looked at.
Today, could not open the main domain, although was accessible through the Internet. That was after I received the same error in FP2002 for the subweb.
This is the error message, the details follow:

What I have also discovered is that the server extensions are broken for since the hit counter on is not working.

Now, the strangest thing: I have FP2002 open on my computer, with the local copy of a web. I then went to recent files, and thought I should try to open the file listed below. It did, but in the local web. Normally, the actual website would open. When I immediately tried to open, it again failed with the error shown above. What the hell is going on?

I am completely fed up with the series of problems that have been going on, and have mainly been listed on this page and the link shown below. Rats, rats, rats. It is time to think seriously of following up my threats to move my sites to another hosting company.

If growth shown by NetNation has affected their ability to control changes, and otherwise implement them correctly, then what steps are being done to effect a remedy? After all, I asked that names should be given in emails to me by the Support staff. This is not done and I wonder why. Do the management team have records of what was done and by whom?

The usual problems/news page is found here:

July 22nd., 2003: This is becoming serious, and is a sign that the support system at NetNation is in disarray. Why, two days after reporting this, can I not open my main site? The error shown in the gifs above continually appears. Yesterday, and again last night, and again this morning.

If this is what is happening with my site, how many others have the same problems. This inefficiency, the errors, and the two weeks that it took to download the site after the upgrade are signs that support staff is not being trained properly, or is having problems that were not expected with upgrades and other changes. This is happening only with MS 2003 Server machines, because my other upgrade, at first had problems, but has settled down, as this page shows, since it is available for me to edit on this site. Downloading is fine with only a couple of issues relating to saving of themes and other MS documents.

Again, I can open the TimeLine page given above in this FP2002 web ( that is open for editing on my machine at my home. All the illustrations are shown that are on the page. I cannot save it, of course.

Here is the error and the line I had entered and tried to save:

The July 22nd., 2005 line is what I entered, and the FP error is shown, which allies with the ones shown above.

End of posting of latest information and an indication that things have improved. The subweb can be opened, too, which was the beginning of the last bunch of snafus.
The last thing is that publishing to my computer has not, repeat not, required the slow, totally frustrating download of the whole site as had to be done previously.

August 6th., 2005: One wonders why both NetNation and SoftCom ( never inform their customers when drastic improvements, nearly always associated with much reduced costs, arrive.

It would seem to me that this is tantamount to gouging. I have been traversing the web determining comparative costs for web hosting. Lots of companies seemingly have cheaper options. What is not clear, immediately, is whether they have efficiency, good equipment and customer support, and appropriate software for anyone's needs for the given prices.

That is why I will not make a quick decision on moving my sites. I have not been happy with the responses to my emails, and the last, which elicited a phone call to me, did not result in any answer referring to my request for cost reductions. Do they think that the squeaky wheel has been oiled? Not just yet.

August 9th., 2005: Apropos the gouging comment above, I have been thinking about demanding a refund. Would NetNation ever have informed me that things were cheaper? Perhaps discover a legal opinion?


August 20th., 2005: Now to relax somewhat. Have moved over both and to SoftCom, or MyHosting, or however they wish themselves to be named. Easy enough, and much cheaper, and with a lot more space, including three 500MB free Linux, based on Debian, subwebs to play with. That will take time to research, but the options are nice and include MySQL, PHP, Apache, etc.

August 23rd., 2005: Mostly uploaded my old stuff; noting that the pages do not look exactly like they used to because FP2002 won't include how you had your pages when it uploads to a new site. Whatever, that will slowly, slowly be corrected. Now:


I had an email from a Convergys staff member about a week or so ago, and now that I have stopped laughing, I'll show you what he said. This is from someone who has not yet determined what their lawyer asked me to remove, simply a page that had staff information. I had forgotten about that, and the lawyer, somewhere in Ottawa (although I cannot find the old email (I do remember the details) to find his name and company, except that it may have been a telephone call), had told me that that was all that they were concerned about. What price free speech? The number of people who have left Ottawa's Convergys company would fill the country's military requirement. The number of people who have told me that Convergys is a poor company to work for is significant. So, here cometh the email:

      Paul, I am writing to you as a follow-up from prior communications from our legal council regarding the inappropriate use of my name on your personal website <>. It was my belief that such references were eliminated a few years back, however it appears that is not the case.
Either you failed to ensure it was removed, hidden, or otherwise unavailable, or have reactivated it, and it now appears at the following address...
Rather than have you receive communications from our lawyers once again, or the legal actioning of this matter, I am politely asking that you remove this document from your website entirely so that such mistakes are eliminated in the future.
Thank you, and I look forward to your cooperation on this matter. Please confirm with me via email once this has occurred.
B***e W******t

Now then, it isn't there, hasn't been for a while, but it is around somewhere for those that would like to know. And, I refuse to contact someone who writes to me in such a familiar manner. I demand to be referred to as Sir, or Mister, or Esquire to clowns such as these. Not that I will bother communicating. Can't be bothered with incompetents. This person is purportedly a professional and is a member of OHRPA, not that they seem to have an adequate disciplinary committee.


To return to other things: my Compaq ProLiant 800 is working better now that I finally obtained two brackets from Retro Computers. These pieces were used to place the boot up SCSI drive up near its adapter. The two second hand SCSI drives I had held in reserve are now installed. One of the older drives, on the Adaptec 2940U/UW was removed and placed in another machine, Oxford. Its place was taken by a 10k drive, twice its size, running off one of the two Symbios 875XSJD built-in adapters. Another drive was added to the RAID5 array, so that I now have a 25% cushion and not 33% using three drives. Much better, and more storage.

As I mentioned, I took the spare SCSI drive and put it in Oxford. By playing with Partition Magic and other stuff, this Win2kPro box now has a better arrangement of drives and works somewhat smoother, too.

September 16th., 2005: On September 1st., I received this email:

Paul, as a confirmation regarding the item below, I have not yet heard from you as to your intentions to ensure permanent removal of this content.
I will look to hear from you in writing prior to September 7th, 2005 or I will be escalating this to our legal council.
Thank you,
B****e W******t

Yet again, bombast from boobies (and if you don't know what a booby is, well then). Of course, I allowed the date to pass, and it now being another week or so, nothing has so far appeared in my mail, or email, or any other mindless threat. Draw your own conclusions.

September 21st., 2005: Yesterday, I took a long walk across Ottawa to visit an acquaintance and fix his computer problems. The main thing was the clash between two points on his hard drive that the software was trying to access simultaneously. That was eventually cured, as well as the BIOS problem of not having a hard drive and having one. Then, because IE 6 for XP Pro SP2 was totally screwed: entering data into a text box, accessing the Microsoft Update page, or other sites with active areas caused immediate crash of IE and a desire to send an error report to Microsoft. That always failed to complete.

After finding that making IE the default browser, in preference to FireFox quietened things down somewhat, we went to the Contact Us page at Microsoft. There one is told to phone an 800 number. That event was unsuccessful as soon as they discovered that we were in Canada, not the US of A. Then, after having been given a Canadian 800 number, we found that inapplicable as it was not a support number, but were forwarded to a supposed technician. I tried to tell him that IE was crashing accessing the pages that I mentioned above. What this person was fixated upon was the mention of Windows update. He said that there were no technicians anywhere that supported Windows Update. I could not make him grasp that that was an ancillary problem to the fact that because IE did not work we could not update the computer. I put the phone down. Having been going to Tools, Windows Update on the IE menu, this "technician" asked if I had tried Start, All Programs, Windows Update. That, naturally, produced the same crash and error message. Our foreign techie then stated that we could find the error message number under a C:\Windows sub folder. This was not true. Not the best experience.

Eventually, I discovered a possible fix, after trawling the Web, and hope that this works. We shall see. But what a useless reaction from a techie that was clearly not on the same continent as we were. Not enough said about that, perhaps.

One of the things I have discovered about the Microsoft site is that there is no easy way to lay a complaint: the Contact Us pages do not have anywhere to indicate displeasure, or other matter that may or may not be significant. It's not as if MS thinks it's perfect, but having nowhere to announce displeasure is not good for their reputation. And MS needs to have its reputation enhanced: it's bad enough having Ballmer the Noise Blaster in charge.

October 3rd., 2005: Idiots from NetNation asking for more money, but I am awaiting their response to my threat of taking them to small claims court: silence since my last email mentioned that option. After all, I had paid up to date before leaving their hosting service, so what is the latest month's demand based upon?

Was able, last week, to buy another ProLiant 800 from Retro Computers on Bronson at Gladstone, Ottawa. This box is the same one that provided the rails I needed in Gloucester, the first of the pair. I was lucky in that the "spare", costing only $50, has provided me with 512MB of Kingston RAM and this was placed in Gloucester, together with one of the two Compaq SCSI-3 Ultra-Wide 10K 9.1GB drives that also came along.

This has produced an amazing difference in Gloucester. I made this machine the PDC in my network, and demoted one of the others to Member Server. The 1GB RAM, and the 10k boot/OS drive (that replaced the old 6.4GB SCSI-2 now relegated to a Win2kPro machine) has made the machine much, much quicker. AD opens almost instantaneously, not like it had been doing on my old servers. One Compaq PII remains as a BDC, but that will be demoted when I can afford to fill up the "new" ProLiant ( needs four more drives, 1GB RAM, CD-ROM, monitor, etc.). Then, the new box, to be named Devon, will replace Rutland, the current BDC, which will revert to normal Member Server usage, working purely on MS Office work in Access, Excel, etc.

One problem I had was hair-removal time. I had backed up the C: drive in Gloucester, so that I could restore when I had installed a basic Win2kAS SP4 onto the replacement drive. That failed miserably, even though I had verified the back-up. The RAID 5 array was imported easily using Disk Management on the "foreign" drives. Followed that with installation of all of the old programmes and Active Directory, together with DNS. Now things are running much more smoothly. I really am looking forward to having Devon as the BDC: will make everything more secure. And then, it's possible I'll introduce Win2003. Maybe.

October 27th., 2005: Several days, at least, spent trying to cure a problem with Outlook 2003. First of all, down came a scam email from Barclays Bank, UK. Now, I did not open it, but things thereon became perilous. No possibility of using the delete box, and Contacts became void, along with several emails that came in at the same time as BBUK. Just copying the email to the delete box made it unusable.

Running scanpst.exe failed repeatedly at Stage 7. Running chkdsk on several drives proved problematic, too. Stop errors on rebooting were common. Eventually, after removing the Promise Ultra 100 card and rejigging the BIOS status, I was able to reboot without a Stop error. Scanpst.exe remained useless. So, I copied over another, old PST file and had Outlook use that. This worked, but the Contacts were still fouled up. I then ran scanpst.exe and it worked. So that cured the Contacts problem. Thinking that having run chkdsk that the drives were running correctly, as verified in Disk Management, I then ran scanpst on the previously used corrupted Outlook file, and it worked. Amazing. I then imported this PST into my old/new PST file and that worked. So, apart from a few ruined emails, everything is back to normal.

What I think is related is the use of hard drives which are too large for the BIOS. Those were the only drives available at Computer Supply House at the time. Disk sizes have increased exponentially of late. And now there's SATA. So, whenever I can afford it, I shall move the whole of this computer into a P4 or better. Then, with drives working well within the P4's BIOS limits, there should be little likelihood of the charade of checkdisking this machine to death.

November 7th., 2005: I would really like to find someone who has done a successful backup. Using the tool in Accessories\System on my Windows 2000 Server SP4 + Roll-up main Internet connection machine, Cornwall, has been unsuccessful. Even told me that the files it had copied back were strange files that Windows was unaware of. Accepting this, and having the system try to repair itself was another waste of time. See below.

As in Gloucester, the backup failed, even though I ran it several times to different machines, just to check. The BIOS on Cornwall, a PII IBM, cannot run hard drives larger than 31+ GB. I found a cheap second-hand 30GB drive at Retro Computers, (where I will be going again this week, since I have found enough money to replace my old, old NEC 6FG 21"monitor that died on Sunday. I saw the monitor flashing and giving the same appearance as those other Dell 21" boxes that failed earlier this year.)

Anyway, returning to backup problems. I ran through what MS asks one to do about transferring everything to a new machine/replacing a hard drive, viz KB249694. Back up, install new instance of W2kS, and restore backup and expect things to work. Fat chance.

When checking the files in the backup compared to those on the original, too large drive, I found many, many important files had been missed. They were not in the report offered on completion any trial of the backup. What could possibly go wrong, apart from this mismatch and the strange files snafu, which is to do with Windows File Protection: KB222193.

The KB24964 article mentioned is something one has to peruse microscopically, because it's easy to make mistakes. Thank goodness I kept the drive intact that I wanted to replace: normally it was easy to put it back so that I could do my normal surfing and newsgathering. I've done this some dozen times, trying to do something that should be easy. Backup does not work properly, restore fails miserably. Partition Magic and similar don't work because . . . . .

Ghost won't work either because the drive I wish to remove is larger as formatted under the BIOS controls, than the wished for replacement. Symantec and others have partitioning software, but, as I may have mentioned, they reckon no home users run servers, so my attempt to use their latest software has always failed lately. Something to do with E-Z drive. What?

 The difference in purchase price between home and server versions, for partitioning or volume control, is astronomical, and way out of my range.

November 29th., 2005: What a couple of weeks! Two machines gone, because of machine flaws, or maker policies.  I had one machine, Durham, which was a PIII 500 IBM 300PL. It was working well enough, even with 192MB RAM, to learn MySQL, Apache and PHP.

However, my main connector, Cornwall, was afflicted with several problems, probably owing to a virus attached to an email that an acquaintance sent me, stating that his machine had been attacked by a virus attached to an Instant Messenger transmission. So, it came in and blew my machine up. Disk problems, networking problems, processor problems. So, the end of Cornwall as an effective machine.

I moved Oxford, my sole Win2kPro box, into its rôle as connector to the world, and tried to rebuild Cornwall. That failed, so I moved its RAM to Lancaster. That caused an IBM error 176, the sole fix for that being a replacement of the motherboard. The message was:  “176 The system has been tampered with. Turn power to your system off and then on. Your system has now been locked.” Going to my pdf folder, I discovered the answer in the IBM documentation for 300PL systems.

Later on, I gave away Lancaster's RAM and processor. I then tried to rebuild Cornwall, but the BIOS was screwy and I could never reboot past the F1 stage. It simply hung there for as long as I was prepared to wait. So, I took the spare drives, moved the CD-RW box, and put in the only RAM I had that would work (3 x 128MB 100MHz DIMMs) and added the processor, PII 400MHz, from Durham, which had corrupted drives. So, new processor and the ROMPAQ on the floppy enabled me to install a new copy of Win2kS, and, and, and , , , , ,

Simply obvious to me that I will have to save and spend on adding new stuff to my secondary ProLiant 800, and obtain a machine with a BIOS that will take large drives. Then I can restart my learning of PHP and ancillary matters.

December 23rd., 2005: The miracle of Christmas indeed: I now have a nominal 3Mb/s internet access. The previous dial-up connection is scheduled to stop today. I was advised that Carleton/Eisa were quitting their dial-up, except on campus, a couple of weeks ago. When I talked to my father about this he asked me how much high-speed cost. I researched around and saw an article in a local computer magazine, The Monitor, about NCF. This is a local Ottawa organisation, a non-profit, allied among others with the Ottawa Library, that helps to connect people over the internet. So, there was an article about a new adsl service. This is what I obtained yesterday, and my father is paying for it. Wow!! The plan helps me look for work, as I learn and help others.

In the snow, and crazy drivers, I walked over to Carleton, to 402 Dunton Tower, and picked up the Thomson 546 modem, which is set up for faster speed algorithms as they arrive. The connection to the internet was automatic and the only problem was that the username and password I had been given was incorrect. An email response fixed that. Going through the setup I checked the firmware automatically with the links for the SpeedTouch, and they are the latest. Easy and fast.

The problems that arose were only discovered by running ipconfig and checking everything. My home network has been running in the private 10.x.x.x range and so was the Thomson. This prevented me connecting over the internal LAN since three computers were on a switch connected to the Thomson, and this one is connected directly. I have two NICs in each computer: this keeps the WAN NICs TCP/IP set on DHCP, at its cleanest: no sharing on these. When I changed the LAN NICs' dotted quads to the private range, everything recovered to its normal state and my LAN shows itself under Windows Explorer as the internal domain, together with its members.

That was the only real problem: other than the time spent installing all the thirty or more upgrades from Microsoft, together with Ad-Aware, Spybot and MS Anti-Spyware. The latter found two nasty little objects on my PDC, Gloucester, and removed them. Cornwall, the remaining IBM PII, failed on the update.exe that was running. Reboot, redo Windows Update, and that worked.

So, I imported a bookmark.htm into all of the updated browsers, and now everything is rosy, except that there is an ownership/source to objective problem with FrontPage 2003 between my sites and my computers. Downloading from was running at 1kb/s and nothing I have done can cure this so far. Play with this at Christmas time, probably: there's nothing else to do, except continue with teaching myself PHP, MySQL and Apache. Trivial, what!

December 24th., 2005: This problem with FP2003 is strange. When I had finally updated mattoidCOM, and then edited a page, I found that the publishing rate rose to approximately 20KB/s. This was not maintained, but indicates that FP2003 is comparing files in large batches, or perhaps the whole site, as it downloads the altered pages. This has happened on mattoidNET, which I am now watching as it again transfers at 1KB/s from Toronto to Ottawa.

December 26th., 2005: The FrontPage 2003 problem has been cured. I had not changed the option under publishing in the Remote Web Site Box when starting to publish, or the Optimize Published HTML box if that is already open. The default was to compare files, and simply clicking on time stamp as the preference was the answer.

Here is the Remote Web Site Properties option that I now use. What one should do is RTFM, shouldn't one?

I had been tearing my hair out, and posted this on Mark Minasi's site.

The other thing that the HP site which has subsumed Compaq asked me to fill out a survey.

I have had problems finding an updated RomPaq for my Compaq EN Desktop, which has a number not included in the list on their site. I discovered that the system ROM, 686T3 applies to my 6847 model under the 6450+ software updates.

Then, down the road, at Retro Computers was a Compaq SCSI tower, one old 3092 box. Cannot find anything on it whatsoever, and I have decided that HP is removing any information on older goods. This is a shame, because a lot of good stuff lies around that one could use, especially if one is poor. My two Compaq ProLiant 800 machines (one in the process of being put together) could use a RAID storage box attached to them, even if the drives are "only" UltraWide SCSI2. Good enough for lots of work. I am not a rich person, and finding these perfectly usable items is really useful.

Anyway, the HP survey asked for my opinions on their site, and what were my reactions. As you could easily guess, I am not too happy. The answers for the 800 line have some applicable pdfs, if one can search long enough, and they have been helpful indeed. But not having proper search engines and incorrect links does not help. Both HP and Microsoft need to work on their search engine programmes. The inability to find correct answers to one's questions is frustrating. Try putting Compaq ProLiant 3092 storage into the search engine and so much superfluous nonsense results that makes it impossible to find if there is anything apposite there at all. It is a StorageWorks RAID tower and can be found by Googling to places wanting to sell bits and pieces. Nothing on the HP site, sadly.

December 28th., 2005: Rutland, the Compaq EN desktop machine, was being used as a back-up domain controller, but for some reason kept locking up. I decided to turn Cornwall, an IBM PII 400MHz box into a domain controller, and demote Rutland thereafter. Adding Cornwall and ensuring it was a DNS server was a no-brainer. Rutland wouldn't demote itself however, not finding a computer to relieve its duties to. Thinking about it, a problem in itself, I realised that I hadn't removed the 10.x.x.x parts of the LAN domain from DNS on the PDC, Gloucester, a ProLiant 800. Having done that and changed all the relevant NICs TCP/IP properties on machines throughout the network, I then was able to demote Rutland. It is now working fine, and I think that the Promise Ultra 100tx2 is the faulty item. As soon as I can place these larger drives into a different machine (which has a BIOS able to take larger drives), then I shall remove that PCI monstrosity asap. It has an EZ-drive on it, a defunct chip, that was part of the Zip and Jaz drives from Iomega. The network is now running much better, after having cleaned up the protocols.

  back to the top