The Midnight Writer - April 1996
by Mike Lloret
As I sit listening to Bob Seeger ("He saw that face and he lost all control."...nice line...), it strikes me that this has been a month of escalations and beginnings for me, in about equal numbers. It's hard to construct a well-integrated column from that sort of material, so this month I'll describe some of the sea shells and driftwood, and leave the view of the beach for another time. Early in the month the floppy drive in The Beast started misbehaving. Since I've installed Win95 in such a way that using Windows 3.11 requires booting from a floppy disk, I'm happy that floppies can still be read as before, but for some reason writing to them is no longer possible. They're all seen as write-protected, regardless. I haven't had the time to take a screwdriver to The Beast and see what can be done, but I have a feeling there's a new floppy drive in my future.
There's a new hard drive to go with it. After shifting everything I could spare from my 540MB IDE C: drive to an MO cartridge, I had about 30MB free space left on it. On the 1GB SCSI D: drive (the one I thought I'd never fill), I had 3MB free. Since I believe the latter drive's demise is imminent, I've acquired a new IBM 2.1GB SCSI drive. Todd Boyle did me a very great favor indeed by buying it for me, along with a couple of power splitters, since I've run out of power cables in The Beast, too. I expect to install the new drive tomorrow...ah...make that today — it's going to be dawn soon — after finishing up this issue of the AJ, and I'll probably end up replacing the floppy drive while I'm at it. In fact, it looks as if I'll have to: the BIOS upgrade I downloaded from Gateway 2000 appears to require installation from a floppy disk, and I'll have to write it to once from my hard drive.
While I've got the case open, I guess I'll remove the Colorado 250MB tape drive. I replaced it a while back with a Conner Travan 400MB one (800MB compressed) which is working beautifully, but I left the Colorado in its bay, disconnected. I'll put the new HDD in its place and either sell the Colorado drive or see if it can find a new home in Beauty, the 486DX4-100 at the other end of the computer table.
Win95 and the World Wide Web are largely responsible for the rapid filling up of the gig disk. I have to keep Win 3.11 in order to use the CD-ROM changer I need for quick access to MS Publisher, HiJaak, et al., and while Win95 recognizes the jukebox, it won't run with the driver provided by ICM, the changer's manufacturer. A fax asking about a driver for Win95 got an answer telling me that their driver wouldn't work with Win95, and yoroshiku...I knew that. Since I want to have a 16-bit version of Netscape for 3.11 and a 32-bit one for Win95, I've got both taking up space, and since I've been experimenting with making a home page, I have a flock of graphics files as well as two shareware editors, WebEdit (really easy to use) and HoTMetaL (not so intuitive, IMO).
I found that the Web page editing features in Netscape Navigator Gold, although not so easy for designing, are great for post-editing. I was having problems getting some of the graphics on my page to appear properly, and running them through Gold's editor fixed all but one of my problems automatically. It's easy to toggle between edit and browse mode, so you can see just how it'll look, at least when viewed with Netscape.
The final problem I was having with the page was that I couldn't get the background to load properly. It looked OK when browsed offline, but when I browsed from the Web, the background just didn't want to appear. Although my original intention was to try to produce a home page without "stealing" someone else's or using a template (I'm trying to teach myself HTML by OJT, as it were) I found that I'd either have to buy a book or ask for help. Excellent advice from Jim Tittsler was, as always, quick in coming, and Pete Perkins at my ISP, Janis II, was extremely helpful, as usual. Janis II's page is well worth visiting:
It's still under construction (thanks, Darren, for that tip in your article!), but if you'd like to see what I've done so far, point your browser to:
I'm planning to add a couple of pages with links to book authors' pages and game-related pages; and to improve the layout as I learn more about how to deal with the various tags for graphics insertion, text handling, and the like. I recently ordered HiJaak Pro's Win95 version to aid in this...another reason for getting the new drive installed.
Next issue, I hope to be able to write about how at least some of these escalations and beginnings came out. Stay tuned.
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