The Midnight Writer: September 1996
by Mike Lloret
The Beast is almost working perfectly. At the moment, the only real problem I have is that the Creative Labs soundcard I recently installed as a replacement for the Aztech OEM Gateway 2000 soundcard has decided to behave bizarrely. It was working OK for a few days, (miraculously) under both Win 3.11 and Win95, although it took me quite a while to figure out that the horrible sounds I had been getting were due to my not disabling the onboard amplifier. Once I got that done, it was working great, so I had about three days when there wasn't a single problem with my system. The Beast was purring...I should have known it couldn't last.
Right now, after I don't know how many reinstallations and IRQ/DMA shuffles, the SoundBlaster 16 works OK in Win95, but just produces a rhythmic heartbeat-like sound in Win 3.11, which starts from the time the PC does the memory check at booting and continues until I reboot into Win95 or shut off the speakers. I know I must be missing something simple, but it's not at all evident to me what it could be. It started doing this without having had anything changed, as far as I can see. I'm open to suggestions. Still, this problem's nothing to what I've had happen over the last month or so. I had a system crash that wasted the contents of my boot drive, a 540 MB IDE Western Digital Caviar HDD. The rest of my HDDs being SCSI ones, and not having been too happy with the size of the IDE drive anyway, I decided to replace it with a 2 GB EIDE drive, another Caviar, that I found for ¥40,000 in a shop near my house.
This would give me three HDDs: the new Caviar, a 2 gig IBM, and another 2 gig HP HDD, the latter two being SCSI drives. I figured that much space should hold me for awhile. Unfortunately, after getting everything formatted and partitioned, and restoring backups into the new drives, my D: drive (the HP) suddenly stopped working properly. This took place during my summer vacation, so at least I had time to deal with it, but I can't say I'm really happy about having spent most of a week crawling around under my desk/workbench or cursing horribly at the keyboard in the hottest days of the summer.
In any case, after trying all sorts of disk utilities and reformattings, I came to the conclusion that I'd just have to give up on the HP drive. I mean, the SCSI disk utilities indicated that the disk was fine, but ScanDisk or Norton Disk Doctor didn't even want to be asked about the drive. So I pulled it off the SCSI chain and figured I'd worry about it later.
I should have been suspicious about the phenomenal amount of heat I could feel coming off the side of the 3-inch drive bay where I had the three HDDs installed, I guess, and should have looked long and hard at the airflow. The HP drive is full height, and I had it mounted sandwiched between the other two (half-height) drives, so even with the case off The Beast, and a fan blowing directly onto the area in an air-conditioned room, I could have grilled hot dogs on the side of the bay.
Since I had the case open, and had managed to install a new graphics board without too much trouble (a great Matrox Millennium with 4 MB of WRAM...took 15 minutes to install under Win 3.11, about half a day to get working under Win95... my fault for not hunting down and exterminating every single reference to the old ATI graphics board I'd had in there before), I decided to install the SoundBlaster. I've had more pleasant experiences, but I did finally get it working nicely, for awhile.
With the case still open, and feeling spiteful every time I looked at the non-functional HP drive, I pulled it out of the 3-inch HDD bay in the back of the tower, removed the front panels from a 2-drive space in the 5-inch bay at the front of the tower, laid the HDD in the now-open space above my floppy drive, reconnected it to the SCSI cable and power, and proceeded to give it one last try.
Surprise! Although I couldn't reformat it with anything else, a plain DOS format worked perfectly, and it's now humming along splendidly. Must have been the heat, I guess. Anyhow, so far so good. The sound card is a problem for another day.
Finally, let me encourage each and every one of you to VOTE for the next year's Executive Committee. The ballot and instructions on how to use it are elsewhere in this issue. I'm not running for anything this time, but for now I'm planning to stay on as editor until they come for me with pitchforks and torches ("Kill the Baron!" "Burn the castle!"), since Paul Cipywnyk , Ann Colville, Roland Hechtenberg, and Stuart Woodward are doing the hard parts, anyway. I'd like to thank you all for your support during my term as Vice President, though, and urge you to consider volunteering to work on/with the Committee. We can always use the help, believe me.
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