The Midnight Writer: Dec. 1996
by Mike Lloret
First off, even though it's a little early, I'd like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope that 1997 is filled with happiness and excitement for all of you, and that it will be the best year yet for the TPC.
One of my Christmas presents came early this year: The Beast has his voice back. Having given up on trying to solve my soundcard problems by myself, I asked Algorithmica Japonica contributor and advertiser Kurt Keller (of Pinboard and HTML article fame...check out his article in this month's issue) to make a house call and see if he could get it running. Within a couple of hours he had the soundcard problem solved and a couple of other little problems fixed, too, and for a very reasonable fee.
It seems that the Creative Labs AWE32's CD-ROM connector is an IDE one, and although it's the same shape as my proprietary Mitsumi CD-ROM drive's connector, the pin assignments are different. The SB16 I'd had in there before was a multi-CD-ROM model, and had a connector specifically for the Mitsumi drive. The rhythmic click/thump it produced instead of sound is apparently either a hardware or jumper problem, but it doesn't matter to me now that the AWE32 is running.
Of course, since the connector was wrong for my drive, I could get sound but couldn't use the CD-ROM. Kurt solved this problem by plugging the SB16 into another slot, disabling its sound functions, and using it only as a CD-ROM controller. Works great!
Although this is pretty much a temporary solution, it should work quite well until I get around to replacing the current CD-ROM drive. It's only a single disk double-speed drive, and it's about time I replaced it with something faster, and preferably a drive with multiple disks. I'll be going to Akihabara come bonus time and checking out what's available.
I may just go ahead and replace the motherboard while I'm at it. Currently, the motherboard, CD-ROM drive, and power supply are all that remains of the Beast's original innards. The single 540MB HDD that I naively thought at the time would last me for years has been replaced with a 2GB drive, and has two more 2GB HDDs to keep it company. The original Gateway2000 soundcard and graphics board have been replaced with the AWE32 and a Matrox Millenium board, respectively. The BIOS has been upgraded to accommodate Plug-and-Play and large drives, I've added a tape drive and then upgraded it, and the original 16MB of RAM is now 80MB.
When I bought the machine it was the top of the line, but the 66mhz Pentium has just about become an antique, so I guess I'll start looking around for a really fast Pentium or Pentium Pro after the first of the year. Considering how much trouble I've had getting all the add-ins and upgrades so far to work, replacing the motherboard should provide material for at least a couple of columns. Stay tuned.
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