The Midnight Writer -- October 1997
I realize that none of you will believe it, but as I write this there is nothing wrong with The Brute at all. Everything, incredibly enough, is working fine. All of the hard disk drives, the sound board, the graphics accelerator, the SCSI controller, the CD-ROM drive, the scanner...everything is working just as it's supposed to. Obviously this can't last...and it had better not, if I'm to have anything to write about next issue.
Well, perhaps that's something of an exaggeration. I do still have to install the backup tape drive, and that may well cause trouble worth chronicling here. On the other hand, with my ZIP drive, the tape drive seems much less critical since I have a backup of everything that I really need. I might just postpone installation of the tape drive for awhile longer.
And I would have trouble if I neglected to shut down WinProbe's CrashShield before turning off The Brute. That otherwise excellent application function persists in freezing the system if it's active when I try to shut down, but it's become automatic to close it before turning off the PC, and it's so well-behaved the rest of the time that I'm not going to mess with it.
My troubles with system components squabbling over IRQ 10 are over, too. Based on a hint from Jim Tittsler (as I mentioned last issue), I started fooling around with the BIOS settings. When nothing else seemed to do the trick, I reserved IRQ 10 for a bogus disk drive. With that IRQ thus rendered unavailable, my sound board and SCSI controller each automatically selected another IRQ for themselves, and now there's peace in the family. Of course, this prevents that IRQ 10 from being used by another device, but my foolhardiness level (or is it "masochism level"?) hasn't risen yet to the point where I feel driven to install some new gizmo in The Brute. It is, of course, only a matter of time, though.
Still bemused by having a system which works smoothly - it's the first time in years - I have been taking the coward's way out and postponing a clean reinstallation of Win95. The desiccated corpses of several versions of DOS and of Windows are still strewn about my drives, as are dozens (scores? hundreds?) of applications which I haven't used for a couple of years. And every so often I notice how much room is being taken up by multiple copies of files generated when I copied, unzipped, or otherwise shifted them, and then failed to delete the originals. In many cases, I don't need any of the multiple copies of files (the first three or four editions of the AJ files for the last couple of years' worth of issues, for instance). The idea was that I'd send all these battlefield casualties to cyberheaven at one time in a great spasm of electronic housecleaning, and then install a new version of Win95...
Well, it still seems like a good idea, but with everything ticking over so smoothly now, and nothing to provoke my wrath, I'm back in procrastination mode. Maybe I'll just wait for Windows 98. And no, not the first version of it.
Meanwhile, if any of you are William Gibson fans, let me recommend Idoru, his latest novel. In fact, even if you're not a fan of his, if you live in Japan and use a computer, I think it virtually certain that you'd like the book. I was a bit disappointed at first because it's neither as dark nor as bizarre as some of his other work...until I realized that my opinion is probably biased by where and how I live. Scary.
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