The Midnight Writer -- November 1997
Naturally, it was much too good to last. The Brute was working fine, no troubles at all, nothing to worry about...except for what I'd write about in this issue's Midnight Writer. I needn't have worried about that: only a day or so after I sent the October issue's masters to the printer, things reverted to what has become the norm - a major problem with a large helping of frustration and a big dose of incoherent wrathful snarling. I swear I wasn't attempting anything bizarre, I was just going innocently about some routine task, minding my own business, when my system decided that it no longer wanted anything to do with Windows. Mired in DOS it was, helpfully telling me that I was running a DOS program, brightly offering to return to Windows if I only shut down the DOS program, and then refusing to do anything of the kind.
After trying all of the obvious things and failing miserably (no surprises there...), I finally decided that Fate must have decreed that it was time to do a clean installation of Win95. I can't say that I was really enthusiastic at the prospect, but it was a relief of sorts to have finally been handed a good reason for going to all the trouble that I'd been avoiding for so long.
Realizing that I couldn't even remember the last time that I'd used a Win 3.11 app, and admitting to myself that just because I have a lot of hard drive space doesn't really justify filling it up with hundreds of megabytes of stuff that I might want sometime, I got rid of Win 3.11, all of my Win 3.11 apps, and the Win95 installation that I'd done on top of Win 3.11. Then I reinstalled Win95, and spent a couple of days reinstalling the apps that I use most often: MS Publisher, HiJaak, Netscape Communicator, LView Pro, MS Office, the scanner software, some other graphics apps and miscellaneous utilities, and a couple of my favorite games. Of course, none of this went smoothly, but I expected that. Surprisingly enough, all of the Plug'n'Play stuff did work quite nicely. Go figure.
Once I got everything up and running, I was pleased to see a major improvement in response time. The Brute starts up much faster than before, and apps take off running. While I was at it, I deep-sixed WinProbe, whose CrashShield was causing me to have some shutdown trouble. I also installed the tape drive that had been sitting forlornly in an empty bay, cable dangling impotently. Thanks, Paul, for providing me with updated setup software and drivers for it.
Last week things had been running smoothly for long enough that I finally felt confident enough to replace the case cover, and since Masayo's Beauty II was also finally in running condition (check elsewhere in this issue for the first part of that particular saga), the computer room has now been rearranged so that it looks like one, rather than like a PC test lab.
The only trouble I'm having at the moment is a monitor that is massively misbehaved. The screen image expands, contracts, disappears and reappears, shifts left and right, and generally tries its best to drive me blind. Helpful TPC members have suggested that some component may be ready to bite the dust, and I've been thinking that this is as good an excuse as any to upgrade to a 19" monitor from the 17" CrystalScan I'm using. On the other hand, just a couple of minutes ago I moved it maybe a foot closer to me (and even farther from The Brute's tower case), and it seems to have stopped its jittering. Maybe my first suspicion that it was being interfered with by the power supply's EM field was correct, after all. I'd already tried moving it around, but possibly I'd not moved it far enough. Or is it my new chair's fault...?
Could it really be that I'm back to having a fully functional, problem-free system? Nah...this can't possibly last. We'll see what happens by next issue. Stay tuned.
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