Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Frustrating Weekend

We got most of our errands done, and some of the around-the-property chores complete, but not all of them. But one of my important tasks, which was to get more of Lisa's computers running, ran aground on technical problems that I do not understand.

Lisa has several computers of older vintage, and several broken machines that are part sources for the others -- with the added advantage that those machines all have Windows XP or Win2000 license key numbers. However, there are fewer working hard drives than there are otherwise working computers. And none of the machines ever came with Win2000 or WinXP installation disks.

A solution I've used with my Dell computers, both for backup and upgrade, has been to clone a known good hard drive and use the clone. I've been using DriveClone without any problems. It makes a sector-by-sector clone of the source drive, and the clone can be used in place of the original. This works for a upgrade because it's possible to clone from a smaller to a larger hard drive.

Project 1 was to take the one working Win2000 installation, currently working on a Panasonic CF-27 Toughbook, and to clone it into a blank small hard drive. And I do mean small. The working Win2000 installation is a 4GB hard drive, and the blank drive was 6GB. Both of these appear to have been original equipment with the Toughbooks.

I have a couple of bridge connectors that allow me to plug a notebook drive in to a USB connector. I plugged both of these hard drives into bridges and connected them to one of my two Dell notebooks, and used DriveClone to clone the working, bootable drive into the blank drive. This didn't take terribly long, and the Dell said it could read both drives. Except that when we put the clone into the Toughbook, it wouldn't boot. The original still booted. I've never had this problem with cloned drives before, although it may have something to do with Win2000, as I've only cloned WinXP drives in the past.

As it happens, I have an unopened copy of Win2000, but I left it in California. Maybe on a future trip to Oregon -- and I'll be back up here in a month -- I can try doing a fresh installation.

So, on to the next task. We have one working IBM WinXP hard drive. Yesterday, we bought a new hard drive at Fry's. Drives being what they are this day, we bought a 160GB drive. I cloned the working WinXP OS from its home (a 30GB drive) onto the 160GB drive. Then I put the 160GB drive into one of the T30s. It refuses to boot! Now if I boot from the 30GB drive and attach the 160GB drive on the bridge, the machine can see the 160GB drive, but under no circumstances will the machine boot from it.

One of the other things we bought at Fry's was a copy of WinXP, because the program is going to go OP pretty soon and we have no copies of it on CD-ROM except for a Dell-specific one that won't install to the IBM machines. I put the 160GB drive into one of the T30s and tried to do a from-scratch installation of XP. It still refused to recognize the drive when the drive was installed as the primary hard drive. I can find no reason on Lenovo's web site as to why it might not be seeing the 160GB drive. This is endlessly frustrating.

It is so annoying to do installations from scratch that I really want to get one working OS and be able to clone it. This works fine on the Dells, but for reasons unclear, neither the Panasonics nor the T30s are willing to work with the clones.

While moving computers around last night, I accidentally knocked one of the Toughbooks off the sofa. I wasn't worried about the computer, though -- I was much more concerned about where the thing fell. The CF-27 is so heavy and sturdy that I might have broken my foot!

This afternoon, while Lisa dealt with messy things like changing the oil in her pickup truck and getting it ready to drive to Columbus -- she plans to drive out there to meet me at MARCON -- I fussed away with computers. Later in the afternoon, Lisa enlisted my help as she did a bit of mowing. The rain has kept her from being able to mow, but it went away and the sun came out, so she got back to work on it. Now, we're not talking about some postage-stamp-sized lawn here. Lisa's father's property has around five acres of mowable areas. They have an industrial-sized John Deere lawnmower (The link takes you to the current model; theirs is a few years old) to handle most of it, but around her father's house, she uses an ordinary push-mower. Lisa pointed out to me that the other reason for using the small mower is that it has a clippings bag, and she wants to be neat around the buildings. A bagger for the big mower would have cost $1700! For the vast open spaces out in the field, it's less of a problem to just leave the clippings. We certainly don't go raking them up!

The grass has been growing very fast, and she had to stop ever five minutes or so to empty the bag on the thing. She dumped the bags into a small push-cart, and every fifteen or twenty minutes, I took a break from fighting with computers and hauled away another load of lawn clippings.

Now that spring is sprung, it's important to keep all of this grass mowed, because it grows very fast. Unfortunately, mowing when the grass is wet is messy and hard on the equipment. Still, Lisa made some progress on fighting off the would-be jungle out there while I fought off computer gremlins.

I can't say that this was a terribly successful day's work on the computers. We did, however, set up one of the T30s to do a clean install on a drive we think is clean. The installer appears to be doing a low-level format on the drive, however, and it looks like it make take all night. We'll leave it running at her father's house and see what it looks like tomorrow when I come back over here to get to work.

Still, even if none of the computer work I did this weekend was any use, I still have a new 160GB hard drive that I can probably install into one of my two Dell laptops -- assuming I can get a DriveClone run to work on it!
Tags: computers, lisa, mehama

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