Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas PC

How to spend Xmas: buy a new PC. Get it working, and spend the
holiday period fuming and swearing.

Ok, new PC (DELL - for what its worth - nice machine, good spec). It
worked flawlessy.

So, first, we need to transfer photos and firefox bookmarks in order
to keep the family happy. (PC is not for me).

So, we move out the old PC. Spend ages trying to get WinXP network
and Windows 7 network to acknowledge each other. Eventually this
works. On the way, I came across a very neat tool I hadnt
used before.

At first, sharing the C drive wouldnt let me access the
"\Documents and Settings" folders for the users. So, after a lot
of googlework, CACLS.EXE came to the rescue. Alas, after a little
driving error, I had managed to lock myself out of the folders (even
as an admin). I grabbed a copy of TAKEOWN.EXE eventually, (having
to transfer via USB drive and not the network - the network on the new
PC became flaky for some reason...)

To cut a long story short, the files were transferred and PC duly
handed over.

But the network was a problem: the old PC had a Linksys WMP54G
PCI wireless card, but there are no drivers for Windows 7. So this
was out of the question. So I dragged out some old Zyxel PLA401
homeplug blocks and this seemed to work. For a while. But one of
the (4) devices I had kept losing the lights and was knackered.

So, I then tried using an Airport Express (which doesnt work
on the mac, for some reason). But I needed to install the
airport express utility - via USB from another machine, and this worked.
But then I kept hitting the same problem as before - machine could
see the device but never update it. Eventually, the airport express
just refused to even see the device. (Thats 4 homeplus + 1 airport
express that are useless).

So I grabbed out my old netgear wireless router - and that worked, except
it had the same IP as the main router, so, after duly changing its IP
address, I had more or less bricked it - I could no longer talk
to the netgear - it didnt respond to the IP I thought it had
and didnt respond to the factory default IP either.

So, back to the Zyxels - which worked for a while. (Did I mention that
the Zyxel setup app wont install on a Windows 7 machine?) Tried using
the setup app on the old PC, but this just showed that 3 out of the 4
blocks were bust.

After a lot more frustration, gave up on all of that kit and went
out and bought a Belkin N300 USB drive. Success! It just worked.

So, now the home pc is signed off and I can forget this Xmas for
many years to come.

But I do worry: any kit you buy today, may be useless in future
operating systems - even finding the setup CDs can be painful, but
so many "bits of hand waving" magic are needed to get things to work.

And Linux is no better in this regard: (recall, my software suspend
doesnt work, and I need a.n.other PhD in Linux kernel changes to
see why 2.6.32 kernel works but 2.6.35 and 2.6.36 does not).

Oh to do some more coding where external dependencies dont
get in my way.

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