Friday, August 30, 1996
hese are times that try the soul (mine). By that I mean computers. Damned, infernal PCs and such. Especially if you use one to drive (your) business and one to have fun with and perhaps do a little work at home.
Last Thursday, I down loaded Netscape Navigator v3.0 over NN v2.01, which I kept a copy of in a c:\temp7 directory.There are 9 temp directories, and a lot of useless stuff in each now. Time for some housecleaning. That just said, a nice day turned bad. I kept losing connections, had mucho trouble dialing and connecting. On Friday, it all went from bad to shitty: I lost Netscape, HotDogPro v2.53 and the connection to Cyberia Communications, Inc. York's InterNet Specialist and friendly ISP. Damn.
I got Error messages by the dozens: Application Error, General Protection Fault, Stack Fault Error and much more shit that I can ever begin to understand or remember. For the next two days, I would be sleuthing around with Windows' Mr.File Manager, looking at every directory and errant file. I deleted hundreds of thousands of electrons alone from all those c:\temp directories I'd been filling for months.
I reloaded Cyberia's original (Nov 1995) start-up software oh, maybe 13 or 14 times, giving me Netscape v1.2. I think they're using NN v2.0+ by now. What a trip that old Netwcape Navigator was. I re-launched NN and it crashed. I kept dialing and lost more and more connections. Windows burped. Two business-related projects came to a crashing halt while email was down, too. Imagine having to use FAXes and such. Ha! With as many assons as a FAX machine has, it ought to be a VCR.
I quickly called Cyberia and was delighted to find out that they have a new, full-time staff addition, a Technical Support Manager named John Bliss. He had me checking this file and that, deleting this and that, reloading this and that and threatening the computer with this and that. He stayed in touch and on the problem. When all possible software tests were performed, he pronounced it a hardware problem. He was very, very helpful and so was Adam Viener, the President and driving force behind Cyberia's rapid, yet rock-steady growth as York's InterNet Specialist. He called and suggested that I might have a hardware problem and offered these reassuring words, "I think your modem is going south, genius." .
Cyberia Communications, Inc. was a computer savvy, bold marketing, cutting-edge InterNet Service Provider (ISP) when I first heard about them from Pete Barry, of Manchester Industries. There are three principals: Adam Viener, his lovely and very pregnant wife, Sara Viener and Tony Pantano. In a little over a year, the've become the ISP to host your Website. They've doubled in size in the 8 months I've been on their server. They added some quality staff in a short time to handle the surge in business: the effervescent Helen Walker, techno-wiz guy John Bliss, and a soon-to-be-introduced Graphics Designer who will work wonders with Photoshop and will help expand their reach into the growing InterNet market.
I scoffed (stupid me) and kept hot on the software trail. I wasted Sunday. I had my secretary reschedule appointments so I could get this problem fixed and behind me, like I've managed to do on some other precarious occasions. I was on my way to wasting Monday as well.
It was my understanding (silly me) that, like a lightbulb, a modem either works or it doesn't. No grey areas there. Simple black and white. But appearently, this 28.8k was having problems for a while; I had noticed many errors and connectivity problems for the last 2 months, but wrote it off to quirky software. Hey, the modem was working, but not correctly. Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Helen Keller could have seen what was wrong. I couldn't. I just figured that it was one of Microsoft's Undocumented Features.
Help, armed with heavy equipment and dressed in full Roman battle gear, arrived Monday, in the form of Pete Barry from Manchester Industries, He brought my new 586 Pentium PC with a 17" monitor by to swap out some features and parts with the existing 586 Pentium I had gotten from them two months ago, which I was taking home to use. I need (like hell) one of these things at home to get more work done. And have some fun with html. Pete LapLinked everything from the existing unit to the new one.
Manchester Industries, Inc. is one of those companies that is an equipment and software service specialist. When you do business with them, you buy their service and that is what you want, after everything is said and done. Besides being my company's resident computer expert, Pete and his fiancee, Lin, are friends of five years.
Pete replaced a 28.8k modem in the existing unit with another; the new machine came with a 33.6k pipleline. Of course, the good stuff in the new unit: 586-150Mhz/ 64RAM 2gig Pentium, 17" inch monitor, Colorado Tape BackUp, CD-8x, new keyboard and mouse, stayed in my office. The junior version (586-100Mhz/ 32RAM 1.2gig Pentium, 15" monitor, older keyboard and mouse) of that unit went home to my condo. By next year when the 686 Pentium comes out, there'll be another shuffling of systems from office to home to office. The Garden Center's Front Retail Counter has a 386 running Windows v3.11, but will soon get a 586 when a Windows version of the retail POS (Point Of Sale) software we use, is available. The POS is DOS-based and it's a dog.
The problem cleared up immediately on the homeward-bound PC with a new modem; the office unit developed a Stack Fault Error problem the very minute Pete left. I re-installed NN v2.01 Monday evening so that the rest of the week and Labor Day Weekend wouldn't be too boring. On Wednesday, I re-installed NN v3.0 over NN v2.01 and everything worked fine.
I schlepped the machine home in the Jeep, assembled it on the round butcher-block kitchen table where little Murphy and Mama Kitty sat and stared at the tiny cursor running around the screen, their little heads bobbing all over the place. Wow, more fun that they could stand. Yawn. That's where I'm at and what I'm doing as you read this.
On Thursday the roof fell in again. Netscape stopped working completely, announcing even more error messages than I'd seen last Friday, when it bombarded me with problems. I tried to restore from a tape, but no luck. I had to again reinstall NN v1.2 and suffer through the crudities of pre-cro-magnon, neanderthal graphics. Don't take for granted the browser you're using, unless you become an unfortunate soul like me and have to resort to pre-dawn implements to get html to work. I gave up and went out to ride the tractor for a while to cool off. That evening, the other 586 Pentium that I had taken home from my Office, worked fine.
The 45th Shrewsbury Flower Show was held last weekend at the same place it's always been held since the Show's inception, the historic Shrewsbury Fire Hall. Our exhibit was awarded Best of Show for the second year in a row, for the tropical islands theme of the Show. All category winners got the same ribbon.
Six years ago, we were asked by several of the executive committee members to join in the fun of the show. Initially, I was hesitant to enter the show, because so many of our customers and friends are exhibitors. If we had competed against them and won, feelings might have been hurt and we might have lost more than just business. So the show's executive committee invented a new category for us that would not directly compete with any of our customers. Ethically, I now have no problem with being a part of the show.
In the last 6 years, I've been to some pretty nice flower shows, including the ones we exhibit at, but none are as technically perfect as this one is. The categories are unusual and the exhibits are stunning in their beauty and technical perfection. The Philadelphia Flower Show can't even compare with this little show's technical expertise and exhibitor entries. And neither can the York Flower Show, in which we are long-running exhibitors.
I greatly admire the local people who enter their flowers and accessories in these categories, which are difficult exercises in technical perfection and aesthetics.
My good friend Janice has one of her new Websites up at WebLink, Inc., and she did the entire site herself. Amazing. The Site has been up less than a week and already she has business coming in and contracts going out. Drop by and leave her some mail so she knows it's working.
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