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Scott's Column
Laptop, New Site Look, The Deck

May 1, 2004
By Scott Lewis

I have been spending far too much time working like a dog at work. I have so many projects that were due the first week of May. Since I am writing this in April, it is difficult to get the time with all that work.

The Deck

I did manage to get more work done on the deck. My brother-in-law helped me finish the surface area. I have been slowly getting all the posts ready for the railing. I may or may not finish the railing by the time you read this, but I should have a full report of the finished deck next month. Hopefully with pictures.

More Laptop Woes

My laptop developed a new problem. It started booting, but then hung. After that all attempts to boot it reported an IO error. In essence it was if it didn't have a hard drive.

I tried booting with my Windows 2000 boot disc. Even though the laptop has Windows XP Home on it, I thought I could at least see if I just needed to reformat the hard drive. Nothing. Windows 2000 said there was no device to install to. It couldn't find the hard drive to even format it.

I also tried Lindows Live. This is a special version of Lindows that boots aan RUNS from the CD and allows you to run the OS without installing anything. It ran fine. In fact I thought this could make a truely thin client. Imaging working without a hard drive at all. Lindows did not see a hard drive on the laptop. Unfortunately, Lindows could not detect my 802.11g wireless connection. If it did detect my connection I could save any files to my server, and surf the web to my hearts content. As it was Lindows Live was basically worthless.

My final attempt to get the laptop running was to boot from the recovery disc that came with the laptop. This would wipe out anything on the hard drive and return it to the condition that it was in when we first took it out of the box. The disc warned that it would wipe out everything. I told it to proceed. It lit up the hard drive light, but appeared to do nothing. Since it was a command line interface and I had never seen it work before I didn't know if this was out of the ordinary. About an hour or so later the hard disc light went out, and there was nothing different.

You guessed it... no hard drive.

Now, as long time reads will recall this laptop was my wife's. It was the final replacement laptop that we got as part of the extended warrantee from a laptop purchase back in January 2001. Now, we received this particular laptop in August 2003. That means that is was still under the factory warrantee. So, rather than return to Best Buy where the extended warrantee had already run out, I went to an authorized Toshiba service center. It took only three days to get the laptop back with a new hard drive. I provided the restore CD (which they needed and used) and I got the laptop back in good as new condition.

802.11?

When I first bought this laptop I reported that the little program that runs in the system tray (next to the clock in the task bar in Windows) reported that I was receiving 54 mbps even thought the laptop is factory equipped with 802.11b which maxes out at 11 mbps. Well, it is back. I have decided that unless performance becomes an issue I will continue to use the 802.11b built into the laptop rather than have the 802.11g Linksys card sticking out the side. The applet in the system tray says I am connecting at 54 mbps, but I don't believe it. I will try and perform side by side performance tests with my wife's current laptop that has 802.11g built in. I'll let you know how that goes when I do it.

New Site Look

I finished porting all the pages to the archive. That means that every article I have ever written for this site since August 1997 is available. I don't know why I did it. When I read some of that old stuff, especially from the first year or so, it sucks. Hopefully my writing has improved and my topics have become worth reading. Feel free to browse the archive, but I wouldn't unless you are a glutton for punishment.

Conclusion

Well it has been a very busy month. If you read my Car Corner column you know my wife hit the big Four-Oh and I bought her a 911 for her birthday. We also had a huge blast. I rented a limo to drive us around the night of her party. It was a perfect evening. We had so much fun that everyone wants to do it again. That's great, but who's turn is it to pay for the lime. Not mine.

Until next time...
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