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Stranger In the House

There's an interloper in the house – a Windows PC. Why ? While I'm still looking for a job, I am also doing some tweaking and evaluation of a membership/donor management application for non-profit organizations. I met the guy who's done the lion's share of development on it at my class reunion, and offered to poke around at it. The exercise is also a good reality check into the world of low-end PC computing, where hardware is cheap, but the software keeps racing out to need to the latest and greatest. For example, the Gateway PC I brought home is about four years old, and is pretty capable for web and email, but Office is pokey on it. It will be OK for the Visual Basic tweaking I might have to do, though.

My Mac and this PC are sitting side by side in the underground lair. On the way back from picking up the PC, I bought a $30 USB KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) switch by Belkin from MicroCenter. A KVM switch allows multiple computers to be used with the same monitor and input devices.) The USB cables from my Apple monitor and mouse go into the switch, and two groups of cables, each consisting of a monitor cable and a USB cable, go to each computer. In theory, just hook it all up, power the machines up, and you can just switch back and forth by hitting a button on the KVM device. (You can also make the switch happen in software, but Belkin supports this only on Windows 2000 and later. The PC runs Windows 98.)

Getting the PC to work with my Apple keyboard was interesting. The first time I started up the PC, it didn't think any keyboard (or mouse) was connected. I tried typing “Return” at the prompt to proceed from this, but the PC was ignoring the Apple keyboard. However, I brought back a PC keyboard from the office, just in case, and that did the trick. On the next reboot, things got interesting. Windows 98 recognized the Apple keyboard, and the Microsoft Optical Wireless mouse. (I bought that one for personal use for my last job.) Great ! Windows 98s also thought it recognized the KVM itself (hmm) but something about the driver failed to load. Still, since the keyboard and mouse were working, I thought I was sitting pretty. I made a few more tweaks, which required rebooting.

But on reboot, Windows 98 had to detect all that stuff all over again; now its memory of what it connected seems to be sticking. Still, it tries hard, really.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(no subject) - all_askew - Jul. 8th, 2004 01:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
rpkrajewski
Jul. 8th, 2004 02:18 pm (UTC)
Re: begon, spawn of foul SATAN
A few weeks ago I talked with a guy who worked on the .NET architecture at Microsoft, and still has a lot of development contacts there. It turns out that there are modules in the NT family of Windows that make it impossible to fix the bug in the RPC code that most of these newer viruses exploit. Not even the new Windows XP Service Pack, which is going to be a big advance in security, can fix it without turning it off completely. The DOS family of Windows (95, 98, and ME) is, of course, a basket case. But this machine is behind a firewall, between using Thunderbird to read mail, Firefox for web, and turning off most sharing, so hopefully it won't be part of the problem. Also, RCN blocks outbound SMTP, so it can't be a spam relay.

I get returned virus/spam messages with my name on it all the same, since my email address must have been known about machines that got infected. I wonder if it will ever stop.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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