When Things Work

This weekend I also spent time reformatting and re-installing Windows 2000 on my laptop. As I was digging out the old disks, I realized I had forgotten what I needed, it’s been so long since I did a reinstall. And the disk itself was quite old, from the last of my Developer Network subscription in early 2001.

I did remember, though, that I would have to add in several security patches from the Microsoft site after the OS was installed. Unfortunately, though, all I had was a modem connection. I had installed the accelerator software on my Mac, but not the Windows machine, and without it downloads were amazingly slow. Still, it’s just a matter of starting the load, keeping the connection going, and getting the job done.

After the install, I accessed Microsoft and the update page. The update service failed twice, as software to handle the automated update had to be installed; eventually it worked and I got a page of new software I would have to install. Close to 60M of software!

I started with the larger security service pack update, which was 25M. As I was downloading it, I noticed a message pop up. It said something about my system was using unprotected software and recommending that I click a button to update my machine. The first one I got I thought was part of the install process, and clicked okay. My machine started to get funky, and the next ones I got, I examined more closely and could see they weren’t part of the install. I had no idea where these messages were coming from, and couldn’t seem to stop them, so I closed out of each using the window control buttons.

When the machine finished the download and install of the service pack, I re-booted, but when Windows opened, first one of the laptops fans started and then the second one. Checking the processes, I could see some strange ones running uncontrollably, and I couldn’t kill or shut them down. It would seem that as I was using a very slow modem to download the software to protect my Windows 2000 installation, something had crawled in.

I was pretty peeved, as you can imagine. After spending all day downloading software, I would now have to start over again using the same slow modem and the same exposed machine. Damn Microsoft and its damn buggy software! Damn the modem, and all software, and hardware for that matter, that doesn’t work.

After fussing and fuming for about an hour, I went to bed with a really good book and just ignored all of the machines. The next morning, the first thing I did was to pull the modem card from the PC and re-install it’s wireless card. I then switched my Airport back on in my Mac, connected the accelerator-enabled modem in this machine, and turned on internet sharing for the modem connection. I also opened up a secure shell (SSH) to Burningbird, went to my raw logfile directory and did a ‘tail -f logfile’ to keep a running print out of the log file. Doing this would help keep the modem from being disconnected by the ISP.

From there it was a simple matter of re-installing the operating system, accessing the Microsoft site and installing the recommended security updates. It was still slow, but stable, with a connection that would last on the PC, even if I were to lose dial-up on the Mac. And which wouldn’t have to be reinitiated with each update reboot.

More than that, my Mac was keeping the connection protected so my vulnerable little PC would be left alone long enough to get the security updates it needed.

While this was happening, I read my excellent book some more, looking up from time to time at the smooth flow of data to my machine (it took all day to download the software), and thinking wasn’t it great when things worked.

It worked last week when I realized I had accidentally deleted an entire directory of photos and was able to download My File Recovery to help me recover them. However, before I went to download the entire OpenOffice installation for the PC today, at close to 50M, I also re-established my cable modem. Now, things that worked great are working even better.

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