Wow. I'm finally done. That was 2 days of fighting with both machines - my wife's Dell and mine.
First, we decided to combine the two computers - what I mean is that instead of Ana having her own laptop and me mine, we'd both use the same one. There were several reasons for this. Ana never really used her laptop because it was a pain to bring it out of the closet, hook it up and turn it on. Also, as I've complained before, the keyboard on my computer was shot. The control and shift keys were both working intermittently. So I took Ana's keyboard out of her Dell and copied her personal files over onto my machine. We actually used my computer like this for a while before we got the 2nd machine. I bought it off eBay last October because the other machine suddenly got really flaky. It wouldn't turn on sometimes, and worse, it would shut off without warning. It had something to do with the connection between the base of the laptop and the screen. I got Dell to sorta fix it, but decided that I needed a backup and so got another machine just in case. Good thing too.
Okay - so in and around the decision to combine computers, I was also upgrading this machine. It took the last two days to do it because installing my peripherals was a nightmare. Now I understand what the problem is, but before then it was hit and miss. What I'm talking about is the Network card, Firewire Card, Flash Card, USB Hub, USB Camera, USB Mouse and USB ADSL Modem. All the devices I own all are supposed to be able to installed without having to do anything. The directions in the box say "plop in PNP device, Windows will detect default drivers and install them, and poof you're done." But I was NEVER done.
Windows on this machine - even after a total new install of Windows 2000 - will NEVER find the default drivers. I was going nuts trying to figure out why the installs were always going bad. Windows would come up and say "Unknown device found" and then I was stuck. Now what? I'd look on the install disks - nothing. Or for my modem - which I JUST got working - there was this whole install process that would install their driver AND a bunch of the Windows drivers. It would get through half and then ask ME to provide the other drivers. WHAT other drivers?
The worse part was that I would try the devices on my old machine - Ana's Dell - and it would install instantly without fuss. ARRGGHH!!! Finally, I figured out that all I had to do was point the "Unknown device" box to c:\windows\inf (which was hidden by default) and everything would go fine. It took me a LONG time to figure that out. Way too long. That's what happens in technology when something is "magic" to you. When it breaks, you have no idea what to do. The install process of pnp hardware is no longer magic to me.
Of course while all this is happening, I find out that my Microsoft Optical Wheel mouse has died. First I think it's the software or the drivers - but actually it's the hardware. It's dead. Weird but true. Several hours lost on that one.
Then after I changed the keyboard, my old computer wouldn't boot. Obviously after I took the machine apart, I wacked some cable or something. I come to find out that the intermittent problem is back. Several hours on that one too and I discover the solution is to put all the screws that hold the keyboard back except for two - and I had to bend some piece of metal that was obviously some ground for the LCD. When you discover that you have to do something like that to fix your computer, you've spent way too much time messing with the machine...
Okay. SO I'm back. My computer is finally working. It's much snappier than it was before, actually. The memory usage is a lot better and all around it's much cleaner. I'm using my old favorite standard mouse which isn't bad at all (it WAS my favorite) but the problem is that it doesn't have a wheel. It's like going back to Internet Explorer again after you get used to the tabs in Mozilla... you really miss it. I'm also using Ana's keyboard which is wonderful even though it's a Spanish keyboard. I just don't look down when I type. I have to do the same at work, so I'm used to it. But her keyboard is a lot nicer than my other one. A lot more "action" and all the keys work. Great.
Wait, is it Sunday night? Did I REALLY miss out on two days of productivity screwing around with Windows?!? ARRGGHHH!!!!