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Hates the Infotainment
Join Date: May 2004
Location: NSA Archives
2004-07-24, 12:18

This might have some cross-over applicability to the Rants and Raves thread but since it is technical in nature, and since I have actual questions to ask at the end of my rant, I posted here....

Background: After 12 years of upgrading RAM, installing new drives, new video cards, PCI cards and even optical drives on a wide variety of machines ranging from a Mac IIsi and POS Compaq pizza box circa '94, to Mac 7000-series machines and God-awful Mac 8500s, to G4 towers the wondrously simple G5... I have finally met my match. Installing a second 3.5" hard drive on combination of Windows XP (Home Edition?) and a Dell Dimension XPS (circa 2000).

Holy Mother of God, what a complete and utter NIGHTMARE! Bad enough you can't just look inside the case and visually see where the secondary drive should go right away, but there are spare power plugs galore floating all over the place, and of course, the place most likely to bracket a new drive, has no screw holes. "Dude, you're gonna rot in HELL!"

So onward I toil. I dig up TFM and skim through it until I find the chapter about adding storage. It seems that the spot inside the computer which is least accessible and least logical, is the place for the second drive. So, not only do I have to remove the side cover of the machine, but also the front bezel and a metal plate that holds this stupid 3.5" drive socket thing in place.

Having disassembled half the damn machine, I get the drive plate out and try the logical thing: slide the drive into place and screw them together. You know, like the G4 towers and their little drive cage thingy? No no. Not in Dellville. In Dellville you have to figure out that instead of two or four screw holes to secure the drive, you have ONE, and the rest of the screw holes fit into what look like little bent edges of metal. So, according to Dell Logic , it's designed that you take one side of the drive and press the two screw holes into the little metal spikes, THEN on the other side, you screw one screw in to secure things. P-O-S!

So I get the drive and bracket back into place and secure it back into the chassis. Now the fun part: I discover that the ATA drive cable was installed upside down into the main (C) drive, and said drive is completely and utterly inaccessible. I would've had to remove the entire front metal face-plate of the machine to get at it and even then it wouldn't have been simple. So screw that, I'm going to smush and twist the cable so that it can actually plug into the secondary drive. And of course, the secondary power cable was twisted around incorrectly too, so I end up using a spare that's floating out of the power supply.

I set the jumper to "Dual - Slave" (one can only assume the dickheads at Dell are smart enough to set the original drive to "Master" right?), close up this contraption of evil and had back to the desk. Plug everything in, start up and wait to find a dialog, asking me to format my new drive. No such luck. First I get what can only be the Blue Screen of Doom, with little DOS messages saying something about Fat32 and do I was to do something or other to the drive and "Saying Yes is highly recommneded". Not "This drive needs to be formatted for Windows, would you like to continue?" No. Instead I get a bunch of cryptic shit which even after 12 years of heavy computer use, consulting and maintenance, in both home, small office and corporate environments, I can't even figure it out.

If a computer gives me a maintenance message, and I cannot figure out right away what it's asking of me, be afraid. I'm usually good at deciphering obscure computer language and putting it into context but this was a new one on me. So anyway, I choose to continue, it does its thing and eventually XP starts to boot. Before I head to "My Computer" I get a little pop-up from the Start Bar that says "a new device has been added". OK great. Progress! I go to My Computer, check the menu... there's nothing there.

"Oh, I have to go to 'Add hardware' in the Control Panel" I say to myself (I use XP about once a year but still I remember these things right off)... so I go to add the new drive, and in the Wizard thingy, there it is WD250... already present and accounted for. OK. So I say to myself "well, it sees the drive and says the drive is working properly; maybe I need to restart to see it in 'My Computer'". So I restart.

Note: by this time on even an old G3 running OS 9, I could've installed TWO drives, formatted them both and gone to bed. But no, this is Windows XP and the wonderful world of Dellville. DUDE!

So of course, XP restarts, I go into the account and there's nothing in My Computer. No "F" drive, no "G" drive... nothing. Hmm. Time to go to the Diagnostic thiny according to XP Help. So I go to the Devices Manager thing and I click "Drives". And wouldn't you know it... there it is. Just like I was hoping to see in the Explorer Menu pop-out thing. Properties indicate everything is A-OK. Good driver, drive itself is operating, etc.

SO WHAT THE FUCK?!! Why, in this convoluted bullshit world of Microsoft "Operating"(HA!) Systems, can the Device Manager cleary see, make a graphical representation of and communicate with the drive, but the Windows Explorer and My Computer can't? Why isn't there a simple way to just format the fucking drive, assign it a letter or a name (IMAGINE THAT!) and start using it?

(Here comes the question part)

1) Please don't tell me I have to go back and use that stupid-ass "Cable Select" setup, wherein I have to take the whole damned computer apart, switch ATA cables for both drives, set the jumpers again, etc. I presume that if XP can see the drive, determine the drive is working, and show a representation of it in the Devices Manager... that I MUST be close... right?

2) Is there a Control Panel or something that has as one of its purposes, to select new drives and assign it a letter so that it shows up in the menus everywhere?

3) If Steve Jobs is such a marketing genius, how come the whole frickin world is using this POS XP system and not a Mac? How come, way back when, when there was a chance to get everyone hooked, he didn't. Why no RDF back then.... HUH? Do you know how many strokes, heart attacks, fatal arguments and general treachery could be avoided each year if no one had to use fucking WINDOWS?

OK. I'm going to calm down and finish my OJ now. Any help would be appreciated.

...into the light of a dark black night.

Last edited by Moogs : 2004-07-24 at 12:29.