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It's late afternoon on a Tuesday. It's the middle of tax season and you're busy. Your hopelessly computer illerate client drops his whole computer off so you can get a backup of his quickbooks data. Well, not the whole computer. Just the box and the power cable. Oh - and an adapter for a PS/2 mouse to the serial port that is jammed and won't come out.

So you haul out some missing pieces. Let's start with the spare keyboard and mouse you have lying around. They're wireless, and have USB connections on them. But you also have a USB to PS/2 adapter. That works just fine for the mouse, but the keyboard connector on the box uses the old, big connector (DIN 5??). No worries, though. Your bag of tricks includes an adapter that will connect this up as well.

And you've got an unused 19" monitor. That hooks up just fine. Time for the power button. Good boot. Hmmm. Windows 95. Haven't seen that in a while.

Another hmmm. The system can't see the mouse. Oh well. Real men can run Windows without a mouse. We'll just press enter to dismiss the pop up window and get on with the rest of the boot. Hmmm again. Seems the keyboard doesn't work either. It's been lying around a while and is wireless. Let's replace the batteries. Still no joy. Let's press the connect buttons and see if that's the problem. No that's not it either. Maybe Windows 95 doesn't like wireless setups.

Time to shop around the office. Wow. We're all using wireless keyboards and mice now. Except the server. Hmmm. The server is on a KVM switch. That should buffer things enough to just unplug the keyboard. I'll leave the mouse connected in case there's a problem. Wow, that worked OK. Now back to that box.

A little deft switching of cables (preceeded by an rather ungraceful pulling of the power to shut down the box), and we're ready to try again. Power on, good boot again. Yes, I know there's still no mouse. But the keyboard works just fine now and the warning box is summarily dismissed. We're booted and ready to get our backup.

Now, how to get the data out of the box. No USB, so the thumb drive is out. No ethernet connection, so that's out. Not that I'd allow this box to connect to my network anyway. There's always the floppy drive. Looks like it's only 4 MB of data, so floppies it is.

Grab a couple disks off the pile of old floppies, and do a quick erase on my main computer (OK - even real men like a mouse for that job). Fire up Quickbooks on the client's box and let's start the backup.

Hmmmm. The system thinks the floppy isn't available. Let's eject and reinsert the disk. No joy. Let's try another floppy. No joy. Let's try windows explorer. No joy. Let's blow the dust out of it. Cough, cough, hack, hack. Lot's of dirt, but no joy. Alright. Time for surgery.

Power down. (When was the last time you saw the Windows screen that says its safe to power down the computer?) Disconnect everything, and out with the screwdriver. Cover off. Drive cage out. Hmmmm. Are floppyy drives supposed to have rust on them? No. I don't think so.

Off to the store. Hmmm. I wonder if you can still buy a floppy drive. Yes, you can. Back to the office. In goes the new floppy drive. On goes the power and data cables. Back goes the drive cage. On goes the cover. Reconnect everything. Power on.

Hmmmm. Floppy drive failure. Maybe I put the data cable on backwards. Off with the cover. Turn the data cable around. On goes the cover. Connect up the cables, and hit the power.

<best pengiun voice from "Madagascar"> Grand Coulee Dam. Still a floppy drive failure. </penguin voice>

Off with the cables and the cover. So which way does the data cable go on this drive? Rats. Can't see the pin markings on the drive. Out comes the drive cage. Still can't see the pin markings. Out comes the drive. Hmmmm. Pin one isn't marked. Find the manual in the box. (What - you think I'd read instructions for a lousy floppy drive?) One picture of the drive, and it's obviously not the drive I'm looking at. Well, pin 1 should be this end. Let's try it.

But now I've learned. Floppy goes on top of the cage, on goes the data and power cables. No cover. But Hmmmm. Doesn't this other end of the data cable go on the motherboard somewhere? Why, yes, right over here. I wonder if the old drive was really OK. But we'll never know, as I'm not going to check.

On go the cables, on goes the power. And we have a good boot. Finally. Open Windows explorer, and we can see data on a floppy drive. There was much rejoicing.

Open quickbooks (still without a mouse), make backups of four quickbooks data files. Power down. Time to put things back together. Off with the exterior cables. In goes the floppy, and the drive cage. On with the cover. Let's give one last check - on with the power, monitor, and keyboard cables. Power on, and it still boots. Good. Off with everything, put the keyboard back on the server. Call client to pickup his box.

But are we done? No, of course not. Back to the production system and let's restore these backups. 3 of 4 work just fine. #4 just doesn't want to restore. Hmmmm. #4 is the only one to use that particular floppy disk. Is that disk bad?

Back to the client's box. Hook it all up. Again. (I'm getting pretty fast at this by now.) Boot, make another backup onto different floppies. Leave system running. Over to my own computer, and the restore goes correctly. Bad floppy is immediately filed in the appropriate file.

Put everything back. Again. And the job is finally done. Elapsed time: 3 hours. As if I had 3 hours to spend on this $h!t this time of year.

--Peter
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