State of the comic – broken scanner/SCSI card

Line art for page 17 (really) of the epilogue for <i>Invasion</i>, shot using my cell phone camera
Line art for page 17 (really) of the epilogue for Invasion, shot using my cell phone camera

I’m not out of the woods yet. The desktop PC has a new hard drive, Ubuntu linux is working beautifully including the tablet and Photoshop over Wine, but the scanner is still bust. I got a SCSI card sent to me courtesy of Mithandir and Alien of Chasing the Sunset — Mithandir also set me up with the A3 scanner three and a half years ago — but there’s a new problem. Before sending me the card, Mith asked me whether the scanner needed SCSI 1 or 2, and my reply basically amounted to "Moo?". Like most computers everywhere, I know buggerall about SCSI. It’s an old, but fast hardware interface with large 68-pins connectors, right?

Wrong.

Once I noticed that the connector at the back of the card wasn’t the same as that on the scanner’s cable, I did some research. There’s a wide range of different connectors. SCSI is still being made and developed, mostly for higher-end systems, but for cheaper systems like the one I bought last march in a rush to replace the studio computer (which has since become the home desktop – I’ve had a very rough year, computer-wise), getting support will be hard and will become harder in the future.

Why is this important? Because the A3 scanner, antiquated though it is, is still a very nifty device that would take me over fifteenhundred Euro to replace with a similar but newer, USB-based, one. This would effectively wipe out my hardware budget for the next year so that if any other machine breaks, it would have to be replaced in a hurry by another cheap and nasty box that will have more problems within the year like the one I’m typing this on now. Instead of finally moving over to a schedule of smooth, no-interruption replacements of my production hardware before it breaks, I’d have another year of having to react to incidents as they occur, which is exactly the thing that’s been frustrating me so much about the computer troubles I’ve had all year, including the latest hard drive/SCSI card breakage.

It’s not hopeless though. When I investigated the card I got in the mail more closely, I noticed there was a 68-pins connector on the side of the card. If the physical chassis allows me to, I might be able to plug that in if I leave the side panel off the system and take the whole shebang out of its niche in my (old and decrepit) computer desk. That’s a long-shot though. It presupposes that a) the problem is with the SCSI card in the first place (I still haven’t tested that fully, and can’t do so without a second box to put the card in); b) the connectors are as compatible as they look; c) it is actually possible with the compact box configuration. We’ll see. If the card doesn’t work, I’ll have to start looking again, and it’s going to cost me in both time and money. There may be renewed comic delays.

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