Thanks, folks... I went to the local computer shop, and the man said he'd tried USB null modem cables and had problems with them. He suggested just using a USB stick, and pointed out that if I used Ethernet or the router, I'd have to set both machines to the same workgroup, which sounded complicated, especially if I had to do it on Win98. In the event I just used a WD Passport USB HD. Less convenient, but at least possible. I'll have to keep the old laptop around just to be sure I can resurrect something I'd forgotten.