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Monday, 19 August 2019

Angie's disk

I found a 5 1/4 inch floppy labelled "Angie's disk", so I wondered what was on it. But none of my computers have 3 1/2 inch diskette drives, let alone 5 1/4.

I went up to the attic, and heaved down an ancient AST 386 with both kinds of diskette drive; I remember this computer well, at the time is was my best computer, used for compiling Doctor Solomon's Antivirus Toolkit. But it needed a mono monitor, not one of the VGAs that we use today.

So I went to the shed and dug out a couple of monitors. One was labelled as not working (so why did I keep it?) and the other had a label that had deteriorated with time and was unreadable. Sure enough, neither of them worked.

Back up to the attic, where I had another mono monitor stashed away, this one labelled as "working". Hurrah! And when I connected it to the AST, it all worked.

Except that the AST had been unused so long, the cmos battery was dead and it had lost its setup. I opened it up, and some genius had written the number of cylinders, heads and sectors on the case of the hard drive. So I set it up for that, and it booted up to Dos.

All the files on the hard drive were still there, dated 27 years ago. And the floppy drives worked, so I was able to see what was on the diskettes.

There was Alley Cat, which had been a favourite game of both the girls (but it needed CGA), there were several other games thatneeded CGA, but there were a few that worked on my mono monitor, such as "Funnels and buckets", a game for exercising your mental arithmetic.

But there wasn't anything there that is likely to work on a modern computer, plus both girls seem to have defected to the Apple camp.

So, with a sigh, I put the computer and monitor away.

You never know when you might need a 27 year old computer and monitor.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Hurrah for DOS

I have a Western Digital 200 gb drive that I suspect of being bad, so I wanted to test it. The Seagate drive test didnt help, nor the Maxtor. Obviously, I need a Western Digital drive test.

Google to the rescue; I easily found DOSDLG.exe. But it has to run under Dos.

So I burned it to a CD, and burned Freedos to a CD. I booted from the Freedos CD, and swapped the CDs.

Freedos thought that the Freedos CD was still in place.

Several minutes later, I decided that I wasn't going to be able to change its mind. And I couldn't add the WD diags to that CD, because it was burned as an iso.

So I dug out an old 3 1/2 floppy drive (remember those?) to connect to the test computer, and I found an old bootable Dos disk, and that booted up OK.

But then that didn't recognised the CD drive which had the WD diags on. So I thought, OK, I have to copy the WD Diags to a floppy, but I don't have a working computer with a floppy drive; I stopped using floppies yonks ago. So, I thought, no problem, I'll take a computer apart and add a floppy drive.

This was getting ridiculous. You know the situation where you're trying to solve a small problem, but to do that you have to solve a bigger problem, which entails solving an even bigger problem ...

So I stopped and had a think.

USB!

So I formatted a USB drive to FAT-32, and installed Dos on it using Rufus.exe (find it with Google). Then I copied the WD diags program to it. I told the test computer to boot from the USB drive, which it did, and then I was able to run the WD diagnostics program.

Result!


Saturday, 3 August 2019

Rsync trick

I was trying to rsync from one computer to another. The destination was Fedora 30, the current version. The source was fedora 1, a ten year old version. And rsync complained about a protocol mismatch, and much googling, trial-and-error and brain-sweat didn't give me an answer.

So I played a trick on it. I used nfs to mount an export from the old computer, to a temporary directory on the new computer. Then I could rsync just fine, because as far as rsync was concerned, it was from Fedora 30 to Fedora 30.