Lubuntu, Court TV, and Diablo Immortal

The original Court TV started in ’91 right around the Menendez brothers trial, but it wasn’t until the O.J trial that they were really put on the Cable TV map. I was in a position to be able to watch it all day. That’s one of the perks of being self-employed (as I was at the time).

They rebranded as TruTv or something like that, and I think cable companies started dropping it. Repeats of the show COPS 24/7 wasn’t appealing to fans of the original channel.

It also didn’t help that Catherine Cryer and Nancy Grace went on to other pursuits.

They re-branded again, and you can watch it free OTA (Over The Air) or the live stream on their website. Yeah, you are going to see commercials. But if you are interested in the American legal system and like watching real court room drama, Court TV is for you.

I had a tablet stand I bought at a dollar store, and a 2 or 3 year old Samsung tablet. Quick setup, I now have a Court TV… TV

So, I’ve been watching that for a few weeks, and then yesterday, while turning on the tablet, I got a notice that Diablo Immortal beta had been released, I signed up for it, about 2 or 3 years ago.

I was faced with a dilemma: Do I keep my Court TV setup with the tablet, and do the beta testing when I want, switching back and forth as needed… or do I only use the tablet for the the game.

So I was thinking about this last night while I was not sleeping. I thought, “I know! I can just use an old laptop.” As it turns out I have a Toshiba Satellite that I bought as a present to me when I started working for the company I’m at now. 120gb drive, 2GB ram. Running Windows XP.

Two problems there. First XP computers should NOT be on the internet. Microsoft no longer supports or updates that version of Windows. If you are on the internet with XP and actually reading this, chances are you are now part of a bot network that hackers use. They really like to poop where they play. Go figure. Anyway. Don’t use Windows XP.

So the solution, of course is Linux. It needs very little resources to run. Not quite true for the very latest versions of KDE, Gnome, and probably Enlightenment (which could do all the eye candy very early on.)

Quick Google search brought up Lubuntu. It’s a version of Ubuntu that has a desktop that uses very little resources.

I burnt a copy of the ISO and started the install on the Toshiba. The chip was a Centrino Duo. So 32-bit. This laptop is over 15 years old, and the install and subsequent update took a long time. But it’s on there, and Firefox is running in kiosk mode with Court TV and their “fullscreen” mode enabled. Court TV… TV.

I’m kinda hooked on having that on in the background. Listening/half watching it as I typed this blog ūüôā

But, right now, I do feel like doing some beta testing of Diablo Immortal with the toon I started.

Homonym pun: Stay tuned.

Text Editors – Part III (The DOS Years)

As part of an initiative to make our studies more productive, one of our programming teachers in college, managed to get a deal with a local computer shop for us to buy IBM XT clones at a discount.

(Remember this one of the lone computer sitting in the corner that I predicted would take off.)

The more people that went in on it, the cheaper it would be. My total cost was $1605.00 CDN

It it included a CGA card (Colour Graphics Adapter) and an amber monitor. It was an 8088 based system, with a 20meg 5 1/4″ drive. Later I bought another 20meg drive, and a 286 Card.

I can still remember the names of my favourite software:

DOSamatic, which I eventually repace with ARCmaster (you can still find this one online) it was like Midnight Commander or Norton Commander on steroids.

Turbo Basic

Turbo C

Turbo Pascal

All those Borland products can be found online also.

I became a big fan of Desqview, when I finally moved to a 386 system.

The first editor I became really proficient with was one called Qedit. (the exe was Q.exe)

It had Wordstar keystrokes

Let’s digress a little (kind of a rabbit hole)

Back in 1987 the three big software company’s were arguably IBM (For the Lotus 123 spreadsheet), Ashton-Tate (For dBase III+ a database), and Wordperfect Corporation for Wordperfect)

Wordperfect 4.2 was one of the most popular word processing programs during that time. Of course there was version 5 which was fairly popular, and 6 which started to get graphical, but 4.2 was THE program for word processing.

But there was another word processing program called WordStarIt was published by MicroPro International for CP/M (the pre-curser for DOS for the most part) but later ported to DOS.

The interface was… meh, but it’s legacy was it’s keyboard command combos.

To give you an idea of it’s popularity, you may have heard of a little TV series called¬†A Game of Thrones.

The series of books is actually called A Song of  Ice and Fire written by George R.R Martin, and the first book is called A Game of Thrones. Nitpicking, I know.

Anyway he used the DOS version of WordStar 4.0. According to the wiki page he still uses it.

Canadian SF author Robert J. Sawyer uses v7.

The legacy for WordStar though, is that numerous text editors for DOS used WordStar key combinations. You can look them up but ^KS (Ctrl-K S) to save a file. Etc.

I randomly went through a few editors, until someone one one of the BBS’s I frequented (that’s a rabbit hole I could go on for dozen’s of posts, I’ll spare you that) recommended Qedit, which had the Wordstar key combos.

At one point I worked as an Assistant Research Programmer and then Teaching Assistant at the Royal Military College in Canada.

A panicked student came by, and she had a 3.5″ disk with ¬†a “final paper” or something with that kind of importance on disk that she could no longer read on a lab computer.

I used Norton Utilities 5.0 which had a disk reading program that still hasn’t been duplicated today (as far as I know).

This utility let you read the raw blocks on a disk, basically ignoring the File Allocation Table. I was able to pull off anything written to the disk, binary, text, everything.

After that I used Qedit, loaded up the files, and removed all the binary and, and knowing the Wordperfect file format, extracted all her footnotes for her documents.

I handed her another disk with all the straight text. Gratitude doesn’t even describe her emotion.

But word got around that I could save dead disks, and any text that was on it. While I was doing that a colleague worked on writing a C program do extract the text from the files I’d saved.

So I have a soft spot for Qedit. It eventually became TSE (The Semware Editor). Qedit was a shareware program, but I don’t think a lot of people registered it. I found the “trial” version did everything I needed.

I had no problem registering programs, I’ve still have valid licenses for a lot of DOS programs.

I don’t know what it was about Qedit I didn’t like. Maybe it was nothing and I was just curious about what else was out there when it came to text editing.

I wasn’t interested in a word processor. Their forte was a wide selection of printer drivers.

I wanted something that you could edit code with efficiently. Vim for DOS was released around 1991. I think the Amiga version actually came first.

I was used to Qedit, so I looked for wordstar key compatible editors.

Not to toot my own horn but I was very good with editing using Qedit. I held two positions at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. One as a “Assistant Research Programmer”, where I¬† helped RMC (as it is known) with their programming homework. and another as “Teacher’s Assistant” where I did pretty much the same thing, but also took on additional duties.

A student came to our room which¬† had the official name of “Research Center” with a disk of her (I don’t know RMC’s official name for it) thesis. Wordperfect (5.2) could no longer read her files.

My colleague, took the task of  writing a C program (this was before the days when C++ became popular) to pull off the information from the disk.

I used Norton Utilities 5.0 (DOS disk program) to pull off the raw data from the disk, I  loaded that  information into Qedit, and not only pulled out all of her Wordperfect text, but the footnotes for those documents.

When she came back later that afternoon, I told her I was sure I got all of her document,  AND the footnotes. I thought she was going to cry.

Even my colleague who was knee¬† deep in C code commented on her “gratefulness”.

I never saw her at the college again, but I’m guessing that word got around. The¬† head of the computing dept. With the apprpriate PHd, asked me to see if there were any Fortran programs on¬† a disk he could no longer read.

There wasn’t, but the word was out.

In my mind, a new and/or different DOS text editor, has to be able to do that kind of thing for me.

BTW, the closest thing to the Norton Utilities 5.0 Disk Editor is probably Steve Gibson’s “SpinRite”

I think with the larger and larger hard drives, utilities like that became less useful because of the sheer amount of time it would take to process each sector.

Next blog in this series is about my 3 favourite text editors.

Text Editors – Part II

I mentioned the Amiga, because of Commodore inept executives, everything Commodore went belly up.

’nuff said about that.

The editor I used to use on it was called Cygnus Ed. It’s probably considered primitive by today’s standards, but it was a lot better than the one that came stock on the Amiga OS.

ed.

Although you could do quite a bit with it if you took the time to learn it.

I was a Vi user, and by extension Vim. At first I used the ‘Z’ editor that came with the Manx C Compiler, but it was vanilla Vi. You get spoiled using Vim, but by the time it was usable on the Amiga, I’d already moved on to ¬†OS/2 based computers.

I miss my Amiga though. I’ve wanted to dabble in WinUAE off and on over the last few years, but the effort doesn’t seem worth it.

One of the things that surprised me when the Amiga was going the way of the dodo is that Amiga users drifted to Windows 95 as opposed to OS/2. They were very vocal about how much better Amiga’s were than Microsoft’s OS. And then a good number of them turned into hypocrits.

I went with OS/2. I miss that OS too, but probably not as much as the Amiga.

Next up, digging into DOS editors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text Editors – Rabbit Hole #3

All that talk about non-volatile ram, got me thinking about ramdisks again. I know friends of mine will groan if they read this. I was a big fan of ramdisks.

I can hear the whispers already (SSD’s dude!). I’ll let you guys do the benchmarking, but ramdisks are 10x faster.

Now that I had the ramdisk bug… again, I set out to look for one. There are some free ones, some paid. I wanted all the features possible so I ¬†ended up going with Radeon’s RAMdisk.

I set the windows temp variables to my R: drive. ¬†It’s set to save changes to it automatically in the background, and it loads on boot.

Almost the same as non-volatile ram.

The machine I’m typing this on as 32gb, so i put 10gb to the ram disk. a few things are running, Chrome, Blizzard client, Steam client, WordPress desktop, some background utils: Malwarebytes, Nvidia settings, Gaming mouse util. i have about 10gb free ram left.

I’ll test this baseline config and see where it goes. puttng ISO’s there temporarily sounds like a good use

[later]

I ended up putting the google chrome cache and code-cache into the ramdisk. Now that windows supports symlinks it was much easier to do.

Bottom line is it makes chrome lightning fast. and the ramdisk driver takes care of the issue of surviving a reboot.

I was happy enough with the results that I decided to do the same thing on the Linux side.

The process is Linux specific of course (create the ramdisk, add it to fstab, move the cache/code-cache/etc. to the ramdisk, create the symlinks, add a systemd service to call a bash file to do the save and restore on the ramdisk.

It’s even faster under Linux because that OS is just more efficient out of the box.

All this because I want to go on about the wonders of my  current favourite coding environment.

Stay tuned. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text Editors – Rabbit Hole #1

I posted the link to a working copy of AEDIT. That got me to thinking I should try it out again. I thought someone might have a RMX emulator. No. didn’t exactly want to put down $10k for a blog.

But when I found¬†Sepp’s Homepage there was a dos copy there.¬† As long as you don’t use the extra 186 instructions, you can run something compiled on that platform on an 8088/86.

Unless of course you try to run on a Windows 10 pc. The have this cmd line, but it’s only really for cmd line programs written for Win10. I wanted to run an actual DOS program.

Also at some point Windows 10 stopped allowing 32-bit programs to run. Seems to me I read this some place but completely forgot about it.

That led me to DOSBox.

And¬†that led me to a reminder that a dos box cmd line window at 640×480 on a 3840×2160 rez monitor, gives you a credit card size window with a really small font.

dosbox

About that size. Smaller rez’s will make that look bigger of course. Alt-Enter gets you full screen in 6480×480 glory. BUT, a program written for that looks just fine.

aedit

As I inserted that picture I’m reminded that sometimes old technology especially with software stays old. At one point I was looking at getting a PL/M compiler working. I had one working when I owned an XT clone, but it’s harder to do with current OS’s

Try to get Internet Explorer 3 working on a modern PC. There’s actually a page that breaks down what browsers will run on each version of windows.

For those of you who use Nano on a Linux box that might look vaguely familiar, but AEDIT is a much more powerful beast that Nano is.

That kind of interface reminds me of Ted an text editor written by Tom Kilhken  in x86 assmbly by published by PCMag. I couldnt find the original, but this is what TED v1.1 looked like:

ted11

I remember using the assembly source and modifying it a bit myself. If you want to learn how to write a text editor.  the ASM source for this should be your goto. I used this editor a lot. You can think about is as a Notepad for Windows or a TextEdit for MacOS.

Eventually even TED wasn’t fast enough for me so I wrote a TSR program (that means Terminate and Stay Resident. For DOS that was the only way you could “multitask”.

So full disclosure, I have every DOS and OS/2 program I’ve ever downloaded.

Yes, I’m going to go through all the text editors that I remember using.

I think I ran into another rabbit hole though.