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Topics - Andrew Stephenson

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Am in a tearing panic to get my tax PDFs generated and Ghostscript 9.15 (+ GSView 5-something) decides to overlay all four (4) pages of a spreadsheet made by Borland Quattro Pro 4  ("QP").  (Yes, unreadable mess.)  Searching the PS code, I find four (4) "showpage restore" instructions, which I take to be points where GS should put page breaks for Lucide to pick up on.  The QP is a copy I've been using for years, so I'm pretty sure it's okay -- but before GS 9.15 I was re-using GS 9.02, which does the same trick.  So is Lucide playing Silly Beggars?

Thanks in advance for any bright ideas for a quick cure, gang.

Setup & Installation / Does AOS-5.1 large-file copying fight with FAT32?
« on: January 14, 2024, 09:18:38 am »
This is a spin-off of another topic.  New readers can safely start here...

Looks like those folks who urged me to switch my backup HDD to JFS from FAT32 were right.  In summary: I have been updating important files, some moderately large (see below), which I back up to two USB-3A drives, one SSM (around 32GB, JFS), the other HDD (2TB, FAT32).  Various folk have helped with suggestions on switching the HDD to JFS.  Experience and experiments have indicated that is pretty much my only course -- if my system dies, I'll have to wait until it's fixed/replaced and hope both JFS backups stay safe meanwhile.

The evidence: seven (7) files have been involved, daily, growing as I add data to them.  Sizes are roughly: 95KB, 483KB, 159KB, 23KB, 27KB and 32KB.  When I drag-and-drop-copy them from my system (JFS) to the JFS SSM drive, it goes smoothly and quite fast (if we keep USB's sluggishness in mind).  If I D&DC to the FAT32 HDD drive, the five (5) smaller files are shown on the tally as copying over but the two biggest lead to a freeze of the tally and system, and a need for CAD+R.  But sometimes the biggest files do seem to get copied over.

Does any of this make sense?  ISTR someone saying to partition the 2TB drive to prevent XCOPY (and, I assume, similar mechanisms invoked with D&DC) from exhausting buffer space, IIRC.

(Sidebar, noted during these experiments:)  Ejecting an USB MSD did not automatically close some folders connected to that MSD.  But since then I have used the new CHEKINI, which found some rubbish and threw it out, so the rubbish may have been the cause.  Later, the USB "Eject" function refused to eject until I had closed dependent folders that happened to be open, saying the USB device was busy.

Setup & Installation / Broken AOS-5.1 Trash Can
« on: January 12, 2024, 03:40:44 pm »
Whilst salvaging masses of files from an old Apple Mac OS 10.4.10 installation, my AOS-5.1's Trash Can got corrupted.  I dutifully Read The Flaming Manuals, pressed obvious buttons (eg, on Close Down and on the TC drop-down menu) and even located the TRASH root-level folder (on Drive D: of a C:..K: set) and had lots of fun crashing the system.  BTW, I found the TRASH folder with "DIR /a" then ATTRIB to clear H and S flags, then deleted sub-folders 3,4,5 -- of 1,3,4,5 (NB, no "2") -- which left D:\TRASH\1\* refusing to be erased (so as to empty the Trash Can).

Okay, I've probably done something really daft.  But can anyone please tell me how to empty that wretched Can?   >:(

BTW, suggestions for future developments:

a) IMHO, the Trash Can (or Rubbish Bin as we Limeys call it) is there to handle those "Oops" moments, not as a stand-in for regular file handling methods.  Why protect it so fiercely?  Using H and S attributes should suffice, perhaps with a pop-up warning if someone inadvertently tries deleting anything important.

b) The drop-down TC menu's "Empty Trash Can" option should become "Reset Trash Can (and empty it)".

c) When an emptying operation is done, or if the TC cannot find the TRASH folder, it (re)creates it.  This allows use of the RAM Disk for the trash/rubbish -- along the way reducing wear of SSMs.

d) Let the User choose the TRASH drive, perhaps on the same Properties page which tells which drives are handled by the TC.  How about extra setup boxes: "Which drive should be used for the \TRASH folder? [<drive letter>]" and "Is this a RAM Disk? [Y/N]".  The second question allows the User to be advised to use a suitable format for the RAM Disk, like HPFS not FAT32.

Reading back through the posts on this topic, I think my query only half-belongs here.  But let's find out...

XXX (an AN UK agent, name coded for his security) was kind enough to sell me a Lenovo M900 m/c along with my Personal Edition of AOS-5.1, which he also installed, all at a low price.  That was a big help.  Now he has flitted off to Warpstock and a USian holiday (hmm, I suppose that'd be "vacation" Over There  :)), so I am on my own.

I was getting along fine with transferring material saved from my dead (NB) eCS-2 setup when bugs began to appear.  Encarta94 transferred to the Win-3.1 session and seemed to run fine.  But my DOS software, on which I very much rely, did not.  Two apps in particular: WordStar-for-DOS 7c ("WS"); and Borland Quattro Pro ("QP").

WS would get as far as its sign-on screen, then freeze; and only a ctl+alt+del with 'R' would break me free.  QP (coincidentally (?) after I ticked the box in "System Setup > Icon Size > Use Custom Icons", discussed in another topic) began by running right, like opening *.WQ1 spreadsheet files properly, then went berserk when I tried flipping through its Properties.  On the "Icon" page, AOS got as far as drawing the page and was about to draw the icon (already displayed right in (eg) directory displays) then froze solid.  Again, only ctl+alt+del would break me loose -- then, after two or three such collapses, even rebooting failed: now, we get to the AN logo on a black background... then the m/c runs and runs and runs, going nowhere.  I left it for over an hour and a half, without joy.

So here is Big Question #1.  I cannot access any logs, by the looks of it, and probably must reinstall.  XXX told me that he had issues with getting DOS and Win-3.1 sessions right; maybe I can use the CONFIG.SYS (and AUTOEXEC.BAT?) that I backed up before the Collapse.  But do these symptoms ring any bells?

Now for Big (BIGGER?) Question #2.  I really rely on WS and QP (see above).  I have a lot of work saved in their formats.  Do I stick with them and wrestle these bugs to the ground?  Or are there solid AOS-friendly apps I can switch to?  I know WS's format quite well; it's the app itself I really like.  Reputedly QP was, er, inspired by Lotus Smartsuite 1-2-3 -- to get the marketing joke, try counting "1-2-3-4" in Spanish) -- with QP's "WQ1" apparently being similar to LS's "WK1".  Only, I never checked.

Anybody feeling inspired?  Please?

In another topic, "Copying text strings to AOS-5.1 clipboard in 'C'", I asked if anyone could guide me in programming copying text to the OS/2 clipboard. This got kicked around, with suggestions made for further reading (which I am still exploring, thanks all). Martin Iturbide wrote:

[...]  If you want to develop something, and don't mind sharing the source code, I would recommend you to post here your sample and what error/stopper you get, and see if we can help. [...]

I am still open to ideas about the clipboard.  Meanwhile, here's the help screen from a strictly-for-fun CLI  project, which caused the question, that I've been visualising for when I can get back to Real Programming -- a try at a better password generator.  If features ought to change, constructive criticisms are welcome.

PASSWORD 2.0 : Copyright (c) 2023 by Andrew Stephenson, free for non-profit use
Usage: PASSWORD  [<Modes>] [<MinSymQty> [<MaxSymQty> [<PwdQty>]]] [<XList>]
   [...]   optional items.  <Modes> and X/x act in turn, likewise <...Qty>s.
Password (pwd) symbols (syms) are ASCII printables. // LUDPSA toggle sym types ON/OFF.
ETGC set behaviours ON. // Sym types are...
   L or l   Lower case letters -- default qty = 26  )
   U or u   Upper case letters -- default qty = 26  )
   D or d   Digits -- default qty = 10              ) A or a : All of LUDPS
   P or p   Punctuation -- default qty = 21         )
   S or s   Separators /|\<>(){}[]                  )
If none of LUDPS is ON, LUD are set ON. Each 8 syms, or part of 8, causes inclusion of
at least one sym of each ON type. // Behaviours are...
   E or e   Exclude XList syms. Default = XList is ignored without this mode.
   T or t   Type of sym is chosen randomly, then sym is chosen randomly. Default =
      sym is chosen from a pool of used types (for different probabilities).
   G or g   Group pwd syms in blocks of 5, 10 blocks/line.
   C or c   [[coding hazy]] Copy pwd to clipboard with <PwdQty> forced = 1.
<MinSymQty>   Minimum sym qty. Range = 6..200, default = 8.
<MaxSymQty>   Maximum sym qty. Range = <MinSymQty>..200, default = <MinSymQty>.
<PwdQty>   How many pwds to generate. Range = 1..10, default = 1.
<XList>      X (or x) then a sym string. Default = XBDIOQSZbl| (digit look-alikes).
Examples:   "PASSWORD" works as "PASSWORD LUD 8 8 1".
      "PASSWORD p Xgreeps 9 d 15 L 7" works as "PASSWORD LDP 9 15 7 Xgreps".

New User is likely to test the generator with just "PASSWORD", which produces:
   PASSWORD 2.0 : Copyright (c) 2023 by Andrew Stephenson, free for non-profit use
   To see help screen, enter bad command -- eg "PASSWORD ?"
   ...then password appears

RNG = C 32-bit Galois m-sequence generator (see Wikipedia) seeded by 'clock_gettime()'.
High 16 bits are used for random number. This allows all-0 values; also, precision when
scaling greatest range (LUDPS w/o XList, 0..93) feels good enough. When seeding, RNG is
likely to be called once for each 1-bit in time's microseconds value.

Early on, the bits in an 'unsigned long' are counted. 32 or more is okay; anything less
causes a warning message plus the help screen (as above), then an exit.

A tricky algorithm discourages runs like "qqq", "321" or "567" without forbidding them.

Note Mode C (copy) which needs clipboard code for the password text: up to 201 chars of ASCII. The text is held in the same block of RAM that holds the Help Screen, which might only be displayed early in the program's execution, during parsing and reconciliation of the command line's elements

Programming / Copying text strings to AOS-5.1 clipboard in 'C'
« on: November 13, 2023, 09:44:57 am »
While waiting for my new m/c && AOS-5.1 to arrive, I've been keeping my brain busy outlining an app which, if it works nicely, I'd like to offer to the AN Free Fun Stuff section.  May I keep its nature vague for now?  I'm hoping someone can show me some simple 'C' code that copies text to the AOS (5.1, if it matters) clipboard.  I admit to being lazy but I do want to get it right (and safe) and researches suggest clipboard interfacing can be a can of worms.

Essentially, my app supplies char *pText where the string pointed to can be up to 200 chars (plus final \0) long.  If commanded, the app generates the string and copies it; otherwise, the string is only displayed on screen, allowing it to be redirected or piped in the usual way.

Maybe this has been asked before.  I did look but maybe in too much haste.

Hardware / Using a UPS to save SSDs
« on: November 05, 2023, 03:09:15 pm »
This is a follow-up of topics re setting up my work system...  A nice person (whose permission to quote names I have yet to obtain, hence vagueness here) is arranging for me to acquire a Lenovo M900 with 8GB RAM and 250GB SSD.  In due course, all being well and that permission having been obtained, I hope to regale you lot with Usefully Thrilling Tales of success and merriment &c.

A remark by Ivan "Moving archived SMTP emails to AOS-5.1 Thunderbird", re him using a backup PSU to keep files safe (thanks again, Ivan), set me researching how SSDs behave when power feeds turn dodgy.  (See. eg, Wikipedia's "Solid State Drive" & "Uninterruptible Power Supply".)  The news is not good: not only is whatever you are recording to SSD (or working on) apt to get broken but so too is the hardware.

My plan during work sessions: load RAM Drive with files being developed, do work, then save new file versions back to the SSD.  Which seems likely to go a lot better if I had an UPS minding my back.

The likely UPS load is:
* computer -- up to 90W;
* display -- up to 22W; and
* desk lamp (LED equivalent of hot-wire 60W) -- 9W (so I can see to close everything down tidily).
Total therefore == up to 121W.  (Roughly.)

I have been looking at the APC ES700G -- but it seems to have been discontinued.  It switches over to battery, if mains power goes awry, in 6-10msec IIRC.  Waveform is a stepped pseudo-sinewave.  On the whole the design seems rational, though battery (lead acid) life could be as low as 3 years.

Does anyone have a personal favourite I should look at (here in the UK, NB)?  Ta muchly.

Mail-News / Moving archived SMTP emails to AOS-5.1 Thunderbird
« on: October 19, 2023, 03:51:43 pm »
I'm still getting my system organised, so this question belongs in the "forward planning" pigeon-hole.

I need to move archived emails, some quite old, to my anticipated AOS-5.1 Thunderbird installation.  These exist as groups of files with names the same as topics covered by SMTP-form sequences within those files.  Eg: "family", "friends", "tax", "new computer".  Call these "content-files".  They may be within directories representing (eg) years: "2022", "2023" &c.  A couple of archives also have files with the same names as the content-files but oddball extensions, whose job seems to be to index the content-files.  But these are unreliable, so basically I only have sets of content-files.

Archive sources: KA9Q package, 1989-2014-ish, created when I was on dial-up with ISP Demon Internet; Apple Powerbook G4, 2005, Thunderbird; Dell Latitude, 2023, Thunderbird.

Thunderbird in both 2005 Apple and 2023 Dell has oddly limited ways of importing archives, none of which comes close to coping with ancient KA9Q stuff.  Is there an easy, tidy and reliable way of putting content-files where AOS-5.1 Thunderbird can find and index them, making them available via Thunderbird?  If the new archives can be in a partition ("E:") reserved for such materials, away from AOS Thunderbird's code, that would be even better.

[Edited 17 Oct, after further talk with Qiet PC]

I'm still trying to rescue my fiction writing / casual C programming / personal paperwork environment.  My needs are simple: mostly text (WordStar-for-DOS in the DOS session aided by old-but-good Win-3.1 tools), plus email and Net commonplaces.  So no gaming graphics, flashy light arrays or 4D sound. :-)  Heritage stuff carried over from eCS-2 will feature.

Researches led me to ASUS, who seem more creative than Lenovo, their comrades across the water.  They suggested I try a UK outlet, "Quiet PC", who assemble quality m/cs of recent vintage, testing and mailing in 7 days in a friendly and competent fashion.  Their website lets you select from menus.  One deal interested me.  Has anyone had experiences with these components?

15 Oct 2023 -- from UK-based "Quiet PC" ( [Edited 17 Oct]

Specification : UltraPN52 Pro 5 (website has more details)
Model : UltraPN52 Pro 5
Option : no OS (thus no Windows Tax, saving around GBP119)
CPU : AMD Ryzen 5 5600H (H == lower power), 6C/12T, 3.3-4.3 GHz, 7 GPU Cores
RAM : 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1x 8GB DDR4 SODIMM
Graphics : AMD Radeon Graphics
HDD : Solidigm 512 GB SSD
Wireless : Intel Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 -- [Edited] Wireless sub-card can be unplugged
LAN : Realtek 2.5G LAN
Side : 1x Kensington Lock
Front : 2x Microphone, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x Audio jack
Back : 1x USB 3.2 Gen2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C (w/ DP output & PowerDelivery input),
   2x HDMI 2.1 Port, 1x Display Port 1.4, 1x 2.5G RJ45 LAN, 1x pad-lock, 1x DC-in *
Dimensions : 120 x 130 x 58 mm (WxDxH) [FWIW: 1" == 25.4 mm]
VESA mounting bracket : Yes
Weight including SSD and memory : 1 Kg [FWIW: 0.454 Kg == 1 pound]
Warranty : 24 months / 30-day "good condition" return
Price : GBP635.90 -- [Edited] Value Added Tax (20%?) included. (NB: Exports would have no VAT)

*Rear USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C port supports DisplayPort output

Okay, the price is a little scary; but this is a m/c I'd be relying on.  Quality matters.

Elsewhere in the AOS-5.1 jungle...  Once my main m/c is sorted, I plan to buy another licence for a Dell Latitude 3301 notebook, currently infested with W*nd*ws 10 -- any experiences there?

Thank you for whatever guidance you can supply.  Other questions await (like, how does AOS's higher-4GB RAM disk present itself -- maybe as just another drive partition).  Stay tuned for more exciting episodes.

Setup & Installation / Multiple installations of AOS?
« on: August 30, 2023, 03:34:17 pm »
This is my newbie post to the Forum, so please excuse dropped clangers.

Way back, around the Dawn Of Humanity when IBM was marketing OS/2, their legal paperwork included text that could be reduced to: "We don't care how many machines you install a copy of OS/2 on, if only one is in use at any one time."

Is this still true of AOS?  My hope is to use a desktop machine for work (mainly fiction writing with scraps of 'C' programming), keeping a notebook as emergency backup (once purged of Windows 10).  If materials must be moved between them, I can use USB sticks, thereby keeping only one m/c in use at a time.  Does this count as legal and ethical behaviour?  Or must I invest in 2x AOS-5.1?

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