2021: Time of Recovery

It has been quite some time since my last post, though finally feel I’m at the stage of spending some time and attention towards this blog again. I was expecting followers to dwindle with the presumption it was no longer active, though it’s been nice to see this hasn’t been the case. It is unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic continues, which has paralysed at least in Australia the freedoms and enjoyment people took for granted.

Over the year I was experiencing chronic sleep apnoea in which I would regularly stop breathing. This had led to a poor quality of life and the need for naps at random times of the day from fatigue. I’ve now bought a ResMed CPAP machine which gradually over time has improved my life significantly. Another change has been the prescription for Ritalin just recently, which has helped me tackle ADHD. It has been slow going, though my spirits are up whilst my life has literally had a reset.

There’s been a couple of changes in regards to this blog. Only recently I’ve started receiving auto-generated e-mails of a ‘share request’ by people attempting to download files from here. The files are currently stored on Google Drive, and Google recently decided in the name of improved security add a resource key to the links making the original links posted here not very useful. Please bear with me as I’ll need to spend some time to update the links.

I’m very much an amateur when it comes to Instagram, though a new dedicated account has been created to complement this blog in which content will gradually appear. For visibility, an Instagram link will now show below the e-mail subscription option.

But for now, here’s a photo of me after a few hours participating in a photo shoot in Melbourne back in July.

2020: The Year That Went Down Like a Disk Full of Bad Sectors

It goes without saying 2020 has been a challenging time for many globally, even just to get toilet paper. As the year is coming towards an end, it went down like a cancerous spread of bad sectors over a failing hard disk.

At a time like this I feel fortunate to retain my job which happens to be in the energy industry, and that all it really meant was working from home and saving a heap of time on commuting. However, to much extent was one of the few things that kept me going through the year. Whilst not everyone was directly effected by the COVID-19 virus itself, many including myself have taken a hit from a mental health perspective with other issues bubbling away. So for me with the exception of remembering to wear a mask, it was often the last thing on the mind and instead was a time of self discovery.

Continue reading

eBay Purchase #28 – Norton Navigator for Windows 95

nortonnavigator_introeBay Purchase Price: $19.95 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

Norton Commander and Norton Navigator have some things in common. Both coincidentally were a motorcycle in the later half of the 20th century, and both were file management software applications acquired by Symantec that are now defunct. Out of the two, it would be fair to say Norton Commander was more commercially successful and competed head-to-head with XTree Gold.

XTree Gold was brilliant in the DOS era, though as with other applications failed to keep momentum transitioning across to Windows. This led to an acquisition by Central Point Software, who in turn were acquired by Symantec. Ultimately Norton Navigator loosely was a replacement for Norton Desktop and XTree Gold aimed at Windows 95.

Continue reading

eBay Purchase #27 – Corel WordPerfect Office 2000

corelwpoffice2000-introeBay Purchase Price: $15 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Very Good

Ever since Windows dominated the PC landscape, Microsoft Office was and still is the mainstay for productivity applications. Major competitors were Lotus and Corel, though market share had slid to the point where it didn’t really matter who was considered second or third place. Instead of attempting to copy like for like with Microsoft Office, the emphasis became about niche feature sets and avoid alienating their existing user base.

As one would gather WordPerfect Office 2000 was competing with Microsoft Office 2000, albeit with more aggressive pricing. In a similar manner, Corel also offered both a Standard and Professional edition, with Professional including their Paradox database application. This copy purchased sat in-between known as the Voice-Powered edition comprising of a headset manufactured by Philips with the Standard edition of the software. Other offshoots included Small Business and Law Office editions for the legal profession.

Continue reading

Setting Up Microsoft BackOffice 2.0 (Part 3)

snaserver2-iconThroughout the 1970s and 80s, computer terminals such as the IBM 3270 crept up in office environments allowing staff to easily retrieve data from the company’s mainframe. Mainframes tend to come with a hefty price tag and due to significant investment and mission-critical functions, are subject to much less frequent changes. Whilst the computer terminals gradually were replaced with PCs, the mainframes often remained. The protocol for communications lived on (e.g. as TN3270E) allowing emulation of the original computer terminals themselves.

In Part 3 I’ll be checking out Microsoft SNA Server included with BackOffice 2.0, following from Exchange Server and Internet Information Server some time ago. SNA refers to IBM’s proprietary Systems Network Architecture dating back to 1974. SNA Server was superseded by Microsoft with Host Integration Server in the early 2000s.

Continue reading

Inspired By Atari: Microsoft Arcade

msarcade-introIn 1993 Microsoft released Arcade for Windows 3.1, as part of their Microsoft Home product line. Inspired by Atari, it was a small collection of games that had been played in the heyday of coin-operated arcade machines over a decade prior. The following year, it also was made available on the Macintosh. Dima Pavlovsky had been the sole developer.

Fitting onto a single floppy disk, Arcade was typically sold in its own retail package. However on occasion the disk was tossed in with some models of Microsoft Mouse, as had been the case with my copy.

Here’s a rundown of the included titles – Asteroids, Battlezone, Centipede, Missile Command, and Tempest which actually contains a little secret.

Continue reading

The PC from The Wimmera

wimmera-pcintroOne weekend I went for a drive up Horsham way, a good two hour drive from home along the main highway between Adelaide and Melbourne. It’s a sizeable regional centre popular for stopovers. Usually when I’m there the only things I might pick up is fuel or a burger from McDonald’s on the way to somewhere else, so picking up a PC was a rare occurrence.

Stored in a dusty old tin shed, the person I bought from had several identical PCs stacked away, presumably scored from a local e-waste depot. Originally these had been used by what was known as the Wimmera Institute of TAFE in the mid 1990s, later merging to what became the University of Ballarat (now known as Federation University since 2014). For those overseas, TAFE meant Technical and Further Education, and operate in a similar nature to colleges in Canada and the United States.

Continue reading

Install & Configure BeOS R5.1d Using Oracle VirtualBox

beboxBeOS despite generally long forgotten (if you were aware of it in the first place) had an interesting past. A Frenchman named Jean-Louis Gassée had for most of the 1980s held senior positions with Apple, where at one point had become head of product development for the Macintosh once Steve Jobs left. He was a staunch supporter of Apple, who believed the company should continue its focus at the premium end of the personal computer market, and that people were prepared to pay up for the Macintosh experience. That was fine to a point, though with more affordable IBM PC clones and Windows 3.0 approaching, this was increasingly becoming unsustainable. By the end of the decade, corporate politics and disagreements with the then CEO John Sculley led to Jean-Louis’ exit in 1990.

Continue reading

Classified: Norton Your Eyes Only 4.02

nortonyoureyesonly-introIn the heyday of Windows 95, there had been a running joke of its security features (or lack thereof). Multi-user account management was nothing more than creating profiles for storing desktop settings and documents. The request to enter a username and password at the Enter Network Password dialog box on startup was often mistakenly seen by less savvy users as a form of security, not realising it’s just credentials for accessing network shares in a workgroup.

Originally retailing for $90 US, Norton released Your Eyes Only (YEO) to up the ante in this regard. Whilst it didn’t overcome Windows’ limitations entirely it added an additional layer as a deterrent. Its main purpose was to keep prying eyes away from files you want private. A Windows 95-based PC with 8 MB RAM were the requirements, with 16 MB recommended.

Continue reading

Work Smarter Not Harder: SmartDraw 3.20

SmartDraw originally dates back to 1994 as a tool primarily for the use of process mapping, organisational charts, maps, and various forms of technical diagrams. The software still exists to this day, although the choice of diagrams has changed greatly and a web-based version is now available.

Today we rewind back to Halloween of 1997 when Version 3.2 was released, an incremental update from the original 3.0 release in 1996. The next major release was a couple of years away, so I’m led to believe this would be the last to support Windows 3.1. A native Windows 95/NT build was also available during the installation process. At the time it had been a much more affordable option compared to its competitors, Visio Corp.’s Visio Professional 4.5 and Micrografx FlowCharter 7.0. The point of difference apart from the retail price tag was to simplify the creation of diagrams to suit the occasional user.

Continue reading