Car Compasses: A Historic Technology Scam

I see them in geezer cars, sitting on the dashboard, always wrong; they were sold for decades. ... I have one, given to me by my mother long ago; I believe she received it from some old friend in a gifting incident. I still have the detailed instructions on how to make it work. This technique of detailed instructions became inoperative in our modern internet ADD era, which is a good thing — no one believes anymore that following the pages and pages of intricate instructions will make anything work that didn’t work right out of the box, and by and large they’re correct, although there must be occasional exceptions....

But in those golden pre-internet days, many typically-progressive technically-minded people would buy these things, and often insist that they just had to adjust them a little bit more to get them to actually indicate compass directions correctly, when mounted on their car dashboard surrounded by giant pieces of steel, using the pages and pages of instructions. ... I’ve never encountered one that worked, and I’ve encountered a few that don’t. Actually my mother’s gift is fastened to my wall here, more-or-less indicating the correct direction after I moved it around the wall to make it do so. Which is pretty much how the things would be adjusted back in the day; someone will fiddle with it for too long, and then get it pointing the right direction at least once, and try to ignore the wrong direction whenever the car moved. ... Fortunately, my house doesn’t move, so the scam compass is always right, unlike the broken clock....

One of the ironies of this situation is that it’d probably be feasible to make an electronic gadget with GPS or something which’d actually be a more-or-less accurate compass. My iPhone Google Maps app routinely shows me an accurate North even in the car of course, and doubtless a dedicated device could be somewhat cheaper, probably less than the typical (inflation-adjusted) price of the scam compasses, which were typically $40 and up decades ago. .... And I just discovered these never-working things are still for sale! — search Amazon.com for “digital car compass”. ... But they all have terrible reviews, and I assume they’re still magnetic and useless — i.e., scammy, broken. And showing the persistence of ignorance, a unit that looks just like my mother’s is available — albeit at $10 amazon prime (!?), so not enough for most people to bother returning (95 reviews, average 2˝ out of 5 stars).

No doubt my feeble cohorts across the fruited plains fondly remember Daddy cursing at the thing in the golden haze of vacation trips — although I will defend my father from such charges, who I vaguely recall rejected them after brief trial — hence my mother discarding the unwanted gift — so my beloved pater was obliged to curse at other annoyances during our appalling vacation trips. ... Amazon’s “best-seller” compass page is depressingly instructive: no unit had more than average 2˝ star reviews! ... So apparently the thirst is still out there, and the willing suspension of disbelief — but no working units....

— the harmless cranky programmer
8/14


Win7 Command-line Boxes

Within various mysterious limits, one can change the size — and the font, and a few other things — in a Windows “DOS box”. But how do you preserve such changes?

One way I guessified was to use a unique window title. I.e., { start “unique title” cmd.exe } will produce a DOS box that you can adjust (right click upper left hand corner) and which will subsequently show the same adjustments when you use the same title. Note that the double-quotes around the title are required.

This obviously must be documented in millions of places numberless to man, but I just never have the time — or will — to look in those places....

— the cranky programmer
7/14


Broken iPad Star Walk Time Machine?

I touched the clock in the upper right-hand corner of the iPad screen, and a little panel slid out, and then you can touch the hour, say, and change the time and the sky display accordingly. Except the “help / FAQS / time machine” claims I could “Slide your finger on the time machine to move in time” — which worked well-enough by accident maybe to make it look like the feature was entirely bonkers. But the FAQ lies! After you touch the clock to activate the little time machine panel, it also makes a little vertical ruler-looking control appear on the right side of the screen, and that’s what you’re supposed to slide up and down. As the PDF manual explained after I found it by googling for “Star walk manual”....

And the wondrous iOS screen-shot mechanism wouldn’t capture the time machine panel; although it would get the vertical ruler....


SD Bad, HD Good

That’d be the precious little “digital film” SDs which are so cute, versus the old-fashioned old reliable USB hard drives. I’ve been using SDs for the laboratory backup program, basically because they’re so cute, but no más — they just fall-over all the time. And USB hard drives, a derelict collection of “travel” units I assembled as a backup replacement, just work. ... It’s amazing isn’t it? A computer component that doesn’t require constant supplication, as opposed to all the phones and cameras, everything remotely connected to the “cloud”, and of course the SD cards. ... Then again it may be my triumph-of-American technology HP desktop system, which has numerous other crotchets, but all I know is I replaced the SDs with travel drives, and they worked better and faster. ... How can that be, you wonder in gaped-mouth amazement? ... (backwoods dialect) Well, see sonny, it’s this here USB 2.0; it’s ’jes not up to snuff no more, so the SD cards run worse and slower in the SD socket than the travel drives on USB 2.0 or the SD cards with SD-USB adapters — it’s compercated, but that’s computers, heh heh!

... Although in the fullness of time I returned to the SD strategy with at least one of the laboratory’s infinitely-proliferating backups, using a built-in SD socket on a new Acer laptop, which seemed to work better than the previous history. But I’m still wary of the wild SD; OK for music players, the beloved cameras, a little flaky for backup....

... Of course those super SSD drives that everyone must upgrade to, to be even halfway up-to-date — they don’t have any of these SD problems, no no you innocent child, how could you you suppose?!?!? ... But I’ll never know ’cause I never installed such — well, I lie, there’s at least one hand-me-down super-hot imitation macbook “air” laptop, and it boots a little faster but otherwise is unnoticeably superior. ... Although it’s true it doesn’t flake-out relentlessly like the SDs are wont to do; just occasionally....

SDs are fairly cheap — but still more expensive than our beloved floppies — but, apparently, should be used in the same kind of applications: occasional archive/transfer stuff. My “travel” HDs are generally much more expensive, but neither flavor is disposable, at least for me. But the SDs can be reused of course, and some application where things get occasionally copied is probably appropriate. With my experience, SDs are not, sadly, for regular backups. ... And I should note that I’ve discovered a new regard for DVD+Rs as a cheap good-enough backup medium — I’ve recovered data from DVDRs that are ten years old! And I don’t plan for future generations to be pawing over my pitiful backups....

the backed-up cranky programmer
8/16

DO NOT EVER RUN WINDOWS CHKDSK: IT WILL FREEZE YOUR COMPUTER

(12/14) True, it didn’t destroy my computer. But it tried. ... I wanted to check my drive C:, because incidents occurred that made me think it was flaky. The thing I should’ve done at that point is buy some commercial software which might do the job — but there isn’t any, so I should’ve just surrendered to mortality and bought another computer, as I eventually did. ... Or forget about it. ... I backup fanatically, but it’s still horrible to lose my main machine, and there really is no compensation. I’m a cyborg. ... But still I must live with a sometimes flaky computer. That is, it’s just like life.

But before my assumption of wisdom, I foolishly requested Windows 7 to check the drive, including checking for bad sectors (long process). Windows 7 told me it couldn’t do that while the drive was being used, and asked if I’d to schedule a chkdsk for the next boot? LIKE AN IDIOT I ANSWERED YES.

YOU CANNOT STOP CHKDSK.

Not even by pulling the plug and starting again; it simply reboots and starts chkdsk all over again. From the beginning. To finish it, on my terabyte hard disk — an average size, with recent computers — looked like another 20 hours. ... The large and growing idiot lobby on the internet opined that stopping chkdsk in the middle would totally obliterate my computer. It didn’t, and I stopped it more than five times, with killing the power, or holding down the power button, which is pretty-much the same thing. Of course, when you stop it that way, your computer will become a smoking ruin....

How to Stop CHKDSK?

First of all, don’t ever start it. But after I had idiotically trusted Usux™, I was able to stop it like this:

  1. I rebooted about 37 times trying various things. It took the usual 3 or four tries before concluding repeated pressing of “F8” during boot would get me to the Windows startup menu, where I could select “safe mode”.
  2. I think I rebooted in “safe mode” at least once and assumed the computer had gone to computer heaven because it seemed to halt at some stupid Usux™ message.
  3. But then I did that again, and when I let it stew for five minutes, it did achieve safe mode.
  4. With piquant eccentricity it refused to let me do a visible cmd.exe, presumably assuming it was still running in my giant screen instead of the stupid 640x480 or whatever junk the incredibly moronic usux )(*&)(*& spit spit —
  5. However, it did consent to run regedit, like the usux directions wanted:
USUX INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Click the Windows “Start” menu on the desktop and click “Run” (Windows XP) or “Start Search” (Windows Vista or 7).
  2. Type “regedit” in the search box and press “Enter” to launch the registry.
  3. Click “+” under the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” folder to expand it. Click the “SYSTEM” folder and click the “CurrentControlSet” folder. Click the “Control” folder, then click the “Session Manager” folder.
  4. Double-click “BootExecute” on the right pane. You should see the default value of the key set as autocheck autochk * (With asterisk). The asterisk (*) means Windows checks every drive for consistency. Add “/K:C” to the end of the autocheck autochk * After the addition, the final value should look like this : autocheck autochk /K:C *
  5. Click “File” and click “Exit” to close the registry. Restart your computer. The disk check no longer launches at computer start up.

This is from this gobbledygook url where it won’t be when you — or I — look for it again (it wasn’t @ 3/7/15; try googling “stop chkdsk”). Note that none of the usux pages I encountered in this sad struggle would tell me how to get to safe mode, when chkdsk was running for twenty hours; they don’t suggest power cycling. Or maybe it’ll just quit if you press ESC or ^C — just not on my computer. Like usux might’ve just forgot about USB keyboards? ... So many details. ... Could be....

Just to make it more fun there are numerous sites with different advice, many Usux™ (the official designation; sometimes informally known as “Microsoft”).

I will stop ranting for a little while....

Malevolence Obsolescence

7/16: On an innocent windows 7 laptop in the garage, it started itself. ... Oh the horror! From the dark foetid swamps of Usux™ digital heck, it crept up without warning, to render a helpless machine useless. ... Who knows how many thousands — millions? — have so fallen?

The Usux™ malevolent-obsolescence feature is cunningly designed to appear to be doing something, and an innocénte might hesitate to interfere, and would have no way of doing so anyway, and so would just go buy the Windows 10 machine. ... The reason I maintain these pages of technical memoirs is so I’ll know what to do, and a good thing! — another perfectly harmless computer rescued from Usux™ malevolence obsolescence....

— the harmless programmer
7/16


Running XP on Windows 7 (& 8.1 & 10) with VirtualBox

If you loved your XP and didn’t understand why you have to give it up, this is not for you. ... It won’t even run any games, probably. Except solitaire. ... No, I wanted it so I could update a 1993 Casio CZ101 (synthesizer) librarian I wrote and thoughtlessly neglected over the years. ... The following is a compressed summary of the virtual box situation: if, for instance, you don’t know what VirtualBox is, you won’t find out here; google it — goto google.com and search; most people use a search field built-in to their browser if it hasn’t, like Firefox, been hijacked to some broken dreck like Yahoo search. ... Well I suppose I should note VirtualBox is free; and that it works noticeably better than it used to.....

1. Get a more-or-less legal copy of the Windows XP operating system

This is the last Windows that might run 16-bit executables — there are 64-bit XPs, and strictly speaking there’re plenty of 32-bit Vistas, but I guess I meant working Windows. And Win 7 was also available in 32-bit versions which probably run 16-bit executables. But XP’s the outstanding 32-bit remnant. ... The point being, that when the great and incompetent Microsoft went to 64-bits, they broke 16-bits — apparently the CPU can do it, but not Microsoft. Or maybe they just didn’t feel like it.

... Anyway, I googled for “vbox xp appliance” and the first hit was PCLinuxOS Magazine here, who explained how to get a VirtualBox “Appliance” version of Windows XP from Microsoft for free from here. The only catch is you have to “clone” the appliance and use that, so when it runs-out after 90 days, you can just switch to the clone, do another clone & onward & onward. I didn’t try it. ... I told you this wasn’t good for games.

I of course spent good money at Amazon ($30) and Ebay ($8) for my XPs and both appear to be ligit (!?) or at least not wildly felonious, although everything looks scammy and I still have my doubts and I’ll never really know....

The Beloved Windows’ DRM

I’m not up on stealing Windows operating systems — I never even upgraded except with Windows 98 which’d work with anything, but after that I just bought a new machine when the Microsoft planned obsolescence/extortion got too fierce — so I wasn’t all au courant about the enormous long gobbledygook “key” code which is really what one pays a legitimate vendor for, although the installation disc is probably necessary too. I “ISO”ed mine; VirtualBox can deal with the ISO file directly and it makes life easier.

A hint: don’t pay attention to the XP installation (i.e. inside virtualbox) if it suggests you not change the key code — i.e. to the one the kindly vendor has sold you — on the (erroneous) assumption you’re reinstalling into existing hardware. I, as a qualified idiot, took a chance and did just that, calling an insufferable Microsoft robot on the telephone and repeating endless numbers back and forth; which failed. The robot was very contrite. ... So then I went back and changed the key code to the vendor-supplied thing like I was supposed to, and went through the whole rigmarole again, all this of course inside VirtualBox, i.e. after running the virtual XP install ISO — and it did work. This was from the Amazon vendor who sold me a CD which, totally unlike the one advertised, was “strictly for Dell reinstallation” according to printing all over it. ... And oh yes; to start the XP activation program, so I could change my key code, I used the incantation (from somewhere on the web of course) “%systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a” in a DOS box (i.e. inside the virtual XP in VirtualBox, inside a DOS box) and who knows, it might work for you. The eye of a newt will probably help. ... I mean occasionally the activation program starts by itself, randomly of course, because Microsoft’s so playful and winsome....

2. Getting your silly virtual XP on your silly LAN
(but sharing directories is easier)

so I could copy dangerous files and stuff: Not the internet you dangerous fool, XP is like sharkbait up there! ... No no just on the wonderful ethernet I have strung around the wandering ways so all my machines can yammer at each other. I connect to the internet through wireless adapters, and never the twain shall meet I sincerely hope, although you can apparently do that with your VirtualBox if you have extreme self-destructive urges. ... But really, the shared directories route is better....

Anyway, I confess the process was and is puzzling and flaky, but quick ’n’ easy, and I could frequently see my virtual machine when I went “net view” (in a DOS box) on another or the same computer.

  • Inside the VBox XP: remember to “share” drive C: if you want other machines to be able to see the XP virtual drive. XP will fight you like a puma.

  • VBox XP, “Devices” on top-of-screen VBOX menu, “network”, “network settings”, “adapter 1” tab:

    • Enabled.

    • Attached to: Bridged Adapter

    • Name: Intel(R) 82579V Gigabit Network Connection? — you must select whatever looks like the ethernet LAN, not the wireless! ... The wireli seemed to be named so I could tell, and one crate didn’t have a wireless offering....

    • I don’t think I changed the “advanced” settings — which is odd for me. ... Well actually it does seem to provide a way to change the imaginary network card, and I delude myself I did that and something got better; but probably just moonphase. ... But I concluded by using the shared drive thing instead which does most of what I’d want....

  • VBox XP, “Devices” on top-of-screen VBOX menu, “network”: I believe I had to click “connect network adapter”, and after I did, the little XP “disconnected network” icon from the virtual XP task bar disappeared. ... Yes the “connect network adapter” cryptically signals its “on-ness” by a little fallen-in box appearing around some weird graphic, looks like a mouse?

Numeric net addresses vs names vs nada

I thought there was consistency, but I think the bottom line is the vbox network works sometimes, amusingly ... i.e. like my 2014 macbook. ... Although when I installed vbox there it was a treat to see XP with my beloved owenshow running in the mac. But don’t try copying your vbox XP startup icon thingey to the mac task bar; vbox just spits when you try to start that. And the macintosh vbox network seemed much more gershtunk than the windows host renditions. But the Win7 network with the macs works just fine; I assume Apple changed something, and vbox didn’t. ... And for that matter my Windows 7 ethernet works better with the macs even when they can’t see each other!

... And actually the vbox XP network works frequently, maybe more than real XPs, particularly when mapping a real computer share to an XP drive inside vbox, but the other way round doesn’t seem to go good. Or at least not often. ... It seems as if I can map real drives, including local drives, into the vbox XP with ease. So in a feat of rubegoldbergesque daring which is so typical of my beautiful technical world, I can copy things to host drives, and then copy from them, in pool ball ricochet bouncing-around style. ... And maybe the vboxXP drive can get mapped by that host....

And then in the fullness of time, after one of my Vbox XP networks stopped working almost entirely, I went and ritually changed bunches of setting to no effect, but then after changing the “mac address” to another randomly by clicking the little Vbox button, it started working good!

3. Shared directories are better

... Of course you could just share files with vbox’s shared directory feature instead of my dangerous LANing around. I scurrilously alleged here before that vbox sharing was cranky, but it’s more like tongue-tied; once one understands what they’re trying to say, it’s really quite useful. You can designate any real hard drive path to appear as a virtual drive in the vbox XP system, writable or read-only. ... Tip ’n’ tricks:

  1. Before adding/changing shared folders, you must shut down your virtual XP with “power off” or something, instead of “save”, where you just put it in suspended animation. ... Actually, with my vbox XPs, the emulated power-off really was just as fast: it takes but a moment, while the save takes quite a while, the trade-off being the emulated power-on boot taking longer, but it feels like a wash. ... And of course with the save route, vbox’ll let you set-up numerous shared folders (and other features), and then spit at you when you try to start the thing. ... And then after a while doing this, vbox claimed the thing was “aborted”, but that was apparently just a snit; worked OK the next time....

  2. You might prefix the “Name” you give these things with sequence numbers as shown . If you want vbox to automount them, vbox’ll decide which letters they get, which starts at some arbitrary letter and goes up. If you’d prefer them to have some order, then numbers or something at the front of the names’ll sort them like that. It’s probably pretty easy to mount them inside the virtual XP — in a startup batch file or something; I never tried, but it’s explained somewhere — but the automount requires less thinking....

Share the C:

And then I realized that instead of screwing-around with the obviously pathologically-flaky ethernet, I could just map the local C: drive to the vbox thing — with the read-only option of course — which mostly takes care of my frivolous program-copying necessities. ... Using my pitiful OwenShow, you understand, which is actually good at traversing directories, i.e. as opposed to the we’re-all-friends Windows file explorer....

Macintosh shared directories: Use the double-click Luke

On the other hand, vbox sharing barely worked on the Mac, at least with Apple’s operating-system-of-the-week. Some smart person thought vbox should pop-up a finder window when you click the “edit shared directories” icon in vbox, and it wouldn’t let me type in it. Which wasn’t so bad, except that when I clicked “choose” in the finder window to select my chosen directory, some invisible speechless cruelly-muted window required some kind of attention — I accidentally managed to click the sliver of a button on it once, but I don’t think I ever figured-out what it was — because it is mysteriously obscured by a large speechless blank window in front of it, without meaning or content. ... And I was so looking forward to seeing my gwbasic programs on the Mac....

But that apparently was all because I was clicking the stupid cryptic vbox “edit” icon! At least, when I went back and plugged in my pitiful ancient “hot car” mouse with only one headlight — instead of using the laptop track pad — and double-clicked the field I wanted to change on the vbox “shared” form — why, I could edit easy! No sweat! Go right ahead son....

4. Endless Miscellany: GWBASIC & so much more...

And so gwbasic’s day came again, and it runs my beautiful SHAPESC.BAS once more =>. I vaguely remembered this towering masterpiece, but I figured the “C” was for “color” or something ... until I copied it to SHAPESD.BAS and added a delay multiplier so it wouldn’t be so ridiculously speedy on my hot vbox XP ’n’ Mac systems! And the “C” flavor was doubtless a comparable modification for a previous new computer in forgotten ages long gone before....

Stackey,TSRs, XP ’n’ me

Back to the decent world of Windows & the ancient keyboard faker Stackey (a primitive rendition of, for instance, MacroExpress, which I have installed everywhere in my modern computery, but functionally more like my own recent kjorg, except that Stackey was born in the foetid swamps of MSDOS and consequently is a TSR kind of thing). Pitifully I forgot how to run TSRs in Windows XP, so when I couldn’t get vbox to install the beloved even-more ancient microsoft Windows 98 which I delusionally believed would somehow accommodate Stackey better, I fretted and fumed, but then decided I didn’t want that old high memory thing anyway. However I did want to jog my memory with Stackeyh.com help, which ran fine in XP, so I could decode my ancient chicken-track-filled batch files and ridiculously incorporate their stackey-style syntax into my pitiful kjorg, so I could once again run 16-bit Turbo C in all its antiquated and primitively-automated glory.

Delusional dreamworld

But it was all my delusional dreamworld, forgetfulness, stupidity; I finally realized/remembered of course XP can install the Stackey TSR, and indeed I’d probably done it myself in those ancient days: just put the magic gobbledygook “lh c:\elsecoms\stackey.com” into the \windows\system\autoexec.nt file, reboot, and indeed my antediluvian 16-bit Borland Turbo C ran in all my ancient shabby automated glory, executing compiles against .PRJ files in a single bound! ... So then I had a remorseful anxiety fit, and dashed about backing-up the marvelous virtual things I had created, so they will never perish in hundreds of weeks. ... With vbox’s “appliance export”....

And I should note that I destroyed my last XP desktop-class computers here in paradise within the last few years — saving the hard drives, of course; in which I just inspected their autoexec.nt files, and apparently Stackey was not installed; must have been in an even earlier XP. ... Anyway, I just didn’t have the room for two redundant desktop systems anymore, even though as recently as a few more years ago I had actually used them for work. ... Such reckless wasteful folly! ... But in recognition of my new virtual world, I took my last functioning XP machine — an adorable tiny hand-me-down bricks-itself-very-occasionally ACER laptop — and turned off its wireless, so it will gaily frolic with the internet no more forever (after Spybot let me down); an enforced inhibition I of course imposed without the slightest hesitation on the growing herd of virtual XPs....

Linux MINT!?

And that’s all she wrote! ... My story is so heart-breakingly short so far — but I have only begun to destroy things. ... For instance I got the fabulous Linux Mint into VirtualBox, working as well as Linux ever does, with this helpful page which sadly is more than 15 minutes old and hence didn’t actually correspond to the Linux Mint before me. And I suppose I should note that the VirtualBox additions may have already been installed and working, since I got it from a VBoxish source. Of course they won’t say, and the stuff seemed to work as little or as much before and is it did afterwards; as much as Linux ever does. ... But with VirtualBox, you can do better than the universal solvent of rebooting — so long as you saved a copy of the original giant download, you can get your original hard drive back, untouched by your incompetent non-Linux-ascended-guru hands! ... Of course it’s still Linux....

My librarian

Then, in the tragic end game, it turned-out it was unlikely Virtual Box was going to emulate the joystick/MIDI interface whose hardware ports my 1993 CZ101 synth librarian was writing/reading, back in those never-to-return days. I can still taste my intense frustration when Windows got all softwarey, and I was forbidden to touch those so-hugely-useful hardware thingeys. ... But I will still treasure my Vbox XPs. I got hold of some ancient directories where I had entombed all the executables for 16-bit software that would never run after XP — and now I can get it all back, and revisit those charming simpler days. ... And in the final irony, my 1993 CZ101 “jglib” wasn’t the last gasp! Which was in fact, the 1995 “jcz” — which was the one that worked with the XP joystick/MIDI card. The 1993 code worked with a PCMCIA MSDOS laptop plug-in MIDI card. ... Which leads us right to ...

MSDOS & Win 3.1?!?!?!

I’ll never get it working perfectly, but it does come-up and present me with a beautiful MSDOS 6.22 command line, and typing “win” in there’ll start-up the beloved Microsoft GUI. This kindly fellow’s got it, a 13Gb vbox VHD drive or whatever it is.

No diskettes need apply ...

But I couldn’t figure-out how to get any data into it (or out), so I can’t revive my herds of MSDOS/WIN3.1 programs & batch files of yore. I suspect it’s something to do with concocting just the right disk image (nope). ... But for now, it’s still truly charming....

The Internet Disinformation Standard

Sadly the forum standard for problems like this is that those who speak not only do not know, they actively mislead. ... Because, of course, they’re so very compassionate caring & smart. So kindly caring feeling compassionate internet twits will proclaim all the things you need to get a vbox MSDOS network connection working without confiding how I might get the necessary primitive software into the vbox DOS. I actually got a forum thingey where the guy and the helpful kindly compassionate etc. went on and on, finally declaring victory, and claimed he would try to attach a step-by-step note — and didn’t!

There’s an official-looking vbox thing which seems to be completely worthless. Not only does he observe omerta about how to share the files you need to share files into your vbox MSDOS, but his links to the files were broken, and then when I googled-up some substitutes, his “explanation” was useless. ... I always say, if there’s anything more compassionate selfless and caring than the average internetty know-it-all, it’s an internetty network know-it-all....

So anyway, I’m about 80% certain the Virtual Box MSDOS diskette functionality don’t work nohow and probably never did, no stinking image or not, after installing a bunch of images, not one of which showed the slightest sign of functionality inside the MSDOS emulation — “dir a:[|b:]” just fails.

... But first, when Vbox says

VBOX: “One or more drives are inaccessible...”

or something when Vbox starts, and asks if you want to “check”, I clicked OK, and it gave not the slightest clue, but showed the “Virtual Media Manager” form — get there explicitly like “File / Virtual etc” or ^D. ... Then, one (or more?) of the tabs should have the international “danger triangle” something symbol. In my case it was the “Floppy disks” tab, and in that tab there was a bunch of danger triangle floppy disk images left-over from my pitiful attempts with MSDOS. I right-clicked each one, told it to “remove”, all fixed....

The Final Victory: Use the ISO....

So make that a 99% certainty vbox MSDOS diskette images don’t work. I found another vbox MSDOS VHD (google’s vhd site, the one named “Microsoft MS-DOS 6.22 with CD-Rom Support [Virtual PC VHD].7z”) and randomly discovered — after consistent diskette image total failure — it’s all so simple:

  • In the vbox “settings” for your MSDOS/WIN virtualization, you can right-click on an image of the provided CD (or you can probably add if it isn’t there?), and change it to one’s desired ISO. ... That’s all she wrote! One bullet point! (But there’s some more below.)

  • Both of my MSDOS virtual systems had a CD drive already tacked-on, and obviously that was what was supposed to be used. The kindly caring internetty helpful folk just thought it’d be wrong to tell, they are so compassionate and caring....

Note incidentally that both of my vbox MSDOS systems had the same UUID and vbox gets upset if you try to use a VHD with an existing UUID. I fixed that with the magic mumbo jumbo “vboxmanage internalcommands sethduuid Offending.vhd”. ... All this means that the two systems I found were derived from each other, presumably the beautiful Windows 3.1 virtualization from the other guy, who didn’t provide Windows.

... Anyway, all that nonsense about diskette images — that was just compassionate caring really smart people trying tell me, use the ISO luke! ... I never did learn to speak Stupid Internet. ... So I have plenty of programs that’ll make CD ISOs; imgburn is nice, and its ISOs mounted-up EZ, unlike anything else vboxish so far....

Even Finaller Victory: Mount the VHD in Windows!

In Windows 7 I could

  • Mount the VHD file — the Virtual Hard Disk vbox dos/win system thing I downloaded — on a real Windows 7 drive letter! ... Right-click “Computer”, “Disk management”, “Mount VHD”, and specify the vbox VHD file. But you gotta do it when the vbox system is off.
  • Mutilate it to your heart’s content. Stick in all your beloved “Bluechip” Caldor XT PC MSDOS 6.22 / Windows debris!
  • Unmount it — Vbox’ll just spit if you don’t. Right-click the disk management entry for the disk; in the numbered section, on the bottom of the disk management screen.
  • And bob’s ur uncle! Files right in there. ...
  • And you can add mountable VHDs to the vbox system, which kind of thing we used to do all the time in the so-called real world back in the day when 100 megabyte hard drives were king’s ransom stuff. So ...
    • Win7 didn’t like the VHD vbox created.
    • Vbox however tolerated both a fixed and a dynamic VHD Win7 created (another disk management right-click option). The dynamic flavor is usually a little easier; for me to zip/backup at least. Win7 says fixed is “recommended” or something, probably because people’ll otherwise create a dynamic VHD on some limited storage etc. But who knows. But I could copy 14 megabytes of ancient basement DOS files onto it in Win7, and they appeared inside vbox. Now I can use my beloved OwenView for further mutilation!
    • Sometimes, I had to exit Win 7 disk management and enter it again to detach the VHD I created there; after I copied all my files. A little cranky. Like the whole project....

So that’s two ways to get stuff in and even out-of Vbox MSDOS — which the kind caring compassionate internetty mobs were forbidden from revealing, because of their sacred vow to never explain anything unless it’s useless. ... They look so much cooler that way — and after all, they actually know nothing anyway....

Calm Thoughtful Conclusions ...

I can wait and see if I ever want to get anything out of this admirable fossil; doesn’t seem likely. The ISO route’s pretty good for getting stuff in, and mounting the VHD isn’t so horrible for getting stuff in or out. Although obviously a shared drive’d be more fun.

I am pretty sure there is no VBOX MSDOS Win3 network share one can concoct, or working floppy images. Lots of thoughtful caring compassionate twits do tell of such marvels; but never never never explain them. Or produce the slightest evidence that they ever actually existed....

The Golden Age — NOT

Nope; not MSDOS/WIN3. Sorry, no gilded beauty. I mean, I can run my precious OwenView in XP fine; it was just the ridiculous “64-bit” Windows 7 and then 8 & etc. that obsoleted the poor innocent thing, and all the .com files and their little friends. Since the vbox XP is so sprightly, I assume the more/better excuse is just Usux™, as usual, “encouraging” new purchases with imaginary fairy tales, i.e. planned obsolescence AKA a beguiling conspiracy in restraint of trade....

Whenever I think of some wonder, like my beloved ZMU-based CP/M emulations, it’s true it’d run in my new-found emulated MSDOS 6 — but it’ll run so much better in the emulated XP. And so easy to get in/out with all the shared drives. So, therefore, XP is the golden age in-a-vbox, the perfect Windows operating system, never to return. ... The MSDOS/WIN3 thing is the antique snow globe of my computery youth, with the beautiful bits of 16-bitness drifting down down as we go gently to sleep, in the future....

— the enchanted programmer
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