Tagged: Coding, WHCN
Amazon Review of Spinnaker Eight in One with HP200lx palmtop details:
This suite was my best friend back when I had a 286 at home and my work was all IBM-XT. The Database applet does xBase files compatible with dBaseIII+ so I could compile the WHCN Top 1006 Countdowns and catalog all of the carts, DATs and 15inch reels in the legendary radio station "Basement Tape" collection and just carry a 5.25 inch floppy between home and work to tweak the data. Also, the WordPerfect/MS-Word5 style Word Processor links up to the DBFs so mail merging was a snap ... IN DOS 3x, no less.
I pined for this for years and when I got an HP200lx (in 2012) I came to Amazon and bought it. I got a sealed immaculate copy with full Manual (that is a printed book, for those of you born after 1990). The manual clearly and completely tells all of the functions with extra tricks and tips and an excllent major section on doing things in DOS - not just things related to the software suite but lots of stuff about DOS itself.
Now, you do have to have a 5.25 1.2mb floppy drive. Most machines, even relatively old ones, don't have this feature. I just happpen to have a 2003 3.33GHz frankenstein that I use for testing and it has a motherboard with the classic floppy controller and luckily I could change the floppy format in the BIOS to support 5.25/1.2 (WHEW!) so all I needed was a cheap TEAC drive and a card adapter ribbon cable.. frys sold the cable and the drive I got for nothing on that auction site. If this is too tough for you there are companies that convert old floppies or troll the mom and pop computer fixit shops and if you see a classic box ask if you can timeshare it for a few minutes (many old computer folks actually do this just like the olden days - what a trip)
You also need a running instance of DOS. You probably can use a Virtual Machine like DOSBOX, MS-VirtualPC or Oracle-VirtualBOX but that will also likely mean that you will have to convert the actual floppies that come with the package into disk images for the installation. Making images can be done using various Linux or Windows utilities but I think you'll hit a catch-22 in that the 5.25 floppy drive will have "not found" issues unless you go back to an older version of your OS, but that means you might not be able to find an image creator for the old OS that outputs an image format that newer emulators will accept ... and you're stuck in a loop. I may be wrong but I think that Win98 was the last Windows to support 5.25 reading. Personally I just popped a spare drive into my frankenstein, installed a full real instance of DOS6.2 then installed the 8In1 software to that.
Now to get it on your HP200lx (or 100lx or 700lx or 1000lx, I suppose since they all run MS-DOS 5.0), you just have to copy the ENTIRE c:\eight\ directory to a Flash drive and over to the C:\ drive of your palmtop (using a 3.5" floppy as an intermediary... luckily both USB 3.5floppy drives and USB PCMCIA card readers are still available everywhere). Or you can use the Infrared file exchange system, I guess. The key here is that 8In1 HAS to be on the C drive to run so your HP will have to be at least a 2MB version (I got my 6MB doublespeed from PalmtopPaper/Thaddeus Computing).
To run the program you have to Terminate ALL from the palmtop desktop instead of just shelling to the palmtop DOS 5.0 from AppManager. If you just shell to DOS you won't have enough memory... unless you add MAXDOS.
MAXDOS is a free app for the 200lx that serializes your AppManager state and gives you ALL of the machine RAM for DOS sessions right from an AppManager icon click. Search for the file and their article on MAXDOS at PalmtopPaper and follow their instructions. With MAXDOS you can add your own AppManager icon and shell right to the EIGHT folder and start the program all in one click... BINGO!
1) By default, the program is tough to read on the palmtop unless you go over to its Utility menu and change the VIDEO setting. It defaults to EGA, which is fine on an HP but the color scheme doesn't give good enough contrast. Pick CGA then the program will give you a bunch of options for color schemes, use the spacebar to cycle through them and you'll quickly find one that will show all of the program menus and text areas very clearly. Pick that and Save the Settings.
2) If you live outside the East Coast timezone your World Clock applet will not seem to pick this up, all you have to do is tell it your real time zone. The default of Eastern may actually be a combination of a timezone unaware DOS limitation and the author being an Easterner, I forget if DOS held timezone data ;-).
3) Your settings will be remembered... but they will only be applied to the program if you start it from within the C:\EIGHT directory. If you are just at C:\ or C:\BIN (the default for the MAXDOS shell to DOS) and you type a direct start command "C:\EIGHT\EIGHT.EXE" the program will start up with the default settings. This is ok if you are always in DOS and don't mind CD typing every time but if you want an easy shell from AppManager it is tedious. To get around the issue, create a batch file using Memo or another text editor. Name the batch file START8.BAT and put these 5 lines in it:
Save that little script file as START8.BAT in the C:\EIGHT directory. Now in ApplicationManager create (F2) or open (F3) the settings for your custom program start icon and type
Path: C:\BIN\MAXDOS.COM C:\EIGHT\START8.BAT
In the Comments field type an upside down question mark by using FN+3,this special character tells AppManager to automatically come back after exiting a DOS program.
Before I remembered my DOS I thought we had to create the CFG file on a full pc, copy it over and always type into the EIGHT directory manually to make it the current folder. The BATch file is smarter (All coming back to you now, isn't it?:)
This is a great program. It was great in its day and it is still great as retroware. It makes my very cool mighty-mite HP200lx MS-DOS 5.0 palmtop even better. And the manual is just plain stunning compared to the manuals written over the past several years. There is something to be said about the days when software couldn't be updated instantly over the internet... they put full effort into making things rock solid BEFORE SHIPPING.
So glad I bought it. Lots of fun.
Go on, goto PalmtopPaper.com and get an HP palmtop that runs FULL DOS for months on 2 regular AA batteries (With INSTANT-ON, for gods sake), and try out Spinnaker Eight In One. Here's the Amazon page for the software (till they are all gone)