More 486 goodness

Sunday – setup the software for deployment on Monday – so I had naively hoped. Issues were to be had.  On Sunday, I went through the install routine for the 15 year old software.  I am guessing back in 1994 that there were a few less options when installing software.  And it was apparently a foregone conclusion that all installs were by floppy.  It’s taken me a while to get back in the DOS/Win 3.1 frame of mind.

I drudged up a floppy from an old computer that I had laying around waiting for reclamation and managed to get it on one of my servers. Extracted the files to hard drive and attempted to install this beauty of a program. Very few options were presented for the install or how it was to be installed.  It became obvious that if I was not going to be booting off a floppy, that the install routine was not going to work. After speaking to the tech support person on Friday – they are apparently only open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – I was told that I could drag over the existing folder from the current machine and just run the executables from there. No installation needed!

Monday came and I headed off with the handy little USB to IDE adapter to pull the hard drive and image it. Huh. My XP laptop recognized the drive, but apparently didn’t like something about the volume. It was a whopping 270 MB hard drive with 90 of that being the program and data files. I DID see the floppy drive.  Huh. Well that would be about 60 or so 3.5″ diskettes. No, that just doesn’t sound doable.  I retreated while I thought of a new solution. Put everything back together and went back to Lizardwebs HQ to ponder.

Later that morning, after digging around for a couple hours and another call to tech support, I came up with a plan. I *DID* have a very old parallel port ZIP drive!  And it would hold 100 MB of data!  Perfect.  I found the old beast and got it fired up and miraculously, it worked!  And it appeared that the last time I used it was about 1996!  I believe that was the year that burning CDs became more mainstream and I gave up on carting it from location to location.  There were DOS drivers still available!  Things were coming together.

Monday afternoon. Hooked up the drive after the business closed, inserted the floppy and… the floppy drive apparently ALSO doesn’t work. OMG. This is going NOWHERE fast.  Failure is not an option for me, so sat and pondered some more. Well, there IS the other computer on the fancy high speed BNC network connection. Maybe I could copy the install program over the network to the server… Let’s try that. Worked! Ran the DOS install program. Error. Invalid pointer. Son of a GUN!

Well, maybe I could actually copy over the files to the OTHER client computer and THEN to the Zip drive. Client – no hard drive, floppy only.  For the love of GOD.  Okay, let’s see if I can get the Zip ON the client and then copy data.  I think anyone reading this can see how this whole freakin’ data operation was going.

Jumping forward, after 30 minutes to transfer 90 MB of data across a BNC network connection, data was finally retrieved. Got the data back to put on the new machines – and it actually worked.

I received the newest “update” to this software in email from tech support yesterday to upgrade the software package. 2009? Right?  This software is STILL a basic DOS install. I am just mystified by any company that is still trying to pawn off software that uses basic green screen install routines.  I hope their software is cheap, because in my opinion, it surely isn’t keeping up with technology at ALL.  This looks like they could have upgraded this in about 1998 and maybe not have been laughed at.  11 years later, I just have to shake my head.

Anyway, I now have data. I have upgrade. This morning, I will be cutting a newer fancier CAT 5 cable to connect the client and server. And with any luck, the era of the  486 will be over tonight.

Nothing simple is EVER easy.

Author: Eric Erickson

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