Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hidden Treasures on a PC-XT

I found this old PC-XT in the trash. It's a damn good thing it came with a monitor because I no longer have a stash of these old monitors with the 9-pin connector. I had a bit of fun finding a keyboard to work with it, but I was quite lucky that I had one with a AT-XT switch.

So I hooked this thing up to see if it works. I notice a bit of a rank smell, somewhat like cat piss when I turn on the monitor. But it works, and after all, I'm in the garage. It's got a nice 20M hard drive in it, and a couple of 5 1/4" floppy drives.

After doing a bit of browsing on this computer, I found a directory with a bunch of files that are apparently journal entries. I load up DosEdit and view a couple. They are indeed journal entries! Unforutunately, it looks as if they were written in Wordperfect. I'll be damned if I actually remember how to use Wordperfect (it's been about 20 years) and I'll be damned if I use Wordperfect, let alone this old yellow-screened PC-XT to read the files.

So, I start digging around for some 5 1/4" floppies. The only ones I had were the ones that survived my parents' house fire. I came across a couple of duds, but I found a couple that were fine. I've said it before and I'll say it again, 5 1/4" floppies are incredibly resiliant. They beat the hell out of those piece of shit 3 1/2" floppies that we've been stuck with for freakin-ever.

I take the floppies into the house and put some software on them (yes, I have an old 5 1/4" drive on one of my PCs.) I make copies of the Ace Archiver, Pk-Zip, Q-Edit, and Procomm. Here's a breakdown of what these pieces of software do:

Ace: A fantastic piece of software used to archive files
PK-Zip: Used by Ace to put files into a .zip file (I know how to use the command line, but Ace make it much easier)
Q-Edit: A simple text editor, nicer than DosEdit.
Procomm: Software used to send files over the serial port, and to connect to BBSes. I normally use Telix (which I use on my laptop) but Telix normally doesn't run well on computers this old.

So I install the software, look at some more files, and zip everything I want to look at.

Then, I transfer all of it over to my laptop using a serial cable, Procomm on the PC-XT, and Telix on my Win98 Laptop. I could've used floppies, but I like to avoid them when possible. Even though I like 5 1/4" floppies more than the 3 1/2" ones, they're a pain in the ass when they don't work. Transferring files through a serial cable is much more reliable anyway.

The result? After a couple of months of cleaning out the WordPerfect formatting, translating some French entries through Babelfish, and compiling everything into a workable order, I am able to bring you two extra Blogs: Agnes's Life Journal, and Agnes's Dream Journal.

I will be posting in each journal every couple of days; one post in the Life journal, and two posts in the Dream journal. Agnes is actually a very good writer, so it shouldn't be too dull nor difficult to read.

This journal should be read from the last post to the first. This blog seems to only allow you to sort by newest post first. If anybody knows how to change this, please let me know!

If you think what I'm doing is wrong, please remember that Agnes has expressed the desire through her journal to publish her life story. If you still think it's wrong, then please vent your anger in the comments of this post. Any ethical posts made in the Agnes journals will be deleted.

Now, for those of you who have been waiting, I hope you enjoy! Here's the links again:

Agnes's Life Journal
Agnes's Dream Journal

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