Thursday, 13 December 2012

Olde Software

I admit it, I hang onto old software. I can't help it, once I find (or found) something that works I tend to not upgrade unless I absolutely have to. My current Windows 7 computer still uses a lot of olde legacy odds and ends that I have used since the days of DOS and Win3.11.

My first real word processing program was Wordstar. In those heady days when I still used to edit a newsletter, I installed Wordstar V4 on my first PC (an XT). In those days you could run the program from a single 360K floppy, with data being stored on the "b" drive (2nd floppy drive). Once I upgraded to an ST225 (20MB), I was able to install the program onto the HDD and things went very much quicker. 

Seagate ST225
Version 5 did not really work well for me, although it did have a lot of additional functionality that I realistically did not use. One of the add-ons was a program called "Letrix" which allowed you to change font properties like BOLD, Underline, Italic, height and width at print time. I seem to recall "/B/W/I *insert text here* /i/w/b would result in a bold, underlined and italicised print. It worked really well with my slow 80 col Panasonic dot matrix printer, but took ages to print a page

Wordstar 7
Rooting around on the internet I was able to find a copy of Wordstar 7 which is working on my desktop. Gee, I still remember how to use it!


Scroll forward to 2013 and I found a copy of WS4, and, it actually works in Windows 7 compatability mode.

Front end of Wordstar 4.
There is a certain smugness in knowing that this piece of legacy software is still able to work so many years after it ceased to exist, and that many look back on it as being the best word processing software around in its day.

When it came to image editing I got stuck on PaintShop Pro Version 5.0.1.  I have been running the same iteration of this piece of software since I got it in 1998. Having used it for so many years I can do things really quickly with it, and it's so  much easier to use than any Adobe product that I may have. Don't get me wrong, my beloved PSP is a entry level program compared to the bell and whistle laden stuff currently available. I also run version 8, but I always found it was no good for labeling and inserting text. I admit that I did try my hand at Adobe Photo Elements and Coreldraw, but PSP was just so much quicker.

About Paintshop Pro
Of course I latched onto Eudora Lite as my mail client many many years back too, eventually graduating to the sponsored version and currently use 7.1.0.9. so I always confuse technical support when I have an email issue. The new open source version did not work for me, I had endless issues with it crashing so reverted back to 7.1.0.9, and the only problem I had with the Windows 7 installation was that I had to change my default directory, and the program works just as well today.

When it came to an HTML editor, I latched onto Arachnophilia years back in 1997 when the very first iteration of my webpage made its tentative appearance.  For some reason I got stuck at version 4 and never moved on. The program has been amongst my basket of software that comes across to each of my computers when I do a re-install, and 99% of my webpages have been created with it. Arachnophilia did move on though, and is now Java based. The current version is 5.5 build 2781. I also admit that I liked the "Careware" philosophy of it's creator.

About Arachnophilia


The final piece of oldie software still hanging in there is my FTP program. I have used WSFTP-LE  for years too, and the same iteration of version 5.08 (probably dating from 1998) gets used when I move files between my website and home computer. I do admit that this is one piece of software I have seriously considered upgrading, but so far have not found a suitable replacement, (although I haven't really looked either).

Somethings never really change, and my software is definitely up there with the best of them. I have never really been one of those that loves upgrading software. If it had been up to me I would have probably still been using Office 97, and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to upgrade to Office 2003! (and that was in 2009). My operating system tends to lag at least 4 years behind too, and I will hang onto Windows 7 as long as I can. 

The thing about living in South Africa with its awful internet and overpriced bandwidth is that it does severely limit your ability to download huge updates, and I deplore loosing the days when I could download a full version of a program; instead today I have to download an installer then hang around for hours while it downloads the program. It is one of the reasons I will not support the Steam platform. I was not amused when I bought a CD with a game on it and then spent 14 hours downloading the game! 

Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I like my coal burning software, and I bet that with a bit of work I could still find my precious Wordstar on one of my defunct drives, I do know I have some of the original txt files that were created with it all those years ago. In fact, now that I think about it, let me see if I can still use WS, it was never all that complicated to start off with.

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