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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


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Hi Drugwash. Two screenshots running 'example_CueBanner2.6.1.ahk' on this vanilla Windows 98 system. The first screenshot appears initially then after several seconds the Unicode dropdown appears to break. The text fields appear empty by default (ie. no cue). Selecting an item from the dropdowns produces just a normal text selection. There is no visible blur or shadow affect anywhere. The lower left 'normal' checkbox appears to have unreadable gibberish text. Clicking 'Click me' produces yellow text on grey that my eyes can't read without toggling back to black on grey. No noticeable change or improvement testing the example scripts for CueBanner v2.5 and v2.6. Just providing feedback if this helps you figure things out, thanks.

01example-Cue-Banner2-6-1.png

02example-Cue-Banner2-6-1.png

Just an aside, vanilla Windows 98 isn't capable of uploading screenshots from a hosting website (that i'm aware of) that requires JavaScript :(

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Oh well, it seems vanilla 98 is quite ill-equipped for such complex task. The 'click me' field should provide some system info, such as the Common Controls version (comctl32.dll) which plays an important part. But the machine code seems to fail too. It's been quite a while since I worked on that code (about three years I think), forgot almost everything. I'll try to look through it, maybe build a special debug version to see what exactly fails.
The Unicode change is expected, it's on a timer, and it most likely fails due to missing compatible font.

In the mean time you may try a test on an updated system if you got any at hand, such as a 98SE (maybe with SP3 and/or RP9 installed) or ME or XP. I did test briefly yesterday on XP in VirtualBox and it worked as expected for that kind of setup (and yes, Unicode change failed there too as there were no specific fonts installed). Can't do that with a virtual 98 because Oracle don't provide the necessary extensions that would allow a seamless shared connection between guest 9x and host (Linux) system so can't (easily) transfer the scripts for testing.

Thank you for taking the time to test and report back. You can look through the example script, change things here and there such as fonts or colors, see how that affects the output (but careful not to break the system). That's how you learn, that's how I learned too. ;)

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== Audio Streaming ==

= Overview =

Thanks to forum member @Sergiaws for bringing up streaming radio on another thread, got me curious. Haven't streamed audio for years, so international, less advertising. Most Windows 98 media players use outdated HTTPS protocols or HTTP only. Many stations do not make it easy to find the streaming URL.

However, thousands of channels are available via HTTP only and it doesn't take long to come up with some favourites. If the media player doesn't store playlists save the URLs to text. Stream at your own risk - HTTP only using an outdated OS and media player. Below my current ever-changing VLC playlist.

= Streaming Sites =

Internet Radio
The site tracks thousands of stations. It loads okay in RetroZilla with JavaScript disabled. Either click on a genre or select a featured station. In RetroZilla the 'search' box is only visible after changing View -> Use Style -> None. Search results display the station and all important streaming link.
https://www.internet-radio.com/

World Radio Map
A mega list that works okay without JavaScript. Best viewed in RetroZilla with View -> Use Style -> None. Select a city, select a station.
http://worldradiomap.com/list/

Garfnet
The site only offers a few streaming URLs, mostly BBC, most appear to work.
https://garfnet.org.uk/cms/tables/radio-frequencies/internet-radio-player/

= Extract Streaming URL =

The key is extracting the embedded HTTP streaming link from the URL with some cut/paste and experimentation. Try the full HTTP URL first then systematically remove trailing snippets until it works or not. Separators are typically slashes, periods and ampersands.

Internet Radio
Right-click the '.m3u' link of the desired station and in RetroZilla select 'Copy link location'. Now the URL has been copied to the system clipboard. Paste it into the media player and modify as needed.

The example below shows a full Internet Radio link.
https://www.internet-radio.com/servers/tools/playlistgenerator/?u=http://iceradio.net:8000/listen.m3u&t=.m3u

The embedded HTTP link is needed with some modification, here's the magic URL for VLC player.
http://iceradio.net:8000/listen

Other players may require something else, Windows Media Player (WMP) expects this, experiment.
http://iceradio.net:8000/listen.m3u

A second example.
https://www.internet-radio.com/servers/tools/playlistgenerator/?u=http://192.99.83.149:8046/listen.pls&t=.m3u

The '/listen' portion did not work, VLC needs below, no combination worked with WMP.
http://192.99.83.149:8046

World Radio Map
Most station pages have a 'Listen with your player' (English or other language) link in the top right corner. Right-click this hyperlink and in RetroZilla select 'Copy link location'. Now the URL has been copied to the system clipboard. Paste the URL into the media player and modify as needed.

An example URL that worked in VLC, no combination worked with WMP.
http://s2.stationplaylist.com:9440/listen.aac.m3u

Garfnet
Most upper table (non-HLS) links work without manipulation in VLC, none appeared to work in WMP.

= Media Players =

On this system VLC v0.8.6d streams well. Paste the URL into File -> Open Network Stream -> Network tab -> HTTP radio button -> URL box and click OK. Track information is displayed during runtime. URLs can be added to a playlist, saved and reloaded for replay.

In WMP v6.4 paste the URL into File -> Open and it remembers the URL for next session. With rare exception most stream attempts do not work in WMP v6. Me thinks vanilla Windows 98 supports up to WMP v9, an upgrade may help or try a different media player.

Not all media players support streaming, such as TCPMP, and some that should work don't, such as SMPlayer v0.6.7. These are the only media players tested.

= Revolving Personal Playlist =

This system's current VLC playlist, will ever change. Absolute favourite 247 Polka Heaven, the world needs stuff like this now more than ever.

247 Polka Heaven: http://192.99.83.149:8046/listen.pls

Charlie's Party Box - German Schlager: http://87.118.87.46:8444/listen.pls

Christmas Radio Live - http://167.114.64.181:8232/stream

Playback UK - garage rock: http://198.245.62.81:8008/listen.pls

Radio Oldyschop - German Schlager Volksmusik: http://162.210.196.145:22429/listen.pls

The Hum - garage rock: http://91.121.174.141:31802/listen.pls?sid=1

UK Bass Radio - drum, bass, garage, house: http://94.76.216.200:8198/listen.pls?sid=1

Working Christian in Progress - metal: http://158.69.4.114:8622/listen.pls?sid=1

Zalewski Stream - grunge: http://184.154.43.106:8052/listen.pls?sid=1

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One other media player that may work is GOM Player. That was my player on 98SE for a very long time. I'm just testing it now in a virtual 98SE (updated with IE6-SP1, uSP3) and it is able to play the playlist at iceradio.net posted by you above. No luck with a few default links (shown when selecting Add URL in playlist menu), it crashes in GSF.ax. If it keeps doing that, try manually registering the filter by running regsvr32 gsf.ax in the GOM folder.

The version I tried is 2.1.43.5119 from here. Used the full playlist link including the m3u extension; it wouldn't work without it.
The skin in the screenshot is called 11 inspirat by CrystalXP, got it years ago, dunno if it's still available anywhere on the web.357460846_Screenshotfrom2020-11-2923-34-43.thumb.png.fe0ceefe157fcbef63c386471085ac62.png

 

Oh and apparently Winamp 2.95 can handle m3u URLs too. Tried with the same iceradio.net URL.

URLs that use a pls extension return [error syncing to mpeg] which may or may not be due to missing system codecs. I did not (yet) install any A/V codecs in that virtual 98SE.

Edited by Drugwash
added info about Winamp
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Thanks all for the feedback. Fondly remember Winamp from back in the day. Tested GOM v2.1.4.3.5119 and Winamp v2.95, neither worked well here. Apparently Winamp v5.34 is the last version for Windows 98, downloaded from link below, it's the bomb. The installer indicates support for m3u. No extra codecs or complicated configuration needed. Using the modern interface as 'classic' is hard on my aging eyes. Tested only briefly, it appears superior to VLC v0.8.6d for music streaming, history and playlist handling. Makes sense as it's a dedicated music player, very nice indeed. If too lazy to configure playlists just use it's built-in history to re-connect your favourite streams.

Winamp_5.34_Full_Setup.exe, 6.44 MB, no JavaScript required.
https://soundprogramming.net/software/latest-software-versions-for-windows-98/

Personally have never used a weather app, not really sure what it is even. Here i just bookmark my local weather page and several news websites in a browser. The World Radio Map site linked earlier makes it easy to find country/city stations for audio streaming of local news and weather. Not sure if this helps.

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On 11/30/2020 at 3:22 AM, Wunderbar98 said:

Apparently Winamp v5.34 is the last version for Windows 98

Wow, could be my failing memory but I never thought any Winamp version above 2.x would work in Win9x.
There once was a plethora of skins for Winamp, both for classic and modern versions. I still have a few dozen in a folder on a USB stick. But I stopped using Winamp many years ago, switched to skwire's Trout instead only because it was built in AutoHotkey using BASS and back then I was interested in what the BASS library could do. And then I just stopped listening to music altogether, for some unknown reason.

Regarding weather apps, for a brief period I used another of skwire's scripts - sWeather - but that was only under XP since it was built with the newer Unicode AHK 1.1.x. Shouldn't be too hard to build such application in AHK or any other language, the only problem might be getting an API key from weather providers that require one. In Linux Mint I have a Cinnamon desklet for weather, it has ten available weather stations to choose from, of which only one doesn't require an API key (yet). Could be an interesting exercise for the user to build their own applications precisely the way they want them to look and work.

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Thank-you for all responses and contributions. Winamp v5.34 (circa 2007) has been good for several sessions. Sometimes CPU usage sticks at 100% when switching stations without manually stopping the stream inbetween (stop button), monitored with Process Explorer v8.52 minimized to system tray. For some reason CPU usage doesn't always settle so not just temporary buffering. Resolved by closing and relaunching Winamp. Probably a bug long fixed in a more recent release. Most Internet Radio addresses work just by using the embedded HTTP address without further modification.

For whatever reason none of the stations i've streamed require Opus support. Downloaded the plugin, will test if an Opus stream is encountered. Maybe aging, don't care much for skins anymore. Still using the modern theme in Winamp just changed the colour scheme from 'Default' to 'MonoDark'. There are over 40 built-in colour scheme choices.

Suppose anything could be a weather app. I coded a Bash function years ago for my other systems that pops up the weather, handy when a browser isn't open. A quick search did not reveal any obvious free, configurable weather apps for Windows 98. Something lightweight and simple to sit in the system tray. Personally i have no need for this but if someone could help out @Bracamonte that would be cool.

IIRC @Bracamonte you're using the Raspberry Pi. When my old Windows 98 era hardware is due for inevitable upgrade will purchase Arm processors. Leapfrog past 20 years of IMHO overpowered and unnecessary 'modern' hardware. Cheap, quiet, efficient, GNU/Linux and BSD capable - sweet. Although older 32-bit non-SSE2-capable hardware can still run many of the latest GNU/Linux releases, it is no longer possible to run the latest releases of a full featured web browser.

Recently watched an ~11 minute video titled 'Yellowed Keyboard Restoration - Windows 95 Retrobright'. Grossest keyboard i've ever seen. Restored with soap, water, baking soda, elbow grease and a hydrogen peroxide and UV light bath. Query using actual RetrObright. Crazy, looked like new again, fixed the aging yellow plastic. True or trickery?

Edited by Wunderbar98
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There is a current thread about capacitor plague with Windows 98 era hardware that referenced a Wikipedia source. There is probably substance to the issue, however, my Windows 98 era hardware for the most part has been solid, new purchases and give-aways. Not disputing the claim, there may have been motherboards with bad capacitors back-in-the-day replaced under warranty or sent to an early grave. Actually the only old system here that broke in the last few years was a Pentium 4, maybe more Windows NT era. The Pentium 3 stuff has been good.

Wintertime, tend to cleanup old hardware. Most of the work is with a vacuum cleaner, dry paintbrush and human powered air. Unrelated to computing, cleaned out a 1987 Zenith 21" colour television, purchased new but never opened and cleaned. It has good passive ventilation but the vents are not louvered so there was a crazy amount of thick, caked on dust inside (i live in a clean house, really). Quite a job, even used damp rags to wipe clean components, such as the inner plastic case, picture tube, larger aluminum heat sinks and capacitors. No more fire hazard. The television still runs like new, good colour and sound. It was used daily from 1987 until 2000, hundreds of shows and movies, lots of videogames. We also have a 1970s era 'electronic' knitting machine, the electronics still look like new including the capacitors. Why can't new CFL and LED lightbulbs last more than 2-3 years? Sadly we already know the answer.

Still on a Raspberry Pi kick. Seems the only way to run Windows 9x on this type of hardware would be through emulation, which has been done. If some genius was able to port Windows 9x to ARM architecture with drivers...just dreaming. A fellow created a 'Pi-powered Windows 98 smartwatch', very interesting just wanted to share the picture and article.
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/classic-windows-on-a-35-computer-how-to-fire-up-windows-3-1-95-98-and-xp-on-your-raspberry-pi/

The smartwatch project uses QEMU. Began playing with QEMU PC emulator version 0.8.2 again, the best version i've found for vanilla Windows 98. Just used it to install and run 'MS-DOS v5.00 with MS-DOS Shell' on a 32 MB virtual disk from 3 floppy images (Disk0*.img files). May emulate some other older DOS releases for fun or test FreeDOS. DOS emulatation seems snappy through a Windows 98 host even running older 800 MHz hardware. If anyone wants to play with QEMU v0.8.2, it is embedded in my 'Modern Web Browser Emulation' project download. This QEMU release was hard to find on the interweb, think i originally extracted it from an old Damn Small Linux release.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/177106-running-vanilla-windows-98-in-2020/page/21/?tab=comments#comment-1177321

This site was useful for QEMU reference and DOS emulation. Note QEMU v0.8.2 noted above does not use 'change floppy0 /path/to/image/msdos33-2.img' to swap floppy disks. Replace 'floppy0' with 'fda', so something like 'change fda Disk02.img'.
https://www.theblackzone.net/posts/2018/msdos-in-qemu.html

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On 11/29/2020 at 4:13 PM, Drugwash said:

One other media player that may work is GOM Player. That was my player on 98SE for a very long time. I'm just testing it now in a virtual 98SE (updated with IE6-SP1, uSP3) and it is able to play the playlist at iceradio.net posted by you above. No luck with a few default links (shown when selecting Add URL in playlist menu), it crashes in GSF.ax. If it keeps doing that, try manually registering the filter by running regsvr32 gsf.ax in the GOM folder.

The version I tried is 2.1.43.5119 from here. Used the full playlist link including the m3u extension; it wouldn't work without it.
The skin in the screenshot is called 11 inspirat by CrystalXP, got it years ago, dunno if it's still available anywhere on the web.357460846_Screenshotfrom2020-11-2923-34-43.thumb.png.fe0ceefe157fcbef63c386471085ac62.png

 

Oh and apparently Winamp 2.95 can handle m3u URLs too. Tried with the same iceradio.net URL.

URLs that use a pls extension return [error syncing to mpeg] which may or may not be due to missing system codecs. I did not (yet) install any A/V codecs in that virtual 98SE.

I have updated the SP and all future builds will be private. Please update and test if you have time. I had to adjust the pack because I'm running it in Qemu VM and everything works as it should. PM me here because I forgot to save your email. Lycos killed my email after 10 yrs. So I have to bother with google ATM....

Thanks old friend.

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1 hour ago, PROBLEMCHYLD said:

PM me here because I forgot to save your email.

Done.

3 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

There is a current thread about capacitor plague with Windows 98 era hardware that referenced a Wikipedia source.

My Soyo SY-6VBA133 (P II-III) is still working after ten years of 24/7 load, with about one year of stand-by in between and only sporadic launches lately. I have two HP Vectra VL420 (P4) one of which had 9 (nine) bulging/leaking capacitors last time I checked (about two years ago) and the other one failing to start up about first nine times out of ten. Come to think about it most boards that ended up in my junk pile are from early Intel P4/AMD Athlon XP era. I did manage to replace a few capacitors years ago when my eyesight wasn't as bad as now. Did that even for videocards, not only for motherboards.

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Hi Drugwash. Yeah it's a shame about the P4s, similar experience here. To me the P4 is really the ultimate hardware right now, the sweet spot between being able to run the really old stuff like DOS and Windows 9x yet still SSE2 capable for the latest GNU/Linux with the latest web browser. I am seeking some of this hardware now, not sure what i will find. Traditionally i never paid anything for old hardware, just used other peoples left over junk but now PCs seem to have gone retro-crazy. Worst case scenario i pay a few bucks at a used computer store or from someone shady, take my chances with hardware breakage, no big deal. My eyes are still pretty good and my soldering iron is HOT :)

Edit: PS to PROBLEMCHYLD. Gmail announced beginning next year they will likely empty account data that hasn't been used in two years, so log in once in a while. Reminds me to check my old Yahoo account...

Edited by Wunderbar98
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  • Wunderbar98 changed the title to Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...

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