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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


Wunderbar98
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On 6/24/2021 at 3:02 PM, dencorso said:

It's said he got more and more paranoid, with time passing. Then again, he faced all but certain 30y prison time, if extradicted to the USA. IMO, under the circumstances, practicing autothanasia does seem a very racional way of escaping a lot of potential pain. May he RIP! I used his software back in the 90's... at that time it rocked.

I'd like to think we were all living a little vicariously through John the last few years.  The photo's of him holding a rifle in the jungle, who could argue with that? 

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On 3/1/2021 at 9:01 AM, Wunderbar98 said:

Finished Half-Life (Half-Life, Opposing Force, Blue Shift) months ago using Windows XP with Steam. Finally deleted my Steam account (took some messaging and emails) and threw the game away. It's not like me to throw stuff away but i do not intend to install Steam or play the game again. I also did not want to give the game away, encouraging yet another Steam account, if Steam even allows re-using a game on a different user account. Having grown up old school, Steam and DRM are not my idea of gaming and software ownership. As mentioned sometime before, bought the game in 2005 without realizing it was a Steam release. I know there are work-arounds to extract game data and bypass Steam but that's not what Steam wants so to the trash it went.

How did you contact them exactly? Which email?

Technically, you don't own Windows 98 neither, you just have a license to use it. It's not like a lot of developers have it any good neither. If you're working as one for the living, the final result is often not yours (never even?). The company owns the software, you're just a cattle to achieve their goal that only gets chump's change in return. Don't tell me it's not a chump's change, Cristiano Ronaldo makes millions yearly for kicking the ball around...

Steam is just another distribution channel that happens to offer DRM among other features to game developers. And they happen to have sales when prices really drop, I guess that's one factor that contributed to popularity of the platform. If you're a developer, you're not required to use DRM, just have to look beyond AAA developers. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a good example. Obviously obtainable at places other than Steam, but even if you get it off Steam, it launches without it.

How times have changed, back in 2004 it was like: "Wut? I need an internet connection and activate Half-Life 2 online? Screw that, I'm buying DOOM 3." Later: "Crap, why does this game lag so bad?"

Edited by UCyborg
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As usual thanks for all responses. From what i've read it seems John McAfee had good reason be be paranoid, the charges were serious including murder. Depending on your belief system and what actually happens, man's judgement wouldn't be my biggest concern.

Your old bug collection sounds interesting @Drugwash. I remember a YT video once, something like destroying your Windows 9x system with viruses. Entertaining only if it's not a production machine.

I remember commenting a while back that i don't typically re-install an OS on the same system, just repair and move on. The exception, setting up Windows 9x on unsupported hardware which may require much trial and error. The other exception to me would obviously also be if the system was exploited or suspect compromised. I wouldn't trust a 'fix' and would start fresh.

It's been too long, can't remember exactly how my Steam account was cancelled @UCyborg. From poor memory i think it was an internal Steam message requesting same, then confirmation via the email account associated with the Steam account. Sorry if not helpful.

To me it's amazing the slippery slope. If i hadn't mentioned before i remember Richard Stallman speaking once. Something like, imagine in the 1970s if someone told you to use a phone that could track your movements, purchases and habits, record phone conversations, take unintentional pictures or video and potentially access your financial and health records. Almost everyone back then would have said this is craziness, 1984 type stuff. Well now people can't even turn the bloody things off long enough to safely cross the street or drive to work. I was hiking recently, there were more tourists flocked around a hotspot staring at screens than on the trails :(

Did a little reading on Row Hammer and SMASH attacks, pretty scary. Fortunately my (old) RAM is immune and my cell is too dumb to make much trouble. Just heard about the latest Windows 10 print spooler vulnerability (PrintNightmare), potential escalation to administrator privilege. Recently so much bad news about ransomware, data breaches, password hacks, telemetry, hardware backdoors, etc.

To me the best defenses against network exploits is to disable or remove unnecessary network software, use a firewall, use two factor authentication, install trusted software from trusted sources, real time system monitoring (CPU, RAM, network), long unique passphrases, limit online connectivity, encrypt important data, proper backups, frequent cache and cookie clearing and blocking almost all JavaScript. Not saying my systems don't have holes, probably plenty.

To all those who do harm through computers and networks, shame on you. Everyone has different beliefs and ideologies, i believe we will eventually be judged on our thoughts, words and deeds. The world is presently struggling in so many ways, more than i've ever seen. Please use your computing energy and skills to accomplish something positive for the human race.
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> imagine in the 1970s if someone told you to use a phone that could track your movements,
> purchases and habits, record phone conversations, take unintentional pictures or video
> and potentially access your financial and health records. Almost everyone back then would
> have said this is craziness, 1984 type stuff.

Absolutely! It will always be beyond me that the big majority of users seem to have ZERO worries about that today. Can't get it, never will. And much worse, it becomes more and more impossible to escape the obligation, no alternatives anymore. And just the last weeks DE+EU made new laws which completely break all privacy rights again, demanding that even private chats etc. must all be monitored and filtered by providers, and people risk getting canceled or worse, without having a clue of a possible crime of theirs. Any public outcry, for weeks? Of course not, as usual such news are nowadays hidden so well that hardly anyone has a chance to even notice - and if they do, people still don't care :-( And the few who do care, can do nothing either. Frankly, those times are getting scarier and scarier, the decline so accelerated it's rather free fall now. No hope anymore :-(
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The Wikipedia article about Rowhammer says, that this problem of disturbance errors in chips was known since the 70s. To fix that, methods "such as improving the isolation between cells and performing production testing" were used. I wonder, whether the physical size of the chips has something to do with that, too. I mean the density, the "nm" stat, which is used to play "who has the coolest PC" on schoolyards.

Speaking of product testing: That Dot-Matrix printer that was sitting on the attic was obviously well tested! It turned on like it was new. Drivers for this NEC P5200 are built in Windows 98 already. And off goes the screeching machine. Unfortuneatly the ink band has dried up and some foam inside the ink cassette has gone broken, but there are spare parts available for that 31 year old printer. Looks like a solid machine!

This example should show us, that if the old products are in use, there will be spare parts for them (I've seen several yewllowish Dot-Matrix printers at unusual places in several companies). Last month I got a new battery for a Nokia mobile phone, approx. 20 years old. Hopefully the 2G mobile network for the old phones will stay here in Germany, but if enough people are using it, it probably will stay even longer (and if the areas without mobile phone connection other than 2G aren't upgraded).
Making smartphones mandatory for things of the daily life wouldn't work. It would lead to problems, because there are enough people not using them. Imagine all the grannies and gramps in front of the supermarkets: "But I just want to by some coffee!"

@siria: Too pessimistic! I know some young people without smartphones. They communicate in the proper way, offline. However the majority of course...

Hey, maybe the hackers should be encouraged to penetrate the new technology? Maybe that's their plan? To return to "old but gold"!

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On 7/9/2021 at 9:57 AM, Gansangriff said:

Last month I got a new battery for a Nokia mobile phone, approx. 20 years old.

Another old nokia user :roll1:. I am getting 3330 (3310 with csd) soon and was able find multiple brand spare batteries from multiple local stores still which amazes me. Same applies siemens and samsung phones from late 1990-early 2000 found spare batteries to all. Good luck trying find half decent non oem replacement to modern anti repair smart phone. I can swap battery in seconds with only using hands from every phone I own.

On 7/9/2021 at 9:57 AM, Gansangriff said:

 Hopefully the 2G mobile network for the old phones will stay here in Germany, but if enough people are using it, it probably will stay even longer (and if the areas without mobile phone connection other than 2G aren't upgraded).

Making smartphones mandatory for things of the daily life wouldn't work. It would lead to problems, because there are enough people not using them. Imagine all the grannies and gramps in front of the supermarkets: "But I just want to by some coffee!"

I hope same here too. Elisa will kill 3g here soon. It is shame but not end of world as long as 2g remains. It will atleast over 2023. I assume coverage issues with 4g and amount of users still on 2g wont cause it go away. I do not want world with only smartphones, smart cars etc.

 

On 7/9/2021 at 9:57 AM, Gansangriff said:

@siria: Too pessimistic! I know some young people without smartphones. They communicate in the proper way, offline. However the majority of course...

^This. I got no smartphone but can still talk to my friends even some have moved other side of planet. There was communication methods before smartphones. And if your friends are real friends they do not put you smartphone as requiment to talk

On 7/9/2021 at 9:57 AM, Gansangriff said:

Hey, maybe the hackers should be encouraged to penetrate the new technology? Maybe that's their plan? To return to "old but gold"!

They have. They have proved to hijack smart cars, hacking smartlocks, smart fridges, disabling power lines etc. to show weaknesses of them but peoples are willing to ignore all those issues because "why would someone attack me I have nothing to hide and never done anything wrong". Bot that is trying find attack surface does not care what who you are, they will try every address on range. I have had some port scanning my firewall and wonder how long smart car or other would stand it.

 

Edited by Mr.Scienceman2000
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Quote

Smartphone ownership among seniors varies substantially by age: 59% of 65- to 69-year-olds own smartphones, but that share falls to 49% among 70- to 74-year-olds. Smartphone adoption drops off considerably among adults in their mid-70s and beyond. Some 31% of 75- to 79-year-olds say they own smartphones, while only 17% of those ages 80 and older are smartphone owners.

Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/

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Good to hear from you @siria. Seems we're getting funneled towards something that may not end well. I've been able to avoid most of this but in reality things change and appear to be slipping away. And yes, no public outcry. The general populace is too busy or distracted and leadership is pre-occupied with emergencies. The 'no big deal i have nothing to hide' argument no longer applies. Everyone has an identity to protect and most have digital bank account(s) linked to either a phone or email address.

This article was long but pretty good, 'Why we will win the war for general-purpose computing'.
https://cheapskatesguide.org/articles/war-on-gp-computing-farnell.html

As per this 'technological optimist', there is hope. For sure there will always be a need for 'general computing'. There has never been more hardware available, across many generations of computing. And there have never been so many non-mainstream operating system choices, many open source, covering a broad spectrum of hardware requirements.

Still with the printers @Gansangriff, very cool - dot matrix. Now you just need to convert images to ascii before printing. Regarding Row Hammer, chip density i think yes, thank goodness for good old RAM. To me the 'grannies and gramps', as you say, will eventually pass on and the new(er) generations will already be indoctrinated into the 'new' era, just a matter of time.

Thanks for your input @Mr.Scienceman2000. I don't care for a 'smart' world either. To me it generally means 'users' are actually getting dumber, in a sense, trusting (often unaudited) software to take care of their needs. Replacing batteries on older stuff is for sure true, easier and often cheaper. Don't know why the 'right to repair' has become such an uphill battle. Oy yeah, product churning means higher corporate profits.

Thanks for the smartphone usage link @UCyborg, based on this i must be 100 years old :)

Sad Firefox usage is dropping. To be honest i don't use it directly but my go-to 'modern' full-featured browser of choice uses much of the code and security fixes. The chart linked below (PNG image) appears to say it all - you will be assimilated.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:StatCounter-browser-ww-monthly-202011-202011-bar.png

Just did another full Windows 98 backup, it's been several months. The system is stable, most software is now installed and tweaked so not much will likely change. Still the best Windows 98 system i've ever set up and utilized. Aside from internet facing limitations, not much excites me anymore with newer operating systems, not even the GNU/Linux side. I was reading up on some proposed Windows 11 stuff. Some changes include rounded corners and the blue screen is now black, how terribly exciting.

If you've got your ears on @Drugwash - hang in there my friend :)
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33 minutes ago, Wunderbar98 said:

If you've got your ears on @Drugwash - hang in there my friend :)

Thank you for the encouragement. :worship: Checked the electricity bill, it may take another month before they cut it so I may still stick around for a while. :)

My browser of choice for some time has been Pale Moon, which falls into the Other category. I always liked being in that category regarding many other aspects of life.

Talking about browsers, the Wine IE - which actually uses a Gecko engine - cannot open certain MSFN links pointing directly to a comment number; it says:

Quote

Bad Request
Your browser sent a request that this server could not understand.

Could be an old version, or my settings, dunno - just thought I should mention it just in case.

I have a fairly old Lexmark E352dn monochrome laser printer that used to work just fine under 98SE even when connected through LAN; it did require drivers though, but they were (maybe still are) available on the official site. Unfortunately after being off for a year or so it stopped pulling paper from the tray so now I'd have to feed it manually sheet after sheet. Can't find the drive (and strength) to open and try to fix it; the rubber rollers have probably hardened. If I recall correctly alcohol (isopropyl) softens rubber way too much and soon they could even lose shape, so I'd need another idea. Well, that's just in theory because... you know... my time seems to be too limited. ;)

As for smart stuff... well, let's say I have yet to find a device that could perform exactly the way I want - and not they way its manufacturer wants (which usually means backdoors, advertising, missing options etc.) So no thanks, I'm fine with my ~15 year old Huawei U1220s (WCDMA, not GSM) and for a while I also had a Nokia 2630 with a different operator. A few older phones are in a box somewhere in the house but their batteries are most likely dead, and would probably blow up if recharge were attempted.

For reasons like what siria said above and others in various places also mentioned I'm so glad to be leaving this world soon. :cool:

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> So no thanks, I'm fine with my ~15 year old Huawei U1220s (WCDMA, not GSM)
> and for a while I also had a Nokia 2630 with a different operator. A few older phones
> are in a box somewhere in the house but their batteries are most likely dead,
> and would probably blow up if recharge were attempted

15 years, still working, very cool :-)

Regarding old batteries, I was hopeless too when I recently stumbled across a few spare batteries (for a LG and Huawei phone) bought back in *2015*. Never used, only as reserve, stashed away and forgotten.... Now to my GIANT surprise, those spare batteries were still 1/3 charged! After almost 6 years untouched, couldn't believe it.
Measured 3.8 - 3.9V (IIRC the usage range is roughly 3.7 - 4V), then put them in the phones and they started and confirmed it: the LG even showed 2 of 3 bars yet, that means 30-60%! Was highly impressed.
While on the other hand, my Li-batteries for an ancient Sony camera hardly survive a single year and I keep forgetting to charge.

Guess it depends on quality. And additionally, although they are "only" 6 years old now, they still aren't empty and will probably survive even longer without charging. And not sure, but perhaps yet more years to add when considering they most likely weren't even 100% full when I got them, being brandnew. Manufacturers charge them only partly in the factories.

So, if your "older" phones happen to be a bit younger as this one with 15 years, there may still be hope. Just for curiosity and without any risk I'd simply try if those phones still start, without trying to load first.
If Li-batteries are fully charged before storage, and are stored separately outside the device, amazing things seem possible.
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wunderbar98 said:
> AIDA64 Extreme software wasn't trialed, download too big just for this purpose

Yeah over 40MB for x64, but the old AIDA32 was a really cute litte freeware proggie.
Highly recommend to try :)
Aida32 was portable and only 3MB (unzipped 5MB), and runs very nicely on my 98SE. A joy to use, and no KernelEx needed.
Sadly the homepage aida32.hu was deleted when the project was sold in 2004.
The last Aida32 version was v3.94.2 from 2004-03-23, got it 2008 probably from softpedia when that site was still clean.

Nowadays this last version 3.94.2 seems harder to find, wayback preserved only 3.93 and as exe:
web.archive.org/web/200404/http://www.aida32.hu/download/aida32pe_393.exe

snapfiles preserved a zip, but also only outdated 3.93:
https://www.snapfiles.com/get/aida32.html

oldversion.com has the last one, but downloads are too complicated for me now
http://www.oldversion.com.de/windows/aida32-3-94-2

But this site still works great on 98, no stupid barriers :)
https://aida32.en.uptodown.com/windows/download
Have compared its MD5 value with my own old zip (using TotalCommander) and it's identic, so should be clean.
.
Edited by siria
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On 7/25/2021 at 3:51 AM, Wunderbar98 said:

Aside from internet facing limitations, not much excites me anymore with newer operating systems, not even the GNU/Linux side.

Have you thought about unplugging for a while? You don't work in IT by any chance, do you?

Operating systems don't excite me in general, to me they're just the platform to run more interesting things on.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Please stick around @Drugwash if you can. The world is a miserable place right now, not just where you're at. So many people suffering so badly, praying they can take another breath. Reach out to anyone in your community that is able to provide assistance. Don't feel guilty for requesting help, you can always pay it back (or forward) later :)

Thanks @siria, downloaded aida32-3-94-2.zip from your last link (aida32.en.uptodown.com), thanks for confirming md5sum. Small download, no install needed, runs great, provides lots (too much) system information including Windows 98 install date. Note when launched creates a AIDA32.vxd file in the parent directory of the extracted executable. Keeper software.

I don't work in IT @UCyborg but volunteered lots with two GNU/Linux distributions and have many personal projects. I've tapered over last two years. No longer volunteer, this is my only active computer forum, personal projects are maintenance now. Unplug good, thanks. Been reading more (real books) and played through three old-school console games this summer that waited too long (Sega Genesis' The Humans, Lost Vikings, Jurassic Park). For whatever reason the OS is the most fun for me, not games or applications. Whenever an OS gets installed here, more time is spent tweaking it than using other software. Similarly with Windows games, often more tweaking than playing.

I've read and seen numerous videos similar to 'Using DOS or Windows 9x in 2020'. The reviewer typically installs DOS or Windows 9x, often not on real hardware, slags the age of the system, fumbles some DOS commands and feebly attempts to go online using default Internet Explorer v5 or old Arachne (DOS). Old HTTP-only Google loads but attempts to access anything HTTPS fails. The system is then slagged again as it can't stream YouTube or access Facebook.

Now i understand most users are just going to use Windows 9x to run legacy software and already use something newer as a workhorse system. I also realize that everyone computes differently, with different expectations and preferences. Still this bugs me. Most 'reviewers' don't take the time to learn that connections can be tweaked for highspeed and HTTPS capable web browsers are presently available in DOS (eg. Links) and Windows 9x (eg. RetroZilla, K-Meleon) that work okay. Logging into this forum and even using HTML-only Gmail still works. With further tweaking, and sometimes a little code, it is still possible to stream music, access MSN video and YouTube. Considering Windows 98 is more than 20 years old not too shabby. Modern operating systems don't do much more, requiring so much horsepower to perform similar tasks.

Even though not on this forum as much i still use Windows 98 SE (Spectacular Edition) daily for at least an hour (forums, news, YouTube, MSN video). As the world is so sucky lately i'm still streaming Christmas music daily, despite record summer heat waves, makes me feel a little better.

Not sure why, in Windows 9x and XP i always tend to turn on sound. Generally like the clicky-clicky mouse sounds and such. In GNU/Linux sound is just activated to play music or videos. Also in Windows, i have always kept my 'real application' shortcuts in the system tray with all 'gaming' related shortcuts on the desktop. In GNU/Linux i just use a simple Window Manager (Fluxbox or OpenBox) and don't keep anything on the 'desktop' aside from Conky (system information).

Our family's 1990s era sewing machine broke this week. The foot would no longer spring down into position when lowered. After removing many screws and much dismantling it turned out the be a gummed up spring at the top of the assembly, hidden under two covers. Similarly i had an issue with gummed up white grease on a computer DVD player not that long ago, reported earlier, also fixed by removing the old gummed up grease. Over time it becomes almost like a firm glue, no longer providing lubrication, causing moving parts to seize. Interestingly i was reading up on sewing machine repair and someone suggested the gummy white grease issue may be a 1990s era problem, not present in newer machines. Maybe there's something to this 1990s (Windows 9x era) white grease issue, don't know for sure but that seems to be my experience too.
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Typically i just boot DOS proper for specific tasks (Links web browsing, Gopher access, games) then back to Windows 98 for most everything else. Just tested the latest release of Necromancer's DOS Navigator (2021), described as a clone of the famous Norton Commander. Mouse support, system clock, graphic calendar, editor, dual pane file management, lots of built-in features and helper software. Even has a CD player which didn't work for me, caused system restart, query memory or sound driver compatibility issue, didn't troubleshoot.
http://www.ndn.muxe.com/

The software is pretty nifty but takes a while to get used to. It's probably most useful for those who spend long sessions in DOS or have limited hardware that makes running Windows graphics difficult. Does that even make sense, however, since Windows 3.1 has such low system requirements.

Nonetheless i still regret getting rid of my 486 and early Pentium hardware. Old games, like original Red Baron, would run so much better than fiddling with slow down software that still doesn't seem to run the game properly after much fussing.

Here GRUB Legacy and GRUB 2 are used, however, a new GRUB4DOS (2021) is available if it helps anyone.
https://github.com/chenall/grub4dos/releases

Still neat to me that DOS related software is being developed. DOS ain't dead (and FreeDOS) is where i seem to find the most recent DOS news.
http://www.bttr-software.de/forum/board.php

For whatever reason MSFN has very little DOS activity. Recently visited the Windows 2000 section and there's not much activity there either. Come on Windows 2000 fans, help keep maybe Microsoft's best ever alive! Maybe i'm just ignorant, maybe Windows 2000 still works well enough that not much work is needed, doubtful but can dream :)
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The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990, it is both ancient (modern standards) and awesome. It's provided us humans with so much information and knowledge over many years. I remember reading once that it uses a 486 processor. This intrigued me, makes sense, however, based on it's age.

To help put 1990 in perspective, the year the Gopher protocol was developed at the University of Minnesota. Also the year the first search engine 'Archie' was released from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

I'm no expert on the Hubble or old computer hardware. Some of the computer components are discussed on page 5-8, section 5.1.3 (Data Management Subsystem) of the PDF linked below. It reportedly utilizes a 'DF-224 computer' and an 'Advanced Computer'. The Advanced Computer is, in fact, based on the Intel 80486 microchip. It is reportedly 20 times faster with six times as much memory as the DF-224.
https://asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/archive/sm3a/downloads/sm3a_media_guide/HST-systems.pdf

The Advanced Computer is configured as three independent single-board computers. Each of these has two megabytes of fast static random access memory and one megabyte of non-volatile memory. Only one single board computer may control the telescope at a time. The others boards can be off, idle state or performing internal tasks.

Just skimmed so far, haven't seen any mention of the operating system. Probably something custom in-house but what's it based on, curious minds want to know.

Computer Hope has really nice computing history information if anyone is interested.
https://www.computerhope.com/history/index.htm
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