Archive for the 'C:\DOS>' Category

Recursive nostalgia

When I was about fifteen years old I began using Borland Turbo Pascal 7.0 (Great software!). I wrote massive amounts of code between the years 1996-2000, resulting in an impressive array of unreleased DOS programs. My specialization was special effects, especially on 80×25 text mode. I recall frequently using statistical analysis to compare different variations of a routine in order to find the fastest version. Those were the days!

3D HILLEL R5T Screenshot

This is a screenshot of one of my very first attempts to program 3D (note that there is no shading), This is from 1997, when I was about seventeen. The effect in the background is palette cycle plasma (which is inferior to real time plasma). You can download the compiled executable here (43 KB), it’s a DOS program but it should run okay on most systems. Keep NumLock on, and don’t run this under DosBox because it might get very slow.

Instructions:

3D HILLEL R5T Instructions

Also, I found a 3,400 words long development log embedded in the source file of one of my (very old) flag projects (DILGraph – a kick ass graphics unit for mode $13 (320x200x8bit), it also had a VESA plug-in but that’s another story). I used to mix some personal stuff along with the tech stuff back then (It was both a development log and the diary I’ve never had – something like an offline blog). After reading almost all the way to the end I’ve stumbled upon the following entry:

…by the way the Arc and Line based Heart is the last procedure to be added to DILGraph in the 20th century. This is also the last entry for this millennium. 30/12/99 Logging out.

Check out what I’ve been up to 10 years ago, download HILLEL 3D R5T.

PERMALINK / SHORTLINK

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Cheat Machine

Since I’ve posted here about the Hebrew UI for Second Life, I’m receiving (almost) daily search engine traffic from various Cheat Machine related queries (an amazing fact by itself!)

hillelstoler.com is generally about my own work, but since I don’t like to disappoint my visitors (and since I liked it a lot once), here is Cheat Machine 2.20 by a Forest Software. To my knowledge this is the most recent DOS version, and the only one that is Freeware:

Download Cheat Machine – Don’t get mad, get even!

Hit the keyboard with your head to continue …

Note that you will need to set the date to 1998 or so in order for this software to run.

Cheat Machine is a handy collection of cheat codes, trainers and easter eggs for antique software. I was very inspired by this specific piece of software around the mid 90’s when I began to program for DOS (using Borland’s Turbo Pascal). I liked the obsession for details and the overall fun atmosphere. The people (or person?) who made this software took their work seriously while not taking themselves very seriously – this, in my opinion, is a great recipe for (software) creation.

In the end, this is just a small piece of software that has very limited functionality, but every bit is plated in gold. It was fun to use, and you could clearly see it was fun to make. Software team leaders will argue that such “gold plating” is not only unnecessary, but also puts the project at risk and waste money and time in developing features that the customer did not pay for (while also making the software more complex and potentially buggy). Although I accept this to be generally true, I believe that in software manufacture, like in every other aspect of life, the key to success is the correct balance (which is never exactly halfway btw). You need to have something that will motivate your team and create that good vibe of excitement about the product. Let’s face it, not every project is very interesting to make, and spicing things up by adding some so called “gold plating” will not only make you proud of your work and give you the energy to successfully glide through the rest of the project, it might also give you a competitive edge because even if most people won’t notice your extra work someone somewhere probably will.

That said, never put time limitation on your software (especially if it’s freeware!) claiming that a new version must surely be available, because nothing last forever and having to change the date on my computer every time I want to run your 10 years old application is not very hot :) I could try to patch it, but the EXE is protected against just that!

PERMALINK / SHORTLINK

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Hebrew UI for Second Life

I’ve prepared an interesting case study about the localization of applications, and translated the Second Life UI to Hebrew in the process.

I’ve translated much of the XML based UI from English to Hebrew, and explored the possibility of a complete UI rearrangement (Hebrew is a Right-to-Left language). I’ve also researched modern tools to unpack and modify hard coded information inside executables (Resource Hacker by Angus Johnson is a nice, old and free example for that).

In my presentation (in front of a general audience crowd) I’ve explained the history of string storage in software, and used Second Life as an example for modern localization. To illustrate my point I’ve used some images from my own private stash, including a screenshot of the Cheat Machine (by a Forest Software) superb executable header [Slide 04], the Light Speed Cheat Editor [Slide 02], a PKLITE Header viewed in Norton Commander [Slide 03] and other 90’s/DOS goodies.

Among other interesting stuff, the presentation features some screenshots of my own applications [Slides 10 & 14] and of course screenshots of the Second Life Hebrew UI [Slides 11-13]. Please take the time to enlarge this presentation (Right click the presentation and select Zoom In, or use the built in zoom feature in your web browser).

UPDATE (April 13, 2008): Looking for Cheat Machine? Get it here.

PERMALINK / SHORTLINK

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Taken with FLIR Systems InfraCAM SD

Chillin' @ Heat Transfer Lab
(May 2007)

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Hillel Stoler - הלל סטולר
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