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Author Topic: Hotkey nostalgia  (Read 5433 times)
MilesAhead
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« on: April 26, 2009, 05:48:45 PM »

I just realized one of the reasons I like these Hotkey utilities so much!!  They remind me of those TSR programs in Dos.  With Dos you could only run one program at a time. One way to have small utilities available without quiting your application was to code them as TSRs or Terminate and Stay Resident.  You hit a hotkey and the TSR screen would pop up in front of the app you were using.  You did whatever the utility did, then it popped back down and you resumed using the main application.

I wrote a couple of small ones myself in assembler just to learn how to do it. I think one was an ASCII chart.. that loaded and saved its data to a file instead of generating it. Just to learn how to do file i/o without trashing the system.  Back then PC Magazine had assembler TSR source code for a utility in just about every issue.  There was one esp. good one that monitored keyboard, video mode change, file i/o, timer interrupt, as well as the famous "InDos Flag."  Following the author's suggestion I stripped out the guts and used the monitoring framework as the template for my TSRs.

Oh well, there wasn't that much exotic programming you could do on an XT clone with 640K and a 12" amber monitor. It was kind of a challenge. smiley

The other thing I missed were the old bootable Dos diskette utilities.  Now I find out it isn't difficult to make bootable USB key drives.. so the more stuff changes.... smiley

I'm still waiting for my 8 GB USB key to arrive in the mail.  smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2009, 05:59:49 PM »

i remember those TSR hotkey tools.. they were very very cool.

there was one really famous one for DOS, but i can't remember the name of it.. Maybe made by Norton?
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2009, 06:18:51 PM »

I think the most famous was Borland Sidekick.  I never had it myself but that was like the killer TSR app at least for 8086.  Also there was a task swapper thing I had.  I forget the name of it.  But it had a TSR module that did the swapping, and you could switch between 4 ordinary Dos apps if they weren't too memory hungry.  It would just park the non-active ones out to disk.  You hit some hotkey to show you the sessions you had saved and you picked the program to resume. It actually worked pretty well if you didn't do anything like programming that would crash your machine.
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2009, 06:20:48 PM »

Borland Sidekick!! That was the one!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SideKick

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MilesAhead
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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2009, 06:28:35 PM »

The other cool thing I never got to try was this Dos Extender thing. It wasn't VM86 but some other one.  I read a magazine review were they said it actually worked very well.  It required a 386 CPU and a minimum of 4 MB ram.  It flipped on protected mode and actually used demand paged virtual memory to run your Dos programs.  Pretty wild.

The one thing that was kind of fun I remember there was some library or bunch of functions you could use that "stole" memory from your graphics card and you could use it like expanded memory.  The graphics card memory region was dormant as long as you kept the monitor in console mode.  If you let a program switch to a graphics mode though, everything got totally hosed and you usually had to cycle the power.  Great fun on the cheap. smiley
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2009, 06:35:32 PM »

there was one really famous one for DOS, but i can't remember the name of it.. Maybe made by Norton?

You're not thinking of Borland Sidekick?

[edit: simultaneous posting with the previous two posts, apparently  :-[]
« Last Edit: April 26, 2009, 06:40:15 PM by cranioscopical » Logged

Chris
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2009, 06:44:41 PM »

I think the most famous was Borland Sidekick.  I never had it myself but that was like the killer TSR app at least for 8086.  Also there was a task swapper thing I had.  I forget the name of it. 
Sidekick was *really* useful in its day.
I still have a copy of Sidekick 98 on one of my machines.
As to the later, QEMM?
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Chris
MilesAhead
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2009, 06:58:42 PM »

I think the most famous was Borland Sidekick.  I never had it myself but that was like the killer TSR app at least for 8086.  Also there was a task swapper thing I had.  I forget the name of it. 
Sidekick was *really* useful in its day.
I still have a copy of Sidekick 98 on one of my machines.
As to the later, QEMM?


No I remember Qemm and Deskview. I think we messed around with a trail or demo and also QNix.  But the one I'm talking about wasn't hi memory or expanded memory. It actually used the demand paged virtual memory supported in hardware on the 386. I think it went away after a short time.  One of those things that was technically superior but didn't have the backing of some of the virtual memory products like VM86 or whatever it was.  Maybe being 386 only killed it.  At that time the people with money to spend had a Compaq DeskPro 286 and 386 systems were just coming in.
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2009, 07:08:21 PM »

I think it was this one
http://www.conklinsystems.com/vmos.htm

I found info on qnix too.  Amazing what still shows up on google. smiley
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2009, 08:07:05 PM »


Thanks for the link
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Chris
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2009, 08:50:02 PM »

It actually used the demand paged virtual memory supported in hardware on the 386. I think it went away after a short time.

Are you thinking of of SoftLogic Solutions's product Software Carousel; or IBM's ill-fated TopView? Quarterdeck borrowed heavily from Topview when DESQ became DESQiew.

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MilesAhead
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2009, 11:14:18 PM »

I remember the name Software Carousel.  I thought there was a free one I got though. It's been so long I don't remember if it was a demo or a freebie. I definitely remember the names Topview and Carousel though. I seem to remember the Byte Magazine columnist that did Chaos Manor seemed to always talk about firing up DesqView.

The stuff I used was probably trial versions or demos.  I did too much programming on the machine to keep something like that working very long. smiley

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[Well, THAT escalated quickly!]

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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2009, 04:25:53 AM »

Back in the days of Turbo (and later Borland) Pascal programming for DOS, I used an ascii table called "RAT" (Resident Ascii Table). Even when I moved to Win9x I still loadede it before win.com smiley
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2009, 04:37:29 AM »

Anyone suffering DOS withdrawal syndrome should check out the Free Software for DOS Web site  smiley  Not primarily TSRs, though.

One TSR I really liked - a shareware called OnCall, which was a TSR control program.  You loaded your other TSRs into it.  It kept one of them active, and saved all the rest to disk.  When you needed another one, you got OnCall to swap them round.  I would have registered, but the company disappeared.  Then QEMM + DESQview came along, which was a very good multi-tasking system, and the need for TSRs more or less went away.

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MilesAhead
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2009, 12:43:26 PM »

I think I remember that OnCall.  Plus there were a lot of good ones in PC Magazine.  I can't remember specific ones though. I'd have to look in archives.

The biggest ordeal with those little assembler programs was some little disk sector editor in a Peter Norton book. They didn't give you a floppy with the code.  I had to type in 13 different files of assembler source and assemble 'em all together to get this little com program.  Good thing I took typing 101 or I wouldn't have gotten through it.  The thing actually worked when finished, which is always nice. smiley
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2009, 02:00:21 PM »

I had to type in 13 different files of assembler source and assemble 'em all together

For the C=64, I think I typed in all four suits from a deck of cards... "The Transactor", if I recall aright?  smiley
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Chris
MilesAhead
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2009, 02:14:20 PM »

I had to type in 13 different files of assembler source and assemble 'em all together

For the C=64, I think I typed in all four suits from a deck of cards... "The Transactor", if I recall aright?  smiley

The one I did is in the pic here
http://www.amazon.com/exe...9010/ref=nikolaibezroukov

The program was called diskpatch I guess since you could edit a sector at a time with a little hex editor interface.

As you can see they mixed up the title and the picture but that pic was the book I had.
How can you forget Mr. WhiteShirt(tm) sitting on the stool there with the little 14" monitor?

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