Saturday, September 29, 2012

How To Use DOSBox

Have you ever needed to run an old Dos program--like the brilliant Master of Orion --only to find that it won't work anymore on Windows. (And definitely won't work on Linux or Apple).

The Best Game Ever...
Playing old games used to be a problem. Now though, thanks to DOSBox, all those old programs are totally available to you once again.

DOSBox is a program that pretends to be MS-DOS. It's basically like a running a little slice of old school DOS in your brand new computer.

It's free. It's fast. I love it.

The only problem is that its a little tricky to get running. (And the website could use a serious facelift)  So, I figured I'd post my three (3) step cheat sheet online for anyone who wants to get their old programs up and running again like it was still 1993.

Step 1: Download DOSBox. You can get DOSBox from its download site. There are a number of choices, depending on your operating system, but you should know pretty quickly which one is right for you. (Windows is the very first choice)

Step 2: Install DOSBox. This is Easy! On Windows, the download is just a single .exe file which automatically installs DOSBox on your computer. That's it!

Linux users have it even easier. Most major distributions include DOSBox in their package systems. Just go to your package manager and search for dosbox. Linux will do the rest.

If you've done it right, you should see an icon like this one somewhere:
The Dosbox Icon

Step 3: Run DOSBox. This is the part that seems to confuse people. Just double-click on the DOSBox icon to get DOSBox running. You should see an old-school command line from the good old days of Dos. It will look like this:

You need to tell DOSBox where your programs are. This is called mounting a drive. The command to mount a drive is as follows:
mount c (and then wherever in your file system you want DOSBox to look)

Here, I'll mount my home drive (I'm in Linux -- it's like C:\ in Windows)

See what I did. I just mounted my drive /home/ to c and DOSBox informed me that I was successful.

The only thing you have to do now is switch from your Z: drive to your C: drive and start playing .exe games.

This command is easy. Just type C:

Finally, just type dir to list your directory. To start a game, just find the file with a .exe ending and you're in business. (The command to play Master of Orion is ORION.EXE)

For more help, post comments here, and I'll fill in details. I'll write an advanced DOSBox blog next with more details on how to get the most out of it (like taking these cinematic screenshots I'm showing you)

For now, I'm back to conquering the universe...

Snobol4 Major Mode for Emacs

I've been reading up on this older text processing language called Snobol--and specifically Snobol4--tonight and decided to take it for a spin.

(I'll have more to say on programming in Snobol later. For now, let me just say that I think its refreshingly original.)

However, there is a total lack of support for programming in this language. So, I decided to whip up a quick editing mode for my favorite text editor: emacs.

As usual, emacs-fu came through with flying colors...

I took that script, edited it somewhat and plugged in my own--extremely limited--knowledge of Snobol4 to produce a mode that appears to properly highlight comments, labels, gotos, and keywords. It's still pretty rough, but I figured I'd post it anyway.

Without further ado...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lifetime Resolutions

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions.

They rarely seem to work, though I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the promises are often made under the influence of alcohol or the stress of the holidays. It could also have something to do with the relatively short time span that a year offers to really do something meaningful in the middle of all the other commitments you've already racked up. Plus, you can always just dodge--resolving to do it next year if you drop the ball this time around.

Maybe people just stink at change.

In any case, I'm not a big fan.

I am, however, a huge believer in something that I'm terming Lifetime Resolutions. Here is my definition:

Lifetime Resolutions are the handful of long-term goals you must accomplish during your lifetime for your life to have been successful in your own eyes.

Now that's realistic. It gives you a long enough time to really do something, and establishes the only standard that you really can appreciate. Plus, it puts into perspective that if you let this deadline slip, there won't be another one. (At least, not without some form of reincarnation)

Recent events have gotten me thinking about this more seriously than before.

So I'm building a formal list of Lifetime Resolutions. This is a big deal. Bigger than I expected when I began toying with the idea. After all, if I'm going to dedicate myself to a lifetime of something, I want to say that I thought it through first.

In fact, it turns out that some of my "goals" weren't really even that important to me, while others, which always seemed to be put on the back burner, actually matter a lot when I force myself to take an honest look at them. So, I'm rearranging some of my priorities. I'm making my list, and in the process, I'm learning a few things about what really matters to me.

Try it. You might surprise yourself with what you discover about yourself. I did.