CP/M was, as you probably know, the first popular microcomputer operating system. It was good but imperfect, and its cryptic command for copying files, PIP, is often cited as an example. Copy makes sense. Even the Unix equivalent, cp, makes sense–it’s copy without the vowels. But what does PIP mean? What’s the origin of CP/M’s PIP command?
Internet pal Rob O’Hara wrote last week about why he hasn’t published a book in five years. The resulting discussion has the potential to get ugly–not that I think it will, but the potential is there. Writing about writing, and criticizing writing, is difficult.
I don’t have the solution–I can just tell you it’s difficult.
I had a disagreement last week with a technical writer who argues that a sentence should always have as few words as possible. No exceptions, for no reason.
I don’t agree.
If you remember the days of DOS, you know the difference between COPY and XCOPY. For those times when XCOPY won’t cut it, there’s ROBOCOPY, part of the Windows resource kit.If you just need to sync up two directories, Robocopy does it happily. Type ROBOCOPY source destination, and it will happily copy new and changed files over, while leaving identical files alone. This can save lots of time.
ROBOCOPY.DOC will give you lots of tips and ideas for using the program.
I have to do a lot of work over a WAN, and sometimes the network conditions are less than optimal, to put it politely. By that I mean sometimes I get nostalgic for the 9600 bps modem I had in high school, because it was faster and more reliable. Robocopy will detect errors and retry, which is a huge help in these conditions.
One thing I do frequently is copy single large files. The documentation file isn’t very clear on how you do this, and the syntax is tricky. Here’s how to copy a single file between two servers or directories:
ROBOCOPY source destination file(s)
Here’s a line I use a lot, to shoot out new virus definitions to my management servers:
ROBOCOPY . "\\servername\c$\program files\symantec\symantec antivirus" *.xdb
This is just a glorified copy command, but if any part of it fails, it will retry until it works.
In the past I’ve also used Robocopy to move file shares when upgrading file servers. I’ll create the share on the new server, copy everything over, and then, in off hours the night before the cutover date, use Robocopy to sync them up. Here’s an example:
robocopy \\oldserver\accounting \\newserver\accounting /MIR
Of course, since Windows has had DFS for 8 years now, you’re using DFS for everything now, right? Of course not. So for the times when you have to replace a fileserver and migrating to DFS isn’t an option for whatever reason, Robocopy is your fastest and easiest option for a cutover.
I’ve watched my search engine traffic decrease steadily for the past few months since I changed blogging software. It seems most engines don’t care much for the super-long arguments this software passes in its URLs.
The solution is mod_rewrite, and I think my syntax looks correct, but it’s not working for me.The goal is to fake out search engines to make them think they’re looking at static files. Search engines are reluctant to index database-driven sites for fear of overloading the site. Since I can’t tell them not to worry about it, I have to make the site look like a static site.
To that end, I created a section at the end of my httpd.conf file:
# rewrites for GL RewriteEngine on RewriteRule ^/article/([0-9]+)$ /article.php?id=$1 [NC,L]
This line should make the software respond to Thursday’s entry (http://dfarq.homeip.net/article.php?story=20040902200759738) if it’s addressed as http://dfarq.homeip.net/article/20040902200759738.
Once mod_rewrite is working, in theory I can modify the software to generate its links using that format and watch the search engines take more of a liking to me again. But I’ve got to get mod_rewrite going first, and I’m stumped.
Any expert advice out there?
Thanks in advance.
I’ve been experimenting again with bootdisks and the FreeDOS project came to mind.
Boot floppies are getting rarer but they’re still hard to avoid completely. I think FreeDOS is worth a look for a variety of reasons.Its system files take up half the space of Win9x’s DOS. That extra 100K on the disk can make the difference between your tools fitting on a floppy or not.
FreeDOS supports FAT32. There’s an unofficial DR-DOS fork that does as well, but the licensing terms of FreeDOS are a whole lot more clear.
The FreeDOS FORMAT.EXE can overformat disks. If you use more than 80 tracks, the disks have problems in some machines, but a 1.68 megabyte disk using extra sectors per track should be OK. Concerned about overformatting disks? The Amiga’s default high-density disk format was 1.76 megabytes. That extra 240K can make a big difference, especially when coupled with that 100K you’ve already saved. The syntax to make a bootable 1.68 meg disk: FORMAT A: /F:1680 /S
The syntax for a 1.74 meg disk: FORMAT A: /F:1743 /S
The FreeDOS command interpreter includes command history, so you don’t need to make space on the disk or in low memory for DOSKEY.
Using FreeDOS and its 1.68 meg floppy, I was able to squeeze Ghost 8.1 (a 1.3 meg monster) onto a boot floppy and still have 197,632 bytes free to play with. With that kind of space left, if need be, one could format the disk with FreeDOS, then SYS it under Win9x and run MS-DOS 7 on it.
If you still need to squeeze a little more space, get the freeware FDFormat, which can also format oversized floppies and lets you reduce the root directory down to 16 entries from the default 224, which gives you a few more kilobytes of usable space. If you need to put more than 16 files on the disk, create a subdirectory and put your files in the subdirectory. The syntax would be FDFORMAT /D16 /F168 /S. Substitute /F172 for a bigger disk. To increase the performance of the floppy (who doesn’t want the slowpoke floppy to be a bit faster?) add the /X:2 /Y:3 options. A boot disk formatted this way yields 1,595,904 free bytes with the FreeDOS boot files installed.
I don’t remember what I was looking for, but I found another DOS-style editor for Linux and Unix.
FTE is another editor that harkens back to the look of the typical DOS app of about 10 years ago, similar to SETEDIT. For casual editing, either program will do very nicely, and provide a look and feel comparable to the editor that came with DOS 5 and 6.
I’ve always liked SETEDIT, but it suffers from the same identity crisis as emacs. Is it an editor? An MP3 player? A desk calculator? All of the above? And while it’s workable over a remote terminal connection, it’s not as snappy as I’d like.
FTE is a little sluggish from afar but faster. I like how it gives me the ability to have multiple files open and deal with large blocks of text, and continue to use the same key sequences I’ve known and been using since early high school. Its syntax highlighting is definitely a nice feature. It takes that feature a bit further than SETEDIT. For example, it highlights the corresponding closing bracket when you move over the opening one.
FTE’s main advantage is that it’s already bundled with some distributions. There’s a Debian project page for it. And a Google search turns up anectotal evidence that it comes in recent versions of Suse, Red Hat and Mandrake as well. If you’re a DOS veteran who’s not enamored with vi or emacs, FTE’s probably worth a look.
For what it’s worth, I typically use nano, but FTE is definitely a whole lot more powerful.