View Full Version : using experience gained in old computer hobby for work

vic user
January 31st, 2006, 09:22 AM
at my work i am responsible for producing hard copies of electronically stored charts for our customers, and i have 15 large format printers at my disposal for this purpose.

last calendar year i printed around 65,000 nautical charts, and every year the numbers keep going up.

i am always on the lookout for ways of cutting down the time it takes to process orders, and one of the longest parts of the process is the actual retrieving of the files and sending to the printer(s).

thus, i asked my superiors to look into some better print management software than we currently use, but i doubt i will see anything concrete for quite a while, or maybe never.

the way the gov't works here, it takes 3 managers just to make a decision, then meetings, then more waste of money, etc..

anyway, i decided to try and tackle the situation myself, and went about it using QBASIC and DOS batch files, since i have experience with them due to my poking around with old computers.

and what do you know?

i now can drag and drop the associated zip files of the charts in question into a directory, and then a batch file recognizes that there are zip files there, extracts only the postscript files, and then the printers recognize that there are postscript files, then print the files, then everything in the directory gets deleted.

super sweet!

so yes, i don't know java or visual basic or c++ or any of the new fangled languages, but at least i can do some things with knowledge gained from using old computers.


January 31st, 2006, 10:11 AM
That is really cool. Who much time did you save?

To quote a very wise man

"Never relay on advanced technologies and machines when a simpler solution is at hand."

On one note though, the C language is as old as UNIX is, so its been around for a LONG time. Not exactly New fangled....


vic user
January 31st, 2006, 12:02 PM
ok, maybe i will look at C then :)

during the summer months, i often receive orders for a hundred or more different charts of one copy each.

in the past, i had to unzip each file individually, then send each one to the printer and over and over again.

sometimes this would take 2 hours of just sending the files!

i would say i could do the same thing now in under 10 minutes.


January 31st, 2006, 12:05 PM
Over 2 hours cut to around 10 min!?! Wow, I wish it was that easy to boost productivity in everything....


CP/M User
January 31st, 2006, 01:58 PM
"vlad" wrote:

> On one note though, the C language is as old as UNIX is, so its been
> around for a LONG time. Not exactly New fangled....

True, but as far as I'm concerned C++ is more recent. Object-Orientated
Programming introduced in the 1980s to add more confusion over the
current C language. It maybe 20 years old to say the least - but it's still

CP/M User.

January 31st, 2006, 02:26 PM
True, but C++ is a subset of C. C+, C++, and C# are all subsets of the original C. I lumped it togather though. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. I personally like QBasic and Visual Basic. VB is not that old and I don't know about Qbasic.


vic user
January 31st, 2006, 03:04 PM
has anyone tried liberty basic?

i have only played around with it off and on for about an hour in total, but i like what i see.

i just downloaded freebasic today, along with an editor for it, but have not done much.


Terry Yager
January 31st, 2006, 03:10 PM
True, but C++ is a subset of C. C+, C++, and C# are all subsets of the original C. I lumped it togather though. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. I personally like QBasic and Visual Basic. VB is not that old and I don't know about Qbasic.


That's weird, I thought it was the other way 'round, that ++ was a superset of the ol' original C. (Of course, I know jack about C).


January 31st, 2006, 03:15 PM
Nah, I never used it. I have used Basic, Advanced Basic, Casette Basic (the one that was in ROM on some machines) Quick Basic, and various versions of Visual Basic. I still have backup copies of the disks for VB v3.0 and v2.0


January 31st, 2006, 03:16 PM
Ok, C+, C++ and C# are versions of the original C.

How's that?


Terry Yager
January 31st, 2006, 03:23 PM
I believe ya...


CP/M User
January 31st, 2006, 08:23 PM
"vlad" wrote:

-> Ok, C+, C++ and C# are versions of the original C.

-> How's that?

Hmmm... It's difficult to say if any of those C+, C++ or C# are really
100% compatable with the original C - cause many of the C based
compilers I've seen incorporate the original C compatability.

However, when I look at a history of languages, many of them are
derived from something - for instance Pascal traits can be found in Algol,
which also have a bit of the original FORTRAN found in it. BASIC also has
a bit of the Algol found in it - with more FORTRAN traits for instance. But
when I think about the compatabilities between - there's very few. C on
the other hand claims to be very portable - maybe that's what makes
C++ so special - cause it could tie in code from a C program? But Turbo
Pascal seems to have compatabilities with Pascal code - so that doesn't
make sense as to why C is mean't to be more portable.

CP/M User.

January 31st, 2006, 08:48 PM
vic user, you definitely deserve a raise or at least a bonus for that one! You made the mousetrap work better!

I can't really make much comment on the programming, though. I do remember that Qbasic was on all of my win3.11 machines (but I can't remember if I put it there afterwards or win installed that way)


/EDIT I found a book in my stuff called Learn C Now by Angie Hansen published by the MS Press, (C) 1988. It originally came with three 3.25" disks. So it's been around at least that long.

vic user
February 1st, 2006, 04:40 AM
Thanks Nathan!


February 1st, 2006, 06:20 AM
They really should give you some kind of raise for cutting almost 2 hours off production time, that kind of work is unheard of by todays standards....


vic user
February 1st, 2006, 06:39 AM
thanks man;

there was mention of me getting an award a few months ago for another thing that i did which saved a HUGE amount of time.

i used to have to trim every single chart that came off the printers, which ended up taking 1/3 of my time.

IT guys and others have been trying off and on for a couple of years to figure out a way of eliminating trimming.

i had some free time a few months ago and decided to give it a shot, and after a little while i figured it out.

that has had such an impact on the way things are done around here, it's not funny:

charts coming off the printer are "sale ready", no trimming required.

no chance of having the chart trimmed wrong.

got rid of one step in the process, thus reducing the amount of 'manhandling' the chart gets before the customer gets it.

time spent trimming can now be spent doing quality control or other things.

the neat thing about this position, is that the organization i work for has only been doing this operation for about 5 years, so still virgin territory and i am at the head of it, so lots of problem solving issues, which is fun.


Terry Yager
February 1st, 2006, 06:43 AM
Really! I mean, you're doing the work of what, 12 people now?


vic user
February 1st, 2006, 07:12 AM
i would say i do the work of three people, and i am not kidding.

the funny thing is, the thing that has helped me the most in this job is my experience being a short order cook all those years while in uni.

nothing like working your ass off in the restaurant business to get you ready for excelling in a cushy gov't job :)


February 3rd, 2006, 03:00 AM
I've never heard of C+. But programming language is a bit irrelevant if you get the job done at a sufficient speed and resource use. I've read about people who install UAE, the Amiga emulator at work and use it to read their e-mail, make ARexx scripts or even develop software in C using an old editor they know better than the modern editors offered in Windows environment. Sometimes they are so productive that the boss is surprised and would think this is a solution that fits everyone - not true, of course.

Computer Collector
February 8th, 2006, 12:33 PM
Thats really super! Using your hobby for a purpose! I always try to use my old computres for a real purpose, too! (however, in the end I usually realize that Im just playing around and that I can do it easier the new way on a new computer) :cry:

February 11th, 2006, 05:21 PM
Everything I've done in the IT industry has been a result of my "playing" with old computers. I have a firmer understanding than most people do of how to fix this or that problem. Shoot, I've done board level repairs, the occasional jury rig to postpone downtime till it's suitable, getting data off of a 20 year old computer for work. I feel fortunate that there are those kinds of opportunities out there, the unfortuanate part is that they are far and in-between. It's a bane somewhat too because I piss off all these guys who run XP, have a Pentium IV, and have been at this 10-30 years instead of my 5, since they usually write me off as some punk-kid with a 486 still on his desk.

February 11th, 2006, 05:59 PM
I may have some HPC stuff, but I still value the Vintgae machines. I love my 486 Compudyne and 386 Everex Tempo.


(HPC = High Performance Computing. Which is NOT Pentium 4, HPC is higher than that....)