An auspicious start to DOS programming

In 1992  I was a young geek of 19 years. My programming experience consisted of the BASIC programs in the manual that came with our Commodore 64 and a few others in our schools Apple II lab. I had also written a few HyperCard and FileMaker apps on the Mac in my bedroom, where I did all the typesetting for my Dad’s print shop. [Thanks so much dad, for buying that first Mac Plus instead of a Compugraphic typesetting machine].

My vocational training in Mechanical Drafting had landed me an entry level position at Kysor/Cadillac as the blueprint clerk. Before long I rearranged the print room to maximize the efficiency of the engineers and myself, leaving me with hours of spare time each day. Often I would roam the engineering department, in search of  engineering projects, much to the delight of the engineers who could often find drudge work to offload.

During one of these lulls, I was chatting with David, a bright young lad who worked in the QA department. David was also quite fond of computers and told me of an escapade in which some students at his school had written a login simulator that captured and stored passwords when users logged into an system infected with their program.

Our engineering files were stored on a Novell Netware server connected by a token ring network. Each DOS computer logged in using a Novell program (login.exe, IIRC). The password capturing program seemed like an interesting challenge so I acquired my first DOS compiler (Qbasic or PowerBasic, I can’t recall which I used for this task) and wrote login.bas. I simulated the login screen perfectly, stored the passwords to a file, and then passed them on to the real login program, logging the user in. It  offered the user no indication that foul play was at hand.

Pleased with my results, I showed Rick, our network admin. I explained that I hadn’t inspected the contents of the file, knew what was in it, and turned my back while he inspected it. It turns out that Rick wasn’t terribly fond of being informed that his network security wasn’t all that secure. A few of his heated words I recall were, “that’s not your job!” He immediately escalated the matter to Keith, our VP of Engineering, intent on having me fired.

On that day, it was quite fortunate for me that I had set a precedent of doing a lot of engineering work that was not my job. Unbeknownst to me, the wheels of my first promotion were already set in motion specifically because of the extra-curricular not my job work I had been doing. That day ended with me getting a stern talking to. Soon thereafter, I was promoted and my new job involved writing software for Kysor.

Adventures in legacy software

Today I opened M.Y.O.B. accounting files from 1999-2001. The files cannot be upgraded because they experienced some data corruption. The only way to access the files is to run the versions of M.Y.O.B. that they were created with.

The solution was to run Mac OS 10.6 inside a VM, which unfortunately, is a violation of the Apple EULA for Mac OS 10.6. Oops. The reason for using 10.6 is that it’s the last version of Mac OS X with support for Rosetta, the PowerPC emulator that lets Mac OS X apps written for PowerPC run on newer Macs with Intel CPUs.

Rosetta allows AccountEdge (the versions of MYOB written for Mac OS X) to run, but one of the files I wanted to access was from 1999, and it requires MYOB Accounting Plus v9, which is a classic application. For that, I turned to SheepShaver, a Mac OS Classic emulator, running Mac OS 9 within the 10.6 VM.

In summary, the solution was to run two emulators within a VM. With that, I’m able to run every version of MYOB within a single VM.

I also have a VM that runs AppleWorks, for those rare occasions when I stumble across a very old file that I would like to upgrade to the latest version of AppleWorks, so that I can further upgrade it to something that’ll run on Mac OS X Lion.

Also, since I couldn’t find one online, I also created a table of the MYOB versions, their marketing names, release numbers, and year of release.

Name Version Release DB ver. Year Company
MYOB 5 5.0.8 5 1994 Best! Ware
MYOB 6 6.0.1 1996 Best! Ware
MYOB 7 7.0.3 7 1996 Best! Ware
MYOB Plus 8 2.0.5 2 1999 Best! Ware
MYOB Accounting Plus 9 3.0.4 3.5 1999 MYOB LImited
AccountEdge 1 4.7.0 2001 MYOB Limited
AccountEdge 2 5.5.3 2001 MYOB Limited
AccountEdge 3 6.5.3 2002 MYOB Limited
AccountEdge 2004 4 7.5.0 2003 MYOB Technology Pty Ltd
AccountEdge 2008 8 12.0.6 2008
AccountEdge Pro 2012 12 16.1.4C 2012 Acclivity Group LLC


Michigan is no stranger to tough times

From the book, The Forests of Michigan, describing the timber industry in Michigan from about 1880 to 1920:

The final lumber tally from the Michigan timber boom is staggering: approximately 161 billion board feet of pine (50 percent more than that produced in Wisconsin and Minnesota combined) plus 50 billion board feet of cedar, hemlock, and hardwoods. … The value of lumber output from Michigan’s pineries exceeded by a billion dollars the gold extracted in the 60 years that followed the rush to California in 1849 (Wells 1978).

After the boom, virtually nothing remained of that vast Michigan pinery whose end was believed by many to be unreachable.

When the forests were depleted, the lumber barons packed up and left with their fortunes.

The “Great Woods”

No one who has not gazed upon a beautiful, mirror-like lake, surrounded by an unbroken forest of tall pines and picturesque cedars and hemlocks, can form anything like a correct idea of the picture afforded the early settlers in the village of Clam Lake [later renamed to Cadillac]. It seems almost sacrilege that such beauty of scenery should have had to yield before the insatiable maw of the woodman’s ax and saw-mill’s glittering teeth, but the marts of commerce have no sentiment or romance, and natures loveliness must be yielded up to the demands of business, and the glory of her forests and the grandeur of its solitudes must be laid waste that man may reap fortunes out of what it has taken her centuries to produce. If the denuded lands had been turned into waving wheat fields there would have seemed to be come recompense for the ruthless slaughter of the forests, but to see the vast areas of lands covered with nothing but stumps and a stubby growth of bushes, makes one wish that the task of cutting away the great forests of pine had been much less rapidly done, so that the present and future generations could have had a glimpse of their royal beauty and sublimity. But how useless it is to moralize.

— John H Wheeler, History of Wexford County, Michigan, 1903, pp 287-288

Alan Mulally, american hero?

When I test drove a Chevy Malibu I was distinctly unimpressed. When I drove the Nissan Altima I was impressed. The Camry, Accord, and Jetta TDI all met my expectations. But when I drove the 2009 Fusion, I was surprisingly impressed, no doubt because I had such low expectations of domestic vehicles.

The Fusion was a pleasant surprise on many levels. Not since my 1989 SHO have I been so impressed by a domestic auto. With such a surprising change of course, I looked to see who was behind it, and his name is Alan Mulally.

Turning around Ford before it was imperiled like its other motor town brethren was prescient, but not heroic. To achieve that status of hero one must go further than just doing his job. It would take something amazing, such as releasing a new car that bests my legendary 1989 SHO in every possible way. I plan to test drive the new 2010 SHO, and I hope to be impressed.

Strawberry Ice Cream

It all begins with fresh local strawberries. Add in some fresh cream, a mother’s love, a churn it in the Cuisinart Ice Cream Machine. It doesn’t get any better than this.

A cornucopia of things

We are in Seattle (Lake City) at least until mid-July. We fled Texas to escape the heat. Jen found us a housesitting job.

Weather in Seattle is wonderful! It’s cold in the morning (60s) and warms up into the 70s during the day. There are no mosquitoes. The doors and windows of the house are open all day (and night). I can be out in the sun for hours and not get burnt. I burn in less than 40 minutes of Texas sun.

Honda Odyssey
We drove our new minivan up to Seattle. It is a 2004 Honda Odyssey. We got it last month with 26,000 miles. It is like new. It is so anti-Jetta. The Jetta is small, the Odyssey is not. The Jetta is frugal (35mph), the Odyssey is not (24). The Jetta begs to race down the backside of mountains at 120mph, the Odyssey says, “grow up, speed racer.” The Jetta is cute, the Odyssey is…is…practical. 534

The Jetta: Let’s DRIVE!
Odyssey: Let’s ride.

The Jetta: Go, Go, Go! Faster, faster, I can do it!
Odyssey: Hey, look at the pretty mountains and the cool morning air that I have conditioned to exactly 72° for your riding comfort. Would you like a massage with your soft cushy seats?

After driving 400 miles:
The Jetta: Stop? Why? I can go for 200 more miles on this tank!
Odyssey: I’m thirsty. Don’t you have to pee or something?

After looking at the pile of stuff to take for 6 weeks:
The Jetta: Where?
Odyssey: Is that it?

Things that would not have fit in the Jetta: 20″ iMac, crate full of rock climbing and camping gear, portable office (phones, routers, power adapters, etc), a really big bag of Kayla toys. It really was quite dramatic. We filled up the Odyssey with everything we wanted to bring and was still below the bottom of the windows.

Contrast that with our two weeks in Michigan over new years. The Jetta was packed to the gills with the roof rack on top and not an inch to spare anywhere.

Junior 2.0
We had Junior’s big ultrasound yesterday. Junior appears to be very healthy. In fact, Junior is quite vigorous, refusing to hold still for the ultrasound technician. She claimed never to have seen such an active fetus. There were a couple images she simply could not get because Junior refused to hold still. After 15 minutes trying to get a particular shot, in frustration she held the probe still and said, “Look at this, I’m holding this still and he is just going and going!”

Junior’s mommy was not the least bit surprised. Kayla was an active baby and we had nicknamed her “Dances in Womb.” Junior is hyperactive and seldom pauses. Junior is more like “Spastic Bounces Off Walls.” His activity level is almost constant. Many things about this pregnancy are different than the last, but of course, every pregnancy is different. The nausea that abated in the second trimester last time has not. Other little things are different. We had our suspicions.

As the technician probed, daddy and Kayla watched. I asked, “Did I just see what I thought I saw?” The technician slid a knowing grin and continued. She paused, and froze the screen. There it was again, and this time she caught it before Junior swam away. Junior is sporting the goods.

Workin’ for the man
The day after we arrived in Seattle, I got the phones set up and then they rang. A certain mega-sized monopolistic computer software corporation (MSMCSC) based in Redmond, Washington wanted my assistance. Oddly, they had no idea I was only a few miles away. So, I am finishing up a one week consulting project with, guess who?