How do you change up a directory in DOS? Reboot!



  • This is a personal WTF from about 20 years ago...

    I was working for pocket money at a local supermarket. The boss knew I was 'good with computers' so asked me to write some report generating spreadsheets that gathered data from their newly installed barcode scanning Point Of Sale system.
    This would run on a Lotus 123 spreadsheet under Dos...

    This was my first experience with DOS (I had previously used CP/M), and the wonderful new concept of 'Directories'...

    I knew how to CD into a directory, but I had no clue how to get back out of it, so occasionally I found myself 'stuck' in a subdirectory!
    My solution: Reboot the PC!
    Worked fine -- once it rebooted I was back in the root directory!

    Unfortunatly this was also the only data-capture PC for the entire POS system which used a good old DOS TSR to receive the data from the checkouts. So each time I rebooted (only a couple of times a day!) all the checkouts would hang for a couple of minutes until the TSR restarted...

    Oops. I hope that there was no data lost :)

    Fortunatly my boss put it down to teething problems with the new system, and hey, what does he expect when he hires a schoolkid for UKP2/hr in 1988...

    (PS: I completed the reports and they worked as required...)



  • Reminds me of this

    File might be in use by another process ... Reboot!

    Windows knows which program has that file open! But of course, Microsoft had no intention of letting you know. Solution? Reboot

    The solution to everything is to reboot. When my TCP/IP stack runs out of memory, most applications just lock up or look stupid. Only Windows console FTP reports the real error. Solution? Reboot? No, just close the offending program that ate all the cookies. Rebooting is a pretty lame solution, because it not only disrupts everything else we're doing, but it also raises the issue of the inability of the PC to manage itself, to check that everything is running smoothly and warn us about the real problems. The only way I get such nice long uptimes in Windows 2000 is because I'm frequently able to nail the real cause of weird problems and resolve them without a reboot.

    In your case, I don't know how well documented that version of DOS was. For example, in Windows 2000:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Dan> help cd
    Displays the name of or changes the current directory.
    
    CHDIR [/D] [drive:][path]
    CHDIR [..]
    CD [/D] [drive:][path]
    CD [..]
    
      ..   Specifies that you want to change to the parent directory.

    I get the feeling that in 1988, at presumably the time when Microsoft weren't even aware that a move command might actually be useful for something, DOS didn't have much in the way of useful online documentation :)

    So you are forgiven.



  • I don't know about DOS, but MSDOS has always had help built into the commands, like "cd /?". I tend to follow suit when writing console applications, even though the modern trend is to give the error message "File '/?' not found."



  • My only real MS-DOS knowledge is version 6.2. When I was given a PC1512 and a Tulip 286, I put DOS 6.2 onto each one =)

    Even if MS-DOS had /? available in 1988 (I guess it did) it's hardly intuitive now, is it? Typing "help" is a good first guess and does actually do something useful in NT cmd. It worked in MS-DOS 6.2 as well. Command summaries in Acorn MOS could be invoked with *HELP (e.g. *HELP DFS) but BBC BASIC did not have a HELP command itself. You had to realise or read that *HELP existed.

    Mostly though, it all comes down to reading the failureing manual. Wait, what?



  • I think this must have been dos 3.3 or something.
    But even then MS did not bother to deliver manuals with their SW (or the manuals were not with the PC).
    No idea whether 'help' or cd /? worked... (but a quick google reveals a freeware 'HELP' for dos 3.3, so I guess not)



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    Reminds me of this

    File might be in use by another process ... Reboot!

    Windows knows which program has that file open! But of course, Microsoft had no intention of letting you know. Solution? Reboot

      Hold on.  Since when the hell has WS_FTP been a Microsoft application?  Look, I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but it's the author of WS_FTP who is to blame for the lousy diagnostic.  The error return code tells your program /exactly/ whether it's locked by another process or not, there's no "may be" about it, and the advice to reboot is the author of WS_FTP's bad advice, he could just as easily have written "You should exit any other application that is using this file and try again".  And if he wanted to be /really/ conscientious about it, he could have written a few ZwQuerySystemInformation calls and walked the system's file handle tables and found out which program was holding it open and displayed that information.

      Microsoft may suck, but they're not the guilty party here.



  • It's about leading by example and about doing your best to help your developer base. Should the programmer have to jump through hoops to report basic information to the user? Even Microsoft don't care -- Explorer for example doesn't bother to elaborate on this error even when it's Explorer itself sitting on the file

    It's like the size grips in resizable modal dialogs. You have to jump through hoops to put those in your own software. Microsoft use them in their own apps, but boy are you wrong if you think MS would add a simple flag, like WS_EX_SIZABLE_DIALOG, to have the OS add a size grip to the window.

    Apple's reputation is middling. The Finder would tell you exactly which file, in use by which program, was preventing a disc ejection (which ruled) but when X came around, they ripped that out and went back to the Microsoft approach of "Some file on the disc may be in use by something, but damned if we care which. You're not getting that disc back. Have a nice day". I hope later versions of Mac OS X restored Apple's former awesome friendliness in reporting some of the more common errors.

    Microsoft want to be seen as an innovator, eh? It's time they started cracking down on all the pain in IT -- ridiculous share violations is a good start along with printing problems. "Error - Printing" doesn't cut it any more. If Microsoft want to shine in this world, developing an OS that holds itself, and its developers, strongly accountable for all the things that go wrong every day that the user can't find out about, would be a very nice way to do it. No more cursing random problems with no explanation and having to trawl through Process Explorer and TCPView and various other tools trying to figure out what the OS isn't telling us. It's not up to programmers to repeat all this work program after program. That's what the operating system is there for. To operate the system.



  • @nielm said:

    I think this must have been dos 3.3 or something.
    But even then MS did not bother to deliver manuals with their SW (or the manuals were not with the PC).
    No idea whether 'help' or cd /? worked... (but a quick google reveals a freeware 'HELP' for dos 3.3, so I guess not)

    I think the HELP and /? switches are in DOS 4.x or perhaps even 5.x league. (I started with 3.30a and went straight to DOS 6 after that... I think... and I'm pretty certain 3.3 didn't have a help system and I had to check out That PC Book from the library. And naturally, online help in DOS 6 was a blissful notion. =)



  • Well hey, looks like you're not alone.



  • At least you knew subdirectories existed. I know someone doing some internal support. Regularly, users say they've lost their files, and when asked where they think they saved it, their answer is "word". They don't know about directories. They don't know about the "my documents" folder. They don't even know explorer and have absolutely no remote idea what a filesystem could be. Don't know what they think ( if they even think about something ). Files randomly floating around, and word as a general purpose file manager.

     Reminds me some other rather mystical behaviour.  Back on those 386 days, when I was a teenager, a friend insisted on installing all games files in the very same directory. I mean, not C:\GAMES\4DDRIVIN and C:\GAMES\SNOOKER ; he had all files from 4D Sports driving and jimmy white snooker in that single C:\GAMES directory, along with a dozen other games. He just knew what files to remove when he needed to uninstall one of them. I just can't figure what he expected. Taking up less disk space ? Making his father think he has only one game ?



  • @aikii said:

     Reminds me some other rather mystical behaviour.  Back on those 386 days, when I was a teenager, a friend insisted on installing all games files in the very same directory. I mean, not C:\GAMES\4DDRIVIN and C:\GAMES\SNOOKER ; he had all files from 4D Sports driving and jimmy white snooker in that single C:\GAMES directory, along with a dozen other games. He just knew what files to remove when he needed to uninstall one of them. I just can't figure what he expected. Taking up less disk space ? Making his father think he has only one game ?


    It will take up less disk space.  A directory takes up a minimum of one sector, and if you've got a lot of games, the savings do add up.



  • @aikii said:

    At least you knew subdirectories existed. I know someone doing some internal support. Regularly, users say they've lost their files, and when asked where they think they saved it, their answer is "word". They don't know about directories. They don't know about the "my documents" folder. They don't even know explorer and have absolutely no remote idea what a filesystem could be. Don't know what they think ( if they even think about something ). Files randomly floating around, and word as a general purpose file manager.

    Yeah, i know that one all too well. Depending on the person, files can be saved in one of three locations. "Excel", "Word", or "Microsoft". Subfolders and - heaven forbid - different network drives, are as alien a concept as quantum physics is to a 6 month old.



  • That is not a definite true. The directory can take more than one sector. If directories had contained a (number of items*item size) divisible by sector size there would be no space loss.

    PS: That remainds me of old days when I was playing with DriveSpace... 



  • @Carnildo said:

    @aikii said:

    Reminds me some other rather mystical behaviour. Back on those 386 days, when I was a teenager, a friend insisted on installing all games files in the very same directory. I mean, not C:\GAMES\4DDRIVIN and C:\GAMES\SNOOKER ; he had all files from 4D Sports driving and jimmy white snooker in that single C:\GAMES directory, along with a dozen other games. He just knew what files to remove when he needed to uninstall one of them. I just can't figure what he expected. Taking up less disk space ? Making his father think he has only one game ?


    It will take up less disk space. A directory takes up a minimum of one sector, and if you've got a lot of games, the savings do add up.

     

    You also get the added saving that occurs when two games happen to have files with the same name, you only need to store one copy of each \o/



  • @Devi said:

    You also get the added saving that occurs when two games happen to have files with the same name, you only need to store one copy of each \o/

    Argh! You win another round, README.TXT!


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