Government mandated software



  • Some of you may remember this thread where blakeyrat rightfully assumed that the web form in question was issued by a government agency.
    Today I had another run-in with the same, highly capable programmers.

    Let's begin with the "You did not log out! You are a bad man!" warning because my father (head of school) forgot to log out after downloading the program. Oh well.

    Next up: Instead of hyperlinks they're using form buttons.
    At least they're providing two versions: One for Windows XP and older versions. One for Vista and 7.

    Or so I thought:

    Both forum and telephone support were equally helpful: They have no contract to convert the program to run under 64bit systems and thus are unable to provide such a program.
    However, we can always install the XP-VM provided by Microsoft! Oh, that's only available for Professional and Ultimate versions? Too bad for you!

    Effectively, they've had only more than 16 years to convert their software to 32bit and they're unwilling to at least consider the notion that 16bit might be just a tiny bit outdated.
    I'm also a bit afraid when I think of what tools those people are using for still being able to compile 16bit programs!

    God, I'll enjoy working for those people!



  • What makes you think these 16-bit programs are still being maintained and compiled in the first place? I'd wager they only exist as binaries now.

    Not that this excuses them in any way. I mean, ever since Intel adopted AMD's x86-64 design in 2004 it was clear 16-bit programs would cease running under 64-bit Windows.



  • Because they're still doing yearly updates and for that provide both a full install and an incremental update.



  • That is truly terrifying, then.



  • @Rhywden said:

    Because they're still doing yearly updates and for that provide both a full install and an incremental update.

    I find it amusing how in an industry that thrives on constant change how some people can be so resistant to it.

    * ring ring * Hello? Oh, it's Moore's Law calling. They want their out-dated technologies back now.



  • @dohpaz42 said:

    @Rhywden said:

    Because they're still doing yearly updates and for that provide both a full install and an incremental update.

    I find it amusing how in an industry that thrives on constant change how some people can be so resistant to it.

    * ring ring * Hello? Oh, it's Moore's Law calling. They want their out-dated technologies back now.

    A former client of mine is still running Windows 2000 on its 1500+ workstations, paying a huge amount every year to get security updates from Microsoft. This is more expensive than replacing all the workstations but the client does not like change...



    Surprisingly their network gear is also very old, they are still on 10mbps ethernet. The network is so slow, everybody is using usb keys to move documents around. While I was working there, I used to connect to my ISP dial-in internet connection (included with broadband accounts) with a winmodem to have internet access.



    On the plus side, they don't have a problem with people watching videos or facebooking at the office... Anyways they have an outdated browser, either IE 5.5 or IE 6.0. No flash, no html5, no Silverlight.



  • @thistooshallpass said:

    A former client of mine is still running Windows 2000 on its 1500+ workstations, paying a huge amount every year to get security updates from Microsoft. This is more expensive than replacing all the workstations but the client does not like change...



    Surprisingly their network gear is also very old, they are still on 10mbps ethernet. The network is so slow, everybody is using usb keys to move documents around. While I was working there, I used to connect to my ISP dial-in internet connection (included with broadband accounts) with a winmodem to have internet access.



    On the plus side, they don't have a problem with people watching videos or facebooking at the office... Anyways they have an outdated browser, either IE 5.5 or IE 6.0. No flash, no html5, no Silverlight.

    Well, I would definitely expect that sort of crap from non-technical people; not that it's any excuse, especially if they are paying more to not change than it would cost to change. That's just insane!



  • I've run into the 16-bit thing before. Sometimes, it's not actually the app that you're installing, but the installer itself that's 16-bits, which seems to be the case here, although, who knows.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I've run into the 16-bit thing before. Sometimes, it's not actually the app that you're installing, but the installer itself that's 16-bits, which seems to be the case here, although, who knows.

    On a hunch, I tried your suggestion to see whether the whole app or only the installer is 16bit.
    The result: It's indeed only the installer.

    Now, since the installer did not run, I obviously am lacking a bit of information as to which registry keys are installed, which files go where and if those files need to be registered.

    Thus I simply started the app and hoped for good error messages if something blew up - this way I found out that I had to copy and register \Windows\SysWOW64\comctl32.ocx
    However, that's where I hit a snag - the program tries to connect to local database files (which it installs in /users/public/appname) and gives up because it says that the files are write-protected. Even after setting rights to "full access" for "Everyone", this did not change (and the program was able to write its error log into said directory just fine, by the way).

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?

    This is the call stack of the program:
    FEHLERBESCHREIBUNG:
    Fehler-Nr: 429 (ActiveX component can't create object)
    Modul: Datenbank
    Prozedur: init_OK
    Zeilen-Nr.: 51940
    Datum/Uhrzeit: 09-01-2011 / 18:23:28
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    CALLSTACK:
    18:23:20 [Explorer] Public Function Datei_schreibgeschützt(Dateiname As String) As Boolean
    Dateiname: C:\Users\Rhywden\izn-Stabil\Langausdruck.mdb
    18:23:20 [Explorer] Public Function Datei_schreibgeschützt(Dateiname As String) As Boolean
    Dateiname: C:\Users\Rhywden\izn-Stabil\STABILTT.MDB
    18:23:20 [Explorer] Public Function Datei_schreibgeschützt(Dateiname As String) As Boolean
    Dateiname: C:\Users\Rhywden\izn-Stabil\STABIL_D.MDB
    18:23:20 [Explorer] Public Function Datei_schreibgeschützt(Dateiname As String) As Boolean
    Dateiname: C:\Users\Rhywden\izn-Stabil\STABIL.MDB
    18:23:20 [Datenbank] Public Function init_OK() As Boolean
    18:23:20 [AllgFunktionen] Public Function GetProfile_Zeichenfolge(AppName As String, KeyName As String, defvalue As String,results As String,iniloc As String) As Boolean
    AppName: Pfade
    KeyName: Daten
    defvalue: X
    results: X
    iniloc: C:\Program Files (x86)\izn-Stabil\StabilSV.ini
    18:23:20 [Explorer] Public Function LaufwerkBereit(Laufwerk As String) As Boolean
    Laufwerk: C:
    18:23:20 [Explorer] Public Function Datei_vorhanden(ByVal Dateiname As String) As Boolean
    Dateiname: C:\Program Files (x86)\izn-Stabil\StabilSV.ini
    18:23:20 [SVMain] Sub Main()



  • @Rhywden said:

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?

    Is it your job to?

    Step 1: Figure out a way to get paid for doing it


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Looks like WIndows 7. Install XP mode. Install program in XP Mode.



  • @Rhywden said:

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?
     

    Virtualize a Windows 3.11 (For Workgroups) machine. Install the program. Note the registry changes.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    @Rhywden said:

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?
     

    Virtualize a Windows 3.11 (For Workgroups) machine. Install the program. Note the registry changes.

    You noticed the "can't open file because read/write lock" problem? Pretty sure that has nothing to do with the registry...

    @FrostCat said:

    Looks like WIndows 7. Install XP mode. Install program in XP Mode.

    That's even less useful. You did not actually read the thread, did you?



  • @Rhywden said:

    @Lorne Kates said:

    @Rhywden said:

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?
     

    Virtualize a Windows 3.11 (For Workgroups) machine. Install the program. Note the registry changes.

    You noticed the "can't open file because read/write lock" problem? Pretty sure that has nothing to do with the registry...

    Error messages rarely take into account the fact that you might not have ever run the installer before running the program.  They often get an error because they are trying to open a file in a directory that doesn't exist, and the programmer simply assumed the problem was security.

    Set up a test machine that the program will install on.  Inventory all files and registry settings.  Install app.  Re-inventory and compare.  There are commercial apps that do this, but it's not terribly hard to do manually if you are willing to put a bit of time into it.



  • It's not a "file not found" error. It's a "write lock on file" error.



  • @Rhywden said:

    However, that's where I hit a snag - the program tries to connect to local database files (which it installs in /users/public/appname) and gives up because it says that the files are write-protected. Even after setting rights to "full access" for "Everyone", this did not change (and the program was able to write its error log into said directory just fine, by the way).

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?

    Get Process Monitor, see what's actually happening.



  • @Rhywden said:

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?
    Have you tried right-clicking the application and choosing "Run as administrator" yet?



  • Could we please move to the non-obvious parts of the advice giving now? ;)



  • @ender said:

    Have you tried right-clicking the application and choosing "Run as administrator" yet?

    Yes, because obviously administrative permissions magically turns the 16-bit installer into a 32-bit installer. Microsoft had wizards implement that feature. Using magic. And QAed it with magical elves. Using magic.

    @Rhywden said:

    Could we please move to the non-obvious parts of the advice giving now? ;)

    I already gave you the best advice, you ignored it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Yes, because obviously administrative permissions magically turns the 16-bit installer into a 32-bit installer.
    Where did I mention the installer? I specifically said the application. What's that favourite line of yours? Reading is FUNdamental?



  • @ender said:

    Where did I mention the installer?

    In my head!

    @ender said:

    What's that favourite line of yours? Reading is FUNdamental?

    Nah, I much prefer pedantic dickweed.



  • @FrostCat said:

    Looks like WIndows 7. Install XP mode. Install program in XP Mode.

    Jesus christ. I'm setting the over/under on # of posts under mine before we see "try to reboot your computer" at 8. I know 90% of you guys are stuck at dead end help desk shit shoveling jobs, but let's at least try here.



  • @Power Troll said:

    Jesus christ. I'm setting the over/under on # of posts under mine before we see "try to reboot your computer" at 8. I know 90% of you guys are stuck at dead end help desk shit shoveling jobs, but let's at least try here.

    Oh, yeah! Good idea! Rebooting always helps with Windows!


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Power Troll said:

    @FrostCat said:
    Looks like WIndows 7. Install XP mode. Install program in XP Mode.

    Jesus christ. I'm setting the over/under on # of posts under mine before we see "try to reboot your computer" at 8. I know 90% of you guys are stuck at dead end help desk shit shoveling jobs, but let's at least try here.

    Snark away! However, 16-bit apps--or 16-bit installers--that don't work under 64-bit Windows WILL work on XP Mode. I had to do that very thing myself last week to install an ancient version of the Wise Installer.

    I know it's more fun to roll out an endless cascade of "TRWTF is you!" here but the only thing that's ever gonna get that program running on 64-bit Windows is to run it in XP mode; and I know for a fact that would solve the problem, unllike "oh, just reboot" or "this would work if you did it in javascript" or even "brillant!"

    Or were you whining about the fact that I missed/ignored that he's not using a version of Win7 that supports XP mode? Sorry, but that's not my problem; surely if it's important, it's worth spending a small amount of money to upgrade one single Windows license, or, failing that, dig up an old PC that still has XP on it.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Rhywden said:

    @Lorne Kates said:

    @Rhywden said:

    Does anyone else have an idea of how to drag this program screaming and kicking into the century of the fruitbat?
     

    Virtualize a Windows 3.11 (For Workgroups) machine. Install the program. Note the registry changes.

    You noticed the "can't open file because read/write lock" problem? Pretty sure that has nothing to do with the registry...

    @FrostCat said:

    Looks like WIndows 7. Install XP mode. Install program in XP Mode.

    That's even less useful. You did not actually read the thread, did you?

    So sorry for missing the one line where you mentioned you didn't have the right version of Windows. Cain't help you with that, but you do realize that XP Mode would most likely have worked, right?

    Re-read Jaime's post. Lots of programs just plain old don't work right if you don't install them, as you yourself discovered. Did you ever try, you know, installing the program?

    I deal with this all the time. At my current job, we have an app that runs in a VM. Our app uses ActiveX controls, and won't work if you don't have them registered, because you didn't install it. And the VM itself needs to be installed so that IT can set up COM stuff in the registry. If you don't install both apps, you get cryptic errors. You can work around the issue by manually registering a pile of OCXs (something yourself wound up doing--hey, both your problem app, and the one I work with, use comctl32!). I get calls regularly from customers who would rather spend 15-20 minutes copying files around and hand-editing ini files and shortcuts and manually registering 7 different dlls because they can't be bothered to run a couple of installers that take ~1 minute each, so my sympathy's fairly low.

    Here's an idea: get Dosbox. Try running your installer from inside that. It's the same advice I gave originally, except for those pesky licensing issues. Or dredge up an old PC not running 64-bit Windows. But for God's sake don't waste your time trying to reverse-engineer what this program needs to have set up to be able to run!

    If money weren't a problem, which I assume it is since you don't seem to have the $90 to upgrade to Win7 Professional, I'd echo the suggestion to get one of the commercial apps that can figure out what an installer does and repackage the installation process; I used to consult for a company that did that with EVERYTHING and repackaged literally every app people used to create one-click installers.

    Or you could keep wasting time pissing and moaning at well-meant suggestions that, you know, WOULD HAVE ACTUALLY SOLVED YOUR PROBLEM, because people missed one key detail.



  • @FrostCat said:

    However, 16-bit apps--or 16-bit installers--that don't work under 64-bit Windows WILL work on XP Mode.
    XP mode isn't available on Home versions of Windows 7.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @ender said:
    Have you tried right-clicking the application and choosing "Run as administrator" yet?
    Yes, because obviously administrative permissions magically turns the 16-bit installer into a 32-bit installer. Microsoft had wizards implement that feature. Using magic. And QAed it with magical elves. Using magic.
    I call bullshit...  There is NO WAY they could do something like that without unicorns...


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @ender said:

    @FrostCat said:
    However, 16-bit apps--or 16-bit installers--that don't work under 64-bit Windows WILL work on XP Mode.
    XP mode isn't available on Home versions of Windows 7.

    This is where I ironically accuse you of not reading the thread.  Possibly while wearing overly-large horn-rimmed glasses.

     But that's why I also offered several other possibilities, like running the installer under Dosbox, or trying to find another computer with an older version of Windows.  Hell, here's another one:  dig out Win7 CD, make dual-boot install, select Professional edition, don't enter in a key.  Now you've got 30 days[] to try the app, and you can use XP Mode!

     [] 120 days with use of slmgr -rearm; theoretically 3x that long if you can track down the trick to extend THAT.


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