|wickensonline.co.uk Retrochallenge 2009 Winter Warmup Entry Exceptions|
Exceptions and Issues
This is a list of situations that arose during the month where I had no choice
but to 'fall-forward' to modern technology to solve a problem, or where I
specifically noted that the retro-technology was not suitable for the problem at
Whilst putting together a letter insert for my 40th Birthday Party I was unable
to obtain a map for directions using mosaic - google maps crashed the browser
and others such as multimap and streetmap produced a page with the tiled images
that would make up the map display showing as icons. As we needed to get it out
pronto, I used the work computer to get a map, took a screen grab and emailed it
to myself. The next problem was removing the map image attachment - ALLIN1 does
not know about MIME attachments, but once the email was exported to the VMS
filesystem I was able to use the OpenVMS MIME utility to extract the image, load
it into XV, export it as an Encapsulated Postscript file and finally include
this in the WPS-PLUS letter using an EPS control block.
I was unable to access my bank accounts online with Norwich & Peterborough, even
though I could see no good reason why it should fail. There were no error
messages, I was just plonked back onto the same page. Probably down to not
shuffle some money around (although I could have phoned them up instead).
I was unable to post to the comp.os.vms newsgroup from VMS Mosaic 4.2. I pressed
the 'Post' button and the window closed but nothing discernable happened (one
good thing about old SCSI disk drives is that they tell you audibly when
something is happening). It may be a configuration problem - I noted that Mosaic
thought I was 'msw@orac' which might cause problems with posting.
Update: apparently the post was successful, but it is appearing as a separate
thread in the Mosaic news browser. I can't be sure whether it has been posted as
a separate thread or whether it's just the threading in the browser that's not
working. So scrub the previous comment, happily...
One thing that I've noted about using DECwindows is that the cut/paste handling
is a bit erratic. For example, using the middle-button method of cut and paste I
couldn't paste the selected text into an EVE session in a DECterm window. The
Mosaic Post window knew nothing about Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V as Cut/Paste buttons. As
a consequence I lost the post. If I get the news side of posting working I'll
write the post in ALLIN1, export it to a text file and use the 'Include File...'
option to pull in a safe copy.
I knew photographs were going to be a challenge - the VAX is way, way before USB
ports and these days if you don't have a USB port then reading off a Digital
Camera card is a non-starter. This may be an interesting, more advanced
challenge - find a way to read images off a Compact Flash card with a VAX!
So I had to resort to my IBM X60 laptop with a USB compact flash card reader to
extract the images. I then FTP'd them directly to the VAX.
The next problem was thrown by XV - an 'out of memory' error when loading full
resolution images (about 3888 pixels across). I compiled up ImageMagick and
tried to use that but I obviously missed out the JPEG configuration as it would
not recognise the image format.
So in order to recompile ImageMagick with JPEG support I visited the Independent
JPEG Group home page and downloaded the free JPEG image compression library.
Once that was compiled up memories came flooding back of using their DJPEG and
CJPEG utilities (with an Amiga then early Linux distributions if I remember
correctly) to decode and encode JPEGs respectively.
I used the command: DJPEG -scale 1/5 image.jpg image.pgm to decode the JPEG
image to 1/5 size and write a NetPBM file. XV was then able to load the
scaled-down file, and I could trim and save the images re-encoded in JPEG format
for inclusion on the website.
1. Independent JPEG Group