Vtech PC and Year 2000

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Neil Barker

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Feb 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/11/98
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At my father's place of work, he has several PC's from 286 Olivettis
used for simple word-processing, to P-266's for CAD.

In that range, he has in his office, a Vtech 486 DX2-50. This is used
for some relatively simple DOS software and is more than capable of
handling the demands of that software - anything faster would be a
waste.

Of the software running on this box, one particular application requires
you to enter a date, for when it generates a printed report. As this PC
is old in computer terms - circa 1993, it falls-over on year 2000 stuff.

The BIOS is AMI BIOS and prints up :-

05-X200-000000-00111111-070593-ELP-A

on boot-up.

Anyone have any ideas whether I'm going to be able to get a new BIOS
chip for this motherboard or not ?

I suspect I'm flogging a dead horse to be honest, but one never knows.
It just seems daft changing the motherboard etc when the present one is
more than capable of meeting the modest demands of the software running
on it.

--
Neil Barker.


Harry Broomhall

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Feb 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/12/98
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On Wed, 11 Feb 1998 23:53:58 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

If I understand the problem correctly the thing at fault is the
app, not the machine or it's BIOS. Check with the suppliers of the
app for an upgrade.

Regards,
Harry.


Neil Barker

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Feb 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/12/98
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In article: <34e4fd2e....@news.demon.co.uk> ha...@demon.net
(Harry Broomhall) writes:

> If I understand the problem correctly the thing at fault is the
> app, not the machine or it's BIOS. Check with the suppliers of the
> app for an upgrade.

I'm not 100 per cent convinced it is, Harry. The date range allowed in
the program is exactly the same as those in the BIOS.

As a bodge to test this, I fired-up Windows 3.1 that's on the PC and
changed the system date to 1/1/2000, then ran the DOS program straight
from Windows. The date box now automatically brought up this date and
allowed me to change it to whatever I wanted in the future.

The two seemed interlinked somehow - when I run the program on my PC
here, which is fully Year-2000 compatible, it works fine.

--
Neil Barker.


Harry Broomhall

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Feb 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/13/98
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On Thu, 12 Feb 1998 17:13:45 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

>In article: <34e4fd2e....@news.demon.co.uk> ha...@demon.net

>(Harry Broomhall) writes:
>
>> If I understand the problem correctly the thing at fault is the
>> app, not the machine or it's BIOS. Check with the suppliers of the
>> app for an upgrade.
>
>I'm not 100 per cent convinced it is, Harry. The date range allowed in
>the program is exactly the same as those in the BIOS.
>
>As a bodge to test this, I fired-up Windows 3.1 that's on the PC and
>changed the system date to 1/1/2000, then ran the DOS program straight
>from Windows. The date box now automatically brought up this date and
>allowed me to change it to whatever I wanted in the future.
>

Um - I'm not sure I am following your reasoning here. If the
'current' date is 2000, and the program allows you to use dates of
2000 then I don't see that there is much fault here. If you are
saying that while the 'current' date is 20th cent you can't select a
date in the 21st cent then this is *definitely* a fault in the app.

In software it is perfectly possible to read the current date, but
it *isn't* normaly possible to run date related software in the BIOS.

Without seeing the app and what you are doing it may be possible I
am misunderstanding something here. There are also a lot of
interactions, and I'm not entirely sure of your sequence of actions.

For a start - what size field is used to enter the date, and what do
you feel are the limitations?

Regards,
Harry.


Mike Clarke

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Feb 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/15/98
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In article <551276...@nemesis.nu>, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
writes:

>Anyone have any ideas whether I'm going to be able to get a new BIOS
>chip for this motherboard or not ?

Probably not :-(

Even if the BIOS isn't soldered in it'll probably be matched to the MB
so he'll need to get one from Vtech. A friend recently enquired the
price of a straight replacement motherboard for a Vtech 486SX25 and was
quoted a *very* nasty price - more than the cost of a new pentium chip,
MB, memory and case! So I would expect the BIOS chip to be equally
inflated.

--
Mike Clarke

Neil Barker

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Feb 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/15/98
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In article: <34e5a0d6...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:

> Without seeing the app and what you are doing it may be possible I
> am misunderstanding something here. There are also a lot of
> interactions, and I'm not entirely sure of your sequence of actions.
>
> For a start - what size field is used to enter the date, and what do
> you feel are the limitations?

Bizarre this, innit :-)

Basically, I don't believe the app itself to be at fault, though it's by
no means perfect and if I could find something to replace it, I sure as
hell would. It's a program used for calculations involved in designing
Flue and ventilation systems.

Somehow, the date-field in the program must be interlinked to that
reported by the BIOS or its capabilities. When running from 'plain' DOS
and not a DOS session under Windows, the only dates it will allow you to
enter are those that the BIOS can work with - i.e. 1/1/80 to 31/12/99.

Trying to enter a year 2000 date simply will not work.

Now, when I trick the OS into believing it's running a different date
than the BIOS actually is by running it in a DOS box under Windows,
having changed the date, it will now let me enter a year-2000 date....

When I run the program in plain DOS on my PC, which has no problems with
year 2000 dates, it will happily accept a year 2000 date.

I can therefore only conclude that the limiting factor in this, is the
BIOS in the old PC at my Father's place of work. Trying to update the
BIOS chip will be more trouble than it's worth and a cheaper solution
will be a new motherboard, to be honest.

Thanks for your input, though, Harry.

--
Neil Barker.

Neil Barker

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Feb 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/15/98
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In article: <8PHydOAy...@helix.demon.co.uk> Mike Clarke

I'm not at all surprised, Mike. I suspected this would be akin to
flogging a dead horse. I'm perfectly sure I can replace the motherboard
and processor for less than 150 quid, anyway.

--
Neil Barker.

Harry Broomhall

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Feb 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/16/98
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On Sun, 15 Feb 1998 21:42:44 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

>In article: <34e5a0d6...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>

>ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>
>> Without seeing the app and what you are doing it may be possible I
>> am misunderstanding something here. There are also a lot of
>> interactions, and I'm not entirely sure of your sequence of actions.
>>
>> For a start - what size field is used to enter the date, and what do
>> you feel are the limitations?
>
>Bizarre this, innit :-)
>
>Basically, I don't believe the app itself to be at fault, though it's by
>no means perfect and if I could find something to replace it, I sure as
>hell would. It's a program used for calculations involved in designing
>Flue and ventilation systems.
>
>Somehow, the date-field in the program must be interlinked to that
>reported by the BIOS or its capabilities. When running from 'plain' DOS
>and not a DOS session under Windows, the only dates it will allow you to
>enter are those that the BIOS can work with - i.e. 1/1/80 to 31/12/99.
>
>Trying to enter a year 2000 date simply will not work.
>

If you feel this is closed then fine. But I notice you didn't
answer the question! Are you saying that the field is 8 chars wide
and requires a date in DD/MM/YY format?

Regards,
Harry.


Mike Clarke

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Feb 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/16/98
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In article <772143...@nemesis.nu>, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
writes:

>I'm perfectly sure I can replace the motherboard

>and processor for less than 150 quid, anyway.

Hmm, if it's anything like my desktop Vtech of the same vintage it'll
have a proprietary motherboard with the expansion slots on a
daughterboard. You'll probably have to budget for a new case and some 72
pin memory too.

--
Mike Clarke

Mike Clarke

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Feb 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/16/98
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In article <675526...@nemesis.nu>, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
writes:

>I can therefore only conclude that the limiting factor in this, is the

>BIOS in the old PC at my Father's place of work.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was some oddity with the BIOS in the
Vtech, it wouldn't be the first I've come across:

The guy I mentioned earlier in the thread had a wierd problem where any
attempt to delete any file from any windows app would hang the machine.
He couldn't even move a file with filemanager. No problem in DOS.
Reformat and install (from a different set of media) was no cure. Still
did it with a different hard disk.

My Vtech consistently refuses to warm boot with CTRL ALT DEL if I have 2
hard disks attached, it hangs waiting for the second drive to respond.
Cold boot with the reset button is no problem. The same 2 disks in a
different PC cause no problems.

--
Mike Clarke

Neil Barker

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Feb 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/17/98
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In article: <34e7847...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:

> If you feel this is closed then fine.

Oh, not at all, Harry - I just didn't want to go on and on about it :-)


> But I notice you didn't answer the question! Are you saying that the
> field is 8 chars wide and requires a date in DD/MM/YY format?

The date field is indeed 8 chars wide, but on a non-year 2000 BIOS
equipped PC, it will not let you enter a year past 1999.

On my PC here, which will accept year 2000 plus dates, it works just
fine....

--
Neil Barker.

Tom Bird

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Feb 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/17/98
to demon.tech.pc

Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu> wrote in article <71339...@nemesis.nu>...


> In article: <34e7847...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
> ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>
> > If you feel this is closed then fine.
>
> Oh, not at all, Harry - I just didn't want to go on and on about it :-)
>
>
> > But I notice you didn't answer the question! Are you saying that the
> > field is 8 chars wide and requires a date in DD/MM/YY format?
>
> The date field is indeed 8 chars wide, but on a non-year 2000 BIOS
> equipped PC, it will not let you enter a year past 1999.

But but but...

Using the DOS date command I got an IBM XT ticking into the next
millennium.

TB

Harry Broomhall

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Feb 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/18/98
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On Tue, 17 Feb 1998 16:27:33 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

>In article: <34e7847...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>

>ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>
>> If you feel this is closed then fine.
>
>Oh, not at all, Harry - I just didn't want to go on and on about it :-)
>
>
>> But I notice you didn't answer the question! Are you saying that the
>> field is 8 chars wide and requires a date in DD/MM/YY format?
>
>The date field is indeed 8 chars wide, but on a non-year 2000 BIOS
>equipped PC, it will not let you enter a year past 1999.
>

OK. What format does this 8 char wide field expect the date to be
in?

Regards,
Harry.


Neil Barker

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Feb 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/18/98
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In article: <34ed2cb5...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>

It expects the user to enter the date as :-

Jan 1 2000

- it's not entered numerically, but exactly as the above, which I then
assume is translated to its purely numerical (01012000) form.

--
Neil Barker.

Harry Broomhall

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Feb 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/19/98
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On Wed, 18 Feb 1998 18:47:46 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

>In article: <34ed2cb5...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
>ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>>
>> On Tue, 17 Feb 1998 16:27:33 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
>> wrote:
>
>> >The date field is indeed 8 chars wide, but on a non-year 2000 BIOS
>> >equipped PC, it will not let you enter a year past 1999.
>> >
>>
>> OK. What format does this 8 char wide field expect the date to be
>> in?
>
>It expects the user to enter the date as :-
>
> Jan 1 2000
>
>- it's not entered numerically, but exactly as the above, which I then
>assume is translated to its purely numerical (01012000) form.
>

Um - counting the chars above I get 10. And if it was the 10th of
the month that would be 11. How do you fit this in a 8 char field?

Regards,
Harry.


Tom Bird

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Feb 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/19/98
to demon.tech.pc

Harry Broomhall <ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk> wrote in article
<34eb767...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>...

That's so strange. I get 8.

0 1 0 1 2 0 0 0
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

and if it's the tenth - 10012000.

TB

Harry Broomhall

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Feb 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/19/98
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Er - you have misread Neil's posting. He said the format was:
Jan 1 2000
^^^^^^^^^^
1234567890


Regards,
Harry.


Tom Bird

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Feb 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/19/98
to demon.tech.pc

Harry Broomhall <ha...@demon.net> wrote in article
<3502337c....@news.demon.co.uk>...

> On Thu, 19 Feb 1998 01:28:58 -0000, "Tom Bird"
> <ham...@nospam.demon.co.uk> wrote:
[snip]

> >and if it's the tenth - 10012000.
> >
>
> Er - you have misread Neil's posting. He said the format was:
> Jan 1 2000
> ^^^^^^^^^^
> 1234567890

uhhh, ohyeah!

Sorry to doubt your ability to count to ten :)

TB

Neil Barker

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Feb 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/22/98
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In article: <34eb767...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>
> On Wed, 18 Feb 1998 18:47:46 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
> wrote:

> >It expects the user to enter the date as :-
> >
> > Jan 1 2000
> >
> >- it's not entered numerically, but exactly as the above, which I
> >then assume is translated to its purely numerical (01012000) form.
> >
>
> Um - counting the chars above I get 10. And if it was the 10th of
> the month that would be 11. How do you fit this in a 8 char field?

I have no knowledge of the actual program coding, so I cannot make any
definitive judgements as to the length of the data field. I am making
the assumption that the date is translated to a numeric field on input,
rather than stored as a text-string. This is the way I'd code it, anyway
:-)

--
Neil Barker.

Harry Broomhall

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Feb 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/22/98
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On Sun, 22 Feb 1998 17:26:39 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

>In article: <34eb767...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
>ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>>
[SNIP]


>> Um - counting the chars above I get 10. And if it was the 10th of
>> the month that would be 11. How do you fit this in a 8 char field?
>
>I have no knowledge of the actual program coding, so I cannot make any
>definitive judgements as to the length of the data field. I am making
>the assumption that the date is translated to a numeric field on input,
>rather than stored as a text-string. This is the way I'd code it, anyway

Er - I wasn't expecting you to know how it was coded. Most systems
when they put a field on the screen put some sort of mark to show the
size and position of that field. I assume you are saying that there
is *nothing* on the screen to indicate size or position?

Regards,
Harry.


Neil Barker

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Feb 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/22/98
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In article: <34f29bb1...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:

> Er - I wasn't expecting you to know how it was coded. Most systems
> when they put a field on the screen put some sort of mark to show the
> size and position of that field. I assume you are saying that there
> is *nothing* on the screen to indicate size or position?

Not at all, Harry - just a larger boxed-area, where the text appears. No
deliniations or markings at all :-(

--
Neil Barker.

Michael Salem

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Feb 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/22/98
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Harry Broomhall wrote, in a continuing discussion on a date field:

> Most systems
> when they put a field on the screen put some sort of mark to show the
> size and position of that field. I assume you are saying that there
> is *nothing* on the screen to indicate size or position?

I think the misunderstanding here is that a lot of software displays fields
on screen in one way, but stores them internally in another. For example,
dates can be displayed, and entered, in the form "25 Dec 98" or "25 Dec
1998", but stored internally as a hex word or double-word which is the
number of days since a given reference date. So the screen display gives
you no information whatsoever on internal representation or millenium
compliance. In fact some of my software will handle dates like either "25
Dec 00" or "25 Dec 2000" correctly (doesn't work for birth dates of very
old people, though).

Best wishes,
--
Michael Salem (email: use "Reply" command, or mgs at michaels.demon.co.uk)
RFC 1855: Quote less than you contribute; keep sig down to 4 lines


Harry Broomhall

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Feb 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/23/98
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On Sun, 22 Feb 1998 23:14:20 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

>In article: <34f29bb1...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
>ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>
>> Er - I wasn't expecting you to know how it was coded. Most systems


>> when they put a field on the screen put some sort of mark to show the
>> size and position of that field. I assume you are saying that there
>> is *nothing* on the screen to indicate size or position?
>

>Not at all, Harry - just a larger boxed-area, where the text appears. No
>deliniations or markings at all :-(
>

I don't think we are getting anywhere with this. I suspct I'd need
to see the app to see what is happening.

I still believe the primary fault lies with the software though!
:-)

Regards,
Harry.


Neil Barker

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Feb 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/25/98
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In article: <34f0d76e...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>
ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:

> I don't think we are getting anywhere with this. I suspct I'd need
> to see the app to see what is happening.

Well, you're welcome to - it's about 500k DOS executable.


> I still believe the primary fault lies with the software though!
> :-)

We could go on about this all night, but if so, why does it not work on
non-year 2000 compatible PCs but work fine on compatible ones ?

--
Neil Barker.

Harry Broomhall

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Feb 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/25/98
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On Wed, 25 Feb 1998 19:05:59 +0000, Neil Barker <Ne...@nemesis.nu>
wrote:

>In article: <34f0d76e...@netbsd.haeb.demon.org>

>ha...@pc60.demon.co.uk (Harry Broomhall) writes:
>
>> I don't think we are getting anywhere with this. I suspct I'd need
>> to see the app to see what is happening.
>
>Well, you're welcome to - it's about 500k DOS executable.
>
>

Hm - I don't think I have the time to analyse it, small though it
is! :-)

>> I still believe the primary fault lies with the software though!
>> :-)
>
>We could go on about this all night, but if so, why does it not work on
>non-year 2000 compatible PCs but work fine on compatible ones ?
>

Because the software does broken things with DOS calls. However -
if changing the motherboard fixes things for you then that has to be
the way to go, as it doesn't cost all that much.

Regards,
Harry.


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