Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vault OS : 100mhz 486DX VB-DOS On Tablet?

I would like to put this idea up to get some feedback from people interested in Civil Defense Commander, a module of my long delayed Vault Operation System.

I have located a supply of pen tablet computers at rock bottom prices. They're tough, reliable and fully support LAN networking out of the box. They consume tiny amounts of power and have built-in sleep and suspend modes.

Although it is now almost 8 years old, the original version of CD Commander I wrote in 1999 was a Visual Basic for DOS application using a networked ISAM database. It was very impressive and looked terrific. I never got around to working much on the data monitoring and network aspects but it was a lot easier than you'd think. It also had the same advantage as Latin for scientific classification - it is a dead language, stable and would not require endless updates and maintenance. It's very low demand on memory makes it ideal for a lot of embedded systems which hosted it in x86 compatible environments for industrial control and communication between workstations. The difference in reliability between a system like this and another running under Windows 95 or later is the sheer complexity, slowdown, memory requirements and a million things that can fail without explanation in the windows operating system at any given moment. Stuff in VB-DOS for industrial control is legendary for it's rock solid dependability. Serial communication and port access is fairly simple with VB-DOS and graphics are supported for a couple of memory efficient formats.

If I use this pen tablet as my universal work station, running the same program from any connection point in the Vault system as a controller, the best environment will be VB-DOS given the specifications for the pen tablet and other reasons listed above.

I can also develop this system fairly easily on a PC, transfer it to the Vault remotely for updating the software and pretty much support it for expansion of all kinds once it is running.

I'd like to hear what people think of this idea instead of the current CD Commander running as a 32 bit application under Windows XP or better. It may seem odd to consider but it could really be the last word in Civil Defense computer systems if it is designed right in VB-DOS.


kochevnik said...

VB-DOS definitely.

I've actually been looking at going back to assembler for some of my stuff. If there is a clalmity, whatever tech there is, is going to revert to it's most basic, fixable form.

Windoze is an energy hog and the appliances it runs on have a relatively short life compared to some of the industrial, embeeded stuff.

Simple is good.

Anonymous said...

You and I must be some of the very few people remaining who ever coded anything in VBDOS. I found it rock solid, easy to develop and debgug, and wrote some very sophisticated biz apps with it.

email me if you like:

Texas Arcane said...

I found a text file on one of my old machines that was a pro and con of using VB-DOS. The pros outweighed the cons by a mile back then 8 years ago.

Although Windows offers a million sophisticated features for a programmer, what good are they when the typical Windoze machine needs maintenance a minimum of every three months or so for various failures and defects? It takes about ten minutes on a 486 for Windows to just boot up and even then it runs slow as a dog. You need something that will sit idle in suspended sleep for a year unattended consuming only milliamps and then spring to life the second you use it, without any maintenance or upgrades of any kind and a minimal hardware setup.

Although plenty of development environments are there for it, even 32 bit platforms using protected mode might be a little too ambitious. Using an internal Vault network doesn't become practical for the average person until you can get prices down to about $25.00 per x86 workstation. I am planning on eight workstations in my final Vault for each hub of functionality so that's $200.00 for the hardware. There are numerous sources where you can get low energy devices that are all-in-one x86 PCs for around that. Assuming max of 640K memory, text mode monochrome display, a LAN connection and some small flash storage drive. 32 bit devices won't be that cheap for at least another couple of years.

I have the source code for a VB-DOS textmode HTML browser and other free DOS tools that would be ideal for a small local Vault web pages for things like scheduling, task management and messaging.