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Many, many Windows 98 tasks
Segment 4: Tape Backup, FAT32 Conversion, Downgrading, and Other Things

Originally encoded on November 17th, 2018 and published on December 27th

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The Supersegment

This segment was kind of a clusterfuck because of how it crammed so many smaller ideas into one video. Many of them were recorded on different days, and so the entire production of this segment spanned around three weeks. The 3D Windows logo spinning was more so just a thing to top everything off the day before the encoding was completed.

Tape Backup

Hewelett Packard tape drive active

I wanted to give this subsegment some character, mainly by having it star a large ant (same one from the disco) who was wise enough to back up his internet collection after his computer got caught in a nuclear strike. Having that trusty DDS tape with him at all times, there's no way he could lose it unless a praying mantis was dumb enough to eat the tape along with him! How do cheap gloves and the same hoodie as Basifuk's translate to ant cosplay? I don't know... this was a very spontaneous idea, so don't question it. Derrick is very important.

Windows 98's backup utility is a much welcomed improvement over the one from Windows 95. It supports a far wider range of tape drives, perhaps bringing it on par with Windows NT. While I've yet to see if my LTO1 tape drive will work here, I think it's fairly easy to say that if your tape drive is detected by Windows 98, it should very much work in its native backup utility.

While Microsoft Backup does come with its own software compression, it is preferred to use hardware compression on your tape drive if it comes with that, since it will be faster while saving space at the same time. Even so, when you're conducting a tape backup, you do have to be mindful of the speed of the tape and hard disk, make sure the hard disk is fast enough... some tape drives, particularly the LTO series, are incredibly fast and expect rapid streams of data to be fed to them as a result. If your hard disk is too slow, the tape drive may have to stop, rewind a bit, and write in a slow, constant cycle that can be harsh on the mechanism. This effect is referred to by some as "shoeshining".

This video partially featured some low-res animated skit I made for a shitty collab group that died. It's the sequel to Bunk, which coincidentally was made for another shitty collab group that also died. I made it as more of a pisstake on torture and corporal punishment, but it was so edgy that once the group disbanded, I didn't feel like publishing it to my main channel.

Windows 98 tape backup conducted in 2013

Interestingly enough, I happened to record a complete tape backup operation in Windows 98 as far back as February 24th, 2013. I'm pretty sure I intended to publish it, but never got around to editing, so it never saw the light of day. In that instance, I used some Travan TR-3 tape drive. It came with its own dedicated floppy controller that would've been twice the speed of a standard one, but I may have fried that at some point in 2012, so I ended up settling for the slower speed.

FAT16 vs. FAT32

By 1996, hard disks were really starting to grow in size and become more affordable along the way, making the archaic FAT16 filesystem harder to justify. FAT32 was developed for Windows 95 OSR2 and Windows 98 to address the shortcomings of a 2GB partition limit by shooting that limit up to 2TB. Not only did this mean large hard disks could be partitioned as a single logical drive, it was also possible for disks up to 8GB in size to have very efficient clusters, saving valuable disk space without even needing compression. The table below, taken from Microsoft's own documentation, tells the amount of space one can save by converting a filesystem from FAT16 to FAT32:

FAT Cluster Sizes

Partition size FAT16 FAT32
128 MB - 256 MB 4 KB N/A
256 MB - 512 MB 8 KB N/A
512 MB - 1 GB 16 KB 4 KB
1 GB - 2 GB 32 KB 4 KB
2 GB - 8 GB N/A 4 KB
8 GB - 16 GB N/A 8 KB
16 GB - 32 GB N/A 16 KB
32 GB - 2 TB N/A 32 KB

FAT32 Converter error: This program requires Windows 97.

I don't have much to say about this one... well, actually, I can talk about how I got the FAT32 converter backported to Windows 95D. It basically involved defusing the timebomb in IO.SYS from a Memphis build, loading that into the 95D distribution, and adding a valid WinVer= value to MSDOS.SYS. Windows 95's stock MSDOS.SYS does not know how to read WinVer, so having that new bootloader in place is definitely necessary. A pointless backport, but it can be done!

Windows Update

Welcome to Windows Update (2004 web version for Windows 98)

As it turns out, Hardcore Windows 98 has actually been in production since 2006. When my uncle loaded up Windows 98SE on a virtual machine for my laptop, I just ran with the thing so much, really loved going back to all that I had stupidly given up at the end of 2005. It was slow as balls (as I often stubbornly used my laptop as opposed to the other desktop computer I had), but that didn't stop me from going back to doing so many things in Windows 98. Everything felt... proper again.

VMware Workstation has a built-in video recording function, and I found myself using that quite a bit. Most of the footage isn't all that interesting, but there was one clip that proved to be of very high long-term value, as Microsoft basically ditched the web-based Windows Update interface many years ago. There it was, crispy as ever, ready to offer me an update for Outlook Express 6 on Windows 98, right around the time Windows 98's support had only recently ended! I guess I could've still used YouTube with that thing when I had the chance... in any case, I knew what I had to do: convert the VMware AVI into a digestible x264 format, and throw it in this segment as soon as possible!

Upgrading and Downgrading

Windows for Workgroups 3.11 at 1600x1200 with many programs open

Before I get into the subject matter here, I want you to take a look at that image... yes, that is really Windows for Workgroups 3.11, still with those same classic 16-bit limitations lingering about, running at a resolution of 1600x1200 pixels with a 16-bit color depth! How does one pull something like that off?! All it really takes is some Matrox G200 PCI video card... but that thing's from 1998, why would it support such an archaic graphical environment? Because Matrox is fucking awesome.

Now, of course all those deep pixels are concentrated in the video card's own memory, but given how much it is compared to what I'd expect some 16-bit environment to be able to address, I'm strongly convinced the driver uses its own 32-bit protected mode address space. Don't quote me on it, I don't really have any way of knowing for sure. Just seeing this work as well as it does is stunning, as there's an offchance that I'll end up running out of memory in some tiny space before I can even open up all the programs I want and spread them all over the screen.

This isn't even the first time I ran Windows for Workgroups 3.11 at 1600x1200; I previously did it on an S3 ViRGE or something as the contractor Grey Fish hired was recording videos for that little series. The first here was doing it with 65,536 colors. With a memory upgrade, I'm sure I could even pull this off in 32-bit color... damn, imagine that. Matrox also wrote drivers for Windows NT 3.51, OS/2 Warp, and whatever else there was for graphics cards like the G200. Get one of those things, and you'll have near total freedom on what you can do with something that's deceptively clunky.

Even stranger is the fact that this was all running on a 1.1GHz Pentium III... once we upgrade to Windows 98, that kind of CPU will start to make sense, but it is always funny and fascinating to try using the "wrong" operating system on the "wrong" platform! How can you not love the idea of holding out on pure MS-DOS on a killer 440BX build with a Mendocino Celeron? Are you that stubborn that you don't want to run Doom II more smoothly?

Speaking of Doom II, an unoffical website named after it was a favorite point for testing old browsers long before the days of Razorback. It's still up as of writing this, and still retaining the same design after nearly 21 years. Great to see some people have always been staying true to the old school web, you are no longer alone!

Windows for Workgroups 3.11 about to run the Windows 98 setup program

The idea of running Windows for Workgroups 3.11 at such a high resolution was more of an afterthought; originally, I intended to upgrade from a comparably more normal target machine running with a Pentium MMX and an S3 ViRGE card set to 640x480. The first attempt was recorded on November 4th, and so was a second one the following day. After being so displeased with how the video memory seemed to be corrupted, particularly in the space of the mouse cursor sprite, that's when I ended up switching to a much faster computer for the job.

Garbled mouse sprite

Several attempts were made on this faster computer as well, though at this point it was more about getting the giant screen real estate demonstration perfected. Come on, stop saying this is overkill. You know you love it and you want it. What this is overkill for, though, is my AverMedia Game Broadcaster HD capture card I used to use. With all the insane new stunts I was trying, it was becoming somewhat clear that this card wouldn't be too useful for much longer than it has been. It was a much needed gateway into clear VGA captures for sure, but it's not even capable of capturing 1600x1200 at 60 FPS.

At 640x480, the the picture this card takes looks pretty good, but when you get to something as high as 1600x1200, you're really pushing it hard. The signal is noticably weaker, making some of the text slightly blurry if you look close at it. Compare that to the screenshot below where I was using an AV.io HD, basically footage coming straight out of Bigeye...

AV.io HD 1600x1200 video capture of Quake

Oh yeah... SUPER CRISPY! When you need maximum versatility, investing in a high quality capture card makes all the difference.

Now, like possibly many of you here, I have never been one to apply in-place upgrades to operating systems. They always leave some kind of mess whenever you upgrade, or worse yet, when you revert from the upgrade. I figure that by showing the effects of doing so in this video, it will help to dissaude more people from upgrading the old-fashioned way.

Windows 98 at 1600x1200 with the Program Manager open

I recall getting the Matrox video driver working in Windows 98 to be another one of those pains in thy assbutts when I was doing this, though the solution was much simpler than I thought, I guess. While VGA is nowhere near as bad of an offender with disconnections as DisplayPort and HDMI, it just so happens that if the KVM is not focused on a computer and it's busy doing something like installing the operating system, the monitor you're using may end up not being detected, leaving Windows 98 to use the "Default Monitor" driver. All this really means is that when you want to set the resolution higher, you have to go through some additiona steps to tell Windows to use a Plug and Play monitor.

The upgrade and downgrade from Windows 95 to 98 and back was a lot more smooth sailing, and had nothing charismatic to offer like the Windows for Workgroups 3.11 setup did. To really make things weird, I also did a double upgrade, double downgrade from Windows for Workgroups 3.11 to Windows 95, and then to Windows 98, all in one streak. It's possible I could go even farther with such an idea, but who can say where that'll end up... double downgrades require some manual maintenance since nobody expects you to do such an insane thing, but in this case it's fairly simple to pull off. If you can't boot into Windows for Workgroups 3.11 after downgrading from Windows 95 after downgrading from Windows 98, just get an MS-DOS boot floppy of the correct version, type SYS C: at the floppy's prompt, reboot, and you should be ready to roll again.

Watch video: fat idiot rides a bike and falls in mud (MP4)


Hibernate tab in Windows 98

Always gotta get those power management functions in there, right? Well, although Windows 98 mentions a hibernation function in its help documentation and enables the hibernation tab if applicable, it doesn't seem like it's ever been responsible for managing hibernation itself. That had to be managed by the manufacturer's BIOS itself, and solutions were seldom implemented on desktops (AOpen's AX6B is a notable example of a desktop platform supporting hibernation). FAT16, FAT32, yadda yadda, it just seems like garbage information. As long as the vendor supports both filesystems, you'll be fine.

OS-controlled hiberatnion support didn't appear until Windows 2000 and Windows ME. Even so, if you crack open Resource Hacker and load either EXPLORER.EXE or SHELL32.DLL, I'm pretty sure it's the latter, there is actually a radio option in the shutdown dialog for hibernating the computer! Quite a number of other options are in there as well, but for whatever reason, nothing but the usual four options ever get called. It's unclear if they were always meant to be available in certain circumstances or they were planted in case of a future version of Windows 9x. It would be cool to get at least some of them working again, but that's all going to depend on whether the software vendor of interest is ever going to play fair for once.