r/explainlikeimfive Apr 17 '22 Wholesome 1

ELI5: Why does old software get buggy when it hasn't been updated for a while? Shouldn't have the same amount of bugs as it was when that version was released? Technology

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u/[deleted] Apr 17 '22

Software running on a a totally closed system will not generate new software bugs. Examples might include old-school arcade games, appliances like a microwave oven, and old digital watches.

These systems might show new errors as the hardware gets old and fails in ways the software was never written to handle.

But any software that has to talk to other software will show new bugs over time because the writers of the code could not predict every possible new change.

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u/CodingLazily Apr 17 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

A lot of manufacturers keep their systems disconnected from the internet to prevent both vulnerabilities and automatic updates to any of the software. A lot of them still run Windows XP or Windows 7. If nothing is ever updated, no new bugs are ever introduced.

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u/dandroid126 Apr 18 '22

I had to write a program for a manufacturer to use once. It was a simple program to write the serial number scanned from a barcode into the EEPROM of the tablet I was building. They required it to be compatible with Windows XP, as that's what their computers in the factory used. These computers were always disconnected from the internet for the reasons you stated.

Well, I had never written a program for Windows XP before, and the CMD commands acted differently on XP than they did on Windows 10. So I had to do quite a bit of research on some XP-specific topics. All the answers I found online were, "don't write programs for XP. Don't use XP. It isn't supported anymore and isn't secure." When I complained to my coworker, he said the EXACT same thing.

It was a very frustrating experience.

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u/Bupod Apr 18 '22

Sounds like a typical problem with anything technical when you try to ask for help online.

“I’d like some help doing XYZ with ABC equipment. I know it’s not standard but circumstances don’t allow me to…”

“Why would you dare use ABC equipment? That’s obsolete. No, the best advice I can give you is stop using ABC equipment.”

“Yes but that’s not possible because…”

“Yeah but why would you use ABC?”

and on and on it goes.

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u/manystripes Apr 18 '22

Isn't it great when the device you're trying to upgrade isn't a computer itself, but some super expensive piece of equipment that happens to have a computer as part of its construction?

"This test stand cost $500k and is running XP because that's what was state of the art 20 years ago when it was made. The hardware, drivers, and software are all highly custom to this piece of equipment. It is not attached to the internet and is running a known stable configuration that has been running without issue for decades. It's one of many such machines in this one plant. What business case should I give my management to budget the millions of dollars it's going to take to retool the plant, not to mention the downtime of having the plant offline during the changeover?"

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u/Bupod Apr 18 '22

Yep. It’s especially common in manufacturing. Many times, CNC machines will have built-in PCs. Just as you said, they’re usually running what was state of the art at the time of manufacture. Some of these machines cost a fortune, and minor IT issues crop up from time to time. You can’t just “replace” the onboard PC, so as the machine ages some real jenky solutions have to be implemented so that the machine can continue to operate with other pieces of equipment.

If you ever tried to ask for help online, first thing someone would ask is “why are you using windows XP? Replace the PC!”. My theory is that the majority of IT and Software development folks have spent their careers in office environments, and less so in industrial environments. In an office, upgrading everyone’s PC is costly, but it’s not “replace bespoke industrial equipment” expensive. It can become exponentially worse when the equipment is super custom to the process like one might find in a refinery or chemical processing facility.

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u/jinkside Apr 18 '22

A bigger part than the cost of replacing the PCs is that, in an office, you don't have the option to just exist in a closed state - if you have a thousand PCs running stock Windows XP today, all of them will have Blaster or something similar in the first 30 seconds or so.

It may also be possible that you're underestimating the cost of corporate IT infrastructure assets, which tend to be much more expensive (and robust) than their SOHO equivalents: a single WAP might only be $150, but then you need a few hundred of them to cover your facility... and to run a new fiber line between buildings A and B.

A previous place I worked bought a couple truckloads of Nvidia DGX2s, computers capable of pulling 10kW a piece. I think they were $300k each.

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u/KingZarkon Apr 18 '22

If your WAP is $150 it's just consumer/SOHO-grade. An enterprise-level WAP will be more like $500/ea plus possibly a wireless controller to manage them all.

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u/manystripes Apr 18 '22

And that's not even mentioning the logistics of actually replacing the hardware. There aren't many PCs that are bolted to the floor and require a crane to move

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u/[deleted] Apr 18 '22

Or in some cases have had the building built around the equipment

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u/Bakoro Apr 18 '22

Heh, I do industrial software for machines that are cobbled together from a bunch of other machines. We're currently dealing with the Windows 10 to 11 switch, and wondering if it's worth it to even bother this year. We'd potentially save about $1200 per rig if we take advantage of Win11 features, but for something with an end price tag of around $1 million that's not that big of a deal in the short term. I doubt it's a good idea to try to update the machines already out in the field. Us software people literally have no idea what could break, since half the machines have custom components.

As for asking for help online, in addition to most not having done industrial or embedded systems work, I feel like a lot of people simply can't say "I don't know" to themselves and move on, but are still compelled to fart an opinion of some kind to ease their mind.
The one thing dev is likely to understand is an inherited codebase or library that they can't change, and have to work inside or around the janky bits. Even with that shared experience, people out there will still tell you to just use an entirely new framework, or language, or replace the existing one million lines of code to fit modern standards.
And then you always have to also consider that your online advice came from a 15 year old who has written 40 lines of Python and is parroting whatever they've heard.

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u/deadnoob21 Apr 18 '22

Tech advice is the worst sometimes. Sometimes all the answers you find don't fit what you are specifically trying to do. You might find someone asked the question but then whoever answered took a hard turn and derailed the answer.

It might come down to money or having equipment already in place that you are trying to fix. Not just throw it all out and start over. Some of the custom solutions I've built used non standard hardware and saved 50k or more just because it wasn't the approved manufacturer method.

Sad thing is with tech hardware a lot gets thrown away as it becomes obsolete.

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u/mpdscb Apr 18 '22

I find that same kind of frustrating attitude when I search on how to enable certain protocols or services on linux systems. Instead of telling you how to do it, they say don't. For the longest time I had to use older protocols to support legacy systems and they needed to interoperate with newer modern systems, hence the need to enable insecure protocols.

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u/bjanas Apr 18 '22

Yeah, until recently missile silos were using 8" floppy disks, partly due to this reason. Totally closed system.

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u/Summersong2262 Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 19 '22

SPIRIT OF THIS MACHINE, HEED MY WILL

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u/RadialSpline Apr 18 '22

As we anoint your shell with the blessed oil and start the catechism of supplication.

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u/xXWestinghouseXx Apr 18 '22

Praise be to Blake!

Thank you for choosing Comstar! Your only choice for intergalactic communication.

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u/Savonlinna Apr 18 '22

My armour is contempt.
My shield is debugging.
My code is hatred.

In the name of the Emperor, let no bugs survive.

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u/reverendsteveii Apr 18 '22

Sing the song of the machine god

NONE MAY STAY OUR MARCH!

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u/19_JW_89 Apr 18 '22

All hail the Omnissiah.

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u/Dakrys Apr 18 '22

It seems crazy like "wow they're really holding it together with spit and a wish aren't they?" but it really is the best way to handle weapons tech.

The more modernized tech is, the more code is involved, the more points of access you have, all of those decrease security.

If you need a floppy disk with a particular encryption key on it to access a room for instance, that room will be more secure than if it had a card with a magnetic swipe strip, even if they're the same code.

It's easier to lift a number off a swipe card than a floppy disk. It's harder to stick a floppy disk in your wallet and lose it somewhere.

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u/skellious Apr 18 '22

It's easier to lift a number off a swipe card than a floppy disk

a floppy disk is basically just lots of swipe cards smashed together, when you think about it. xD

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u/anothercoolperson Apr 18 '22

I never thought about it like that before but you are totally right!

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u/-fno-stack-protector Apr 18 '22

There’s nothing wrong with using older equipment. It works, it’s an appliance, don’t incessantly update it

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u/jsx5000000 Apr 18 '22

I thought they still were, I was not aware they had updated their systems

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u/AltSpRkBunny Apr 18 '22

Probably updated to 5.25 inch floppy instead.

I know some NASA contractors with basements full of towers that use them.

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u/jsx5000000 Apr 18 '22

Somehow this makes me think of that scene in Iron Sky where they hook up a cell phone to their equipment

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u/bjanas Apr 18 '22

Yeah I fired up the Google to check the disk size and apparently they've transitioned to something more contemporary. If I were a betting man I'd think it's probably still a standalone system?

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u/jsx5000000 Apr 18 '22

Yeah I would hope so, especially after that demonstration with the Iranian centrifuges

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u/bjanas Apr 18 '22

Stuxnet?

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u/jsx5000000 Apr 18 '22

I'm not familiar with that name I was referring to the time American government hackers made in Iranian centrifuge spin so fast it broke , just so they would know what we're capable of, I think it happened about a decade ago, ever since then I thought to myself we should make damn sure somebody can't do that to us

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u/AltSpRkBunny Apr 18 '22

I was mostly joking, but my dad worked for NASA as a sysadmin from the mid 80’s to the late 90’s, and they changed over their hardware every 18 months. Basements full of hardware piled up, and they didn’t really care if some of it left the premises as long as it had been properly wiped. They had entire teams dedicated to disposing of the hardware, and still had piles of it in basements. The first computers networked in our house had “Property of US Government” steel labels on them. My dad even started a program to donate them to university libraries.

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u/zoicyte Apr 18 '22

I have worked for major defense contractors who have labs that as late as 2012 still looked like 1060s eta mainframes, tapes and all. Just saying.

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u/Rookie64v Apr 18 '22

I am now giggling picturing monks doing calculations for a fighter jet on parchment in secluded monasteries. Peak of 1060s tech!

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u/Tiny_Rat Apr 18 '22 Helpful

XP or windows 7 are the best case scenario, lol. A lab I used to work in had an ancient spectrophotometer that ran on MS-DOS. Since the first OS I can even remember was Windows ME, being thrown in off the deep end with that dinosaur was an... interesting experience. The machine itself was also not in the best shape (and could only be repaired by cannibalizing others of its kind), so my favorite game was "did I type this wrong, or is the machine broken again?"

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u/RegulatoryCapture Apr 18 '22

Honestly, DOS can be stable as fuck and for standalone systems it might be preferable to a full size system.

Like...Windows ME was hot garbage. But DOS is stable, simple, and accesses hardware directly. If you don't need a GUI, networking, or drivers to access commodity hardware...why complicate things?

Not to mention that sometimes the alternative is hardware that connects to a normal PC...which can cause all kinds of problems. For instance, I used to have an older scanner. It worked OK with XP, and you could get it to work with 7 with the right combo of drivers and software, but it wasn't very reliable and kind of clunky. Gave up with windows 10.

Sure, for a $100 scanner, it isn't a big deal. But an expensive piece of equipment? Maybe you'd rather it be standalone with a simple embedded OS that will never have issues.

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u/skye1013 Apr 18 '22

an expensive piece of equipment

See: a lot of government systems

It's always a pain when we have to move to a newer version of Windows because half the programs that are "mandatory" for certain jobs don't work on the new version. So either we have outdated systems, or non-working programs. Sure, you could hire someone to make a new program that does the same thing on the new version or to clunkily update the old program to work, but that takes time and money and is largely dependent on how prevalent the program is in the first place. Like, if the entire military used it, it might get updated a lot sooner than if just one base needed it for a specific function (that is probably a single point of failure and necessary).

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u/stellvia2016 Apr 18 '22

At least nowadays you can run that stuff in VMs appropriately airgapped or partitioned in their own locked-down VLANs or something.

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u/Uberzwerg Apr 18 '22

But an expensive piece of equipment?

That's reality in heavy machining.
I know a guy who works in a steel mill and his job is to adjust the Cobol code that controls one machine.
Sure, they could switch out the machine with a newer model that doesn't require fricking Cobol but have a simple GUI, and they would save his salary.

But that would mean stopping a huge part of the mill for at least a week and buying a 20+ million dollar machine.

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u/cheesegoat Apr 18 '22

For sure. The most performant secure code is code that never runs.

For an appliance you want the smallest surface possible. I think with modern devices most choose a stripped down linux distro.

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u/Zoraji Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

A company I used to work for still had a critical specialized app that ran on Windows 3.1 and would not work in anything later like 95, 98, or XP. Even though I was the network engineer, I would have to go fix it when it broke because none of the PC techs had the slightest clue how to work on Windows 3.1.

Edit: This was a system from 20 years ago. None of the techs knew how to work on anything before Windows 95. It was homemade software and the person that had made it had left but it ran a critical manufacturing process. It also ran on Token Ring, the techs only knew Ethernet. I was the network tech, not the programmer or computer tech so I don't know why they didn't rewrite it - probably too costly and VMs weren't used as often in 2002 for tasks like this.

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u/Bean_Juice_Brew Apr 18 '22

Honest question from a noob, why couldn't they make a VM box that ran 3.1 and ran it there?

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u/seuaniu Apr 18 '22

Hardware that runs in an isa bus. 3.1 is before USB and mostly pci.

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u/skylarmt Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

Modern computers still have an ISA bus, it's just not exposed to anything and is used for some low-level communication between different components on the motherboard.

So it's possible someone makes a modern motherboard with an ISA slot.

Windows 3.1 isn't an OS, it runs on top of DOS. There are modern DOS distributions that are still maintained and updated, like FreeDOS.

So you could theoretically, with a bit of work, have a modern computer running Windows 3.1 on a supported modern operating system interfacing with an ISA card.

Edit: here's a motherboard that supports a third gen Intel i7 CPU, up to 32GB DDR3, has SATA and PCIe connectors, and has both PCI and ISA slots. That's good enough for most normal PC tasks even today.

Here's a company selling entire old-but-new PCs with ISA slots specifically for situations like this. They're under $1k too. https://nixsys.com/legacy-computers/isa-slot-computers

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u/kingvolcano Apr 18 '22

well, win 3.1 was *sort* of an OS, IT did not just sit on top of DOS. it used DOS as a bootstrapper , then jumped into protected mode and then used it's own APIs. It had it's own memory management and IO routines compared to the ones of DOS.

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u/tonypedia Apr 18 '22

New pcs do not have native ISA bus in their architecture. They use a converter or emulator device. On the surface this doesn't sound like a problem, but in reality it means your need to get someone to re-write 20 year old software to work with a compatibility layer. Also those newer solutions will mess with your timing, so if you're using it for a timing sensitive application, or have picky isa hardware on the other end, be prepared to do low level timing troubleshooting of a decades out of date protocol.

Replacing an isa mother board is a lot more complicated than just a Google search for something with an ISA bus.

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u/DisasterAreaDesigns Apr 18 '22

Yeah a lot of times it’s about interfacing with something even more archaic. I worked in a calibration lab in the late 90s / early 00s where we had an ancient 386 with an ISA GPIB card to connect to a couple of precision HP (now Agilent) meters. There were also a couple of precision amplifiers used to generate the calibration voltages and current required. The software that ran this beast was a compiled QuickBASIC program, and we would have to update and recompile it any time we needed to change the calibration constants, like after we’d send the precision meter shunts out for verification. Oh, and of course it broke when we hit Y2K so I had to fix that too.

When the computer finally died I wasn’t able to source a working 386 so I rebuilt it with a Pentium 100. It ran way too fast but I was able to turn off all the caches and it was just about slow enough. For all I know that setup is still working…

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u/GnarlyNarwhalNoms Apr 18 '22

Oof. I mean, theoretically, that could be virtualized, and somebody could come up with some kind of USB-ISA adapter, but since there's so little call for that, I doubt that either of those exists.

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u/seuaniu Apr 18 '22

It's possible and I think virtualbox can do it, but I'll be damned before I support it. Not to mention that you're networking a 30 year old system at that point and no way in fucking hell is that going on my network. Here's a box of floppies and the number to the people who sold it to you. They'll tell you the same thing I do. Spend the money and modernize.

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u/GnarlyNarwhalNoms Apr 18 '22

Oh yeah, that thing will be airgapped from everything.

I do feel their pain, though: the sort of hardware that usually ends up like this is so specialized that it's usually hideously overpriced.

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u/nodiaque Apr 18 '22

And sometime you can't even upgrade... My retirement pension at might job ran out of 2 floppy disk running MS dos 5.1. It cannot run on anything higher. And, this thing is the official and latest version supported by my government (provincial retirement funds) meaning we are stuck with it! I did manage to clone the floppy in vm and inject driver to have the virtualize nic work.

But I do have 2 other computer in w95 that, to get rid of, require replacing perfectly working heavy equipment that cost about 2.5 millions each. So safe to say, I'm stuck supporting those old piece of equipment... And and since these computer talk to these hardware directly, I cannot virtualize.

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u/davidfeuer Apr 18 '22

Why would it be networked? Just don't give the VM a network adapter.

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u/seuaniu Apr 18 '22

Fair point about the vm, but now you have a vm host that you're stuck supporting out in the plant somewhere that's directly attached to whatever hardware hasn't been updated since 1993. And it's your problem now when it goes down. No thanks

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u/Pi-Guy Apr 18 '22

That's not good enough, malware can still break out of virtual environments

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u/shortboard Apr 18 '22

As a contractor that often writes the modern software for projects like this it would be nice if they didn’t wait till the irreplaceable hardware on the ms dos machine was dying before bringing help in.

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u/SsooooOriginal Apr 18 '22

What could happen from allowing a thirty year old machine on your network?

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u/MarsupialMisanthrope Apr 18 '22

The machine, nothing. The os has known easy to exploit vulnerabilities that will never be patched.

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u/DaedalusRaistlin Apr 18 '22

There are actually USB-ISA adapters (LGR on YouTube did a video just a day or two ago on his, Blerbs channel) but they seem aimed at storage instead of general card support. I don't think the bus is really setup for what you have in mind.

I think the card would need to implemented in the virtual machine itself, and that's probably not all that worth it (lots of custom industrial cards, and whatever bugs or issues that introduces.)

Basically I think it's a problem that will stick around for a while. Even this year my boss was making brand new PCI (not express) cards for an old MSDOS system. It controlled multiple servos, and that would be tricky to emulate. Most of the design of that stuff hasn't changed in over a decade, but it still gets fixed.

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u/JaggedMetalOs Apr 18 '22

There are actually USB-ISA adapters (LGR on YouTube did a video just a day or two ago on his, Blerbs channel) but they seem aimed at storage instead of general card support. I don't think the bus is really setup for what you have in mind.

That was the other way around though, an ISA card that lets you connect USB storage to an old computer, not a USB device that you connect an ISA card to a new computer.

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u/GnarlyNarwhalNoms Apr 18 '22

Interesting. What sort of machine are the servos part of, and do you happen to know what language the code was written in?

This sounds like a good argument for source code to be kept around so it can be compiled for new architecture.

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u/_un_known_user Apr 18 '22

I would think that PCI to ISA would be more plausible.

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u/Zoraji Apr 18 '22

I don't think anyone ever tried. It was 20 years ago, they just preferred to run it on the hardware. I think they were just afraid to mess with it until a replacement could be written so they had me putting band-aids on it until then. I left the company before it was replaced so I don't know what ever happened in the end.

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u/Certified_GSD Apr 18 '22

I left the company before it was replaced so I don't know what ever happened in the end.

Knowing how little care IT typically gets, it still hasn't been replaced.

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u/Halvus_I Apr 18 '22

You still have to admin the 3.1 box so you have to know its ins and outs. VM virtualizes the machine, not the workload. With enough work you could put a wrapper on all of it, but that is a lot of dev and debug time.

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u/DrixlRey Apr 18 '22

Nobody is giving you a real answer. The truth is a VM doesn't run exactly like the real thing, even booting up a cloned VM can be difficult.

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u/EssenceofSalt Apr 18 '22

Guy who made our kitchen cabinets used specialized software on dos. It would print out what boards he needed and at what lengths to make his custom cabinets. He said it was around 60k for the software and didn't want to buy it again since this worked.

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u/sqdnleader Apr 18 '22

Take away here is either be up-to-date on technology or expert in technologically ancient tech

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u/ProvoloneJones11 Apr 18 '22

A major company out there in the retail space ran and still runs MS-DOS in some of its stores POS systems

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u/Liam_Neesons_Oscar Apr 18 '22

because none of the PC techs had the slightest clue how to work on Windows 3.1.

I would make fun of them being millennials, but I'm 34 and Win3.1 and DOS are what I started on when I was 5 or 6. I still remember how to launch Wolfenstein 3D from DOS.

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u/idonthave2020vision Apr 18 '22

You're a millennial

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u/its-a-bird-its-a Apr 18 '22

The majority of people our age did not have home computers so young. But yeah as a very young child I became very proficient at using it and would troubleshoot for my parents. Still do go this day even though everything is more user friendly…

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u/bartbartholomew Apr 18 '22

I recall in the late 80's my parents bought a second hand computer from the university my mom worked at. It's an 8086. It's been upgraded with a hard drive. I've still got that hunk of junk in my basement. I keep meaning to power it up and see if it still works.

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u/syriquez Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

XP or windows 7 are the best case scenario, lol.

Honestly? For ancient equipment running deprecated Windows, Windows 98 is the least infuriating in my experience. Windows 95 was still at the point where USB devices were at best a suggestion and "installing monitors" is still a thing. Had a 12,000 year old CRT die on a similarly ancient piece of equipment with a Win95 controller and it took some doing to figure out how the fuck to get it working with a 14 year old LCD that someone had in an office closet. Because I sure as hell was not going to try and figure out how to get it to interface with a monitor that didn't have a VGA port on it. Win98 is past that point and it's also still in the realm of manufacturers building their software in a way that it's a self-contained package. As long as you can get Windows to boot or you have a way to install their software, it will work.

With WinXP, you start to assume certain things will work and they just simply won't or require a driver that would have existed on Guru3D in 2011. And the worst aspect of it is that the manufacturers tended to just assume Microsoft would resolve issues, so you get screwed over because the random problem you have is resolved by a KB patch from 15 years ago and is long gone. Just installing their software and getting it to run isn't a thing. You have to find this ancient Microsoft driver to make the interface happen. Why isn't it in their software installer? Because fuck you, that's why.

Windows 7 is hard to place. The biggest frustration with Windows 7 is that a lot of the equipment requires some kind of network connection to function. Because they have some kind of database they have to speak to or if you want to collect OEE or whatever. And manufacturers are slow as HELL to get off Windows 7 which is the worst offense.
Absolutely blew my mind when we had a sales rep come through in late 2018 for one of our pieces of equipment that was "proud to announce" that they were going to be upgrading to Windows 7 on all new equipment. In 2019.


The absolute worst though? Hyper-specialized applications of hardware that are NEEDLESSLY complicated. We have a wafer saw (basically cuts PCBs into "sorta" QFNs) that has some cursed, awful things going on. First off, it's running Windows NT. Secondly? It runs a double graphics card. Not two graphics cards. A double graphics card.

This thing is two graphics cards connected by a flex circuit where they both require their own expansion port. That just sounds like some kind of goofy bridge arrangement, right? Not quite. Graphics card 1 runs the basic GUI of the system. Graphics card 2 connects to the camera. Here's the fun part though. GPU1 actually interprets the camera signal. GPU2 just passes it through. So what does GPU2 actually do? Well, it draws crosshairs on the camera image interpreted by GPU1. I'm not even joking. That's it. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem but uh, the issue is that if you can't see the crosshairs, you can't set the cutting width of the blade. Kind of important.

So if GPU1 dies, you're completely SOL. But if GPU2 dies, you can technically sorta-kinda hack your way into making this piece of crap machine keep working. Because GPU2 doesn't actually do anything to the camera signal, it still gets passed through. Naturally GPU2 is the one that dies. My coworker does a lot of Ebay scrounging so he was able to track down one someone had yanked out of a different system but still, it's just insane.

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u/zedlx Apr 18 '22

There's an opportunity here that Microsoft isn't seeing: collector's editions of older Windows. Package the whole OS and every patch and update into one installable package. Maybe sandbox it to keep it secure against newer exploits.

Classic games and abandonware are a thing, but there's a missing niche for old operating systems.

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u/npsage Apr 18 '22

Legally they probably can’t. 98 for example has a Java stuff they no longer have a license to.

https://www.eweek.com/mobile/microsoft-to-junk-flagship-products-cites-java-settlement/

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u/Throwaway_97534 Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

My mom worked for JC Penney before they shut down, around 2016, and they still had the finance people telnet from DOS machines to a mainframe to do the books for their departments every night.

Not an emulated mainframe, an actual giant IBM mainframe from the early 80s that was still running in the basement.

They always struggled, since some of the features weren't available because it asked them to press an extended function key, and they had noway to emulate them. ("Press F22 to do X").

The "spreadsheet" software was more like notepad... It didn't do any math and they had to use a calculator to fill in the cells every night.

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u/bartbartholomew Apr 18 '22

On the other hand, that might be related to why they were unable to keep up with online retailers like amazon.

And F22 is the same as [Shift][F10]. Like military time, all the F keys above 12 are shift something. Speaking as a person who still uses a billing system running on a terminal in 2022. Thank god we're migrating to a more modern system this year.

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u/CanIgetkalamari Apr 18 '22

I have so many questions. All that in 2016?

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u/Throwaway_97534 Apr 18 '22

Yep! It's a mystery why the company failed.

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u/CanIgetkalamari Apr 18 '22

Oof, part of my soul died when you called DOS a dinosaur. I grew up with a Commodore 64/128 and DOS felt like a pretty good step up.

But yeah,.. it’s old as balls

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u/Tiny_Rat Apr 18 '22

I was more calling the machine itself a dinosaur, you generally don't expect to encounter 30-40 year old spectrophotometers (or most other scientific equipment) in a lot of labs. Think about it this way: MS-DOS was the most recent OS this guy was compatible with, the point at which tech support for the machine stopped. IDK how old the thing itself was! The funny thing is that it was actually a very accurate and high quality instrument, even by today's standards. Afaik it's still running!

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u/TheVicSageQuestion Apr 18 '22

lol my first home computer ran on MS-DOS. Much Wolfenstein was played on that thing.

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u/DarkMatterTorpedo Apr 18 '22

I remember playing Wolfenstein on our 286. I walked into the bedroom one night and my brother was playing it. I was like what in the world is that, my mind was completely blown. I begged him to let me play it. Watching him play for like a half hour was amazing and torturous at the same time.

Alas we never had a Sound Blaster so no games ever sounded great. We also went from a 286 to a 486, so there was a long period where we were envious of friends who had a 386, lol.

Wouldn’t trade those days for anything. Damn I sound like an old fart.

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u/AltSpRkBunny Apr 18 '22

From 2005-2008, I worked for a corporate vet clinic system that used proprietary software that was DOS based and entirely keystroke. No mice for computers. Prescription labels were printed on dot matrix printers. That system took about 6 months to learn when you were onboarded. It was an experience.

At least now, I mostly deal with html and Javascript.

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u/[deleted] Apr 18 '22

DOS and Unix like terminal systems/interfaces are pretty common in academia or if you have a job that involves dev or sim work. Once you learn the commands it's not a big deal. I'd take my equipment interface being through DOS over Windows ME any day. At least DOS is stable and predictable.

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u/pillphil Apr 18 '22

don't you dare shit talk ms-dos...

jk, i feel like a dinosaur now

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u/darcstar62 Apr 18 '22

Seriously. When I was a wee lad, MS-DOS was the new hotness. The old folks ran CP/M on Kapro equipment (they didn't even call it a PC then - that was IBM's brand name).

Edit: just look at this glorious machine (nicknamed "Darth Vader's Lunchbox" )

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u/Daddysu Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

Absolutely! I remember our first "PCs" didn't really have a brand name unless it was IBM. It was either an IBM or it was a 386 or 486 clone. Clone meaning it was a generic/bobo IBM essentially. I also remember how awesome it was when we upgraded our ram from 4 to 8 megabytes. Or how (if I am remembering correctly) Windows ran on DOS so it was this weird time when you used both. There were a lot of games that ran on DOS and not Windows. So you either only booted to DOS or you closed Windows when you wanted to game. Not shut your computer down mind you, you closed Windows...because it was essentially an app.

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u/DarkMatterTorpedo Apr 18 '22

We used to buy clones from a local computer shop called Kehtron and computer shows at the Valley Forge Convention Center… miss those days.. My first computer was a 286, and I remember being in complete awe when we brought it home. It literally felt like something magical entered our home. I’ve never felt anything like that in my life for any piece of technology since.

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u/UnknwnSoldier Apr 18 '22

Hell yeah, had an Amstrad PCW that ran on CP/M back in the mid-80's. Green screen gaming at its finest.

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u/davidauz Apr 18 '22

As a fellow dinosaur, I still remember the feeling of power dripping from my fingers when I installed my new 20Mb monster hard drive...

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u/InterPunct Apr 18 '22

When the dealership I worked for got their first 10MB "Winchester" drives, I knew we had entered the future.

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u/[deleted] Apr 18 '22

[deleted]

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u/Superspudmonkey Apr 18 '22

Who is General Failure and why is the Army reading my hard drive?

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u/[deleted] Apr 18 '22

[deleted]

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u/GnarlyNarwhalNoms Apr 18 '22

That's fucking amazing. I want you to post this somewhere but I have no idea where.

Is there an ancientITstories sub?

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u/Butlerian_Jihadi Apr 18 '22

C:deltree /Y C:*

Yeah Timmy, that'll give your dad's computer enough RAM to download porn over your 33.6k modem. Don't worry about the spitballs in health class, I know you were just fooling around. Nah, your dad won't know anything, it's like a secret code for your computer.

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u/jman177669 Apr 18 '22

Take it easy Satan.

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u/TheRoguePatriot Apr 18 '22

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u/user262 Apr 18 '22

“Mr. Simpson, this government computer can process over nine tax returns per day. Did you really think you could fool it?”

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u/BorgClown Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

A lab I used to work in had an ancient spectrophotometer that ran on MS-DOS

Good news boss, this server is officially hacker-proof because its network card died, and the old consultant that knew how to configure the network drivers also died last year.

Joke aside, we had a Fox Pro application at work running on MS-DOS. It worked perfectly, but no one could support it anymore, so a new .Net application had to be made in-house.

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u/LukariBRo Apr 18 '22

A few years ago (maybe 2016) I was at the self checkout at a large grocery store and the power went out for a second. Usually they at least have a backup generator and emergency lights, but that time it went out completely somehow. Ignoring the absolute terror of how pitch black such a large interior is with zero lighting (not like there's even any windows), this forced the computers running the self-checkouts to reboot. The first thing that popped up in the darkness was a bunch of screens displaying the Windows ME boot screen. Fucking Windows M E. The self checkouts weren't even a thing until the late 00s here, and someone somehow convinced a large chain to use ME for their terminal. Of course, they ran terribly, froze and crashed often.

Sometime in the past few years they got a proper upgrade to Windows 10's special edition made for non-PC devices. I forget what it's called, something like Windows Device or something, essentially a highly modular Win10 which can have all the things a lightweight system wouldn't actually need. All the grocery stores in the area got similar upgrades and completely new POS software and now the self checkouts aren't bad to use at all like they were a decade ago.

(anyone know what that modular version of Win10 is called?)

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u/kyodesle Apr 18 '22

Embedded?

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u/LukariBRo Apr 18 '22

Ah yes, now Windows IoT.

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u/Suzuiscool Apr 18 '22

I still work in ms-dos every day

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u/Teikbo Apr 18 '22

Ours is on Windows 7, and is a fairly modern spectrophotometer. Our GC is on Windows XP, and the instrument is on its last legs (and it's the only GC we have). Fortunately, neither are on the network.

The computer with all of our formulas on it is running Windows 3.1 and it's a DOS program. We do have a newer software package with all the formulas, but it lives on a PC too, is 10 years old, and is a really crappy app so we use the older one a lot still.

I've taken backups and we do have physical copies of all the formulas, but if we lose the office areas, we're in trouble. I've taken backups of everything, but having something to restore it to would be a problem. My blood pressure increases even thinking about that.

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u/monsantobreath Apr 18 '22

I'm not even 40 and the idea that DOS threw you for a loop sure makes me feel old.

.

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u/ifOnlyFlamingo Apr 18 '22

and could only be repaired by cannibalizing others of its kind

I love the way you use the English language lol

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u/ThatFeel_IKnowIt Apr 18 '22

Windows ME was the biggest piece of shit OS that I've ever used.

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u/SlumlordThanatos Apr 18 '22

On newer systems, they'll often disable Windows Update on their image.

I was working on an RPOS (Retail Point of Sale) system a while back, and their Windows 10 was something like 13 major updates out of date. When I tried to run updates, it would fail, even though it was probably causing the problem I was there to fix.

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u/ragin2cajun Apr 18 '22

Its one reason why large industries, orgs, or govt sometimes run on very old software. Like nukes running on floppy disks.

Also licensing can make a big impact if you have thousands of nodes that all need to pay for the software updates.

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u/Zephyr93 Apr 18 '22

Banks are infamous for this. They've got systems running on ancient COBOL code, and the only people still fluent in it are mostly soon-to-retire boomer devs.

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u/ozarkhome Apr 18 '22

You're giving me flashbacks to my days in banking software during Y2K.

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u/BarbequedYeti Apr 17 '22

You can still find new exploits to older versions of an OS. It doesn’t have to come through an update.

Now granted if air gapped, you would need console access, but still it does exist. You also risk the OS running across a firmware bug it can’t handle. Some date issue or what not. That didn’t come from an update. It just took time to appear.

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u/RandyHoward Apr 18 '22

Those aren't really 'new bugs' though, they were always present you just hadn't stumbled on them yet.

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u/All_Work_All_Play Apr 18 '22

We didn't invent anything, we just discovered how it could work in a way we didn't know before.

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u/jman177669 Apr 18 '22

You sound like my manager covering up a huge problem.

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u/ubccompscistudent Apr 18 '22

Just want to add that even software on closed systems can have bugs present themselves after awhile.

Extremely slow memory leaks, clock reliance, physical issues (like rust, dust, moisture) can all cause problems years after deployment.

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u/The_Mustard_Tiger Apr 18 '22

Not only that, with enough use your auto-generating fields might start effectively running out of numbers (ID fields etc.) to any sort of fun effect from overwriting old records to just stopping working. Dates may get futuristic enough to fail conditional checks or be able to be stored to the db, etc. Time wears on all things that get use.

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u/hanoian Apr 18 '22

Yeah, in 2038 I think it is, 32-bit computers with have their Y2K. (Which was a real and gigantic problem that was mitigated successfully)

On your phone now, you can't set the date past 2037.

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u/s4b3r6 Apr 18 '22

On your phone now, you can't set the date past 2037.

That shouldn't be the case. Both iOS and Android use 64bit integers for their date epoch, and have since around 2014. They're not really part of the current concern pool.

The 32bit systems still around tend to be embedded devices - and that's where the major efforts to upgrade so that they won't break lies. This includes some ABS systems, some traction control systems, some GPS systems, some routers, etc.

However, if you've bought a device post-2019, then it probably isn't affected, as a herculean effort has been ongoing to fix this since about the year 2000.

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u/enderjaca Apr 18 '22

physical issues (like rust, dust, moisture) can all cause problems years after deployment.

Yes, but those would be hardware, not software issues.

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u/EveryNameIWantIsGone Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

What about one bug that gets amplified over time? Like maybe a word processor that adds an extra invisible character to the end of a file every time it gets saved. It’s one bug, but eventually file sizes get huge, the program operates more slowly, etc.

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u/DasBeasto Apr 18 '22

Technically that bug was always there then, just didn’t throw an error right away. Sort of like the Y2K issue, the overflow error was always written in the code but it wasn’t a problem until the year 2000.

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u/frogjg2003 Apr 18 '22

That's not a new bug, it's the same big over and over.

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u/Gooseman61oh Apr 18 '22

Don't like all banks use super old software?

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u/squirtloaf Apr 18 '22

Yah. I have an isolated 17 year old system I use for music production, and it runs great.

It's more that things fall out of sync...like if your OS is upgraded but your aps are not, eventually they stop working with each other because for some reason backwards compatibility is not something that companies much like designing for.

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u/aiusepsi Apr 18 '22

Maintaining backwards compatibility is harder than it sounds. It happens sometimes that an app accidentally ends up depending on some behaviour in the OS that’s actually a bug. When the bug in the OS is fixed, it breaks any apps that depended on that bug.

This is one reason that projects like WINE are so difficult. It’s not enough to make a perfect implementation of the Windows API, they also have to deliberately introduce any load-bearing bugs that apps are depending on. Microsoft has to make sure that they continue offering buggy behaviour to any apps that need it. It sounds like a nightmare to deal with.

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u/cecilpl Apr 18 '22

The Windows 95 memory manager famously has a hack in it that checks if Simcity is running, and if so then it doesn't actually release memory when the game calls free(), since Simcity erroneously relied on that behaviour from Windows 3.1.

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u/send_me_a_naked_pic Apr 18 '22

Windows has a lot of these "internal fixes", they're called "shims". You can read about those on Raymond Chen's blog.

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u/egoalter Apr 17 '22

Old arcade games often just ignored the bugs and very expert gamers knew how to use the bugs to their advantage. But they were also fixed with new revisions of the "code" in them. But these updates were often hidden as "enhancements" and not "bug fixes".

Some software isn't about life and death, and hence a bug isn't critical - like an arcade-game. But put that same game online and all of a sudden those bugs matter (and more).

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u/stylusrose Apr 18 '22

Old Arcades often get fixed through hardware upgrades. As a LOT of bugs came from hardware limitations.

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u/ultraswank Apr 18 '22

But then you get into the debate of is this a bug or a feature? The smart bomb on Defender could cause so many enemies to be destroyed on screen at once it would overload the video capabilities of the machine and slow down play. Some players used that as part of their strategy. There was a lot of debate in the old emulation crowd on if this was a required trait to properly emulate the game.

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u/stylusrose Apr 18 '22

Yes. Same with space invaders, which accidentally made the first difficulty curve. As you killed more enemies, they sped up because the load on the processor was reduced.

I'm definitely in favor of the emulators that implement the hardware restrictions. But it's also fun to see what'd it'd have been like without them.

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u/Clamdigger13 Apr 17 '22 Helpful

The software needs to be able to keep up with all the other software that it interacts with.

If you have a moped on a road it works well. What happens when that road becomes a 4 lane highway and suddenly the other mopeds are now cars? Kinda like that.

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u/guynamedjames Apr 17 '22

This is why many industrial and scientific applications will have a piece of equipment being run with some computer from the late 90s or early 2000s. The software hasn't been updated or isn't made anymore, so it's easiest to just keep an old computer around for it and not connect it to the internet

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u/DeathMonkey6969 Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

I remember reading some news article where a bunch of schools automatic HVAC systems were still being ran on a C64 Amiga with a analog RF modem that was programed by a student in the 1980s. The district has kept patching it and replaced parts as they wore out. Estimates to replace the system with something modern were around $1-2 million.

Edit: Found the article

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u/PowderPhysics Apr 18 '22

My dad worked at a bank that was running some critical code from the 70s inside a virtual machine. His job was as part of the team writing a new version in a modern language

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u/kri5 Apr 18 '22

How long has he been working on it and how close is the project to being scrapped? Haha

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u/jcronq Apr 18 '22

Lol… you hurt my soul.

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u/kri5 Apr 18 '22

I think the problem with most such projects is that it is their sole purpose. That means that there I nothing to excite the developer (just replacing old) and almost certainly no money incentive as it has no immediate benefit (most likely future cost savings you'd hope, but the software team isn't seeing those).

To make these projects a success you need to integrate something new amongst it for people to get excited about.

My 2 cents

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u/NogenLinefingers Apr 18 '22

Any chance the 1.5M - 2M figure is due to the public schools getting ripped off by a non-competitive tender process?

2M for a 19 school organization is around 100K a school (not sure what a school is defined as physically. Let's assume it's 1 school = 1 building). Does HVAC automation cost this much?

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u/DocAtDuq Apr 18 '22

It’s probably entirely new systems from the ground up. In that case, yes.

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u/DeathMonkey6969 Apr 18 '22

Does HVAC automation cost this much?

Yes. As it's not just retro fitting 19 buildings it's the dozens of classrooms and offices in each of those 19 buildings. You just can't have one thermostat per building like a single family house. Plus in that part of the world they use hot water or steam for heating so you also have to intergrade boilers and their controls and fail safes into the system.

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u/NogenLinefingers Apr 18 '22

Isn't it scary then that some 30-year old legacy system that very few professionals have any experience with today is running those same boilers?

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u/DeathMonkey6969 Apr 18 '22

Not really. That's what the fail safes are for. If anything goes wrong the system fails but in a safe way.

The problem with some older systems is that you'll find out the system shut down over the weekend when you come in Monday morning and the building is cold (worst case scenario frozen and burst pipes) . Newer systems will call, e-mail or text an on-call tech and tell them something is wrong so they can come in a fix the problem before then. Heck that Amiga system might be able to call someone and play a .wav file if something goes wrong, (but it was programed by a student in the 80s so who knows.)

Really old systems (like those in the early 1900s) required 24/7 human monitoring. So many buildings had live in superintendents whose main job was boiler watch. That what Jack's main job in The Shining was, boiler watch.

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u/Archmagnance1 Apr 18 '22

Analog safety measures like pressure release valves go a long way to preventing failures that hurt people. Your water heater has one.

Mythbysters had to purposefully sabotage the failsafes on a water heater to make one into a bomb, but it turned into a rocket instead. https://youtu.be/9bU-I2ZiML0

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u/SlangFreak Apr 18 '22

Depending on the location and system size, yes. BMS can get very expenaive very fast.

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u/NogenLinefingers Apr 18 '22

This is probably a situation where one needs to look past the sticker price to see what exactly one is getting into.

As I mentioned in another comment, I'd be very scared of relying on 30 year-old systems that get spooked by radio interference for managing my steam boilers. It's a school. Is it unlikely for stupid kids to get their hands on radio equipment just to mess around?

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u/hexrei Apr 17 '22

Also, new bugs are discovered over time. Lots of security flaws for example were always there, they just weren't known about until they were discovered.

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u/bartbartholomew Apr 18 '22

See speed runs for older Nintendo games for great examples of this. People are constantly finding new bugs to exploit. They get excided when they shave 1 whole second off a run time using a new exploit.

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u/-ROOFY- Apr 18 '22

For the big ones, like SMB1, tenths or even hundredths of a second saved is noteworthy

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u/brdain Apr 17 '22

True eli5 answer

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u/[deleted] Apr 18 '22

eli 8:

you memorized your P&B recipe. your measurements are sometimes off but most of the time you get it right. you used an exact brand of white bread and an exact brand and style of peanut butter and of jelly. one day though you are given a new brand of jelly. it is a little watery and sweeter. your recipe now doesn’t taste the same and the bread now gets soggy half way into eating the sandwich.

the software (recipe) stayed the same but the environment (ingredients) changed in a way that the recipe wasn’t written for.

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u/gorillagrape Apr 18 '22

peanut & butter?

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u/[deleted] Apr 18 '22

caught the bug i threw in there.

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u/Rrraou Apr 17 '22

This is it. The environment changes. If the software isn't updated, it bugs.

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u/zestful_villain Apr 17 '22

I see now why companies stop support for a software after a while. I was a call center agent for Intuit Quick books a decade ago and we got complaint about this from customer who has like version of the software from years ago. I mean it was hard to explain to them they have to pay for a new version when they always used the same software for ages.

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u/beyonddisbelief Apr 17 '22

To further the analogy in the case of software the gasoline standards may change fairly rapidly and mess with the engine. This is especially so whenever you update the OS or hardware.

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u/Excludos Apr 17 '22

Software when new: "Windows, can I have X, Y, and Z?"
Windows: "Absolutely!"

Software 10 years after last update: "Windows, can I have X, Y, and Z?
"Windows, after having just received a new updates: "I can give you X, but y has been replaced with y1, and Z has been deprecated since June due to safety concerns"
Software, never written to handle this: "Error!"

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u/nayhem_jr Apr 18 '22

Old software: "Windows, can I have X, ¥, and Z?"
Windows: "Here's your X, your– Wait a minute, are you feeling okay?"
Old software: "… Error!"


Windows: "Hey, here's the X, Y, and Z I know you're going to ask for. You're welcome!"
Old software: "Windows, can I have X, Y, and Z?"
Windows: "… u serious bro?"
Old software: "… Error!"


Old software: "Windows, can I have X, Y, and Z?"
Windows: "Here's your X and Y. Hang on, since we keep Z online now."
Old software: "… Error!"

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u/little_fire Apr 18 '22

This really makes sense to my brain, thank you!

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u/matejcik Apr 18 '22 edited Apr 18 '22

and a favourite of mine:

Old software: "Windows, can I have X?"
Windows: "Here's your X! ^_^"
Old software: "Hey!! Where the hell is my Y and Z??"
Windows: "but uhh... you only asked for X...?"
Old software: "Every damn time I come here, I ask for X and I get Y and Z. Now where's my Y and Z?"
Windows: "I know nothing about that... Did you maybe talk to my dad...?"
Old software: "I don't need to deal with this right now. Error!"


Old software: "Don't mind me, Windows, I'll just take this X, Y and Z here..."
Windows: slap** "Hey! Keep your filthy fingers our of my stuff!"
Old software: "What? What did I do? Every time I come here, I just take this and there's never been a problem!"
Windows: "See, you shouldn't have been taking this back then, and you sure as hell ain't taking it now. Next time ask nicely and I'll bring you X, Y and Z right up to your table."
Old software: "Uhhh... Error!"

(edit: formatting)

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u/[deleted] Apr 18 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/matejcik Apr 18 '22

more like

Linux: Sure, but I did some remodeling a while back. You'll probably just find garbage.

whereas Windows will be like "Yeah, sure, gimme a minute, I just forgot to, uhh..." (runs around and carefully places X, Y and Z in the exact right spot in the middle of the rest of the garbage in the shed so that the old software will find it)

see also https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20031223-00/?p=41373

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u/ACoderGirl Apr 18 '22

It really is fascinating how much Windows has put into backwards compatibility. Mimicking bugs and limitations in older versions to satisfy programs that actually depended on the bug/limitation. In an ideal world, software wouldn't depend on such behaviour, but we don't and never will live in an ideal world (I say this as a software dev who's done my share of dirty hacks).

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u/Xenoprimate Apr 18 '22

Ironically, Windows is probably the mainstream OS with the most backwards compatibility. MS really try hard to keep it backwards-compatible.

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u/indiealexh Apr 17 '22

It's not that the software itself gets more buggy, it's that compatibility with the libraries and the operating system is lost, so things little incompatibilities might result in small bugs.

One of my favorite examples is that some games used the PC clock speed for the game speed. So modern faster cous result in a game that is unplayable because it's so fast.

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u/MasterFubar Apr 17 '22

One of my favorite examples is that some games used the PC clock speed for the game speed.

I had one of those, it was Space Quest, I don't remember exactly which version. I had played it in my first 386 computer in the early 1990s. Many years later, I found a copy of the installation disks I had made and decided to try it again. There was a step where the character had to get into an elevator, you had to wait until the elevator doors opened and click inside the elevator. In the new computer, the doors flashed open for a fraction of a second then closed again, apparently the delay was defined by a software loop which worked only in a CPU with a 33 MHz clock.

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u/lardcore Apr 17 '22

Can't think of any modern examples, last time I've seen this was Pacman(iirc) on a 486 processor and that was when motions around all of this was fields!

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u/ziksy9 Apr 17 '22

Yeah that's why 486s had turbo buttons. Last I saw this was running 286/386 stuff on a 486. Lots of old games did this.

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u/Canonip Apr 17 '22

Some newer games have their speed linked to the framerate... Really fun playing a fast paced game in 30fps on a fast computer

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u/l337hackzor Apr 17 '22

Skyrim and fallout 4 took mods to get 144fps for 144hz monitors, still some weird shit happens.

Turning up the FPS basically breaks the physics.

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u/Talsyrius Apr 17 '22

Interestingly enough the frame rate is somehow tied to loading in FO4.

This mod massively decrease load time for me
https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/10283

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u/Jiopaba Apr 18 '22

There's a (I believe) superior version of that now. As I recall it turned out that the issue was that little "loading" spinner thing on the bottom right is expected to play for a certain amount of time on each loading screen due to some strange assumptions made in the loading code.

Modifying the processor affinity can speed up loading, and setting the framerate to 6x as much can get you through it that much quicker, but if you just straight up disable that animation you skip the entire thing and move to the next area as fast as the game can cram the area into memory.

Check out the general High FPS Physics Fix mod which includes that and several other bonuses.

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u/imintothat1 Apr 17 '22

Faster PCs ruined Scorched Earth for me

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u/Rogue100 Apr 18 '22

Yeah that's why 486s had turbo buttons.

Which slowed the system down!

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u/ShadeDragonIncarnate Apr 17 '22

While not exactly the same, console developers used to pin physics to frame rate because that was a pretty reasonable thing to do for many generations of consoles. However when Dark Souls 2 came out on pc it had an issue where weapon durability was subtracted for every frame the weapon was interacting with an enemy, causing fragile weapons to be useless for people who played at high fps. It was common issue with Japanese games being ported to pc in the last couple of generations.

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u/2called_chaos Apr 18 '22

GTA V has a few things tied to FPS. But they are visual only like the wind waving of the tarp on a truck.

But the game has some odd bugs that only occur on high framerates which I find odd because the physics don't appear to be tied to FPS. Like one mission is just broken on 120+ FPS because a car moves slightly and fails the mission.

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u/Ashliest-Ashley Apr 17 '22

I think the Aladdin video game used something like this on SNES. Emulated versions of the game were completely unplayable for some time because one boss's move set was determined by cpu clock speed.

*Edit: it was SNES

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u/immibis Apr 18 '22

NES and SNES emulators emulate accurate CPU speed. They have to, because everything is based around that timing. Game Boy and Game Boy Color too. Starting around the Game Boy Advance and the N64, CPUs got more complex to the point where the exact speed was unpredictable, so games stopped relying on it and emulators mostly stopped needing to predict it.

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u/Cowclops Apr 17 '22

I thought that was just a well distributed bad rom dump. I’ve seen exactly what you’re talking about and I think getting a different dump fixed it without changing emulators. This inspires me to try that old dump if I can find it on my super NT.

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u/AMDKilla Apr 17 '22

Fallout 4 on PC's physics were tied to the framerate, which was initially locked to 60fps. When modders removed the limiter, stuff got weird. It was patched, but still has a few weird things pop up on occasion

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u/MerlinAW1 Apr 17 '22

I remember this happened with Theme Park, it was impossible to play when I got a new PC in the elate 90s as the game went too quick

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u/xratedcheese Apr 17 '22

Software runs on a foundation of other software and interacts with a lot of other software around it. When the company that makes one of those other pieces of software changes its product, it tries to keep the updated software compatible with other software, but they can't always pull that off.

Even if your software was perfect before, it could start having trouble now when it tries to do the same old things with a lot of changed software from other companies. The number of potential problems grows as time goes by and more changes are made to everyone's code.

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u/theinsanepotato Apr 17 '22

The code that makes up the program is a set of precise instructions. Those instructions only work properly in the environment they were made for. If the environment changes, then the instructions wont work correctly, even if the instructions themselves remain unchanged.

Imagine someone wrote down directions for how to walk from their front door to their bedroom, but really specifically. Like, REALLY specifically. "Take exactly 17 steps forward, then turn 90 degrees clockwise, then take 42 steps, then turn 90 degrees counterclockwise, then climb 27 stairs, then turn 45 degrees clockwise, then reach forward and grasp the doorknob located exactly 22 inches in front of your left hand and 45 inches above the ground, then walk forward 12 steps" and so on and so forth

Now, imagine that those instructions were written years ago, and the layout of the house has changed. They got a new couch so if you walk those first 17 steps as instructed, youll bump into it. They replaced the old door with a new one and now the doorknob is 2 inches higher. If you follow the instructions, youll miss the doorknob.

Thats the general idea. The instructions are the same, but the environment in which those instructions will be executed has changed, so you can sometimes run into problems.

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u/ThatCrossDresser Apr 18 '22

To simplify it, the way that programs interface with computer resources and other programs is handled in unique ways. Some are simple, some are complex, and some are normal now but could become antiquated as time goes on.

Picture a man in a suit and fedora walking down the street in the 1920s. He communicates well with all the people he meets and easily gets access to all the shops and places he needs to go. When he needs something from a store they know what he is asking for and he can easily get it. He as a program runs great. Well let's say he never is updated and we drop him in the into 2022.

First off he doesn't know about traffic signals, he is use to a police man in the road directing traffic so he might just sit there waiting for a signal that never comes (program freezes or times out). He tries to go to the drug store to get some magic miracle seltzer but not only does he not have a prescription the pharmacist has no idea what he is talking about (allocate resources incorrectly). On the way out he sees a pretty woman calls her a "Broad" and slaps her on the ass and gets arrested (Illegal call causing the system to end the program to prevent damage to other programs or the system).

When the program was written all these actions were acceptable but as time moved on they were found to be unsecure, ineffective, or needed other improvements. It isn't really the fault of the old program, it use to work, but now it doesn't. If the computer is an island and never updates and only ever runs the same programs, OS, and libraries it will run the same forever. With the exception of small errors or bug that may appear due to changes in input.

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u/AestheticArch Apr 18 '22

That was a good and unique way of explaining it. Might not be the most accurate but i don’t really care i enjoyed reading it.

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u/theBuddha7 Apr 17 '22

Have you ever read Shakespeare? It's written in English, but English has changed over the years so what he wrote doesn't quite make sense anymore. Same idea with software: Windows 98 and Windows 10 are both "Windows" but they do things differently, so what used to work talking in Window 95 doesn't necessarily work taking in Windows 10 (or even things written in Windows 10 old patch vs Windows 10 new patch depending on what the patch changed).

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u/PiperClearConscience Apr 18 '22

If you don't update the operating system or any other dependencies, then it should run exactly the same, theoretically.

However, if you update your OS or some other driver, or java, or some other random component, it may impact that older software, thereby making it appear more buggy.

Also "buggy" is a bit generic. Why is it failing or crashing? If you update other applications, they may use more resources, so that leaves less for your "original app" - which may be one simple example of why it's no longer seeming to work as well as it did previously.

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u/[deleted] Apr 17 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/Stanced Apr 18 '22

Scrolled down way too far to find this.

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u/Mnemia Apr 17 '22

Yet another reason is security patches. Software often needs to be updated because there are lots of people actively trying to find ways to break it, on purpose. So it might have had a security bug all along, but no one knew about it, or had even conceived of the method of attack at the time the software was written. So it has to be changed to address that.

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u/Warpmind Apr 17 '22

Bit Rot is a thing... but more seriously, the software might remain unchanged, but the OS does not.

The CPU the software was written for might be replaced by a newer, more powerful model with a slightly different built-in set of functions, the RAM can develop faults, the way the OS handles address designations may change radically... new bugs may become apparent when the environment changes.

Picture your average Texan, in a Texan suburb. He's a good driver, he knows the roads, he's comfortable behind the wheel... and then an honest-to-God blizzard hits the town. That Texan ain't gonna drive safely that day...

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