Survey of EXPAND/DECOMP utilities

If you look at old DOS and Windows software distribution disks, you may see a lot of files whose names have the last character replaced by a "_" character, or sometimes a "$" character. For example: mplayer.ex_ mplayer.hl_ mplayer.re_ msacm.dl_ msacm.dr_ msadpcm.ac_ mscomstf.dl_ ... Many such files belong to a family of compressed file formats … Continue reading Survey of EXPAND/DECOMP utilities

Is faster-than-light communication possible?

The answer to the title question is "No. But also yes." Recently, the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Alain Aspect, John Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger for work related to quantum entanglement and the Bell inequality. Why it was awarded now, instead of 30 years ago, is something I'm not clear on. But … Continue reading Is faster-than-light communication possible?

Notes on PKLITE format, Supplement 1: Descrambling

This post is part of a series about PKLITE format. For a list of all the posts, see the first post. In a previous post, I noted that some PKLITE-compressed executable files are more difficult to deal with, because most of the decompressor is obfuscated. I named the obfuscation format "scrambled". In this post, I'll … Continue reading Notes on PKLITE format, Supplement 1: Descrambling

Which comes first in DOS timestamps, the date or the time?

There are a lot of old DOS-centric file formats, especially file archiving and compression formats, which store timestamps of files. Most of them use the standard MS-DOS timestamp format for such things. This format is usually interpreted as two 16-bit integers: one for the date, and one for the time of day. I'm not sure, … Continue reading Which comes first in DOS timestamps, the date or the time?

How to vote in a late-stage two-party system

No voting system is perfect, but one of the worst systems that is even remotely compatible with democracy is the one known as first-past-the-post. In the simplest form of this system, each voter gets one vote per contest. A contest may have more than two candidates. The candidate with the most votes wins, even if … Continue reading How to vote in a late-stage two-party system

Notes on some old self-extracting ZIP archives

The old PKZIP compression software for DOS includes a utility named "ZIP2EXE", which turns a plain ZIP file into a self-extracting executable file in DOS EXE format. Depending on the version of PKZIP/ZIP2EXE, and the options used, there are several different ways in which this EXE file is constructed. I wanted to learn about these … Continue reading Notes on some old self-extracting ZIP archives