HINTS AND TIPS FROM OUR READERS
Boot Your Double-Floppy Computer Into The Bid Leagues WIth A Startup Disk That's Loaded For Action
The newest personal computers blaze along at dizzying speeds, their hard disks whirring in response to your every whim.
But not everybody can afford this year's or even last year's PC model. We all would like blinding speed, mass storage, and megabytes of RAM. We all would like the luxury of an edge-of-technology system. But some of us get along quite well with a double-floppy 8088 machine and 5I2K of RAM. With a little know-how, we can make our system sing with the best of them.
If, for example, you covet your neighbor's hard disk, here's a plan for making your old double-floppy system a more effective computing tool.
For applications that require a lot of data files (like word processing), nothing beats a combination boot/data disk. Not only can you use the disk to start your application, but you'll also have room on it to hold the data you work with most often. If, like me, you have one 3½-inch drive and one 5¼-inch drive, use the 3½-inch disk to hold the application and the 5¼-inch disk as your boot/data disk.
To construct a boot/data disk, first format the disk you want to use with the FORMAT A:/S command, (You'll need your DOS disk in drive B. You can substitute another drive letter for A:, but since most IBM PC and compatible computers load from the A drive, I'll use it as the example.) The /S switch transfers the hidden system files to your boot disk. On your screen, it looks like
B:FORMAT A:/S <Return>
After the formal is complete, copy COMMAND.COM from your DOS disk to your boot disk using the COPY command. By including COMMAND.COM on your boot/data disk, you can get back to the A: prompt after you leave your application. Type
B:COPY COMMAND.COM A: <Return>
If you like, you can give your boot/data disk a label with the LABEL command:
B:LABEL A: <Relurn>
Follow the onscreen directions for entering a name for your disk (a maximum of 11 characters; you might call your word processing boot disk WPBOOT). You can also label your disk during the formatting process with the /V switch. If you choose this route, your screen will look like this (provided you're making a boot/data disk in drive A from B):
Just follow the onscreen instructions for labeling the disk
Now that you have your boot disk ready to run, you may want to add a few items to its arsenal. For example, my boot disk includes a screen-saver program, a cache program, and a utility that speeds up my cursor. My application disk, which goes in drive B, holds my working copy of WordPerfect (the writing program, the printer driver for my Panasonic 1080i, the dictionary, and some font files). As an added bonus. The application disk comes in handy when I'm on the road with a laptop.
If you have some TSRs you want to load before you start your application, copy them to the boot disk (my screen-saver and cursor-control programs are good examples). Then, use your word processor or any other text editor that saves files in ASCII format and write an AUTOEXEC.BAT file to jump-start your system at the touch of a switch.
On my boot/data disk, my AUTOEXEC.BAT file looks like this:
SAVESCRN <Return> FLASHKEY <Return> FLASH 128 <Return> B: <Return> WP
That's all I need. I just hit the switch and DOS loads, my TSRs load, the computer switches to the B drive, and—bang!—WordPerfect is up on the screen.
Using boot disks that load applications and double as data disks can greatly increase the efficiency of your double-floppy computer. It plays on the first rule of computing: Let the machine do the work.
Do you have advice that makes a PC more productive? If so, we'd like to hear from you. Send your tip, no matter how brief, to COMPUTE! Feedback, P.O Box 5406, Greensboro, North Carolina 27403. If we publish your suggestion, we'll send you a free gift.