From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 24 Oct 02 - Old Versions


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, the inverse relationship between price and quantity demanded.


I've invited my dad -- Rev. Bob "Bob" Crispen -- to write another post for y'all. And, for those of you who are having difficulties following the lineup card, let me add that Bob Rankin and Bob Crispen are *NOT* the same person. Bob Rankin is the co-author of TOURBUS and is a shameless Yankee. Bob Crispen, besides being my father, is a retired embedded systems engineer and is a proud Southerner (although he did grow up in Pittsburgh and attended Johns Hopkins ... but we won't hold that against him).

To make things even more complicated, today's TOURBUS post is being sent by Bob Rankin because Cox Communications still considers TOURBUS to be spam and has prohibited me from sending my posts through their network. So, in summary, today's post was written by Patrick Crispen in Irvine, California; it includes stuff written by my father, Bob Crispen, in Decatur, Alabama; and is being distributed by Bob Rankin from somewhere in the state of New York. Any questions? :P

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Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

  • Alexander Pope, "Essay On Criticism"
  • English majors out there will recall that Pope took his own advice, repackaging Horace in delightful and memorable epigrams. Ah, good old English 304, Theories of Poetry. But I digress.


    Most computer users have ended up at one time or another regretting that they didn't follow Pope's advice. As we go to press, good old Winamp has a new version out, Winamp 3, but while the old version could turn an MP3 file into a halfway decent .wav file by selecting the Nullsoft Discwriter plugin (which usually came packaged with Winamp) for output, they haven't got that feature working yet in Winamp 3.

    Fortunately, there's a USENET newsgroup that I read occasionally, and the posters there (once you wade through all the typical USENET nonsense) gave me a warning so I didn't discover that the hard way.

    But I did discover the hard way that while Adobe's Acrobat Reader 5 is a delightful program with all kinds of bells and whistles, my pitiful 200 MHz laptop (inherited from Patrick) hasn't got nearly enough oomph
    to run it.

    I went searching for the old version of Acrobat Reader, and finally found a copy stashed on an obscure German site. But I should explain that for many years I've been the guy they turn to at work to find things on the net.

    Fortunately for people without a web search guru handy, there's a website called that has old versions of freeware and shareware programs that you probably won't find on the regular sites.

    It's only for Windows, alas, and you won't find everything there, but you may find the old version of a program you've been yearning for if, like I do too often, you install the latest and greatest only to discover that Dobie Gray was right: "The original's still the greatest."

    You've no doubt heard how the newer versions of some programs install spyware on your system which phones home every now and then and tells the company -- well, who knows what it tells them? Hopefully you've got AdAware to sniff those bad boys out, and you've uninstalled them.

    But what do you replace them with? has the pre-spyware versions of some of those programs. You may even find an older version of RealPlayer that isn't a complete pain in the kiester, but I make no guarantees there: I recall they were *all* pretty annoying. is *not* a warez site. You won't find any illegal or cracked software there, just the old versions you wish you still had. In fact, the most notorious program for installing spyware, Kazaa, isn't on their site, so they evidently respected Kazaa's desire not to distribute their old version.

    Let me make a plea to everyone who's running Windows to get one thing from an earlier version of Windows Media Player. I believe it's entirely possible that you'll wake up one morning to find that Windows Media Player version 7 or 8 won't play some of your audio or video files any more. On that morning, a copy of Windows Media Player 6 or earlier will be worth its weight in gold.

    If you can't find an old version on, you *might* be able to find it on the wayback machine. The wayback machine doesn't have everything. It's pretty good at keeping copies of web pages and graphics images, but it doesn't do so well with downloadable files. You may get lucky, though.

    We talked about Wayback on May 27th, so this will be a brief reminder and you can read the rest in the Tourbus archives:


    Now, for you Mac and Linux folks who've been sitting on the sidelines, the rest of this post applies to you as well as to Windows users.

    Next time you find yourself without much to do on a drizzly Sunday afternoon ("the long, dark teatime of the soul") and the Steelers have put Kordell back in and you can't bear to watch, make yourself a desert island disk.

    STEP ONE: go back through your email archives and jottings and make a copy on your hard drive of the keys and passwords that activate the shareware programs you've paid for.

    Save the emails with keys and passwords as plain text. You never know what the computer on your desert island is going to have on it, and you don't want to have it in some kind of proprietary mail format that you can't read. If your email program offers the option, the good old Unix mbox format is just fine. It's plain text, and it'll give you the whole message just the way it came down the pipe to you.

    You know you've been meaning to do that. Here's a thought that might motivate you to actually do it: what if the company that makes a program you've come to rely on goes out of business and your hard drive crashes taking your registration key with it? I know some people who paid US$1,000 for a high-end 3D graphics program who are in that exact position, and they're very unhappy.

    STEP TWO: browse through the folders where you keep your programs (on Windows, it's probably C:\Program Files\), and go out on the net and download a new copy of the installers for those programs you got from the net. Make a folder for each program, and if the installation instructions look tricky, save a copy of them in the same folder.

    I make a separate folder for each program, since a few programs have more than one install file, and almost none of the install files are named so you can understand what the heck they are. Either use the folder name or make a plain text file inside the folder that describes what the program is (e.g., Winamp v2.8, Opera 5).

    STEP THREE: read over your licenses and find out which ones only allow you to install the software on one machine. Make a note in the folders of the ones that only allow one installation. I'm not saying not to back up those installers -- if your present computer is called to join the choir celestial, you're going to need them -- but breaking the law is never a good idea.

    STEP FOUR: burn a couple of CD's of the stuff you've saved. Voila! A desert island disk you can use to install your favorite stuff on any computer, or restore to your computer if it crashes. Store one of them offsite, e.g., at work or in your safety deposit box. You never know.

    STEP FIVE: as you download more programs to try out, instead of throwing those installer programs and zip files away, make a place where you'll save them. Then, when the fancy strikes you, burn Volume 2 of your desert island disk.

    This isn't a substitute for a regular backup. In a regular backup you save all the files you've generated (e.g., web browser bookmarks, email archives, web pages, letters and documents). You don't need to make a copy of your programs in your regular backup. They hardly ever change, and it's just a waste of time. But you do need one copy of the files you'd have to download again if things went poof, and that's what your desert island disk is for.

    That's it for today! Have a safe and happy weekend and we'll talk again soon! :)


    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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