Archive for the ‘DOS’ Category

Micro Adventure was a series books in the 1980s where you had to write computer programs to get from chapter to chapter. It was a great way to learn coding for a geeky kid looking for a good story related to computers. A few months ago, I was granted rights to use the books on a website, and now it’s in beta! Check out the site and let me know what you think!


I picked up a Dell Venue 8 Pro for $99 as part of Microsoft’s 12 Days of Presents spree. Here are some tips & tricks for the more techy folks out there:

How to Access the BIOS

Press the power button once. Then hold down the Volume Down button until the Dell logo disappears. You don’t need a keyboard – it has an on-screen mouse mapped to the touch screen. Cool, eh?

To access the Advanced settings of the BIOS, follow the instructions through Step 7 below:

How to Speed Up SSD Disk Access by Modifying the EFI / BIOS

Thanks to Sasha for the following steps, which can increase speeds by over 50%!

1) From Windows, bring up the charms (swipe in from right)
2) Select Settings -> Change PC Settings, or Start, then All Apps, then PC Settings.
3) Choose Update and Recovery -> Recovery
4) Under Advanced Startup, select Restart Now
5) From this blue menu, select Troubleshoot, then select Advanced Options
6) Select UEFI Firmware Settings, then click Restart
7) Now, the BIOS shows up, hit the on-screen ESC button ONLY ONCE.
8) You’re now in the Main “tab”, with a vertical list of options, from here you must select Advanced, this lets you see all the BIOS settings and is different from hitting the Advanced tab across the top.
9) Select LPSS & SCC Configuration
10) Select SCC eMMC 4.5 HS200 Support and select Enabled (Mine was disabled by default)
12) Select DDR50 Support for SDCard and select Enabled (Mine was disabled by default)
13) Press F10 on the on-screen keyboard to save, then Save Settings and Exit and you’re all set.

Getting Back ~5 Gigabytes of Space by Removing Recovery Partition

The Dell Recovery Partition is essential for restoring your machine should something catastrophic happen. To add insult to injury, Dell often runs out of stock of recovery media, and won’t send you such after a year or two has passed. That’s hit me before, and it’s not fun. So, make sure you’ve backed it up!

Once you’ve backed up that recovery partition, there’s no point in keeping it. Get those gigs back!

Here’s how:

NOTE: Make sure you have at least 50% of your battery left for this process. I wouldn’t do this when hitting the lower ends of the battery spectrum.

  1. Go to All Applications and scroll all the way right to the Dell group. Tap the My Dell application.
  2. Click Backup, even if it says no backup software is installed.
  3. Click the Download Local Backup button. This will provide a link to download Dell Backup and Recovery, which you should download and install. Basically, once you click the Download button, select Run and wait for Setup to do its job. This process can take a long time. Even the download appears to be huge. It’s probably downloading the latest recovery data, but that’s just a guess.
  4. After the software has installed, it will request a restart. So, restart the tablet.
  5. Go to All Applications and back to the Dell group. Note the new Dell Backup and… option. Tap it.
  6. Wait a few moments for the cool clock animation to complete, then agree to whatever terms are presented, or not.
  7. Tap the Reinstall Disks option. This is the equivalent of a Factory Restore partition backup.
  8. Tap USB Flash Drive, which is probably the only real option you have with this unit. This includes use of the Micro SD card, which is what I used, since I didn’t have a USB adapter handy. If you decide to use an external burner, that’s cool, too. But… why?
  9. Select your USB drive, or the MicroSD card. I backed up to an 8 GB MicroSD. Dell estimates the backup at 4.03 GB, so 8 GB should suit you just fine.
  10. Tap Start, then tap Yes when asked if you’re sure about wiping out the USB or MicroSD drive. Of course you’re sure! (right?)
  11. Wait until it’s done.
  12. When it’s complete, click OK, and put the backup media in a safe place. I put it in my Venue Pro’s box.
  13. Go back to Start, then All Programs, then Desktop.
  14. Hold down on the Start button and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  15. Type diskpart to launch the Disk Partition manager.
  16. Type list partition to see the available partitions.
  17. Type select partition X, where X is the number of the approximately 4 gigabyte recovery partition. On my Venue, it was 6.
  18. Make sure you see “Partition X is now the selected partition”!!!
  19. Type delete partition override and hit enter.
  20. You should be greeting with “DiskPart successfully deleted the selected partition.”
  21. Type exit to quit DiskPart, then exit again to quit Command Prompt.
  22. Now that the partition is gone, we need to expand the size of the main partition.
  23. Open an Explorer window and long press This PC, then select Manage.
  24. When Computer Management appears, select Disk Management under Storage.
  25. You should see the 4.64 gigabytes or so we freed up showing as Unallocated.
  26. Long press your C: drive and select Extend Volume….
  27. The Extend Volume Wizard appears. Click Next.
  28. You’ll be asked where the space to extend the volume should come from. Everything should already be filled out to assign the maximum unallocated space. Simply tap Next or adjust as desired and click Next.
  29. The wizard will confirm the extension settings. Click Finish.
  30. There you go! Your C: drive is now almost five gigabytes larger!

UPDATE: You can also back up to a USB drive by acquiring a USB OTG, or “On-The-Go”, adapter. Pick one up from Fry’s, SKU number 7582626, here. This will also enable you to use thumb drives and such on your Dell Venue 8 Pro.

Disable the Annoying Backlight

Dell’s power management settings for the backlight are wretched, making the display dim almost all the time. Let’s get around that, shall we?

  1. Swipe out the charms menu, then select Settings, then Change PC Settings on the bottom.
  2. Select PC and devices.
  3. Select Power and sleep.
  4. Set Adjust my screen brightness automatically to Off.

Many developers have had that “labor of love” project – the kind that keeps them up nights trying to get everything right, figuring out how to pass that one last hurdle. Woz was no different, and the recently open-sourced code – for non-commercial use, of course – brought back memories of the days he worked on it so long ago, finishing in Vegas no less.

Some of you know I used to work for Steve, so I reached out to him with a link to the his code

Here’s his response:

On Nov 13, 2013, at 8:04 PM, ʞɐıuzoʍ ǝʌǝʇs wrote:

The MOST AMAZING code of my life…I could never do anything close to this much ‘out of any box’ stuff ever again…it was as amazing to come up with it as it seems to be reading my code. In some places I put numbers like (5) meaning that 5 cycles would be taken by that instruction – I had to count them all so the loops always sent a byte to the controller every 32 microseconds exactly. And there is no way to explain the 5-bit and 7-bit stuff but it extended the data from 13 sectors to 16 sectors. The 13-sector version was running in Las Vegas. The improvement to this 16-sector code is the part that I worked on every night for a month, nearly finishing each night around 2 AM (Denny’s milkshake) but repeating the whole process the next day because I had to keep getting the entire huge framework in my head each day. Finally I stayed one night until 6:30 AM and got it totally done. Jobs had been asking me every day when it would be done and that morning I told him that it was! This part of the low-level disk code was not Randy’s but I am so thankful for the parts he did so well too that made higher level sense out of this. I consider this code to be more like hardware than software.