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Word Processing on the PalmTop

Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-07-27 10:16 PM
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Word processing, as opposed to simple text editing, can be a challenge on the HP PalmTop. Certainly, HP’s own Memo app—with its rich text (sans italic) and relatively easy file sharing with the desktop—can serve many needs, but if one wants true word processing, especially in Word format, the choices are slim.

VDE EDITOR:

If a user wants to remain in pure DOS, and avoid the clunky Word for DOS 5.5 (long-available as freeware: https://winworldpc.com/product/microsoft-word/5x-dos ), perhaps the last available version of VDE Editor (v. 197) is the best choice: https://sites.google.com/site/vdeeditor/Home/vde-files

VDE’s manual is remarkably thorough, and its length alone shows the editor’s extraordinary range. The developer is also a PalmTop user and has added specific features to VDE to make editing on the PalmTop more straightforward. Version 197 actually allows the opening/saving of *.rtf files, a capability I’ve yet to find on other DOS editors. Full-screen editing is available, but the keyboard shortcuts are VDE-specific (e.g.: Ctrl+p+y=italic font) so some muscle memory is required. Still, VDE opens quickly, is very stable, and has the most features of any DOS editor tried.

MS WORD 1.1a:

A drawback to all DOS editors (other than Memo) is the absence of WYSIWYG, which brings us to my preferred word processor: MS Word 1.1a, now freeware with available source code. Of course, this must be run in Windows 3.0 in real mode, and the entire setup, including an installed Word 1.1a and Excel 2.0, can be found here: https://www-petrpilny-cz.translate.goog/oldsite/?palmtop-hp-200lx,15...

Simply unzip the directory onto the PalmTop’s compact flash card and Win3 in all its limited glory is ready to load and use. If run from HP’s More Applications, memory constraints require the use of freeware MaxDOS, a wonderful program that releases the memory used in More Applications, as if one is starting Win3 from the c:\ prompt.

When adding Windows 3.0 to More Applications, use this path:

c:\bin\maxdos.com a:\windows\win3.bat

MaxDOS can be found at Michel’s indispensable software site: http://www.mizj.com/

And detailed instructions for MaxDOS’s use are included in the download.

Loading a Word 1.1a document from the More Applications menu is the most time-consuming of all editors. Win3 loads in roughly 18 seconds, a blank Word document another 8. Shutdown is much quicker—a saved Word document takes under 3 seconds to close, Returning from Win3 to the PalmTop menu takes 4.

Word 1.1a can keep up with my poor typing, but the general speed of opening documents and menus can be languorous, to the point of becoming an honest drawback. I myself am willing to put up with slow menus and slow document-saving in return for a crisp, familiar layout and the ability to see my bold, italic, and underlined characters, not to mention document-sharing with Word on the desktop.

Word 1.1a was still sorting itself out, so some keystrokes that we take for granted today (e.g.: Ctrl+s=save) were very different back then (e.g.: Shift-F12=save). However, keystroke remapping can be done through Word’s Macro, making Ctrl+s=save and other standard shortcuts available in a 1991 program.

Other Word 1.1a Tips:

1. Add a click-sound to your typing, even in Windows 3.0. From Michel’s site, download CLICK, a TSR that produces the sound of a typewriter

2. To allow Windows 3.0/Word instant on/off and timed sleep, use SLEEPON. Download from Michel’s site (SLEEPON’s instructions are very clear), and (combining clicks, on/off, user-timed standby, along with removing SLEEPON upon a Windows exit) set up its commands in your win3.bat:

a:\click\click.com
serctl/w
a:\windows\sleepon/i
a:\windows\win
a:\windows\sleepon/r
serctl/o

3. To fast-load a current document, highlight the Word icon in Program Manager, click on its Properties, and in Command Line, type:

a:\windows\winword\winword.exe /MFile1

The /MFile1 parameter will load the last document used

4. To view the most text possible, set both left and right margins to 1"

5. Center the Thesaurus. Word 1.1a comes with a capable thesaurus that presents poorly on the PalmTop. Most of the gui appears off-screen, which can be remedied by these keyboard commands after starting Thesaurus:

Alt+Space+Move

Down Arrow x 5

Enter

These steps will center the thesaurus on the screen

6. Document sharing. While current MS Word will readily open a Word 1.1a document, the file converter to save in Word 1.1a format is not available, or at least I can’t find it. There are two workarounds: 1) use only .rtf files 2) set up Word 1.1a on the desktop, paste formatted text into an empty Word 1.1a document and save

As for running Word 1.1a on 64-bit Windows, a lean program called winevdm has a minimum install and through it, one can install Word 1.1a along with a variety of 16-bit applications

winevdm: https://github.com/otya128/winevdm

word 1.1a: https://winworldpc.com/product/microsoft-word/1x

As stated, a user can copy formatted text from current Word and paste into winevdm/word 1.1a, but with a couple of caveats:

Smart quotes/em dashes will prevent the paste. Either abandon this formatting, or use the two attached macros to remove and replace smart quotes/em dashes. Timothy Barton made his smart-quote-to-straight-quote macro freely available, and to it, I added the reformatting of an em dash to a simple double hyphen. The second macro simply restores smart quotes and em dashes.

This all sounds more laborious than it really is. Once you have the given programs set up on both PalmTop and Desktop, along with the appropriate macros, document swapping is almost easy in light of the complicated travels from DOS to Windows 3.0 to modern Word and back again.

Memo may suffice for many, and those who want a fast rtf editor may be content with VDE Editor, but Word itself may be the ultimate choice for hardcore writers.



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Attachments Word Macros.zip (1KB - 1 downloads)
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2022-07-28 1:40 AM
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Thanks for the detailed write up, Jake.

Very helpful.

Mark
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-07-28 3:05 PM
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Many thanks, Mark.

Jake
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2022-07-28 11:51 PM
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Quote

As for running Word 1.1a on 64-bit Windows, a lean program called winevdm has a minimum install and through it, one can install Word 1.1a along with a variety of 16-bit applications

Thank you for the information. Will have to try it out sometime.

-stingraze
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2022-07-29 12:04 PM
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I tried winevdm for Windows 64bit on Windows 10.
I could run a 16-bit program called NotesPad v.5.0 which is available on http://can2can.biz/NotesPad/notespad_16.html through it.

I wish HP 200LX / 95LX was more affordable... sigh...

-stingraze

Edited by stingraze 2022-07-29 12:09 PM




(NotesPad.jpg)



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Attachments NotesPad.jpg (46KB - 0 downloads)
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-07-29 4:30 PM
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Well done, stingraze, and thank you for the note.

Winevdm can be hit-or-miss. For instance, I can install Word 1.1a but failed with Word 2.0. Same fail with Word 6.0. But other users appear to have broader success than me.

I wish you could find a reasonably-priced 200lx, too. We could use the company but they're still so over-priced. Worse, people still can sell HP's for a hefty price even though the machines have hinge problems or lines of blown pixels.

Jake
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