finding out when computer turned on

November 17, 2009 at 15:22:32
Specs: DOS
old XT clone, pre 1990. DOS 3.3, running Microsoft Word.
Method A. write a small file, save it as message.doc, noting the exact time. Make sure autoexec.bat doesn't start Word.
Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot.
Examine the time stamp for the .TMP file created when Word was started (How is that done? I don't know). Learn that the time stamp says 12:00:30 indicating that the hardware clock is not working, or, more likely, does not exist. Examine the time stamp for message.doc.
Subtract the difference in times from the time of saving. Assert that this was the time the computer was turned on.
Problem. For other reasons, this time is implausible, suggesting that the time had been altered.
Method B. Close Word. At the C:\ prompt, type TIME, subtract the reading from now. Then use DEBUG and D 40:006c L4 to display the "tick" count since start up. Affirm that it gives the same as the TIME figures, otherwise, work out the real start up time.
Which is best?
"A" erases the tick count, but preserves the .TMP file and its time stamp.
"B" preserves the tick count, but closing Word, apparrently deletes the .TMP file. (Yes, I know that debug can edit the tick count too)
"A" seems conclusive, unless.... might it be possible to alter the time setting from within Word?
My recollection of working with WordPerfect at that time, is that one could do some command-line actions from the File menu. Could one do that in Word?
Some other way?

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#1
November 17, 2009 at 15:45:02
You have a 20 yr old computer. When's the last time you replaced the realtime clock battery?

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#2
November 17, 2009 at 17:53:27
Most of those didn't even have clocks. But, if it does, as jam indicates, they'll be a battery on the motherboard or in some cases, an add-on card will provide a clock function. It too must have a battery.

Help me Jebus!


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#3
November 17, 2009 at 18:21:32
To add to that, if it has no clock then when you turn on the comupter the clock will start a midnight--00:00:0--on January 1, 1980--01:01:80. So the elapsed time is the what the TIME command returns plus whatever days have passed (via the DATE command) since 1-1-80. You'd then subtract those DATE and TIME figures from the actual 2009 date and time to find when it was turned on.

If it has a clock I think you can add a line to autoexec.bat--time>c:\time.txt--and another--date>c:\date.txt--which creates txt files with the time and date when autoexec.bat runs.

Most XT's with clocks needed a command to call the RTC info. It wasn't automatically available to the OS. Without it the time and date will again show midnight, 1-1-1980. So you would need to add the time and date lines AFTER the line calling the RTC.

Help me Jebus!


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#4
November 19, 2009 at 12:09:03
The clock is not the issue, and never was, and I don't have any of the gear now anyway.
The issue is way in the past, and so is a "what if" situation, or a "what happened"
The question is.....
What methods are there to find out when it had been turned on in the situation described.

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#5
November 19, 2009 at 12:29:52
Of course the clock is the issue. Otherwise how can you determine any 'when'? You seem determined the solution is somehow associated with Word. Maybe you can find some convoluted way of using word to do it but why not just use the simplier solution of creating .txt files with the date and time each time the computer is booted up? Occam's razor and all that.

Help me Jebus!


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#6
November 19, 2009 at 12:48:00
You would have done it with an AUTOEXEC.BAT which ran every time your computer started.

Yes you would have to install a Clock Card in the computer because even with the tic time you have no point of reference without it.

"time>c:\time.txt" would not work because redirection was not added to DOS until DOS 5.0. Only Unix supported this back then and there was no Linux. In order to do something this advanced you would have to right a GWBASIC program because that is all DOS 3.3 came with.


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#7
November 19, 2009 at 14:41:23
I didn't verify it would work with 3.3 as I didn't have that version running. I only tried it with 98 command prompt to make sure it would redirect the time and date output.

But I was able to locate my old 'Dos User's Desktop Companion' (for versions thru 3.3) by Judd Robbins and looked it up. Redirection in that exact form was described there so yes it is available for 3.3.

Googling that issue turned up some references that changes were made that affected redirection starting with dos 5 but it didn't originate with dos 5.

I wasn't aware of the >> usage that appends output to an existing file. So something like:

TIME>>C:\TIME.TXT
DATE>>C:\TIME.TXT

after any autoexec.bat command calling RTC would be better. Time.txt would then take the form of a log file covering multiple booting.

Help me Jebus!


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#8
November 22, 2009 at 12:08:21
..many years later, I am now more interested in the "how", rather than the actual "when". It is too late, Method "A" was done. Was it the best way?
Not sure of the relevance of Occam?

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#9
November 22, 2009 at 18:16:05
Occam's razor is translated different ways. But for most purposes it's stated somewhat as follows:

"when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better."

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physi...

I guess I could have said you're looking for a Rube
Goldberg solution but I already did that in a previous thread.

I'm not sure what you mean by wanting the 'how' but not the 'when' since the 'when' is the whole point. It may be a moot exercise since you don't have the XT now but the solution is the same.

You ask if your method using Word is the best way. No, it's not. Well, not unless using Word is a requirement. Otherwise I can't understand why you'd use Word and DEBUG simply to record when the computer was turned on.

Help me Jebus!


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#10
December 1, 2009 at 13:36:04
I regret the delay. (my local friendly and free library has a connection conniption).
Alas, using Word IS a requirement, since Method A has already been done, (by someone else) and I am trying to learn if a dreadful mistake has occurred. I would have used "B".
So, IF, (big IF?), Word can be used to alter the apparent turn-on time, then that would perhaps solve one issue facing me, and others. Thanks for the help so far. (I'm not a pastor, that was the first word that occurred to me when registering.)

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#11
December 1, 2009 at 16:38:02
I'm not sure how to do it in a practical manner using Word. You'd have to start word from autoexec.bat, create a word file and then go by the file creation date and time to determine when the computer was turned on. And again, with an XT class computer you'd need a working clock card, otherwise the time and date on startup will always be january 1, 1980 at midnight.

Help me Jebus!


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