Friday, June 26, 2020

Lords of Conquest - A Commodore 64 Risk Like Game

Every now and then, my brain tries to think of the name of a game I used to play with my friends. I can describe it perfectly, but the actual name escapes me.

The game is laid out on a grid with very rudimentary landforms. It plays basically like Risk, where players take turns trying to attack/defend other players from taking over their land. It also has a cool feature where you can actually build your own maps!

I search and search on Google, trying to come up with the right phrasing that will expose the game and its long-forgotten name. Alas, one day, I am searching for "Commodore 64 risk like game" and nothing is coming up other than Risk or other like games but not the one I am seeking. I flip over to the image results to see if anything stands out. A few screens down, and there it is!

Unfortunately, the link to the image's hosting page leads to some weird Instagram curation page and the image above is nowhere to be found in the mess of images.

So, I save the image and do a reverse image search. Basically, you go to and click the little camera icon to upload a picture. Google then tries to find your image compared to the rest of the internet. BINGO!

The game, as it turns out, is called "Lords of Conquest." Now, I have to say, I do not believe that is the name of the game I played. I am almost certain the game I played had to be loaded with the command:

But, that doesn't matter! I finally found what I was looking for. Not only that, but I found a d64 disk image and fired it up on a C64 emulator (I didn't have easy access to my breadbin Ultimate 64 Elite at the time).

And there it is! The game plays like an overly complicated version of Risk. Players get resources (gold, iron, horses, weapons, etc) and they can use those resources to help with attacks and defenses.

The C64 Wiki has a great write-up on the game, so I will spare you the details.

The main reason I am posting this is so that in the future when I forget the name of this game, I can search my blog and find comfort in knowing the great mystery had been solved.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Force Zoom to QUIT Instead of Minimize!

Since the makers of Zoom don't play by the rules of 99% of the programs out there, I decided to make my own BAT file that will launch Zoom and provide a way for the user to force-quit Zoom after the session is over.

I have created a Windows batch file called "Quit Zoom." It has its own installer/uninstaller and it works very simply:

  1. Download the installer (qz-setup.exe)
  2. Run qz-setup.exe
  3. Once installed, double-click the "Quit Zoom" icon
  4. A window will open that launches Zoom
  5. Leave the window open until you are done with your Zoom session
  6. After the session, click in the window and press any key
  7. Zoom will exit (instead of being minimized to the task bar/system tray.)
  8. Quit Zoom will exit
 If you wish to remove the program, simply use Programs and Features to uninstall Quit Zoom.

Note, this program is a simple batch file. It doesn't collect data. It doesn't write anything to your computer other than the program itself. It's not elegant, but it works. I offer it for free. you can install it on all the computers you want. If you edit the file and/or share it, whatever happens from that point on is *NOT* my responsibility.

I will try to monitor this post for questions/problems, but I'm letting you know right now that you are more than likely on your own. I built this for me to use and am sharing it with anyone that wants it until such time the people at Zoom make their program work like 99% of the other programs for Windows: The X means EXIT!

  • You may still see the Zoom icon in your system tray, but the program is not running. As soon as you hover your mouse over the icon, it will disappear. 
  • You may need Administrator-level rights on the computer in order to install or run this batch file.
  • This program invokes the "Taskkill" command in order to terminate Zoom. Access to that process may be blocked by your computer administrator. 
  • Terminating Zoom with this brute-force method may cause unintended consequences. Use at your own risk. Your mileage may vary.
  • This batch file will *NOT* run when clicking a link in email, calendar, etc. For what it's worth, it appears that the program exists normally when closing from a linked launch. Go figure.  
  • You can replace your Zoom shortcut by copying the command from the batch file to replace the launch command inside the program's shortcut. I am not providing the steps to do that here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

#WorkLife: HP LaserJet P1006 and other old hp printers on Windows 10

After upgrading to Windows 10, my HP LaserJet P1006 failed to work. The printer showed up in my printer list, however it would not process any print jobs. Technically, the queue would process it as if it were being sent to the printer (and thus disappear from  the queue), but the printer would never actually print the job.

Thankfully, I found a working solution (posted below) on the HP Forums. I am copying it here just in case the forums disappear one day and/or to make it easier for me to find the information. Hope it helps someone! (Solution written by Shlomi L)

  • First unplug the USB from your PC.
  • From the Control Panel select Devices and Printers, if you see your printer listed right click it and select Remove Device.
  • next restart your computer.
  • Next right click the start menu and select Run, the Run dialog appears.
  • Type printui.exe /s and press OK, the Print Server Properties opens.
  • Open the Drivers tab.
  • Select any instance of your printer and remove it, be sure to select the 2nd option to remote both the printer and its package.
  • Once you are done install the software below, only plug the USb once the installation prompt doing so:
Original post:

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

DEC Pathworks on WFW 3.11 - Group Creation Tool

Way back in the day (circa 1994 or so, I would venture), I worked for a university where they were using Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VAX servers. The workstations were a mix of Windows 3.1 and WFW 3.11, though when I arrived, we were moving everyone to WFW 3.11. As part of the general network installation, we installed DEC Pathworks (I believe it was version 4.x), which allowed Windows machines to have file storage access to the servers. While that's all well and good, the real her in this tale is a little program that ran during the installation of the software and drivers.

During the installation, Pathworks created its own Windows Program Groups - a common thing to do for program installations. For some reason, during one install, the creation routine failed with an error about a problem in a BLD file though the actual extension may have been different now that I am trying to recall). Being the nosy characters we are, the tech guys decided to investigate since we had never head of a BLD file.

Turns out, the BLD file, which I believe was called PATHWORK.BLD (or something similar) is just a text file outlining group names and the shortcuts to go into the groups. I have tried to locate the actual file, but can't at the moment, so here is the sample file from the program's webpage:

[CreateGroup(Test Main,TMAIN.GRP)]
[ShowGroup(Test Main,1)]
[AddItem(progman.exe,File Manager)]
[AddItem(control.exe,Control Panel)]
[AddItem(printman.exe,Print Manager)]
[AddItem(,DOS Prompt)]
[AddItem(setup.exe,Windows Setup)]

[CreateGroup(Test Accessories,TACCESS.GRP)]
[ShowGroup(Test Accessories,1)]
[AddItem(pifedit.exe,PIF Editor)]

As you can see, this file contains the structure to build groups. First, the CreateGroup command expects two arguments, the display name of the group ("Test Main") and the actual name of the GRP file for Windows ("TMAIN.GRP"). The next command tells Windows that the group is visible (that is, not hidden) and also expects two arguments: The display name of the group ("Test Main") and a 1 for yes or a 0 for no. Finally, the next series of lines build the items to be displayed within the newly created group. The AddItem command expects two arguments as well. The first is the name of the file to be referenced followed by the display name of the file. Note: If the filename is not available via the PATH statement, the full path to the file must be provided - ex: [AddItem(c:\games\duke3d\duke3d.exe, Duke Nuk'em)].

The BLD file is just the configuration, though. The actual program to run is BUILDGRP.EXE, though again I believe DEC used a custom name instead, if memory servers.

During setup, a:\BUILDGRP.EXE PATHWORK.BLD would be executed, with the EXE referencing the specific configuration.

As you might imagine, this suddenly opened a whole new world to us! We created a slew of custom group installations for the users, running the program from a batch file stored on a floppy disk or on the network itself. You see, once Pathworks was up and running, the WFW machine had access to the network. So, we could call a batch file from the workstation and tell our custom group(s) to install themselves on the client machines.

If you're interested in playing with GROUPBLD, you can find it (along with a help file and the sample configuration above) buried in this Windows 31 DOSBox package.

I have no idea what made me remember all this. Guess it just PoppedInMyHead!