View Full Version : Windows XP and 1.02 - Success!


Sam Gerber
03-09-2002, 10:13 PM
For the benefit of any users about to enjoy the displeasures of Windows XP, I am happy to report that I now have a large, script-intensive application running under WinXP.

There were 3 very difficult areas encountered.

1. The load time of Alpha Five was around 5 minutes! I have a small ethernet peer network at my home and my new XP system was sharing printers from the network. Turns out this caused an excessive wait at load time and I'll never understand why.

My solution was to create a printer (Epson LQ-570, specifically) and define it as a local printer, even though it didn't exist. I had made it my default but I'm not totally sure that was necessary. Alpha Five now loads in a couple seconds.

2. I run many post and append functions that are defined in the Control Panel for the specific database or set. I used an application menu and the card_run function. Certain appends and updates and all posts took an excessive amount of time. One post of only 10,000 records took 7.5 minutes on a 1.8GHz Dell with XP, and only 1-2 minutes on my 400MHz Dell with WIN98.

The solution was to stop using card-run, and instead, coded the entire append and post operations in the application card script. The difficult post dropped from 7+ minutes to 17 seconds. My guess is that record locking came into play and XP handled this MUCH less graciously than WIN98, although the time did improve on WIN98 as well.

3. Certain reports (but not all) had colors specified for header and footer fields and labels. Some of this information did not print, or partially printed. There was no consistency that I could see.

The solution was to re-code those colors to "wintext" which WINXP handles fine. I was printing to a monochrome printer anyway, but I consider this a very small loss. Probably this had something to do with the XP print drivers which are not the best I have worked with.

So, after a shaky start, my 7 year old application continues to live, which fact pleases me immensely. I hope this experience helps someone out there. It can be very lonely sometimes when dealing with these issues.

Regards ... Sam

linda lazarides
10-18-2003, 07:33 AM
Hi Sam
I've just joined this forum for the first time and was really pleased to see so many names from the old Compuserve Alpha5 forum! I still remember how much help you gave me when I was setting up my database back in 1996!
I'm glad to see you're still with A5v1.02. I've finally got a new computer but the new windows XP driver for my HP laserjet 4L is crashing my Alpha5 application. It prints a page of labels ok but then produces an error message which forces me to close down Alpha5.
Knowing all the elegant solutions you used to come up with, I was wondering if you had anything up your sleeve for this???
All best wishes from the UK

Sam Gerber
10-18-2003, 11:09 AM
Hi again, Linda.

I haven't had your problem although I did have a printing problem which didn't cause a crash. I also don't print labels from Alpha five; just invoices and reports. My HP is a Laserjet 1100. I did need a new driver from HP; the one that shipped with WinXP had some deficiencies.

If I had your problem I'd first off make sure that I didn't have any colors specified for the labels.

More likely though the problem has to do with your print driver. I remember seeing lots of items on HP's web site on XP HP driver problems. Rather than trusting the driver delivered with WinXP SP1, look at HP's support web site and see if an XP driver is available there for your printer.

You can also try using a more generic HP laserjet driver like "HP Laserjet" or "HP Laserjet III" and see if that works for you.

If you have more than one printer, make the Laserjet the default when you run Alpha 5.

That's all that comes to mind now Linda. Let me know if anything helps.

Nice to hear from ... Sam

linda lazarides
10-19-2003, 02:00 AM
Thanks Sam
Will give your suggestions a try and let you know what happens. The laserjet is quite old. The driver causing problems is the new one downloaded from the hp site. After encountering the problem I then tried to install the original 1997 driver but winXP didn't like it.
All best

Thomas Henkel
10-20-2003, 06:06 AM
We have a very large ver 1.02 aplication running on everything from win'95 to win'2k. We did find that network printers were a problem. Make sure you define a "generic" printer locally as your default. HP printers have caused us problems for a long time. Something with their drivers and Alpha's memory space. The problems you run into are compatibility between a very old, mostly DOS based application software package and the new OS from Microsoft.

Search this forum for Alpha with Windows XP issues. I am sure that others have encountered and resolved some of your problems.


linda lazarides
10-20-2003, 07:22 AM
Thanks Tom - I will do some experimenting and report back!
Best wishes

linda lazarides
10-21-2003, 12:06 PM
Am now feeling ga-ga!
1. Found the hp laserjet driver I had downloaded for the 4L had not installed properly but was in fact the winXP version.
2. Installed the hp driver instead but got junk spewed out.
3. Tried a couple of generic drivers instead, which caused the same GPF problem with A5 labels as the XP driver did.
4. Installed A5 on old win3.1 laptop. Tried to transfer files to it from old win95 computer but MSbackup had somehow got corrupted.
4. Found the XP driver prints A5 reports ok so decided to stick with it for now and junk the laptop idea.
Sam - I know you have never liked printing anything but reports from A5. Any quick tips for converting labels to report format?
(By the way, the GPF error occurs in A_TEXTED.DLL)
All suggestions appreciated

Al Buchholz
10-21-2003, 12:13 PM

Does version 1 have an import function for reports?

I don't have version 1 in front of me and don't remember.

Otherwise, I have copied the objects from a label and pasted them into a report and then adjusted the page and column settings as needed.

Thomas Henkel
10-21-2003, 12:31 PM
How quickly we forget, Al.

Do you remember the old BORROW application?? It is somewhere out in the code archive. It still works fine.

Now, how one turns a label into a report or vice-versa is beyond me.


Al Buchholz
10-21-2003, 12:38 PM

This one. Never used it.


They tell me that memory is the second thing to go.

But nobody remembers what the first one was! (Or if there were more!)

Far be it from me to say that this is really easy in version 4 or 5. It may have been just as easy in ver 1, but the memory thing.........

Hopefully it will jog someone's thoughts or memories.....

Sam Gerber
10-21-2003, 01:36 PM
Linda, turns out I lied to you. I haven't been real close to the A5 application I wrote those years back. My son uses the app religiously to run his business and I haven't modified it much over recent years.

Lo and behold, we do print A5 labels. He runs the app on a WIN98 system but I installed it on my 2 WINXP systems just to have it handy and make small changes. My current system is WINXP SP1.

All my Alpha 5 application components seem to run fine. There were issues last year when I first installed Alpha 5, one of which was that, in a network environment using networked printers, the A5 machine had to have some default local printer installed. So ... I created a driver for a printer which didn't exist and set it to "offline".

The other print related problem was when the printed forms had colors specified. I forget the problem but it was ugly. It went away when I specified the font colors as "wintext".

Anyway ... to the present.

I just ran the label printing function using my HP 1100 Laserjet and it ran fine. The application wanted to print 30 sheets but I told the print dialogue to print just pages 1 and 2, since yours choked after the first sheet. Unfortunately for you, Linda, mine worked fine.

I specified the labels as Standard Size, Avery 5260, which is a 3x10 layout, 30 per sheet.

Don't know how I can help you, Linda. If you can subset your application and zip and email it to me, I could run your labels in my environment with my HP 1100 and let you know if that works.

My best guess is still that your printer driver is fouled. Any other printers (ink jet?) on your system, or could you borrow one from a friend for a test?

If I can help you I will. Can you think of any questions about my software environment that you could use to double-check your own? I assume you've tried compatibility mode and that you're launching A5INIT.EXE. I do not need compatibility mode with SP1 and can't remember whether I needed it with the non SP1 version. I gave that computer to my daughter recently.

Let me know if I can help you.


linda lazarides
10-22-2003, 06:13 AM
Sam - you are as generous as ever.
Thanks also to Al and Tom.
I did not know about compatibility mode - that could come in very useful in the process of adjusting my other programs to winXP.
Re the labels - have now tried running A5 in win95 compat mode with a win95 hp driver - still no luck. I do have another printer - hp psc inkjet but it produces exactly the same problem.
As I rarely need to print labels I will convert them to report format when I get some time, and for my current need I'll just print off a set and accept the ensuing GPF.
Thanks for your offer to test the set, Sam. I won't trouble you as I suspect it will work fine on your system. There may be UK issues at fault, e.g. the different paper size. My labels are very straightforward - no fancy font or colour etc. I hate not to get to the bottom of the problem but unfortunately have got a lot of other stuff to do!
By the way, in case you are looking for good anti-virus software, I have done a bit of research. Norton missed 4 Trojan horses on a friend's system - all were picked up by the Kaspersky software, which apparently has a near 100% anti-virus efficiency rating. He was bang up to date with his Norton, and had been wondering why his CD-writer wasn't working properly. The Kaspersky virus clean-up solved the problem.
All best

Sam Gerber
10-23-2003, 03:36 PM
Just curious, Linda. Do you get the GPF in Print Preview as well? That is, do all the pages of labels Preview without the GPF?

If it can, do you then get the GPF after the first page of labels when you print from the Print Preview dialogue? If you do, then would you if you only print a single sheet of labels and then another single sheet, etc. (from the Preview)?

Was also thinking about exporting the label info to MS Word and doing a mail merge if Alpha 5 and your print driver continue to plague you.


linda lazarides
10-24-2003, 06:08 AM
The plot is thickening, Sam. I am beginning to believe in the innocence of the printer drivers since yesterday when I attempted to perform a Query for label printing purposes - GPFs galore! Yes, they also occur in print preview without a query, but only when I close the window.
In the end I resorted to re-connecting the printer to the old Win95 computer and getting the labels off that.
As long as A5 continues to accept new records and produce my invoices ok on WinXP then I am reasonably happy. I will have to take a deep breath soon anyway and launch into the mysteries of Access 2000 database design since a forthcoming project is to continue developing a diet analysis program which I have designed in Excel. To allow practitioners to collect their patients' records, I want to integrate a simple database facility with it using Visual Basic 6. As I am only an amateur I assume it will be simpler and cheaper to do this with Access (which I already have on my system).
If you have absolutely nothing else to do, you would be most welcome to a zip of the current Excel file. It is quite fun to play with.
All good wishes as always

Sam Gerber
10-24-2003, 08:01 AM
Hi Linda. Will pass on the Excel file.

Once I overcame my own non-GPF problems with A5 1.02 on WINXP, I figured that it would work for others as well. And of course, print drivers and video drivers are always suspect.

One of the things I would do first off is reinstall Alpha 5. If that didn't help, I would start Windows XP with everything disabled in its startup ... that is, Start, Run, "msconfig", Startup tab, make a note of everything that's checked, then uncheck everything and do a selective startup.

It's amazing how much crap gets loaded in any Windows system, especially XP. And ... that's without getting involved in the gazillion services that are loaded and more difficult to suspend without causing a problem.

If the above works, then start adding back in Startup items until A5 GPFs again and you'll have the culprit identified.

Short of that helping, I'd try to run A5 in "safe mode" which WINXP offers as well.

If it can run on other people's XP systems without GPFs it can run on yours.

And then there's always the possibility that there are services updates available for WINXP SP1 that are needed. If you go that route, you'll be amazed at how many "critical", "security", and "application" updates MSOFT has issued, even on a system you've just bought. At 56K dialup, that's not a pleasure!

Good luck if you try these ideas, Linda.


linda lazarides
10-26-2003, 01:27 AM
I'll give those ideas a go, Sam - thanks! It will be a few weeks before I can concentrate on A5 again, but I'm sure you are right. And talk about junk on computers nowadays... I remember my first Amstrad in pre-Windows days - I knew exactly what every file on that computer was for and would regularly delete every unnecessary file to make space on the hard drive. No longer possible these days!
All best