Category Archives: PC Software

New Opera Browser (17.0) has same bug as in Chrome

My current Opera version is shown as:

Version 12.16
Build 1860
Platform Win32
System Windows 7

“Check for Updates” gives “Opera Is Up-to-Date” without saying what that version is.

Well, when I saw the new version 17.0 was available, I thought I would try it.

It installed properly, but it has the same bug that has been in the Chrome Browser for several years. I was amazed. How was this possible? Then, on the new “About” page it announces that it is:

Made possible by the Chromium open source project and other open source software.

Well, that explains it. And here’s the bug:

Html pages with tables of large integers can be made to “wrap” around when the page size is reduced (either by reducing the width of the window on a PC or actually viewing the page on a phone or tablet). The way to do this is to insert “­” (or soft-hyphens) into the long strings every ten characters or so.

That all works correctly in Chrome, the old Opera and the new.

However, when you copy and paste any parts of these strings with an invisible (or visible) hyphen, these strings appear with the hyphens visible in Chrome and the new Opera. Incredible.

So, if I want to select any of these strings, I now have to drop them into say, Notepad or Wordpad, edit out the hyphens, then paste the result into the target application.

The old Opera did this without including the hyphens, the new one does not.

I will now uninstall the all-new Opera 17.0 and continue to use 12.16 from now on.

Try copy and paste on this number and you’ll see what I mean:

p46 = 5467851482­5724108732­8008167414­2305529138­322441

Soft hyphens STILL wrong in Firefox 7

The point of Soft Hyphens (­) in HTML code is to allow long numbers to be continued on one or more lines when the screen-width is less than the string length.

For many years Firefox has not allowed Copy/Paste to omit the actual hyphens in the resulting string on the Clipboard. Opera and IE work as expected (no actual hyphens).

Here is a small HTML file to demonstrate the problem. Copy and Paste this code into a text file called, say, hyphen.htm and then open it with Firefox. See what happens.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>Testing Soft Hyphens</title>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=windows-1252″ />
h1 {text-align: center}
p {padding-left: 4em; padding-right: 4em}
blockquote {padding-left: 4em; font-weight: bold}


<h1>Testing Soft Hyphens</h1>

Select and copy this number to the clipboard:


You should get this:


In Firefox we get this (showing the hyphens):


If you paste it into Word or Wordpad, you appear to get
123456789012345678901234567890, but try saving it as plain text
(or rtf and actually look at the file with a text viewer) you will
see the dreaded hyphens. They are meant to be hidden.

<b><i>For how many years now, has Firefox got it wrong?</i></b>

<hr />


Old DOS graphics programs

Do you have some old programs (written 12+ years ago) that need real DOS to run with long-obsolete graphics support? Like old favourite DOS games? Forget the games. I wanted to run some old programs written in Turbo C or good old Borland C++.

Well, is the place to go.

This is not the Microsoft unofficial name for a “DOS Window” running under Windows 98, 2000, XP  or 7 but a site that offers true DOS emulation for our old programs.

The particular one I needed to run was a program originally written in 1999, but with mods up to 2007. It displays drill points from a Printed Circuit Board and sends plotter commands via a serial COM port to move a robot arm to drill the board. Much better than trying to juggle a high-speed piece of machinery by hand.

This is what happens under Windows 7:

Drill fullscreen under Windows 7

But after installing DOSBox, it will run either in a window or fullscreen (just hit Alt-Enter to toggle):

Drill works without sorting

The caption says “Drill by Column” but as you can see, the white line goes all over the place. This is because when the program called Windows “sort”, it failed because it was not a DOS sort. Have a look in c:\windows\system32\sort.exe and you’ll see “This program cannot be run in DOS mode.”. Luckily I had a DOS sort program from way back. I renamed it and put it in my drill folder. NOW the sorting works.

Drill with sorting

Subtle watermark

Just looking around for a DOC to PDF converter (the pseudo-printer type) and downloaded this little beauty, not realising that it was a DEMO only.

Subtle watermark

Needless to say, I switched to a free one instead (PrimoPDF) – which works brilliantly.

[ My version of  Microsoft Word 2002 did not have a Save As PDF option, hence the problem. ]

No crashers allowed

Opera version 11.01, running on Windows 7 (32-bit version), crashed minutes ago when navigating a perfectly ordinary Joomla! site of mine. I allowed the crash report to be submitted, but there seemed to be no current known cause:

Opera Crash Part1

The rest of the page tells you what to do (keep software up-to-date, run anti-virus scans etc) if you are experiencing frequent crashers! What?

Opera Crash Part2

The DOS CD Command (or how to send stderr to nul)

Good old DOS.

Don’t you hate getting this message: The system cannot find the path specified. What path?

It’s usually the result of a failed CD command. But what if it’s inside a batch file? Hopeless. Wouldn’t it be better instead to have a message like: Sub-Directory “hhh” not found.

It’s easy to do in a batch file. We just have to figure a way to nullify that DOS error message.

Let’s try “cd xxx > nul”. That should do it.

What? That fails?

The reason that the error message still appears is that it is not written to Standard Output (stdout), but to Standard Error (stderr). We have to send the 2nd output to nul as well. Here’s how to do it:

cd xxx > nul 2 > nul

or cd xxx > nul 2>&1

The first sends outputs 1 and 2 to nul. The second sends stderr (output 2) to the same place as stdout (output 1). Very Unix/Linux – like syntax here.

The next thing to do is to test the success of the CD command. Luckily DOS sets the errorlevel to 0 for success and 1 (or higher) for failure.

In the DOS batch file, below, we are trying to go to a subdirectory in some deep directory tree and either doing a full dir listing, or in the case of CD failure, just listing the subdirectories available (those with <DIR> on the lines):

Rem If no parameter, just exit the batch file

if “%1” == “” goto end

cd %1 > nul 2 > nul

Rem if the CD works, give the full dir command:

if not errorlevel 1 goto fulldir

Rem “if not errorlevel 1…” means if errorlevel is not 1 or higher
Rem (in other words, zero), then execute the goto command.
Rem If the CD fails, list the subdirectories we could have chosen.

echo Sub-Directory “%1” not found:-
dir | find “<DIR>” | find /v ” .” | more
goto end



All those “echo.” commands insert blank output lines for readability. And the “find” with the /v parameter means select lines which do not contain a blank followed by a dot (” .”) – in other words do not list the directories “.” or “..”.

Here’s a typical use for such a feature. I want to go to the VB6 directory containing the source of my Application Programs:

C:\>#vb asd

Sub-Directory “asd” not found:-

23/12/2006 01:00 AM <DIR> pdfflip
04/05/2006 05:33 PM <DIR> pict
24/12/2006 04:14 PM <DIR> psflip
24/06/2005 12:17 PM <DIR> stretch
26/09/2008 04:07 PM <DIR> unscr1
13/10/2008 04:06 AM <DIR> unscr2

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VB98\Aprog>

In this case the misspelt subdirectory is obvious but in general, given the original DOS error message, the user would have no idea what path The system cannot find.

PS: The more command, above, allows the output to pause at page boundaries, if necessary. The initial dir command, however, does not pause when the output is piped to another command (even with the /p parameter set by default).