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Screen shot of SPCALC running under Windows Vista

SPCALC is a very stable software package, written with compatibility and fast execution in mind. Users of SPCALC rarely have trouble. However, for those who may have questions, we have tried to anticipate them and provide answers here. SPCALC's online Help and over 100 page electronic manual are also good sources of information for using and configuring SPCALC.

Questions and Answers

Q: Is SPCALC compatible with other software and with modern  PC operating systems?
A: There are no known specific incompatibilities between SPCALC and other software or hardware. Unlike most character mode applications, SPCALC actively cooperates with multitasking operating systems like Windows and OS/2. In our experience, it runs without modification on any Intel chip-based PC operating system. It has been specifically tested on over 15 different machines ranging from an IBM-XT to a modern Core2 Duo machine running Windows Vista.

Q: Is SPCALC compatible with Windows Vista and other Windows operating systems?
A: Yes, if you have any 16 or 32-bit version of Windows, including Vista, and 64-bit Vista with a DOS emulator (see below)! Depending on their particular video card and its drivers, some Vista users may not be able to run the program in its 50 line mode. The SPCALC 5.0.1 distribution comes with configuration files, including a backup, that correctly select the 43 line mode for Vista.

Trying to run the program in its 50-line mode under Vista may give an error "this program does not support fullscreen mode" or "NTVDM has stopped working". As described in the relevant Microsoft Knowledgebase article, the 32-bit Windows Vista video drivers don't support all DOS video modes, thus producing the error. Microsoft suggests a workaround of installing the Windows XP drivers for your video adapter (this works with SPCALC in 50 line mode). This problem is not directly solvable in 64-bit versions of Vista, because 64-bit Vista doesn't support 16-bit applications like SPCALC at all. However, users of 64-bit Vista can run SPCALC in DOSBox (see just below for more information).

Vista users might experience a similar problem when they try to change the SPCALC'S screen colors and resolution through the Main Menu Modify Setup option. When you make changes to SPCALC's video configuration, the program tests the video adapter, causing Vista to return an error message reading: "This program does not support full-screen mode." One workaround is use the XP video drivers for your video card, as mentioned above. Another is to edit the program configuration file, SPINST.DAT, manually in any ASCII text editor or any editor which can save to ASCII text. Contact us for instructions regarding editing the SPINST.DAT manually. Note that none of these Vista issues affect operation of any part of the calculation or database functions of SPCALC.

Another way to address the "fullscreen mode" issue is to run SPCALC in DOSBox, a free downloadable DOS emulator for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, Mac OS X, several varieties of Linux and other, lesser-used operating systems. We have confirmed that SPCALC runs well in DOSBox, running under 32-bit Windows Vista, although DOSBox is not required to run SPCALC under 32-bit Vista.

Q: Installing SPCALC in Windows Vista, I get a User Account Control dialog that says the program is "unidentified" and asks me to Cancel or Allow the program to run. Is it safe to run it?
A: Yes, absolutely! Windows Vista doesn't recognize the install program as being compatible with its "security features", but the program is virus-free, contains no adware, spyware or other malware and will run fine under Vista in either the registered or unregistered versions. Just click on Allow when you see this dialog.

Q: Do I need powerful hardware to run SPCALC?
A: No! SPCALC will run natively on any PC-compatible running any 16 or 32-bit PC operating system, and in 64-bit Windows with a DOS emulator. Its code has been highly optimized to allow it to run even on the original IBM PC-XT! Just about any modern PC will run it.

Q: Will SPCALC run on a Macintosh or other Apple computer?
A: It depends. Older Macs with Motorola processors will need DOS emulator software to run it. Newer ones with Intel processors may be able to run it natively or can run it using emulators like DOSBox. We have not tested SPCALC on Macintosh machines. However, the program makes only standard operating system calls and does not use direct hardware writes. On that basis alone, we predict that it will run under most DOS emulation systems for the Mac. We have confirmed that SPCALC runs well in the free DOSBox emulator, running under Windows Vista, although DOSBox is not required to run SPCALC under Vista. DOSBox is available for free download for Mac OS X.

Q: How is SPCALC installed under Windows?
A: The free trial version of SPCALC, Version 5.0.1, is distributed as a single Windows executable file called SETUPSPC.EXE. Just run this and the install program will create the directory, files, program folder, Start Menu entries, links to SPCALC support, and an uninstall program. The trial version includes the over 100 page manual for the program in ASCII text format and a database of over 200 common solvents.

Q: Why should I pay for the registered version of SPCALC?
A: Registered users additionally receive the manual in Acrobat PDF format, which preserves the formatting and graphics of the original, and a greatly expanded database of over 1200 solvents. Registration also enables many of the functions of SPCALC, which are disabled in the trial version, and provides access to technical support. Registration is only $29 for SPCALC delivered electronically or $29, plus $5 S/H, for those who want it on disk.

Q: I'm having a problem with SPCALC that doesn't seem to be covered here. Can you help?
A: We want to help any registered owner of SPCALC resolve any problems he may be having. As we learn of any problems in a given environment, we will post the solution(s) here. You may also send us an e-mail to the address below. In your e-mail, please include:

  • A description of your hardware (processor, amount of RAM, video card)
  • Indicate your operating system and version
  • The text of any specific error messages you may be seeing, either from SPCALC or the operating system
  • A copy of the text in SPCALC's About window (Press Alt-a in SPCALC, then use the window control menu to copy the text to the Clipboard and paste it into your e-mail
  • Any steps you may have taken to resolve the problem and the results of those steps

SPCALC Support E-mail: drzeigler@silchemy.com


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Last modified: 05/31/17