Appleton Blog Logo by Jeff Lindsay
The Appleton Blog features one of America's
best communities: Appleton, Wisconsin.

Jeff Lindsay is an author of Conquering Innovation Fatigue. See for more info.
Also follow me on Twitter.


Appleton Resources

Other Suggested Links

Other Blogs from Fox Cities Folks

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Where to Find DOS-Based Services in the Fox Valley: Experience History at Wal-Mart

Some curious readers might be wondering where to find businesses that still use DOS. Perhaps you are a college student or younger with no idea what the world was like back in the dark and primitive DOS age, but interested in getting a taste. There's no need to travel hundreds of miles to a museum of ancient computing history: you can experience the crazy forgotten days of DOS right here in the Valley! Just schedule an appointment for photos at the Wal-Mart photo studio. It's amazing what you will learn.

Back in the DOS days, memory was extremely limited. That's why most people have forgotten about it. But not Wal-Mart, as I found out in a painful experience where I and several others were roped into a photo session at their budget studio. I actually enjoyed it for the learning experience and the taste of history.

The digital camera system they use for professional photography is tied to a DOS-based computer. It's amazing how that system was able to demoralize a group of consumers, in spite of working with a very nice and helpful photographer. In this modern era of Windows or Mac operating systems, consumers have been spoiled with things like choice and flexibility. Apparently the world didn't have much of that in the DOS era, as we saw when we were asked which proofs we wanted. Spoiled consumers expect a bunch of shots to be taken, followed by a chance to review and select which ones they like. But that would take lots of memory - memory for each photo. With the DOS system at Wal-Mart,immediately after each shot, you have to look at the grainy, chunky, off-color, low-resolution DOS-based image (right - that's another fascinating thing about DOS: it's amazing how poor a good photo can look when viewed on a DOS system, sometimes almost beyond recognition). And then you choose on the spot if that's the one you want to keep (or one of whatever number you are paying for). You either say yes and keep it, or no and it's erased - permanently. No changing your mind - because, I guess, that would take memory and flexibility beyond the realms of Wal-Mart's DOS system.

For a photo of a baby, for example, when the shot is taken, you might think it's good, but not good enough, so you'd like to get a few more shots and pick the best - but that's not for Wal-Mart. You look at the shot right after it's taken and decide to take it or to throw it away and hope the next shot is better. But maybe the baby starts screaming then and all the rest of the shots are hopeless. Too bad - you said no to the near-perfect early shot and it's erased forever. You'll get a shot of your little screamer looking pretty miserable, which is about how we felt after encountering this remarkable business model based on antique DOS-based business models.

If you're a history buff, don't delay. Schedule an appointment with a Wal-Mart photo studio today (our experience was at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Darboy on east Calumet Street). Don't wait, because there's a good chance that sometime in the next decade or so, Wal-Mart will upgrade their computer system in their photography studio.

But don't be too worried. They recently "upgraded" their computers in their photoprocessing area, and now the system is much slower and less friendly. Feels more DOS-like than before, perhaps running on an ancient 286 chip, but the on-screen display is good enough that I think they at least have a modern video board and drivers. Still, you never know.

You should also know that the Wal-Mart studio is so small that any more than four or five people becomes a big problem. We had six people and a baby, and even staggering people and putting people in uncomfortable positions to get everyone to fit in the narrow viewing area of the camera didn't quite work due to uneven lighting.

There are lot of fine high-quality studios in town. If you're looking for low-cost budget services, consider the studio at Sears. Very good quality at a budget price is possible, with a more spacious and well-equipped studio. But Wal-Mart does have some ridiculously cheap packages available (like a $5.88 special - intending, of course, to sell you packages in the $100+ range afterwards).
I detest MS, think their windows stuff is a bunch of... I use Linux at home.

One thing I have heard though, is DOS is a solid product unlike its windows products. DOS does what it is supposed to do very well.
Wow Jeff, next time maybe you could try being sarcastic.

Aaah, the glory days of DOS.

-Kelly Jorgensen
I had taken my daughter to get her 6 mos pictures there and yes it was near appalling that this place still uses DOS. It was extremely hard to see the photos displayed after the shoot. Looks like I'll forget the budget stuff and find a professional photgrapher. Thanks for bringing this to light!
Post a Comment

<< Home