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BootSector's picture
Joined: 2018 Feb 18
Spell Dodger Forensics!

Daxeria and I are having an interesting discussion comparing odd differences between different floppy images of the game Spell Dodger! but in the comments for the game. I thought I'd move the discussion to the forum so we don't spam the comments too much more.

by BootSector - 2018, March 1 - 10:14pm

Also, I have my own original copy of the disk which I've independently imaged. I've performed a binary comparison of my disk image against the one here which was uploaded by mrpippy in 2016. Both images contain all the same files, the files are all located at the same spots physical addresses (and sectors) on the disk, and all the files are identical but the disks themselves are not identical. There's a fair amount of binary differences in the first sectors of the disk. Looking at both images using HFVExplorer, it appears the reason is that the mrpippy disk contains a trash folder and desktop folder whereas mine does not.

This is interesting since my disk doesn't contain a write protect slider tab so the disk was manufactured permanently locked. Since I'm the original owner I assume fairly confidently that my disk is identical to the original master image all the disks were made from. I'd have expected mrpippy's copy to be identical to but it's not. I'd be interested to know if his disk was also permanently write protected and whether it was sold with these file system modifications or if those happened afterward. If the disk was inserted into a Mac at some point while unlocked it could have caused modifications like this. I suppose another possibility was that mrpippy was working from a duplicate (maybe a backup copy) which would explain how it got unlocked and modified.

by Daxeria - 2018, March 4 - 12:48pm

If the disk was inserted into a Mac at some point while unlocked it could have caused modifications like this.

That's what I would have thought, but the desktop and trash folders have the same modification date as everything else on the disk: 14 October 1993. Please upload your disk image; I'm curious to compare them.

This just gets more bizarre the closer you look. If you look at the Info window for the mrpippy copy in the Finder it says there are 13 items on the disk and the creation and modification time stamps are both 10/14/93 like all the files and the folders (including the desktop and trash).

On my copy it says there are 11 items which matches what I said earlier since my copy lacks the desktop and trash folders. All the creation and modification time stamps across everything on my disk are also 10/14/93 except the disk itself which shows a modification time stamp of 9:00 AM on 10/15/99.

Looks like the actual timestamp is 9:00:39 AM but the Finder doesn't show the seconds. I can't explain this. I don't believe that I had a functioning Macintosh in 1999 and either way I'm pretty sure I didn't use this software at any point in that year. I can't rule out that someone else used it though but it shouldn't matter since, like I said, the disk has no unlock slider so it shouldn't have been possible to modify the disk without extraordinary effort.

Looking at my dump of Math Dodger, the creation time stamps on all the files are 12:00:00 PM on 1/28/1994 but most of the modification time stamps are on 10/16/99 between 3 PM and 4 PM. This is also odd but seems to be a little bit consistent with the funkiness on my Spell Dodger disk.

Since my Math Dodger is actually version 1.0.1 and I believe I got both games at the same time from the same place I think I probably have a latter production run of both games. My best guess was maybe someone was doing cleanups or checks or something on the master images sometime in early '94 ahead of sending them for manufacture and probably had the wrong date on their system clock? I can't really think of another way to explain this.


mrpippy's picture
Joined: 2015 Jun 7

Interesting! I also imaged my originally purchased disk, the write protect tab is gone. We didn't get our Mac until Jan. 1994, I don't think I've ever written to or modified the disk.