Week of 2/15/99
Friday, July 05, 2002 08:04
A (mostly) daily
journal of the trials, tribulations, and random observations of Robert
Bruce Thompson, a writer of computer books.
February 15, 1999
I wasn't feeling very well yesterday, and I'm feeling worse this
morning. Some kind of virus, I suspect. That's one thing about working at
home. You spend your sick days the same place you spend normal days.
There's not much point to just lying around being sick, so you go ahead
and work anyway.
I spent most of this weekend working on the test-bed system, swapping
hardware in and out and running various benchmark tests. I've been working
a lot with the Promise FastTrak IDE RAID Controller, setting up,
benchmarking, and then tearing down various arrays. I'll have a full
report later, but for now I'll just say that this $99 card is letting me
do things that I used to think required SCSI. The only problem I've had
with it is getting it configured to allow the system to boot from the
array, but that may be due to a mistake I've made rather than to a problem
with the card itself. Once I've finished testing it, I plan to move it
into my resource server and begin a long-term evaluation of it.
* * * * *
I've spent the day working on my current chapter, and gotten a surprising
amount done, considering that I'm feeling rotten. I exchanged some mail
with my contact at Integrated Device Technologies (IDT), the makers of the
WinChip processor. I have some eval CPUs on the way, including one
unreleased product. I can't talk about that one until IDT gives me the
go-ahead, but it does sound like a very interesting product.
In the mean time, if you have an old Pentium that you'd like to upgrade
without spending a lot of money, check out the IDT
WinChip line. For $50 or $75 you can upgrade an old 75 MHz or 90 MHz
P54C Pentium system to twice or thrice its original speed. It still won't
be a Pentium II, but it won't be all that far behind, either. WinChip
floating point performance relative to the old Pentium remains inferior,
but other than that the WinChip vies with additional memory as one of the
most cost-effective upgrades available. Sadly, there's no WinChip
available for the old 5.0 volt P54 60 and 66 MHz Pentiums.
Incidentally, in the interests of full disclosure, I'm saying all this
on the basis of information published by IDT and on feedback I've had from
readers. I've not yet worked with a WinChip myself, but I'm looking
forward to correcting that oversight soon.
* * * * *
Regarding the change to thisweek.html and lastweek.html, Tom Syroid
made the following comment on his
web site, to which I emailed him the reply that follows:
I think I'll just sit back and see how
things work over there and wait to see if there's any unforeseen
problems that are going to develop. Sorry Bob, but I had a vote and you
get to be test bed this week.
Well, one stumbling block that I ran into almost
immediately is that if you're going to maintain two identical pages (e.g.
thisweek.html and 0215RTDN.html) you can't just do a "Save-As"
to keep things in sync. For example, I called up 0215RTDN.html in FP
Editor, made changes, saved the changes under the current file name, and
then did a "Save-As" thisweek.html. That appeared to work fine.
But then I noticed a problem: the day-of-the-week links down the left
column in thisweek.html were still pointing to 0215RTDN.html. For example,
in thisweek.html, Tuesday should have been linked to
http://www.ttgnet.com/thisweek.html#Tuesday. Instead, it was still linked
to http://www.ttgnet.com/0215RTDN.html#Tuesday. Bummer.
The only way I found to fix it was to do my usual edits to 0215RTDN.html,
save it, select it in FP Explorer, do a copy-and-paste, and then rename
the copy to thisweek.html. That fixes all the links. So, at this point,
every time I add something to the current daynotes page, I have to
remember to save it, delete the old thisweek.html file, copy the current
daynotes file, save the copy, and rename it. This ain't cool.
Of course, I could just do what Jerry plans to do. Make thisweek.html the
current version and not have a 0215RTDN.html until the end of the week. At
that point, rename thisweek.html to 0215RTDN.html, select it, copy and
paste it, and rename the copy lastweek.html. That might be less work, but
I still haven't thought through all the implications.
Over the years, I've learned not to casually change stuff that I spent a
great deal of time thinking through in the past. Most of the time, what
happens is that I change something without thinking through all the issues
that I'd thought through the first time. Nowadays, when I see something I
did a few weeks or months ago and find myself thinking "why the hell
did I do it that way?" my answer to myself is usually, "beats
the hell out of me, but I must have had a good reason at the time."
So, I'll move carefully on this. You're a wise man to be cautious.
February 16, 1999
BigBiz.com (my web hosting
service) is moving me to a different server, presumably today. That means
I'll have a different IP address. Until that change flows through DNS,
you'll still get to the old site when you use www.ttgnet.com.
You can get to the new site by entering the new IP address, 18.104.22.168,
directly into your browser in the form http://22.214.171.124
At this point, it's not
clear when my site will be moved to the new IP address or when I'll next
be able to update my site, so you may not even see this message until it's
overtaken by events. If I am able to update the site, and if you do
want to read the current stuff before the change takes effect, entering
the new IP address will get you there.
In the mean time, you don't
need to do anything special. Eventually, the change will flow through DNS,
and hitting www.ttgnet.com will take
you to the new site. It may just take a couple of days for that to happen.
I apologize for the inconvenience.
I was having problems retrieving mail from my mail server again
yesterday morning, so I sent a message to BigBiz.com to complain. By
coincidence, the following mail exchange started with my friend Paul
right around the same time.
Since they moved me
to web05, I've noticed the performance being a lot better. Did they
resolve everything to your satisfaction?
Actually, I've kind of let it drop. I'm debating whether to
stay with BigBiz or move to pair Networks. Until I decide, I figured it
wasn't worth relocating to a different server at BigBiz. If I do decide to
stay there, I'll certainly ask them to move me to another server.
They handled the move for me; since I don't
have any script-generated pages it was seamless. I went to bed on web01
and woke up on web05. No huh. Give it a try.
Hmmm. Thanks for telling me that. When they mentioned
moving me to server 05, they told me I'd have to move all my stuff
manually. I'll contact them.
Maybe they just like me better. [Paul
included a message that BigBiz had sent him giving details of the move.
Maybe so. I've been a pain in the butt to them. That
reminds me, I haven't looked at your site lately. I'll go there now...
Haven't missed anything. I envy your
daynotes, but I don't know a) when I'd have time to write them or b)
whether I'd have anything interesting to say, since I don't get much
time to twiddle hardware.
Hmm. Getting the time to write them is less of a problem
than it might seem. Just cut your sleep time by a couple hours a day and
eat all meals in front of the computer. As far as not having interesting
things to say, I never let that stop me...
Then, at 10:21 p.m. I received the following response from BigBiz to
the complaint I'd sent them that morning about the mail server:
lets move you to another server - web01 has
a auction site that tends to hog the CPU during their "hot"
auction closing times. which is what hogged the CPU this morning. let us
know if this will be satisfactory.
Okay, moving to another server sounds good. I was under the
impression that I'd have to reload all my stuff, but my friend Paul
Robichaux tells me that you moved him overnight. My web site is all static
pages, so presumably you can do the same for me.
You'd mentioned web05 at one point. Is that still your
newest server and the one with the lightest load? If so, I'd appreciate
being moved there. Tell me what I need to do.
Then, when I retrieved my mail this morning, I found the following
we'll move what we can - dot upload anything
new for the next day.
Okay, thanks. I note that I'm moving from 126.96.36.199 to
188.8.131.52. I presume the issue is that DNS will still be resolving
www.ttgnet.com to the old address for a while, so any uploads I make would
be going to the old location rather than the new.
Even so, I'd like to update the original location to tell
my readers that I'll be down for a short time, and perhaps to give them
the new IP address so that they can use that in the interim. Is that okay?
Also, once you get my stuff moved from the old machine to the new, I'd
like to update my site using the IP address until DNS starts resolving it.
Is that okay?
I assume that my mail will continue uninterrupted, right?
* * * * *
This from Bill Grigg [firstname.lastname@example.org]
from Vancouver, Canada:
You don't know me, but we've both been visiting Jerry Pournelle.
I linked to your site from his, and your page "An Old Pentax
Camera" caught my eye.
I didn't need to read further than the title to know you were going to
talk about the Pentax Spotmatic. I am the proud owner of a 1974
Spotmatic "F" which added a self timer, and flash sync
connections. I also have owned (now stolen!!!) a 1971 Honeywell Pentax
Asahi Spotmatic just like yours. My "F" came with the f/1.4
while the Honeywell came with the f/1.8. I, too had the 28mm wide angle,
85mm, and the 135mm lenses as well (also stolen). The reason the f/1.4
was so desirable was it's ability to shoot in low light conditions. I
suggest you keep an eye out to see just how many new "quality"
cameras do not go lower than f/1.8 and most are around f/2.1. I won't
even discuss "point and shoot" cameras.
If fact I have used the same camera(s) for the last twenty years. I
bought the "F" used in 1976, from a Associated Press
photographer who finally could afford Leica cameras, and replaced it
only last April with a new plastic bodied Pentax with an autofocus
I agree, the Spotmatic has a heft and feel of quality that is missing
from the newer model. I'm quite sure that I won't get twenty years out
of the new one.
Jerry has mentioned that you and he are to collaborate on a "Good
Enough" book. I wish you both luck, and look forward to the
I used to have a Spotmatic F myself. It was a nice camera,
and I can't remember for the life of me what happened to it. I must have
sold it. But my original 1971 Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic does have a
self-timer and flash sync connections. As I recall, the main difference
with the Spotmatic F was that it had full-aperture metering, while the
Spotmatic had stop-down metering. Of course, Asahi had different
distributors in Canada and the US, and used different names and model
You're right about the f/1.4 versus f/1.8 or f/2.0 issue.
That extra half stop from f/1.8 to f/1.4 was a pretty expensive step, but
the f/1.4 lens was a lot sharper at f/1.8 than the f/1.8 lens was wide
open. As I recall, the f/1.4 Super-Takumar lens cost about $50 more than
the f/1.8 version, but it was and is a good lens. That was an era of fast
lenses. Although I believe that Pentax never went wider than f/1.4, f/1.2
lenses were available for Nikons and others, and someone (Canon, as I
recall) actually shipped an f/1.0 monster.
February 17, 1999
Well, the server move appears to have been done successfully without
incident. I got mail from InterNIC yesterday morning asking if it was okay
to change the DNS server addresses. Actually, Barbara got that message and
forwarded it to me. That's because my contact address at InterNIC is "email@example.com",
which is the email account associated with our dial-up ISP account. As
things are set up now, mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org"
is auto-forwarded to the thompsrb account, from which she POPs.
When she forwarded me the message, I immediately replied
"YES" that it was okay to change the DNS server information. I
did realize that the way things are set up might mess up the InterNIC
auto-parsing mechanism, so I changed the reply-to in that response to read
rather than "email@example.com".
Still, I got to thinking that that might not be enough, so I went back and
re-replied to the message from Barbara's computer, so that the
"from" would read "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Later that morning, my friend John Mikol--who is listed in the DNS record
as the Technical Contact and Zone Contact--called to tell me he'd also
gotten the message and to ask if he needed to do anything. I first told
him no, but thinking about it I realized that having InterNIC get too many
YES responses was better than having them not get enough, so I told him to
go ahead and tell them yes.
In the process of all that, I noticed that BigBiz had also put
themselves down as Technical Contact in the Modify Request. I let that
pass for now, although I'll change it back later. As a matter of good
practice, it's best to have your own domain record 100% under your own
control, and not to allow your service provider to have any control over
it whatsoever. That, incidentally, is one of my main objections to pair
Networks. They insist on being Technical Contact no matter what.
At any rate, I've now been moved from server WEB01 to server WEB05.
Apparently, a lot of the problems I'd been having--slow web server
response, trouble POPping mail, etc.--were due to WEB01 being overloaded.
There's an on-line auction site hosted there, and at certain times of day
they just suck all the ticks out of that server. It seems to me that
BigBiz should tell them they need to run on their own, co-located,
So things appear to be back to normal, except the slow-downs should go
away. My mail seems to be working properly, and you should be able to get
to this site normally. The old web pages still live on WEB01, but they
won't be updated now and they'll go away in a couple of days.
* * * * *
Every once in a while, I do learn something from the morning paper, and
something they published this morning was a Dusie. There'd been some
discussion by people asking about registering an automobile in the names
of both husband and wife. When it's done that way, each automatically
inherits if the other dies, and without inheritance or other taxes or the
need to re-register the car. If it is registered, say, only in the
husband's name, and the husband dies, the wife has to spend quite a bit of
money to get the car back, including several hundred dollars to
re-register the car in her own name.
But someone wrote this morning to ask if doing it that way doesn't
expose other jointly owned property, such as their home, to claims if the
liability insurance on the automobile is inadequate to satisfy a
judgement. The answer was that it did. If the car is registered in only
one name but the house in both, the house is protected against claims. If
the house and car are both registered jointly, and insurance is inadequate
to cover a claim where the owner was at fault, the person who wins the
judgement can force the sale of the house to satisfy the judgement against
the equity in the house.
Obviously, this situation varies state to state and country to country,
but it's worth looking into. When my father died in 1990, the car was
registered in his name, and my mother had to go through hoops to reclaim
it. So when Barbara and I bought our latest SUVs, we registered both of
them in both our names. As it turns out, doing that had a downside that no
one mentioned to us.
* * * * *
A follow up from Bill Grigg [email@example.com]
from Vancouver, Canada:
Thanks for the reply, and the clarification
on different specs. Upon checking with my Pentax owners guide, it turns
out that my '71 model was the SP1000. NO self timer, flash syncs or open
aperture metering. That explains my confusion. The real neat thing is
that in 1981 I purchased my '71 model for $150.00 CDN and just last week
I saw the identical (who knows, maybe a year or so newer) camera on sale
in a used camera store for $200.00 CDN. You can't beat it's ability to
keep it's value. You're also right about the f/1.4 being around $50
more, and that the Seventies and early Eighties were the era of fast
lenses (not to mention great cameras). Sadly those days are gone,
replaced by $100 point and click snapshot cameras. I've tried to use a
digital camera, they are very nice, but seem to lack a sense of building
the image. Though, perhaps, I'm too harsh. Maybe the ability to
instantaneously check, edit or delete pictures would prevent me from
taking lousy shots.
Yep. That makes sense. I'd forgotten about the SP1000 until
you mentioned it, but I do remember it now. I haven't messed with digital
cameras much, but I've enjoyed the playing around that I have done. Maybe
I'm a bigot, but I still see them as toys. With traditional film and
lenses, you can capture a serious amount of data. As I recall, Kodachrome
II could resolve 200 line pairs/mm. That was beyond the resolution of all
but the very best lenses available, but a decent lens could resolve 100
lp/mm. That's 3,600 X 2,400 line pairs on a standard 35 mm frame. I think
each line pair requires an absolute minimum of three pels, so that
translates to 10,800 X 7,200 in the way that digital camera resolutions
are measured. That's an order of magnitude larger in lineal resolution,
and two orders of magnitude higher in areal resolution than a typical
digital camera today, and even that ignores color depth.
With traditional photography, the resolution of the lens
was always the limiting factor. With today's digital cameras, the
resolution of the medium is the limiting factor, even given the poor
lenses used on the things. If someone brought out a $500 digital camera
that would resolve, say, 9,000 X 6,000 pels in 30-bit color depth, I'd buy
one in a heartbeat. Until then, they're really just useful toys.
* * * * *
This from Chuck Waggoner [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
On the Cookie front--you've mentioned how to
take care of this pesky problem in NT. Is there any way those of us who
use Win98 and IE4 can steer away from Cookies that are not related to
the intended site?
I did? If there's a way to take care of the problem in NT,
I'd love to hear about it. The only way I know to prevent IE running under
any operating system from writing "bad" cookies is to disable
cookies entirely. The problem with IE is that it keeps cookies as
individual files, rather than in one consolidated cookie file as Netscape
does. With Netscape, one can make the cookie file read-only, which
effectively prevents "bad" cookies from being written to disk.
Unfortunately, it also prevents good ones from being written.
But with IE, I've not found any way to stop cookie files
from being written to disk. Even making the cookie folder read-only
doesn't help. IE happily writes the cookie without regard to security
settings on the folder. Apparently, in that respect at least, IE is
functioning as a system-level service that can override permissions that
otherwise restrict the ability of the currently logged-in user to access
* * * * *
And Chuck Waggoner [email@example.com]
Thanks for the enlightenment. I guess I had
misinterpreted what you said related to NT and 'read-only'. I took a
look at my cookie files the other day and there are 105 of them--about
30% of which I don't recognize as names of sites I visit. Kind of scary.
Indeed. I suppose there are more important things to worry
about, but having these companies co-opt my hard disk to serve their own
nefarious purposes really aggravates me. I still wish someone would charge
them under the existing anti-cracking laws for accessing a computer and
writing information to the hard disk without the owner's permission. When
I explicitly visit a web site, I have given at least my implicit
permission for that site to write cookies to my system for its own
But I sure haven't given permission to those third-party
companies that write cookies for their own purposes, unbeknownst to me. At
least doubleclick.net appears to honor Netscape's blocking of third-party
cookies. But Netscape blocking has no effect on those obnoxious cookies
from imgis.com or NGAdcenter.com, which appear to get around the blocking
by using invisible frames. It really makes my blood boil that they take
active measures to write their damned cookies to the hard drives of people
who have the nerve to try to keep them off their systems.
* * * * *
And speaking of obnoxious behavior, I got a spam email yesterday that
hit a new low. This was the first-ever spam message I'd gotten that was
flagged high priority. Give me a break.
* * * * *
And now I'm going to try publishing this to my web server. It's about
11:25 a.m. right now. When I was running on the old web server, any
attempt to publish after about 9:00 a.m. my time (6:00 a.m. web server
time) resulted in a FrontPage time-out. The material almost always got
updated okay, but it's disconcerting to see an error message from
FrontPage saying that the update failed. We'll see what happens now that
I'm running on a snazzy new lightly-loaded server.
* * * * *
This from Richard Jones, who asks that his email address not be
"something they published this morning was a Dusie."
Don't you mean doozie. That's the first time
I ever saw it spelled your way.
No, actually that slang term originated with the Dusenberg
automobile and was originally spelled "Dusie." But you're right
that "doozie" is now the more common spelling.
February 18, 1999
I got quite a bit done yesterday on my chapter, although I'm still not
feeling 100% well. I have a lot to get done today and tomorrow, so updates
here will be shorter than usual. The web updates went fine yesterday. I
didn't get any FrontPage timeouts, which I attribute to being on the new
web server, but they still took a long time to complete when I ran them
during the work day.
* * * * *
This from Chuck Waggoner [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
I'm enjoying your discussions of film vs.
digital--or video as we call it in TV. Television has been struggling
with the two for decades, but in the end, video has really won, even
though it's universally accepted that the contrast ratio and resolution
of video is significantly limited when compared to film.
When I started working in TV during college,
anything we shot outside of the studio was done on film: 16mm for news
and 35mm for commercials and high-end programs. But when the Hunt
brothers drove silver prices up back in the '70s, that spelled the
practical end of film in television for everyone but Hollywood, and
In television, these days there is really
very little advantage to shooting on film, because that film must
finally be transferred through the video chain, and the contrast and
resolution limitations of video end up straining the goodness out of
film. Also, doing good work on film was a lot more work if high quality
was the aim: for every scene, we used to shoot tests to make sure we
would come out with what we wanted, as film is notorious for not
capturing things as they look to the naked eye. That meant at least a
day's delay for shooting, while we waited on results from the lab. Video
taps on the film cameras helped eliminate the need for much of the test
shots, as a good Director of Photography can tell by looking at the
video tap, what the result will be on film. Nowadays, video taps are
used universally on Hollywood films, and most of the editing is done
with the resultant videotape, with the negatives cut later, conforming
to the video edit list.
I suspect that what will govern the medium
(film vs. digital) that will prevail for consumer photography, is what
the picture takers will view their shots on. If it remains prints or
slides, then it seems to me there is little reason to move to digital.
But if most people start looking at their pictures on a computer, there
is little reason to keep shooting on film.
You've got to take pictures regularly to
stay good with film. There's nothing worse than getting the family
together for some picture-taking, only to find out when the prints come
back that the backlight from the sun overpowered the face fill, and the
results are less than good; and even if you bracketed and got a good
one, that was the one that had somebody frowning. That's why I never
complained when film essentially disappeared from the television
workplace. With video replacing it--what you see is what you get. And
for a once or twice-a-year picture taker like me, I'm going to
appreciate that with digital.
Good points, all. But even for family snapshots, digital
cameras have two significant problems to overcome in my opinion. First,
obviously, is resolution, or the lack thereof. The truth is that the best
digital cameras--and here I'm talking about the $30,000 Nikon-based units
that newspaper photographers use--do not begin to approach the resolution
provided by a $5 throwaway drugstore camera, literally. The difference is
apparent to a trained eye even in 3X5 prints, and anyone can tell the
difference in 8X10s.
Even more important is archival stability. Silver-based
processes are inherently stable. Black and white photographs I took 35
years ago are unchanged today, as are family photographs from nearly 150
years ago. Granted, dye-based color processes are much less stable,
particularly those based on color-coupler technology. E4/E6 Ektachromes I
processed in my home lab thirty years ago have mostly faded, but
Kodachromes I processed are unchanged. (And, yes, I know you can't process
Kodachromes at home. I did it anyway.) Technologies based on
dye-destruction are much more stable. Cibachromes I did a quarter century
ago are still stable, as are the dye-transfers.
But that's not the case with digital photographs.
Certainly, in theory at least, digital photographs are permanent. After
all, they're just bits on a storage medium. But will they be readable in
even ten years, let alone fifty? Can you read a floppy disk you made even
ten years ago? I can't. I don't have a drive that will read the 5.25"
floppies any more, and that's assuming that the media itself hasn't
degenerated. That CD you burn with all the family photos you took over
Christmas may be readable next year or even five years from now. But what
happens in twenty years when you find that CD in a box of other junk and
want to look at the pictures? The Mark 1 Eyeball hasn't changed much over
the years, but data storage technology continues to evolve.
And finally, an observation on your comment about test
shots and film not showing things as they appear to the eye. Thirty years
ago, they were filming an episode of Star Trek. One of the characters was
a young woman who was playing an alien who was to have a greenish tinge to
her skin. Makeup applied a light green tinge, and they filmed the scene,
in which she appeared alone. When the dailies came back, she was pink and
healthly looking. Makeup applied a darker green tinge, they reshot the
scene, and waited for the dailies. Again, when the film came back, she had
a healthy rosy glow. Convinced that the makeup was ineffective in moderate
quantities, they turned her literally Kelly green and reshot the scene.
This time, the film came back showing her with a slight greenish tinge and
a note from the lab saying that they'd been doing all they could to
correct the color balance on all the prints, but this time they couldn't
fix it completely and could the crew please be a bit more careful with
makeup and lighting.
* * * * *
This from Bo Leuf [email@example.com]:
>>> As I recall, Kodachrome II could resolve 200 line
pairs/mm. That was beyond the resolution of all but the very best lenses
available, but a decent lens could resolve 100 lp/mm. <<<
Back when I studied at University, I took a
course in technical photography. The lecturer was a professional
consultant in the field and had many interesting things to say. Turned
out he had devised the various (internal and external) test patterns
that the Swedish TV channels used well into the 70s, and he explained to
us that he had used Kodachrome II slides, processed as black&white,
because despite the three emulsion layers in the film, nothing could
even come close to that resolution.
I know that when I wanted top quality
pictures with my Nikon I used Kodachrome, although in some cases I had
to use Ektachromes for speed. Some people didn't like Kodak films
because they didn't feel they got good color fidelity, but I had no
complaints. To some extent this might have been due to my Nikon lenses
-- I recall there were subtle color shifts experienced when using
different combinations of lens makes and film types as I recall it.
>>> If someone brought out a $500 digital camera that
would resolve, say, 9,000 X 6,000 pels in 30-bit color depth, I'd buy
one in a heartbeat.<<<
Damn right, and while you're at it, don't
forget to wish for a good on-camera storage medium for those snaps until
you get to your 60 gig desktop system.
Kodachrome was a wonderful film (and presumably still is,
although I haven't shot any of it for probably twenty years.) But there
was nothing magic about its high resolution. It was an ASA 25 film, with
accordingly small silver halide grains. Any similar speed film had similar
resolving power, as for example the ASA 32 Panatomic X I shot by
preference when doing 35mm black and white.
And you're right about the difference in color balance
between lenses. I remember one time doing some tests on that. I was then
at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which is actually located in
South Henrietta, New York rather than Rochester. But that acronymn
wouldn't have done at all.
I took a 36 exposure roll of Kodachrome (II or 25, I can't
remember which) and ran part of it through my Pentax with various Pentax
lenses, shooting a standard color chart with electronic flash. After
shooting half the roll, I rewound it, put it in a Nikon and shot the rest
of the roll with various Nikon lenses. When the slides came back, I put
them on a $20,000 transmission densitometer. It told me that there were
indeed minor color rendering differences between the Pentax lenses and the
Nikon lenses. What was interesting was that both Nikon and Pentax had
balanced their lines of lenses. There were no significant differences
between a Pentax 28, 50, 85, or 135mm lens, and there were no significant
differences between the various Nikon lenses. But there were significant
differences between the brands, at least according to the densitometer. I
must confess that I couldn't tell any difference visually. I mean, it
wasn't as though the Pentax lenses had a visible pink tinge and the Nikon
a blue tinge or anything like that.
As far as storage, you're correct. A 9K X 6K image at 30
bits would require about 200 MB to store, assuming no compression. So
assuming we want a reasonable number of images on a removable disk, that
means the camera needs something like a 5 or 10 GB disk for image storage.
That's certainly within the capabilities of current technology (see
Seagate's recent announcement). And I don't have a 60 GB desktop. Right
now, I have only 53 GB of disk storage on all the systems on my desktop
* * * * *
This from Francisco Garcia Maceda [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
"But I sure haven't given permission to those third-party
companies that write cookies for their own purposes, unbeknownst to
I think that you have, at least indirectly.
Since IE 4 has the following options:
Prompt before accepting cookies
Disable all cookie use
Always accept cookies
By asking IE to prompt you before accepting
cookies you get the functionality cookies provide (i.e. by keeping your
Amazon profile and not having to manually login) and the security that
rejecting unwanted ones gives you. I know it is not practical, in fact
it is a PITA, and it could be much better implemented, but the fact
remains that since you can block unwanted cookies and you don't, then
you are actually (a lawyer might use the word implicitly) giving
permission to do so. The fact that this process is unbeknownst to you is
of your own choosing.
Huh? That's like saying that if I leave my back door
unlocked while visiting a neighbor and a burglar comes in and steals my TV
that he's not guilty of any crime because I didn't lock the door. Give me
* * * * *
This followup from Bo Leuf [email@example.com]:
Um, as I recall it, this lecturer had done
extensive tests at the time, and Kodachrome _was_ different than
comparable ASA 25 films, capable of better resolution than other films.
He at least claimed that it was the only film that was totally
"grain free" as he defined it, and superior to then available
"high-resolution" black&white films. Part of the reason
may have been his own processing of the color slide film as
black&white, but he had the test pattern results to back him up.
Hmm. Without getting into stuff like Modulation Transfer
Functions and other things that I doubtlessly mis-remember, I suspect the
reason that he perceived a difference was that dye blobs have soft edges
whereas developed silver grains have sharp edges. Visually, most people
perceive something that is lower resolution but has high contrast and
sharp edge delineation as being "sharper" than something with
higher resolution but lower contrast and ill-defined edges. As I recall
it, the predecessor to Technical Pan (I can't remember its designation,
but it was a number rather than a name. 50xx, perhaps?) had more than
twice the inherent resolution of Kodachrome. As you noted, the presence of
three separate emulsion layers in Kodachrome put it at a severe
disadvantage relative to single thin-emulsion black and white technical
It's not clear to me what he meant by developing it as
"black and white." The normal process for Kodachrome required,
as I remember it, twenty-seven separate steps, or perhaps it was
thirty-four. The first was to develop the film as a standard
black-and-white negative. That was followed by three separate reversal
processes, each occupying multiple steps. Basically, the developed film
was exposed to monochromatic blue light, which exposed the remaining
silver halide in the blue-sensitive layer, and then processed in a
developer that contained yellow color couplers. Same thing for green
light/magenta couplers and red light/cyan couplers. The order was
important, too, although I can't remember the order the colors had to be
developed in. These three reversal steps put the dyes in the right places.
The film was then bleached to reconvert the silver from the emulsion and
filter layers to silver halide, and finally fixed to remove the silver
halide, leaving only the dyes.
So he may have been processing the film with monochromatic
color couplers, which would indeed yield a "black and white"
image, but one that was dye-based rather than silver-based. If that was
the case, he indeed would have ended up with an image that had no grain,
because the overlapping dye blobs would have nearly eliminated edge
contrast between individual blobs. But if he was talking about simply
processing the Kodachrome in D-76 or Microfine, then what he ended up with
was a standard black-and-white image with silver grains. Small ones,
granted, but much larger than the "technical" films of the time,
let alone the high-contrast "process" films. I remember using
some high-contrast copy film back then that was rated at ASA 0.5. In terms
of grain, the images that resulted made standard Kodachromes look like
they'd been shot on Tri-X Pan pushed to 1,600.
* * * * *
And still more from Bo Leuf [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
> So he may have been processing the film with monochromatic
Well, no. He processed the film without the
later color baths, retaining only the black and white, and ended with a
positive monochrome image. Not bleaching out the silver at all.
He said that because the color dyes were
external to the emulsion, the three emulsion layers did not degrade the
result significantly. The main advantage was that he ended up with a
extremely high-resolution small slide to pop into the TV-studio's slide
Also, it was not a question of how the eye
perceived the grain, but a purely technical one of actual resolution of
all the progressively finer lines in the test pattern. As far as eye
perception went, he said, yes, the standard b&w negatives may look
sharper, but were unsuited to what he was after.
Anyway, he was the expert. I thought it
might interest you.
Okay. It sounds from your description that he just did
standard black-and-white reversal processing. I used to do that years ago
with Panatomic-X to produce black-and-white slides. As I recall, reversal
processing didn't work too well with anything much faster than
Panatomic-X. I never tried it with Kodachrome, but basically he was just
treating Kodachrome as a black-and-white film (which it was and is).
* * * * *
And to change the subject entirely, this from Andrew Sabel [email@example.com]:
We corresponded some months ago, as you
recall I installed the DirecPC dish. It has been working flawlessly for
months now. I was a little concerned about the billing because I wasn't
sure if, when I was connected with my local ISP but not requesting
information if that would count as billable minutes from Hughes. It
doesn't seem to since my bill has never exceeded the $ 34 ish / month.
Did you ever decide which CD-R to get. Do
you have any view how much OOMP the PC itself needs. I want to put a
SCSI CD-R on an older Gateway which has been upgraded to a P120, with 80
meg of RAM, and I wonder if the slowness- oldness of that machine will
cause the writing operation from either Disk or the regular CD ( which
is also on SCSI). Do you have any guesses?
As far as DirecPC, that sounds pretty reasonable. I'd heard
some real horror stories about people receiving multi-hundred dollar bills
for a month's use. I assume that they're essentially billing you by the
kilo-packet or whatever for only traffic that actually comes down to you
from the satellite, so time spent dialed in doesn't count.
As far as the CD-R, I'm leaning toward the HP 4X IDE
device, although I may yet go with SCSI. I just haven't had a spare moment
to even think about it recently. Speaking purely on the basis of what I've
learned from my readers, my guess is that your older system will work
fine, particularly copying from one SCSI CD-ROM to another. Assuming your
hard disk is IDE, even that should work fine, particularly if you don't
try to do 4X copies. And even those may work fine if you're running NT
and/or leave the system alone while it's doing the copy. I'll let my other
readers mail you and copy me if it turns out that what I'm saying here is
* * * * *
And now it's about 12:45 EST, and I think I'll try publishing this to
see what happens....
February 19, 1999
It published successfully, although it took about 15 minutes to do so.
Which brings up one of the many gripes I have about FrontPage 98. I got in
the habit early of not touching my computer while FrontPage was
publishing, and I still do it that way. Why? Because the status bar at the
bottom isn't updated properly. If you start publishing with FP Explorer
full screen and then minimize it or even window it, the status bar blanks
to grey and isn't updated until the next status change. Actually, even if
you start the program windowed and then shift focus to another program
that covers the status bar, it goes to grey.
Actually, this program shows incompetent programming in many respects.
Perhaps the most aggravating is its inept password module. Each time I
publish, I have to enter my account name and password. The stupid program
insists on defaulting to my Windows NT account name, which is not the same
as my web server account name. So every time I publish, I have to not only
enter my password, but delete and retype my account name. You'd think it
would have been pretty simple to have it default to the last account name
used. For that matter, how hard would it have been to add a "save
This is the least configurable Microsoft program I've ever used, and
that's probably because it's not really a Microsoft program at all. They
bought it from Vermeer and the program still shows a lot of its roots.
People complain about Microsoft software, but let me testify that there's
a lot worse out there. FrontPage was a great idea that was ineptly
executed. Perhaps FP2K will be an improvement.
People keep recommending Dreamweaver to me, but I hear that program has
problems of its own, including a shallow learning curve and quite a few
bugs. If I had the time to think about changing programs, I'd probably
take a look at Dreamweaver, but I don't.
* * * * *
This from Bo Leuf [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
"No, actually that slang term originated with the Dusenberg
automobile and was originally spelled "Dusie." But you're
right that "doozie" is now the more common spelling. "
Intriguing notion, and possible, although none
of the large (to very large and usually quite authoritative)
dictionaries I consulted would admit anything more than 20th C slang,
origin uncertain (douse, daisy, ...). Actually, none even took up
"Dusenberg", and they seem to prefer "doozy -
doozies" as far as that goes.
I would more easily believe attribution to the Italian actress Eleonora
Duse (doo'zay), 1859-1924, who first rose to fame in Italy and
then toured all the great cities with great acclaim around the turn of
the last century. She died in Pittsburgh, after a brief return to the
stage in 1921. Given the correct pronunciation of her name, and the
allusion of doozy to something exceptional, admirable, I find this a
better match, and also explains the alternate Dusie spelling.
My dictionaries provide about the same information yours
do, although my Collins British dictionary gives the pronunciation of
Eleonora Duse's name as doozie. Most give the origin of doosie (in various
spellings) as source unknown, but dating to circa 1930. But I'll stick by
my derivation, because it is based on contemporaneous sources. I read
mysteries by the ton, and years ago I read one form the 30's in which one
of the characters in the presence of a Dusenberg says something like,
"Now that *is* a real Dusie." I'd never thought about the
derivation of the term until I read that. In the sycnronicity that seems
to crop up in my reading, not more than a week or two later, I read
another 30's mystery (by a different author) that also made reference to a
Dusie in similar circumstances.
And the dictionaries that suggest derivation from a daisy
seem to be missing the point. There's nothing particularly extraordinary
about a daisy, or about Miss Duse come to that. But a Dusenberg was the
height of extraordinary. If you've ever seen a Dusenberg, you'll
understand what I mean. People who drove Rolls-Royces back then did so
because they couldn't afford a Dusenberg. The things were huge, powerful,
and refined. They were and are the most extraordinary automobiles ever
built. And, as it happens, they were (and still are) commonly referred to
* * * * *
And this follow-up from Francisco Garcia Maceda [email@example.com]:
I think it is more like when you visit any
kind of shop; when you get in their premises they can bombard you with
advertising, ugly music, etc. A clerck might come to you and start
asking you questions regarding your tastes, what you think of their
displays, etc. The only way you can avoid this is by not coming back
or/and refusing to answer his questions. In fact here you have more
options because you can check what you receive or simply reject it all.
Your example is not valid in my opinion.
First you have to visit a particular site to receive a particular
cookie, it is not like when you download your mail and find unsolicited
mail. In your example it would be like going to a particular bar where a
particular gang meets regularly and stating out loud that you left your
house unlocked (you would be asking for a particular kind of burglar).
Secondly you have the option to check all cookies before accepting or
rejecting them. In your example you have the chance to blow the head off
the burglar. Lastly you can simply reject all cookies (you can make your
house Fort Knox. Sorry if my spelling is not correct).
Please do not misunderstand me, I would also
like to have more and easier choices regarding cookies. My comment was a
little bit more directed towards your phrase:
"But I sure haven't given permission to
those third-party companies that write cookies for their own purposes,
unbeknownst to me."
since you can avoid it and since YOU KNOW
they are doing it, I think that you are in fact giving them permission.
It's either that or you are simply not taking responsibility of your
Blame the victim for the crime, huh? Your logic is twisted.
I'm forced to conclude that you do not understand how cookies work.The
point is this: When I visit a web site, I give that site implicit
permission to write its own cookies to my hard drive and to subsequently
access their own cookies for their own administrative purposes. But I do
not give permission to Imgis or NGAdcenter--different companies entirely
and ones whose sites I have not explicitly chosen to visit--to write their
cookies to my hard drive. And, no, I don't know when they're doing it.
That's the point. I find their damned cookies later in the cookie file,
and have no idea where they came from. And to say that I can prevent their
obnoxious behavior by turning off cookie use entirely or by individually
approving each cookie misses the point entirely. Why should I have to
cripple my web browser and inconvenience myself to prevent them from doing
something that is already against the law? Jesus.
* * * * *
Internet Explorer 4.01 has started behaving very strangely. Sometimes I
click on a link and the following text pops up in a warning box:
Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet
The downloaded file is not available. This
could be due to your Security or Language settings or because the server
was unable to retrieve the requested file.
If I click the link a second time, the same warning repeats. If I click
a third time, the page displays normally. The first few times this
happened, I thought the site was just busy or something, but that can't be
the case. Three clicks is too reproducible, and it was happening on a lot
of different sites. I'd seldom if ever seen this message until the last
couple of weeks. Now I get it a dozen times a day or more. The only
significant change I made right around the time this started happening was
to turn off caching on my WinGate proxy server and start caching locally.
I talked to Barbara, and she said she'd seen the same thing happening
for the last couple of weeks. So it seems pretty clear that the problem
lies with WinGate having caching turned off, or perhaps with a timing
setting in its configuration. I reconfigured WinGate to use caching again,
restarted the server, and haven't seen that warning box again since. If
the next couple of days go by without a bunch of errors, I'll know that
the problem was due to WinGate. But I should emphasize a couple of things:
first, I'm running v 2.0 of WinGate, even though I have 3.0 in hand. In
fact, I have 3.0 installed on my future resource server, but haven't
gotten around to connecting a modem to it or reconfiguring my clients to
point to it as their proxy server. Second, I haven't made any attempt to
determine what's causing the problem in WinGate when caching is off. It
may well be that there's a timing setting or something that I should have
changed and didn't. So this is not a criticism of WinGate, but simply a
reflection of the field-expedient "good enough" practices we use
I was getting aggravated enough with IE, unfairly as it turns out, that
I was considering changing to Opera. I've downloaded a 30-day eval copy
and played around with it some. Perhaps I'm missing something, but overall
I have to say I think Opera is noticeably inferior to IE4. It doesn't feel
any faster, and it's feature-poor compared to IE4. Or at least it is for
the features that are important to me. Cookies can only be set on or off,
for example. I requested a live eval copy from Opera, because 30 days is
not enough for me to evaluate a product, but they never responded to my
mail. One nice thing about their 30-day eval is that it's for 30 days of
use rather than 30 calendar days. I installed it almost a month ago, and
when I started it this morning it told me I had 23 days left.
IE only needs a few things to be fully acceptable to me:
- I'd like to be able to use multiple instances with different
configurations. That's not likely to happen, because MS has tied IE
tightly to the OS, as anyone following that issue knows. Too tightly,
in my opinion.
- I wish they'd fix the folder handling. The folders on my links bar
work with one exception. Whichever I open first during a given IE
session works just as you'd expect, displaying a drop-down menu of the
sites it contains, listed with small icons and text descriptions. But
opening any other folder during that session displays the entries it
contains as Large Icons, which are essentially unusable. I'd like to
be able to select Small Icons and have that choice actually work.
Better still, I'd like them to provide a text-only option for labeling
- As I've mentioned before, they need much better cookie handling.
Ideally, something similar to the third-party cookie utilities. I
should be able to enter an exception list either way: "deny
cookies from all except these sites" or "accept cookies from
all except these sites". It'd also be nice if they implemented
something similar to Netscape's "Accept only cookies that get
sent back to the originating server" option, although it's
unclear to me if this is even theoretically possible. Imgis and
NGAdcenter get around that Netscape option with no difficulty,
apparently by using hidden frames.
There are probably some other minor things that don't immediately come
to mind, but fixing these three things would make IE Good Enough for my
Noon: I just
looked out the window and noticed that it was snowing. I guess snow in
February isn't surprising, but our high yesterday afternoon was about 68F
(20C). This isn't light snow, either. It's those big, fat, heavy flakes
and they're coming down at what I'd guess is a 1 to 1.5 inch/hr rate, say
2.5 to 3.75 cm/hr. The weather around here is simply amazing. How many
other places on earth can one be under a Winter Storm Warning and
a Severe Thunderstorm Warning and a Tornado Watch simultaneously?
That's not the case here today, but it was the case a week or so ago in
Raleigh, which is a couple hours east of here.
* * * * *
This follow-up from Bo Leuf [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
I found an attribution of doozy linked to
Edwin Abbott 1838-1926 (Shakespearean scholar). A further variant
"doozer" found. Also "doozandazzy", early 1900s
(pre-1920?), for "a (remarkable) gadget".
The "Duesenberg" series of cars,
extra "e" there, was built between 1928 and 1937, which puts
the car later than the Abbott attribution. I don't doubt that
"doozy" was an apt description for the car, but the word was
used before the first one was built.
Some car pictures on this site: http://www.duesenbergmotors.com
who offer to hand-built replicas. (If one had some money...)
Also, perhaps you do not give Eleanora Duse
her due credit...
"19th-century Italian actress famous
for her Shakespearean performances. Along with Sarah Bernhardt and
Helena Modjeska, she was regarded as one of the three great classical
actresses of the day."
Interestingly, I find this evening that most
of my research is confirmed from another source, including the earlier
date for "doozy": see http://www.greenapple.com/~words1/back-r.html,
where it is clearly noted that "doozy appeared in American slang
several years before the Duesenberg car even existed", 1903 is
suggested. It is however also remarked that the subsequent link to the
extraordinary car probably ensured the word's survival into modern
times. This I would agree with.
Turns out that an ultimate origin from
"daisy" is not so unlikely either, its use for
"excellent" or "superior" going back to the 1700s,
and that the connection to Eleanora Duse may have been a natural
connection of an already current slang word to an outstanding actress.
Especially likely if it was applied by a Shakespearean scholar, i.e. Mr
Okay, I give up. Actually, there's a word for this--similar
or identical sounding words that describe the same thing but arose from
completely different sources--but I can't recall right now what that word
As far as the spelling of Dusenberg, I suspect that the
name was originally spelled Düsenberg, with the umlaut. Umlauts have
always given Americans a problem, originally I suspect because American
typesetters had no umlauts in their type cases.Even now, I had to go to
"Insert Symbol" to find one. So, some of us drop the umlaut and
use a following "e" to indicate the diacritical, while others
simply use the unaccented vowel by itself. A quick search of the Internet
shows all three usages, including examples of each from seemingly
authoritative sources, e.g. collectors' clubs. Although I've seen these
cars at shows, I don't recall how (or if) the name appeared on the car
As far as Eleanora Duse, I must confess that her name was
not familiar to me before this thread started. I suspect if you did a
poll, you'd find close to 100% of those polled would at least recognize
Sarah Bernhardt's name, perhaps 5% would recognize Helena Modjeska (as I
did), and very few would recognize Eleanora Duse. Perhaps that's more a
measure of their ability to promote themselves than of their talent.
* * * * *
And while I've written this, about an inch of snow has accumulated.
North Carolina weather is certainly never boring.
February 20, 1999
Hmm. We finally got our package from Blue Cross/Blue Shield yesterday
afternoon. They're charging us $275/month instead of the $187/month they
quoted. I sincerely hope that's not because I'm a pipe smoker, because
pipe smokers are statistically healthier and live longer than even
non-smokers. Of course, in this Politically Correct climate, smoking
anything is a no-no, and the bastards always make you pay for not
co-operating with their view of the way things should be.
I remember when sociological elements played no part in insurance.
Rates were based, as they should be, solely on loss experience and
actuarial tables. Teenage boys had higher car insurance rates because they
wrecked much more often. Women paid much higher health insurance premiums
than men, because women get sick much more often and much more severely
than men, are hospitalized much more often, and have babies. Conversely,
men paid much higher life insurance premiums than women, because men died
younger. Construction workers paid higher premiums than college professors
and blacks paid higher premiums than whites. There was nothing
discriminatory about any of this. It was based solely on loss experience.
But nowadays, insurance companies are forced to be Politically Correct,
setting rates according to sociological issues that have nothing
whatsoever to do with their actual costs to insure a particular group.
Although race is unquestionably a major factor in loss experience, there
wasn't even a question about race on the application. I suspect it won't
be much longer before the Politically Correct manage to force insurers to
stop asking questions about occupation, sex and age as well. If this goes
on, they'll eventually put actuaries out of business. I think it's
* * * * *
I also got a package from IDT yesterday with some WinChip2 processors
in it. I have a couple of EPoX Socket 7 boards I've been itching to try
out, and the arrival of the WinChip CPUs provides a good excuse to take
the time to get it done. One problem I may have is that the WinChips are
the 3.52 volt versions (many WinChips come in two versions, one for 3.3
and the other for 3.52 volts). The highest voltage my motherboards offer
is 3.3 volts. I emailed my contact at IDT yesterday, and he said to give
the 3.52 volt WinChip a try at 3.3. It may work.
My friend Steve Tucker is finally back in town after spending a couple
weeks mostly on the road. He signed up with pair Networks for his new web
site, and I told him I'd spend some time getting him up to speed with
FrontPage 98. I'm headed over there this afternoon to work on the web
site, and Barbara will join us later for dinner and the evening. As long
as I'm over there, we might just as well be working on benchmarking these
EPoX motherboards and WinChip CPUs during lulls in the work on the web
* * * * *
Barbara picked up a couple of books yesterday. Both of them are from
Microsoft Press, one on FrontPage 98 and the other on Publisher 98. I
flipped through the FP98 book yesterday and learned a couple of things. I
think I'll sit down and read it cover-to-cover. The time has come to stop
trying to do stuff by the seat of my pants and see if I can't learn the
product more thoroughly.
* * * * *
And more from Bo Leuf [email@example.com]
about the Dusenberg/Duesenberg:
> As far as the spelling of Dusenberg, I suspect that the name
was originally spelled Düsenberg, with the umlaut.
Maybe, though not necessarily. The
non-umlaut spelling is a common one in Germany as well. I found this
short history, except given below, and it is clear that both the family
and the company spelled Duesenberg with the e, although others would
from time to time forget it. Interesting to note that more than 75% of
all Duesenberg cars still exist today and 55% are still operable. Some
references put the founding of the company as early as 1917, but
although the brothers built racing cars even then, the company probably
did not formally exist yet.
Learned a fair amount today. Thanks for the
diversion from my translations.
"... These successes were the rewards of brothers
Fred Duesenberg (1876-1932) and August Duesenberg (1879-1955), two
native talents and mechanical masterminds who taught themselves the
principles of transportation engineering. Born in Germany and raised
among the large Duesenberg family that had emigrated to Iowa, the boys
found favor in building and racing bicycles. Their own bicycle shop
evolved into a career of constructing and piloting racing cars.
After a period of government service, building World War
I aviation and marine engines in New Jersey, the brothers came to
Indianapolis, where the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company was
established in 1920. Production soon began on Duesenberg's first
passenger car, the Model A, a costly prestige car. The expensive Model
A, though it pioneered the use of straight eight-cylinder engines and
four-wheel hydraulic brakes, had disappointing sales and was
discontinued in 1926.
In the fall of that year, transportation industrialist
E.L. Cord, president of the Auburn Automobile Company, purchased
Duesenberg, with a vision of making luxury cars on a larger program.
In October, 1926, E.L. Cord told the Indianapolis Star,
"The purchase of the Duesenberg factory is the culmination of my
plans to be able to offer the world an automobile of undisputed rank.
In fact, the finest thing on four wheels. Duesenberg cars will be
strictly custom built, the owners selecting their own body styles,
their own body makers and selecting their own colors. The price
probably will be $18,000, no matter what model, from racer to
limousine. We will give the buyer 120 mile-an-hour speed if desired.
Naturally, the production of this type of automobile, which carries a
warranty of fifteen years, will be limited and we are now taking
E.L. Cord commissioned Fred Duesenberg, newly installed
as vice-president of engineering, to develop the ultimate motorcar
that would outclass all other American makes. The result was the
unsurpassed Model J, introduced at the New York Automobile Salon for
the 1929 model year. Its brutish Lycoming straight eight engine,
developing 265 horsepower (the next largest car on the market was the
Pierce-Arrow, with a horsepower of 125),.attained speeds exceeding 115
miles per hour. By 1932, supercharged engines of 320 horsepower
were part of the line."
... and so on...
> no umlauts in their type cases.Even now, I had to go to
"Insert Symbol" to
European keyboards at least have
"deadkeys" with various umlaut and accent signs, so such
characters can be made on the fly. Windows supports it, if only the keys
$18,000! And this at a time when the average worker was
probably grossing less than $1,000/year, if he was lucky enough to have a
job. And since an original Dusie now sells in the million dollar range,
they've held their value pretty well. Actually, 75% existing and 55%
operable doesn't sound very high to me, given the original cost and
exclusivity of the product. I'd guess that Rolls-Royce motorcars of that
vintage have considerably higher rates. Of course, they also have a
company that still exists to support them. My great-uncle owned several
Cords. I wish even one had stayed in the family for me to inherit.
As usual, your persistence amazes me. Actually, Barbara
(ever the librarian) wanted to research the whole doozie/Dusenberg issue
when I mentioned it to her yesterday morning. I finally convinced her that
we all probably had better things to be doing. But you're right. It is
* * * * *
This from Andrew Sabel [firstname.lastname@example.org]
regarding the problem with Internet Explorer:
I had the same problem, i.e.
Internet Explorer cannot open the
Internet site http://www.<whatever>
When I would open Netscape browser it would
access the site fine.
Meanwhile I changed to IE5 beta and the
problem seems to have gone away.
More computer voodoo
Yep. I think I was too fast to blame WinGate. I re-enabled
WinGate caching, and the problem is now happening less frequently, but it
is still happening. On balance, I think I can blame this one on IE itself.
Now the only thing I don't understand is why it just started happening.
Perhaps the Internet is still very busy. Who knows?
* * * * *
And another follow-up from Francisco Garcia Maceda [email@example.com]:
Blame the victim for the crime, huh? Your logic is twisted. I'm
forced to conclude that you do not understand how cookies work. The
point is this: When I visit a web site, I give that site implicit
permission to write its own cookies to my hard drive and to subsequently
access their own cookies for their own administrative purposes.
This is the way I knew cookies worked, and
this is what I was referring to.
But I do not give permission to Imgis or NGAdcenter--different
companies entirely and ones whose sites I have not explicitly chosen to
visit--to write their cookies to my hard drive. And, no, I don't know
when they're doing it.
This I did not know and I have to apologize
for my ignorance. I will check this information further, but do you know
if this companies can do this with all websites, or does the web
administrator has to allow them to do it? Are some websites allowing
this or is it out of their hands?
That's the point. I find theirdamned cookies later in the cookie
file, and have no idea where they came from. And to say that I can
prevent their obnoxious behavior by turning off cookie use entirely or
by individually approving each cookie misses the point entirely. Why
should I have to cripple my web browser and inconvenience myself to
prevent them from doing something that is already against the law?
I am sorry that my ignorance caused you so
much grief. However if this is actually illegal then you might as well
take action against the companies involved. If you don't, someone else
will, there is money in this :-))
No, I'm sorry if I sounded short. It's just that I've been
through this whole thing so many times already that I get frustrated.
Here, in a nutshell, is what happens with "bad" cookies. You
point your web browser to http://www.altavista.com
to search the Internet. AltaVista has signed a contract with
DoubleClick.net to track people who visit their pages (and see the ads).
AltaVista web site programmers put code within their pages that links to
one or more servers in the doubleclick.net domain. (If you want to see
what I mean, just hit AltaVista, view source, and search for
When you retrieve the AltaVista home page, that
doubleclick.net server sends a cookie to your browser, which it writes on
your hard disk. The next time you visit AltaVista, they know you're the
same person who was there during an earlier visit. But what's worse is
that doubleclick has contracts with many, many web sites. And it can read
that cookie when you hit any of them. So when you visit AltaVista and then
visit another site that contracts with DoubleClick (most big sites do),
DoubleClick now knows that you visited AltaVista and are now visiting this
second site. And note that you have never explicitly chosen to visit the
doubleclick.net site, and are probably not even aware of what has
happened. The only evidence, unless you examine your cookie file, is the
brief flash of the doubleclick URL at the bottom of the screen as the
cookie is being sent to your browser.
The danger also exists that if you provide personal
information to any site, that information may be provided to one of the
"bad" cookie companies, which can then track your web browing by
name. Actually, AltaVista and DoubleClick are by no means the worst
offenders. When you set Netscape to "Accept cookies only from the
originating server", DoubleClick cookies do not get written to your
drive. The obnoxious ones are Imgis and Net Gravity's NGAdcenter. They
apparently use invisible frames to get around Netscape's filtering, and
write those damn cookies to your hard disk even when you've chosen that
February 21, 1999
Well, I finally bit the bullet and downloaded Internet Explorer 5.0
beta yesterday morning. I finally reached the "I'm mad as hell and
I'm not going to take it anymore" stage with my current web browsers.
Netscape Navigator 4.0 is slow, buggy, and crashes a lot. Opera is missing
some features that are pretty important to me, and I find it clumsy to
use. Internet Explorer 4.01 had started doing really weird things. The
change to WinGate didn't help any, so it obviously wasn't WinGate's fault.
The latest IE weirdity was that I could no longer right-click a link and
choose Open in New Window.
Whenever I tried that, the current instance of IE4 would freeze. The
cursor would move around okay, but that was it. Calling up Task Manager, I
found on the Applications tab that that instance was still listed as
"Running." Perhaps so, but it didn't look that way to me. The
CPU utilization wasn't high, and the memory looked okay. None of the
expected problems existed, but IE was just frozen. This has been happening
for at least a week now, and I needed to do something about it.
I was on a web page when this happened, so I used Task Manager to kill
that instance of IE. At least the other instances of IE were unaffected,
which is better than Netscape Navigator. Killing a frozen instance of it
was killing all instances at the same time. At any rate, I tried again to
right click and open the link in a new window. It froze again. I killed
it, went back to the page and clicked on the link directly to open it in
the existing window. It froze again. I killed IE, went back to the page,
right clicked the link, copied its location, exited IE, started another
copy of IE, pasted the link into the URL line and hit enter. The site came
So for some reason, IE had started not allowing me to jump to a link.
That's a pretty fundamental function of a web browser. The problem wasn't
occuring every time, or on every page, but one of these "poisoned
links" behaved the same way every time. The first thing I tried was
re-installing the IE4 update. That didn't help. I was considering
uninstalling IE4 and then reinstalling it from scratch. But I figured if I
was going to do that, I might just as well try IE5 beta instead.
I had a couple of hours before I was due over at Steve Tucker's house
to help him set up his web site and mess with the EPoX motherboards, so I
called up the Microsoft download page and went to Beta Software, and then
the IE5 beta page. The link to read more about IE5 before downloading it
was poisoned. Thankfully, the link to download IE5 itself worked. I
downloaded the small IESetup program and ran it. After agreeing to the
license agreement, I clicked the Advanced button on the next screen, and
told it to (a) not change file associations, (b) allow IE5 to co-exist
with IE5, and (c) to download the IE5 setup files to my hard drive rather
than installing directly over the Internet.
The subset of the files I chose was about 10.5 MB, and they downloaded
reasonably quickly. I was a little bit concerned, because the stuff I'd
downloaded was apparently last updated in October, 1998. It seemed to me
that there should have been a later beta version released in the last four
months, but what the heck. I ran IESetup again, again told it to let IE5
co-exist with IE4, and started the install. Setup proceeded normally, and
as usual forced a reboot at the end. When the system restarted, I fired up
IE5 and clicked Help - About to find out what I'd just installed on my
system. It displayed the following:
Cipher Strength: 128-bit
Okay, that sounds reasonable. I note that it apparently noticed that I
had 128-bit encryption installed for IE4 and installed the same for IE5. I
also noticed immediately that IE5 Setup had pulled in my links bar. Hmmm.
The very first thing I did was click on one of the folders in the links
bar. It displayed normally, with one difference from IE4. In IE4, the
drop-down list of sites truncates long entries, whereas in IE5, the width
of the drop-down list is set wide enough to display the full length of the
Then, the acid test. I clicked another folder to see if they'd fixed
the Large Icon problem. Hurray. They did. Now I can click any of my
folders and see a Small Icon/Text list of the entries it contains. That by
itself is almost enough reason to move to IE5 from IE4. The next thing was
to see if the Open in New Window problem was fixed. It was. It wasn't
until I did this that I realized I'd forgotten to go in and set Proxy
Server options in IE5. It picked up the correct Proxy Server configuration
automatically from IE4. Very nice.
Thinking about it, I couldn't believe that I had downloaded a beta
product and was considering using it as my main browser because the
so-called release versions of my other browsers were buggy. Geez. That's
pretty bad. Using a beta in the hopes that it's more stable than official
shipping versions. But after an exhaustive five minute evaluation, I've
just about decided that IE5 is better than the other browsers I
was using. It seems faster than IE4--which was much faster than Netscape
Navigator 4 to start with--and I've been doing all my usual things without
crashing IE5, at least so far. I'm almost afraid to go in and start
modifying it's default configuration, though.
Then I restarted IE5. One change the original installation did make was
to change my home page. In IE4, I had it set to the home page of the local
disk copy of my web site. The first time I started IE5, I noticed that the
default home page was now a Microsoft IE5 page. Fair enough, and easy
enough to change. But I didn't change it before closing and restarting
IE5. This time, it took me to a different Microsoft page that announced
that a later version of the product was now available.
Okay, that seemed a bit strange. After all, I'd just now downloaded and
installed IE5, so one would think that the download they'd just sent me
was the latest IE5 beta. But, thinking about that October, 1998 date, it
seemed reasonable that perhaps there indeed was a later beta release. So I
clicked on the Tell Me More button, and it displayed a page that talked
about IE5. I couldn't see anything different about that information than
what I already had. I mean, it didn't mention IE5 beta 2 or anything.
But, what the heck. I pressed the Update button, and it took me to a
page that announced that I appeared to be running IE4.01 and that IE5 beta
was available. That seemed strange. I went up and clicked on Help-About,
and I was indeed running IE5 beta. It looked as though there wasn't a
later version available, so I closed IE5. It gets weirder still.
I had the FrontPage Editor open, and was writing this as I was playing
with IE5. I decided to copy and paste the URL for that page into this
document, so I restarted IE5. This time, it displayed my old default home
page. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice. At that point, I decided I
wanted to make sure that IE4 was still available, as promised. I went to
Start - Programs - Internet Explorer and clicked on the Previous
Internet Explorer Ver. 4 item. It works fine.
I decided to go check on how cookie handling was configured. IE5
appeared to have imported all my settings from IE4, but Microsoft seems to
do everything they can to force people to accept cookies. If I believed in
conspiracy theories, I'd assume a dark motive here...
The first strange thing was that the option for Internet Options no
longer appeared on the View menu. As it turns out, they moved it to the
Tools menu. It never did make sense to have it under View anyway, so that
was a reasonable change. I displayed Internet options, and found that
cookie settings were no longer under the Advanced tab. My first thought
was that Microsoft had removed entirely the ability to configure cookie
usage. But I decided to look at the security tab (where cookie
configuration should have been all along.) Sure enough, cookie
configuration is now under Security, and can be set independently for each
zone. They've also added separate settings for persistent versus
But I don't think it's coincidence that IE5 imported my IE4 cookie
settings (reject all cookies) and converted them to Accept All Cookies.
Way to go, Microsoft. First, set the IE4 default to Accept All, rather
than the more reasonable Reject All. Then, bury the location for changing
that option somewhere where hardly anyone will find it, even if they know
what cookies are. Then, don't give them any reasonable choices for cookie
handling, even if they do manage to find the location for setting those
options. Then, change the new version of the software to put cookie
handling options in an entirely different location. Then, when someone
upgrades, change the cookie settings he explicitly entered to keep cookies
off his hard disk back to your original wide-open settings. Finally, make
a meaningless change (adding the persistent vs. non-persistent option),
but don't do anything meaningful to help people manage cookies.
But at least they fixed the Links bar menu, and IE5 "feels"
much faster than IE4, which was itself the fastest browser I've used.
* * * * *
I spent yesterday afternoon and evening working with Steve Tucker. We
started by working on his web page. In theory, I was going to show him
some of the tricks and traps involved in using FP98. In practice, we spent
the whole time trying to resolve a problem with publishing. Steve had
already created a stubbed out web site. He used FrontPage themes, which
generate large numbers of files--background gifs, button gifs, page banner
gifs, etc. To make matters worse, he'd used different themes on different
pages. His daughter, Katie, had one theme on her pages, Steve had a
different theme on his, and so on. The result was that a web site with
fewer than a dozen actual HTML pages and a few photos turned into a 2.5 MB
web site with 808 files!
The service level that Steve signed up for with pair Networks does not
include FrontPage Extensions. This means that FP98 publishes using
WebPost, which is essentially just a specialized FTP client. The problem
was that we couldn't get it to publish only changed files. Every time we
changed just one file and published, WebPost would attempt to upload all
808 files. I say "attempt" because it never completely
succeeded. We kept getting a timeout error, giving the IP address of the
client machine and a numeric error message, 2634 as I recall. I kind of
fixed the problem with publishing all files by going to another machine on
the network, firing up FrontPage98, and publishing Steve's web to a local
disk copy. I could then edit that local copy and publish it to his real
web site, and only changed files were being sent.
My own web site has a different environment. When I first signed up
with BigBiz. they set up a "root web" on the server. I then
published that root web from their server down to my local machine and
ended up with a copy (in a folder named
"copy_of_www_ttgnet_com"). When I call up FP98, it shows two
webs, <Root Web> and <Root Web> (Disk). When I edit the
<Root Web> (Disk) local copy, the Personal Web Server doesn't start.
I make changes to the local copy and then publish to the web server
located at BigBiz.
Every time Steve edits his local copy, the PWS starts. I think, but I'm
not sure, that Steve's <Root Web> is the one on his local machine,
and the one on the web server at pair Networks is a copy. Just for the
heck of it, I tried publishing from the pair Networks copy down to a local
machine. FrontPage generated an error message which made me think that the
FP Extensions must be running on the remote server to allow that web to be
published down to the local machine. At times, I find FP very confusing.
To make matters even worse, Steve's ISDN service through GTE Network
sucks dead bunnies through a straw. Steve has complained repeatedly to GTE
without result, and has even complained to UUNet, who actually provide the
POP. The problem is simply that they don't have enough inbound ISDN lines
to handle the traffic from the number of ISDN subscribers they've signed
up. The result, according to Steve, is constant busy signals almost every
evening. We sat there for literally an hour trying to get connected and
got only busy signals. I was convinced that GTE must be having hardware
problems, but Steve said that was the norm for an evening with GTE. The
moral here is to be very careful which ISP you select if you decide to
sign up for ISDN-based Internet access.
As it turned out, we finally did get on, and we finally did get
everything published up to Steve's server. His web
site is now officially open, although there's not much there yet. I
suspect that Steve will eventually sign up for an account level at pair
Networks that includes the FP Extensions. I suspect he'll also drop his
GTE ISDN account and move over to BellSouth. The offer unlimited 64KB
access and 50 hours/month of 128KB access for a fixed price. Better still,
they control the switch, which should mean no busy signals. If everything
is busy at one POP, they can simply re-route the call transparently to
another POP that has free resources.
That's the way their dial-up Internet service works, and only get one
busy signal every three months or so. When that happens, I simply re-dial
immediately and it always connects. The only time I've gotten multiple
busy signals is when they've had hardware problems or were doing an
equipment upgrade. This is Internet service as it should be, at least as
long as people continue to use switched access. I can't wait for the xDSL
roll-out, which should be sometime in the next year or so. Now, if only
they'd provide a static IP address with xDSL service. They've already told
me that the address will be dynamic. Damn.
* * * * *
We also installed the EPoX
EP-58MVP3C-M motherboard, although our other problems meant we didn't
have time to do as much as we'd hoped with it. When this board shipped
last summer, it had the distinction of being the first Super7 motherboard
that actually worked. Others had introduced Super7 boards before EPoX, but
they didn't run reliably at the 100 MHz bus speed. The EPoX did (and
does), which is an indicator of the superior engineering that went into
this board. This is still the best Super7 motherboard we've seen in the AT
form factor. We'll have much more to say about it once we have some
processors that are worthy of it.
We'd intended to install some WinChip2 CPUs in it, but all the WinChips
required 3.45 volt core and I/O, which this EPoX board doesn't support. We
hope to be getting some AMD K6-III "Sharptooth" CPUs soon, which
will allow us to wring out both them and the board. But we wanted to play
around with the EPoX board, so we ended up installing the only
Pentium-class CPU we had handy, which was an elderly 166 MHz P55C
Pentium/MMX. Kind of like dropping a lawnmower engine into a Ferrari, but
at least it got us up and running.
We have four EPoX motherboards in the evaluation queue right now, in
addition to the EPoX
EP-68LXR board that runs Barbara's main system. In addition to the
EP-58MVP3C-M, we have the EP-BXT
(Slot 1 with integrated Intel740 graphics and Yamaha sound); the KP6-BS
(dual Slot 1 100 MHz); and the EP-MVP3G-M
The EP-BXT is a superb board. We've been working with it for about a
month now, originally with the intention of reviewing it as a low-end Slot
1 solution for those who wanted integrated video and sound. As it turns
out, this is one of our favorite boards ever. It's very well laid-out,
rock solid, uses any memory we throw at it, and is flexible enough to use
just about any existing or near-future Slot 1 CPU. We decided to leave it
in our test-bed Slot 1 ATX system.
As you might guess, we're big fans of EPoX motherboards. There are only
two minor negative aspects to the EPoX boards:
- EPoX AT form factor boards do not include a USB header cable. You
have to buy it separately, and it costs about $10. That's a shame,
because including a USB header cable as a standard item would save a
lot of people some aggravation, and the actual cost of that cable
can't be more than a buck or two. I suspect that that buck or two is a
significant amount of money in the hyper-competitive motherboard
market, and perhaps EPoX does not include the cable because they
expect that few people will ever use it. And not including the cable
is pretty standard industry practice, so I guess I shouldn't ding EPoX
for not doing what most other manufacturers also don't do. Still, the
cable would be nice.
- EPoX documentation could be better, although it's certainly
comparable to the documentation that comes with other Taiwanese
boards. Current EPoX manuals we've seen are full of the typical
"Chinglish" that makes it obvious that they were written in
Chinese and later translated (poorly) to English. But my source at
EPoX tells me that one of his current high-priority projects is
re-writing the manuals. The manuals are reasonably complete, if terse.
Most of the manual is occupied by standard BIOS documentation. But the
parts that refer to the motherboard do include most or all of the
information that most people need. One glaring exception is the
connector for the PS/2 mouse port, which EPoX supplies as a
cliff-hanger cable that occupies a slot cover. The location of the
PS/2 port is clearly labeled on the board itself, but it uses an
in-line 5-pin connector, and there's no obvious way to determine which
is pin 1 on the cable. This information is missing from the manual,
but can be found in a support document on the EPoX web site. Either
that connector should be keyed with a blocked hole, or it should be
EPoX motherboards are not distributed as widely as many competing
brands, but they're worth taking some extra trouble to track down.
* * * * *
This from Bruce Denman [bdenman@FTC-I.NET]
Snow; in North Carolina? Ouch. Please keep
it "up" there :)
First...I am a fan of both you and Jerry
Pournelle (twas Jerry's mention of your site that led me to you). Please
keep up the good work and looking forward to your collaboration!
Second: " Big brother'ish" Cookies
bother me too. I have been periodically deleting them manually but not
religiously. Today your column drove me to search (shareware.com) for a
cookie program (yep; I had heard about them before). I downloaded
Cookier Crusher 2.01 from "The Limit Software, Inc."
(cookie20.zip, 1075k). Its a shareware/tryware program (30 days free;
$15 to register a single computer). Installed it and so far it looks
good...using MSIE 4.0. Suggest you give it a try maybe.
Third, while I have you "on the
horn" couple misc items:
- can you recommend any book that covers
networking basics? (win95/98 user). Have thought maybe your book on NT
might work but ???
- re: Amazon.com. I am not sure I agree with
you and Jerry's "forgiveness" regarding Amazon.com. I have a
gift certificate that I have not yet used; after that....we will see.
Frankly, I am leaning against them based simply on principle.
Anyway; thanks for your time.
Yep, it does snow here once in a great while. We get a
trace of snow most years, one that covers the ground and stays for a while
every couple or three years, and a "big" snow every five or ten
years. The last big one was something like 19" (0.5 metre) and
occurred several years ago.
As far as Cookie Crusher, I've tried it and similar
products, but never found one I thought was worth keeping.
For a good book on networking basics, I'd suggest the
Microsoft Networking Essentials book that's intended for MCSE test
preparation. Windows NT TCP/IP
Network Administration is really aimed at people who want to design,
install, and administer TCP/IP networks in an NT environment. It would
probably be of limited use to you, although it does provide a very good
grounding in TCP/IP in the Microsoft environment, if that's what you're
And I agree that Amazon screwed up. I'm not happy about
what they did, and I suspect that they moved to correct the problem only
because of public outcry, but at least they did fix it.
* * * * *
But before I'd read the preceding one, this one came in:
This is a whoops message...
Pardon me...but damn....After recommending
Cookie Crusher to you I ran into a major problem. Oops; teach me to
While everything was working smoothly I shut
down briefly and upon restarting could not get my ICQ to work. Then I
discovered my Image Composer would not work and then my Eurora and DUN
connecting window went banannas with dozens of windows. Was getting
errors with mscvrt.dll. I forced a shutdown; rebooting got windows
working okay but still continued to get the errors with icq and image
composer. It could be my system has problem.
I finally fixed it by uninstalling cookie
crusher and doing clean reboot. Other fixes did not work like
reinstalling the dll file. I shall give it ago again another day; can't
today; not sure where the conflict is/was. I do need to do a clean
install of Win98 (original install from summer) but have to wait awhile.
I do have a spare 1gig drive with Win98 on it; I will try the cookie
program on it. Alas I cannot do it today.
So; beware and if you want to try do it on
something easily repaired. I will admit it could be just my system has a
problem. Anyway; the program DID seem to be the answer to the nefarious
cookie problem (short of the industry mending their ways). It could have
been mere coincidence. Later...
Hmm. I've had reports from many people who use and suggest
Cookie Crusher, but this is the first time I've heard about any problems
like this. Perhaps it was something other than Cookie Crusher that caused
the problems. I've looked at several cookie-filter programs, including
this one. One I'd just about decided to try was Internet JunkBuster, a
free program that seemed to have all the functionality I needed. But it
didn't want to play nice with my WinGate Proxy Server (not that I spent
all that much time trying to make it do so), so I bagged it. In general, I
dislike add-in programs designed to do something that the application
should do natively.