Week of 4/19/99
Sunday, April 25, 1999 09:10
A (mostly) daily
journal of the trials, tribulations, and random observations of Robert
Bruce Thompson, a writer of computer books.
April 19, 1999
If you didn't read the updates last weekend,
check back to last week. I posted quite a lot
of interesting new stuff Saturday and Sunday.
* * * * *
Back to the grind. The priority this week is to take a couple of the
chapters Jerry has worked on, reformat them, add some additional material,
and get them back to Jerry for his final first pass. Then they'll go to
O'Reilly as a first draft submission. Barbara has been working for the
last week or more abstracting all of Pournelle's View pages, extracting
war stories and so on, and pasting them into the chapter outline. He'll
take the best of them, clean them up, add details, and insert them as
object lessons in the text. This morning, Barbara starts on my Daynotes
pages, working forward from 6/15 last year through the current one. After
that, she'll start on Pournelle's Mail pages. By the time she finishes all
this, she'll probably be sick of both of us.
* * * * *
Elliotte Rusty Harold [email@example.com],
who also writes for O'Reilly, posted an interesting article on his web
I Like Writing for O'Reilly. It pretty much sums up my experiences
with O'Reilly as well.
* * * * *
More from Bo Leuf on digital cameras:
That would be nice, but I wonder how well it would work. In my
experience, things intended to modify a product to do something other
than what it was originally designed to do are never completely
True enough, but a CCD plate in the film
plane matching a 35mm frame... not much modification involved, just
replaces a normal film, so the only issue is the quality of the device
itself. I have to track down the reference and follow up on what is
Another item on my wish list is a good
slide/negative scanner. There are a couple of decent ones on the market
now, so I expect when the money starts rolling in I might go with one. I
have a lot of snaps and slides I would love to work with digitally.
"Bo Leuf" firstname.lastname@example.org
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
Well, it would obviously involve more than just a CCD
sensor in the film plane, since there has to be provision for processing
and storing the data you capture. I'm sure that a removable back could be
produced for professional grade cameras, but as a low-volume product it
would likely cost more than a purpose-built camera. And I agree that a
slide/negative scanner would be a handy item, but it's not on my list of
priorities at the moment.
April 20, 1999
Congratulations to my wife. Barbara is now officially a professional
writer. She's going to do a short article for Library Journal,
and they're going to pay her for it.
* * * * *
I was just sitting here in my office looking around when a thought
struck me. I started to add up what's here on my network. The machines on
my home network cumulatively have about:
- 50 GB of hard disk space
- 1 GB of RAM
- 2.5 GHz of processor
Then I got to thinking about what was here 15 years or so ago:
- 0.01 GB of hard disk space
- 0.00064 GB of RAM
- 0.00477 GHz of processor
So in the intervening 15 years, the computing power available to me has
increased by a factor of about 5,000 for hard disk space, about 1,600 for
RAM, and about 500 for processor. Reversing the process and projecting
that out 15 years in the future, that'd put my home network in the year
2014 at about:
- 250,000 GB of hard disk space, or 250 terabytes (TB)
- 1,600 GB of RAM, or 1.6 TB
- 1,250 GHz of processor, or 1.25 THz.
Right about then, I figure we'll probably all be running Pentium VIII
systems and still be waiting for Microsoft to ship the latest version of
NT. Or we may all be running Linux by then.
* * * * *
This from Bo Leuf:
This is snipped from a recent issue of Risks
From: "Robert David
In case you haven't heard,
Microsoft has a new feature in IE 5.0 web browser. When you add a
website to you "Favorites" (aka. Bookmarks for you Netscape
users), the browser attempts to download a graphic called
"favicon.ico", then show that icon along with the title of
This has two risks.
First of all, the website owner
is notified when you the page to your favorites, revealing information
about yourself. A discussion of this can be found at
This privacy risk is probably
minor, but I've seen several press articles on the subject.
The second RISK is much more
severe. Go to AltaVista (or any search engine) and search for
"favicon.ico". You now have a list of 500 websites that
expose their access logs. In the logs, you can find several websites
that expose the URLs of CGI scripts, including passwords. Through
manual searching, I found 2 sites that exposed logon information; I'm
sure I can write a program that would scan those logs to look for CGI
programs and get even more. This also exposes even more privacy
information because these logs often contain the Referer field as
(Risks archives at e.g. http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/)
"Bo Leuf" email@example.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
That's interesting, although I'm not sure how much of a
real threat it is.
* * * * *
The following message is from pair Networks tech support in response to
a message I sent them about problems I was having with email. Although it
took a few days, I was impressed with the detail of their response. So
far, although I hate pair Networks' billing department, the service itself
and their tech support staff seem to be good:
I've been having sporadic problems with email ever since I
started using your service. I POP directly from your mail server for my
"firstname.lastname@example.org" account and for general messages
delivered to any *.ttgnet.com addresses. I also have several
autoforwards set up, including one that forwards messages for
"email@example.com" to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
I frequently receive messages in my mailbox that should have been
autoforwarded to "email@example.com", particularly
return-receipts intended for barbara. That's bad enough, but what's
worse is that messages addressed to both "firstname.lastname@example.org"
and "email@example.com" are usually (perhaps always)
delivered only to firstname.lastname@example.org, and never make it to my mailbox.
Do you have any idea what's going on? I've never seen a mail
system behave so oddly.
This is the correct, though not necessarily
preferred, behavior of mail delivery under sendmail on our servers.
Needless to say, we are planning to implement qmail in place of sendmail
as soon as possible.
The first situation you mention is fairly
standard and is done to maintain system integrity. Messages that are
deemed to be system-generated are not forwarded because they can create
mailing loops. Such messages include mail from usernames such as root,
admin, postmaster, and mail. There's not really a decent, safe way to
forward such messages under procmail with sendmail.
The second situation you mention is caused
by sendmail and will be corrected under qmail. You are encountering one
of the limitations of procmail under sendmail, which is that it acts on
the first matching criteria it receives. In this case the only address
it sees is the first one that it encounters in your .mailproto file and
only the first recipient receives the message. There is not much that
you can do using only procmail to solve this; workarounds will generally
make the recipients receive multiple copies of each message and are not
very good. This should be better under qmail, which should be
implemented fairly soon.
You may wish to consider the use of an
alternative mail handler such as mdforward (see http://nemeton.com.au/sw/mdforward/).
pair Networks' Support
The Support Forum, online resource center: http://support.pair.com/
April 21, 1999
Well, FrontPage 98 just did it to me again. I fired up FrontPage
Explorer, and the local copy of the root web took at least a full minute
to load. This time, I suspected immediately what was going on. Sure
enough, when I changed to All Files view, nearly every HTML file in the
entire web had been updated to the current date and time. Nothing had
changed since I updated this page yesterday that might have caused this.
FrontPage is simply a buggy application. The last time this happened, I
speculated that it might have something to do with the change to Daylight
Saving Time. Apparently not, since it didn't have that excuse this time. I
hate FrontPage. If I didn't have so much time and effort invested it it,
I'd change to something else immediately.
* * * * *
After what happened in Colorado yesterday, my award for tastelessness
goes to The WB network for airing the previously-scheduled episode of Buffy
The Vampire Slayer, whose plot included a bunch of misfit former
students invading the high-school and planting a bomb. What were these
people thinking? I hope that at least the local affiliate and cable
systems in Denver had the decency to black out that episode.
To state the obvious, something is seriously wrong with our school
systems and with society at large when such things can occur at all, let
alone as frequently as they've happened over the last year or two. I don't
have children. If I did, they would not be attending public schools.
Outrages like this seem to me to be due to the Law of Unintended
Consequences. Instead of trying to figure out what actions to take to
"fix" the problem, those responsible should be asking themselves
what they've been doing all these years that allowed the problem to arise
in the first place.
This is not solely a problem of the schools and teenagers, as evidenced
by frequent similar incidents in postal facilities, by drive-by shootings,
and by the frequent cases of young children torturing and killing even
younger children. This is a structural societal problem, and quick fixes
aren't going to solve it. Old values have been discarded, and the
feel-good Politically Correct dogma that has replaced them is at the root
of these outrages. Children used to be taught that behaving antisocially
resulted in quick, certain, and painful punishment. Spare the rod and
spoil the child. Nowadays, when parents may literally be jailed for
spanking a misbehaving child, is it any wonder that children grow up
believing that they can behave however they wish?
For many years now, children have been taught that misbehaving or
injuring others will result in at most a slap on the wrist. Our courts do
nothing to punish children who torture and murder. A child in its natural
state is a savage, capable of incredible cruelty without feeling remorse
or even understanding the nature of his actions. Children are not born
with any instinctive moral compass. They must be taught what is and is not
acceptable behavior. If they are not taught acceptable behavior when very
young, they will never learn.
Much attention focuses on salvaging such sociopathic children. But the
sad reality is that such children are unsalvageable. Once bent they remain
forever bent. It's too late for them. We should recognize that fact and
focus our attention on making sure that we don't turn out any more of
April 22, 1999
I noticed this morning that both Governor Jesse Ventura and Jerry
Pournelle were courageous enough to say something that I'd intended to
say, but didn't. The "zero tolerance" weapons policies so
popular nowadays almost certainly contributed to the high body count. Had
even one of the teachers or administrators been armed, the situation could
have turned out very differently, perhaps with only the goblins dead.
Some might argue that an armed teacher would have had no chance against
these students. After all, there was an armed sheriff's deputy in the
building, who shot and missed. If that deputy failed, how could a civilian
have succeeded? Well, look at it from the goblins' viewpoint. They walk in
the front door as wolves, and see a bunch of sheep. The sheriff's deputy
by virtue of his uniform is obviously a wolf, someone to be disposed of
before getting to work on the sheep. In fairness to that deputy, one guy
with a handgun is no match for two with shotguns. But that armed teacher
is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The best way to win a gun fight is to shoot
the other guy before he even realizes there's going to be a fight. By
virtue of his sheep's clothing, that teacher would have had a decisive
advantage over the goblins.
Twenty years ago and more, I was in Rhodesia on a brief visit. At the
time, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo led opposing terrorist factions that
frequently engaged in outrages against civilians. The morning paper
reported an interesting story. Several terrorists armed with AK-47s had
hijacked a bus, intending to kidnap or murder the riders. They immediately
murdered the driver and one or two soldiers in uniform. One of the riders,
an elderly woman, pulled her pistol from her purse, stood up, and started
shooting. She wounded at least one of the attackers, and drove the rest
away. Had that woman not been armed, it's very likely that everyone on
that bus would have died that day.
Predators are confused when the prey fights back. All that gun laws
accomplish is to make sure that prey remains prey. Gun laws disarm only
the good guys. This is insanity.
* * * * *
This from Bo Leuf [email@example.com]:
Bob, you wrote...
"...A child in its natural state is a savage, capable of
incredible cruelty without feeling remorse or even understanding the
nature of his actions. Children are not born with any instinctive moral
compass. They must be taught what is and is not acceptable behavior. If
they are not taught acceptable behavior when very young, they will never
I disagree with this "natural
savage" viewpoint, but am aware that this moral and ethic issue has
been debated both ways for thousands of years. At least. Societies rules
may sometimes be arbitrary, sometimes clearly for the greater good; the
important point is that there are rules that the young must (learn to)
follow until they become responsible adults.
I think you are more on the mark in the
earlier comment "For many years now, children have been taught that
misbehaving or injuring others will result in at most a slap on the
wrist." Personal responsibility for one's own actions has sadly
gone out of fashion.
In addition, superficially well-meaning
authority has e.g. laid down that children must participate in making
their own rules, rather than following fixed rules mandated by adults.
The net result is commonly the total absence of set limits, coupled with
the young's total disregard for adult admonitions and the adult's
disinclination to get involved in conflicts concerning the children of
others, and sometimes even their own.
The Swedish take on this has for many years
been the deep conviction by authority that any problem, no matter how
great, can be solved by simply providing "more information" to
the public and parties concerned. Whenever some situation gets really
out of hand, there follows a period of soul-searching (and costly
investigation) about where the information flow went wrong. Because of
course, the root assumption is that the people who did wrong, did so
because they were not properly informed. (The Swiss take is somewhat
similar, except that they place the responsibility of keeping adequately
informed squarely on the shoulders of the individual.) The publicly
repentant authority in the end sighingly assumes the responsibility (in
the abstract, of course), vowing to inform better.
Really of course, I believe the problem is
at root more to do with individuals opting out of personal involvement
-- involvement with their family members, involvement with their
neighbors, involvement with their schools, their community... --
involvement with the common values of the society in which they live. It
is today all too easy to push this away, saying that authority XX has
the responsibility to see to it that YY does or does not happen.
Abdicate personal responsibility and society
soon degenerates and becomes progressively more dangerous, raising
popular calls for more authority. The feedback in this process can
rapidly lead to some really nasty societies to live in.
"Bo Leuf" firstname.lastname@example.org
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
Agreed. But I don't think it's so much a matter of
individuals opting out as being forced out, at least here in the US. I'm
45 years old. When I was a kid, children who misbehaved had to keep an eye
out not only for their own parents, but for any adult. There was an
unspoken social contract. Adults were responsible for supervising
children, their own and anyone else's if they happened to be the only
adult present. An adult intervened when he saw any child misbehaving or in
danger. And parents did not take exception to another adult exercising his
best judgement to control their children's actions. Adults were presumed
to have mature judgement and good sense and children were presumed to need
supervision and discipline. And that system worked pretty well for the
last few thousand years or so.
Nowadays, in this country at least, any adult who is
foolish enough to intervene with a child not his own is liable to be sued
or arrested. For that matter, simply because it is your own child is no
guarantee that some interfering government bureaucrat won't have you
arrested or put through the mill of "social services." Child
abusers and child molesters are no more common nowadays than they've ever
been, and arguably are less so. But the Politically Correct see child
abuse behind every corner.
In Common Law, children have always been presumed
incompetent to testify in court, and for good reason. But nowadays, adults
may be jailed on trumped up charges based on perjured testimony by
children, who are not even subject to cross-examination. Read up on the
Little Rascals' Daycare Center scandal that happened near here several
years ago. The owner, his wife, and all the adult staff were accused of
sexually molesting children. When that story broke, I told my wife I
thought it was ridiculous. Could this guy be a child molester? Certainly.
But how likely was it that his wife and the entire staff were also child
molesters? About zero probability.
It all got started because of a lie told by one child. The
interfering government social services dorks started interviewing other
children. Most children are eager to please adults, so naturally the
social services morons got the answers they wanted to hear. So the owner
of the daycare center and his staff had their lives ruined. Dealing with
other people's children nowadays is very dangerous, as these people found
Any adult, particularly a man, has to be incredibly careful
around children. Our good friends, Steve and Suzy Tucker, have two kids.
Katie is a pre-teen, and Andrew is in elementary school. They're good
kids, too. On occasion, Steve and Suzy have asked us to babysit. The
Tuckers, adults and children, are the last people on earth I'd expect to
hurt us. We've known Steve and Suzy for ten years, Katie since she was
two, and Andrew since he was born. And yet, I make very sure that Barbara
is with me all the time when I'm babysitting for Steve and Suzy. I can't
afford to do otherwise. And that's a sad commentary on where the
government and Political Correctness has taken us.
* * * * *
This from Chuck Waggoner [email@example.com]:
Your assessment of the high school tragedy
furnishes much food for thought. It is bothering that issues of this era
have become so emotionally felt, that intelligent investigation of cause
and effect is frequently and irrationally brushed aside with calls for
Uncle Sam to ban more of this or that.
When my son was about 7 years-old, I recall
having to explain that there is a difference between passing a law to
prohibit an offense, and actually stopping the offense. At that time, he
thought that if there were a law prohibiting, let's say, the robbing of
a bank, that no banks would ever again be held-up.
It is truly scary how many adults think that
by merely passing more laws prohibiting every possible element of such a
tragedy, it therefore would be wiped from the realm of possibility.
I've heard calls in the media for metal
detectors to be placed in all high schools across the country, just as
they are now in all airports. But, in this case, it appears the
perpetrators stormed the school from outside. I doubt that metal
detectors would have deterred these--obviously
committed-to-the-death--individuals from their apparently well-planned
My perception is that one huge problem our
nation faces, is the concept that bigger is better. Smaller, once
self-reliant communities have been gobbled up by massive city-county
governments, and neighborhood schools have been abandoned in favor of
huge county corporate ones that can't possibly tend to children in the
more closely supervised ways, and with as much intimate knowledge of the
kids and their families, that smaller school districts once did.
And unfortunately, I don't look for that to
change anytime soon.
--Chuck Waggoner [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Exactly. And each new law does nothing to address the
problem it was intended to solve, but results in a diminution of personal
freedom. As Bo Leuf pointed out, calls for the government to "do
something" eventually result in a society where none of us will want
to live. The "cure" is much worse than the disease. I would love
to see just one government spokesman stand up and say something like,
"I'm sorry, but there is nothing we can do. There is no law we can
pass or action we can take that will prevent things like this from
happening. We've done too much already. Some of what we've done while
trying to solve the problem has actually made the problem worse." But
I won't hold my breath waiting for that statement to be made.
April 23, 1999
Sorry for the late update. I wasn't feeling well yesterday. I finally
took my temperature around noon and found it was 100.4F (38C). Barbara
says there's something going around, so it looks like I got it. I'm
feeling better today, but I was a little slow getting started this
It's time for my usual weekly network backup. This time, instead of
using my Travan drive, I'm going to use the OnStream
DI30 tape drive I've been testing. You can take that decision as a
qualified endorsement of this drive. I don't take chances with my data.
I've been experimenting with this drive for quite some time now, and,
except for some bugs in the bundled backup software, I like what I see.
If you're thinking about buying a tape drive and had about settled on a
Travan TR4/NS8 or NS20 drive, check the DI30 out first. This $250 ATAPI
tape drive stores 15 GB natively (30 GB compressed) on $33 tapes, and
provides 2 MB/sec native throughput. The drive has only been shipping for
a couple of months, so some teething problems are to be expected. The only
problems I've experienced with the DI30 are related to the bundled Echo
backup software, which is still in its original "dot-oh"
OnStream tells me that they'll be releasing an updated version of the
Echo software in the next month or so, and that it will incorporate many
fixes for known issues. I expect that update will fix most or all of the
problems I've encountered during exhaustive testing of this drive. I'm on
the short list to receive a copy of the updated software as soon as it
ships. Once I get it, I'll wring it out and publish what I learn.
At this point, the only reservation I have about the DI30 is the
instability the Echo software exhibits when running under Windows NT, a
problem that the next release of Echo should fix. Accordingly, I'm doing
my production backup on a machine running Windows 98. I should have my
review notes posted sometime next week.
* * * * *
Speaking of review products, Intel just sent me one of their new
"Sun River" SR440BX
motherboards and a Slot 1 Celeron/433 for testing, along with some other
stuff I'm not allowed to talk about yet. The Sun River ($175 street) is
essentially an upgraded microATX version of the ATX RC440BX
I've recommended in the past. Like the RC440BX, the SR440BX supports Slot
1 versions of the Celeron, Pentium II, and Pentium III, and has embedded
Creative 1373 sound.
The main difference (other than the form factor and number of slots) is
the embedded video. The RC440BX provides 64-bit nVIDIA
RIVA 128ZX graphics with 8 MB of SDRAM, which is certainly nothing
to sneeze at. The SR440BX instead provides 128-bit nVIDIA
RIVA TNT graphics with 16 MB SDRAM. Hard-core gamers may dismiss the
original TNT in favor of video cards based on the current high-end nVIDIA
TNT2 and 3dfx Voodoo3 chipsets. But the nVIDIA RIVA TNT was state of the
art until recently is certainly more than Good Enough for the rest of us,
and is likely to remain so for quite some time.
Writing that got me thinking about motherboards in general. I've used a
lot of brands of motherboards over the years, everything from the major
name brands to Pacific Rim garbage for which I could not identify the
manufacturer. For everything that I think is really important in a
motherboard--construction quality, stability, quality of the support web
site, and so on--I've pretty much settled on motherboards made by Intel
and EPoX. I consider motherboards from these two manufacturers to be the
best of the best, so it's ironic that, at least among the major
manufacturers, Intel and EPoX motherboards are often the hardest ones to
locate when you want to buy a motherboard. They're worth looking for,
* * * * *
This from Bo Leuf [email@example.com]:
Yes, it's been much the same throughout the
western world. For a few years there is a veritable witchhunt for
molesters under every rock and behind every door. With some very ugly
and tragic situations for the people directly affected by the zeal of
certain social workers. The paranoia never really lifts after such an
episode, and lingering suspicions are easily aroused by perceived odd
behavior or remarks by children.
Many children will today totally ignore
anything adults tell them. In fact some younger hardcore cases will
actively threaten to accuse the adult in question of abuse or
"Bo Leuf" firstname.lastname@example.org
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
My own post got me to thinking again about this case, so I
searched the Internet for information about it. It was worse than I'd
remembered, one of the most hideous miscarriages of justice I've ever
seen. There's more information about the Little Rascals case here
The prosecutors and the social services people are the ones who should
have gone to jail in this case.
April 24, 1999
I hate Microsoft. I've probably mentioned that before. And I do,
despite the occasional message I receive from someone who accuses me of
being a Microsoft lackey. It's true that I don't hate Microsoft all the
time. In fact, I usually rather like them. But their software does drive
me mad all too often.
This time, it started when I was trying to do my network backup. I used
the new OnStream DI30 to do a full network backup, but then I decided that
it wouldn't be a bad idea to duplicate that backup with my regular tape
drive. That's when it all started. That drive is on the resource server bastet,
and bastet has been acting weird lately. Or perhaps I should say
that the whole network has been acting weird. That started a week or so
ago, when I was suddenly no longer able to access shares on bastet
from other computers on the network. For some reason, bastet was
no longer visible to the rest of the network.
The error message said "\\Bastet is not accessible. The network
path was not found." Well, bastet showed up in Server
Manager in the TTGNET domain, but I was also unable to access it from
there. I decided to remove the computer account from the domain. Server
Manager allowed me to do that, although the machine remained visible in
the list of members of the domain. Attempting to delete it again displayed
the usual message saying that although bastet was still listed,
it in fact had been deleted and would be removed during the next automatic
update, which should occur within the next 15 minutes. Well, I waited a
lot more than 15 minutes--two days in one case--and bastet was
still not deleted from the domain.
I've since figured out what's going on, aided somewhat by an error
message that would be meaningless to most people. That message mentions a
duplicate name on the network. Unless you know quite a bit about
NetBIOS-over-TCP/IP, that message won't help much. As it was, that message
was enough of a hint to tell me to fire up WINS Manager and check the
NetBT mappings. Sure enough, bastet was bound to both the
Ethernet adapter and to the NDIS WAN wrapper used by the dialup connection
to my ISP. That accounts for the "duplicate name" error message,
which refers to the fact that NetBIOS is confused. Unfortunately, the WAN
wrapper is grabbing the NetBIOS traffic before the Ethernet card sees it,
and nothing I do can change that.
I've tried everything. I've changed bindings. I've disabled every NetBT
resolution method except broadcast on all machines. I've created HOSTS
files manually on each machine to map IP addresses to host names. I've
done the same with LMHOSTS. Nothing works. Nothing.
I know what happened. When I made bastet my WinGate server, I
had to create a dialup connectoid for my BellSouth ISP account. When NT
prompted me for a user name and password, I very carefully cleared the
Domain field, knowing what a disaster it is to leave that field at its
So here I am, nearly three hours wasted, and I still can't run my
backup from bastet. I write books about networking, Windows NT,
and the TCP/IP protocol. If I can't make this work, what hope would most
people have? The real problem is that Microsoft Networking is built on the
shaky foundation of NetBIOS-over-TCP/IP.
In NT4, all of the core services depend on NetBT. For example, when you
use SMB (NT's core protocol) to access shared files on a server, you're
using NetBT, whether you know it or not. That's regardless of the
transport protocol you've installed. Even if your transport is purely
TCP/IP or IPX/SPX, you're using NetBT to perform core network functions.
Windows Networking, as implemented in NT4, is basically a pathetic
peer-to-peer networking foundation with client/server functionality
grafted on. Even NT5, although it can reasonably claim to use native
TCP/IP transport, in fact still depends on NetBT for some core functions.
And don't even get me started on the bastardized Windows NT
"domain" concept. Once again, Microsoft shows its peer-to-peer
networking roots with domains, which are basically just workgroups on
steroids. Novell implemented a true directory service when they shipped
NetWare 4.0, and that's been years ago. Microsoft still doesn't have a
directory service, despite their Orwellian attempts to represent the
Windows NT 4 master domain directory database as a directory service. It
What's worse is that the vaunted Active Directory in Windows NT5 is
arguably not a true directory service, but is instead simply a directory
service-like view of an underlying flat domain structure. A true directory
service is hierarchical in much the same way that a filesystem is. For
example, in a hierarchical filesystem, you can have only one file of the
same name in a given directory, but you can create a file of the same name
in another directory. That's because the true (fully qualified) filename
comprises both the actual filename and its location in the hierarchical
structure. For example, the filenames \autoexec.bat and \dos\autoexcec.bat
can coexist on one volume because their true filenames are different by
virtue of the differing paths.
In a hierarchical directory service, the equivalent of a folder is
called a container, and the equivalent of a file is called a leaf. If I
organize my directory structure organizationally, for example, I might
have one organizational unit container named SALES and another named
ADMIN. If each of those departments has an employee named SMITH, I can
create an account for each of them in the appropriate container. Although
each account is named SMITH, the true names are actually SALES\SMITH and
ADMIN\SMITH, two clearly different names.
I was shocked when I received the first beta of Windows NT 5 to find
that I could not create identically named users in different containers.
If I created user account SMITH in SALES and then attempted to create
another account named SMITH in ADMIN, Windows NT 5 told me that I was
attempting to use a duplicate username. This told me immediately that I
wasn't working with a true directory service. I was working with an
underlying flat domain structure that the administration utilities simply
made look like a hierarchical directory. Perhaps this has changed with
later beta releases, but somehow I don't think so. Novell will have a
field day. Microsoft must be worried sick. If they aren't, they should be.
And if after all this you still think I'm a Microsoft lackey, please
direct your comments to /dev/null.
April 25, 1999
I confess that I still use dial-up Internet access. ADSL and cable
modems are not yet available here in Winston-Salem, and ISDN seemed very
expensive for the limited increase in throughput it provided. As a matter
of fact, I've never even felt it necessary to upgrade to a 56K modem. My
Internet access modem until recently was a USR Courier V.34+ modem that my
friend Steve Tucker loaned me long ago. It was connected to sherlock,
the WinGate server, through which it provided access to the rest of the
network. The Courier normally connects at 31.2 Kbps, and that's been
adequate for what we do here. Until very recently, 56K modems didn't do
all that much better than 31.2 Kbps in real-word use. We're at the end of
a long loop, and I suspected that 31.2 Kbps, if not the absolute limit for
our line, was getting pretty close to it. So I skipped the 56K generation
And that brings up an interesting story. As a part of re-jiggering my
network, I turned bastet into a resource server. One of the
things I wanted it to do was run the WinGate proxy server software to
serve as a shared Internet gateway for the rest of the network. Being a
belt and suspenders kind of guy, I decided to bring up bastet as
a WinGate Pro 3.0 server before I took down the WinGate Pro 2.0 server on sherlock.
That meant I had to come up with another modem. I had a USR Sportster
28,800 fax modem sitting on the shelf, so that's what I used.
Running WinGate, the modem and the Internet connection is pretty much
transparent to users. The software and modem are running on a different
machine, you don't hear the modem dial, Outlook sends and receives mail in
the background, etc. So it was several days before I began to suspect that
all was not as it should be. When I started checking Dial-Up Monitor on bastet,
I noticed that the Sportster was typically connecting at 24,000 or less,
with a 26,400 connection perhaps one time in ten, and a 28,800 connection
almost never. What was worse was that I was sporadically losing IP
connectivity. The connection stayed up, but nobody was home. Dropping the
connection and re-establishing it solved the problem until the next time,
which might be anything from a few minutes to many hours.
At first, I attributed this to problems at BellSouth.net. They've been
known to have such problems before. But after this went on for several
days, I finally decided to swap modems. I pulled the Courier off sherlock
(where it was still set up to receive faxes) and moved it to bastet.
I put the Sportster on sherlock as the fax modem. Now everything
works just fine. I'm back to connecting at 31.2 Kbps for the Internet
link, IP connectivity doesn't disappear mysteriously, and faxes work just
The problem may have been the modem configurations. The Courier and the
Sportster are close, but not identical. The modem on sherlock was
obviously configured as a Courier. The modem on bastet was also
configured as a Courier, so this may be a case of the Sportster
"almost working" with the Courier drivers. So perhaps it's not
fair to blame the Sportster.
But I've had experiences in the past with properly configured
Sportsters and Couriers that tell me that the Courier is the best modem
there is for punching through and making a connection. Don't get me wrong.
The Sportster is a very good modem. In fact, it's probably the second-best
modem there is, after the Courier. But when you absolutely, positively
have to make a dial-up connection, the Courier is the modem to bet on.
This has always been true. Back in the days when Hayes dominated
modems, there was one niche where they had little presence. Bulletin Board
System (BBS) Sysops and serious BBS users used US Robotics almost
exclusively. This was partially because USR was smart enough to sell
modems at a big discount to BBS sysops and partially because USR's
proprietary HST protocol was faster than any standard protocol of the
time. But the real reason was that USR modems made the connection when no
other brand would. The first USR modem I ever used was a 300 bps Passport,
back in 1981. Since then, I've used a lot of USRs, both personally and in
a corporate datacomm environment, and I've never had a bad experience with
them. If I needed to buy a modem today, it'd be a USR Courier. But what
I'm using now is Good Enough, and I suppose I can wait until cable modems
or ADSL arrives here.
Speaking of which, Steve Tucker tells me that he's been talking with a
friend of his who's a tech with Time-Warner cable here in Winston-Salem.
Apparently, they're testing cable modems now, and plan to begin rolling
them out this summer. I hope so. One thing does worry me, though. Steve
mentioned that he'd asked the Time-Warner tech if they'd be providing
static IP addresses. The guy didn't know what he was talking about. That's
one problem that a lot of people with cable modem service experience.
Cable people are generally clueless about datacomm in general and TCP/IP
in particular. My friend John Mikol has had a cable modem for at least a
couple of years. For months now, he's been able either to watch cable TV
or to access the Internet, but not both at the same time.
The other thing, of course, is service levels. Cable TV folks are used
to maintaining reasonable up-time statistics, but nothing like what
telephony and datacomm folks expect. Every month or two, we have cable
outages that last from several minutes to perhaps a couple of hours.
Following a bad ice storm it's not uncommon for some people to lose cable
service for several days or more. That's not acceptable for something as
important to me as Internet access. I may end up keeping my dial-up
service even after we get cable modem service installed. Alternatively, I
may see if any of those free deals are still available, like the old
AT&T WorldNet deal that gave you five free hours a month.
I just hope Time-Warner is reasonable about home networks. BellSouth's
policy on ADSL is that you're allowed to connect one PC to your ADSL line.
If they find that you've connected a home network to it, you're in
violation of your service agreement and they terminate service. Geez.
* * * * *
This from Rick Boatright [email@example.com]:
Perhaps it's time to explore Novell
Directory Services for NT. NDS for NT _does_ give you true heirarchical
directory services... I know I know, but it's Novell after all... But
still, perhaps it's time for another look. Netware 5 is a _loverly_ OS
if you want to do SERVER stuff on the server, unlike NT which is a real
peer to peer workstation os on steroids.
NDS for NT, hell. I may just start running NetWare, period.
Actually, I'm a NetWare guy from way back. I never worked with NetWare 1,
but I do remember installing NetWare 2.0 for clients back in the 80's. I
was one of the first half dozen Enterprise CNEs in North Carolina, and
also, I believe, the first Master CNE in North Carolina.
So why did I abandon NetWare for NT? Because NetWare people
don't buy many books, and NT looked to become very hot. So, back in 1995,
I immersed myself in NT and started writing books about it. But the fact
remains that someone who wants rock-solid file and print sharing is better
off with NetWare. Granted, as an application server, a NetWare box makes a
good file server, but NT's attempt to be all things to all people means
that it doesn't do any of them as well as it might.
Most people probably don't remember UnixWare, but in my
opinion it was one of Novell's major strategic blunders to let UnixWare
slip through their fingers. If Novell had taken a two-pronged
approach--NetWare for file and print services with UnixWare as their
application and Internet server platform, integrating both with NDS--NT
would never have gotten off the ground. Instead, Novell let UnixWare
wither on the vine and continued to sell NetWare as an
application/Internet server platform. NetWare 3 was a horrible app server
platform, and NetWare 4/5 isn't all that much better. Most of the NT boxes
that sneaked in the back door at NetWare shops were used as application
servers. They'd never have made it in the door if Novell had emphasized
UnixWare as they should have.