Week of 5 July
Sunday, 11 July 1999 08:01
A (mostly) daily
journal of the trials, tribulations, and random observations of Robert
Bruce Thompson, a writer of computer books.
5 July 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
The Dell box is back in my office and is now my official Windows 98
working box. I fired up the HP 6200C scanner yesterday to do some test
scans. Barbara just visited a person in Greensboro who is moving soon and
needs to give up his Border Collie. She brought back pictures of the dog,
so that was a ready-made opportunity to test the scanner. Here's a picture
of Patch. I just stuck it in the
scanner and pressed the scan button. What you see is what it did. No
tweaks at all.
* * * * *
I've mentioned the OnStream tape drives before. I've been testing a
DI30 (internal IDE 15/30 GB) model for several months. It now resides in
the Dell system, and I've been working with it under Windows 98. This tape
drive has very attractive features. It is inexpensive (around $250
street), large capacity (15 GB native / 30 GB compressed), fast (35 to 45
MB/min on real-world data), very quiet, and uses tapes that cost less than
The only thing that keeps me from endorsing this drive without
qualification is that I've had repeated problems with the bundled OnStream
Echo backup software. The initial release crashed repeatedly under Windows
NT 4, and was not stable under Windows 98. I've since downloaded Echo
2.1.8, which was to have fixed the problems. The problems persist,
although they are less frequent. This on several systems under both
Windows NT 4 and Windows 98, and with the operating system freshly
installed. Any instability in a backup application is unacceptable. If
backing up with Echo was the only way to use this drive, I could not
That's not the case, though. OnStream makes available for download a
Windows NT driver that allows you to use various third-party Windows NT
backup applications with this drive. The OnStream drive also supports the
bundled Windows 98 Microsoft Backup application, albeit indirectly.
Although Windows 98 and Microsoft Backup do not recognize the DI30 as a
tape drive, Echo includes a file system driver that creates a virtual disk
to make the tape drive appear as just another disk volume in Explorer.
That means you can use Microsoft Backup to backup files to the virtual
volume that Echo creates.
For example, I have Windows 98 Microsoft Backup configured to backup
data to the file 990705.qic on drive T: (the OnStream virtual drive). I'm
now backing up one local volume and three network volumes, which comprise
185,956 files totaling 10,498.786,422 bytes. Two hours into this backup,
about 53,000 files totaling about 4 GB have been processed. I'm getting
just under 1.5:1 compression, so this 15/30 GB tape will actually hold
about 22 GB, more than enough to back up all data on my network.
I've put this drive on my Recommended List, with the proviso that you
not attempt to use it with the bundled Echo backup software, at least
until they've gotten the bugs worked out. Used with Microsoft Backup or a
third-party backup application, this is one heck of a drive. It's solidly
constructed, and nothing else in its price range even comes close to the
OnStream DI30 in capacity, speed, or media cost per megabyte stored. In
this era of inexpensive 10 and 20 GB hard disks, the OnStream DI30 is a
good solution for backing up a standalone PC. Given suitable backup
software, it's also a good solution for backing up a small workgroup
server. OnStream has created a winner with this drive. Now if only they
can get the bundled software right.
* * * * *
This from Paul Robichaux [firstname.lastname@example.org]
regarding an interview with a pyrotechnician in Salon:
I learned some interesting stuff from this,
though it's probably old hat to you.
Paul Robichaux, MCSE | email@example.com
Robichaux & Associates: programming, writing, teaching, consulting
Actually, no. I've never been around large scale stuff like this
much. Which is pretty strange, given where I grew up. I lived four houses
up the street from the Vitales, who owned a fireworks company. Also,
Zambelli, who are now world-famous for their fireworks exhibitions, are
based in New Castle, Pennsylvania. I remember them doing exhibitions
during the football games in 1971, when I was a high-school senior. Every
time the home team scored, up would go one of those mortar shells that
They used up quite a few of them. A typical score that year was
New Castle 53, Visitors 0. That was the year, strange but true, that New
Castle's high school football team ended up ranked #1 in the US and #3 in
Pennsylvania. Position by position, the team that year outweighed the
Packers, which was the heaviest team in pro football. The New Castle front
four, for example, weighed 260, 285, 275, and 255. They grow big boys in
Western Pennsylvania. Several ambulances always sat waiting just off the
end zone, and they were needed frequently.
6 July 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Here's a tip to keep in mind when you're backing up. Always exclude
temporary directories that have a bunch of small files in them,
particularly when you're backing up the volume over the network. During my
backup session yesterday, I learned just how badly backing up all these
worthless little files can impact the time needed for the backup. As I
mentioned, I backed up one local volume and three network volumes that
contained a total of 186,956 files and more than 10 GB of data.
On the local volume, the OnStream was maintaining a rate greater than
40 MB/min (2.4 GB/hour). At the end of the first hour, the drive had
backed up about 2.5 GB. At that point, it hit a bunch of little files in a
folder used to store working backups of my (admittedly huge) working data
set. At that point, things slowed down considerably. After 2 hours, the
drive had backed up only a total of 4 GB, for a rate of about 1.5 GB per
Then the real trouble started, because the backup started hitting the
network volumes, including some with an incredible number of small files.
Network volumes in general are slower to back up than are local volumes,
and when a network volume includes a lot of small files, the time required
begins to skyrocket. When the backup hit the IE5 Temporary Internet Files
folder on my main workstation, kerby, I first thought the backup
had died. That folder contains 17,828 files totaling about 153 MB. Backing
up just that folder took the better part of an hour.
After a total of seven hours elapsed, the backup had completed about
130,000 files totaling only 6 GB. That's an incremental 2 GB in five
hours. This is not the fault of the tape drive or the backup software. The
problem arises because there is a great deal of file system overhead and
operating system overhead when working with large numbers of small files.
The moral here is:
directories before you start your backup.
And it got worse: At 7 hours, 22 minutes, 133,886 files,
and 6,300,311,018 bytes into the backup, Microsoft Backup prompted me to
"Insert another media". Geez. More than seven hours down the
drain. I *know* these tapes hold 15 GB natively, because I've done large
backups to them in the past using the Echo software. The compression
indicator was showing 1.47:1, which is suspiciously close to 4 GB native,
3.99+ GB by my quick calculation. I don't know what limit Windows 98 puts
on individual file size, but my first guess is that it's 4 GB. This is
going to require some additional exploration.
Yep, that appears to be the problem. Last night, I created
another backup selection set that totaled about 3.5 GB on one local volume
and two network volumes. I set it to backup, compress, and compare, and
set the backup running. This morning when I came in, the backup and
compare had completed normally.
To test the backup, I located a folder on C: with five
scratch files in it, deleted four of those files, and then fired up
Microsoft Backup to do a restore. It scanned the tape for a couple of
minutes to build a temporary catalog, and then presented me with the
standard hierarchical view of the volumes and folders that had been backed
up. I marked the files I'd deleted to be restored, told it not to
overwrite files that already existed, and the started the restore. It took
four minutes to locate the files on tape (they were quite a ways in), and
then restored the four correct files, which were in fact correctly
restored and readable. This works.
* * * * *
Standalone ftp clients don't get much attention any more. That's
understandable because, although ftp itself is still heavily used for
transferring files on the Internet, most people simply use the ftp
functionality built into their web browsers. That's a reasonable solution
for people who only transfer files occasionally, but those of us who
frequently transfer files with ftp need a better solution--one with more
options, more control, and particularly more speed.
Back in the pre-web dark ages while Bush was still in office, I used
WS_FTP, a decent graphical ftp client for its time, and one that is still
competitive in its latest incarnation. Some years ago, I switched to
CuteFTP, which improved on WS_FTP in nearly every respect, including
features and speed. After experiencing various problems recently with
CuteFTP--notably difficulties with firewalls and proxy servers--I've
switched again, this time to FTP
Voyager, a standalone ftp client from the WinGate folks that beat the
current versions of WS_FTP and CuteFTP hands down..
Like WS_FTP and CuteFTP, FTP Voyager emulates the Windows Explorer
interface, but it does a better job of providing an Explorer-like look and
feel. It presents local and remote files and directories in separate
panes, and allows you to use standard Explorer features such as
context-sensitive right-click menus, full drag-and-drop support, sorting
by clicking on column headers, and viewing properties for the selected
file. Anyone familiar with the Windows 95/98 or Windows NT 4 interface
will be able to use FTP Voyager intuitively.
FTP Voyager also excels in transfer and management functions, providing
good implementations of all those I expected and several that I didn't.
One very nice feature is Folder Shortcuts, which allow you to create what
amount to symbolic links within the folder structure. By creating a Folder
Shortcut, you can avoid drilling down into a folder structure by simply
logically mapping a folder several levels deep to appear as a root-level
The only problems I had with FTP Voyager related to its synchronization
feature, which allows you to automatically reconcile files and
subdirectories between the local and remote copies of an ftp site, and is
touted as a means of automating web site maintenance. I don't think these
problems were the fault of FTP Voyager, though. I used FTP Voyager to
synchronize the local and remote copies of my web site in both directions.
After synchronization completed, FTP Voyager indicated that the sites were
fully synchronized. I changed three files on the local site, and then
fired up FTP Voyager to attempt another synchronization. It promptly
informed me that scores of files were out of sync between the two sites.
Given the other problems that I'd been having with FrontPage, I concluded
that the fault almost certainly lay with FrontPage rather than FTP
After using FTP Voyager 22.214.171.124 heavily for a couple of weeks, I've
concluded that this $38 ftp client has about every feature anyone could
want in an ftp client, including the ability to resume interrupted
transfers. The product is downloadable for a free 30-day trial and can be
registered as shareware if you decide to continue using it. FTP Voyager
may be overkill if you just use ftp occasionally to download a driver or
program update. But if you use ftp heavily, you'll want a solid dedicated
ftp client. This is the best one I've seen. Recommended.
* * * * *
This from Steve Tucker [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
So when is Patch moving in?
You said something about the scanner that
was pretty interesting. Something about pushing a button and there the
scan was. Were you literally talking about pushing a button on the
scanner itself or did you mean clicking on the scan button in some kind
of photo software. I use PhotoShop and after doing a preview (button) I
then select the area I want to scan and then click or push the scan
button in the software.
Patch's owner is moving in a month or six weeks, and Barbara
hopes that they'll have placed him by then. They already have someone in
mind who lives in Atlanta. If that doesn't work out, I've already told
Barbara to bring him home with her, hopefully on a temporary basis.
As far as the scan, I was literally talking about a button on the
scanner. You just push the big green button on the scanner. It fires up
the scanning software on the Win98 box and does the pre-scan. You can then
crop as you wish, do the real scan, and then do a Save-As to write the
file to disk in whatever format and compression level you wish. It sounds
as though we both go through similar processes.
7 July 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Here's an Office 2000 bug that just bit me. I work with a lot of
documents in Word. I nearly always save a document manually before I exit
Word. Once in a great while, I simply close Word and then save the
document when prompted. That latter method doesn't work very well with
Word 2000. The document saves properly, but Word 2000 locks to an
"Application not responding" state rather than exiting properly.
The first time this happened, I thought it was the old Word 97
"loop" problem. I expected to find CPU Utilization at 100%, with
the zombie Word process sucking all the CPU ticks. That turned out not to
be the case. Word 2000 was indeed a zombie process, but at 0% CPU
utilization. Killing it seems to have no bad effect on the open documents,
so I'm not worried unduly about it.
At first I thought perhaps this happened because of something odd about
the particular document. That turns out not to be the case. I've
intentionally exited Word without first saving with several documents now,
and it hangs on all of them.
* * * * *
Good advice from Pournelle about marital harmony. I sent him the
following after I returned from our cookout Monday:
[...] I just brought my mother back from my sister-in-law's
house, where we had a holiday cookout. I'm in trouble with Barbara. She
asked me if I wanted ice cream cake, and I told her thanks, but no. Two
minutes later, she asked me again, and I again told her thanks but no. Two
minutes later still, she asked me a third time, and I made the rookie
mistake of telling her that I'd meant "no" the first two times
I'd told her. Does one still make that kind of mistake after 40 years of
marriage? I can't believe I did it after 16 years. I'll throw myself on
her mercy and plead 100 degree temperatures and high humidity.
To which he replied:
"If you find during an argument with
your wife that you are in the right, apologize immediately." Robert
"The secret of a successful marriage is
to learn to grovel." Jerry Pournelle
* * * * *
This series of exchanges with Dave Howard [email@example.com]:
Very interested in your comments about the
OnStream Echo product as we are the developers of the software. Would
you be interested in continuing to work with us as we very much want to
solve any of the issues you are having. Please let me know if you'll
work through the problems with us. Thanks for your time.
1Vision Software, LLC
200 E. 7th St. Suite 204
Loveland, CO 80537
phone: 970-203-0727 ext. 101
Yes, I would be very interested in continuing to work to resolve
the problems I've had with Echo. I like the OnStream drives, and I would
like to be able to recommend them without reservation. The Echo software
would be a superb product if I could get it to work reliably. I understand
that Echo is a new product, and I'm sure that the difficulties I'm having
are simply the teething pains one expects with any new software.
As things stand, my OnStream DI30 is installed for a long-term
evaluation in a Dell XPS-M200s system running Windows 98. I'll be happy to
report the errors I encounter, and to try any new versions of the software
you may supply on that box. Once I can get Echo running reliably under
Windows 98, I'll also be happy to move the drive to a Windows NT 4 system
and see what we can accomplish there.
Great! We do have a new version just going
to beta that should help greatly on your very high file count system.
The version of Echo you used does frame align files on backup so the
smallest file size is 32KB. I'm sure you see the ramifications of that.
There were a number of reasons for doing that on the first
versions...and we still do when you drag and drop as 32KB is the
smallest addressable region on the tape. However, on the new version we
pack all files that are backed up so the 32KB effective minimum size
disappears which increases usable tape space for small files and helps
Were you supplied with the vcache fix for
98? MS has a bug in 98 that can cause performance problems also on
systems with high file counts. I think you must have had it to make it
as far as you did in the backups but if you didn't that can explain a
number of your issues too.
I'd like to try that beta. Actually, I'm less concerned with the
many-small-files problem than I am with the fact that Echo crashes on me,
although I guess the problems could be related.. I ran the original Echo
release under Windows NT 4, where it crashed repeatedly. More than once,
it actually locked up Windows NT 4 to a blue-screen that required a
reboot, which is pretty tough to do. I tried the original release under
Windows 98, and had better results there, but it still blue-screened
frequently. At that point, I put the drive aside to await the update that
OnStream told me was due to arrive before long.
I downloaded that update (2.1.8) a couple of weeks or so back. I
tried running it under Windows NT, and didn't experience any blue-screens
with it, although the application itself frequently locked to the
"Application not responding" state. At that point, I decided to
try running Echo on a Windows 98 box, which is the environment most people
will use. The first time I ran it (on a fresh Win98 install), the backup
appeared to proceed normally. I had it set to do a backup and compare on a
large data set, so I went to bed while the backup was still running. When
I arrived in my office the next morning, Windows 98 was displaying a blue
screen. I should have written down that information, but naturally I
As far as I know, I'm not running any vcache fix, unless it was
installed with the new version of Echo. I'm using a full version of the
original Windows 98 distribution. Microsoft is supposed to be sending me a
copy of Win98 Second Edition, but it hasn't arrived yet. I should say that
I'm not a Win98 guy. I run Windows NT almost exclusively. I have Win98
around only for testing and to do screen shots for my books. So don't
assume that I know much about Win9x.
Windows 98 does have a bug with its vcache
that only large backups will cause the OS to slow down to the point of a
crash. It seems that the vcache has a problem if any of its block hit
counters roll over. In Windows 95 the counter was a full 32 bits but in
98 they cut it to 24 bits which is what causes that crash. We actually
worked with Microsoft to uncover this bug and the fix for it is in
Microsoft actually expects you to go through
their support to get this fix...we are also in the midst of getting
rights to redistribute the patch. I've attached the patch so that you
can try it without the hassle of going through Microsoft.
There is also a link to the 2.1.11 version
which we released but OnStream has only supplied for some bug fixes.
This does have several fixes for NT so should work better for you in
In a few days I can provide you with our
most recent beta. This version addresses virtually all of the
complaints/suggestions we have received from OnStream customers. Most
notable is that of speed in general and, for the NT world, we handle NT
security and alternate data streams.
Okay, thanks. I'm running on a Win98-only system now, so I think
I'll wait for the beta version you mention. Also, I should have a copy of
Win98 SE showing up in a few days, so it sounds as though everything
should come together in the next week or so.
* * * * *
Right around dinner time yesterday, I installed the vcache.vxd fix Dave
had sent me, and then downloaded and installed Echo v 2.1.11. I then
initialized and retensioned a new OnStream ADR30 tape, labeled "Week
1", which seemed to take longer than it used to. The dialog
mentions that initialization will take 10 to 20 minutes if the retension
check box is marked, and I seem to recall the last version mentioning only
10 minutes. At any rate, the initialize/retension operation completed
I told Echo to back up all of drive C:, but no network drives. The
vital stats for that operation are as follows (compare enabled, backup
registry enabled, data compression disabled):
Begin Backup: 16:30
Files copied: 45,011
Bytes copied: 3,281,378 KB
MB/Min (average): 28
Finish Writing Backup Data: 18:26 (elapsed 116 minutes)
Finish Updating Tape Header 18:29 (elapsed 119 minutes)
Begin Compare: 18:29
Files Compared: 45,011
Bytes Compared: 3,281,378
MB/Min (Average): 39
Finish Compare: 19:54 (elapsed 85 minutes)
The backup operation initially indicated average backup speed in the 35
to 40 MB/min range, and continued at this level through about the first
1.8 GB. The backup then reached a couple of data directories that contain
a very large number of files, some large ones, but many small ones. At
that point, the backup rate began to slow down, ultimately arriving at the
28 MB/min overall average for the backup as a whole. The compare operation
very quickly reached the 50 MB/min range and stayed there through about
1.8 GB, when it also slowed down, ultimately yielding a 39 MB/min average
for the entire compare--still much faster than the 28 MB/min backup
The single most notable fact, however, was that the backup and compare
operations completed normally. It may be that Echo 2.1.11 has in fact
fixed many of the problems I'd experienced with the original version and
with 2.1.8. So far, it's looking good.
* * * * *
With the original version of Echo, I'd experienced extremely slow
backup times when the compression option was turned on, so I decided to
test this new version on the same data set, but this time with compression
enabled. I clicked the Eject icon in Echo Express, and found that Echo
required several minutes to update the tape directory before actually
ejecting the tape. I then initialized and retensioned yet another tape,
labeled it Week 2, and used the same backup set selection and options as I
did for the last test, but this time turned compression on.
Using compression is always a trade-off. Actually compressing the data
requires some CPU ticks, but if a compressed data stream can be written to
tape at the same raw data rate as an uncompressed stream, the net result
is that more data is written to tape per unit time, increasing the overall
throughput. A well-designed backup utility only uses CPU ticks for
compression if those ticks would otherwise be unused, thereby achieving at
least some compression without adversely impacting the backup operation.
With such software, the raw data rate is similar regardless of CPU speed,
but the amount of compression increases with faster CPUs, resulting in
faster overall throughput.
Some tape software offers a "maximum compression" option
which compresses the data as much as possible regardless of the CPU
utilization required. Using that option minimizes the amount of tape
needed to store any given data set, but may require more time than using
no compression at all. It appeared to me that the original version of Echo
was always functioning in "maximum compression" mode, which
greatly slowed backup times when compression was enabled.
I did those original tests on various systems running anything from a
Celeron/333 with 64 MB on the low-end to a Pentium III/550 with 256 MB on
the high. This system has only a Pentium/200 and 64 MB, so the results
should be worse, if anything.
And, as it turns out, they are worse. Much worse. After letting the
backup with compression run from 20:15 until 21:00, only about 0.5 GB had
been written to tape, and the data rate was hovering at 12 MB/min. I
killed the backup rather than beat the drive to death for no purpose. It
appears that some more work remains on Echo if using compression is to be
a realistic option.
* * * * *
I decided to test Echo 2.1.11 with a network backup. So, before I went
to bed last night, I started a backup to a fresh tape with a backup
selection set that included the local C: drive as well as a couple of
network drives. I excluded the Temporary Internet Files directory and
similar directories that included a ton of tiny files. When I got back to
my desk this morning, the compare results were displayed on the monitor:
Files compared: 82,088
Bytes compared: 4,330,393 KB
MB/Min (average): 32
The backup started at 21:16 and completed at 00:52, for an elapsed time
of 3:36, or 216 minutes, for a data rate of about 19.5 MB/min overall. The
compare pass began at 12:56 and completed at 3:14, for an elapsed time of
2:18, or 138 minutes, for a data rate of about 30.6 MB/min, somewhat less
than indicated. But the important thing is that it worked. Just to make
sure, I again attempted to restore a couple of files, and they restored
The numbers for backup and compare speeds are both skewed by two
factors: (1) as the file count indicates, even though I eliminated a lot
of temporary directories from the backup set, I still had a ton of small
files selected, and (2) a significant portion of the backup was across the
network, which is always about half the speed of backing up files from a
local volume, regardless of what tape drive or backup software you use.
Working on a normal file set on a local volume, the OnStream drive and
Echo software maintain a backup rate between 40 and 50 MB/min. Although I
haven't verified this, I suspect they would have been faster still on a
system more capable than this old Dell 200 MHz Pentium box.
At this point, I conclude that the OnStream drive with Echo 2.1.11 is
reliable, at least under Windows 98. I'm tentatively moving the OnStream
DI30 and Echo 2.1.11 to my "Recommended without Qualification"
list for Windows 98. I'll want more long-term working experience with it
before it assumes a permanent place on that list, but for now I feel safe
in recommending it.
* * * * *
This from ROBERT RUDZKI [firstname.lastname@example.org].
(As Robert pointed out in a follow-up message, the book he mentions here
is Tunnel in the Sky)::
I was not aware of the special model 10's
Smith's that the Seals used in 'Nam, I had heard the term 'hushpuppy' in
reference to a special model 59 [semi-auto] with slide lock that Smith
made under secret [no serial numbers!] government contract. it came in a
fitted hermetic case with suppressor, special heavy bullet subsonic ammo
probably the 147-grain 9x19, replaceable wipes and baffles for the
suppressor, etc. I had heard it was not very popular with the Seals due
to the short life of the suppressor parts and the constant maintenance
required. Sneaking close enough to a sentry or enemy guard dog to whack
it with a suppressed pistol shot also seems pretty high risk compared to
a nice lazy 50-metre shot with a Remington 788 converted to .45 acp with
a huge integral suppressor 3''x 20" long... There are times where I
seriously consider moving to Arizona just so I can legally own Class III
My wife reads action and spy novels for
recreation, she is always showing me some wildly improbable scenario and
we both groan at how ignorant the writer is... like that Steven Seagall
film about the Canadian train, satellite evil computer genius, and death
rays from orbiting secret satellites. Under siege: Dark territory, I
As for revolver safeties, the French
national police had a contract that Smith filled back in the 50's or
early 60's for model 10's with manual safeties, I have not examined one
since they are not yet sold on the surplus but do remember seeing a
small photo of it. Another French trivia item: I saw somewhere their
border police had been issued FN Browning GP's in 7.65mm Parabellum [.30
I like your web page design it is simple and
loads really fast, I recently took an html course at my local community
college, we had to do it the hard way with notepad as the 'html
generator' of choice...! It bears a certain similarity to Pournelle's,
but seems less cluttered and better organised.
I will be taking more courses in the fall on
web site maintenance and FrontPage itself but for now I muddle through
with FrontPage Express [boo, hisssss...] Notepad and Word 97.
What I find maddening about FrontPage
Express is that it changes at random the case of my file image names
which of course my ISP hosts on a UNIX server and I have to reedit the
case so my images will work. Then the stupid program takes absolute path
names and makes them relative so once again I have to reedit to make the
site work... It's only a personal page but still takes extra work due to
One final point on films and novels: I love
the ones where the craggy muscular hero and buxom blonde who gets to
heave her ample bosom a lot are being chased by a veritable army of
twitchy thugs and psychotic hit men sent by the evil international
genius, through swamp, desert, mountains while not eating any food or
drinking water for several days [or bathing and brushing of teeth...!]
yet find plenty of time for passionate clinches and serious face
Of course, except for a fetching smudge on
her cheek, and a small rip in his chest-hugging shirt, our action film
stars look like central makeup just got done fixing them up for the
I can tell you I spent four days in the
remoter mountains of eastern Washington in USAF survival school in 1977
with 11 other guys and we all looked like hell on the 4th day, and felt
like we could sleep a week after eating the proverbial horse...!
I will never again carry a Gerber mark I
dagger in a survival situation by choice, a single-edged drop-point
large rugged knife is by far more practical, even though the dagger was
razor sharp for ordinary camp and house-keeping chores, you have to be
really careful not to cut yourself and you can't really chop wood with a
dagger like you can with a big heavy drop-point survival knife.
I had read Heinlein's Stargate novel when I
was a kid, [I think that was the title] where these college kids get
sent through a Stargate to a remote star system and uninhabited [by
humans anyway] planet and are supposed to return in 3 months after
living off the land by way of a survival training exercise, but the
Stargate breaks down and it's 4 years later before Earth Star Command
can re-open it... Have not re-read the book for many years but it seemed
really exciting to a 12 year old.
"If possession of a Colt AR-15 rifle
makes me a criminal does the fact that Sen. Barbara "Louise"
Boxer has a vagina make her a whore?"
Actually, I may have said that the SEALs used the silenced
S&W Model 10's, but the guy who first told me about it was SF detached
to SOG. I subsequently saw an example of the silenced Model 10, although I
never heard one fired. I wasn't aware of the 788's in .45 ACP. I have a
788 in 7.62 back in my gun closet. I bought it at the time because I
needed an inexpensive bolt action in .308, but it has one of the quickest
actions I've used. I do wish it had a fixed magazine instead of those
chintzy removable box magazines, though.
Thanks for the kind words about my web page. Actually, it's more
a case of Pournelle's resembling mine than the converse. Or I guess I
should say that I wish his more resembled mine. I've done a couple of
pages for him as templates, notably one of his Special Reports home pages,
but I've never been able to get him to dispense with the ugly icons and go
to text menu bars. The reason most people think our pages look similar is
that I use the same background image he does, and I'll admit that I stole
that from him... I've never used FrontPage Express, and I've had my share
of problems with FrontPage 98 and FrontPage 2000, but I still think
they're the best tool for the job, at least for someone like me who
doesn't create web pages for a living.
As far as knives, I've always been of the opinion that Bowie knew
what he was about when he chose to carry that Arkansas Toothpick. I used
to have a very nice custom-made Bowie Knife, intended for carry rather
than display, but I sold it twenty years ago or more. I used to wear a
Bowen Belt Knife even with a suit and tie, but nowadays, the only knife I
carry is a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife.
I'll never be without a knife, though. Back in 1976, I was
crewing for my girlfriend on a 14-foot Sunfish. She flipped the boat and
stuck the mast in the bottom of the lake. I ended up tangled in the lines
about five or eight feet below the surface. Fortunately, I'd inhaled
deeply when I saw I was going under, and was able to hold my breath long
enough to get free. You never know how long you can hold your breath until
you really have to...
Instead of coming down to help, she stayed on the surface and
screamed. Fortunately, there was a power boat not far away, and those guys
came to help. I got to the surface just as they showed up. They later told
me that I'd been under for about two minutes. It seemed more like two
hours. So I always carry a knife.
8 July 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Hmm, it's been in the mid- to high-90's around here (say 36C) for the
last several days, with humidity also very high. We somehow escaped
thunderstorms, even though our dew points were as high as the upper 70's,
until yesterday afternoon, when some big ones started rolling in.
I've spoken before about how intelligent Border Collies are. I know
that no one will believe this story, but I'll relate it anyway. When the
thunder started up, our younger BC, Duncan, came to my office, looked at
me, walked to the top of the stairs to the basement (where we always go
during particularly severe weather, having once had our roof removed by a
tornado), and looked over his shoulder at me. I ignored him, and he
repeated the process a couple of times. I still ignored him, so he came
over to me, put his front paw on my arm, and woofed. I was trying to
finish a chapter, so I told him to leave me alone.
He went under my desk (he spends a great deal of time napping there)
and looked at my surge protector. Its sits between the UPS and the
equipment and really functions more as just a multi-outlet strip than a
protector. Duncan stood looking down at the surge protector for several
seconds, and then reached over with his front paw and stepped on the
illuminated orange switch, killing my equipment. I told him that if he
felt that strongly about it, we'd go downstairs, so we did. As it
happened, a major thunderstorm rolled through here a few minutes later, so
the dog had a point.
I know that no one who doesn't own a Border Collie will believe that
this was an intentional act by Duncan. Anyone who does own one won't doubt
for a moment that it was. These dogs are smart. Very smart. Any dog smart
enough to go out on command and bring back one named sheep from a flock of
500 (a commonplace act for a Border Collie) is smart enough to figure out
how to turn off a computer.
I know you probably think I'm having you on about this, but I'm not.
* * * * *
I'm accumulating stuff to build a seriously fast system. Best of
everything, SCSI-only, no expense spared. The goodie pile is starting to
grow. FedEx showed up Tuesday afternoon with some Plextor drives. I now
have a PlexWriter
8/2/20 CD-RW drive, an UltraPlex
Wide CD-ROM drive, and an UltraPlex
40max CD-ROM drive. The first two are going to go into the
take-no-prisoners system I'm building around a PC Power & Cooling Full
Tower case, an Adaptec 2940U2W host adapter, Seagate U2W hard drives, a
Pentium III/550 (maybe two), 256 MB of Crucial PC133 SDRAM, a Tecmar
Travan NS20 SCSI tape drive and other best-of-breed components. Once I
have all the stuff I need in hand, I'll be spending a long weekend getting
everything built and configured.
* * * * *
I'm also opening up a new Current Topics
page on scanners. I just bought
an HP 6200C scanner last weekend. It has both USB and SCSI interfaces.
Right now, it's connected via USB to odin, my Windows 98 box, but I
plan to connect it via SCSI to the new box. I'll be looking for some help
from those of you who are experienced scanner users.
* * * * *
in this morning's paper. As is obvious to anyone who uses search engines,
they're falling behind in indexing what's out there. According to the
article, Northern Light is now the most comprehensive of the search
engines (16% of the available pages indexed) with AltaVista and Snap not
far behind. HotBot, which led with 34% when the study was last done in
December, 1997, is down to only 11%.
There were three other interesting statements. First, that it now takes
more than six months for a new site to be listed. Second, that the
likelihood of a site being listed depends on how many other sites link to
it, which puts new sites at a disadvantage. Third, that there is an
economic disincentive for search sites to continue to expand their
coverage, because large databases are expensive to maintain and a larger
database does not automatically mean increased advertising revenues.
I did visit Snap.com, which I hadn't visited lately, and did some test
searches. It indeed does appear to be a worthwhile search engine, so I've
added it to my links page.
I just got personalized spam yesterday from a guy who offered to submit
my site to a bunch of search engines for a one-time fee of $34.95 or
whatever. I'm already on all of the top dozen or so search engines, as
well as a bunch of the others, so why should I care about his
* * * * *
After reading my page yesterday, Dave Howard [email@example.com]
has this to say about my comments on Echo's compression algorithm:
Excellent! Thanks for trying the changes. I
believe your root cause problem was the vcache issue as with 185,000
files you were guaranteed to have Windows cache go out to lunch. The new
version will speed compression up quite a bit due to the packing of data
and as you suspected we tuned the compression algorithm for speed now.
Thanks for your patience.
1Vision Software, LLC
200 E. 7th St. Suite 204
Loveland, CO 80537
phone: 970-203-0727 ext. 101
Thanks. I'll look forward to trying the new version once it's
released. For now, compression isn't a major issue for me--the 15 GB
native capacity of the OnStream DI30 is larger than what I need anyway.
But we're always adding larger hard disks around here, so I'll look
forward to using a version of Echo that has fast compression.
* * * * *
This from [Alberto_Lopez@notes.toyota.com]:
I look forward to reading your DayNotes
every morning. Have learned *much* since I discovered your Site via
Jerry Pournelle's. Reading your Site is the first thing I do when I
arrive at work in the morning. Keep up the great work.
Anyways, I was wondering if you knew of a
good piece of FIREWALL SOFTWARE to set up on a *small* home office LAN
I am getting a PACIFIC BELL ADSL connection
(384K downstream, 128K upstream) installed soon and am concerned about
being hacked due to it being a STATIC IP Address and a constant
connection to the Internet (no more modem dial-up).
I greatly respect your skill set and figured
you might be able to point me in the right direction!
Alberto S. Lopez
Thanks for the kind words. Your question is an excellent one, and
will become an important one for many more people as full time Internet
connections become more common in homes. Actually, static versus dynamic
IP addressing isn't the important issue. It's connection duration that
really counts. Many cable modem users, for example, have dynamically
assigned IP addresses but retain those addresses for months on end. For
all intents and purposes, they might just as well have a static IP
I was concerned enough about this question that I called my
friend John Mikol, who has forgotten more about TCP/IP than I'll ever
learn (I know that sounds strange coming from someone who's written a
TCP/IP book for O'Reilly, but it's true nonetheless). John has a cable
modem at home. He says he didn't used to worry much about security
(although until recently he was able to call up network neighborhood on
his home system and view resources on other people's computers throughout
the cable company's network), but now he's scared stiff.
The real answer is that there is no solution. If you set up your
computers or network to be able to get to the Internet, the Internet can
get to them. Period. Firewalls and similar measures offer a degree of
protection, but anyone who knows what he is doing and cares to spend the
time can get into your network. Period. Or, as Casanova once said,
"if there's a hole in that chastity belt, I'll find it..." You
could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, hire black-belt
TCP/IP security experts to staff your network full-time, and it still
wouldn't make any difference. Someone who wants to get in can get in.
Realistically, there's only so much you can do, and your choice
of operating system complicates matters further. Linux, for example, is
more easily secured than Windows NT. Windows NT is inherently much more
secure than Windows 98 will ever be. All of that said, there are a couple
things you can do to protect yourself:
First, as the Japanese say, the nail with the raised head gets
hammered. That's very true here. If you're one of a huge group of ADSL
users on that net, chances are you'll simply blend in with the crowd. If
there's nothing out of the ordinary to make your network more attractive
than anyone else's, chances are no one will spend the time and effort
required to hack through even minimal precautions. The other thing, of
course, is that implementing strong security serves as a red flag to a
bull. If you're one of a million sites using WinGate or a NAT or Linux or
something equally commonplace to secure your network, you won't attract
much attention. The sites that get the attention are the ones that
implicitly or explicitly wave that flag, shouting "We're so secure
that no one could possibly break in. Nyah, nyah." Those are the sites
that are going to get hammered big time.
Second, implement some sort of minimal protection at the border
between your network and the Internet. This can be a firewall (hardware or
software); a proxy server (hardware or software like MS Proxy Server or
WinGate); a Network Address Translator or NAT (again, hardware or
software); or using permit/deny filtering by source address, TCP port
number, etc. in your router (some ADSL "modems" have such
functions. It's worth asking about...) My guess is that you ideally would
like something that costs nothing, is perfectly secure, easy to set up and
requires no maintenance. As you might guess, there's nothing like that.
But the standard security offered by most products is more than
sufficient to discourage all but the most persistent or talented crackers.
Guard against the 99.9999% of the problem, and don't worry about the true
superstars. They have better things to do than crack your network. In my
own case, I'd choose WinGate, which I'm familiar with and which provides a
reasonable security level with its default settings. Can someone break
through that? Sure. But in my case they'd be expending an awful lot of
effort for next to no return. Someone more familiar with Linux might do
well to choose it. John tells me that there's a single diskette version of
a Linux router than can run on an old 486 and provide pretty decent
security. I won't bother trying to use it, but it might be worth looking
into if you're very concerned.
* * * * *
This from A5d@aol.com:
I have an old Pentax Spotmatic, I like you,
love the way it handles, but I am not a professional photographer. I do
not use any flash and get great pictures of my grandchildren with
natural light. However I don't have an owners manual and really have no
clue of all the things the camera can do. Could you tell me how I can
obtain this material. Now I have just picked up a Pentax Spotmatic F,
which I can only assume is the next generation of the original, Probably
due the the type of battery they use, I would love any help you could
give me, or put me in the right direction. I also was wondering where I
could obtain a zoom lens for this camera, without going for my lungs.
Also pardon my spelling. Thanks a5d in new jersey.
You can sometimes pick up manuals for older cameras at photo swap
meets or from some of the New York camera stores that handle used
equipment. Herbert Keppler wrote a book, The Honeywell Pentax Way, that is
long out of print, but you may be able to find a used copy. Check ABE,
go to the search page and enter pentax in the title field. I found more
than 70 books listed, including Kepler's and many others.
The original Spotmatic used stop-down metering (averaging rather
than spot metering, despite the name). The Spotmatic F was basically the
same camera, but used full-aperture metering. That was nice, because the
image in the viewfinder didn't get darker and darker as you stopped down
to center the needle.
As far as a zoom lens, your best bet would be the used
departments of the New York camera stores (I call them that, although many
aren't in New York. I actually mean the ones that advertise in Popular
Photography. Does Modern Photography still even exist?). Another
possibility would be auction sites. Pentax screw-mount lenses continued to
be available new for many years after the last Pentax screw-mount camera
was sold new, but I can't imagine that they'd still be available new. It's
possible, though. It wouldn't surprise me to find that mainland China was
still manufacturing cameras and lenses for the 49mm screw mount.
9 July 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
More on the OnStream DI30 tape drive. I've been beating it to death,
doing a full network backup every night. My data is now backed up better
than it ever has been. Right now, I'm cycling through six tapes, more to
beat on the drive than because I really need six full copies of my network
data. I'm getting 40 to 45 MB/min on normal local files (less when I
include directories with tons of tiny files) and about 22 MB/min across
the network. That network slowdown is normal behavior, as I can attest
from using other tape drives.
As a usual practice, I do a full network backup to tape every Friday.
Between times, I use a batch file that backs up changed data from the
server to volumes on other boxes throughout the network. I think I may
start using this drive with the "Thompson modified 6-tape
rotation". That's basically four weekly tapes, Friday 1 through
Friday 4, with two daily tapes, Daily A (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday) and
Daily B (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday). So the rotation goes something like
Monday - Thursday: Daily A, Daily B, Daily A, Daily B
Friday 1 - Friday 4:: Weekly 1 through Weekly 4
Saturday, Sunday: Daily A, Daily B
That gives me the ability to recover a file that was deleted or
corrupted as much as a month previously, and a full backup no older than
one day. Worst case, if a tape breaks, I'd have a full backup two days
old. At the end of month one (after backing up to Weekly 4), the Weekly 1
tape gets relabeled Daily A and Daily A becomes Weekly 1. At the end
of month two, Weekly 2 becomes Daily B and vice versa. And so on, until
each weekly tape has been a daily tape and vice versa, when the cycle
starts again. That helps even out wear on the tapes.
* * * * *
This from Paul Robichaux [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Putting on my security weenie hat:
If you're one of a million sites using
WinGate or a NAT or Linux or something equally commonplace to secure
your network, you won't attract much attention.
This seems logical, but it's untrue. There
are automated tools that will scan ranges of IP addresses looking for
WinGate, Linux, NT, or you-name-it; the output from these tools can be
fed into automated attack programs that systematically try to exploit
known weaknesses. The net result is that any 13-year-old moron can grab
these scripts and run amok, destructively hacking any target machine
that's not properly secured.
What does this mean? Just that being
inconspicuous isn't much protection. To extend (or mangle) your Japanese
metaphor, it's as if any idiot could get a free robot hammer that would
automatically examine each house in a neighborhood looking for
protruding nails, then hammer down the ones it finds.
Linux security is non-trivial. I have a
number of friends here who have been hacked; the damage ranges from
having their systems used as launchpads for hacks on larger sites to
damage that requires a total clean reinstallation from trusted media.
Not all of these people are Linux experts, but that's the problem: you
really do have to know your stuff to keep a Linux installation secure.
My personal recommendation is to use a
stripped-down, properly configured Linux box as a firewall/border
router. Don't directly expose Win98 systems, ever. Don't directly expose
NT systems unless you're knowledgeable enough to configure them
properly, and unless you keep current on NT security exploits. My
personal configuration currently uses a NAT software router running on a
Mac-- it's still vulnerable to some kinds of denial-of-service attacks,
but it's completely secure against other types of attacks because it has
no shell, file sharing is off, and all my services run on other
machines, so their traffic gets filtered before it ever gets to them.
Paul Robichaux, MCSE | email@example.com
Robichaux & Associates: programming, writing, teaching,
Well, much though I hate to disagree with a co-author, it *is*
true, at least in the sense I meant it. You make a good point that simple
unobtrusiveness provides no protection against scanners. But the point I
was trying to make was not that one should depend on unobtrusiveness
Breaking into a reasonably well-secured system is non-trivial,
although it can be done. If you use the default WinGate security settings,
your site is reasonably well-secured against attacks. Not perfectly, but
reasonably. If you're one of a million WinGate users that all have default
security enabled, it's reasonably unlikely that anyone will select you in
particular to attack from the group of a million other users. If, on the
other hand, you run WinGate wide open, that in itself makes you obtrusive,
at least to scanners.
Before you become too complacent about your NAT setup making you
invulnerable to anything but DOS attacks, let me just mention something
that John told me last night. He's currently getting boinked by somebody
who's hacking in to a specific machine behind his firewall. The source
address of those packets (as viewed on a packet analyzer outside the
firewall) is 192.168.X.X. Now, in theory, it's not possible to route
packets with that network address across the public Internet. Packets with
a private network number are supposed to be discarded, period. The border
router at the source should discard them, as should the border router at
the destination, and the routers at every intermediate hop. It's
conceivable that one or even several of the routers involved is
misconfigured and thereby allowing packets whose source address is a
private network number to pass. But it's not conceivable that every
intermediate router is so misconfigured, and it's certain that John's
border router is not. And yet the packets continue.
I agree that running a multi-homed Linux router provides security
superior to anything you can realistically do with NT (and certainly with
Win98). However, my take on what that reader said was that he was a Win98
guy, not a Linux guru. The most likely result of him (or me) attempting to
configure a Linux firewall is that nothing will work. If we somehow got it
to work, the likelihood is that it would work because we'd left the thing
wide-open without realizing it.
So I'll stand by my recommendation that readers do their best to
remain unobtrusive and also do the best job they can with the proxy
server, NAT, or router of their choice.
* * * * *
This from Frank A. Love [firstname.lastname@example.org]
regarding my query about whether Modern Photography still exists:
Sadly, the answer is no. I subscribed to it
for many years but it went under a good ten years ago. I don't know the
full story but it went much like Byte did. It got thinner and thinner
and then one month it didn't come. I think Popular Photography is still
around or was the last time I checked, but I never much cared for it.
B. C.- (Before Computers) photography was
one of my major hobbies but now my cameras and lenses just take up space
in my closet. I still think about photography but I no longer do it.
Someday I will get a wild hair and get rid of all that stuff, but I have
too many good memories tied up with it to get rid of it just yet....
I never owned a Pentax, but they were top
drawer equipment when I started buying cameras (1968) and it's always
good to hear that there are still people around who value quality enough
to keep the old stuff going.
Enjoy your web site. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the kind words. I'm not surprised that Modern went
away. It was always a distant second to Popular in circulation. Popular is
still around. I looked at it at the library last night. Still the
I'm in much the same position you are. When I built my first
darkroom, Kodachrome was still K-12 and Ektachrome was just moving from
E-3 to E-4. Only real men processed color back then... My darkroom
equipment is boxed up and hasn't been used in years. Every once in a great
while, I'll pull out something like one of my Schneider Componon-S lenses
just to admire it.
Nowadays, photography is just a tool rather than a love affair. I
have a Pentax K1000 with a 1:4 50mm SMC Pentax-M Macro lens and an AF-280T
flash sitting on top of odin at the moment. I use it to shot photographs
for my books. On color negative yet. I can remember the days when I spit
on color negative and shot only large format b&w (120 when I was
slumming), and 35mm Kodachrome.
10 July 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Here's news. In the turnabout-is-fair-play department, the morning
newspaper reports that a snake bit a poisonous man and died. I am not
making this up. You can read about it here.
Apparently, the man had recently undergone chemotherapy for cancer. The
snake chomped him, and subsequently died. I hope that serves, as the
French generals said when shooting their own rebellious troops during WWI,
as un avertissement pour les autres.
* * * * *
This from Werth, Timothy [email@example.com]:
I remember reading that you were converting
your network over to 100BaseT from 10BaseT a few weeks (months?) ago.
With all the testing you've been doing on the OnStream DI30 tape drive
you've mentioned the slower throughput across the network several times.
So my question is, how much difference have you noticed in throughput
across the network since you converted it to 100BaseT?
(913) 491-2558 [8/559]
The answer, as usual, is "it depends." Briefly, I
compared 10BaseT and 100BaseT by copying files directly from one machine
to another. I had two test data sets. The first was a single 200+ MB file.
The second was a group of more than 5,000 files in many subdirectories,
totaling about the same 200+ MB. Relative to 100BaseT, 10BaseT required
twice as long to copy the big file, and about 40% longer to copy the group
of small files.
But that greatly understates the value of 100BaseT, which wasn't
even breaking a sweat during the copy. 10BaseT pulsed between 0% and 80%
network utilization, but spent most of its time during the transfer at
very high utilization. 100BaseT, on the other hand was barely flickering.
The problem, and the reason that the large file copied so much faster than
the small ones, is that the network speed isn't the bottleneck for a
simple machine-to-machine copy. Instead, issues like operating system
overhead and file system overhead control how fast data is being delivered
to the network interface.
But in a real network, where many machines are contending for
network bandwidth, the bigger 100BaseT pipe pays off big time. On a
heavily loaded network with many machines transferring data, 100BaseT will
indeed be much faster than 10BaseT. Perhaps not ten times faster, but
something on the very close order of ten times faster.
My short take: if you're buying new network cards, always buy
100BaseT. If you're building a new network, buy 100BaseT cards and hubs.
There's just not enough price difference to make it worth saving a few
bucks by installing 10BaseT. If you have an existing small 10BaseT
network, don't replace what you have, but buy 100BaseT components when you
add equipment. Once your network gets to ten machines or more (depending
on how much data they're transferring routinely), consider upgrading
10BaseT hubs to 100BaseT.
The key is network utilization. So long as you're averaging 25%
to 40% on 10BaseT, moving to 100BaseT will yield a noticeable but not huge
real-world improvement. If you're much higher than that, 100BaseT starts
to pay off.
* * * * *
This followup from Werth, Timothy [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Okay, so have you noticed any improvement in
backup times over the network since converting to 100BaseT? Or are the
other limiting factors keeping it pretty much the same?
Sorry, I should have stated that explicitly. While backing up
portions of network volumes that have a normal distribution of file sizes,
I've seen some improvement while watching the instantaneous data rates
shown by the backup software. Typically, what would have been running at
perhaps 20 MB/min might run at 25 MB/min. But when the backup gets to the
folders with bunches of small files, transfer rates drop back to what I
was getting with 10BaseT. That makes sense, because watching the 10BaseT
load indicators during such backups showed that even 10BaseT was barely
breaking a sweat.
* * * * *
Another followup from Werth, Timothy [email@example.com]:
Thanks, I was curious how much effect
converting to the 100BaseT network would make on the backup times.
On another subject, the quotes from Heinlein
and Pournelle on marriage were great. I now know what I've been doing
wrong in my marriage. ;-)
Yes, when I first read that Heinlein quote in The Notebooks of
Lazarus Long back in 1973 or thereabouts, I thought Heinlein was just
being clever. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he
was serious (and right). I've tried to do that ever since, but I don't
* * * * *
This from Chuck Waggoner [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Just a note that I don't find a scanner link
listed on the Current Topics page. I have IE5 set to 'synchronize' that
page every day, but it's not appearing on the download.
Also, since you switched to that new divider
line, the page is just ever so slightly wider than my screen width, so I
have to scroll back and forth sideways to see all of most lines. I know
I don't have the best resolution capability here, but I figure I'm about
average, so there are probably other people out there who are having to
use the horizontal scroll, too. If that divider line were just a little
Really appreciate today's description of
your backup rotation. I have just been rotating 3 tapes, but I realize
now that your method allows dipping much further into the past, and I'm
going to adopt it. Thanks.
Sorry about the scanner link. I could have sworn I put it in, but
I guess not. It's fixed now. As far as the divider line, that's what
happens when one makes a "minor" change. I decided that the line
was "prettier" than the asterisks and wouldn't increase download
times significantly, and so I started using it. I work at 1024X768, so I
never even thought about the screen width issue. It's also fixed now. One
day, I will learn the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule by
As far as backup rotations, you might want to consider how long
you want to retrieve data for. The classic 10-tape Grandfather, Father,
Son rotation uses daily, weekly, and monthly tapes and allows you to
retrieve data from some months back. You can easily modify it to keep a
dozen monthly tapes or more if you want to archive data for a year or
more. I've never needed to revert that far, but I probably should consider
something like that. On the other hand, I'm now doing a periodic archive
to CD-R which really accomplishes the same thing, for my data if not for
the other files.
* * * * *
This from Jim Robertson [address removed by request]:
You're mistaken about doing K12 in your
darkroom. That was for Kodachrome and could only be done at Kodak or a
licensed lab with a bunch of expensive equipment. Were you thinking of
No. You're correct that K-12 "couldn't" be processed in
a home darkroom. But I did it anyway, and the same later for K-14.
The problem is that Kodachrome is actually a black and white film
with three separate emulsion layers (plus several additional layers for
other purposes). Each emulsion layer is sensitive to a different color of
light, red, blue, or green. With Ektachrome, each emulsion layer also has
embedded color-couplers that react with by-products of development to
create a dye that is the complementary color for that layer, cyan, yellow,
and magenta, respectively. Unlike Ektachrome, Kodachrome doesn't have
color-couplers embedded in the emulsion. All that means is you get to add
them yourself during processing.
The process is very complex. You develop the film three separate
times, using a different developer each time. The developer itself
contains the color-couplers for the layer you're developing. Those
couplers combine with the waste products of development to create the
necessary dyes. In between developing steps, you have to expose the
separate emulsion layers with monochromatic light (that was actually my
main difficulty) and perform numerous subsidiary washing. bleaching, and
other steps. It wasn't really hard, other than finding the information and
chemicals I needed and maintaining very close control of pH, but it was
tedious. Developing a roll of film took me a day, and the quality wasn't
all that great compared to commercially processed Kodachrome, but I did it
for the experience.
After I developed my first roll of Kodachrome, I sent
Eastman-Kodak a nyah-nyah letter, enclosing some slides. They wrote back,
politely but firmly telling me to stop kidding them. I then sent them back
an uncut roll of Kodachrome that I'd developed as a negative rather than a
positive. They offered me a job, but I explained that I was only 15. They
then offered me a full scholarship at RIT if I'd come to work for them
afterwards. I think I still have those letters around somewhere. I should
probably have taken them up on their offer, but then my entire life would
have been different. It's probably good that I did things as I did.
11 July 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
What really disturbs me about software is not consistent bugs. I can
deal with things that don't work the way they're supposed to, but
malfunction the same way every time. What really disturbs me is stuff that
works inconsistently. I've mentioned before things like the font size
changing unpredictably in Internet Explorer.
Pournelle has been going back and forth with Microsoft tech support
about inconsistencies in how pastes to a FrontPage 2000 page work.
Sometimes formatting carries over, but usually formatting is lost. I've
been involved in that as well, mainly to confirm to Microsoft that what
Pournelle is seeing isn't specific to his system or Windows 2000, because
I'm seeing it also under NT4.
Last night I saw yet another example. Actually, this has been going on
for years. I run NT on nearly all my production systems, and I use the
Blank Screen screen blanker. Usually it works, but sometimes it doesn't.
There's no rhyme or reason for when it fails to blank the screen. The
problem occurs on half a dozen systems and has been happening sporadically
since I was running beta versions of NT4. Obviously, a failure to blank
the screen is no great loss, but the fact that it happens is disturbing.
* * * * *
This from ROBERT RUDZKI [email@example.com]:
(in case you're wondering about all the "xxxxxx" portions, I
asked Robert to pull some stuff that was not Politically Correct because I
don't have time to deal with flame mail.)
Yes I remember old Kepler I think I saw
issues where he wrote most of the magazine and the editorial too! I know
that I didn't agree with most of his views then but it's so long ago I
can't remember why.
My first real camera in 1962 was a Yashica
Pentamatic. I think it may have been the first 35 mm SLR on the US
market. My dad got it cheap from a friend of his who always was at the
bleeding edge of camera technology and always had the latest toys, but
quickly tired of them and sold them off 3 months after he bought them.
Nice camera but it had a proprietary lens mount and my dad refused to
spend the money for the other two lenses, the 35 mm WA and the 135 mm
telephoto. He had this tiny xxxxx 'spy' camera that took 828 roll film
[and that stuff was hard to find even back then!] it had a
Schneider-Xenon lens/shutter and took really good pictures.
When I returned from Taiwan in 1972, my
first overseas tour in the USAF, I brought back 2 AR-15 SP1's for $165
each, and a Nikon Ftn along with several lenses including the 200mm f/4.
I still kick myself for not buying Smith M-76 9mm subguns from the
police supply catalog the Navy Exchange [We were on a xxxxxxx airbase
but the Navy ran all the Exchange activities on the island] had in the
customer special order section, they were $73!
Why they had that catalog I have never
figured out since hardly anything in it was suitable for private
ownership on an overseas airbase. I am still not sure if they would have
shipped them to an FPO address but things were pretty loose back then
and the 2 AR-15's raised no eyebrows when I picked them up at the
Exchange but I did have to store them in the armory since I lived in the
As an E-2 I was getting $149.50 basic pay
per month, but since my expenses were low [not counting the 10 NT$ [25
cents US] bus fare to visit my xxxx-friend downtown and the occasional
carton of Marlboros and Chivas Regal which she gave to her dad to
xxxxx-xxxxxx. I paid $4.85 for the Chivas it was by far the most
expensive item in the Embassy/Class 6 duty free shop, Smirnoff vodka was
$1.10 and the Scotch would bring more than $50 on the local black market
since duties were so high on all imported luxury goods.
The funny part was someone once counted all
the shelf stock at the Class 6 that sold in one month and divided into
the total base population allowed to shop there and it came out to like
30 bottles of hard liquor alone per person per month! Naturally most of
it was getting to the black market, officers and their dependents were
the worst offenders as usual. The base officials turned a blind eye to
this because it was handy to use as 'gifts' for your xxxxxx Air Force
counterpart on base]
But I digress: I have been a fan of Leica
cameras, my first was a IIIg, that I paid $120 for at a pawn shop, the
guy must not have known what it was since even back then they sold for 3
times that. I used my friend's M-2 a lot, had planned on buying a M-4
the first time they came out but somehow never did and now I have pretty
much given all my stuff to my dad gradually losing interest in film
cameras. The digital Nikon I would like to get is way too expensive to
justify to my wife as a toy. I may pick up a Mavica, I have heard good
things about it including your review of it.
Just saw the jury award of $4.9 billion [!]
against GM here in California. Have these lawyers and juries gone
completely nuts? The GM car they were in was rear-ended at 70 mph by a
social drinking driver and big surprise, burst into flame badly burning
an entire family. GM showed that model of Malibu would not catch fire
even in a 50 mph rear collision and it has an excellent fire safety
record and met and exceeded all the Federal rules, but the jury just
wouldn't listen... If E = mass x velocity squared do the math and it
becomes apparent we are talking about a huge amount of energy carried by
the approaching vehicle, but jurors are rarely picked for their
reasoning powers or common sense. In fact just the opposite!
Lawyers say the worst place to defend
criminal cases if your client is guilty [usually the case] is Seattle
since all the high tech computer and aerospace companies have lots of
engineers working for them and they pay the full salary during the trial
so there is not much incentive to weasel out of jury duty. And engineers
tend to support institutions and are skeptical of people accused of
wrongdoing for some reason. Plus most defense tactics don't withstand
logical reasoning which is what engineers do best.
Maybe you could do one of your Musings on
lawyers and the costs to society of our plaintiff's bar getting away
with murder in civil liability cases...?
"If possession of a Colt AR-15
rifle makes me a dangerous criminal does Sen.Barbara "Louise"
Boxer's whatchamacallit make her a ho?"
I've never owned a Leica, but I've used several of them,
including one model from the 20's or 30's that had a winding knob rather
than a winding lever. They are beautifully constructed and have superb
lenses, but I could never justify paying what their equipment costs new.
But it is wonderful stuff.
As far as the GM suit, I concur. Just as in calculating a
bullet's stopping power, what counts in such a collision is momentum (m*v)
rather than energy (0.5*m*v^2), but your point is valid nonetheless. That
a gasoline tank ruptures when a car is rear-ended by another vehicle
traveling 70 mph is a matter of physics rather than faulty design.
A point I have been making for years is that how punitive damages
are awarded has in large part been responsible for the litigiousness of
our society. By their nature, punitive damages are intended to punish the
malefactor rather than benefit the victim. But in order to be effective
against a huge company, those awards must be large. Because they are
awarded directly to the victim, that victim and more importantly that
victim's lawyer benefits from them.
The solution is simple. Make punitive damages payable only to an
established (and disinterested) national charity of the victim's choice
(not his own church or local school, for example), and mandate that
attorneys get no portion of punitive damages. Victims should receive only
compensatory damages, and lawyers should be paid only on the basis of
compensatory damages. To minimize frivolous lawsuits, it'd be better still
to make it illegal for lawyers to work on contingency, period. Lawyers
should be paid on a flat fee or hourly basis, not on a percentage of the