Week of 2 August
Sunday, 08 August 1999 08:32
A (mostly) daily
journal of the trials, tribulations, and random observations of Robert
Bruce Thompson, a writer of computer books.
2 August 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
It's supposed to be somewhat cooler today and for the next week or so.
Supposedly, we'll be back to normal highs for this time of year,
"only" upper 80's or lower 90's. I got a message yesterday
taking me to task for complaining about 100 degree temperatures. The
sender apparently lives in the American Southwest and told me that they
consider 100 degrees nothing special. Well, of course they do. They get
100 degree days with 5% humidity. But as anyone who has ever experienced
it knows, 100 degrees at 5% RH is reasonably comfortable, so long as you
drink plenty of fluids. But what we had was 100 degrees with 60%+ RH, a
different matter entirely.
I spent most of yesterday finishing up the new project system and
installing software. The cover is still off, but it's starting to shape
up. I installed a supplementary case fan, and the difference is like night
and day. Without that fan, the passive heat sink on the Pentium III/450
quickly became too hot to touch comfortably. With the fan, the heat sink
is not even perceptibly warm. I literally cannot tell the difference
touching the heatsink whether the system has been off for several hours or
has been running for several hours.
This system has a SCSI Tecmar Travan NS20 tape drive in it. This is one
amazing tape drive. After I'd installed NT4 Server SP5 and Office 2000, I
decided to test the tape drive. I installed the QIC-157 driver in NT, and
NT recognized the drive immediately. I didn't have the BackupExec that was
supposed to come with the drive, so I used the bundled NT Backup applet
and told it to back up all of drive C:. As Barbara can testify, I sat
there the whole time saying, "I can't believe how fast this drive
is." How fast? Try 100 MB/min. This drive's a keeper.
* * * * *
This from Jan Swijsen [firstname.lastname@example.org]
regarding Shooting Apples:
Nowadays, I seldom shoot, but I guarantee that if I needed to I
would hit what I was aiming at.
The question is what/who do you aim at?
Consider you are in a shopping mall when the
shooting starts. Most people drop to the ground or run for 'cover' .
There remain some people crawling around with guns. Who the heck do you
aim at? This is even more a problem for the police. They arrive at a
scene after the action started, they have no idea who started and when a
police man shoots an innocent person he'll be on the headlines and maybe
without a job after the trial. So having people carrying guns regularly
isn't really the solution.
The 'criminal' has the easy part because
every one is a good enough target.
For the police things could be easy(ier) as
well. Take the strictest law: Nobody is allowed to carry guns. Result,
any one with a gun is a criminal, any one with a gun is a target for the
Live is never simple of course.
(Did you notice that I am against guns?)
As far as using Apple, you are of course entitled to your opinion,
but it is one that is shared by less than 5% of computer users.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Apple
and not having a huge market share is not a problem either. Apple
'suffers' from the same symptoms that for example BMW (cars) has, they
are more expensive than comparable competing cars and you can find
faster, cheaper ones as well. Heck you can build your own. This doesn't
mean Apple will/should go belly up as a hardware vendor. They push
technology from the lab to the market.
For example the iMac only has USB for
peripheral connectivity, no serial and parallel stuff. Now PCs also
allow user to have USB along with serial and parallel. User inertia
prevents USB from becoming popular on PCs so peripheral venders are not
likely to produce many USB-only products. For the Apple they have no
option so USB gets introduced at a much increased pace. And then the PC
community profits from an Apple decision.
Ex Iomega Zip. If not for Apple they would
probably remained USB-less for at least a year longer.
Apple has its place in the market and plays
quite an important role in the industry.
(Surprise : I don't have an Apple and I
don't advice to buy them. I just respect them.)
Side remark : Most users don't really care
about the type of computer, they use what the company puts on their
desks (and, after about a year, complain that is isn't fast enough and
that the disk is to small and ...) . So your quoted percentages should
not be about computer users but computer buyers.
Regarding targets, the criminal is at a strong disadvantage. He
is presented with a plethora of targets, and it's not immediately evident
to him which, if any, of those targets are wolves (armed citizens) and
which are sheep. The armed citizen, on the other hand, has no such
problem. It's immediately evident to him which person is the target. The
target is the one who is still standing and shooting at other people.
Regarding Apple and market share, all of these comparisons with
automobile marques are facile. Consider the position of BMW if it could
not accept Ford-compatible gasoline or use Toyota-compatible roads. Taking
your BMW on a long trip would be fraught with problems, not least figuring
out where to refuel it. (This, incidentally is really a problem faced by
people who drive experimental cars fueled by natural gas and so on.) Apple
has the same problem with software. And that's why a 3% market share means
the death of Apple. We've seen it happening for years. Although software
selection has always been pathetic on an Apple compared to a PC, there at
least used to be unique programs that ran only on Apple. Then, software
makers began porting those to Windows, albeit in a less functional form or
as an older version. Then, software makers began introducing their new
versions first on the PC and only later on Apple. Then, software makers
began introducing their new versions only for the PC. Apple is dying. The
only thing they can do to stop that slide, and they should have done it
years ago, is to port the Apple OS to Intel and get out of the hardware
3 August 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Now here's something depressing. I've been helping Pournelle get his
web site moved over to pair Networks. One of the things I'm doing is
generating traffic statistics for him. My site generates between 500 and
1,000 page reads per day. The first two days I did stats for Pournelle,
last Friday and Saturday, he got 7,000 total page reads, while I got about
1,400 for the same two days. Okay, I can live with him getting five times
the traffic I do. He's a lot better known than I am, has a column in BYTE,
etc. For Sunday, he got another 3,500 page reads, so things appeared to
have settled down.
Then this morning I ran his stats for yesterday. He didn't quite make
10,000 page reads, but he came close. So, obviously, DNS changes were
still not fully propagated the first three days, and his site is going to
end up with 10 to 20 times the traffic my site generates. And that's why
I'm depressed. I bust my butt on this site, and still have trouble
breaking into four figures for page reads/day. Pournelle busts his butt
also, it's true, but he's headed for five figures. I feel like a dwarf.
Excuse me. A height-impaired person.
I suppose in the end it doesn't really matter. I've not set out to
maximize traffic. I have a good, loyal group of readers, and that's what
counts. I suppose I could break my daily posting in two and nearly double
my page read count that way, but I'm not really interested in artificially
inflating the numbers. But I'm still depressed.
* * * * *
This from Tom Syroid [email@example.com]:
Recognize myself the often skewed results
from any survey, but thought you might find this
interesting apropos our chat yesterday...
Perhaps. But I think he's wrong. Very wrong.
I think widespread roll-out of W2K will not *begin* before 2001, let alone
achieve the 40% penetration quoted. It's more likely to resemble the
abortive Novell roll-out of NetWare 4.0. Every shop in the country bought
one copy and installed it on a testbed server. That was it. I think the
same will happen with W2K throughout 2000.
We could perhaps bet a 3-litre Coke on it...
* * * * *
This from Dave Farquhar [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
To answer your question, Apple has one
pre-emptive multitasking OS. OS X Server is pre-emptive and
multi-threaded (since it's based on NeXTStep). But 8.5 and 8.6, which is
what you still run on individual stations, are still the old cooperative
multitasking, but it's application-based (the applications decide when
to cede control to the OS, rather than letting the OS distribute the CPU
The memory management is different under
8.5/8.6 as well. You call up the program's icon and specify how much
memory the program gets (you specify preferred and minimum amounts of
memory). The program can't get any more than what you specify, which can
cause some problems sometimes.
The biggest limitation I see in MacOS,
though, is its 127-font limit. If you install more than 127 fonts, you
can count on font and printer problems unless you use a font management
tool like Suitcase. This can be a liability in publishing environments.
Views expressed in this document are my own
and, unless stated otherwise, in no way represent the opinion of my
Wow. Hard to believe that anyone would take a co-operative
multi-tasking operating system seriously in this day and age. Microsoft
gave up on co-operative multi-tasking with Windows 3.1, and here we have a
supposed technology leader using it four years later.
* * * * *
This from Joshua D. Boyd [email@example.com]
This is from last wednesday. I got behind
and am now catching up on reading your web page.
As far as Linux as a client operating system, in an hour one can
teach someone who has had no exposure to Windows how to perform basic
tasks. In a day, one can teach an intelligent person all he needs to
know to use Windows reasonably effectively and efficiently. With Linux,
even something as simple as formatting a floppy diskette or installing
an application requires a great deal of knowledge about the operating
system. Dr. Pournelle has spent hours fiddling with Linux with little
effect. If he can't accomplish simple tasks after putting in that much
effort, how much chance does an ordinary user have?
My sister despises computers. Among other
things, she prefers to write her papers by hand, and only after the
paper is complete does she like to type it into Word on her computer.
Anyway, she was able to sit down on my then mostly stock Redhat 6 system
(the only change was to start x on login), and she was able to figure
out how to play games and manipulate windows in a matter of minutes.
With only slightly more time she could have figured out how to use the
installed word processor, and copy files to floppies. Formatting
floppies would have been a bit more difficult, but then, she doesn't
need to do that much since all the floppies my family owns were
At this point, she can log into her account
on my box and use it. On my account now things are significantly more
complicated than they were before. I prefer to mostly do my work from
the command line, so I have Window maker stripped to a minimum, and it
launchs several xterms on startup for me.
That is why I say that Linux will not make it as a client
operating system, at least until it has a graphical shell that allows
all the things normal users do to be done as easily under Linux as under
Windows. That is not a flame, simply a statement of reality.
Maybe you are using the word client
operating system differently than I do, but I think that linux is the
perfect client operating system. I use client operating system to refer
the the OS installed on the client stations on a network. In that usage,
users often shouldn't be using floppies at all, and if the do need to,
it is a simple matter for the administrator to add a format floppy icon
to a menu somewhere. The one place where linux is mostly unsuitable is
in the home. But then, current linux distributions still aren't really
meant for normal people. If I were to make a distribution for home
users, it would look very much like the iToaster (which uses BeOS, but
it's users can't tell just from looking at it). Current distrobutions of
linux are still meant mostly for programmers and server installs. And
for those purposes, they aren't that bad. Sure there is still a bit of a
learning curve, but hopefully programmers and server admins would know
how to use internet sources other than just common search engines. Even
for administrating NT, normal search engines aren't usually good enough.
Well, we have different ideas about what comprises a decent
client (or standalone) operating system. If one sat down and made of list
of the 100 most common tasks a user might want to do, I think you'll find
that an average user can puzzle out how to do all or nearly all of those
tasks under Windows, but none or almost none under Linux. I used
formatting a floppy disk as an example, but there are numerous other
examples I could have used as easily.
As I've said before, I *like* Linux. But I don't think that even
its biggest proponents, including Linus himself, would say that it's easy
enough to use for people who are not computer geeks to be productive with
it in a client or standalone environment. Setting up a computer for
someone and providing icons or shortcuts for a certain number of specific
tasks is one thing. Having an OS that is usable by ordinary people to do
ordinary (and unpredictable) things relating to their work is quite
* * * * *
This from Matt Beland [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Having just moved to Phoenix, I cannot find
my copy of "Grumbles from the Grave," but I have a nagging
memory of a cover art photo in there of "Starship Soldiers."
If my memory is correct - and it may very well not be - it was a British
edition of Starship Troopers, printed in England by a British publisher.
I don't think there was any mention of content changes, however. Or
possibly, you (or I) may simply be from an alternative timeline.
Anybody seen Lazarus?
PS - I can testify that these SouthWestern
US yahoos don't know a thing about heat and comfort levels. A very dear
friend of ours visited us in Chicago last summer - NOT during a heat
wave - and couldn't function because of the heat. Whereas I am
comfortable in long pants and a tie (or as comfortable as I ever am in
such clothing) so long as I have a water bottle or other source of
I hadn't thought about _Grumbles from the Grave_ but when you
mentioned it, I dug out one of my copies. On page 82, I found a cover shot
of _Starship Troopers_ but it was under that name. I didn't find a cover
of _Starship Soldiers_, British or otherwise. The text did note that the
working title for the book was _Sky Soldier_ and Heinlein referred to the
book in correspondence with his agent as _Starship Soldier_, but there was
nothing about a printed book with that name.
As far as the heat, it appears finally to have broken. We're
supposed to have temperatures in the 80's for the next week or so.
* * * * *
This from Dave Farquhar [email@example.com]:
I'm sending this via my home account. I can
bash Apple all I want from here.
A big part of it is that Apple has its users
convinced they don't need pre-emptive multitasking. Mac users have
trained themselves over the years to work around the Mac's limitations,
but when presented with a PC's limitations, they're not as forgiving or
willing to work around it (what do you mean my disk drives have
My biggest problem with Apple is its
arrogance. Their techs won't work with me when I have to fix a Mac;
their solution to every problem is to reformat the hard drive and
reinstall the OS. If it'll run MacOS bare, it's not their problem. Now,
Apple isn't obligated to make third-party software work on their PCs,
but if Microsoft can keep a knowledge base and alert its users to
potential problems, there's no reason why Apple can't.
There's also their contention that they
invented plug and play. Amigas were doing something like Plug and Play
(they called it AutoConfig) in 1985, when the Mac still wasn't
expandable beyond a second floppy drive and an Imagewriter printer.
Apple fashions itself an innovator, but they've stolen every bit as much
as Microsoft has. In some cases, they just stole before Microsoft did.
(And, of course, Amigas had full pre-emptive multitasking in 1985 as
well, which Apple still hasn't managed to roll out to the masses.)
I'm no Microsoft fan (not by any stretch of
the imagination), but dealing with Microsoft is positively heavenly
compared to dealing with Apple.
Good points. I agree with all of that. Whenever I think of Apple,
the phrase "de mortuis nil nisi bonum" comes to mind.
"About the dead, speak nothing but good." It seems to me that if
something is a robust, going concern, everyone feels free to criticize and
bitch about it. Everyone feels free to criticize some companies, like
Microsoft, and that tells me that those companies are going places. When I
come across a company or technology that one daren't criticize unless one
is willing to accept a flood of flame mail, that tells me that that
company or technology is on its last legs. In that respect, Apple has
always been the walking dead, and Netscape has also joined that group.
What really makes me wonder is that Linux is in that same group. Does this
mean that Linux is doomed to die? That idea seems to fly in the face of
all the hype, but I'm really beginning to wonder. On that basis alone, I
have strong reservations about the future of Linux.
* * * * *
This from Chuck Waggoner [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Well, I spent a week, trying every
conceivable combination of downloading (synchronizing) options, but none
would update the background image; even returning things to the MS
defaults did no good. So, I finally 'refreshed' the page with the
browser today, and "Image1.jpg" now contains the new
background. It's funny that in the Temp Internet folder, that file kept
showing itself as being updated to newer dates, but it still carried the
old parchment image.
There are so many faults with
IE5--especially in the 'Synchronizing' feature,--but I guess it's just
too much to expect that they will get it fixed in anything like a timely
--Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
That is indeed strange. I guess the moral here is that if you use
IE synch, you should do a manual refresh once in a while.
* * * * *
This from Robert Rudzki [email@example.com]:
While I have been cursing the heat here in
Southern California, the temperatures at 90-100 F. with low RH's
typically 10-30% are normal for this time of year and certainly not
intolerable given some shade, fans and plenty of iced tea with lots of
lemon squeezed in. I have had to turn on the A/C only for several of the
hottest 105 F. plus days. That ten feet of snow in Vermont tempts me at
times until I remember walking to grade school in Chicago in January;
-10 F., 20 knots of wind off the Lake and it was uphill both ways, I
I see Jan Swijsen from the Netherlands does
not like ordinary civilians owning guns, but let us remember that
Belgium had [when I was there, 1983-1988] relatively lax gun laws for
Europe. Many criminals in the rest of Europe used guns bought in Belgium
and smuggled them quite illegally and used them in violation of the
local law to kill competing drug dealers and settle scores. I seem to
remember a couple of Dutch junkies from Heerlen in my kitchen at 0300
hours who looked real surprised at the sight of a Benellii M-121 shoved
in their faces, they left pretty damn quick. The German police had our
street staked out for these two, they had hit all the houses starting
from the Rimburg border crossing [only 100 metres away] and they never
came back to our street but did hit our landlord's town to the north for
14 more houses according to the police and the MO they had used.
As for knowing who to shoot, you are spot
on. The Israeli rescue commandos shout get down in Hebrew and then shoot
everyone still standing and they do whack a clueless American or two
among the hostages who are still standing asking what the hell was that?
Funny how the Arab terrorists tried hijacking only ONE El-Al jetliner
[in 1975] and it landed in Tel Aviv and the terrorists had been led to
believe they had landed in Beirut, boy and howdy, were they surprised...
I still fondly remember that little Kriegel
.22 bolt-gun, with a muzzle threaded for a ********* [re-dacted]
permitting target practice in our German back yard with the neighbors
none the wiser, even though they were in THEIR backyard at the time... A
friend of ours had purchased it for her husband's birthday several years
before in Brussels, and had to leave it behind since the Bee Aye Tee Eff
takes a dim view of such d*evices imported into the US of A by ordinary
military rotating back to The Land Of The Big BX. I had to leave it and
gave it to a friend who would be staying a lot longer.
I saw in your Musings item about strangers
wasting your time with calls at 0300 hours, can you give a little more
detail on how you actually installed it on the old 386? [I know you are
working on a lot of stuff, perhaps a link, if it is on the Web
In a previous life, I was also wearing the
phone guy's hat, responsible for maintaining and sending out for repair
a 12-store medley of old key systems and sets, I recommended
standardizing systems through attrition hoping to get to Nortel's
Meridian in all locations but the owner said to make it Trillium
TalkTo's which were obsolete by then and getting harder to find.
We had a 20 CO line/40 station Meridian
system at Corp HQ, nice stuff but expensive. We had paid $14,000 for
this along with installation, to get automated voicemail would have been
over $10 grand new and $6500 used, and yep, it ran on an old 386 PC
hanging on the wall but the interface card and software were what killed
you on price/performance!
Voice mail was stored on a hard drive in
digital format, as soon as the owner saw the price she nearly had a
stroke, her Plan A was to get rid of the ditzy blonde receptionist at $6
per hour but you should have seen her legs! Our Plan B was that we got
to keep the ditzy blonde AND her long legs! I know, most men are pigs...
[The company I worked for was privately held
by the owner and her 20's-something son and everything you have heard
about tiny single hole-in-wall mom and pop stores growing into large
retail chains without the proper planning and control was true in
spades, and don't get me started on the Boss's Son Syndrome...]
Pournelle in his 2 August 1999 BYTE column
finally confirmed what I had long suspected, that his 'network' all
these years was one giant cluster-f**k of a single flat NetBEUI
workgroup with all the 'networked' printers, scanners and hardrives
shared as local devices on peer to peer machines! Apparently he just
slapped a $9 10BaseT NIC into each new PC he got, gave it a cute name
and Presto-Changeo, it was 'networked'! I now know why he had all the
trouble with drivers on the HP 4000 and so many other network issues he
used as grist in his Byte columns.
Real Men Use TCP/IP For Everything! Except
If Their Wives Make Them Buy Stuff That Doesn't Have Network Ports!
Well, he did publish my rant on 800 #
dialing, so maybe I should quit while
I'm ahead... =8+]
Yep. And Real Men don't use DNS, either. They use IP addresses.
As far as the AA/VMS system here, I have a Panasonic hybrid
switch that allows connecting either a system phone or an analog phone to
any port. The 386/SX system has a Talking Technologies BigmOuth card
installed in it. Unfortunately, TT is apparently out of business, so if
this card fails I have a real problem.
The reason I picked the BigmOuth card is that it was the only
card (short of a big-bucks Dialogic or something similar) that supports
supervised (or "smart") transfers. All of the other inexpensive
voice cards out there do only dumb transfers. In other words, when a call
rings in on BigmOuth and the caller presses #3 to ring my phone, the
BigmOuth follows call progress. If my extension returns "busy",
the BigmOuth can do whatever I've specified under programmatic control. If
it gets ring-no-answer, it can do something else. And so on. Cards that do
dumb transfers simply transfer a call to another extension and then forget
The upshot is that with dumb transfers, the caller first hears,
"You've reached the Thompson residence..." If that caller then
punches #3 to speak to me and my extension is busy or ring-no-answer, I
can program the Panasonic switch to return the call to the dumb card. But
then the next thing the caller hears is, "You've reached the Thompson
With the BigmOuth smart transfers, the caller hears the same
intro, but when my extension doesn't answer, I can bounce the caller into
my voicemail box, have it transfer to my cell phone, or whatever, instead
of just returning to the standard entry point.
* * * * *
Late morning: This is
ridiculous. Last Friday morning, I posted the bogus Word dialog
options.jpg that Dave Farquhar sent me. It ended up being linked to by
several other sites, and has gotten something like 10,000 retrievals since
I posted it. This one file is now accounting for more than 50% of my total
throughput. It's less than 50 KB, but 1,000 reads of a file that size is
nearly 50 MB, and 10,000 is nearly half a gig. I'd leave the damned thing
up, but the links to it point directly to the graphics file, so people who
retrieve it aren't really visiting my site. They're simply retrieving that
one file and then going elsewhere. It's not doing me any good at all. So I
deleted the file, and now I expect to get thousands of failure entries in
my logs. Oh, well.
4 August 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Another brilliant plan fails. Barbara apparently re-subscribed to TV
Guide some time ago, and in the mail yesterday was the subscription
premium, a One-For-All Remote Finder. That's two units, a small
transmitter and a tiny receiver. You're supposed to Velcro the tiny
receiver to your remote. When you lose your remote, you press the button
on the transmitter, and the receiver beeps, allowing you to locate your
remote. I asked Barbara what happens when you can't find the
At any rate, we don't have any problem with lost remotes, so Barbara
said she might put the receiver on her key ring, because she does misplace
her keys frequently. Is that a girl thing, or is it just that setter types
don't have as many pockets as us pointer types?
I suggested that there was an even better use for it. Attach the
receiver to Duncan's collar and turn him into a Border Beeper. Duncan
obeys very well when he's not focused on something else. The problem is,
when he sees a squirrel or something else interesting, he's so focused on
it that he doesn't even hear our commands. I thought that the beeper might
serve to break his concentration so that he'd hear commands.
Barbara was taking Duncan out to Rebecca's farm (the woman who runs the
BC Rescue and has several BCs of her own.) Every Tuesday evening, people
show up with their BCs for training. Duncan with his beeper was a big hit
among the humans, but all the other dogs laughed at him. And the beeper
didn't work very well. One-For-All says it has a forty foot range, which
is a joke, and even when it did beep he ignored it. So much for my cunning
plan. No wonder Barbara sometimes calls me Baldric.
* * * * *
This from David Yerka [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Chuck Waggoner's problem with synchronizing
pages w/o background changes probably has to due with IE5's changes in
downloading temporary Internet files. If you check TOOLS->INTERNET
OPTIONS->GENERAL->"TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES" SETTINGS
you will see that the default is now AUTOMATIC. For some reason
sometimes background images do not get refreshed if the image name
doesn't change even if time and date info does with this setting.
I've seen this behavior on 2 or 3 different
machines. I think all were Win98/IE4 upgraded to IE5. Changing the
setting to "Every time you start IE" or "Every time you
access page" or whatever seemed to clear up the behavior.
Didn't really follow this up as I don't use
synchronizing myself. I've got a single phone/56K line (read 45k max)
and don't feel the need to tie it up in the background. If Bell Atlantic
can get off the dime maybe I'll get DSL available within the next 9
months and with a constant high speed connect games like that will be
Okay, thanks. I don't use synch much myself. I started using it
every morning to update The Register because it's a fairly slow site. But
that's all I use it for. I'm sure Chuck will appreciate your help.
* * * * *
This from Joshua D. Boyd [email@example.com]:
I really should try to read everything
before hitting the send button. Actually, the last send was an accident,
I meant to hit postpone. Any way here goes.
As far as Vermont, it's more than just the gun laws that I like
about it. It's the fact that they regard government as intrusive and
something that should be absolutely minimized. It shows in all aspects
of the way they do things there.
Around where I live, Vermont is rapidly
starting to seem like the place to be if you have hippy tendencies. I
wonder if that is related to what you said above. While I don't know
many people who've moved out there, I have several friends that from
time go out to Vermont to visit semi hippy friends of theirs. I don't
even know if hippy is the right word anymore, although that is what some
of them use. After all, wasn't it the hippies that got us where we are
today? Further, most of these people seem to be more aligned with the
republicans than the democrats these days. However, they still listen to
the grateful dead, as well as newer, but similar bands like Phish and
The Almond Brothers.
On gun control, I was watching 60 minutes
last night. I know you hate that show, but I find it interesting
sometime, although I always take it with several grains of salt. Anyway,
they were covering in one of their stories the effect that the ban on
assault weapons had. They showed a clip of Clinton talking about how
they were banning weapons which had no purpose other than to kill
people. Now, maybe I'm wrong, but wasn't the point of the fifth
amendment to allow citizens to carry guns for killing people, to
guaranty (I'm awful with spelling, and this machine doesn't have a very
helpful spellchecker. I'm using a telnet account at the moment, since my
home email is broken, and it is the ISPs fault. They recently came under
new management, and are jerking me around all over the place. But I
prepaid, and now don't have money to switch to another ISP) that they
would be capable of staging an uprising if they ever felt the need?
That's kinda hard to do if you are severely under armed, although not
In relation to your comments about Dvorak
and the iBook, much as I agree that Jobs is an arrogant fool, and as
much as I dislike the iMac mouse, and the transparent plastic of both
machines, I think that he is turning out to be right. After, he isn't
telling everyone that they are moving completely to those awful looking
machines. They are still making more traditional machines. And the sales
numbers for the iMac don't lie. That machine is selling really well. So
much as you and Dvorak dislike those machines, Apple has apparently done
the right thing. At the school where I am a CS major, many of the other
CS majors have been heard saying that they would really like one of
those iBooks, as soon as linux supports them. And Apple's market share
does seem to be climbing again, although they still are way behind. If
Apple was to dump their hardware, like you suggest they should, most
people I know wouldn't buy their software. But then again, the people I
know who use their systems are probably only a small minority. But they
aren't limited to computer people. They are just people who prefer Apple
hardware, and except the shoddy OS that goes with it, or maybe they
upgrade to linux or Mac OS X. Many CS majors at my school respect
Apple's hardware design, both in the way things fit together, and also
at the electronics level. The PowerPC is a much cleaner CPU the intel.
It is also cheaper (despite the fact that macs aren't), and for some
things it is faster. It is certainly nicer to program assembly for than
Intel CPUs are. Whoever at Intel though that 32bit mode should continue
to have only 4 general registers (which aren't even really general)
should be shot. I've spent time programming in assembly on many
platforms, and intel is the worst.
As far as the person asking about the market
firsts, Apple may have been the first to offer a Laser printer to normal
users. Their choice to use Postscript was definitely a better idea than
PCL was. I don't really know if they were the first. though. Also, I
don't know what you are thinking about when you guess that Dec had the
first plug and play network, but if you are thinking of the Vaxen, I
don't think those networks were really plug and play, nor were they
among desktop machines. Apples were the first mass market machines with
scsi. At least, I've never seen scsi cards for PCs that are older than
the Mac Plus is.
Despite the fact that I sound like I'm
defending Apple, I still think that their hardware is very over priced.
Much as I would love a G3 (and not one of the G3 with the iMac color
scheme) to run Linux and MacOSX on, there is no way that I can afford
one. Actually, there probably aren't going to be any macs in my price
range when I intend to next purchase a new computer, which is next
spring sometime. I plan to spend somewhere in the range of under $800,
and I expect a dual CPU machine with 128 megs of ram and a good video
card (probably a TNT of TNT2). If Apple does drop the price of some of
their iMacs to under $800, it still won't be a powerful enough machine
I recently had the chance to try a Dell
Precision 610 with 256 megs of ram and the Wildcat 4000 video card. That
machine cost the same as high-end macs workstations do ($8000) and I'm
sure that there is no way a single CPU mac can beat dual xeon 550s, and
I know that mac doesn't offer any video cards with near that cards 3D
performance. I was spinning a model with several hundred thousand
polygons at a higher frame rate than even the schools Onyx could manage.
That model crashed lesser NT stations with only 128 megs of ram and TNT
cards. And frankly, to my knowledge, as Apple increases the performance
of their machines going up the product line, they also increase their
profit margin by several powers.
And now I move on to commenting about this
That image that you removed, options.jpg.
Many sites check the refer before serving images. That keeps from
happening to them what happened to you. I'm surprised that a service
like pair would turn those types of options on automatically to cut down
their bandwidth usage.
I don't like that I how often I end up
ranting about Windows NT, but I'm about to do it again. Maybe this
problem is entirely Microsoft's fault, but it sure is bothersome. I
working on a P2-450 machine with 128 megs of ram, and a Riva TNT card.
The program I've been working in the most the past couple of days is 3D
Studio Max. For the research team that I'm working on, I'm the only one
who really knows how to manipulate 3D models well, so while the others
are doing the programming, I'm ending up working in Max and doing the UI
design, and web design, and all other types of things. Anyway, while
working in max, max slowly takes up more and more memory (I'm even
working on a small file by the standards of professional animators,
since the project uses VRML, we need the extra speed that small models
give), till suddenly I look and find that Max is using 212 megs of ram.
And then Max crashes because it has filled the swap file and now NT has
no clue how to recover. I then have to reboot the machine.
And this problem isn't limited to this one
machine. I had this problem on every NT station I've ever run Max on. If
fact, I've had similar problems running emacs on NT to analyze database
dumps. And I've even found that some command lines programs that I've
written run perfectly on unix boxes (Suns, SGIs, linux), but they
develop memory leaks on NT. How does Microsoft expect people to take NT
seriously as a replacement for Solaris and Irix if they are going to
allow problems like to persist. Microsoft claims that the changes to the
kernel that arrived in V4 were essential. If that is so, then why does
Linux, Solaris x86, and NeXTStep run so fast with out pulling such
stupid stunts? And since when do we need machines with 256 megs of
memory to manipulate 1 meg files?
Well, I have to go, since the render I was
working on (this time it was a large file, I wanted to use the render as
a texture map for a lower res model) has crashed and I now need to
Thanks. I've posted your message in full, although I regret that
I don't have time this morning to respond to it.
* * * * *
This from Dave Farquhar [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Interesting points and good observations.
They do say, however, that old computers never die. The ancient 8-bit
computers of the late 1970s and 1980s still have surprisingly rabid
followings--there's still tons and tons of stuff on the TRS-80 Color
Computer (or CoCo to its fans), the TI-99/4A (which seems to be at least
as popular now as it was when it was new), and the Commodore 64. The
CoCo and the C-64 had fairly short reigns as majority platforms, but
both were in production into the early 1990s (I think I read somewhere
that the CoCo finally vanished in some ridiculous year like 1994; I know
the last C-64 was produced in 1992).
Now, whether Linux is headed the way of
CP/M... Rising stars seem to have the same problem falling and fallen
stars do. I remember when NT was coming up, it took plenty of flak from
all directions (especially Mac and OS/2 users). And it had the same
identity crisis that Linux does right now: Server? Workstation?
Next-Generation Consumer OS? Six years later, NT's two for three.
There are more Linux warriors than there
were NT warriors; that's probably because there are more Linux users in
1999 than there were NT users in 1993-94. They're louder, but the
Internet factor probably plays into that a lot. And a good number of
Linux users are activists, like Richard Stallman, with Linux just being
one brick in their wall of causes. Someone who feels his/her agenda
hinges on the success or failure of Linux will go to extremes that you
and I wouldn't. If Windows 9x dies, I can find other things to write
about. If Windows NT dies, you can find something else to write about.
I don't think either Linux or NT stand a
chance of displacing Windows 9x in the home any time soon (plenty of
home users still want to play their old DOS games that break under NT,
and I think Microsoft underestimates that. IBM did too--and that hurt
OS/2 to no end). But in sub-$300 computers or "information
appliances," I think Linux can really gain ground. It has a
significant price advantage, after all. Linux might be able to win the
war without even fighting it if it finds its way into the sub-$300 boxes
that appeal to the 50 percent of computerless US households. Chances are
the likes of you and I will end up buying some of those things too.
Linux could achieve greater than 50% penetration by disguising its
identity as a computer. Of course, it's not ready yet. But NT wasn't
ready as a stable server OS in 1993 either.
Oh yes, as for your readership vs.
Pournelle's... Remember, Jerry's been at this for 20 years, and he's got
that "Hmm. I used to read Byte magazine a lot. I wonder whatever
happened to it?" factor going for him. People visit www.byte.com,
see the link, then visit Jerry's site, and bingo. Your past O'Reilly
books don't have that benefit--if someone buys one of your books and
likes it, he or she has to go looking for you. Just getting the kind of
readership numbers you have is a pretty phenomenal accomplishment.
Jerry's numbers look pretty good... Until
you compare them with Jesse Berst's Anchordesk. There's always someone
with bigger numbers.
I don't doubt that Linux will make it as an embedded OS. In fact,
I understand that one can now buy a Linux-based MP3 player for
automobiles. You're right about the critical-mass issue in terms of the
numbers of people that work with and know Linux. And you're also right
about the "Save the Penguins" activism aspect of Linux. I made
the mistake in some off-line mail of telling I guy that, although I like
Linux, there are better alternatives available, such as FreeBSD, for
running a web server. You'd have thought I'd told him his baby was ugly or
something. I don't understand people who form emotional attachments to
their operating systems.
As far as web traffic, thanks for the kind words. What you say is
true, and I'm not really in this to post high scores anyway, but I guess
my natural competitiveness is always lurking in the background. I always
have the underlying feeling that if something is worth doing at all, it's
worth kicking your competitor's butts while you're doing it. Not that I
regard Jerry as a competitor in any sense...
* * * * *
This from Frank A. Love [email@example.com]:
I'm not surprised that Pournelle's site gets
more traffic than yours since, in addition to being a computer writer,
he is also a moderately well-known science fiction writer; but
personally, I find your site to be more entertaining.
Where else can I read about subjects as
varied as Starship Troopers, gun ownership, dogs and computer
maintenance all in one column? It's like looking over your shoulder
during the most interesting parts of your day. While I might not agree
with everything you write or publish, you are always thought provoking.
I have five sites that I "visit"
pretty much on a daily basis and I generally 'save' your site for last
because you are pretty much guaranteed to have content that I will find
useful, entertaining, interesting... or all three.
So you may not be getting Pournelle's
traffic yet, but keep it up, I just found your site from a mention on
Pournelle's site about four months ago.
Concerning Robert Rudski's sneer at
Pournelle's networking setup:
"Pournelle in his 2 August 1999 BYTE
column finally confirmed what I had long suspected, that his 'network'
all these years was one giant cluster-f**k of a single flat NetBEUI
workgroup with all the networked' printers, scanners and hardrives
shared as local devices on peer to peer machines! "
What's wrong peer-to peer networking on
small (say 25 systems or less) setups? I know that there are theoretical
advantages to client-server type networking but are the hassles of
setting up a server for a small network system worth the trouble?
Especially since his, like most small networks "just grew".
Granted that, at some point, you need to step back and re-organize
everything, but when would that be?
It seems to me that having a client-server
type set-up on a small network just reintroduces the old
single-point-of-failure vulnerability of the mainframe set-up. " I
can't do my work, the servers down!" Small companies don't need
Thanks for the kind words about my site.
As far as peer networking, I agree that it's a workable solution
for a small workgroup, although I'd tend to set the upper limit at 5 or 10
systems rather than 25. Although I run a multi-domain environment here,
that's to support my book writing, and I could just as easily use a
workgroup. In general, my attitude is that if you're going to install at
least two NT Server boxes on a network, you should configure it as a
domain. It's really no extra trouble to do that, and the second NT Server
box is a backup domain controller.
The problem I have with Pournelle's setup has nothing to do with
domain versus workgroup. He's gotten it into his head that Workgroup =
NetBEUI and TCP/IP = Domain. I've told him repeatedly that you can run
TCP/IP on a Workgroup or NetBEUI on a domain, but the NetBEUI-Workgroup
linkage is firm in his mind. The problem with running only NetBEUI, of
course, is that he can access the Internet only from a machine that is
physically dialed in to his ISP. But his network configuration may have
changed. I understand that Roland Dobbins spent some time at Chaos Manor
setting up TCP/IP for Jerry.
* * * * *
This from ROBERT RUDZKI [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
Thanks for the info on aa/vms systems, I
will be pursuing them tomorrow, today was eaten by giant lizards freed
from deep underground caverns by secret nuke tests in the Sierra
The main spousal unit was trying to send a
cover letter and her resume earlier this afternoon and of course I had
set her up with the Wingate 3.02 Win95 client and disconnected her modem
for a test. Naturally after many reconfigurations WinGate was buggered
beyond all belief and I finally read the readme.txt that told me my NT
Server standalone was not supported by WinGate as a client which
explains some of the weird results I was getting. She could not send
mail out so I etched down to bare metal, whacked all instances of
WinGate server and client, put her back on her own USR 56k V.90 external
so she could at least connect the way she had before and started
troubleshooting the rest of the network.
I had gotten careless about pulling files
across the small [4-node] home network we use to share the printer
mostly, and tried installing from her machine without actually copying
the file to my local drive it looked like it installed properly, buuuuut
Anyway, after complete fresh installs of the
WinGate Server and clients it works much better now. But God help me, I
had to use a Win 95 FAT16 partition to install the client on the machine
I am now on until WinGate releases proper NT client software... That old
Celeron 300A sure be getting warm at 450/100 FSB on Windoze 95, I had to
cut it back to 300/66 FSB since it is pretty hot here these last few
Tremendous surprise: Pournelle is using text
labels in his leftmost column instead of those hideous blue icons and
his animated .gifs are gone, replaced by static ones!
Don't suppose you would know why he did
that, perhaps? =8^-)
Don't feel vertically challenged about his
page hit counts, yours is the better and more interesting site by far
and it now seems most of his page hits were internet morons fascinated
by moving blimps and exploding PC's...
I swear to God and the USAF this is a
completely true war story:
When we were posted to Europe in the '80's
my wife decided to further her education by taking a Master's degree in
Information Systems from the USC extension that was out there, that
program has now been sold to a Colorado school.
She was the only woman and the only civilian
in the class, all the rest were USAF and Army captains trying to earn
brownie points by getting a Master's so they could shine on the next
promotion board which back then heavily favored off-duty higher
education in the promotion rankings. I knew all of the USAF guys since
we flew together on the NATO E-3A and the Army guys were from AFCENT, a
big NATO command in Brunssum, NL.
Well, this was a well-read bunch of
technical kinds of guys, and most subscribed to Byte and nearly all read
it regularly and one month Pournelle pulled a real groaner in his
column. Naturally this came up in class discussion and the instructor
whose name escapes me now, told the class he had been a college roommate
of Pournelle's and the man had not changed at all from back then...!
One thing I noticed about our 2 answering
machines both fairly new, digital and with hang-up rejection, is how
many times in each day the phone starts to ring up to 4 times and stops
just short of the 5th ring which would trigger either answering machine.
The local paper ran an article about
telemarketing and predictive dialers, explaining that a computer
predictive dialer is feeding a room full of telemarketing sales people
with dialed numbers trolled in sequence [to get the unlisted #'s] from
each exchange, and to keep the queue full actually dials 105% of the
calls that the reps could handle and this is what accounts for those
mystery rings that just stop.
The irony was that the newspaper had an ad
back in the job classifieds for 24 predictive dialer operators in that
very same issue...!
Well, the giant stinky plant at the
Huntington Library finally bloomed and smelled just like a horse dead a
week in a hot climate, the local TV was going on about this for days,
and the Library had set a record for the number of visitors hoping to
see it bloom, heh, maybe they should put blimps and exploding PC's on
their web site...
My first thought was that WinGate isn't incompatible with NT
Server because I use NTS as a WinGate client. But what you're talking
about, of course, is the WinGate client software, WinGate Internet Client,
or whatever they call it. I don't run that. I just configure my clients
manually. Real Men do it that way...
As far as Pournelle's home page, I did do a quick and dirty fix
of it last night. I got rid of the "hideous blue icons",
optimized his gif and jpeg images, converted his left column to text
links, etc. FrontPage gives an estimated download time at the bottom of
the screen while you're editing a page, and I got his page down from 31
seconds to 9 seconds. When I sent it to him, he thanked me for my efforts,
but said it was a little "bare-bones" for his taste. It is his
site, after all, so although I strongly disagree with his choices, I
defend to the death his right to make them. He did replace his old images
with the optimized versions I sent him, though.
As far as Pournelle making errors, of course he does. So do we
all. Most of us don't have the high profile he does, though. And some of
those errors are not really errors, but simply inadequate information. For
example, the thing about the Intel Sun River SR440BX motherboard he wrote
about in his column. Jerry and I both have one of these motherboards. When
he was building a system around it, he commented to me about the
configuration jumper. I told him that it has three positions, one for
normal operation, one for initial system configuration, and one for
"recovery mode". The way it works is that you set it to config
mode when you're first setting up the system, and then move it to normal
mode. Pournelle swears that you have to open the case and move the jumper
back to configuration mode any time you want to run Setup. I told him that
that's not the way it works. You can run Setup any time you want with the
jumper in Normal mode.
While I was building Barbara's new system around the SR440BX, I
found out the problem. At least when running with the Pentium III/450, the
video doesn't come on until the time has passed when you can press F2 to
enter Setup. So by the time Jerry saw the opening boot screen, pressing F2
did nothing, which accounts for the fact that he believes he needs to
reset the config jumper to Configuration mode any time he wants to run
setup. I told him to just turn on his system and sit there pressing F2
with the screen still dark. That's the only way to get into Setup with the
jumper set to Normal.
So, in one sense, what he put in his column about the SR440BX is
an error. But it's an error that any reasonable man might have made.
As far as predictive dialing, I agree that it's annoying. That's
why I gave up on trying to screen calls with an answering machine and
installed an automated attendant/VMS system. Nowadays, when the phone
rings it's almost always someone we want to talk to. We get a spam phone
call about every two or three months. Those are from spammers persistent
enough (or stupid enough) to listen to what sounds like an answering
machine message before they get to the part that tells them what number to
press to talk to specific people here.
5 August 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
I found out first hand yesterday what fragmentation can do to an NTFS
volume. My main workstation, kerby, seemed to be getting slower and
slower over the last several days. Some other weird stuff had happened,
including the speaker icon disappearing from the tray several days ago. So
I decided I probably needed to reboot the system. I did that. Shutdown, as
usual, took the better part of half an hour. When the system restarted, it
wasn't any faster than before.
It finally hit me that I'd turned off the auto-defrag in Diskeeper a
couple of weeks back. I was trying to figure out what was causing the slow
shutdowns, so I turned off many services that had been running in the
background. One of the things I turned off was the Diskeeper defrag that
had been scheduled to run at 3:00 a.m. each day. I'd gotten so used to
having my disk defragged automatically, that I hadn't even thought about
fragmentation as a possible cause of the problem.
When I fired up Diskeeper manually, the problem was pretty clear. The
disk map screen was mostly bright red, indicating fragmented files. After
running Diskeeper, nearly all of those files had been unfragmented, and my
system was behaving normally again. You can be sure that I turned on the
Set and Forget defragmentation. It'll be running at 3:00 a.m. every day
from now on.
The moral here is that if you use NTFS, you should defrag regularly.
After only a couple of weeks without defragmenting, my system was
performing at literally half of its normal level. I use the commercial
version, but there's also a freeware version, Diskeeper Lite, available here.
It doesn't do scheduled defrags and some other neat stuff (like defragging
directories) that the commercial version does, but Diskeeper Lite is
sufficient for most users. If you don't have it, get it.
* * * * *
Interesting stuff in the paper this morning. The New Jersey Supremes
have ruled that the Boy Scouts can't ban homosexuals. Why, I'm not sure.
It seems to me that the Boy Scouts are a private organization, and have
the right to accept or ban whomever they want. This is a First Amendment
issue, but I saw no mention of that in the article.
Also, it appears that the Internet stock crash is accelerating. An
article on that mentioned that Amazon.com had dropped from a high of
something like $260/share to something like $88/share. I'm not sure how
the market can support even that inflated price. We're talking, after all,
about a company that has never shown a profit. Conventional wisdom says
that their high share price in the absence of profits is justified because
they're forgoing profits now to gain market share, and will presumably
become dominant in their market niche.
But that's an obsolete concept with Internet companies, and
increasingly with non-Internet companies as well. Being first in a virtual
environment is of very little benefit. In fact, it could be argued that
it's a disadvantage. When you're first, you get to make all the expensive
mistakes, and those who jump in later benefit from that. And customer
loyalty is not a major factor with Internet companies. Customer loyalty is
at root a matter of habit. You're loyal to a company because you're in the
habit of shopping there. As long as they treat you right, you're not
inclined to look elsewhere. Driving across town to save a few cents just
isn't worth it. But with Internet companies, it's simply too easy to
compare what other merchants offer.
* * * * *
This from Bo Leuf [email@example.com]:
Bob, you wrote...
I posted the bogus Word dialog options.jpg that Dave Farquhar sent
me. ... This one file is now accounting for more than 50% of my total
Geez. The web in action. I've heard of
similar access spikes in other contexts, sometimes bringing down entire
servers. The Web is fickle and "instantaneous" in its
Given your earlier reflections on being the
less-visited of the Pournelle-Thompson constellation, such a significant
popularity spike only for that bogus dialog must have felt especially
unrewarding. But I never really figured you would be that affected by
your site being an order of magnitude less visited than Jerry's. After
all, people were buying Byte only to read his column (I confess to being
one of those), and he collected many regulars while the old Byte Chaos
Manor columns were on the Web.
"Be careful what you wish for, you may
"Bo Leuf" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
Yes, I'm still wondering how the original person who posted the
link to that file found it on my site. However he found it, he posted it,
and others saw it at his site and put it on their sites, and so on. I
don't even know who "case zero" was. Most of the traffic has
been coming from camworld.com, though.
As I said, I'm not really too concerned that Jerry's site
generates an order of magnitude higher traffic than mine does. I have more
of a "wouldn't it be nice?" attitude about that. But, as someone
else pointed out, I do get a fair amount of traffic, especially given that
I haven't really done anything to develop traffic other than just writing
my journal. I suppose I could make some effort to promote the site, but to
what purpose? I already get more mail than I can handle. If my site
suddenly started doing Jerry's numbers, I wouldn't get any work done at
* * * * *
This from Dave Farquhar [email@example.com]:
There seems to be a not-so-subtle difference
between a "change the world" mentality and a "conquer the
world" mentality. If you set out to change the world, you're more
likely to end up doing both; if you set out to conquer the world, you'll
just make too many enemies. An awful lot of Linux advocates fall into
the latter category.
A quote from Steve Jobs (of all people)
comes to mind. He was recruiting John Sculley I think--whoever the
ex-PepsiCo exec was that Apple tapped for its CEO during its heyday.
Jobs said, "Do you just want to keep selling sugar water all your
life, or do you want to change the world?"
Embedded systems have a bright future, and I
don't understand why they don't just take that back route. Even Jobs
acknowledges that--the iMac much more closely resembles a set-top box
than it does the DTP stations of the Mac's past. Jobs is selling
millions of the things, so why not gun for selling tens of millions of
Linux-based information appliances?
The competitive spirit shows in your Web
site and in your books, and it's definitely a good thing. I expect the
site hits will pick up some more once your PC hardware book hits the
shelves. And if they don't...? I suspect the Backstreet Boys sold as
many records this past year as Leonard Cohen has sold in his entire
career, but ask any musician which they respect. Quality doesn't always
sell, but it can be its own reward. Leonard Cohen doesn't think much
about the number of records he's sold (though interviews suggest he does
think about who he sold those records to and gets a high degree of
satisfaction from that).
Thanks. I suspect you're right about the site hits picking up
once the books hit the shelves. If they don't it doesn't matter. If I were
selling ads on this site (ugh), I'd be concerned about traffic. But I'm
not, so it doesn't really matter. As far as embedded systems, you may well
be right. It is perhaps an indicator of my age that I have no idea who the
Backstreet Boys are.
* * * * *
And now begins, as the diplomats say, a full and frank exchange of
views of the topic of Jerry Pournelle. This first message is from Alberto_Lopez@notes.toyota.com.
He sent it to ROBERT RUDZKI [firstname.lastname@example.org]
and bcc'd it to me (and to Dr. Pournelle, as it turns out):
Leave Dr. Jerry Pournelle alone. (notice the
"Dr." in his Title)???
I'm curious? Why do you find the need to
keep returning to his site? (otherwise, how would you know about the
changes to his site and/or the so called "errors" that he
talks about? )
Last time I checked, we were all in the good
ol' US of A which gives each and every one of the right to CHOOSE: If
you don't like the book, don't read it. Like wise with the TV and/or Web
Sites on the Internet. Don't like them??? Stay the HELL away.
If you have nothing POSITIVE to comment on
somebody's efforts, it would do you well to just SHUT UP, as the only
thing you show with your derisive comments on Dr. Pournelle's work is
your deep-seated RESENTMENT & JEALOUSY at how well RESPECTED and
LIKED Dr. Pournelle really is.
In parting, can you ( or would you ever care
to) list your personal list of Accomplishments?
- How many books have you published?
- When was the last time someone wrote a
COLUMN in a Highly respected Magazine for 20 STRAIGHT YEARS
uninterrupted? (if it sucked as bad as you make it seem, would it have
lasted as long as it did? I think not ).
- How many Computer, Science and Space
Conferences have you ever been asked to be the KEYNOTE SPEAKER for?
- If Dr. Pournelle is as
"clueless" as you paint him to be, why, oh why, would
MICROSOFT BOTHER to send Product Managers IN PERSON to Dr. Pournelle's
house to provide PERSONAL Tech Support? In one word, RESPECT. If Dr.
Pournelle REPORTS that a piece of software has a problem, then people
I could go on and on... but why? Dr.
Pournelle's list of accomplishments stand on their very own merit. You
seem not to be able to stand it that he has enjoyed such success...
I think that in and of itself speaks volumes
about YOURSELF as a person.
Have a NICE Day,
* * * * *
I sent Mr. Lopez email asking since he'd bcc'd me on this message, did
he want me to post it or not. He replied as follows:
As is evident by the "tone" of my
message, this guy pissed me off. I don't see the point in the mindless
expulsion of negative vibrations towards another human being --
Especially someone of the stature of yourself or Dr. Pournelle.
Yours is a Web Site that I go to LEARN and
be EDUCATED on the TECHNICAL aspects of computing. It's a tremendous
resource and one that I appreciate to no end.
My message to this individual can easily be
construed as a "flame", and as such, it is entirely up to you
if you want to post it or not. I hate to bring down the level of
discussion on your site, but I clearly felt that this person needed to
be "put in his place".
I BCC'd you on it because I read his SNEERS
at Dr. Pournelle on your Site. Like I said, be my guest to post it. I'm
sure I am not the only reader of your Site who is tired/bothered by this
person's ridiculization of and/or constant, virulent attacks upon Dr.
Pournelle and his Web Site.
I promise not to engage/reduce myself to a
"flame war" with this person via your Web Site. I appreciate
efforts such as yours and Dr. Pournelle's way too much to participate in
that level of moronic, adolescent tripe.
Have a FANTASTIC Evening,
Alberto S. Lopez
* * * * *
And literally at the same moment the message from Mr. Lopez arrived,
the following message arrived from Mr. Rudzki:
Since I have switched machines around
several times I no longer have the email I sent to Pournelle about the
Sun River Intel board handy, but I did include a link to Intel's site
pointing to the specific SR440 page which discussed configuration issues
and cooling of the P-II properly.
And I received a rather emotional rant with
lots of CAPS telling me this is a free country from Alberto Lopez at
Toyota.com and I had better not criticize Dr. Pournelle ever again since
he is so great and I am totally unworthy, etc. He copied Jerry on it and
Jerry replied to all so I saw his comments as well, "Thanks for the
kind words." As we say in the Middle East, "The enemy of my
enemy is my friend."
I hold Jerry to a higher standard about
errors in his computer writings since he has been doing it for so long
and has gotten some very expensive handholding from IBM and Microsoft,
entire teams of software engineers sent to his house for days at a time
to fix and massage some new program. I can remember sitting on hold for
hours trying to get OS/2 2.0 to work, the tech support guys were new and
did not know much about cross-linking file problems, IBM chose not to
send any guys to my house... =8^-)
As my wife said the other day, Jerry started
shopping at Fry's after the print Byte folded and he no longer got tons
of free hardware and software to play with and I suspect a lot of his
phone calls were no longer returned from people in the industry.
I had originally started an exchange with
Jerry when revamped his site shortly after Byte folded, his nagging
about paying for the site finally got to me, after he told us how many
large dumpsters of old hardware and software they filled while cleaning
out Chaos Manor, his name dropping about the opera world, the beach
house in San Diego, hobnobbing with the NASA elite, etc.
I told him asking us, the viewers to pay for
his public vanity site when he made a "comfortable" living
publishing books and had gotten literally tons of free equipment to
review and keep was unseemly. Heh, my mistake was calling his site
'vanity' I thought he was going to have a stroke in the email he sent
me. To his credit he did post my entire critical email when I asked him
to, saying Roberta convinced him to do it. He does post critical email
about himself now and then, leaving in all the typo's and misspellings.
I wonder if he has every gotten a thoughtful well-written critique of
his work, his books and attitudes, there must be someone out there
besides the kooks who dislike his arrogance and self-promotion...? OTOH
as Alberto pointed out to me if I don't like his site I have the
'freedom' to not look at it and that's an order...!
I think in some ways Byte outgrew Jerry,
back when it was a hobbyist and tinker's magazine his stuff was ok we
were all learning the ropes in the PC world then, and he simply
outlasted everyone else and became the grand old man of PC's almost by
default as it were.
My view is if you publish a site,
shamelessly plug your books, solicit email and post discussions on many
topics you will have to deal with the occasional person who will
disagree with you and say so. The fact Jerry was courted and fawned upon
by the PC industry for so long since his reviews were very important to
them may make him less willing to tolerate dissent.
[I had read his review of how great
"Grammatik" was, so I ran his column through it and sent it to
him, Grammatik doubled the size of the piece with all its snide comments
about improper structure and style, about half of the comments the
program made were invalid or in error.
My point was that I had no end of trouble
with the program, it didn't work very well and how he could give it such
a glowing review only meant he didn't run very much text through it. I
had tried a lot of things and switching styles of writing that was
checked, even running parts of the Grammatik manual through it, which
also found lots of bogus errors in their own documentation! I guess
thoroughly testing software costs time and money, get the buyer to do
your beta testing for you, then you can sell him a new improved version
with 2000 tacked on the end of the name to make it seem on the cutting
edge of technology, see Microsoft, etal. I take his recommendations with
several grains of salt these days...]
As Andrew McIntyre once said,
"Pournelle got a reputation as a technologist because he couldn't
get his PC to work for 20 years". A man after my own heart... =^8-)
If you think this will generate too many
flames, feel free to exercise your 1st Amendment right and not post
* * * * *
And I received this followup this morning from Mr. Rudzki:
I do indeed know that Dr. Jerry Pournelle
holds a Ph.D. and I have used that honorific in the last couple of
emails I sent him.
As for returning to his site, it is public
and easily accessed from Byte's online edition and the search engines
probably have lots of hits due to the sheer volume of the traffic there.
Was I not supposed to notice the format changes on his site recently? I
think most of them are for the better, I think Robert Thompson is a good
influence on Dr. Pournelle.
To answer your questions in order:
I have never published any books, does a
self-paced instructional module for the Display Technician NATO
Conversion Course count? It was on trouble shooting the Interface
Adapter Unit AKA Control Power Supply on the NATO E-3A AWACS but neither
title really tells you what it does and I cannot go into that here or I
would have to kill you. [Just kidding, it was so cool when Tom Cruise
used that line on Kelly McGillis in Top Gun, I have always wanted a
chance to use it...]
I think there are people in New York type
magazines that have been published for more than 20 years in The New
Yorker, Bill Buckley in his magazine, The National Review of Books,
possibly others in the BeltWay around Washington, DC. But I may be
wrong, I have been before...
I admit I have never been asked to be
Keynote Speaker for anything, but getting lost on the way to a Mensa
Convention in Long Beach from Studio City/Encino should be grounds for
de-certification from Mensa... =8+] The I-110 Freeway goes straight down
into the heart of Long Beach and all the good hotels are along Ocean
Blvd. How hard can this be?
The reason Microsoft and IBM send entire
teams of very expensive engineers to hold Dr. Pournelle's hand while he
is trying to make a program run properly is that a lot of people like
you read him and follow his recommendations, it isn't about respect it's
the bottom line, Bunkie.
Please do go on and on, I am starting to
enjoy this... =8^-)
I wish Dr. Pournelle all the happiness and
wealth he can legitimately accumulate, but I prefer that he would
validate some of his conclusions and trouble shooting rationales with
people more knowledgeable in the area concerned before he publishes
**//SNEER MODE: ON**
I see Toyota must be making a premium on
their trucks and cars since they let their employees surf the 'Net on
the company's nickel...
**//SNEER MODE: OFF**
6 August 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Here's something interesting on the memory front. Kingston is now
selling "white box" memory as ValueRAM.
I still recommend Crucial
exclusively, but for those interested in something that falls between
commodity RAM and Crucial, this site may be worth a look. It remains to be
seen, of course, just how much cheaper (if any) the ValueRAM memory is
than Crucial. My guess is that it will be somewhat cheaper, but not a lot.
I'd be inclined to spend the extra money and go with Crucial.
* * * * *
The Register speculates in an article
this morning that Intel may buy AMD. That would never have gotten past the
anti-trust regulators, of course, but now that it appears that Via will be
buying Centaur/WinChip, Intel can reasonably make the point that they will
not have a monopoly on x86 chips. The article also speculates that Intel
will wait for AMD to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy and then ride to the
rescue as a White Knight. AMD's credit rating just got knocked down a
notch, and Chapter 11 is beginning to look more and more likely for AMD.
My guess is that the K7/Athlon is going to prove too little and too late
to save AMD.
* * * * *
This from Alberto_Lopez@notes.toyota.com:
Thank you for taking the time to do what you
do. I can't stress enough what a resource your site is to those of us
who take the time educate themselves at every conceivable opportunity.
Alas, I can see where this discussion is
heading with Mr. Rudzki He has determined that his rants have garnered
the attention of someone and will most likely now "turn up"
the level of "rhetoric" to be controversial just for the sake
of being "controversial".
As I stated yesterday, I refuse to be drawn
into a flame war with Mr. Rudzki. I've always been a strong advocate of
taking the "high road" whenever possible, even is this is
sometimes misconstrued as being "weak" or "not up to the
challenge" by individuals like Mr. Rudzki.
I stand by the points that I made in defense
of Dr. Pournelle. I enjoy his writings at Chaos Manor tremendously and
refuse to just sit by idly and let someone take potshots at him without
pointing out the positives of Dr. Pournelle's contributions to this
Mr. Rudzki will continue to *bash* Dr.
Pournelle. It is his right to do so. And, as I pointed out to him, I
also have the right to avoid the sites where he is a regular
At this time however, the positives that I
gain by reading your Journal on a daily basis FAR OUTWEIGH the
occasional *smog* that is generated by Mr. Rudzki.
Please keep up the good work. You are
helping more people than you probably realize.
Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you find this site useful.
And, although I know Jerry appreciates your spirited defense--he told me
so yesterday--and although I generally agree with your position in this
debate, I also think there is a kernel of truth in some (not all) of the
criticisms Mr. Rudzki has raised. And I think Jerry would agree. None of
us are perfect.
* * * * *
This from Jan Swijsen [email@example.com]:
Regarding targets, the criminal is at a strong disadvantage. He is
presented with a plethora of targets, and it's not immediately evident
to him which, if any, of those targets are wolves (armed citizens) and
which are sheep. The armed citizen, on the other hand, has no such
problem. It's immediately evident to him which person is the target. The
target is the one who is still standing and shooting at other people.
(from Robert Rudzki :) …Belgium had [when
I was there, 1983-1988] relatively lax gun laws for Europe. Many
criminals in the rest of used guns bought in Belgium and smuggled them
quite illegally and used them in violation of the local law to kill
competing drug dealers and settle scores….
For a criminal who doesn't want to shoot
innocent people picking wolves from sheep is indeed a problem. These are
normal criminals, they typically don't shoot to kill randomly, standing
upright in the middle of a crowd. They are not that crazy. They pick
their target carefully to make sure they hit and then try to get away
with minimum risk. These criminals do some planning and are capable to
get the weapons required for the ‘job’. Armed civilians are a real
problem for them when they are getting away from the scene. There are
also ‘soft’ criminals, they don’t want to shoot anyone they just
want to steel stuff. They probably run when faced with a gun, any gun.
Even an alarm pistol or a dummy may do sometimes.
Most of the recently reported mass killings
however involved madmen shooting to kill. They don't care if they die,
heck if no one does it they shoot themselves. For those there is no
disadvantage, every moving object is a target. It is random point and
shoot. Often these people don’t base their acts and preparations on
reasoning but rather on emotional or political arguments. They buy
weapons that are readily available and that don’t require a lot of
paperwork or under-cover research. They often use self-made weapons like
bombs and typically cause more confusion and media attention than
anything else. No armed civilians will stop them.
As wolf you may see someone shooting at a
target that you don't see. Is he a criminal or a wolf like you ?? You
can of course wait till all others are death or down and then shoot the
last standing man. Which maybe was the wolf that actually shot the
As I said if only criminals (and madmen)
have guns it is easy to pick a target. Of course if only police have
guns they are the easy and only target for criminals. So as self defense
against criminals it looks OK to carry (even use) guns but against
madmen things become complicated.
When you shoot at someone you can only be
sure it was the right one afterwards. I would rather be safe than sorry,
but maybe I would long be death if I lived in America.
Here in Belgium we have rather stricter
weapons laws these day and the only weapons readily (not easily)
available are very light ones (.22 and airgun etc) and even these
require a lot of paper work. But just like so many laws the control is
fairly lax so it is easier to get heavy weapons here, if you know who
and where to ask, than in countries with less stringent laws but better
I think what we're seeing here is the European outlook on
personal weapons versus the U.S. outlook. Europeans have no history of
going armed for personal defense, and indeed were historically often
forbidden from doing so. Conversely, in the U.S. until very recently it
was not at all unusual for ordinary citizens to go armed. Even now,
although large cities, Northeastern states, and California have adopted
the European model, it is commonplace for ordinary citizens to carry
weapons for personal defense.
I understand that most Europeans are shocked that so many
Americans arm themselves, or indeed that they are permitted to do so. Many
Americans, conversely, cannot understand why Europeans have permitted
their governments to disarm them. Trusting your government often proves
foolish. It is no accident that one of the Nazi's first steps on assuming
power was to register and then confiscate personal firearms. An armed
citizenry is the enemy of a dictatorial government. The Second Amendment
to the US Constitution is the most important one, because without it the
rest of the document is meaningless. Unfortunately, the US government has
been attempting to void the Second Amendment, and has been having quite a
bit of success in doing so.
* * * * *
And another one from Jan Swijsen [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
One 'feature' that increases the apparent
traffic on Chaos Manor is the Chaos there. I mean Jerry has lots of
links on his mail and view pages and he often links the to same target
from different places without making it clear that the links point to
the same target.
While reading his page I often open such a
link and return to the original page while the new one is loading to
read on. When I then tile all the open windows (easy in Opera) I often
notice that I opened the same page more than once. I also notice that
when a link is repeated one or two days later you only notice that after
you already clicked that link.
All this bloats the hit count. For Jerry
that is unintentional, it is just the way he is. And it adds to the
experience of his site, I like it there.
Some commercial sites do the same (multiple
apparently different links to one target) intentionally. I don't like it
That's undoubtedly true. I could probably nearly double my
page-read count just by breaking my daily journal into separate journal
and mail pages. But I asked readers about doing that some time ago, and
the consensus seemed to be that it made more sense to keep it all
together. I may be forced to break it out, though. Not to increase my page
count, but simply to keep the sizes down to something manageable. I try
hard to keep pages to a size that will load in 60 seconds or less at 28.8,
but that's getting tough. I'm at 59 seconds this moment according to the
7 August 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
The update is late this morning because BellSouth.net has been
down. When I sat down at kerby this morning at 07:45, I couldn't
get connected. After 15 minutes on hold with BellSouth.net, I finally got
connected to a tech, who told me that the whole region was down. Bummer.
I do a full network backup every Friday. Yesterday, I decided to
do it using the Tecmar Travan NS20 tape drive that we just installed in
Barbara's new machine. As I observed earlier this week, this is one fast
drive. When I did my first test backup with Windows NT Backup, it averaged
right at 100 MB/min for the small test backup. So I decided to see what
would happen if I used this drive to backup a real data set.
Just as a basis of comparison, I planned to do one backup with NT
Backup and then a second one with BackupExec. The NT backup appeared to be
working correctly, but it crashed and died horribly with an error message
about encountering something unexpected. That's not the first time I've
encountered that error message with NT Backup. I've seen it on half a
dozen different machines running several different models of tape drive.
I've concluded that NT Backup is seriously flawed, and should not be
depended upon for any serious backup needs.
I did learn one thing from that pass with NT Backup, though. I'd almost
concluded that the network wasn't fast enough to back up data from remote
volumes at faster than 17 MB/min or so. That was based on using the
Seagate Travan TR4 drive and the OnStream DI30 drive, both with more than
one backup software package. But that turns out not to be the case. I was
watching the instantaneous backup rate with NT Backup, and it was doing
60+ MB/min over the network. Another good theory shot to shreds.
After NT Backup crashed and burned, I fired up BackupExec and started
the backup again. After 15 minutes, it had backed up about 1.5 GB of data,
and was holding very near 100 MB/min. After about an hour and a half, it
had completed the backup. It totaled about 6.2 GB, at an overall rate of
just under 70 MB/min. That didn't seem like a large enough backup set, so
I did some checking. I found out that the backup had included only theodore
and odin (a Win98 box).
BackupExec had refused to backup the other NT servers on my network. I
suppose that's reasonable, given that it's the "single server"
edition. I actually have two versions of BackupExec. The Single Server
version that I installed backs up one server and any number of
"workstations", which are apparently defined as any machine
running Windows 9X or NT Workstation. It won't touch a remote machine
running Server, though. The Workstation version of BackupExec will back up
the local machine and any mapped drives elsewhere on the network,
including those on other Servers, but it won't install on a machine
running NT Server rather than Workstation. Arggh.
* * * * *
This from Robert Rudzki [email@example.com]:
The 'true' war story about the instructor in
the USC extension in Europe being a college roommate of Pournelle's was
incorrect and quite wrong, certain people who were there in the
classroom inform me he was only in classes with Jerry not actually
rooming with him, I regret the error and apologize for getting the story
wrong. After all, we all know how important it is to be accurate and
I saw Alberto's post in your daynotes today,
quite a change in his writing style from before, it almost seems like a
I was impressed at first by Anand Shimpi's
intelligence and energy but noticed he seemed a little immature and
giggly. Much to my surprise I saw something on the Web stating he was
still in high school, I think he was 16 at the time. I rarely visit his
or 'Dr.' Tom's site anymore, the junk ad streams are just impossible!
Don't sell out and post ads, please!
[Start WinGate And DNS Rant]:
I got all 4 of our machines connected to
WinGate today using only Windows NT clients, the main spousal unit went
off to Burbank, Lancaster and then tomorrow to Martinez [North SF Bay
area] to help her baby sister [she's 38!] move houses to a new job in
the same company, the old bigger frog in the much bigger pond trick.
Taylor [AKA the wife] runs Win 95 SP1 mostly
on her home machine, a Compaq 9660 with 72 MB of ram. I tried the
WinGate 95/98 client on it and it sort of worked but I still had DNS and
dialer issues on the WinGate server which is also the PDC on the local
system. So after she left this morning I tossed the Win NT CD-ROM into
my 40x Toshiba as I already have a share mapped to it on the network and
installed NT Server on her machine as a stand-alone dual-booting with
Win 95 into a FAT 16 hardrive. By this time I can configure WinGate in
my sleep so after loading Outlook 98 it was less than 2 minutes later
that her POP3 mail was streaming down.
I have my WebCam2 running on the PDC which
also contains the 56K modem and having the camera ftp client dial direct
or use ftp port 21 re-mapping on WinGate was the $64 question for today.
The original problem was that if the modem
was not dialed in which is the case most of the time, when the WebCam2
captured and tried to send the image by ftp to my ISP it could not
resolve the ftp server name and thus gave a DNS error. So I set it to
dialup its own modem locally for the ftp transfer but I kept getting
WinGate communication errors and had to reload it several times. I think
it may be a bug or else I have it all buggered up again but it may be an
old hardrive and a machine getting on in years. I have all the bios
setup defaults loaded and run this old AMD K5 at spec and its 64 Meg of
memory at 70ns even though it says 60ns on the chips. If dialed in, then
there is no problem with the ftp transfer.
As part of my tests, I set the DNS tab in
Network Neighborhood TCP/IP Properties to 192.168.0.1, 188.8.131.52 and
184.108.40.206 respectively [the local WinGate machine, primary and
secondary DNS for PacBell.Net].
No DNS was set on any of the other machines,
DOMAIN was the domain and pacbell.net was the suffix.
When I rebooted and displayed GateKeeper,
there were tons of DNS lookups on a previous ISP [?] and my current one!
The hard drive was chunking away filling the
logs and I had no other processes running until I found 2 installations
on 2 machines of IIServer that were sort of buried in the Programs
I whacked them both, then removed all
entries from the DNS tab. I re-mapped ftp port 21 in WinGate to port
8021 to my ISP's ftp server and all is well, it ftp transfers the .jpg
once on the hour and still allows the other 3 machines to get in, surf
the 'Net and read both of our email accounts on different ISP's.
[End WinGate And DNS Rant]:
Well I must be off to the opera now, I have
to meet The 3 Tenors for a long important dinner at Chasen's afterwards,
do refresh often, Ta Ta For Now... =+8]
Frankly, I'm not sure why you care what some other guy 40 years
ago thought about Pournelle. I mean, maybe the guy was a moron then, maybe
he just didn't like Jerry. Maybe Jerry was everything the guy said he was
then, but that's forty years ago. I also did some stuff in college that I
wouldn't do today. So what does any of it matter?
As far as ads on this site, you'll never see them. People who
should know tell me that I could convert this site into an ad-laden
monstrosity, break up my pages into small chunks, etc. and generate at
least a grand or two a month, but it's not worth it to me. I hate ads. I
despise ads. There will never be ads on this site.
I didn't realize that you liked opera. I can't stand it myself.
8 August 1999
Week] [Monday] [Tuesday]
Not much going on today. Barbara is getting ready to head over to
Burlington (about 60 miles from here) to pick up a couple of abandoned
Border Collie puppies. She just told me that when she returns I have to
help her clean up. My stuff is spreading, as usual. I still have the
kitchen table covered with computer stuff, and it's started to migrate
into the dining room and guest room.
I read the latest from Stephen Coonts (Cuba) and Patricia
Cornwell (Black Notice) yesterday. The Coonts book was typical of
him--a decent but not-quite-Clancy adventure novel. The Cornwell book was
her usual--sloppy, ludicrous plot, cardboard characters, and an abrupt
ending that does not tie up the various plot threads. I don't know why I
continue to read Cornwell, or indeed why anyone else does. Force of habit,
I guess. Her first books were seriously flawed, but entertaining
nonetheless. She's been resting on her laurels for the last several years,
though. People are going to start to notice.