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Daynotes Journal

Week of 25 October 1999

Sunday, 31 October 1999 09:44

A (mostly) daily journal of the trials, tribulations, and random observations of Robert Bruce Thompson, a writer of computer books.


 

 

 

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Monday, 25 October 1999

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It appears that Autumn is finally arriving in Winston-Salem. The leaves have started to fall, and we had our first frost last night. It was 32F (0C) when I got up this morning. We fired up our gas logs for the first time last night, just to make sure they were working properly. We had them installed a few years back, immediately after an ice storm that caused us to lose power for the better part of a week. Since then, they've remained mostly unused. They put out so much heat (about the same BTU rating as our main furnace) that running them causes the thermostat to shut down the furnace, which freezes out my mother downstairs. Still, it's nice to know that we can keep the house warm if there's another power failure.

We also have a standard wood-burning fireplace downstairs. I suppose I should order in a load of firewood just in case both electricity and gas fail. I don't expect that to happen, but having once gone through several days without power or heat, I don't look forward to repeating the experience.

* * * * *

Here's some of the stuff I read last week, along with my personal ratings on a five-star scale:

O is for Outlaw, Sue Grafton - the fifteenth entry in Ms. Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series of detective novels. The early books in this series were excellent, but for the last several Ms. Grafton appears to be writing to a formula. If you're a fan of the alphabet series, you'll want to read this one. Otherwise, it's just a run of the mill mystery. (2.5/5.0)

When Christ and His Saints Slept, Sharon Kay Penman - well-researched and -written novel of the events surrounding the coronation of King Stephen (1135 - 1154) and the ongoing 19-year long civil war between him and Maude, the rightful heir to the English throne. (4.0/5.0)

The Twisted Root, Anne Perry - another excellent entry in Ms. Perry's William Monk series of detective novels, set in post-Crimea Victorian England. (4.0/5.0)

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Guntis Glinavs [mailto:gglinavs@serix.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 1999 1:36 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: W98 Bootable CD

>Mine is an OEM copy. Other than that it booted just like my W2K CD's. Well it did have a menu at the beginning.

>Okay, thanks. That confirms it. I wonder what brain-dead person decided that the OEM version should boot from CD and the retail version not.

Just a guess but when you buy the OEM disk (with computer) you are buying the full OS. When you buy the retail upgrade you are supposed to have a bootable system already running ready for the upgrade and selling a bootable CD would in effect be selling a full version of the OS for the upgrade price - can't have that!

Of course, once you install W98SE you never have to go back and reinstall it... Do you?

G^2
Guntis Glinavs
N. Piccoli Construction Ltd.
London, Ontario

gglinavs@sprynet.com

Good thought, but my retail copy is the full version rather than the upgrade. It includes a boot diskette, and installed without problem on another system with an empty hard drive.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 1999 11:59 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Scanners

Sorry about the fractured grammar on the previous post, I was a little tired since we walked to the local [1.5 miles] OfficeMax to look at scanners. Being true Southern Californians we never walk anywhere...

I like HP stuff and I read your review of the 6200C, have you developed any further information or use experience on that scanner?

I am strongly leaning towards the HP 6300C, about $350 is the upper limit on what I am willing to pay now, the $99 scanners are basically junk for kids to scan their 'projects' and waste Daddy's money on color ink-jet cartridges to print the refrigerator-side posters to impress Mommy...

Our instructor has a Linotype flatbed scanner that the college paid $2200 for, it has some incredible resolution but is no longer made since the company was taken over by Heidelberg DruckMaschinen AG.

Robert Rudzki
rasterho@pacbell.net
http://home.pacbell.net/rasterho
Why are felons exempted from gun registration laws based on their 5th Amendment rights?

I believe the 6300C is the replacement for the 6200C, and is similar except that it has some dedicated buttons for stuff like copying or faxing. I've been pleased with the 6200C, although I haven't given it much of a work-out. We use it frequently to run photocopies, scan photos for the web site and so on. For the things we're doing, we probably could have gotten along with the $99 or $199 model just fine, but I always tend to overbuy on stuff like this. I don't know what I'll need a scanner to do for me a year from now, and I'd just as soon pay a little more and get capabilities that I may not need. I think you'd be happy with the HP 6300C.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 12:55 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: I agree that many pc magazines take shortcuts in integrity and objectivity

Bob:

Actually my remarks were aimed primarily at Alex's review of the OnStream SC50 tape drive not Jerry's review MO or yours for that matter. Although I have my problems with Pournelle's cursory and spotty method of looking at hardware and software it is not my intent to use your page as a forum to bash him. That I can do on my own page which is where it properly belongs. But I couldn't resist that one crack, I admit... =8^-)

I would counsel you against filing the index key on the scsi cable just to connect the drive for a review, as you say on a $700 drive that is just unacceptable. It may work as advertised but that sort of poor quality control needs to be shoved in their face and the drive returned as ['TANGO UNIFORM'] ie, totally useless. If they can't get simple mechanical alignment for fabrication right who knows what gremlins lurk in the circuitry or software drivers? What if your company had to depend on this drive for really critical mission data backup?

Yes, the SCSI incompatibility does surprise me, I remember the bad old days when you had to get all items in the chain from the same vendor and even then cross your fingers when booting up... But that was a very long time ago in the pc world and you either test and validate your stuff against all common SCSI adapters or partner with Adaptec and bundle your drive with their adapter and cable.

Finally, the last part that gives me pause about Alex and David as an eval team was that they had all the ports on the existing SCSI card used, and mixed slow and fast devices with internal and external ports. That is about as certain a way to cause yourself problems testing a new device on a SCSI chain as I can think of.

If I were testing a new device using SCSI I would use one known good adapter and only the device under test at first, and when all that worked OK only then would I moved to a mixed SCSI environment for further evaluation. But hay that's me not Alex and Dave...

PS: Do sheepherders uniquely name all 400 sheep in a herd so the BC can extract the proper one on command?

PPS: My father in law once joked about naming all the women, children, pets and farm house animals in the family with the name of his wife, "Jo Ann". Then he could just shout "Jo Ann" and when the crowd gathered, he would send away the ones he didn't want to see... For some reason, Jo Ann was not amused.

I agree about the quality control issue, and I think I made that point in my original comments about the drive. Caesar's wife must be beyond reproach, and the same thing is true for a tape drive. But, just as politics is the art of the possible, marketing PC peripherals successfully requires trade-offs. Do you use a component that is 20% more reliable but costs twice as much? How much money do you allocate to QC? OnStream appears to be focusing on producing competent tape drives at the lowest possible cost, and there is certainly a market for that type of product. A quick check of KillerApp.com shows that various OnStream models are among the top sellers, so obviously they've struck a key in the market. I just wish they'd spend a bit more on doing things like using shrouded connectors, implementing a bit more stringent final QC, and so on.

As far as naming sheep, I'm told that many small farmers do name them, or at least that was a common practice in the past. See the Herriot stories...

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Werth, Timothy P [mailto:timothy.werth@eds.com]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 9:39 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: FW: Who's the smart one?

Bob, given your appreciation of dogs and your opinion of the gov't I thought you would like this one.

-----Original Message-----

Four men were bragging about how smart their dogs are. The first man was an Engineer. The second man was an Accountant. The third man was a Chemist. The fourth man was a Government worker

To show off, the Engineer called to his dog "T-square, do your stuff" T-square trotted over to a desk, took out some paper and a pen and promptly drew a circle, a square and a triangle. Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the accountant said his dog could do better. He called his dog and said, "Spreadsheet, do your stuff." Spreadsheet went out into the kitchen and returned with a dozen cookies He divided them into four equal piles of   three cookies each. Everyone agreed that was good but the chemist said his dog could do better.

He called his dog and said,"Measure, do your stuff." Measure got up walked over to the fridge took out a quart of milk, got a 10 ounce glass from the cupboard and poured exactly 8 ounces without spilling a drop. Everyone agreed that was good.

Then the three men turned to the Government Worker and said, "What can your dog do? The Government worker called to his dog and said "Coffee Break do your stuff". Coffee Break jumped to his feet, ate the cookies, drank the milk, crapped on the paper, screwed the other three dogs, and claimed he injured his back while doing so. Filed a grievance report for unsafe working conditions, put in for workers comp, and went home for the rest of the day on sick leave.

No comment.

 


 

 

 

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Tuesday, 26 October 1999

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Kiwi has finished its 72-hour burn-in without exhibiting any problems. It's running cool and stable. Time to put the cover on and start installing the software I'll be using when I shift to using kiwi as my main workstation, probably next weekend. I'm still torn about which version of Office to install. My saner side says to install Office 97, but that little devil sitting on the other shoulder is telling me that Office 2000 might be stable when installed to a clean installation of NT4.

UPS showed up with another copy of Windows NT TCP/IP Network Administration yesterday, this one in Korean. I recognize my name on the cover, but not much else. It's kind of neat to see your work translated into other languages. This one goes on the shelf next to the Polish edition.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Syroid [mailto:tom@syroidmanor.com]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 12:41 PM
To: Robert Thompson
Subject: Digital Cameras

Robert, What do you think of this?

CHEAP DOESN'T MEAN CHEESY: Not when it comes to digital cameras, at least. Fuji is offering its MX-1200 for $299, which makes it one of the least expensive megapixel cameras available. But the MX-1200 doesn't lack features; it can capture images up to 1280 by 960 pixels, has macro functions so you can take close-ups from only 3.9 inches away, and offers both a 1.6-inch color LCD and an optical viewfinder.  

Is this a "good" camera? I'm like you. I tend to overbuy, but I don't want to spend $800 on a camera that could well be antiquated in 6 months. But I also do not want to spend $300 on a camera that I might outgrow in 6 months. Comments?

/tom

When I got your message, the first thing I did was go over to the Fuji site, where I could find no information about this model. I assumed that it might be a discontinued model, so I did more searching and eventually found this press release. Obviously, the MS-1200 is a new model just starting to ship rather than an old model that's been discontinued.

I looked over what specs I could find, and this appears to be a decent camera. The retail is US$300, and I was able to find it listed for about $270 on a couple of web sites that sell digital cameras. I see only one obvious drawback to this camera, and it might not be a show-stopper for you. It has a fixed lens, with a 35 mm equivalent focal length of 38 mm (that's a mild wide-angle).

However, before you buy the Fuji, I'd encourage you to take a look at the Olympus D-340R. It appears to be comparable or superior to the Fuji in all respects, and is somewhat less expensive. I can't find specs on the Fuji lens, but my guess is that it's probably not up to the quality of the aspheric multi-element glass lens on the Olympus. Olympus is, after all, a serious camera manufacturer, and Fuji isn't. The only difference I can see between the D-340R and my D-400 Zoom is that the D-340R has a fixed 36 mm lens rather than the zoom lens on my D-400Z. Assuming that the fixed focal length lens isn't a problem, my guess is you'd be happy with either the Fuji MX-1200 or the Olympus D-340R, but my preference would be the Olympus.

Also keep in mind that you're probably going to want to accessorize. Both cameras come with a 4 MB SmartMedia card, which will store anything from 10 to 25 images, depending on resolution. I use 8 MB cards and shoot at the SHQ setting, which gives me about 18 to 20 images per card. That'd mean you'd get 9 or 10. You may want to pick up an 8 MB (US$20) or 16 MB (US$40) SmartMedia card to give you more image storage. You'll also probably want to get some faster means to transfer images than the bundled serial cable. I use the FlashPath (about US$80), but there are also alternatives including PC Card readers and USB readers that are somewhat less expensive. Finally, you'll probably want to get a set of NiMH batteries and a charger (maybe US$30) to avoid being eaten out of house and home buying alkalines. I'd actually get a second set of 4 AA NiMH batteries (~ US$15) as well. If you decide not to go with the rechargeables, you'll almost certainly want to buy an AC adapter for the camera. Otherwise, just transferring images will eat the batteries.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Syroid [mailto:tom@syroidmanor.com]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 2:15 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Digital Cameras

Bob,

I certainly appeciate all the research; very helpful and informative. I don't think I'm unique when I say I used to be a serious 35mm buff (2x Canon F-1's) and today's digital camera specs tell me nothing about what I think I need to know to make an informed decision. With what you've provided, I think I'll stick with my original plan of getting a D-400Z like yours (Christmas gift for Leah I hope). I like the idea of a zoom lense and the points you make about aspheric mult-element optics are important to my ex-photographer's mind.

I also congratulate you on the reminder regarding accessories. I honestly did not think about the added costs involved in accessorizing; I would have thought about similar issues if I were buying a conventional 35mm camera, but did not think to make the leap with an electronic equivilant.

Thanks again,
/tom

You're welcome. I also forgot to mention that the D-400Z has been replaced by the D-450Z. I looked at the specs for the newer model, and couldn't see much difference. By Christmas the prices should also have dropped somewhat on this and other models. When the D-400Z was introduced about a year ago, it sold for about US$1,000. It's now selling for about half that. I wouldn't be surprised to see it drop another $100 or so by Christmas.

Another thing I didn't mention was resolution. I've concluded that 1,280 X 960 resolution is adequate for the purposes that most people use digital cameras for. That is, for point-and-shoot family pictures, stuff you want to convert for use on the web, and so on, 1,280 X 960 is Good Enough. The next step up, 1,600 X 1,200 or thereabouts, really doesn't gain you much if you're printing 4X6 prints for the family album or resampling down to 640X480 to put stuff up on the web. All other things being equal, I'd go with the 1,600 X 1,200 camera, but I don't think that much incremental additional resolution is worth paying much extra for. And if I were going to pay extra, I'd prefer to spend the money on a more capable lens or other features. For the same price, I'd prefer a 1,280 X 960 camera with a good-quality glass zoom lens to a 1,600 X 1,200 camera with an inferior fixed focal length lens, for example.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Bowman [mailto:dbowman@americanambulance.net]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 11:20 AM
To: Tom Syroid (E-mail); 'Robert Bruce Thompson'
Subject: You know

I cannot verify this; but it may help explain some of what comes out of Redmond.

Dan
DanBowman@worldnet.att.net

An interesting bit of trivia. . .

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay!

Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads?

The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United State's standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot.

Specs and Bureaucracies live forever.

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's backside came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.

Thanks. I remember reading something like this years ago. It may even be true.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 5:18 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Scanners

I have placed my order with http://www.mwave.com and the HP 6300Cxi comes with a SCSI card and cable as well! All for $355, I could have gotten it cheaper but I like Mwave and have had good luck with ordering pc stuff in the past.

Their prices are usually pretty close to the lowest but I don't mind paying $10-15 for peace of mind instead of trying who knows what that has the rockbottom price.

Congratulations on your new scanner. You raise an important point, and one that Pournelle and I have been discussing in detail lately. How do you decide who to buy from? I checked Reseller Ratings and found that MultiWave has a rating of 5.1, which is better than average. I buy mostly from Insight (5.8), NECx (6.1), and PC Connection (6.2). All of them have higher prices than the absolute cheapest places, but all of them are often willing to match those prices (or at least meet me part way). I agree that it's worth paying a little more to buy from a reliable source.

 


 

 

 

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Wednesday, 27 October 1999

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Hallelujah! Finally, a solution to the ridiculously long time required to shut down Windows NT Server 4.0 on my main workstation, kerby. Shutting down Windows NT was taking at least 30 minutes, and usually closer to 45. The solution turned out to be replacing Diskeeper 4.0 with Diskeeper Server 5.0. During installation, 5.0 Setup uninstalls Diskeeper 4.0 before installing 5.0. When the installation completed, it prompted me to restart the system. I did so, expecting the usual 40 minute shutdown. Instead, shutdown required less than a minute.

When I first started experiencing these extended shutdown times some months ago, I first suspected that Diskeeper 4.0 was causing the problem. The trouble is, my main system often runs for weeks (or even months) between shutdowns, so any number of things could have occured since the last shutdown to cause that problem. Diskeeper 4.0 was the last major application I'd installed, but I done many other things in the interim. Also, Diskeeper 4.0 was running happily on at least two other systems here, and they both shut down normally.

So, rather than completely uninstalling Diskeeper 4.0 to test my theory, I simply turned off scheduled defragmentations and disabled automatic startup for the Diskeeper service in Control Panel - Services, assuming that that would clear up the problem if in fact Diskeeper was the cause. Obviously not. But since I have Diskeeper 4.0 running on other systems that shut down normally, it's obvious that Diskeeper 4.0 can't be the entire cause of the problem. My guess is that it's some interactiion with another service or services that are running on kerby, perhaps WinGate. But installing Diskeeper 5.0 solved the problem, and that's all I care about for now.

* * * * *

This next series started when I read a letter from Guntis Glinavs on Tom Syroid's page. I responded in detail to some of the points Mr. Glinavs made. I wanted to include that exchange on this page, but because Mr. Glinavs hadn't cc'd the message to me, I mailed him to ask permission to reprint his comments. His message granting permission is immediately below. My original response to him and Tom follows that. I've extracted  Guntis quoted my original response, in which he embedded several comments of his own. To reduce confusion and replication, I've extracted those comments and interspersed them in my original response. His original comments are indented Courier; my original comments are non-indented normal text, bolded and italicized. His follow-up comments are indented Courier bold.

-----Original Message-----
From: Guntis Glinavs [mailto:gglinavs@serix.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 11:33 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Cc: Tom Syroid
Subject: Re: CF versus SM and other issues

Bob

No problem though the tone of the response sounds like were having a serious argument. I've added my comments in a couple of areas so you understand my reasoning (such as it is) but in general I think this is a perfect example of one of those "this works for me but you really should try it out yourself before deciding" type of things.

I purchased the Nikon to fill a "record keeping" need as opposed to a "photography" need. Probably bought a little higher on the tech/$ curve than was really necessary but toys are toys... :-) The camera worked so well that I was looking at possibly getting another 5-6 units for the rest of our foremen/supt's so I was hoping that the 1.2mp cameras would work and be substantially cheaper. Granted I only looked at the CF cameras (since I wanted to stay with a common format) but the sample pictures I took just seemed a bit blockier/more pixelated in the fine lines or details. No real empirical proof but it seemed like a fairly easy decision once I looked at the samples. I probably will want to wait for the 1.8+mp cameras to become more cost effective before I outfit the whole company. Not scientific, gut feel only!

Okay, thanks. I certainly didn't think we were having a serious argument, and I apologize if you took it that way. I'm going to embed your comments in my original response to them. I agreed with much of what you said, but I also agree with you that it's a very personal thing.

* * * * *

Guntis Glinavs [gglinavs@serix.com] says:

"Despite what Bob Thompson says I'm not sure that 1.2 megapixel cameras are 'good enough'. Admittedly my personal application is for pictures of construction damage, vehicle damage, jobsites with a secondary focus on family snapshots/ home pictures et al. but after testing various detail levels the ability to zoom in on the finished picture files and see specific details, I found that, when compared to a 2 mp camera (Nikon 950) the various sub-mid range cameras just weren't quite capable enough. As well the mid range cams seemed a bit expensive/over-priced when compared to the next generation 2mp cams (the old - for just a few more $ you can get SO much more...)"

Well, the so-called 2 megapixel cameras are mostly 1600 X 1200, which is actually about 1.8 megapixels (versus about 1.2 megapixels for the 1,280 X 960 models) . If that is what Mr. Glinavs is referring to, that gives you a 25% linear improvement (or ~50% areal improvement) in pixel count over a 1280 X 960 model. I don't consider that to be all that worthwhile. For the type of application that Mr. Glinavs uses the camera for, I'd think that traditional 35 mm would be required for its much higher resolution.

Traditional film is the problem. Disposable cameras are cheap, film processing is also relatively cheap - BUT when you only need a few pictures at a time (2-5) it is very hard to get over a person's reluctance to use up only part of a film before processing (usually people decide to wait until the film is full at which time the original pictures are 2-3 weeks old and no longer relevant). Digital is immediate - unplug the card, pop it into the card reader and display or email the broken curb or tomorrow's jobsite right away - detail is important but 35mm quality is not critical - prompt availability is paramount. Storage and retrieval is also much more convenient.

As I mentioned, I'd take the 1600X1200 camera if all other things are equal, but for the same amount of money I think most users would be better off with a 1280 X 960 model with a superior (zoom) lens rather than a 1600 X 1200 model with a fixed focal length lens. I note that the Nikon CoolPix 950 sells on the street for about US$800 and the Olympus C2000 Zoom for about US$725, while the Olympus D-450Z sells for about US$425. I don't consider that differential a trifling amount.

I think I mentioned that zoom capability, like an optical viewfinder is a "must have".

When I was making my purchase decison 950 was $1250CDN while D450Z was the $850-$950CDN (which seemed a bit high) . I think the Olympus has since dropped to a more appropriate level ($699CDN) making the decision more difficult again.

"-Cflash is better than Smartmedia mostly due to capacity (personal opinion only) "

I've really never understood this Coke/Pepsi battle between SmartMedia and CompactFlash. Certainly each has advantages, but I can't imagine making SM vs. CF even a minor factor in my purchase decision (unless I already was using one or the other). The capacity issue is a red herring. SM and CF both have the same capacity, which is to say unlimited. You can carry as many as you want of either, and it takes only seconds to switch them. SM cards are also less expensive than CF cards, particularly in the smaller capacities. I note, for example, that Olympus branded SmartMedia cards sell for US$20 (8 MB); $41 (16 MB); and $69 (32 MB), while Kodak-branded CF cards (I couldn't find prices for Nikon ones) sell for $41 (10 MB); $58 (20 MB); $102 (48 MB); and $125 (64 MB).

My understanding was that SM topped out at 32Mb with 64Mb just coming on the market. CF is already widely available to 128Mb with 340Mb minidisk also available. Pricing for similar sizes is comparable. I also understood that CF is across the board compatible - all sizes, all cameras (except for Type II minidisk) while SM is not always forward/backward compatible. Not all cameras will support larger capacity cards without BIOS upgrades (if available at all).

Nikon 950 1.8mp pictures at fine detail are approx 1Mb - 8 pictures to a standard 8Mb card. A couple of 16Mb cards would probably be OK but a 32Mb capacity seems (for me) to be best size for convenience. Again personal opinion/gut feel only though I have a nagging feeling of discomfort about SM compatibility issues as size increases.

As it happens, I carry two 8 MB SmartMedia cards, which are more than sufficient for my purposes (~ 20 full resolution images at the highest quality fit on each 8 MB card). 16 MB and 32 MB SM cards are readily available, and I believe there are also 64 MB and 96 MB versions. I think to say that either SM or CF is "better" is simply wrong.

"small body size is OK to a point but becomes a problem thereafter especially with ham handed "big" people (Canon, Fuji, possibly Olympus seem to be a touch on the small side for really convenient operation) "

This is certainly a matter of personal preference, but I think I fall in the "big people" category (I'm 6'4" tall, 240 pounds, and can palm a basketball). The Olympus is certainly a small camera, but I don't find it in the least inconvenient. One of the nice things about it is that it will literally fit into a shirt pocket, at least the pocket of one of my L. L. Bean chamois. I highly recommend a buttoning flap pocket for carrying it that way, though.

I'm 6'4" 255 lbs as well. Personal "feel" was that Fuji 2700 and Canon Powershot minicams were just a bit too small for "comfort". I have an Olympus Stylus which is similar in size to the 450Z (I think) and I used it on lots of climbing trips where size and weight were really important but to me it is just a bit on the small/light side - a bit of heft seems to add some stability. As I noted, these cameras are so personal, you really should test hold/fire them because no review/opinion will really give a true picture of how it works in _your_ hands.

"can use IBM CFminidrive for _LOTS_ of picture capacity "

I've not seen one of these yet, but I'm very leery of them. Both CF and SM are electronic, and are pretty robust. You have to wonder how delicate a hard drive this size must be. Until stored image sizes start to approach several MB each, I think the CF or SM card is a better way to go.

Agreed but it is a cool product. One of the digicam sites had the LED display of a 2mp camera showing 394 shots left! What I want to see is a battery operated transfer device that would allow copying CF or SM card data over to the hard drive. This would solve the problem of taking digital photos on a trip where you don't have a handy laptop or desktop to transfer/store them on.

* * * * *

And a couple of more from my old friend, David Silvis, MD [HUPPNUT@aol.com]:

-----Original Message-----
From: HUPPNUT@aol.com [mailto:HUPPNUT@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 3:43 PM
To: AEMPTS@aol.com
Subject: Fwd: FW: Short Funny and test of list

A guy wakes up one morning to find a gorilla in his tree. He looks in the phone book and finds a gorilla removal service. When he asks if they can remove the gorilla, the service guy asks, "Is it a male or female?" "Male," he replies. "Oh yeah, we can do it. I'll be right there," he states.

An hour later, the service guy shows up with a stick, a Chihuahua, a shotgun, and a pair of handcuffs. He then gives the man some instructions. "I'm going to climb this tree and poke the gorilla with the stick until he falls out of the tree. When he does, the trained Chihuahua will bite the gorilla's testicles off. The gorilla will then cross his hands to protect himself, allowing you to put the handcuffs on him."

The man asks, "What do I do with the shotgun?"

The service guy replies, "If I fall out of the tree before the gorilla does, shoot the Chihuahua."

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: HUPPNUT@aol.com [mailto:HUPPNUT@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 4:38 PM
To: AEMPTS@aol.com
Cc: HUPPNUT@yahoo.com; HUPPNUT@hotmail.com
Subject: Check out A WEE PEEK UNDER A SCOTSMAN'S KILT....

Click here: A WEE PEEK UNDER A SCOTSMAN'S KILT....

Now you know.

Thanks. It's been a long-standing debate among the non-Scots as to exactly what, if anything, a Scotsman wears under his kilt. I'm glad to see that this photo has finally definitively answered the question.

* * * * *

And a couple of messages on the railroad gauge/horse's ass issue, which I took as a joke when I originally posted it.

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 9:23 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Standard gauge railroads originate from Roman Army MilSpec chariots?

I managed to waste a few more hours of my life today on the 'Net, but I did find some interesting rebuttals of the so-called provenance of the standard gauge railroad here in the US.

see: http://venus.soci.niu.edu/~archives/TOMPAINE/may97/0017.html

and: http://lists.essential.org/1998/am-info/msg01555.html

I won't rehash them here and waste your bandwidth, but these urban myths always have a peculiar smell about them, I can't always tell what's wrong with the story at first but on further digging something usually turns up.

One railroad site had a photo of a very unusual D-E locomotive built for the US Army during The Great Korean Stalemate with multi-gauge trucks adjustable in track from 56.5" to 66", just in case the war got us into Mother Russia with the 60" rail gauge and who knows what China used near the border, they had wide, narrow and standard gauge railways depending on the region's terrain and type of industry.

US commercial rail service got started in your neck of the woods with the Best Friend and the Southern Carolina Railroad back in 1831!

Great News! UPS just pulled away after delivering my HP 6300Cxi! I only ordered that sucker late Sunday night and here it is Tuesday and I have it. It helps to be only 35 miles from the vendor though... Standard ground shipping, too.

Robert Rudzki
rasterho@pacbell.net
http://home.pacbell.net/rasterho
Why are felons exempted from gun registration laws based on their 5th Amendment rights?

Thanks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Edmund Hack [mailto:echack@ev1.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 11:04 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Roman Rail Gauge, Mysteries and Dogs

The story about rail gauges being derived from "the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot" is making the rounds in a lot of places on the net these days. I remember seeing the story in the 80s, along with a copy of the real, live MilSpec for frozen turkeys. A few comments on the story. First, the Romans, as far as I can find, never used chariots in their army. I've checked several references (including Graham's "The Roman Imperial Army") and none mention Romans using chariots in war. In fact, Keppie's book on the evolution of the Republic's army specifically mentions that the British chariots were a problem for Julius Caesar since they were long outmoded on the Continent. Chariots had been used because the horses in ancient times were so small - about all a single horse could bear on their back was an unarmored rider with a few javelins. As horses were bred to be larger, they displaced the chariot in most armies well before Roman times and certainly by Imperial times. Chariots were used by the Romans in triumphal parades and gigs for personal transport, however. Couriers seemed to have been on horseback for the most part.

Speaking of Rome, if you haven't read them, Stephen Saylor's series of detective stories set in the late Republic are good reads. Lots of detail about the politics of the times - very similar in tone to the current times. The Republicans and the Democrats wouldn't last a week against the Boni (Cato, Cicero) or the Populares (J. Caesar, Crassus) and Marius or Sulla would have thought that Richard Nixon a pathetic bungler.

I've enjoyed reading about the Border Collie adventures. My wife and I own a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, which acts a lot like your dogs. Sullivan is very attentive to what goes on and seems to figure out euphemisms for "have you fed him?" in about a week or less. Corgis rank up there in intelligence with the BCs and the other herding dogs, with most of the hounds near the bottom of the scale. Sullivan is very much, as others have described them, a big dog in a small dog's body. He is quite adept at herding small children, as he proved on our daughter's birthdays in the past. While cats may well be very smart and attractive, theys seem to own humans, while dogs have welcomed us into the pack. Me, I'd rather be a pack mate than property.

I believe you're correct, although by late Empire the Romans had bred horses capable of carrying not only an armored rider, but armor of their own (the so-called cataphracts). And, of course, they did have a "knight" class (the equites) from the Republic forward, although they were generally knights in name only. Still, the Romans conquered the world with infantry. Their cavalry was largely provincial and/or mercenary.

I have read and enjoyed a couple of Steven Saylor's books, which I believe were centered around the Catiline conspiracy. I know he's written several others, but I haven't gotten my hands on them yet. If you enjoyed those, you might enjoy Lindsey Davis's Marcus Didius Falco series, which are set in Flavian times. Falco is an "informer", which in our terms is a private detective. Think of "The Rockford Files" set in early Empire.

I've always liked Corgis. I think probably most people regard them as "cute little dogs" and don't realize that they're built the way they are because they were bred to be "heelers" that herd cattle by chomping their feet. I've seen film of Corgis working cattle and they're a serious herding dog. I'm pleased to hear that they also herd family members. I thought BCs were the only ones that did that. As far as cats, I've always figured that they spend their time watching family members and thinking to themselves "I'd kill and eat you if you weren't so monstrously big."

 


 

 

 

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Thursday, 28 October 1999

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Microsoft has now officially released NT4 SP6. I'm downloading it as I write this. There are two downloads available. Express Installation ranges from 1.6 MB to 34.5 MB, updates the machine you're downloading to directly, but doesn't leave you with the files needed to update other machines. Network Download transfers a 34.5 MB file to your hard disk, which you can later use to update as many machines as you wish. That file has a warning attached to it: "ISDN or faster connection required". I'm downloading it on my 31.6 dialup link, and it's doing just fine. It'll be about three hours until the download finishes, but I'm in no hurry. You can order SP6 on CD or download it here.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Syroid [mailto:tom@syroidmanor.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 1999 2:36 PM
To: Robert Thompson
Subject: Diskeeper

Bob,

Any news yet of a patch or update to Diskeeper that will allow it to run under NTFS5? Your story today of updating to Diskeeper 5 made me think of it... If anyone would have any insights into this, you would -- I can't find anything on Executive's site yet.

I checked with my technical contact at Executive Software, and he replied as follows: "No. We have not released a version that is Windows 2000 compatible, but we will. We should have a releasable version soon."

In my case, I have kiwi dual-booting Windows NT Workstation 4 and Windows 2000 Professional. I used NTW4 to create the volume that W2KP is installed on, and told W2KP Setup not to touch the formatting. So, I can probably use Diskeeper 5 running under NT4 to defrag the volume that NT5 resides on. We'll see.

* * * * *

It gets better still. I had installed NTW4 on kiwi. I then installed Diskeeper 5 and did a defrag without problems. Yesterday afternoon, I installed W2KP on kiwi. I'd already created and formatted as NTFS with NT4 Disk Adminstrator the volume where I planned to install NT5. When I ran W2KP setup, it offered to install it in the existing D: volume that I had prepared and waiting. It also gave me the option of formatting that volume as FAT, as NTFS, or leaving the existing volume alone. I chose the latter option, and was very careful to do nothing that would change the disk structure.

I restarted kiwi under NT4 and ran Diskeeper, planning to use it to defrag D: (the NT5 volume). Not only would it not touch D:, it will no longer touch C:, telling me that "Diskeeper does not support the version of NTFS installed on this volume." Ugh. Just as I was doing this, Tom Syroid called to explain what was going on. Apparently, installing W2K causes the media descriptor bytes for NTFS4 volumes to be changed. It doesn't change the format itself to NTFS5 (which is very distinct from NTFS4, and not readable by NT4). It simply changes the MDB for some reason. That means that utilities like Diskeeper, which expect to see a particular MDB that indicates an NTFS4 partition instead see an MDB that indicates something else. Ugh.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce and Louise [mailto:bosley@premier1.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 1999 9:19 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: FW: PartitionMagic 4.x

Partition Magic not only puked on us and would not partition our drive, but it took the message below (not in the docs!) to get it done....the diagnostic found nothing; interestingly enough, my wife got mad enough to tell it to Lock the locked drive to unlock it. Bingo.

Thanks to pushing Crucial; they were about a hundred bucks cheaper than ChumpUSA post-Taiwan earthquake.

There was something on the Discovery Channel months ago about Border Collies: there was a BC out tending her sheep in the middle of childbirth...she was squirting puppies out on the run while staying on mission with the sheep.

-----Original Message-----
From: Technical Support [mailto:help@powerquest.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 2:39 PM
To: bosley@premier1.net
Subject: Re: PartitionMagic 4.x

Louise - Error 29 Cannot lock a locked drive

Under multitasking operating systems (such as OPERATING SYSTEM/2 and Windows 95), PowerQuest products must lock a partition before it can safely modify the partition. If the hard disk contains files that are in use by another process, PowerQuest cannot lock the partition. Try booting from a DOS bootable disk and then run the PowerQuest program again.

We have also seen these cases where these errors were caused by an ExtendedX partition. Once the ExtendedX partition has been deleted the error no longer appears. In some cases, this can be corrected in Windows 95 DOS by typing "LOCK X:" or "UNLOCK X:" at the command prompt (where X: is the drive letter of the partition affected).

For Western Digital drives, download and run the diagnostic for the specific drive from the Western Digital web site. This may find some errors and attempt to fix them. If the drive is going bad or is bad, PowerQuest may see it as locked.

Back up the partition. Hide or Unhide the partition and delete it. You may have to change the label first then Hide or Unhide the partition.

PowerQuest has a 60 day return policy in which any product can be returned, if your needs are not met. Please call the PowerQuest Customer Department at 1-800-379-2566.

Thanks
Neil

Neily@PowerQuest.com

I've infrequently encountered situations where PartitionMagic wouldn't touch a drive or partition, usually under Windows NT. When that's happened, I've always figured that the drive must have serious physical or logical problems, so I did a low-level format on it. Of course, I always do a full backup and compare before I use PartitionMagic to do anything as radical as resizing partitions, etc.

As far as BCs, we didn't see that program, but it doesn't surprise me. BCs are the most dutiful animals imaginable. They will literally run until they drop dead if that's what it takes to get the job done. Most people I know consider me a workaholic. But I'm a slacker compared to any BC.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 1999 3:50 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: How to bathe cats easily.

My wife sent me this:

HOW TO BATHE THE CAT

1. Thoroughly clean the toilet.

2. Add the required amount of shampoo to the toilet water, and have both lids lifted.

3. Obtain the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

4. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids (you may need to stand on the lid so that he cannot escape). CAUTION: Do not get any part of your body too close to the edge, as his paws will be reaching out for any purchase they can find.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "powerwash and rinse" which I have found to be quite effective.

6. Have someone open the door to the outside and ensure that there are no people between the toilet and the outside door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.

8. The now-clean cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he will dry himself.

Sincerely,
The DOG

Interesting. A guy I knew years ago claimed that the best way to bathe a cat was to put it in the dishwasher and run it through a pot scrubber cycle. To dry it, he suggested microwaving for 30 minutes on high. I was never entirely sure whether he was serious. To avoid cries of outrage from cat lovers, I should point out that I've never done anything like this to a cat, nor do I condone cruelty to animals in any form. In fact, I don't dislike cats. I simply like dogs a lot better.

 


 

 

 

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Friday, 29 October 1999

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I finally got a cleaning cartridge for my OnStream DI30 tape drive yesterday. When I first started using the drive six months or so ago, OnStream hadn't actually gotten around to shipping cleaning cartridges for it. They told me at the time that they'd be shipping cleaning cartridges in summer or fall. I was concerned, because most tape drives need cleaned at least once a month, and some once a week. So I asked OnStream tech support if I should use a cotton swab with alcohol to clean the drive. They said not to even think about doing that, and that I should just wait until I could get a cleaning cartridge. Okay, I guess they should know.

When I got the cleaning cartridge yesterday, I immediately read the instructions. They say, "The cleaning cartridge should be used once every three months for drives that experience heavy use or operate in an environment with above average concentration of airborne particulates. One cartridge is sufficient for approximately 30 cleaning cycles." Wow. Apparently, OnStream tape drives are very well sealed against dirt. That means one cleaning cartridge should last 90 months, or 7.5 years, so it appears that one cleaning cartridge will last longer than the expected service life of the drive itself. I don't know why they don't include a cleaning cartridge with each drive, except that it would increase the price by $30 or so.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 1999 11:55 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: (no subject)

people who brag about tormenting lesser animals probably have done far worse things than they admit, they are just more careful in telling the stories and what details get included.

i saw an article about serial killers, the author was a shrink and claimed every one he had ever studied or interviewed always started young by torturing insects and then small rodents, cats, dogs, then people.

regrettably our local tv and papers have incidents every week it seems of dogs and cats being tormented, set on fire by 'kids', left to die chained up in the really hot weather we've had fromr july thru september with no water, etc.

one guy left for a 2 week vacation and the dog chained in the back yard, the neighbor heard it whimpering 3 days later it had no food or water in the 100 degree heat, the neighbor took care of it and then called animal control they said unfortunately it is all too common especially out in the rural areas. [these people aren't farmers, most are meth lab junkies and other low-lifes who live out there 'cause it's cheap and it takes the sheriff's a long time to get there...]

reminds me of the story of the emir of kuwait, when the iraqis were driven out, he returned to view his estates and palaces that had been looted and trashed by the departing soldiers. one of the caretakers still left came out of hiding and said the stable with the fancy race horses still had some left alive but they needed water and food and some medical care. the emir said don't bother we'll just buy new ones...

the old lady who dried her poodle on high in the microwave is an urban myth, but at the Keflavik NS, IS a couple of US sailors got drunk and put a stray cat in the dayroom microwave oven, the cat literally exploded and destroyed the microwave. their commander fined them the maximum under the captain's mast [article 15 for you landlubbers] and made them pay $1400 for the microwave oven as well. [i think it was made to milspec hence the high price, nothing too good for our boys in uniform...]

I've heard the same thing, and it sounds believable. I'm not sure it's of predictive value, though. Too many children are incredibly cruel to animals, and they don't grow up to be serial killers, although I suspect most of them don't turn out to be very good people. I'm reminded of my counter-argument years ago to those morons who noted that nearly all heroin addicts first used marijuana, and concluded from that that using marijuana led to using heroin. The old post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. I pointed out that by their argument, drinking milk as a child was predictive of future alchoholism.

Still, things are skewed horribly. I remember reading not long ago about a child that was bitten by a dog. As it turned out, the child had been torturing the dog every day for months. The dog finally defended itself. They put the dog down. I think they should have put the child down instead, or at least caused that child some severe pain. A caning seems about right.

 


 

 

 

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Saturday, 30 October 1999

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I made a discovery about BellSouth last night while I was trying to help Pournelle mail to his subscriber list. Although they didn't announce the policy anywhere that I knew about, BellSouth now limits outgoing mail messages to 15 addressees. Their suggested workaround is to break up the mailing into however many messages were necessary to have only 15 addressees. Right. The solution is obviously to bring up a smart mailer locally. Yet another reason to bring up a Linux system here.

And we're off to Rural Hall branch library (the one Barbara used to run) to see what we can find at their book sale.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Friday, October 29, 1999 10:23 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Children, animals and a dog joke

Perhaps the child tormenting the animal not knowing how to empathize with a fellow creature and not quickly detected and corrected by an adult causes the brain to wire itself into a configuration where this is ok behavior and now can be repeated or escalated. I have always thought that children should be punished more severely for anti-social acts, if little Johnny is shooting people at 12 what will he do when he is 28?

All the people I can remember who told stories of hurting animals for 'fun' had other character flaws as well and I never really trusted them...

There was a blip on the news [WSJ] about the "Small Boys Unit" in Liberia where boys as young as 6 were drafted and given arms and taught how to kill in the most recent civil war. Now that they are 15 and cannot find their families or even know what became of them, what will they do?

I have heard that old saw about pot being the 'gateway' drug that all heroin junkies first started on, so don't smoke dope or you will end up overdosing on contaminated heroin in a ghetto alley somewhere...

I am not sure your milk to alcoholic analogy stands up, more accurate IMO would be to say that all alcoholics started on that path with their very first drink containing beverage alcohol.

Winston Churchill drank 2 bottles of Pol Roger champagne daily and an entire bottle of Cognac for a nightcap, yet still managed to win The Second Great European War single-handedly. [At least according to the Brits who consider Dunquerque a great military victory... =8^-)

Of course any number of successful professionals have been addicted to drugs for most of their careers and hardly anyone knew, we call them medical doctors and anesitheologists... Most Americans think drugs are what poor people dying in alleys and tenement basements take, the fact is there aren't enough of them to make even a small dent in the hundreds of tons of pure coke imported into the US of A every year.

The record and film industry plus lawyers and stockbrokers collectively shove a lot of white powder up their noses, even George W. stands accused of it. And how many of the reporters demanding to know if George W. snorted a little nose candy years ago could say no honestly to the same question? Hell, could they even pass a no-notice drug screen now?

I decided to cut the dog joke. This is a child-safe web site, after all. As far as the milk-to-alcoholic analogy, that's the whole point of the post hoc ergo propter hoc (roughly, "it came after, therefore it must have been caused by") fallacy. In other words, assuming that a sequence of events proves causality.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Kitterman [mailto:kitterma@erols.com]
Sent: Friday, October 29, 1999 11:38 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: NT 4.0 SP 6 Quicklook

I installed SP 6 at home last night and on one machine at work today. That's as far as it will go for a couple of weeks until I'm comfortable that SP 6 doesn't hurt anything. In one day of use at work I didn't notice anything different, but I've found two good news items at home already.

At home I'm running a home built NTS 4.0 dual P III 450 machine (PP&C case/ps, Epox MB, and Crucial memory - two guesses whose web site I've been reading) and since I finished the machine two weeks ago I've had two problems:

1. Anytime I ran a scheduled virus scanning task in Network Associates NetShield NT the box would immediately crash to power off (not even a BSOD). That works OK post SP 6.

2. My network (the new machine and my old one, now my daughter's) was behaving oddly. Whenever I tried to access a shared drive across the network from the NTS box to the older Win 98 box there would be a two or three seconds of lag before data transfer started. That's cured too.

My only other lingering annoyance was that something has been using auto dial to make repeated calls to my ISP whenever I don't turn it off. I've taken care of that one finally too (figured out how to turn off auto dial permanently rather than just per session).

So, at first glance SP 6 seems to have cured the two big bug related annoyances I've had on this machine.

Scott Kitterman
kitterma@erols.com

Hmm. That's interesting. Your machine sounds to be nearly identical to mine other than CPU speed. I haven't installed SP6 on anything yet. Nor have I tried to run NetShield, but I haven't experienced the delay in accessing shared network volumes you mention. Speaking of bugs, EPoX has a BIOS update available for my motherboard that it says is required if I want to use the Pentium III/550. That's what I'm running, but I haven't applied the patch, and everything appears to be working fine. I'll probably hold off on installing SP6 for a month or so, on the theory that Microsoft often withdraws SPs after a short period of beta testing them with actual users.

* * * * *

I sent the following messages to Chris Ward-Johnson (Dr. Keyboard) yesterday, in response to the post on his web site about finding rats in his office.

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Bruce Thompson [mailto:thompson@ttgnet.com]
Sent: Friday, October 29, 1999 3:11 PM
To: Chris Ward-Johnson (E-mail)
Subject: Rats, DHCP clients, and ruining tea

looked round and saw a six-inch brown rat

Hmm. Probably rattus norvegicus, then, rather than rattus rattus. You can tell the difference by the length of its tail relative to body length. The common black rat, rattus rattus, always has more than half its total length as tail. The Norway rat (or sewer rat) is often two-tone--brownish grey above and gray below. Watch out for plague.

W2K workstation decided that now would be a good time to refuse to acknowledge the possiblity that DHCP is a concept in which it should believe

Did I mention that W2KP doesn't play nice with NT4 DHCP Servers? It tends to do things like grabbing an IP address that's already been leased to a different client. Bad thing in a DHCP client.

and I've run out of milk so I can't have a proper cup of tea.

Gag. You mean to tell me that you put *milk* in tea? Yuck. I suppose you're one of those barbarians who also puts cream and sugar in a perfectly good cup of coffee.

and, as a part of my continuing campaign to give Chris a hard time about living in France...

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Bruce Thompson [mailto:thompson@ttgnet.com]
Sent: Friday, October 29, 1999 3:14 PM
To: Chris Ward-Johnson (E-mail)
Subject: Oh, yeah

That's another thing I forgot to mention about France. They've got rats all over the place.

And French people think Jerry Lewis is funny...

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 1999 6:32 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Rats, DHCP clients, and ruining tea

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1

It's a brown rat, according to the picture on the back of the poison packet. And it's carried off at least one, possibly more, of the cigarette packet-sized blocks of poison. Or rather they have - I'm pretty sure there's more than one, I saw another climbing up the near-vertical (old house) walls as I was locking up last night. DHCP isn't really so serious, just good practice for when I'm working with clients. I remember vaguely reading about the problems W2K clients have with NT4 servers, and was pretty smug that I'd had no problems - clearly I had a superior implementation of the technology. I've had another look this morning, and it turns out that the W2K client was taking it upon itself to use an address from the 169.* private range, rather than the 10.* range the DHCP server is set to dish out. WTF? Anyway, I've allocated it its own address now and it's behaving.

Milk in tea? <Stage Direction: Heavy sigh, of the sort used when addressing uneducated small child or simple native of a foreign shore in the days of Empire> Look, I understand that the oriental savages had, indeed, learned part of the art of infusing leaves from certain bushes and trees in boiling water before the arrival of the English explorers. But I also know that your average inhabitant of the sub-continent has taken with glee to the practise of, as P.J. O'Rourke puts it, adding cow juice to the resulting infusion. Of course, we drink China tea (well, most of it) without any additives, but the more bitter Indian leaves need some moderation to make them palatable and, as any Gentleman knows, tea is drunk in the early morning and late afternoon with coffee in between and after dinner. And yes, of course I add milk and sugar to my breakfast bowl of latte, but shudder at the thought of adding it to my after-dinner espresso. No cream, ever, although there was a vogue when I was first taken to restaurants by my parents some 30 years ago for Irish Coffee served in a large wine glass with thick cream floating on the surface of the hot coffee and whiskey mixture below. Haven't seen it for years, though.

Regards
Chris Ward-Johnson
chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk
Dr Keyboard - Computing Answers You Can Understand
http://www.drkeyboard.co.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 1999 6:35 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Oh, yeah

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1

Well I think Jerry Lewis is quite funny too, although rather derivative of Norman Wisdom.

And I'm glad to hear that you apparently have no rats in the US, although I think you should take a closer look at a few of your politicians.

The latest anti-French publicity in the UK is that an EC report has condemned French farmers for feeding their cattle on sewage, of both the animal and human kind. And I always thought it was Americans who were full of - (no, no Chris, don't go there, AARRGGHH!)...

And here I thought we had compatible senses of humor. Apparently not. It passes understanding that someone who thinks Blackadder is funny could think Jerry Lewis is funny.

It's true that we have politicians here, and they're even worse than rats. At least one can poison rats. Poisoning politicians gets one talked about.

 


 

 

 

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Sunday, 31 October 1999

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Oh, good. FrontPage 98 has done it to me again. When I opened my local copy of the web site this morning, it took forever. As usual, I clicked the Modified Date column to sort my current daynotes file to the top, but it didn't come to the top. Then I noticed that every file in the folder was timestamped 10/31/99 at 7:23 or 7:24. That's because FrontPage updated the timestamps on every file in my web. That means that when I publish, it's going to publish every single file. Arghh. I hate FrontPage. As I recall, it did this the last time that daylight saving time changed. But it does it other times as well. About every couple of months, unfortunately. I hate FrontPage. So I decided to install FrontPage 2000 again. It can't be any worse than FP98.

Everyone else is getting rid of traditional underlined blue links and going to hover colors, so I decided to do the same. Thanks to Steve Tucker for sending me the couple lines of HTML code required to accomplish this. For those who want to make the same change, all you need to do is insert the following code in the HTML header for the page:

<style><!--a{text-decoration:none;}
//-->
<!--a:hover{color:red;}
//--></style>

The first line gets rid of the underline in links. The third line specifies that moving the cursor over a link causes that link to change to red.

We spent the evening at the Tuckers' house for dinner and Suzy's birthday. As usual, Steve and I disappeared down to his basement computer center. If he gets too many more computers in there he's going to need to install a raised floor. And he's definitely going to need to install a separate air conditioning unit. It must have been about 85F (29.4C) in there. We got the second Pentium II/400 installed in his new IBM system and decided to load Windows 2000 Professional. Everything went pretty well, except that we couldn't get a video driver that would work. 

We also found that what Steve thought was a 2 GB UW SCSI drive was in fact an 8 GB UW SCSI drive. Nice surprise. When IBM installed Windows NT Workstation 4, they formatted the partition as FAT, which of course limited it to 2 GB. They didn't both to partition the rest of the drive. I'll let Steve tell you all the gory details on his page. Speaking of Steve, that's him below, taken with his new Sony FD83 digital camera. I'll let him tell you all the gory details about that, too. 

steve.jpg (41726 bytes)

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-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Kitterman [mailto:kitterma@erols.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 1999 10:14 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: NT 4.0 SP 6 Quicklook

There was a note in the SP6 readme about problems with 3Com 905b ethernet card drivers that is fixed in the SP. That's what I have in this computer, so the network improvement isn't surprising.

I usually apply the SP right away because my recent experience with them has been good (4/5, I know some people had trouble with 4, I never did) and I'm one of the designated guinea pigs at work. At home, the computer dual boots to Win 98 SE and although I like NT for it's stability, I can get anything I need done under 98. The risk of a serious productivity loss is low.

The main difference between your computer and mine is that you got the MB with onboard SCSI and I didn't. I spent the difference on a Promise Fastrack 66 RAID controller. Thanks for that review, I'm quite pleased with it. The BIOS update is only for your MB, there isn't one out (or apparently required) for this one.

Scott Kitterman
kitterma@erols.com

Thanks. I have at least a couple of machines with 3C905b cards in them, so I'll have to keep that in mind. Actually, I don't have the motherboard with embedded SCSI (the BXB-S, I believe). Tom Syroid uses that one. I'm using the KP6-BS with an Adaptec 2940U2W SCSI host adapter. There is a BIOS update available for the KP6-BS (or at least there was for mine, which I got 6 months or so ago). You may well have the most recent BIOS on your board.

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-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 1999 11:23 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Oh, yeah

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Lewis is only mildly funny, definitely division four to Atkinson's Premier League efforts. Norman Wisdom would be Division One, lower half. Actually, I can't think of anyone who really makes me double-up with laughter much these days. Bruce Cameron, probably. The Onion sometimes, although less and less now. Frasier, occasionally, too.

Regards
Chris Ward-Johnson
chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk

Dr Keyboard - Computing Answers You Can Understand
http://www.drkeyboard.co.uk

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-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:dfarq@swbell.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 1999 12:43 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Rats and politicians

Bob,

Your exchange with Chris Ward-Johnson got me thinking... We Americans can argue that we have rats here because they stowed away on European ships. So if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have rats. And our politicians are mostly descended from Europeans, as is our political system. So if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have those either!

(Please ignore my very Scottish last name, otherwise I'll have to come up with some convoluted reason why it's not relevant to this argument.)

I assume you meant to type "... our politicians are most descended from European rats ..."

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-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 1999 1:33 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Dogs, children and France

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You wrote: "I remember reading not long ago about a child that was bitten by a dog. As it turned out, the child had been torturing the dog every day for months. The dog finally defended itself. They put the dog down."

Quite a few years ago I was sitting in a park with Daisy our Westie waiting for Wendy. A family was sitting nearby, and their three-year-old daughter came to say hello and patted Daisy. This quickly turned into hard smacks and tail pulling. Daisy did what she usually does when kids bother her - got as far away as possible and hid under the bench on which I was sitting. The child followed her and carried on trying to hit her, despite me telling her to stop and even physically dragging her away. I pulled Daisy out and held her away from the kid, which reached out and carried on trying to smack her. After a few more minutes of this, with me repeatedly trying to keep the kid away, Daisy eventually let out a medium-sized growl and a small near-bite. The child ran off to mummy, who bustled across and berated me for keeping a vicious dog which had clearly and unprovokedly attacked her innocent child. "How would you feel if you had to have her put down?" she asked. "Not too bad," I replied, "I hardly know your daughter at all." Exit one confused mother muttering about calling the police.

When my sister was very young - under five - we were visiting friends on Boxing Day and she provoked their labrador into biting her face, and she had reconstructive and plastic surgery quite a few times until she was 18, when she got to choose for herself and gave up the whole process. She only has a small scar now anyway. That dog was put down immediately.

Personally, I have always said that if Daisy - or any other dog who lived with us - bit anyone, she'd only do so after immense provocation and I would NEVER have her put down under any such circumstances. We always warn visitors with children that, whilst Daisy is normally placid, she's only human when it comes to being teased and, like me, will eventually lash out if you provoke her enough. And whenever children approach her in the street we always tell them that, while Daisy won't harm them they should always ask the human with the dog if it's OK to pet them.

In fact, I've had huge arguments with some people - parents, mostly - who insist that, if a dog bites a human (i.e. one of their 'darling children' who couldn't possibly do any wrong) then it should be instantly put down. Well, if you want to put my dog down you'll (a) have to drag me through every court in the land first, (b) find me and (c) drag her, as the saying goes, from my cold, dead fingers. (Can you tell that I feel quite strongly about this?)

You also wrote: "...and, as a part of my continuing campaign to give Chris a hard time about living in France..." You've been carrying on a campaign to give me a hard time about living in France? Robert, you should have told me - I thought it was the usual American insane jealousy! Blimey, this puts everything in a new light - I just assumed that you were all green with envy at our edible food, drinkable wine and polite conversation. Oh well.

Regards 
Chris Ward-Johnson
chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk

Dr Keyboard - Computing Answers You Can Understand
http://www.drkeyboard.co.uk

Yes, I've always felt that dogs get the raw end of the deal. Unprovoked dog attacks do occur, but they are exceedingly rare. Dogs nearly always escalate gradually from growling to more serious threat displays, including raised hackles and bared fangs. Eventually, they'll escalate to a lunge and warning nip that really isn't intended to do damage. Unfortunately, that may break the skin, and the person then claims to have been "bitten" or "attacked" by the dog. 

In fact, of course, the dog did no such thing. Even a relatively small dog like one of our BCs has the jaw strength to literally amputate a person's arm with a single bite. If a dog actually attacks, the victim ends up dead or severely mauled. I maintain that every living thing has the right to defend itself. And if someone ever attacked one of my dogs with the intent to seriously injure or kill it, I'd use whatever force was necessary up to and including lethal force, to defend my dog.

And now to see if I can figure out how to publish this to my web server...


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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.