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Daynotes Journal

Week of 1 November 1999

Sunday, 07 November 1999 09:36

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, 1 November 1999

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Busy week this week, so updates may be short. Today, the electrician comes to give us a quote on installing a service disconnect that will allow us to cut all power to the house. I also need to climb up on the roof and blow out the gutters, because we have fallen leaves all over the place and heavy rain is in the forecast for tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, we go up to pick up our new Border Collie pup. The remainder of the week will be occupied with various other stuff.

 


 

 

 

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Tuesday, 2 November 1999

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Here's an idea for getting even with someone you don't like. Barbara forwarded me the URL for DogDoo.com, whose service is "One fresh canine bowel movement delivered anonymously to any address in the world!" They even offer different sizes. My favorite was the giant 2 lb. (0.9 kilo) economy size.

It's puppy day today. We're off after lunch to go pick up the new puppy, who has now been officially named Malcolm. Duncan knows something is up. Barbara stopped the other day to pick up puppy supplies. Among other things, she got two one quart stainless steel bowls for food and water. I put them down in the den yesterday afternoon. Duncan walked over and examined them closely several times. He knows what they're for, but he also recognizes that they're a fifth the size of his own bowls. I'm pretty sure he's grasped the implications.

Barbara prepared a nesting box yesterday, a medium-size cardboard box with numerous towels, puppy blankets, and chew toys in it. In theory, Barbara, both dogs, and I will drive up to get the puppy. It's about a 45 minute drive each way, and we fondly hope that the puppy will sleep on the return journey. Not likely, though. It took Duncan about 2 minutes to climb out of the box on his original ride home. Somehow I doubt that it will take Malcolm much longer.

I got an Intel CA810E motherboard yesterday. Actually, Intel has changed the terminology. It's now a "desktop board." This is a pre-production model, but the CA810E should soon be available for purchase from retailers. The CA810E is a Socket 370 board that can accept PPGA Celerons and the new FC PGA Pentium IIIs. It has integrated SoundBlaster audio and Intel i752 video. This sample also has the optional integrated 100BaseT LAN interface.

Anand recently reviewed the Intel Pentium III E FC PGA Coppermine processors and the Intel CA810E motherboard. As usual, he completely missed the point. If Anand reviewed a Ferrari, he'd complain that it didn't have the hauling capacity of his favorite dump truck. If he reviewed a Mack dump truck, he'd complain that it didn't corner like his favorite sports car. As Anand rightly points out, the integrated i752 video means that this isn't a motherboard for serious gamers. 

But this motherboard was not designed for people who live in Quake. For the rest of us, the CA810E has some very attractive features, not least of which is its support for 66 MHz, 100 MHz, and 133 MHz FSB speeds. That means you can build a very inexpensive system around this motherboard with a low-end Celeron (using PC133 SDRAM), and still be able to upgrade later to a fast Pentium III once their prices come down. I'm still waiting for the Pentium III E processor, so I haven't had a chance to build a system around this board, but my guess is that the embedded video will be more than good enough for typical uses, including casual gaming. More later, once I have a chance to work with the motherboard.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [mailto:waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Monday, November 01, 1999 9:54 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Scary

Following from NYTimes although the Times has limited access to accommodate only same day viewing.

Thus text below.

Thanks. I didn't include the text because it's copyrighted, but it refers to the RealJukebox Trojan horse. I've never much cared for that company's products, and this is yet more more reason to avoid them. I note that they've already posted a patch on their site to zero out the GUID. That's not enough, not by a long shot. If the situation is as represented, and I have no reason to think it is not, this company is engaging in practices that are certainly illegal and Europe and almost certainly illegal in the US. They should be prosecuted, and should be fined enough to put the company out of business. The people responsible should have to serve some serious jail time as well.

I think it's interesting that the scum-sucking lawyers who went after Toshiba (and now Compaq with a similar suit) got a billion dollar settlement, but Real, who have apparently raped the privacy of millions of users, are likely to escape unscathed. I hope that the bad publicity will be adequate to put Real out of business, but I somehow doubt that will happen.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Alberto_Lopez@notes.toyota.com [mailto:Alberto_Lopez@notes.toyota.com]
Sent: Monday, November 01, 1999 5:12 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: MCSE Exam 70-73 (Implementing and Supporting Windows NT Workstation 4.0)

Bob,

I Passed!

I took the test on Wed 10/27 and here is what I saw:

30 questions 60 minutes to complete 700 /1000 needed to pass.

I have since learned that this is what Microsoft calls the "Short Form" of the test.

I scored 766. According to my calculations, I needed to get 21 out of the 30 correct and I got 23. To be quite honest, I was a little disappointed in myself with the socre that I got. A higher score earns "bragging" rights if you will.

My question to you is this:

Should I care / worry about the actual final scores in my MCSE tests? I noticed that the "official" transcripts from Microsoft do NOT include the score, but list only the exam #, description and the date that you took it.

If you were in the position of hiring someone, would the actual score that a person got on their test matter to YOU?

Again, your opinion on this matter is highly valued.

Ciao,

Alberto S. Lopez
albertol@pacbell.net

Congratulations! It sounds like you're well on your way to your MCSE. As far as scores, I can't imagine anyone caring what you got. The fact that you passed is all that counts. In med school, there used to be a riddle, "What do you call the guy who graduates last in his class?" The answer, of course, was "Doctor". 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Monday, November 01, 1999 11:38 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Hyphenated Brits living in France and killing humans to avenge your dog's death...

Yah, Chris can talk about edible food and drinkable wine in France since his nation, otherwise civilised, can not provide either natively to save their collective lives.

If Disney ever buys those soggy isles to turn into a theme park, they would have to import French chefs, and California and French wines to provide sustenance to the tourists. But they do have all the silly costumes, uniforms and accents to put on 'shows', even some real castles and manors with the original families serving as docents after 25 years of Labour governments' attempts to destroy the UK economically.

Why are there so many ex-patriate Brits? NATO was full of them, Ireland has tons of the wealthy ones and a fair number live in France. Is it the rain or the taxman? They also own more US corporations than the Japanese...

As for killing humans to protect 'mere chattel' animals, ie, your dogs, may you draw 12 jurors who all own cats who have been chased or killed by dogs... =8^-)

Robert Rudzki
rasterho@pacbell.net

http://home.pacbell.net/rasterho
"If we succeed in banning cheap unreliable handguns, does that mean that thugs will now use expensive and highly dependable handguns to rob us...?"

Hmm. I remember a joke that went the rounds when European unification was first being discussed. It was something like, "if this goes as we hope, we'll all have British police, French wine, German automobiles, and Italian shoes. But more likely we'll end up with British wine, French automobiles, German shoes, and Italian police." Or something like that.

As far as protecting my dog, I'd simply claim that the guy was attacking me and that my dog was defending me. I shot not to defend my dog, but to defend my own life, because I (as a reasonable man) feared that I would be killed or done grievous bodily harm. And I'd make sure that any cat owner on the jury was dismissed for cause.

 


 

 

 

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Wednesday, 3 November 1999

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The puppy is starting to fit into his new pack. It's amazing how much commotion a 4.5 pound (2 kg) ball of fur can cause. Malcolm is already well on his way to being completely pillow-trained, as the photos below show. Incidentally, these are two of the many photos that show him when his switch is in the Off position. Most of the time, it's On, and the digital camera has trouble capturing him. There's about a half second pause between the time the shutter release is pressed and the time the photo is actually captured. That's enough time for him to have moved across the room.

malcolm1.jpg (45698 bytes)

malcolm2.jpg (25331 bytes)

I'm going to try to get some work done today, but that may be hard. Barbara is spending much of the day at her parent's house, helping her dad with yard work. We assembled a giant wire cage downstairs. It's literally big enough to hold a small lion, and Malcolm is in it right now, although he's not happy about it. He yaps constantly for attention, but is quiet at the moment. That must mean he's asleep.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 2:40 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: Who is this guy?

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

Yah, Chris can talk about edible food and drinkable wine in France since his nation, otherwise civilised, can not provide either natively to save their collective lives.

CWJ: Obviously not been to the UK in the past 10 years. British wine is still expensive rubbish but the food is distinctly edible in all the restaurants I go to in London - see http://www.drkeyboard.co.uk/diary passim.

If Disney ever buys those soggy isles to turn into a theme park, they would have to import French chefs, and California and French wines to provide sustenance to the tourists. But they do have all the silly costumes, uniforms and accents to put on 'shows', even some real castles and manors with the original families serving as docents after 25 years of Labour governments' attempts to destroy the UK economically.

CWJ: I see Disney have just signed a deal with the HK government, the latter putting up something like US$200 million for the building of a new Disneyworld. And it's not us who have the funny accents, it's you foreigners. And the Labour Party has only been in power since May 1 1997 - it was the Tories for the 18 years before that

Why are there so many ex-patriate Brits? NATO was full of them, Ireland has tons of the wealthy ones and a fair number live in France. Is it the rain or the taxman? They also own more US corporations than the Japanese...

CWJ: I think you and this guy must be the only Americans left at home - - there were thousands of Americans in Italy, all missing their dogs. And do Brits really own more US Corps than the Japanese? Or is this another fact from the same stable as the one about the length of the LP's rule? Whatever, I see you still have your fair share of bigots...

As for killing humans to protect 'mere chattel' animals, ie, your dogs, may you draw 12 jurors who all own cats who have been chased or killed by dogs...

CWJ: Kill all cats now.

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

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: sigma@pair.com [mailto:sigma@pair.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 4:45 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: pair Networks

Hi, this is Kevin Martin at pair Networks.

Someone mentioned your page about the billing mess to me recently. I knew you'd had an issue, and as is a common problem in billing, they were swamped, and you didn't get your refund for a while.

http://www.ttgnet.com/daynotes/0315RTDN.html

I read the comments, and you're right, you were "seeing read" as you put it in a recent e-mail. My main concerns are 1) you never really cleared up the matter for your readers, as far as I can tell, and 2) there's an implied physical threat posted there - the part about sending motorcycle-riding friends by to "chat" with us. I don't appreciate that.

Also, a minor clarification - our bandwidth allowances are "per day", but it's based on the monthly average. So you could have 500Mb in one day, and not be charged at all. We use "per day" because it's a lot easier to understand than the multiplied-out version, even if the monthly allowance is still more common in the industry.

Thanks,
Kevin Martin
sigma@pair.com

I posted a statement on 3/30 that your billing staff had finally contacted me the preceding Friday about a refund. To the best of my recollection, I described the whole sorry process accurately on my pages. What pair Networks does not seem to realize is that your staffing problems are your problem, not mine. By making it into my problem, you cost me more in wasted time than the entire amount I paid for a year's subscription to your service. You don't seem to understand that you can't overcharge someone's credit card and then simply ignore all attempts to contact you for three weeks. That's just not an acceptable way of doing business, and your internal staffing problems don't excuse it. What's just as bad was the fact that when I finally said I was going to dispute the overcharged amount on my credit card, pair threatened to discontinue service. If you have inadequate staff to deal with billing problems, the answer is to hire more staff, not to ignore and threaten your customers. I note that your billing staff had no problem in charging my credit card immediately. Correcting their mistake was another matter.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [mailto:waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 5:32 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Epox dual

Is there any technical reason you picked the board without the on-board SCSI, and added it as a plug-in, instead?

Not really, except that the KP6-BS was available at the time, and the BXB-S was out of stock. That and the fact that I usually prefer separate expansion cards for things like SCSI. But the BXB-S has, I believe, Adaptec U2W SCSI built-in, which is exactly what I installed via an Adaptec 2940U2W host adapter.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 10:24 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Posting DogDoo.com's URL is tacky.

I went to the Dog Doo site and decided to let the Postal Inspection Service in on this very funny site.

Not only is this disgusting but may involve laws against biohazard disposal and sending illegal items through the mail. Perhaps this is only a joke but I am afraid no one ever lost money underestimating the taste of the general public...

What if the box gets damaged in a sorting machine and some poor postal clerk touches it before he realizes what that bad smell is? What if gets on other's people's mail?

If you look at the Whois Lookups you will see a dearth of useful information on how to contact these organizations makes you wonder what else they might hosting...

I think I will send a copy to the CDC and maybe to whoever administers biohazard and terrorist use of biological agents.

Robert Rudzki
rasterho@pacbell.net
http://home.pacbell.net/rasterho
"If we succeed in banning cheap unreliable handguns, does it mean that thugs will now use expensive and highly dependable handguns to rob and kill us...?"

I think they send their packages UPS rather than USPS. You're obviously a lot more concerned about this than I am. Have at 'em.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Marcia Bilbrey [mailto:marciald@pacbell.net]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 10:42 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com; tom@syroidmanor.com
Cc: Brian Bilbrey
Subject: Brian says its horrible . . .

. . . but I don't think so!

Enjoy!

A Second Opinion and Third and . . .

A man runs into the vet's office carrying his dog, screaming for help. The vet rushes him back to an examination room and has him put his dog down on the examination table. The vet examines the still, limp body and after a few moments tells the man that his dog, regrettably, is dead. The man, clearly agitated and not willing to accept this, demands a second opinion.

The vet goes into the back room and comes out with a cat and puts the cat down next to the dog's body. The cat sniffs the body, walks from head to tail poking and sniffing the dog's body and finally looks at the vet and meows. The vet looks at the man and says, "I'm sorry, but the cat thinks that your dog is dead too."

The man is still unwilling to accept that his dog is dead.

The vet brings in a black Labrador. The lab sniffs the body, walks from head to tail, and finally looks at the vet and barks. The vet looks at the man and says, "I'm sorry, but the lab thinks your dog is dead too."

The man, finally resigned to the diagnosis, thanks the vet and asks how much he owes. The vet answers, "$650."

"$650 to tell me my dog is dead?" exclaimed the man.

"Well," the vet replies, "I would only have charged you $50 for my initial diagnosis. The additional $600 was for the cat scan and lab tests."

ARRRRGHHH.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 11:05 PM
To: ochsmail@dhs.ca.gov
Cc: Taylor at Home; Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Company that mails dog feces to harass people!

There is a company in Sacramento that mails packages containing fresh dog feces to people anonymously for payment by a third-party. They claim all the dogs they use are dewormed so there is no health hazard!

This sounds disgusting and I want to know if it is legal and can you shut this operation down? Can this be a biohazard issue as well? I think so, what if the box is damaged by the sorting machinery at the post office and the plastic bag containing the dog waste leaks?

Their Internet address is: http://www.dogdoo.com and they have a Sacramento phone number.

The attachment to this email is 'dogdoo.txt' and it has all their domain registration information including their 'upstream provider'. Your webmaster of this site can provide more information on how to find these people and where they are doing business from.

Please tell me you will go after these guys...

Well, you were serious. I don't consider dog crap to be hazardous waste, but I guess some might consider it to be. But I think that putting these folks in the same class as those who mail letter bombs is overreacting a bit.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@neteze.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 4:27 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Granite Digital

Dear Bob,

You may already be aware of Granite. If not, you may review their site at: http://www.scsipro.com/01fs_main.htm

IMO, they are to SCSI cabling, etc. what Crucial is to memory. Granite is pricey compared to Brand X cabling & aqccessories - but well worth it when you need the Last Full Measure of Devotion from your SCSI system. Plus, their site has as much or more well-written & authoritative info on SCSI as Adaptec's site.

Well worth checking out if you haven't already.

Best regards,

JHR
--
culam@neteze.com
[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]

I know of the company. Pournelle has been recommending Granite cables for years. I visited their web site a month or two ago, and was flabbergasted to see that their long cables sell for as much as $1,500. Even a short cables (e.g. an 8" U2W) are well over $100. I've never had any problems with the cables that Adaptec supplies with their host adapters, so I've been loath to consider spending that much extra to solve a non-existent problem. If anyone could demonstrate to me a real difference in performance or reliability, I'd be happy to consider recommending Granite, but so far I haven't seen any evidence to that effect.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: sigma@pair.com [mailto:sigma@pair.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 1999 8:26 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: pair Networks

I was primarily concerned about the threat, which still appears there. If you aren't concerned about it, then I'll drop the matter.

The charges are run automatically, of course. Refunds are not, although they do run weekly, so Chris misstated somewhat by saying "in the coming weeks". The original problem was a programming error in the signup script; when you signed up early in March, you were among the first few days of signups, which didn't receive the discount. The problem wasn't discovered until later in March, unfortunately.

I've never claimed that our handling of the situation was acceptable, and I don't believe I mentioned staffing problems in my e-mail, although we are indeed out of space in our present location. Also, we do not threaten to discontinue service - we merely investigate chargebacks, most of which do involve fraud or a customer who has made no contact with us at all (or who simply confuses us with InterNIC and thinks they can reverse the charges and still be hosted).

Thanks, Kevin

What threat? Your billing department doesn't answer email for three weeks, and there is no voice telephone number to call. I wasn't about to drive to Pittsburgh to talk to them, but I was considering asking some of my riding buddies to drop over and speak to them, which is exactly what I said. If you somehow interpret that as a threat, that's your choice. But I made no threat.

That must have been some script error. One of my friends signed up with pair the day before I did. As I recall, that script calculated his discount correctly at 24%, but the mailed invoice he received indicated that he'd paid only for six months when he'd paid for a year. As for not discovering the problem until later in March, I immediately (within a few minutes of receiving the invoice) notified billing@pair.com of the problem. If they read their mail, perhaps they would have discovered the problem in a timely manner. I don't recall when you mentioned the staffing problems (or if indeed it was you that mentioned them), but I distinctly recall being told that there were only a couple of people in billing and that they were covered up for weeks every time invoices were mailed. Come to think of it, it was you that I talked to about this, in earlier private mail. If you'll recall, I suggested staggering billing rather than dropping all invoices the same day. You said you'd tried that but it didn't work any better.

As to the threat to discontinue service, I quote from your posted policies: "Please note also that upon receiving a chargeback notice, we reserve the right to suspend services while we investigate the cause..." If that's not a threat to discontinue service to someone who disputes a charge, I don't know what is.

All of that said, I have recommended pair Networks to many people since this all happened. I know of at least four people who have signed up with pair based on my recommendation, and I'm sure there are many others. What I tell them is that you're technically very competent, have better connectivity than many well-known countries, but have the Billing Department from Hell.

 


 

 

 

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Thursday, 4 November 1999

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Our new Border Collie puppy, Malcolm, is settling in well. He turns six weeks old today. I'd always believed that one shouldn't take a pup from its mother until it was at least six or seven weeks old, but this is the second pup we've gotten at 5.5 weeks old. Duncan turned out well, and this pup also appears to be doing well. Of course, both Duncan and Malcolm immediately formed very strong bonds to Barbara, whom they probably consider a mother-substitute.

Malcolm has had surprisingly few accidents. He's already trying to hit the absorbent puppy pads that Barbara puts down for him. Sometimes he does, and sometimes he ends up with his front end over the puppy pad and his back end off it. Fortunately, we have hard wood floors throughout the house, so cleaning up is pretty easy. The best part is that house training appears to be going well. When he wakes up from a nap, we immediately pick him up and take him outside, where he immediately settles down to business. 

Duncan was unpredictable as a puppy. He never needed to go immediately after he ate. It was anything from half an hour to five hours, literally. Malcolm is more predictable. Also, like a volcano, Malcolm begins to emit noticeable gaseous emanations shortly before the eruption. Barbara takes Malcolm for his first vet visit this afternoon.

After working intensively with Windows 2000 Professional RC2 for about a month, I find little to recommend it over Windows NT 4 Workstation. Nearly every improvement relative to NT4 has to do with hardware and installation, and that's just not enough to make NT5 a must-have upgrade. Specifically, NT5 supports Plug-'N-Play, USB, and adds Device Manager. All of those are nice, but I regard them as relatively minor features. With the exception of installing ISA PnP devices like sound cards, I've never had a hardware configuration problem when installing NT4. (The answer to getting an ISA PnP card installed and recognized is to download PNPISA.INF). USB support is nice if you need it. In fact, I remember the rumors going around a year or so ago. According to them, Microsoft had a patch available that implemented USB support for NT4, but had decided not to release it because USB support would be a major reason for people to upgrade to NT5. I can believe that, because it looks to me that USB support is one of the few reasons that anyone would want to upgrade.

So, in short, I can't see many good reasons to upgrade a working NT4W system to W2KP, particularly given the high price that Microsoft will be charging for the upgrade--$149 to upgrade from NT and $219 to upgrade from Win9X. A full license for W2KP will cost $319, which should give a lot of people pause. Linux may start looking better and better to a lot of people.

* * * * *

After reading through the sad story of Pournelle's experience with buying from an auction site, I sent him the following message last night:

I don't think anyone has said this yet, so I will. Thanks for doing that so I didn't have to. Coincidentally, I was just considering my first auction purchase when you posted your experiences. I need to take some photographs for our book (using the Olympus D400-Z; thanks for that advice also), and I no longer have a copy stand. I checked B&H photo and other sources, and found that a decent copy stand with lights would probably run me at least $300. That seemed a bit much for what I wanted to do with it. My friend Steve Tucker buys stuff regularly from Ebay, so I decided to see what they might have available.

There I found a couple of copy stands listed, and proceeded to read all about the bidding process. One item was a Beseler C14 copy stand with light supports but no lights. It showed a reserve price of $97 (as I recall), but the high bid was only $51. That didn't make any sense to me. What's the point of bidding less than the reserve price in an auction? I tried to figure out what was going on, but never managed to do so. Apparently, I'm stupid like you.

It was about this time that you posted your experiences with your own auction. At that point, I'd about decided just to bite the bullet and buy a new copy stand. Then I finally realized that all I really need is relatively even lighting at a level that will allow the Olympus D400-Z to autofocus reliably. These photos, after all, are going to be published in monochrome with a relatively rough screen size, so it's not like I'm shooting a color layout for a double-truck at 2,540 dpi.

I already have a decent tripod, so I decided to look in the Office Depot catalog for some lights. Sure enough, I find they sell heavy-base gooseneck lamps for about $10 each. Two of those, a couple of 60 watt light bulbs, and I'm good to go. The Olympus D400-Z has a very good white balance function, so I'm sure the photos will turn out just fine even without adjustment.

Thanks again for doing that so I didn't have to.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 1999 10:26 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Jollye Olde Englande

I think Chris is younger than we are [I was born in 1950] but I seem to remember a post where he said something about being able to attend an expensive 'public' school in 1971 so he can afford the BMW and be hired for the fancy expense account job with the Times.

As far as accents go, just recently I heard a light Scottish 'burr' from the BBC World Service, for decades 'BBC English' was that plummy oh-so-upper-class British accent that we mostly hear in the US when a little shrimpy guy with a bad haircut dressed entirely in black is trying to sell us a high-end Nissan on the TV. I can't wait for the 'Scouse' and Lancashire versions on the BBC, most Americans would not even say they were speaking English. Can you remember some of the first US interviews with the Beatles in 1964, those Liverpool accents you could cut with a knife!

Educated Brits tend to get a little overconfident sneering at ignorant Americans who dare criticize any aspect of life in Britain, their lower classes and the culture have their warts as well. Witness Brit package tour tourists in Europe, Spain and the NL in particular... Seems English soccer fans have been banned from more than one European country these last 20 years.

From my experiences traveling on the USAF's nickel all over the world, The Ugly American is by no means the worst behaved tourist out there, the Germans, the French, the Japanese and the Brits can certainly all be as ethno-centric and arrogant as you could want anywhere overseas.

Since the payroll taxes are huge in England, many perks such as company cars, very generous expense accounts, etc are off the books and not taxable for personal use as they would be here, the employer can offer very generous compensation which of course distorts the apparent value of the lower salaries and further exacerbates the tax inequities between salary and hourly wages...

My dad traveled to Poland in 1971 to visit his mom by way of London. He and my mom had fled Poland at the end of the war and I was born in London [I still have an expired passport with lions and a Crown on it somewhere... =8^-) and we emigrated to the US in 1955. But anyway, he said prices in London were the same as the US except in pounds sterling and the rate was $1.84 then, I think...!

I remember taking the train from Lincoln [2 hours northeast of London] into London for sightseeing and going thorough miles and miles of old abandoned factories made of red brick, that had good size trees and bushes growing wild in the courtyards and carparks rupturing the cobblestone. Many looked as if they had been closed in the '50's or earlier.

It was almost as bad as Belgium's and Luxembourg's steel making areas, miles of shuttered steel mills that the Japanese and Germans had fatally undercut with the new plants built after 1945.

But the Brits are very proud that they never took a dime of the Marshall Plan money since they 'won' the war. My mother told me meat and eggs were still on war-rations in 1955 [!] when we left for a better life in the US! Makes you wonder what Britain would be today if they had swallowed their pride and took our money to rebuild their infrastructure...

The difference between Germany and Britain is staggering even now, it makes you wonder who really 'won' the war. And Germany took a far worse pounding from the 8th AF than London ever got from the Heinkel-88's, V-1's and V-2's.

My mom tells a story when she was a 17 year old student nurse in Crewe. The family she leased a room from, the father worked for Rolls-Royce and as senior staff was allowed to use cars not yet delivered for errands around town to break them in, I would guess. She said the nursing school would be all a twitter when he gave her a lift to school in yet another brand new Rolls with custom coachwork and they saw her getting out of the car. Certain small vulgar minds said she had herself a sugar daddy, but I believe my mother is a woman of integrity, besides she was dating a Lieutenant in the Army Commando at the time... [not my dad, he showed up later]

I was born in 1953. I believe that Chris is about 5 years younger than I am. Britain threw away its status as a superpower by declaring war on Germany twice. In more than ten years of all-out war, they spent the accrued treasure of more than 200 years of empire and sacrificed two generations of the young men who might otherwise have maintained their status as a major player on the world stage. The economic miracles that occurred in Japan and West Germany are a testimony to what capitalism can accomplish when it is not hindered by nonsensical rules and regulations imposed by government. Marshall Plan money served as seed money, but ultimately it was Japanese and German capitalists who were responsible for the miracle. If there can be said to be anything good about having your infrastructure bombed to rubble, it's this: starting from nowhere, one is not hindered by old and obsolete plant and equipment.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 12:01 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: FW: More fixes versus new release? - Clarification

Bob:

Do you follow this listserv on Windows NT security issues?

If so just trash it, if not do subscribe...

So there will be a SP7, maybe SP8, can that mean that Windows 2000 may be a bit delayed?

I may have to get out my old Windows 3.51 Server CD and apply SP5 plus hot-fixen yet.

I used to subscribe to NTBugTraq, but NT has so many bugs that the volume soon became more than I can handle. But I agree that it's worth reading for anyone who administers NT. I've added it to my links page.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Boyle [mailto:mboyle@toltbbs.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 6:55 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: pair network and cable modem

Robert

Threat or not, I notice it took them from March-April until November to get around to noticing. They must have been terrified.

I'm getting a cable modem today. $100.00 installation and $40.00 a month. The $100.00 includes a NIC if you need one. (I don't.)

I'll let you know how it goes.

Michael A. Boyle
mboyle@toltbbs.com

There is that. pair Networks is an unusual company. My perception of pair is that it comprises a bunch of competent techies but no business people at all. I think they should probably hire one MBA and listen to what he tells them. But I do appreciate their technical competence and their superb infrastructure. They just need to focus a bit more on customer service.

Good luck with the cable modem. I wish I could get one. Actually, I'd prefer xDSL, but I'll take what I can get when I can get it. Winston-Salem is supposed to be a "connected city." Our home is a mile or so from Wake Forest University. We have a fibre loop that surrounds the entire city. One would think that getting decent connectivity would be easy. Not so. It now appears that xDSL and cable modems may be available some time next year, although xDSL was promised for this year and has in fact been made available in parts of Winston-Salem. Just not around here. I guess I'll just have to envy those of you with good connectivity.

 


 

 

 

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Friday, 5 November 1999

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Barbara returned from grocery shopping and other errands yesterday with a couple of gooseneck desk lamps from Office Depot. They have horrifying warnings on them: FIRE HAZARD: USE 60 WATT BULB MAX. So I'm going to use 300 watt bulbs in them. They'll probably be on for only a minute or so at a time, so they're not likely to overheat and catch fire if I quintuple the rated bulb size. Barbara suggests I try 100 watt bulbs first, which I may. The Olympus D400-Z is auto-exposure and auto-focus. That means that the more light I can put on the subject, the easier time the camera will have focusing. More light also means a higher shutter speed (camera shake less an issue) and/or a smaller aperture (greater depth of field).

lightstands.jpg (48784 bytes)

That motherboard, incidentally, is the Intel CA810E, which will probably go into a Pentium III Coppermine system this weekend. We'll have to see where my work area ends up. Barbara says the kitchen table, where the lights are now, is unacceptable. I suggested the dining room table, but she plans to put Christmas decorations there. I suggested that my new lamps would look very festive with tinsel and bows on them, but she didn't buy that idea.

For the short term, we'll probably move them back to Barbara's office. She's willing to give up her desk surface (as opposed to her computer table) for that purpose, and that'll probably be workable for now. Ultimately, I'm going to have to do some expansion of my work area. Right now, I have a 30" X 60" folding table as my credenza/work area behind my main desk and chair. I think we're going to replace that with a 30" X 80" solid-core door, which will give me 33% more flat area to store my clutter. I'll probably set up a folding table or two in my mom's living area in the basement. In addition to giving me more work space for building test bed systems and so on, I'll probably move a main server down there. That means that if we have a long-term power failure (either from Y2K or ice storms) it'll be easy for Barbara and me to continue working downstairs.

I've about decided, incidentally, not to have a service disconnect installed for the electric power to the house. We got one quote from Salem Electric. They wanted $515 to install an external cabinet with a 140 amp breaker. That seemed like an awful lot of money for a simple job. All I really wanted was an outside box that could be padlocked, and contained a Frankenstein-type TPDT knife switch that I could manually throw when I wanted to connect my generator to the house wiring. I can't imagine that there'd be more than an hour or two's work involved, and external enclosures aren't that expensive.

So I decided not to worry about it. I'll simply buy a couple of long heavy-duty extension cords. If the power fails, I'll use those to power the downstairs freezer, refrigerator, and computers. If the power outage looks to be long-term, I'm perfectly cable of opening the junction box and powering the furnace blower from the generator. Of course, we also have natural gas logs upstairs that literally put out as many BTUs as the furnace, as well as a wood-burning fireplace downstairs. 

If I seem paranoid about power failures, it's because we had a terrible ice storm three or four years back. Our power failed for the better part of a week, and the temperatures were in the mid-teens (-10C). We went through all of our firewood, along with a lot of scrap lumber we had in the basement. We were seriously considering whether to start burning books or furniture when the power finally came back on.

Malcolm continues to explore and learn. It's really amazing to watch him work. I had him out in the front yard yesterday with both of the big dogs. He was working them, circling around to cut them off and then dropping into the famous Border Collie crouch. Seeing a six-week old puppy give "sheep" a steely-eyed puppy stare is quite amusing. Well, to me anyway. The big dogs aren't amused. Here's a picture of Malcolm on break, with his butt on a Frisbee and his face buried in one of my old tennis shoes.

malcolm-shoe.jpg (41551 bytes)

Like all of our previous pups, Malcolm has a foot fetish. Feet, socks, shoes, anything at all to do with feet fascinates him. The other day, I took a step and noticed that my foot felt heavier than usual. I looked down and found a puppy fanged onto my tennis shoe. He also likes to run over, plop down next to your foot, curl up and go to sleep. It doesn't take him long, either. It seems like half the time I look down and find a sleeping pup against my foot. Not just when we're sitting down, either. A while ago I opened the refrigerator to get some Coke. In the time it took me to open the door and extract the 3-litre bottle, he was already against my foot with his eyes closed.

Malcolm made his first visit to the vet yesterday afternoon. He has a slight heart murmur, but the vet assures us that this is not unusual and almost always clears itself up. Malcolm is due to go back to the vet in three weeks for all his shots and to have the murmur checked again.

Olympus announces the C-2020 Zoom Filmless Digital Camera. The C-2020 retains the 1600 X 1200 resolution of the C-2000, and includes several useful new features, including QuickTime Movie and black-and-white shooting modes, manual exposure mode, automatic exposure bracketing, and manual focus from 8" to infinity. External flash has been improved to avoid camera-shaking and the PC sync now has an external flash mode. There are also numerous incremental improvements, including reduced power consumption and support for an expanded range of ISO-equivalent film speed settings. The C-2020 Zoom will be available this month, with an expected street price of $899. I haven't seen the camera yet, but based on its specs the C-2020 Zoom would definitely be on my short list if I were buying a prosumer-grade digital camera for Christmas..

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Boyle [mailto:mboyle@toltbbs.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 10:12 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: pair network and cable modem

Robert

It's a strange situation. The cable I have is an old two cable system. I will get a 512K down link, but a 33K modem-phone line uplink. They are presently upgrading the whole system to fiber optics. When that is complete in my neighborhood, I will have 128k uplink and always connected. I have seen much cable activity in the neighborhood lately, I hear perhaps yet this year. No change in the price though.

Mike Boyle
mboyle@toltbbs.com

Cable companies are pushing hard to upgrade their cable plant and facilities to support data. Time-Warner cable just upgraded our area's cable to fibre last month. I was hoping that meant that we'd soon have cable modem service available, especially since they told me last summer that they planned to deploy the service by the end of this year. As it turns out, they probably won't offer the service until "sometime in 2000", probably at least mid-2000. Meanwhile, BellSouth already offers xDSL in some parts of Winston-Salem, but not around here. An article in the newspaper last month said that BellSouth was offering free installation and setup for a limited time. I got all excited, thinking that at last the service was available. When I called, they said it wasn't available in my area. "Okay", says I, "I'd like to sign up anyway so that I'll get free installation and setup when you do get around to making it available here". "No deal", says they, "you'll have to wait until it's actually available in your area before you can sign up". That sucks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Werth, Timothy P [mailto:timothy.werth@eds.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 11:36 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: USB & NT 4

Bob,

You wrote "I remember the rumors going around a year or so ago. According to them, Microsoft had a patch available that implemented USB support for NT4"

NTW 4 w/SP4 can be made to work w/at least one USB device. A guy here in my office was able to make the Iomega USB Zip 250 work on NTW 4 w/SP4 by using the drivers from the Iomega website. If you are interested in how he did it I can ask him a few questions about it. But, from what he told me apparently SP4 enables some kind of support if the manufacturer has drivers that will work.

That's news to me. As far as I knew, NT4 had no support for USB at all. I would be interested to learn how that works.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Bruce Thompson <thompson@ttgnet.com>
To: dfarq@swbell.net <dfarq@swbell.net>
Date: Thursday, November 04, 1999 8:15 PM

Let's just abolish government, and as its last official act before disbanding, issue everybody a really big gun. That'll serve both purposes. You're sure to be a better shot than Ned, because he'll be too drunk off Dirt Cheap Beer to be a good shot, and if we've all got guns and know how to use them, what foreign power is going to mess with us?

Congratulations on becoming a libertarian.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:dfarq@swbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 9:38 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re:

Heh. Thanks. I always had some of that in me. I remember when the mean old Republicans shut down the government a few years ago, I wrote in my college newspaper, "When was the last time a little controlled anarchy hurt anyone?"

In college I drifted between conservative and libertarian, based mostly on what would offend my liberal editors more. My true leanings are closer to libertarian I think. I can empathize with a lot of the goals of the conservative movement (if we assume they are sincere, which they may or may not be--remember, politicians are descended from European rats), but no one has successfully demonstrated how invading people's personal lives reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies or reduces the number of people who choose to take heroin.

Seeing as human beings *do* know right from wrong and don't have to have everything spelled out for them, we don't need six billion laws on the books. The Golden Rule and a means of enforcement--OK, The Golden Rule and a Gun--would suffice nicely.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 5:10 AM
To: rasterho@pacbell.net
Cc: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: BBC English

Some years ago I just about fell out of my sofa when the BBC World anchor, lovely lass apart from her dialect, announced the "noine o'clock noooze" (transliteration simply can't do it justice -- US: think Brooklyn or rural deep south if your norm is neutral, CAN: think extreme "Tro'na" (Toronto dialect)). Talk about a radical departure from the unified version. Since then we have occasionally heard representation from numerous more un-Queens-like English. Not easy for foreign viewers, but in recent years they have avoided the extremes.

A similar development occurred in Swedish state media at one point, when the requirements on "national" normalized dialect was relaxed. That the normalized dialects originated as obscure local ones which for strange reasons became the norm is usually long forgotten.

/ Bo
--
"Bo Leuf" <bo@leuf.com>
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@neteze.com]
Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 5:56 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Radical Libertarianism

Dear Bob,

That did it! (Dave Farquhar's 11.05.99 Daynotes). The Straw that Broke this Camel's Back.

The Chaos of anarchy begins to look even better than the growing chaos of Gummint as we know it. And at 68, I have more to fear from chaos of anarchy than I might have even ten years ago. Nevertheless -

Where do I sign on? Or is there no need to sign on?

My best regards,

JHR
--
culam@neteze.com

[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]

Check www.libertarian.org. I'm sure they have links to various local Libertarian Party organizers.

 


 

 

 

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Saturday, 6 November 1999

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Well, the preliminary findings of fact in the Microsoft case are in. I have to say that I can't see that Microsoft has done anything wrong at all. In true Orwellian double-speak, the actions represented as "anti-competitive" are in fact simply evidence that Microsoft has competed successfully. What we have here are a bunch of whining losers using the government's force majeur to cover their own inadequacies. They weren't capable of competing in the market, so they played the government card.

The findings make much of the fact that Internet Explorer has grabbed a lot of market share from Navigator. So what? Internet Explorer is a much better browser, and has been for at least the last couple of years, which is the period in question. Netscape hasn't updated their browser significantly since they released the botched Navigator 4.0 more than two years ago, while Microsoft has released IE4 and IE5, both of which were significant improvements over their predecessors. Given the choice between using IE3 and the latest Navigator, I'd choose IE3 in a heartbeat. So why should it come as a surprise that people are giving up Navigator in droves? Navigator is a miserable excuse for a browser.

As regular readers of this page know, I'm no apologist for Microsoft. I despise Microsoft. I detest Microsoft. I hate Microsoft. I've said that many times, and it remains true. I dislike Office 2000 intensely, and stated recently that I can't see that Windows 2000 Professional is much of an upgrade over Windows NT 4 Workstation. I hope that Linux eats W2KS's lunch. I have said repeatedly that Windows 2000 Server won't be even marginally usable until at least early 2001, and that anyone who puts W2KS on a production server before at least SP3 is a complete idiot. 

I'd love to see Microsoft lose in the marketplace, to be beaten by superior software. But beating them this way diminishes us all. I realize that most people will be celebrating this decision. I think they'll have cause to regret that. The Good Guys lost this one. Microsoft lost, certainly. But more important, those of us who use software lost. Even the software companies behind the suit lost, although it may appear that they won. What they won was a Pyrrhic victory. Who won? As usual, no one but the government and the lawyers. All we need is a government bureaucracy and a bunch of lawyers in charge of software development. I am unutterably disgusted. I think I'll go watch Harrison Bergeron again.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Boyle [mailto:mboyle@toltbbs.com]
Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 8:13 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: pair network and cable modem

Robert

It was installed last night. They gave me a $30.00 credit for having my own NIC. I downloaded Star Office in 4 min 40 sec. That's 225k/sec!

They installed some small driver that increased speed X4. Didn't leave it with me. There is no special software to connect, just a tcpip connection. I connected my laptop and it only got about 55k/sec. I'll just install Microsoft network sharing on the desktop. That should solve the speed problem.

Mike Boyle
mboyle@toltbbs.com

Hmm. Dunno what driver they would have installed. I assume you're running Win9X, and my guess is they simply set an optimal value for MTU, but then I don't really know much about Win98.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Werth, Timothy P [mailto:timothy.werth@eds.com]
Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 11:42 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: USB & NT 4

I asked the guy who did it before I e-mailed you yesterday to make sure I wasn't mistaken. From what he told me the manufacturer has to have drivers that will work w/USB. You need SP4 or later to enable the drivers to work. As far as the USB Zip 250 he told me he used the drivers that were on the CD that came w/the drive and it was "pretty much brainless". He said he got it right the first time.

Like I said I've never played w/NT4 and USB myself but apparently it can be done.

I checked the Iomega web site yesterday after I got your message. As far as I can tell, Iomega has written custom drivers for some of their products that allow them to use the USB interface under Windows NT. That doesn't mean that Windows NT supports USB, unfortunately, just that Iomega drives can access them via custom driver as opposed to an OS service.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 8:36 PM
To: bo@leuf.com
Cc: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: RE: BBC English

here in the us since the wide advent of tv [1950-4] and radio [1923-1930] to a lesser degree our own regional accents are fading. it is really odd to turn on the local tv news in north carolina say, and the guy talks just like they do in chicago or kansaw city, not the proverbial 'mouthfull of mush' diction that a True Son Of The South uses [ie, the guys that lost the civil war] =8^-)

from chicago on out to the far west coast the speech tends to be the flat 'american' that british comedians like to make fun of, the upper northeast has its 'new yawk' and brooklynese, and the people up in maine speak yet another dialect closer to the newfoundlanders which the rest of canada finds hilarous and 'newfies' are the butt of many an regional joke. french canadiens also don't get no respect neither, but for slightly different reasons. =8^-)

i find the upper minnesota and wisconsin have faint but distinct accents given that so many there are descended from scandinavian immigrants and quite a lot of germans. my wife who is from minnesota claims not to notice and thinks i am imagining things. then she tells me some of the small rural towns have churches that still use german or norwegian for sunday services since so many of the old women find it comforting and no one under 50 or male goes to church much in this country anymore, so english is not an issue...

the guy that invented the languagage 'esperanto' which was to have been taught as a second langugage the world over and ultimately become the primary langugage of everyone, was supposed to stop all the linguistic misunderstandings that he thought led to world wars. if we just understood each other, we stop the killing and just settle down to farm, bake bread and make shoes in the factories... if it were only that simple!

i saw an article on therapy for couples that had serious conflicts and were about to breakup in divorce or abandonment, the long held belief was that mis-communication was causing the rifts, if only we could teach battling couples to understand and verify each other's understanding of verbal statements and actions all would be well.

as it turned out they understood each other just fine, but their value systems and beliefs were very strong and antagonistic and since neither was willing to compromise to save the relationship, they just broke up and with much acrimony dumped on the kids, the therapist and the lawyers.

despite all the popular belief that opposites attract, yes, they might in short term, superficial ways, but the closer you and your spouse/partner are in beliefs and value systems and life experiences the better the chance you will stay together even in tough times.

i see from the register http://www.theregister.co.uk/991105-000013.html that apple is dropping brit english from macos 9...

i wonder what chriswj will think?

robert

I think that's certainly true to some extent, but perhaps not as much as you think. The general speech patterns may indeed be merging as you suggest, but there are still numerous regional and local peculiarities that allow someone with a discerning ear to identify where a speaker likely originated. 

For example, I speak largely unaccented North American English. However, I was born and grew up in Western Pennsylvania, about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh. That area, for a radius of perhaps 25 miles, is the only area in the United States that uses the Short British O, typified by the fact that I and others who originated there pronounce "dawn" and "Don" identically. Similarly, the form "gum band" for "rubber band" is peculiar to the city of Pittsburgh and its immediate environs (in New Castle, about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh, we called them "rubber bands" like everyone else).

Many regions and localities have similar peculiarities of accent, speech patterns, and word usage. Twenty years ago or more, I used to study some of these differences, and could often closely identify where a person came from simply from his speech, sometimes to the precise city. I'm not sure I could do that nowadays, because speech patterns have blurred during the interim, because Americans move around a great deal more these days, and because I no longer pay as much attention as I used to. But I'm confident, for example, that I could identify Wisconsin versus North Dakota or Vermont versus Massachusetts. There is even a "US Army accent", which has strong roots in the general Southern accent, but is (or at least was) clearly differentiable from a civilian Southern accent.

One exception to this is that girls and young women from all regions have begun to speak with a marked California accent, due no doubt to their desire to emulate the girls they see on television.

I suspect Chris will tell you that, although British regional accents are blurring, he can still easily differentiate between a Tyneside speaker and a Merseyside speaker, as can I. He'd be no more likely to confuse a Newcastle-upon-Tyne native with a Liverpool native than we would be to confuse a Boston native with an Atlanta native. I recall shocking a vendor marketing rep once. She was British, and during the phone conversation I paused to think. She asked what was wrong. I told her I was trying to figure out where she was from. No doubt used to such comments, she said she was British. I said, "I *know* that. I'm trying to figure out where in Britain you're from. Carlisle, right?" There was a long pause before she said, "How could you possibly know that?" I told her that the North Cumbrian accent was quite easily distinguished from other British accents by most Americans. Heh.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 11:10 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Style sheets and natural gas engine AC generators

Bob:

I know you're not real keen on digging into HTML code directly, but we in class have been working with cascading style sheets which centralize all of your font and text formatting in one plain ASCII text file placed in your 'head' area of the index.page

The HTML standards guys for 4.0 would like to disappear the 'font' and related tags entirely and just use style sheets.

You can do global or local or just a word or two formatting and the nice part is you only have to edit one little file and the stuff propagates throughout the entire site as you see fit. Any HTML book recently will have more information on how to use style sheets, we use Castro's HTML 4 for the World Wide Web, ISBN: 0-201-69696-7.

Since you mentioned your power outages when it gets real cold out there and you have natural gas, have you thought of buying or building an AC generator driven by a natural gas piston engine? An added benefit is that it could run off butane or most any kind of LP gas with little or no adjustment in case the natural gas pipelines should fail.

I imagine a turnkey solution could be expensive if you wanted enough power to run everything electric in the house at once, but just some light and fans for the furnace and maybe a computer and TV should be easy enough. Now if your stove, water heater and clothes dryer are all electric you are in big trouble but if you have natural gas those all should be NG versions since NG is much cheaper in most areas compared to kWh rates. More efficient, too. If we ever need the outside condenser/compressor for the A/C replaced it will be a NG unit, 60% of local electric bills in the summer are for the A/C...

Building your own is a little harder, but you can use surplus used/parts or perhaps an ex-military unit, pour a pad outside the house and build a small shed, with the right mufflers it can run very quietly and the yard will absorb the vibration.

Most smaller 4 cal car gas engines will run fine on NG and the alternator is the primary expense along with its control and load regulation circuitry

These are just suggestions, I have not really done any numbers or research on how feasible this all is, it may be wildly impractical after all.

My dad decided to become independent of the DWP both for water and power in North Hollywood, a suburb of LA in the Valley some years ago.

He found that putting up a wind turbine high and big enough to run the house KWH demand would cost a fortune and local zoning would not allow it, to say nothing of the racket they make even 200 feet up on a steel mast.

Drilling for water in the back yard was also a favorite idea of his, I finally got him to call a drilling company who said even if we found water many of hundreds of feet down there is no guarantee it would be drinkable and we have to tell the DWP so they can come and put a meter on it and charge you since they own all the water rights under most of LA and have for decades...

I haven't done much exploration of HTML, and tend to stick to the basics. Originally that was both because I didn't have time to learn the bells and whistles, and because I wanted to maintain browser independence. Nowadays, with 3.0 browsers going out of use and Netscape becoming a niche player, the second factor is much less critical. But the first factor still obtains. I'm dipping my toe in the water gradually (as with the active links I've started to use and some experiments with collapsible outlines at the bottom of my links page and so on), but I simply don't have time to learn about HTML, CSS, etc.

As far as a natural gas generator, I did consider it, but multi-fuel generators cost hundreds more than the equivalent gasoline-only models, and getting the natural gas connected to the generator would cost still hundreds more again. Natural gas also extracts a performance penalty. As I recall a 5 KW gasoline generator only provides something like 3.5 KW when run with NG. On balance, this generator is simply for emergencies, so I'll be satisfied with being able to power the essentials--freezer, refrigerator, a few computers, perhaps the furnace, etc. I don't expect any long-term Y2K power outages around here, so if I can provide minimal power for a week or so, that's all I really care about.

If I were building a house, I would probably install an automobile engine powered by NG as you suggest. In addition to providing all the power I could possible want, that would also be a much lower maintenance solution. I'm told that running with NG quadruples or quintuples the oil-change interval over gasoline, for example. But I really don't need anything like that here. We have gas logs, a gas furnace, and a gas hot water heater. Our stove and dryer are electric, but we can live with our gas grill and we have plenty of clothes to hold us until power is restored.

 


 

 

 

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Sunday, 7 November 1999

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Laundry and cleaning day today. Barbara's parents and sister are coming over for dinner and to meet Malcolm. We should have named him Fang, because that's all he does. When you pick him up, he fangs you. When you put him down, he fangs you. When you pet him, he fangs you. When he curls up by your feet, he fangs you. And those little puppy teeth are sharp. I'm considering getting him a dorsal fin attachment. Every carpet shark should have one.

Fortunately, they outgrow that pretty quickly. Duncan was a worse fanger, if anything, and he's grown up to be the sweetest dog I've ever had.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Yerka [mailto:leshaworks@iname.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 1999 11:20 AM
To: Bob Thompson
Subject: The Microsoft Decision

Dear Bob:

Couldn't agree more about the decision. Near as I can see the only "winner" in the whole thing is the Government. Here they go with one more industry to "regulate" to death. If they force Microsoft to reveal/open source the Window's code then shouldn't Apple be forced to open source their O.S.; it certainly dominates Motorola CPU's. And let's see what else...

Isn't AOL attempting to dominate the connection market. Maybe open access to their users? Oracle claims to be dominant in major database markets--maybe their code should be open? In fact, let's just look arround and pick any one with say 60% or more share and let government regulation have a go at them.

Almost forgot Intel! How much market share do they have? Maybe the government should just require that in the interests of anti-monopolistic practices all government computers should run with non-Intel processors.

Hay! Maybe they should also do that for Microsoft: All government systems run with non-Microsoft Operating Systems. Imagine--an open source government. An oximoron if I ever heard one!

I have no love for Microsoft software--as a consultant it has almost managed to give me an ulcer. I'd love it if Linux, BeOS, and even AppleOS had better market share but this case is not going to do that. It's a case of "be careful for what you wish, you may just get it!"

Well, yes. The fact is that none of the practices that Microsoft is accused of engaging in are at all unusual or unacceptable. The entire case hinges on the government's incorrect designation of Microsoft software products as a "monopoly", which of course they are not. There are any number of competing desktop operating systems readily available, including Linux, Apple's OS, BeOS, and so on. The fact that few people choose to use them does not mean that Microsoft has a monopoly. Microsoft would have a monopoly only if anyone who wanted to run a desktop computer had no choice but to purchase and use Microsoft Windows. That's clearly not the case. And before anyone raises the question, it is quite easy to buy an Intel-based computer without Microsoft Windows.

If the government is really concerned about anti-competitive behavior, they need look no further than the cola industry. Coke and Pepsi engage in the same practices that Microsoft is accused of, and have done for years. That's one reason we pay $1.49 for a 3-litre bottle of flavored fizzy water. The big two have split the market and driven out their lower-priced competitors. Try buying a Coke at Pizza Hut, for example, or a Pepsi at McDonalds. You can't, because the cola companies sign exclusive contracts with these companies which explicitly forbid them from selling competing products. Or learn about the shelf space wars at supermarkets, where manufacturers pay huge amounts for featured placements and to exclude their competition. They recoup those costs from us, of course.

Speaking of chips, forget about Intel. Learn about Frito-Lay and what they do to make sure that their chips, which sell for two or three times what their competitors' chips sell for, continue to dominate chip sales. Intel wishes they had the margins that Frito-Lay gets.

I find this whole situation almost literally sickening. Microsoft plays hardball. So what? They don't cheat. They don't steal. They don't defraud people. With very few exceptions (e.g. Stac), Microsoft fights clean. They provide products that people choose to buy and use. That's it. Their great sin is that they've done so very successfully. I hate to see America come to this, but it seems that many or most Americans can't stand to see a winner. Ask Jeff Gordon. When he was completely dominating Winston Cup racing, many (perhaps most) race fans regarded him as the Devil Incarnate. Why? Not because he did anything wrong. Because he won, and won often. Have we really come to the point that we hate to see winners? That does not bode well for the country. I hope Jackson rots in Hell.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 1999 3:53 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: MS

I'm in near 100% agreement with your views, except on this one. We don't look kindly to criminal gangs strong-arming people--against their will--into doing what they are told, and the only difference I see here is that MS used money and market dominance, instead of guns, to achieve the same results.

C'mon, Chuck. There's a very obvious difference here. The criminal gang is compelling you to do what they want. Microsoft is trying to convince you to do so voluntarily. 

If you don't do what the criminals demand, they shoot you. If you don't do what Microsoft wants, they don't shoot you. They don't even talk mean to you. Microsoft takes the approach, "Here's what we want you to do. If you do what we want, here's what we'll do for you in exchange." That's called voluntary co-operation. The criminal gang takes the approach, "Here's what we want you to do. If you do what we want, we'll let you live, maybe. If you don't, we'll kill you immediately." That's called compulsion. 

Microsoft has not compelled anyone to act against their will. I think you're confusing not having things your own way with not having a choice. We have the choice not to use Microsoft products. What you're really saying is that you want to use Microsoft products, but on your terms rather than on theirs. That's called theft. Doing things your way puts you in the place of the criminal gang, and Microsoft in the place of the innocent victim.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Joshua D. Boyd [mailto:jdboyd@cs.millersv.edu]
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 1999 6:09 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Web pages and browser dominance

As you may know, in many areas of the country, this past Tuesday was election day for local goverments. In my area one man who was running for office lost my potential vote because his web page couldn't be viewed from a linux machine. As you may have noticed, every time I send you an email, I send it either from a linux box, or from a solaris box. And on those machines, the only choices for web browsers are realistically only lynx or netscape (there is IE for solaris, but it is un beleiveably slow and clumsy).

There are many people in the computer science department here at millersville who won't bother ever going back to a web page if it can't be viewed from lynx or netscape (how extremely they feel varies from person to person of course). Further, there are many students on campus who don't care a thing about computers, but they do their web surfing from lynx, and never go back to pages that won't work without graphics (the school has many old macs set up around campus running a telnet program and nothing else. And the students mostly use it to telnet into the schools Sun Enterprise 3000 email server, which also has lynx).

Anyway, the point is that while it may be worthwhile to provide newer IE4 features, it is still a bad idea to require IE4. My personal recommendation is that pages should always be viewable from lynx. If need be, I create two sets of pages, a IE4 set, and a set for everything else. Of course, if a person starts doing that, they really need to be storing their content in some sort of database system, and then having a program generate the different pages (I used to used to have a program generate several sets of pages from an access file at 3AM every morning. Now my pages are generated on the fly, although only one version is generated at the momeny).

-- Joshua Boyd
http://catpro.dragonfire.net/joshua

Well, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure which features require IE4 and which don't. Furthermore, I'm not too worried about it. I don't intentionally do anything to make my site browser-specific, but neither do I spend any time worrying about making it browser-neutral. I write for mainstream readers, most of whom use IE4 and IE5 at 800X600 or higher. I don't intentionally try to break Netscape or browsers running at 640 X 480, but neither do I have the time to spend making sure that my pages render correctly in any browser at any resolution. If you choose to use an unusual configuration, you have to expect to run into some problems. Expecting everyone to accommodate your special requirements is unrealistic.

Not voting for a man for whom you would otherwise have voted simply because his web page does not display correctly on your Linux system strikes me as the action of a fanatic.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Yerka [mailto:leshaworks@iname.com]
Sent: Sunday, November 07, 1999 6:40 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Amen to that

Dear Bob:

Don't hate the judge or the Justice dept. They're just governmental employees doing what come naturally--screwing up the situation. I fault AOL, Netscape, etc. I can't believe they are so stupid as not realize the can of worms they opened. Well, maybe AOL is, considering their practices. but the others?

You would think people would learn a little from the Bell system being sliced and diced into baby Bells. Those babies aren't any more and look at them go--they're all cannibals trying to eat each other up.

It must be human nature--when something needs tuning we seem to want to hit it with a sludge hammer. Maybe it's conspicuous consumption: don't fix it; trash it and try something else!

By the way, I work for a number of years in the retail food industry for a major supermarket chain in the Northeast. Cola Wars, Chip Wars, Chicken Wars--been there, saw that! The stories I could tell. Those guys make Intel and Microsoft (nevermind cold ware governments like the US, Russia, China,etc.) look like rookies. The only corporations "sharper" that I know of is the tobacco industry (and come to think of it wasn't it RJR Nabisco??). So it goes.

Interesting times, huh?

David Yerka

P.S. If you're interested it backup power generation watch the natural gas fuel cell industry. Companies are coming along that claim they will be offering reasonably (?) priced residental versions. Pair with gas heating for residual burning they can be very efficient. Seems to be a field where inovation is thriving.

I can't think of any similar situation where the government got involved and things ended up better for it.

As far as fuel cells, it's interesting that you mention them. I read an article a couple of months ago about fuel cells, in Scientific American, I think. An inexpensive, reliable NG fuel cell would indeed be a nice thing to have.

 


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