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Daynotes Journal

Week of 10 January 2000

Sunday, 16 January 2000 10:29

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, 10 January 2000

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With the arrival of the New Year, the need for a new standard IDE test bed system became more obvious. The 1999 model IDE test bed, which was based on an EPoX EP-BXT motherboard, had a few problems:

  • The EP-BXT uses Slot 1, upon which Intel is increasingly focusing only their high-end processors. Fast processors are nice, but most of us are more interested in mainstream (and more affordable) processors like the FC/PGA Pentium III and the Celeron. Intel's mainstream processors now use Socket 370.
  • Although we could have used a slocket to run S/370 CPUs in a Slot 1 board, the EP-BXT supports only 66 MHz and 100 MHz FSB speeds. The 133 MHz FSB Pentium III CPUs will soon be available, as will 100 MHz FSB Celeron CPUs, and we wanted a board that would support a wider variety of processors.
  • The embedded ATA interfaces on the EP-BXT are DMA/33, and we wanted something that supported DMA/66. In practical terms, no current hard disk can saturate even DMA/33, so the performance benefit of DMA/66 is still largely illusory. However, having double the burst transfer speed does have some advantages, and we expect some high-end ATA hard disks may ship this year that can in fact take advantage of DMA/66.

I also wanted to equip the system with current mainstream IDE peripherals to provide a baseline for testing other IDE devices. Here's the configuration I came up with:



    Antec KS-288 mid-tower


    Power Supply

    Antec PP-253X (250 watt)



    Intel CA810E



    Intel Pentium III/550E (FC-PGA, 100 MHz FSB, "Coppermine")



    128 MB Crucial PC100



    Embedded Intel i752



    Embedded Creative Labs SoundBlaster Audio PCI 64 V (ES1373)



    Embedded Intel 82559 LAN Controller (10/100BaseT)


    Floppy drive

    Mitsumi D359T6 (1.44 MB)


    Hard disk

    Maxtor 91000D8 10 GB UDMA



    Plextor 8/4/32



    Hitachi GF-1000



    Microsoft Internet Keyboard



    Microsoft IntelliMouse Pro

Regular readers will probably be surprised by my choice of the Antec KS-288 mid-tower case. I've said often enough that I won't build a personal system on anything other than a PC Power & Cooling case and power supply. That remains true, but this system is a test-bed, and therefore less critical. Also, the Antec case is very nice indeed, with no rough edges or other signs of cost-cutting. The power supply does not look as robust as a PPC unit, but it should do the job adequately.

Some may also be surprised by the motherboard I chose. Granted, I've always recommended Intel motherboards, but the CA810E includes integrated video, audio, and network adapters, has no AGP slot, and is intended for mainstream systems. The obvious downside is that the lack of an AGP slot renders it useless for testing AGP video cards. However, I don't spend a lot of time benchmarking video cards, and I have other systems available for that purpose. On the upside, this motherboard supports Pentium III CPUs at 100 MHz and 133 MHz FSB, as well as 66 MHz FSB Celeron CPUs, which makes it a very flexible platform for CPU benchmarking. Also, the CA810E embedded ATA interfaces support ATA/66, and the primary purpose of this system is testing IDE/ATAPI devices.

The Maxtor 91000D8 may be another surprise. I certainly have more recent drives available that are much larger and much faster. The Maxtor 91000D8 is no longer a cutting edge drive, but I have a great deal of benchmarking history on it and it suffices in speed and capacity for the purpose. It is installed as Primary Master, with the Plextor 8/4/32A installed as Secondary Master and the Hitachi GF-1000 DVD-RAM drive as Secondary Slave. That means I can't use the Hitachi as a source drive for CD-to-CD copies, but doing disk-image dupes is no problem.

I assembled the system over the weekend. Doing that took a timed 26 minutes, start to finish. The system fired up normally on the first try. That was the easy part. Then came the fun part, installing three operating systems--Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4 Workstation (SP6a), and Windows 2000 Professional (Build 2195 "Gold")--in multi-boot mode.

Installing Windows 98, Second Edition

I installed Win98SE first, in a 2 GB C: partition. Somewhat to my surprise, Win98SE installed with no problems. That done, I installed the Intel CA810E video and sound drivers from the motherboard CD and Plextor Manager 2000 from the CD supplied with the drive. All of that proceeded uneventfully, although it required an incredible number of reboots. I next installed Adaptec Easy CD Creator & DirectCD. Although others have reported getting Easy CD 4.0 bundled with their Plextor 8/4/32A drives, I received 3.5. The distribution CD included an updater exe file that I hoped would update 3.5 to 4.0, but as it turned out, it only updated 3.5 to a higher rev of 3.5. The DirectCD folder also had an updater exe, which updated both DirectCD and Easy CD, but the latter only to 3.5x, alas. With all of that done, I used Device Manager to change the Hitachi GF-1000 DVD-RAM drive to R: and the Plextor 8/4/32A CD burner to S:, getting them out of the way of my standard network drive mappings.

Installing Windows NT Workstation 4.0

I next installed Windows NT Workstation 4.0. The installation proceeded normally, except for (a) slightly messed up video in the blue loader screen during the first reboot, a problem that seems to be common with recent Intel motherboards, and (b) the fact that NT reported 127 MB instead of 128 MB, apparently because the CA810E board steals 1MB.

I next attempted to install the Intel CA810E video and sound drivers, but Setup informed me that they required SP4 or higher. SP6a was still downloading, so I installed SP5. I then used Disk Administrator to re-assign the Hitachi GF-1000 DVD-RAM drive to R: and the Plextor 8/4/32A CD burner to S: and began installing the software supplied on the Intel CA810E distribution CD, including Acrobat Reader 4.0; Intel 82810 DC-10 Chipset Graphics; Creative Soundblaster AudioPCI 128; Norton AntiVirus 5.0; Internet Explorer 4.0; Intel EtherExpress PRO/100 LAN. As usual, Setup forced multiple reboots.

Installing IE 4 took forever, so much so that I thought the system was locked up. After literally 8 or 10 minutes, IE 4 Active Setup appeared, allowed me to specify setup options (I chose minimal) and then started extracting the program from the CABs. After installation finished, IE4 setup forced a restart. NT bluescreened, reporting STOP error C0000221 (Bad Image Checksum), saying that "the image wow32.dll is possibly corrupt. The header checksum does not match the computed checksum." NT recommended restarting and setting the recovery options in the system control panel or the /CRASHDEBUG system start option. It said that "If this message reappears, contact your system administrator or technical support group." 

I restarted, and the error did not re-appear. After I logged in, IE4 setup finished its installation and configuration routines. It then installed the late, unlamented Channel Bar, and the Intel Desktop Board Utilities window reappeared. Iíd already installed the drivers for the Intel EtherExpress PRO/100 LAN card during NT setup, and NT properly recognized the adapter as being present on the motherboard. But the Intel utilities seemed to really want to install the adapter, so I let them go ahead and do it. That forced a reboot, after which I logged in yet again. 

I fired up Display Properties and chose Settings. Iím running this system on an old Mag Innovision 15" monitor. Windows 98 didnít give me a lot of choices. For Windows 98, I ended up picking 800X600, 24-bit color, and "Optimum" refresh. The highest numeric value for refresh available under Windows 98 was 75 Hz, which I suspect is what "Optimum" is using. Under NT, I could choose anything I wanted. I started with 800X600, 24-bit color, and 85 Hz. That worked fine, although the display area covered only a fraction of the monitor. Although I prefer to work at 85 Hz, choosing that setting in Windows NT would mean having to manually reset the monitor configuration every time I wanted to change between NT and 98, so I chose to manually specify 75 Hz in NT. That worked fine, and the display area covered the entire screen. 

Next step, attempt to install Plextor Manager 2000. I got a warning dialog "Error: No SCSI host adapters found" and clicked OK. Oh, well. Even so, the Setup Complete dialog appeared and prompted me to restart the computer, which I did. When I restarted, the PM2K splash screen appeared, so it seemed that it indeed has been installed. Okay, I fired up Disk Dupe to see if it runs. It did, kind of. But it brought up a dialog box to inform me that DiskDupe is incompatible with AutoRun. The dialog gave me the option to disable AutoRun, which I did. The dialog then informed me that I need to restart the system yet again. ARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH. 

During the restart, the same bluescreen error message I mentioned earlier came up. ARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH. ARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH. I restarted, AGAIN. This time, the system came up normally. At this point, I noticed that SP6a, which I was downloading on another machine, had finished downloading. Thinking that perhaps there might really be something wrong with wow32.dll, I figured that installing SP6a might fix the problem. I mapped a drive to theodore, where the downloaded file resided, copied the file to the junk directory on the new machine, and fired up the SP6a setup program. It appeared to be working normally until, of course, a dialog popped up to tell me that "an error has occurred copying WOW32.DLL" Why am I not surprised? 

SoÖ. Back over to kiwi, my main workstation. Copy the 34 MB MSNT128.EXE SP6a distribution file from theodore over to an empty folder on kiwi. Run MSNT128 Ėx to extract the files to c:\trash on kiwi without installing SP6a on kiwi. Open a Run box on the new machine, browse over to kiwi, copy wow32.dll, close that Run box, open another, browse to \temp\ext46720 and paste the file. Windows asks if I want to overwrite the file. Whatís already there is identical to what Iím pasting, but what the heck. I paste it in and tell the error dialog to try again. This time it accepts it. Hmmm. SP6a installation appears to complete normally. I have to restart the system again, of course. At least this time the system restarts without bluescreening. 

Back to what I was trying to do when I was so rudely interruptedóinstall Adaptec Easy CD Creator and DirectCD. Adaptec Easy CD Creator installs normally, although Iím shocked to see that it requires a restart. At least this time I know enough to wait until after Iíve installed DirectCD to do the update, which will update both Easy CD Creator and DirectCD in one pass, with only one more restart required. I was typing these notes while the required restart after installing Easy CD Creator was going on. When I turned around, I was flabbergasted to see a bluescreen, complaining as usual about wow32.dll. What is this wow32.dll and why does it have it in for me? 

With the system back up, I log in again, change to the DirectCD folder on the CD and run Setup for DirectCD. Surprise, surprise, it forces a restart. I keep my finger on the reset button of the PC. Sure enough, the system bluescreens, and I restart it yet again. This must be literally 50 or more restarts. This is going beyond ridiculous. Oh, boy. For the first time, a hard restart generates the bluescreen. I powered the system down and then back up. It bluescreened again. Iíd had it for the time being and go do something else.. 

Later, I somehow get the system to boot into Windows NT Workstation, where I apply the combined patch for Adaptec Easy CD Creator and DirectCD. This time, I decline to allow the recommended reboot immediately. Thatís fortunate, because it allows me to see a dialog raised by Adaptecís Setup, "The AutoRun feature for the CD-ROM type of devices has been disabled. We highly recommend you enable the feature to make sure your CD-R/CD-RW drives function properly. Do you want us to enable it and restart your system? 

Well, hell. Plextorís PM2K insisted I disable AutoRun so that the drives would run correctly, and now Adaptec insists that I re-enable it so that the drives will run correctly. Duh. This from two pieces of software that arrived on the same CD. I tell it Yes, go ahead and do that. The dialog disappears, but the system does not restart. I am beginning to hate computers. 

I restart the system manually, and it starts normally. Perhaps IE4 is the cause of this mess. I install IE5.01 from a distribution directory where I downloaded it several weeks ago. This time, there is no option to pick restart now versus later. It tells you itís going to restart and that youíd better shutdown anything you care about. Then it restarts, and everything comes up normally. I sit there shutting down and restarting a half dozen times to make sure that the problem is solved. It appears to be, because half a dozen or more restarts occur normally.

Time to turn on DMA in NT. For some reason, Microsoft makes it very hard to do this. I always end up downloading Dmacheck.exe each time I need it. I donít know why I canít seem to keep it organized in my install directory like I do everything else. Itís always a mistake to lose track of something you download from Microsoft. It may not be available on the Microsoft site the next time you need it. Microsoft is always reorganizing and moving stuff around. Worse still, they sometimes remove files entirely for no apparent reason (notably, Personal Fax for NT). 

When I search for Dmacheck.exe this time, I find it, with a notice that Microsoft is centralizing downloads at Microsoft Download Center ( I download the file and stick it in f:\install\Microsoft. I run Dmacheck.exe and enable DMA on both ATA channels. It displays the usual usual horrifying warning dialog about backing up entire hard disk and registry. I donít understand why MS makes this all so obscure and treats it like a big deal. DMA is a mainstream technology and has been for a couple years or more. NT should install DMA by default if it detects DMA-capable devices. The system restarts (again) normally. I run Dmacheck.exe to find out if DMA was enabled. It was, on both ATA channels.

And that reminds me that I forgot to enable DMA for the hard disk on Windows 98. I shut down the system again and restart in Windows 98, where I use Device Manager to enable DMA for the Maxtor hard disk, which Iíd forgotten to do while enabling DMA for the two optical drives. I have to restart the system, of course. I have a suggestion for a new motto for Microsoft, "How many times do you want to restart today?" Better yet, they could get the Stones to do "Restart me up". Even better, they could do "(I canít get no) Satisfaction", which is certainly appropriate. It may be my imagination, but it seems that my UNIX boxes donít require restarting this much. Surely there couldnít be a fundamental design flaw in Windows? Nah, not possible.

Installing Windows 2000 Professional

The first problem was tracking down the Windows 2000 Professional Gold CD, which arrived last week while we were cleaning up my office. I finally located it and got started. The system was running Windows 98, so I just inserted the W2KP Gold CD, which AutoRan. It wanted to "upgrade" the existing Windows installation, which presumably would have been the Windows 98 partition. Fortunately, choosing Advanced Setup options displays a checkbox that allows you to specify which partition to install to. I chose that option, and Setup continued. The first problem was when it attempted to restart the system. It froze at the shutting down Windows 98 screen, and I had to press reset.

Windows 2000 setup began normally, and offered me the chance to specify the setup partition. I chose E: (where W2KP RC2 had been installed) and formatted the partition. After formatting and copying files, Setup forced a restart. I got a blackscreen error message saying, "Windows 2000 could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: <windows 2000 root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe. Please re-install a copy of the above file.

Rebooting was a problem, because the default boot OS was set to Windows 2000 Professional in the OS Choices menu, and the timeout was set to 0 seconds. Pressing F8 during boot got me to another menu offering Safe Mode and so on. I chose to return to the OS choices menu and started win98 again. Logged in, opened and closed the Hitachi DVD-RAM drive where Iím installing W2KP from, and restarted the whole thing, entering the obnoxious 25 character init key again. This time I chose in Advanced Options to copy the CD to the hard disk.

Setup hung again at the "Windows is shutting down" screen of Windows 98. This time, I let it sit for 15 minutes, on the assumption that it really was still flushing cache. After 15 minutes, it was still frozen, so I pushed the reset button.

This time, I blew away the old partition, created a new one, and formatted NTFS. The system finished formatting, copied the W2K files to the installation folder and restarted normally. W2KP seems to be running normally, although I haven't yet tried to install the Plextor Manager 2000 suite. I won't bother to even try installing Easy CD 3.5, since several people have told me that it just doesn't work under W2KP.

And that's how I spent my weekend.

Barbara is at the gym now, and wants to get her new desk installed when she returns. So I'd better get this published and get to work.





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Tuesday, 11 January 2000

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We spent yesterday afternoon getting Barbara's new desk installed. Here are some pictures of the process.

bft-desk-1.jpg (50436 bytes)

Barbara staining the door that will become her new desktop. Malcolm is visible in the background, supervising. Also visible is our generator, as yet unused, and a stack of monitors, old audio equipment and similar stuff that's going to Goodwill.

bft-desk-2.jpg (32229 bytes)

The 2X4 studs that will actually support the weight of the desk are screwed into the wall studs with 3.5" heavy-duty drywall screws. There are also 2X2s mounted flush with the top of the 2X4s. We'll drive screws up through the 2X2s to secure the door from the bottom.

bft-desk-3.jpg (38280 bytes)

C'est Moi. Garbed in my usual working clothes--old slippers, t-shirt, and sweat pants. Driving 3" drywall screws up through the 2X2s to secure the desktop, and probably pontificating, as usual.

bft-desk-4.jpg (29389 bytes)

Drilling the 2.5" holes for cable access. The hole cutter got hot enough to boil water, literally.

bft-desk-5.jpg (36328 bytes)

Malcolm supervising again, this time as Barbara checks the cable holes.

bft-desk-6.jpg (49235 bytes)

Barbara working at her new desk.

A lot of mail today. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: bruce denman []
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2000 10:16 AM
Subject: Windows and multi-boot


Could you enlighten me a bit regarding making a hd bootable between Win98/NT4/etc. My impression was that Win98/98SE would not allow multiboot w/o using a third party program (e.g. Partion Magic). I take it this is not true.

>From what you have said, it appears one can (using a boot disk) partion the drive via fdisk into 2GB partions. And then (or later) format each partion as appropriate with Fat 16, 32, or NTFS. From there you install Win98SE onto drive C. Then when you install say NT4WS onto another partion (say E:) NT will install a multiboot option on C:? This correct?

I have not had the opportunity to play with NT4 (or W2K) and may not given the marketing/pricing MS is doing with or planning for W2K. But I am curious :)

Lets see, other stuff:

- your page this morning is fomatted extra wide. Had to open window to full width (1024x768mode)so as to avoid the scroll buttons. 

- no Malcom report 

- no Kerry report (hope his joints are better; our elderly golden retriever has major joint problems too) 

- regarding the new system....curious about the video performance on that intel board. Assume system memory is being used and internal AGP only (no slot). With the embedded I752, presume its unsuitable for software DVD playback (may not matter now but who knows). And since Intel failed/bailed out of the video chip market whats the deal now with their onboard video? Are they just making it now for onboard video for the business market?



You don't need any other software to create a multi-boot system with Windows 98 and Windows NT/2000. When you install either Windows NT or Windows 2000 and it see that Windows 9X is already installed, Setup automatically creates a multi-boot menu. I always install Windows 9X first, to a C: volume on the primary partition, formatted using FAT. Windows NT 4 does not natively support FAT32, and needs to install its boot loader and other startup files on the C: volume. If that volume is formatted FAT32, Windows NT 4 Setup can't use it. Once NT Setup completes and the system restarts, the first thing you see at boot is a menu listing the available OS choices, including Windows NT, Windows NT (VGA mode), and Windows 98. The system technically boots under the Windows NT boot loader, which then passes control to either Windows NT or Windows 98, depending on which menu choice you select. If you then install Windows 2000, a similar process occurs. When you restart the system, you see the same OS choice menu, but this time it offers all three OSs. The system at that point is actually booting under the Windows 2000 boot loader, which then passes control to Windows 2000, Windows NT, or Windows 98 depending on the menu choice you select. One caveat. Installing Windows 2000 makes some minor modifications to the disk structure. Windows NT and Windows 98 continue to boot and run properly, but some low-level disk utilities (like Diskeeper) refuse to touch the modified NT4 disk volume.

As far as the other stuff:

- Sorry about the wide screen. I'm working at 1280 X 1024 now, and tend to forget that bad things can happen to those running 800 X 600 or even 1024 X 768. I've cut the font size and table width so that it displays without a scroll bar at 800 X 600.

- As far as Malcolm and Kerry, I'm pretty much letting Barbara report about them on her page. Malcolm is doing well. Incredibly well, actually, for a 15 week old puppy. He's into everything, and our house looks like an obstacle course, with baby gates all over the place. One of these days, Barbara or I will fall flat on our faces stepping over one of them. Kerry is doing a lot better, although we're not sure if it's the prednisone or the series of shots. The vet said that no results were usually obvious until after the sixth or seventh shot, so we'll see. Barbara and my mother both seem to think he's doing much better, but he's always had bad days and good days, so it's too soon to know for sure.

- as far as the Intel video, the i752 is actually a part of the i810 chipset. Windows reports it as a 4 MB AGP adapter, and I believe that it does have 4 MB of real graphics memory installed, apart from its ability to use system memory. Intel has departed from the video adapter market, but will certainly continue to provide embedded video. DVD playback is not particularly demanding, and does not require high 3D performance, so the i752 should do fine, although I have not tried it. From what little experience I've had with it, the i752 appears to provide good 2D performance and image quality. As far as 3D, it's certainly not going to make any converts among gamers, but seems adequate for mainstream systems. I haven't had a chance to benchmark any of this stuff yet, and the truth is that I'm not a big fan of benchmarking anyway.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2000 2:50 PM
Subject: Question about NT Permissions ( in study for MCSE Exam # 7068 NT Server in the Enterprise


Good Morning...

In studying for my MCSE, I was taking a simulation ADAPTIVE-TYPE exam for 70-68 and one of the questions references a permission called

"Access through share".

The question asks you to specify among which file systems (FAT, FAT32, NTFS or HPFS) such a permission is available. I CANNOT find a single reference to this type of a permission. Have you ever heard of anything like that, and if so, might you clue me in?

As always, thanks for the time and effort you put into the TTGNET website. It is an invaluable resource.


Alberto S. Lopez
Torrance, CA

Sure. Share permissions can be applied to a volume or to a folder, and control only access across the network. That is, share permissions do not constrain anyone logged in at the local console. Share permissions can be applied to FAT or NTFS volumes and folders, and are the only type of permissions supported by FAT. Share permissions are a blunt instrument in that whatever share permission you apply to a volume or a folder apply to all subdirectories and files in that volume or folder. On an NTFS volume, share permissions operate in addition to NTFS file and directory permissions, but share permissions set the maximum access allowable. That is, if the share permissions for a volume are set to read-only, specifying a higher level of access with NTFS permissions still leaves you with only read-only access.

You can assign share permissions on the local machine by right-clicking a volume or directory name from NT Explorer, choosing Sharing, and clicking the Permissions button at the bottom of the dialog.

In general, share permissions paint with too broad a brush to be useful. On FAT volumes, they're your only choice though, and some use them to protect a FAT system volume so that only administrative users have full access. Also, for example, if you have a read-only database on a dedicated disk volume that is shared with network users, you can assign the read-only share permission to that volume to prevent ordinary users from screwing up the database. Other than that, share permissions aren't very useful.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Don Armstrong []
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2000 7:21 PM
Subject: bad links

Robert, while puddling around in your site I stumbled across some bad links in your "Links" page 

The section where I noticed problems was headed "Triad Technology Group" and I found problems with the links:

Local Web
HardwareGuys (local)
Day Notes
PCN Local Home

Most were error 404 - e.g. "Day Notes" should probably be 

However, "Local Web" gave another error - something along the lines of "unable to display".

This is NOT extensive - just what I noticed.

I don't know why, but I seem to be having a spate of this sort of thing on various Daynoter's sites - it isn't deliberate, and it isn't even monkey curiousity - maybe it's just my big feet stumbling over things.

Don Armstrong
Nitpicker to the Stars

Sorry for the confusion. My links page is actually set locally as my start page for Internet Explorer. Most of the links are, of course, to external sites. However some of them, including those you point out, are actually links to files on my local and network hard disk volumes. You're right about the Daynotes link, and I've fixed that one. That was a survivor from before I reorganized my site structure six months or a year ago. Thanks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson []
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 12:20 AM
Subject: EZ CD Install - Notes
Importance: High

Bob -

This below culled from Mike Seamans' website has the following instructions for the install. I gather it is a pretty rigorous process & should be followed precisely. Mike Seamans seems pretty knowledgeable about W2K. He is one of the hosts at Brainbuzz, a W2K forum. Hope this can save you some grief tomorrow.


[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]

Thanks. Mr. Seaman's site is copyrighted, so I couldn't publish the excerpt you sent, but anyone who is interested can find it as #16 here. I may give that a try, or I may not. I may just wait for Easy CD Creator 4.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2000 10:34 PM
To: 'Robert Bruce Thompson'
Subject: Phone home with all your information

Don't you just love Microsoft? Check where there is a link that says "Tell us what you think about Internet Explorer 5.01!"

Now, I imagine that a lot of people would LOVE to tell Microsoft what they think about IE 5.01.

But if you click that link, instead of getting to send MS your message, you get a page that says MS is implementing new security systems, and you are now required give them certain information to obtain a Registration ID, which will be necessary to obtain various information and products from Microsoft in the future.

Right. Tell MS what you think about IE5.01. How slippery can one company get?

--Chuck Waggoner

PS. I hope you saw that IBM announced Sunday that it is creating a division to develop Linux products to run on their systems. One analyst quoted in the NYTimes article on the subject said, "The era of proprietary standards is dead."

Yes, I'm not happy about Microsoft's requirement that you register in order to get to a lot of stuff, but I must say that in a strange way I "trust" Microsoft. I have, for example, put in my Trusted Sites group in IE. They don't spam me (other than on lists that I've signed up for) and as far as I can tell they don't sell my contact information to third parties. Still, I'd be happier if they'd allow me to surf their site anonymously.

As far as Linux, I don't know that I'd count Microsoft out quite yet. They'll continue to sell a lot of copies of Windows 98 and Windows 2000 Professional for the desktop, although I'm not nearly as enamored of W2KP as Pournelle seems to be. I regard it as Windows NT Workstation 4.1. The only benefits I can see are that it adds Device Manager and Plug-'N-Play--certainly no reasons to upgrade an already functioning NT4W system--and USB support, which they could have added to NT4 long ago. In server space, of course, Linux is a hideous threat to Windows 2000 Server, a fact that Microsoft is well aware of. If IBM weighs in with some of their powerful management tools, that damages W2KS further. If I were Microsoft, I'd be terrified that Novell might release NDS for Linux. That'd kill AD in a heartbeat, particularly if Novell priced it relatively low. Server-based apps are starting to arrive for Linux as well. My friend John Mikol tells me that Red Hat 6.1 includes an HP mail server that free for up to 50 users and emulates Exchange Server perfectly, not just to the extent that Outlook clients see it as an Exchange Server, but that other real Exchange Servers see it as just another Exchange Server. Microsoft must be feeling under the gun.





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Wednesday, 12 January 2000

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In amongst writing tasks yesterday, I decided to see how the new Plextor 8/4/32A CD burner would do at copying a CD. Plextor had recommended downloading and installing the most recent version of Plextor Manager 2000 (1.04), which I did. If you're running a Plextor burner, this update is definitely worth installing. It has numerous bug fixes and new features, listed here. As it happened, the system was running Windows 2000 Professional, so I decided to see what happened with PM2K under W2K. The update downloaded and installed successfully, except that it generated repeated warnings that there was no SCSI card present. Obviously, the Plextor software folks haven't realized yet that Plextor sells an ATAPI CD burner.

At any rate, after installing the update, I decided to use Disk Dupe to burn a copy of a CD. I asked Barbara if she had an audio CD she'd like to copy, which is legal for personal use. She gave me Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits. The Plextor is Secondary Master, with the Maxtor hard drive as Primary Master and the Hitachi GF-1000 DVD-RAM Secondary Slave. That meant I couldn't burn direct from the Hitachi to the Plextor (source and target must be on different ATA channels), although the new version of PM2K supports non-Plextor drives as source devices. So I told PM2K to copy a disk image to the hard drive and then burn that disk image to the 8/4/32A. Copying the source image succeeded, but when I attempted to burn a CD (with test-mode on) and with the speed set to Auto, PM2K generated a streaming error, which is their term for a buffer underrun. I then tried burning after setting the speed manually to 4X and 2X. Same deal. This dog just won't hunt.

Thinking that perhaps the problem was Windows 2000, which has known issues with CD burners, I restarted the system, planning to boot into Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and install the PM2K update. I got the same old blue-screen error message, so obviously installing IE5 didn't fix the problem. At that point, I decided to see what happened with Windows 98, so I restarted the system yet again. Windows 98 locked at the opening logo screen. I powered the system down completely and restarted it. This time, Windows 98 came up after a long pause, displaying Safe Mode because the last start hadn't been complete. I forced it to start in Normal mode, which it did successfully. Except it couldn't find any of the network volumes.

I know when I'm beaten, so I did what I should have done in the first place: stripped the hard disk down to bare metal and started over. When I built this system, I used a Maxtor 91000D8 hard disk that already had Windows 98 first edition, Windows NT4 Server, and Windows 2000 Professional Beta 3 installed on it. I installed Windows 98 SE as an upgrade, replaced Windows NT Server with Windows NT Workstation, and installed Windows 2000 Professional Build 2195 as an upgrade. Various strange things have happened since, so it makes sense just to strip this puppy down and start completely fresh. I visited the Maxtor web site, where I downloaded their MaxDiag utility, one feature of which is the ability to do a low-level format.

After stripping the disk down to bare metal, I installed Windows 98 SE, which completed without problems. I then installed the Intel motherboard utilities, Plextor Manager 2000, and Adaptec Easy CD and DirectCD, again without problems. I then used Easy CD's copy utility to test a burn on an audio CD. No problems. It claimed that the copy would have completed without errors at 8X, so I burned a real CD. It died instantly. I then enabled DMA on the hard disk and both optical drives and re-tested. Again, Easy CD claimed that it would have been able to burn the CD successfully at 8X. I tried doing that. It died instantly again. I hate PCs. I hate everything. I am in a very bad mood.

At least Kerry is doing better. Barbara and my mother have noticed a big improvement since he started getting these shots, although the improvement often doesn't show up until near the end of the series of seven shots. I just took Kerry this morning for shot #5. It may be helping, but he sure doesn't like the process. Ordinarily, Barbara and I both go, along with all the dogs. Duncan, Malcolm, and I sit in the truck while Barbara takes Kerry into the vet's office. I lift Kerry in and out of the truck. But this morning Barbara had other commitments, so I ended up doing it all myself and the other dogs missed out on their ride. 

And it's back to work for me...

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger G. Smith []
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 11:10 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: width

That is better. The problem here is that I'm using a 14" monitor in 640x480 mode. If I had a large monitor, I think I'd still read sites such as yours in a 640x480 window. Long lines on a screen are eyestrain-inducing because they are a lot harder to scan.

Is there any reason the page can't be made such that the width of the text column sizes to fit the browser window, automatically wrapping text? Or do all the tables used in the layout somehow defeat this...

Well, it was fixed for a while, as you say. I checked it on one of my own systems running 800X600 and everything was fine. As one of my other letters today makes clear, however, it's now broken again. As far as your second paragraph, I would love to have everything fit automatically. I've spent hours trying to make it so, but nothing I do seems to work. I've tried specifying no absolute widths for all or some columns in each table; specifying absolute width by percentage for the left column and allowing the right to float; specifying absolute width in pixels for the left column and nothing for the right, etc. I've even tried putting in a one-pixel wide cell at the right of each table. Nothing works, and unfortunately I really don't have any more time to spend trying to make it right.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: chuckc3 []
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 5:44 PM
Subject: ECC Memory


I have been reading your web site for some time now; I have culled a good deal of interesting and useful information from it. Now I have a question for you.

Do you know of any advantages to ECC memory vs regular (16x64) memory? Is it worth the price difference for a (small) server and network? I recall that some years ago, parity ram was all that could be used on IBM and compatible machines, but now, almost nobody uses parity memory.

What are your thoughts?

I use ECC in some of my systems, and would recommend using it in any server. ECC has two downsides: (a) it costs more, typically in the ratio of 9:8 relative to standard memory, and (b) using ECC slows memory subsystem performance, typically by 2% or 3%. The upside is that ECC can detect all single-bit and multi-bit errors, and correct all single-bit and some multi-bit errors. That's a big advantage in a server, and is becoming increasingly important in normal PCs as the amount of memory they have installed continues to grow.

In 168-pin DIMMs, parity memory and ECC memory are exactly the same thing. That's because parity requires one extra bit for each eight-bit byte, while the number of bits that ECC requires varies with word length. At the 64-bit word length used by modern PCs, ECC requires eight bits. That means that normal memory is X by 64 while either parity or ECC memory is X by 72. There's obviously no reason to use parity, which is a greatly inferior detection method, when you can use ECC for exactly the same cost.

My rule of thumb is that whether or not to use ECC in a client/workstation is a toss-up if you're installing 256 MB. For less, don't use ECC. For more, use ECC. Always use ECC on a server.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Don Armstrong []
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 2:04 AM
Subject: STILL too wide!

Robert, just in case no-one else has mentioned it yet: your page is still too wide for 800x600. I noticed you had re-sized the table which had presumably pushed everything else out wide before; but (apparently, I assume) everything else stayed where it had been pushed - it didn't automatically come back to a lesser width when the table was changed.

P.S. Sorry about mis-spell "wemaster" in previous msg.

Don Armstrong

Yes, it was fixed for a while (I checked it myself locally on an 800X600 system), but now it's broken again. I have no idea why, and unfortunately I don't have time to figure it out. I just spent half an hour this morning looking at the HTML source and I can't find whatever's causing the problem. If anyone wants to volunteer to suck down this page, edit it in FrontPage 2000 to fix the problem (ideally so that it never recurs) and send it to me, I'd love to see it.





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Thursday, 13 January 2000

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This is actually Wednesday night, but I'll be busy tomorrow, so I'm posting this update early. I may or may not have time to post another update tomorrow (meaning Thursday).

Thanks to everyone who offered help in tracking down the scrolling problem. I found the problem that was causing the scrolling. It took an hour of cutting, saving, viewing on the 800X600 machine, cutting, saving, viewing on the 800X600 machine, over and over. It turned out to be a long New York Times URL in the last email I posted on Tuesday. I usually catch those, but I missed that one. It's now converted to a link, and the scrolling problem should be solved. The problem, of course, is that URLs are all one "word" and can't be broken. Oh, well.


* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: John Biel []
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 1:23 PM
Subject: Novell NDS for Linux

Supposedly coming soon. (If you already have a netware 5 server you can download the upgraded NDS for free [requires netware 5 serial number]) Actually it is listed as an upgrade from NDS8. As most netware 5 servers are running version 7.x of NDS, it may require that you upgrade from 7.x to 8.x and then from 8.x to eDirectory.

>From Novell's Website:

NDS eDirectory (stand-alone LDAP directory services for hosting services, dial-in access, e-commerce applications, and user access to the directory via the Web). Customers can purchase NDS eDirectory for NetWare, Solaris, and NT. Linux, Windows 2000, and Tru64 versions will be available soon.

NDS Corporate Edition (network resource management solution built on NDS eDirectory). Customers can purchase NDS Corporate Edition for Solaris, and NT. Linux, Windows 2000, and Tru64 versions will be available soon.


NDS eDirectory is $2 per user

NDS Corporate Edition is $26 user

What a shame. Novell's marketing people are entirely clueless, as usual. If they had a brain, they'd realize that they need to make NDS the standard directory for Linux. That means giving it away for some limited number of users. They should follow HP's example. HP gives away their Linux Exchange Server clone for free for up to 50 users. In fact, it's on the RH 6.1 distribution CDs. Novell needs to do the same thing. The secret to becoming dominant is to let the corporate techies play with stuff at home and on test-bed networks. They need to make it easy to do that. As a matter of fact, they should be sending out NDS for Linux CDs like AOL sends their client. Well, perhaps not that excessively, but certainly to everyone on every Linux mailing list and customer list they can get their hands on. But that's the story of Novell: technically superior products and totally incompetent marketing. They're rapidly running out of chances.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2000 3:16 PM
Subject: Re: "An Old Pentax Camera"


Just writing to say I can confirm that an RM400R battery works for the Pentax Spotmatic. I bought my Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean way back in 1972 when I was in the Navy. I've used it exclusively for the last 27 years - it's proven rugged and reliable. Alas, it's "on the fritz" right now (mirror hangs up on shutter release) and I'm having a time trying to get it fixed. Perhaps I should look under "Antiques Restoration"!

Regards -

Scott Lucas

Thanks. Yes, getting old mechanical cameras repaired can be a hassle. It used to be there was a camera repairman in nearly every mid-sized town or larger. No more. Most of them have retired. You might try one of the New York camera stores. Of course, labor isn't cheap, and you'll likely find that it will cost more to get the camera repaired than it's worth. If I had that problem, I might try drenching it down with Radio Shack Zero-Residue cleaner (or the equivalent) and then putting a tiny drop of oil on the mirror hinge mounting points. Of course, it might not work, so proceed at your own risk.

0835 Thursday: Barbara is off to run errands most of today, leaving me with the kids again. I'll spend most of today writing, but I also have to re-install Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Windows 2000 Professional on the new IDE test-bed system. Nothing is ever as easy as it should be.





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Friday, 14 January 2000

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I spent most of yesterday writing, so there's little of interest to report. Well, one thing. I'd stripped my IDE test-bed down to bare metal and re-installed Win98, which seems to work fine. Other than the fact that I can't burn a CD to save my life. Yesterday, I attempted to re-installed Windows NT Workstation 4.0. Setup proceeded normally until the last reboot. Instead of booting into NT4, the system bluescreened, crashed, and died horribly. Something isn't right here, and it's almost certainly hardware. I wonder if I have a hinkey power supply or if perhaps I accidentally static-zapped one of my DIMMs. I suppose it might be the processor. The FC/PGA Pentium III is an engineering sample, which means it's not multiplier-locked. Intel asked me to run it only at 500 or 550 MHz, so I of course am running it at 550. I wonder if bumping that down to 500 would help. I'll see what I can figure out when I have a spare moment.

FedEx just showed up with an interesting new toy. The Olympus MAUSB-1 USB SmartMedia Reader-Writer. The MAUSB-1 is about the size of a small mouse, and quite light. On one side, it has a slot to receive a SmartMedia card, and on the other a permanently-connected USB cable. It comes with a CD with drivers for Windows 98, MacOS8.1+, iMacUSB G-3/G4, PowerMac, Windows 3.11 and 1.13 Mac. The silver and translucent deep blue color scheme makes it obvious that this device was designed with the iMac market in mind. The list price of the MAUSB-1  is $79.95, and it's available on the street for about $60.

olympus-usb-sm-reader.jpg (22390 bytes)

When I first got my Olympus D400-Z digital camera, I tried using serial transfers. I knew they'd be slow, but I figured I should establish a baseline. Sure enough, they were slow. Transferring just one SHQ image took between 30 seconds and a minute. Transferring all of the images on a full 8 MB SmartMedia card required 12 to 15 minutes. In addition to being slow, it also required the camera be turned on the entire time, draining its battery. The next step up was the Olympus MAFP-2E FlashPath floppy disk adapter, which has a slot for the SmartMedia card and allows you to access the data on it in any standard floppy disk drive. That was a great improvement, transferring the data from a full 8 MB SmartMedia card in only two or three minutes.

Then I got a 32 MB SmartMedia card. That holds 70 or so SHQ images, and transferring the full contents of a 32 MB SmartMedia card with the FlashPath was again requiring 10 or 15 minutes. Workable, but slow. So when I saw that the Olympus USB SmartMedia Reader-Writer was finally available, I had to get my hands on one. It's a standard USB device, which Olympus says works with USB-equipped Macs and Win98 systems. They don't mention Windows 2000, but it should work with that as well, assuming suitable drivers become available. The specifications for the Olympus USB SmartMedia Reader-Writer say that it transfers 1 MB/s, which means it should be able to transfer the entire contents of a full 32 MB SmartMedia card in about half a minute. Once I get this IDE test-bed system stable, I'll do some in-depth testing of this device.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Kitterman []
Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2000 8:47 PM
Subject: Web Hosting

I have a small (<5MB) web site a run for my father's business and it looks like I need a new host for the site. I recall the billing fiasco when you first switched to Pair. A year later what's your assessment of them?

Scott Kitterman

I had terrible problems with pair's billing department. pair themselves admit that there are billing problems more frequently than they consider acceptable, and I'd certainly agree with that based on my own experience. But clearly most people don't have any such problems with pair, and their service is superior from a technical standpoint. It sounds like your website is a candidate for their cheapest plan, which is something like $5/month. There are setup charges as well, of course. I wouldn't have any hesitation signing up with them again. I'd just cross my fingers and hope the evil billing fairy didn't choose me this time around.





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Saturday, 15 January 2000

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Well, if it isn't one thing, it's another. For the last 18 months or so, I've been using Analog to run my web stats. For the last six months, I've been using it to run Pournelle's. There was never a problem until recently. Two of my raw web logs, for the 8th and the 11th, choke Analog so badly that it GPFs reproducibly. I can't see anything wrong with those two files, or any differences between them and the other days' files. I contacted the author of Analog and offered to send him the offending files. He asked me to do so, but I haven't heard back from him yet.

Barbara is off to the Winston Cup Preview. I've never been able to understand the attraction of that. Basically a bunch of race car drivers show up to shake hands and say hello to fans. People get in line literally starting at midnight to get a magic armband or something that guarantees them they'll meet the driver of their choice. I think it's limited to 400 fans per driver, and effectively to one driver per fan. After all that standing in line, they probably get 10 or 15 seconds of conversation and a handshake. I think anyone who would do that is pathetic. On the other hand, I believe the proceeds go to support Brenner Children's Hospital, so it's all in a good cause.

Barbara won't try to meet any drivers. She's going with her sister just to walk around and look at the race cars and so on. Our friend Steve Tucker has worked for R. J. Reynolds for years, and used to run Winston Cup before he was promoted. He'll be there, so there's a good chance Barbara will run into him. Steve and Suzy have been associated with Winston Cup racing for many years, and are friends of long standing with NASCAR royalty like the Pettys, Earnhardts, and Waltrips, so this is all old-hat to them. The fans sure do get excited, though.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian Bilbrey []
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2000 7:53 AM
Subject: SmartMedia readers...

We (at ETS) have the Lexar model, purchased about 6 months ago for all the same reasons. Priced roughly equivalently, this product has been a lifesaver. Operating under a hot deadline to get pictures of a brand new product out to a customer before the product actually reached his doc, at the end of a business day, the Lexar paid for itself in the 13 seconds it took to get 6 SHQ pictures off of it.

If you have SmartMedia products (cameras && ??), this or its equivalent is definitely a CDF product.


Yes, I'm looking forward to testing it, once I get this Win98 box stable. I just went out and shot more than 70 SHQ pictures of my front and back yard, just to fill up the 32 MB card. I'll time the transfer, first for copy and then for move.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2000 5:07 PM
Subject: STOP Error during DUAL BOOT install of Windows NT Workstation



A question:

I have just completed setting up Win98 SE on a P-166 with 96 MB of RAM, a 13GB primary HD, 4.3GB secondary HD, 24X generic CD ROM. I then attempted to install Windows NT WS on the 2 GB active, primary C: partition.

The PC booted from the CD ROM and proceeded to start the NT WS 4.0 install. It trundled for a while and then requested that I remove CD's and floppies and restart the PC for the install to proceed. Well, inadvertently, I left the CD in the Drive and upon reboot, the PC booted AGAIN from the CD and tried to run setup once more.

Having realized the mistake a little too late, I stopped the process, removed the CD, warm booted and waited.

Well, I got the DUAL BOOT menu listing NT WS, Last known good, and Microsoft Windows. It started NT WS by default (as it should), and then after a few seconds, I got a BSOD with the following message:

STOP 0x0000007B Inaccessible Boot Device

I have tried many things, but I cannot get setup to continue. The MS Knowledge base has some info, but I was hoping maybe something sticks out at you and you can offer some guidance on how to WIPE CLEAN the NT WS install and start over. Or, Better Yet, resolve this error message by copying over some corrupted file or something...

Do you think that copying over the I386 Dir from the WS CD to the HD and running "winnt" from the HD would make a difference?

Please Help!


Alberto S. Lopez

Torrance, CA

Okay. The first problem is that you have both Windows NT and Windows 98 on the same volume. That's always a horrible idea. Windows 98 needs to be in the first primary partition (C:) in order to work. You can put Windows NT anywhere you want. It will put some of its boot files on C:\ (which it calls the system partition) and the rest of its files wherever you tell it (which it confusingly calls the "boot partition"). What I'd suggest you do is: 

(a) boot the system to the NT setup floppies

(b) when the menu comes up to ask if you want to install NT fresh, repair, etc. tell it you want to do a fresh installation

(c) when you get to the menu where it asks where you want to install NT, choose unpartitioned space (if you have any) and create and format an NTFS partition. If your entire drive is already partitioned and formatted, tell Setup to install NT on some volume other than C: 

(d) when you get to the part about removing all floppies and CDs, remove them. Restart the system, which should offer you the chance to boot into Win98, your new WinNT4, and probably your aborted NT4. Your new NT4 will be the default. Accept it to make sure NT boots okay. Then shutdown and restart again, this time coming up in Win98. 

(e) Use Win98 to delete the \WINNT directory on C: where your aborted installation is stored.

(f) there's a hidden/system file in C:\ named boot.ini. Change the properties so that you can edit and save it. It will look something like this (which is my own boot.ini):

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00 [VGA mode]" /basevideo /sos

In the [operating systems] section, locate the two lines that refer to your aborted installation. There should be five lines there, one for Win98, and two each for your new NT installation and your aborted NT installation. Delete the two lines that refer to your aborted NT installation. They'll have the same multi(0)... location as your Win98 line. The good NT installation will have a different partition listed.

(g) After you delete the two excess lines, save boot.ini and then change its properties back to system and hidden.

(h) Restart the system and verify that you can boot into both Win98 and WinNT.





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Sunday, 16 January 2000

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House cleaning, laundry, and trying to get a start on the new chapter. No mail in the webmaster inbox this morning. That's unusual. I normally have at least six or eight messages to choose from, and on heavy days I sometimes have twice that or more. Actually, having an empty webmaster inbox is kind of nice. I like getting mail, but I do have a lot to do today, so not having a dozen email messages to read and respond to reduces the burden.

We have found another use for Malcolm's snout protector. (We call it that rather than "muzzle" so as not to hurt his feelings.) He regards a trip outside as a chance to graze. Sticks, chipped mulch, it doesn't much matter. Anything he finds, he eats. We wouldn't mind so much if he just played with the stuff or chewed on it a little. The problem is that he actually eats what he finds, including disgusting things that haven't been policed up yet. And he also contrives somehow to bring the stuff into the house, presumably hidden in his cheeks. Chewing up chipped mulch or worse is disgusting enough outside, but finding it on our bed is cause for action. So Barbara came up with the idea of putting on his snout protector before we let him out. It's funny watching him try to pick up a stick with the snout protector on. He gets very frustrated.


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