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Daynotes Journal

Week of 17 January 2000

Sunday, 23 January 2000 09:10

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

(see also my worknotes journal)


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Monday, 17 January 2000

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I got another chapter off to my editor Friday, and will be working hard on another chapter this week. Sound cards and audio components this time. Oh, joy. If there's one thing likely to cause installation problems and resource conflicts, it's a sound card. PCs dread seeing a sound card show up like all-you-can-eat restaurants cringe when Andre the Giant walks in the door.

We're off to the vet shortly with Kerry, who will get the sixth in his series of seven shots intended to ameliorate his hip dysplasia problems. They seem to be working. He's actually striding separately with his left and right rear legs now, and we've spotted him running (well, lumbering) a couple of times. I keep wondering if this treatment wouldn't help my mother's rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, this treatment hasn't yet been approved by the FDA for use on humans. We're considering pasting fake ears and a tail to my mother and taking her to the vet.

I'd better get this published and get ready to go. More later.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: M. Praeger [mailto:rimdancer@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2000 2:10 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Cc: athyrio@hotmail.com
Subject: Win98 doesn't need to be on C:

Saturday Jan 15 2000 you wrote, to Alberto Lopez:

>Windows 98 needs to be in the first primary partition (C:) >in order to work.

Windows 98 definitely needs IO.Sys and perhaps MSDOS.Sys on C:, but I myself have been running it since last July with \Windows, \Program Files etc. on the _second primary_ partition (E:) of a Drive 1 SCSI disk, with the permanent swap file on a small Drive 0 EIDE disk as C:, and the temporary IE5 files (cache, history, offline browser temp files and cookies --also the recycle bin) on yet another primary partition (F:) of Drive 1.

I set it up this way last summer while reverting from FAT32 to FAT16, preparatory to setting up to dual-boot Linux. Originally the SCSI drive was C: and I wanted to sub-partition it, and use the EIDE drive for the Windows swap file. My controllers didn't yield to any trick I know for getting an EIDE drive to reside on a higher letter than the SCSI drive, and I didn't trust System Commander Deluxe's FAT32-to-FAT16 partition converter with my entire Windows build, and so backup-to-network / erase-everything-except-Windows / defrag / repartition / xcopy from new-D (former C) to new-E was what I resorted to.

This arrangement maximizes performance by minimizing thrashing and it hugely reduces fragmentation. Ah, but there is a catch.

Besides changing 3 lines in MSDOS.Sys to point to the higher drive, it requires hand-editing (I used old MS-Word DOS 5.0) of umpteen thousand registry keys, because simple search-and-replace doesn't work. There seem to exist dependencies of newly-changed keys on other keys which must retain the old (e.g. drive/path) values __even after the target files have been moved and the machine has been rebooted__!

Getting the order-of-keys-change right required about nineteen hours, involving many, many cycles of try-100-changes/full-registry-and-.ini's-backup/reboot, with Windows oftentimes fiendishly cancelling out all of my latest batch of changes, before I got them all changed in the allowable order and was able to bring it all up. Perhaps someone who is familiar with the architecture of the registry could do it in much less time.

Performance in this multi-drive configuration is remarkably swift compared to comparable equipment, and stability is better than any other of the dozen-or-so machines I routinely use; it never crashes in routine use. This stability compares favorably to any NT4 SP6 workstation at my wife's workplace (she, like yours, is a librarian of twenty years' standing, with the US Army), which said network has a fulltime onsite administrator (but also public Internet access). Networking with my other two machines is flawless, too. But the price in tedium was unexpectedly enormous. Maybe I might try it on a fresh installation, but I'd have to be paid a lot to do it again on a pre-existing one.

Just goes to prove I should never say never. Thanks.

 


 

 

 

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Tuesday, 18 January 2000

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This week marks the debut of my WorkNotes Journal. In the past I've mentioned to several readers and friends that I keep a log of things I work on during the day. They've encouraged me to post these working notes, but I've resisted until now because they don't really fit in as entries on this page. For one thing, they're sporadic. I may write thousands of words in one day, and then go several days without making an entry. For another thing, they're not really intended for other people to see. I don't make any effort to write full sentences, use proper grammar, and so on. 

I can't really drop them into this page, so the only alternative is to create a separate page for them, which I've done. I was trying to avoid having two separate pages for readers to have to retrieve, but I don't see any good alternative. All of that said, there are some advantages to doing my daily working notes as a web page. The pages will always be easily accessible, and the Atomz search engine will index them, which will make it easier for me to retrieve information later. When I run into a brick wall, I have no doubt that readers will steer me in the right direction. The problems I encounter, solve, and document may save hassles for others.

As with this journal page, I'll keep a bookmarkable page that will always contain the current week's notes. The entries will often run a day or more behind, because I'll post them on the day they occurred. For example, today I'm posting my notes from yesterday, and they're listed as Monday notes.

These notes have one other advantage. Over the years, keeping a log has become a running joke between my friend Steve Tucker and me. Whenever he encounters a problem on one of his machines, I ask him about some detail that he should have recorded in his log file. He doesn't keep a log file, of course. So these notes will prove that some people do really keep a log file. Ahem.

We awoke this morning to find snow covering everything. We got 4 to 6" (10 to 15 cm) overnight, with possibly more to come. Possibly not, though. The additional precipitation may arrive as sleet and/or freezing rain. Here's what our backyard looks like:

backyardsnow.jpg (88264 bytes)

Barbara and the dogs are outside now, reveling in something we don't see often. I think the last time we had enough snow to cover the ground was about four years ago. Here are Duncan and Malcolm checking out the snow. Although they're half-brothers (different fathers), I don't think Malcolm is going to get as large as Duncan, who weighs about 65 pounds. When we took Malcolm in for the second of three parvo shots at 12 weeks old, he weighed 18.5 pounds. I asked them to check Duncan's records. At the same age, Duncan weighed 26 pounds. Malcolm turns 16 weeks old this Thursday, and I'd guess he might weigh 25 to 30 pounds now.

dunc-malc-snow.jpg (25920 bytes)

Malcolm saw snow briefly a month or so ago, but it was just drifting flakes. He's out there now running around in it and flipping it around with his snout. Even Kerry seems to be enjoying it. Speaking of Kerry, things went routinely with his vet visit, except that he decided to do something rude on the exam room floor. Barbara thinks he just couldn't hold it. I think he held it on purpose and used the opportunity to make an editorial comment. He does not like going there and getting a shot in the rear end. I don't blame him.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: gcjtimm [mailto:gcjtimm@earthlink.net]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2000 9:32 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: Cringe?

"Oh, joy. If there's one thing likely to cause installation problems and resource conflicts, it's a sound card. PCs dread seeing a sound card show up like all-you-can-eat restaurants cringe when Andre the Giant walks in the door." 

Cringe? As a loyal Buffy viewer, I'd grab a wooden stake, I have it on good authority, my wife, that Andre the Giant has died. 

Jeff Timm

He can't have. I just saw him in a movie the other day. I was flipping through the new channels Time-Warner has just added, and came across The Princess Bride on MoviePlex. Actually, I did have a thought in passing when I made that post that Andre the Giant may have died. Just looking at the guy, he must have been 7 feet tall and 500 pounds. He appears to have suffered from acromegaly, and people with that illness don't usually live very long. And speaking of MoviePlex, what an aggravating channel. It's not listed in our TV Guide or the television section of the paper, and there's absolutely no web site I can find with program listings for it. How is one expected to know what they're running?

 


 

 

 

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Wednesday, 19 January 2000

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Interesting article on The Register yesterday afternoon. Nokia is getting out of the monitor business. I can't say I'm surprised. My perception of Nokia monitors, perhaps unfair, has always been that they are not quite as good as monitors from the first-tier companies--Hitachi, Mitsubishi, NEC, and Sony--but are priced at much the same level. Apparently, Nokia will sell its monitor business to Viewsonic. But, my contact at one of the major monitor companies happened to call me yesterday. When I mentioned this article, she said that from her sources it wasn't entirely clear to her that Nokia was in fact entirely leaving the monitor business. So I guess we'll see.

I'm out of time, so this will be a short update. There's a lot more over in WorkNotes.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 6:30 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: MoviePlex listings

Here's a site with the MoviePlex channel schedule...

...and here's a mirror...

/ Bo

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

Thanks. I'd actually found the encoremedia site, but I could swear that page wasn't there when I looked a couple of weeks ago.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@neteze.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2000 7:43 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Recommend a Couple of Sites

Bob -

A couple of sites I would like to commend to you and your readers: (Disclaimer - I have not a nickel in either of these.)

The Andover News Network: A light treatment of current IT news, plus a unique Internet Traffic Report that shows a graphic of Time plotted against Internet Use, worldwide, in real time. Finally! I can now figure when to schedule those long DLs (NOT ~20:00!), and which mirror site to use. This alone makes it well worthwhile. In addition it has a comprehensive listing of SW DLs, most of which were new to me - and I keep a pretty close watch on DL sites. Well worth a look, IMO.

TCP/IP Essentials: A very specialized site that gives an overview of TCP/IP, then a listing of tools (both HW & SW) to cope with TCP/IP, and links to sources for those tools. Kind of like a torque wrench - not something you use everyday, but the only thing to use when you need it. A very useful addition to a Toolkit bookmarks folder.

Regards,

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

Thanks. I'll take a look at them when I have a moment.

 


 

 

 

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Thursday, 20 January 2000

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Yesterday afternoon, the weather forecasters were predicting that we'd get 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of new snow last night and this morning. Last night, they'd dropped that a bit, to 2 to 4 inches. This morning we woke up to find we had only a dusting. Everyone was wrong, as usual. Reminds me of the time several years ago when all the forecasters were predicting 1 to 2 inches and we woke up to find 20 inches of new snow.

Steve Tucker has been struggling to get Linux installed on the system he built around an Intel 810 motherboard. He found this Intel page, which gives detailed instructions for doing so. I managed to help him past the first problem, which is that the CA810 and CA810E motherboards allocate 1 to 2 MB of main system RAM as a frame buffer for the video card. I noticed this on my own CA810E the other day when I was installing NT. The system showed 128 MB on the BIOS boot screen, but the blue screen that appears as NT loads showed only 127 MB. On Steve's system that meant that he had only 63 MB instead of 64 MB available for Linux. A more serious problem was that Steve's Linux distribution didn't know about the embedded CA810 video. But it appears that he's gotten that all worked out.

Well, I'd better get back to work. I have two chapters in progress now. One on sound cards and audio components and the other on cases and power supplies.

Chris Ward-Johnson (aka Dr. Keyboard) mentioned in his diary entry this morning that he watched Spin City last night. I sent him the following:

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Bruce Thompson [mailto:thompson@ttgnet.com]
Sent: 20 January 2000 13:52
To: Chris Ward-Johnson
Cc: gang@daynotes.com
Subject: Polyglot

> watch Spin City instead

So here we have a Brit, living in France, watching an American television show, which stars a Canadian, instead of updating his web page, which will be read by, among others, a Swede who is a former Canadian resident and a Belgian resident who works in the Netherlands.

I wonder when countries are going to realize that they're obsolete.

--
Robert Bruce Thompson
thompson@ttgnet.com
http://www.ttgnet.com

To which he responded:

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2000 8:19 AM
To: 'Robert Bruce Thompson'
Cc: gang@daynotes.com
Subject: RE: Polyglot

It goes further than that: I'm watching it on a Japanese TV via a Taiwanese satellite decoder on a the British subsidiary of an American/Japanese owned channel. I'm wearing clothes imported from America made in Mexico which I ordered over the Internet.

Actually, this is a very interesting subject I've written a little about before when ranting about having to go through the pantomime of currency exchange. I get paid in Pounds Sterling by The Times and have to pay some bank roughly 1% of my income to spend my own money in France (or any other non-UK country). Now, with the Euro and the US Dollar achieving virtual parity on the exchanges, it seems entirely ludicrous to me that to spend a 1 euro note in the US I'll have to pay some banker a percentage of that note to buy an exact equivalent piece of paper.

And today is an interesting day to consider the wider question for me, because there are local and national elections coming up here in which I won't be allowed to vote, even though I pay local household taxes to the local government and sales taxes to the national government. I do get to vote, still, in UK elections via a postal vote, but that 'right' only lasts for 5 years after emigrating. I still pay income tax in the UK, though, and will continue doing so after the 5 year period is up. Also, the report into how to replace the House of Lords has just come out, and is in favour of some sort of partially-elected house - the other, majority part of those governing us will be appointed by the government of the day. How much more democratic is that than the lottery of birth we had before?

What benefits do I get for paying these taxes? Well, locally I get roads maintained, rubbish collected and sewage drained away. We buy our water by the litre so that's not included. I don't object to the local taxes because I get direct benefit. Nationally? Well, I get no benefits at all from paying UK taxes now. In France, we won't benefit from the education system until we have kids. We do benefit from the health service, but could replace that with private insurance which would cost us something in the order of a thousand pounds a year for two of us. VAT is just over 20% here, so what are they doing with the rest of my money?

I agree with you, countries are dead - they just won't lie down and accept it. The sooner the Internet declares independence, the better.

And I did update my web page yesterday morning and this morning, as I do on time every day unlike SOME people. Ahem.

Regards

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

 


 

 

 

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Friday, 21 January 2000

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Major vet visit this morning. Kerry goes for his last shot in the series of seven intended to help his hip dysplasia. Malcolm goes for his third set of puppy shots. Duncan goes because Barbara suspects his anal glands may be infected. Barbara likes working with animals, so perhaps we should just send her to vet school.

I'm writing this under Windows 2000. My main workstation, kiwi, dual boots Windows NT Workstation 4 and Windows 2000 Professional RC2. I have the W2KP gold code, but I decided to play with RC2 for a day or two to make sure I want to make the transition. I've been working with NT4 and the release version of W2KP on one of my test bed systems for a week or more now. I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but W2KP seems noticeably slower than NT4. That's not supposed to be. W2KP definitely seems slower on kiwi, but that doesn't surprise me. Beta releases are filled with debugging code that makes them slow. I did expect the release version to be faster than NT4, though.

I was also hoping against hope that I'd be able to publish my FrontPage web from Windows 2000 on kiwi. I haven't been able to under NT4. Each day, I've been updating the site on kiwi, saving all the changes, exiting FrontPage 2000, firing up FrontPage 2000 on kerby, and publishing from there. The WinGate proxy server runs on kerby, and I've never been able to get FP2K to publish via that proxy server from any of the other machines. I don't know why I even hoped I'd be able to do it from W2K, but I did. No joy, though.

Configuring Outlook 2000 under W2K on kiwi was a pain in the butt. I'd installed it back when I first built kiwi, but I'd never run it. When I double-clicked the Outlook icon last night, it informed me that I hadn't configured Outlook. No option, it was going to configure Outlook whether I liked it or not. I tried Cancel, hoping that it would run Outlook without configuring it, but that simply exited Outlook. So I configured it. All I really wanted to do was run Outlook with the same settings and using the same data as I'd used under NT4. That turned out not to work very well. 

I first configured OL2K as Internet Mode Only, which I've never used. After I supplied all the information about my ISP and so on, OL2K fired up fine, but with an empty data file. I did a File-Open and pointed it to my main PST over on theodore. It refused to open that file, which was scary. I then closed OL2K and re-opened it. This time, it allowed me to open my main PST file, but there was no obvious way to reconfigure OL2K to deliver new mail to the Inbox of my main PST file instead of to the Inbox in the empty data file it had created. I tried closing the new Personal Folders, but OL2K informed me that I couldn't close the PST that contained my personal settings or whatever.

At that point, I gave up on IMO as a bad job and reconfigured as Corporate/Workgroup. That went without problems, and I was able to reconfigure OL2K to use my real main PST. The problem is, I can't get rid of the vestigial Personal Folders it created during configuration. I tried closing the empty data file on the Folder bar, and it appeared to close properly. I shutdown OL2K and fired it back up, whence the vestigial file re-appeared. Okay. I closed it again, went to Services, located the Personal Folders entries (there were two, one for the vestigial one and one for the real one), highlighted the Personal Folders entry that referred to the vestigial PST, and removed it. At that point, everything looked fine. When I shutdown OL2K and restarted it, however, the vestigial Personal Folders reappeared at the top of the folder bar. Now when I attempt to close it, OL2K returns an error message, "The operation failed. An object could not be found." I hate Microsoft.

Pournelle told me he'd encountered some significant problems when he attempted to upgrade from a beta of W2KP to the gold code, and suggested stripping down and starting over. I may in fact do that, although I think I'll first attempt the upgrade. We'll see what happens.

* * * * *

13:30: I posted my first update this morning at 8:55 a.m. my time. By 9:13 a.m. I'd received the first in a flood of messages from the Daynotes Gang telling me that I'm out of my mind. Of course Windows 2000 Professional is faster than Windows NT Workstation 4, or so they say. They all agree, so it must be true. I tell them that my judgment was subjective, and based on working with three systems, a Pentium III/550 with 128 MB and a Seagate Barracuda U2W SCSI; a Pentium II/300 with 128 MB and an old 4.3 GB IDE; and a Pentium III/450 with 128 MB and a Maxtor 91000D8 10 GB UDMA, all of which dual-boot NT4W with SP5 or SP6a and W2KP 2195.

With all those protests, I figured maybe it was just me. The only one of my main machines I'm not running W2KP Build 2195 (the "gold code") on is kiwi, my dual-processor main system. That has Build 2128 (RC2) installed, and RC2 is definitely much slower than NT4. That's understandable, though, because RC2 is chock full of debugging code. So I decided to upgrade kiwi to 2195. Against all expectations, the upgrade goes flawlessly. Everything still works, all of my settings are intact, and there's absolutely no fix-up needed. Build 2195 just works. It also works a lot faster than RC2, faster, in fact, than NT4 on this system.

So I return to the other systems where I find that, sure enough, NT4 is faster than 2195. I don't know why that is, but it is. Just to make sure that I didn't have some unconscious bias against W2KP, I went through numerous clean boots and timed stuff like how long it took Word to load, how long it took a huge document to load across the network, and so on. NT4 is definitely faster on those systems. Chris Ward-Johnson (aka Dr. Keyboard) suggests that perhaps I had some sludge from the RC versions still floating around. That can't be at. At least two of the systems (and I'm pretty sure all three) were stripped down to bare metal before I installed Build 2195. So this is all a mystery to me. I'll probably do re-installs on each of the "slow" systems to see what that fixes, if anything.

We've just returned from the vet after a visit of nearly two hours. The total bill was $300, which really isn't that bad considering that it covered current visits for three dogs, shots for everybody, five of Kerry's seven hip dysplasia shots and 12 dog-months worth of Interceptor heartworm pills (which are very expensive).

 

 


 

 

 

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Saturday, 22 January 2000

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I wasted a couple of hours last night messing with the Backup utility in Windows 2000 Professional. All I wanted to do was my normal network backup to the Tecmar 3900 DDS3 tape drive. And it actually worked, originally. The trouble was, I'd forgotten to exclude some stuff on the backup selections. As a result, the first time I started the tape job running, it showed 19 GB to be backed up. A lot of that was three copies of all my data, current and archive. At first I didn't worry about it. The Tecmar is a barn-burner. It typically does 100 to 110 MB/min on local stuff, and perhaps 60 MB/min when backing up across the network. That would've meant perhaps 5 hours of backup given the mix of local and network data. And, in fact, the status indicator was showing a backup time estimate of about 3 hours while it was still backing up local stuff. 

When it got to the network stuff, however, it bogged down badly. After letting it crunch on the network data for an hour or so, it was estimating 10 more hours to complete, which seems excessive. So I decided to kill the backup, which was a mistake. The backup itself killed readily enough, but I'd also told Backup to do a verify. As soon as the backup died, the verify started, and there was no way to kill it. The Cancel button was grayed out, and there was no way I was going to let verify run for another three hours or so. I tried clicking the big X in the corner, but NT Backup just beeped at me. Finally, I fired up Task Manager and killed the process.

That's when the real problems started. From that point forward, I was unable to get NT Backup to function, despite a couple hours of playing around with it. The problem was that it refused to accept the tape I'd been using, Week 4. I tried everything I could think of to initialize the tape and force NT Backup to accept it. No dice. Unfortunately, NT Backup, although feature-crippled, has retained some of the aspects of the enterprise backup software upon which it is based. One of those aspects is that it wants to "manage" media for you. If it worked, that'd be fine, although a needlessly complex addition to what is, after all, a workstation backup utility. But it doesn't work. I spent a long time delving into the intricacies of Removable Storage Management, Media Pools, and so on. I never did get NT Backup to accept that tape. I suppose that I can simply restart this system in NT4, fire up Veritas Backup Exec (which won't run under NT5), use it to initialize the tape and then try again. But I shouldn't have to do that. Backup is critical, and the version of BackupExec that Microsoft supplies with W2KP is so complex and confusing that it discourages backups rather than encouraging them.

Around 10:00 p.m. I'd given up and headed downstairs to get my mother settled for the night. As I was doing that, Pournelle called. When the phone rang upstairs, I was in the downstairs kitchen and didn't hear it. My mother heard it ring upstairs, though, and answered it. When I came back in, she was chatting away to someone who turned out to be Jerry. My mother loves to talk on the phone. Although I normally have no pity for telemarketing pests, I do feel for those that end up connected to my mother. On more than one occasion, I've listened to her side of a phone call of several minutes duration and then asked her who it was, only to find out that it was a wrong number. 

At any rate, she was chatting away with Jerry and I started to tell her that I'd run upstairs and she could transfer the call to me up there. Then I remembered that, although she knows how to answer calls coming in on other phones, mom has never figured out how to transfer a call (hookflash, dial the extension, and hang up). So I picked up again, told Jerry I'd transfer the call upstairs, transferred the call, and left on the run. The problem is that I have my telephone system configured so that if you transfer a call it rings four times at the destination set. If there's no answer, it rings back to the originating set. That would have been a Bad Thing, so I needed to get upstairs fast. That wouldn't have been a problem, except that Malcolm, our 16-week old Border Collie puppy, loves to hinder someone who is in a hurry. So I tripped up the stairs, with Malcolm nipping at my feet the whole way, trying not to fall on my face or step on Malcolm. I made it up and answered the phone halfway through the fourth ring.

Jerry was trying to figure out how to make a cable to connect the fan on his Slot 1 Pentium III to the motherboard fan power header. When Intel sends us eval processors, they sometimes ship a bare processor which is missing that cable. In the past, I've simply removed the cable from another processor and used it. Pournelle, however, didn't have a spare Slot 1 processor to steal the cable from. I went digging through my box of spare processors, looking for a Slot 1 processor with cable. All I found was a Slot 1 processor without a cable. Finally, I realized that I had a Slot 1 motherboard with processor installed sitting on the credenza behind me. Duh. The problem is, that cable isn't straight through, which I'd never noticed before. The center cable on the processor's fan header connects to one side on the motherboard power header. I told Jerry the pinouts, so presumably he's succeeded in making a cable by now.

And we have another six inches (15 cm) of snow forecast for tonight.

* * * * *

The following message was sent for some reason to Barbara, who forwarded it to me:

-----Original Message-----
From: Runningelk [mailto:runningelk@kachina.net]
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2000 3:40 PM
To: barbara@ttgnet.com
Subject: Information on recording

Hello,

I am looking for a way to record from tape deck to a CD-R? is there such a thing and if there is can you help me find it..

Please inform..

Thanks

runningelk

No idea. I've never tried to create a CD from an analog source. I seem to remember that the full version of Adapter Easy CD Creator (not the one bundled with most CD burners) has a utility to allow copying vinyl albums, so perhaps you could use that to duplicate your tapes. Presumably, you could run a cable from Line Out on your tape deck to Line In on your sound card, capture the audio to your hard drive, convert it to CD audio format, and then burn it to the CD. Unless the material you have on tape is original, however, you'd be better off duping directly from the CD, because the sound quality from cassettes will be nowhere near CD quality. If you have the music only on tapes, you may be able to borrow the CD versions from your library and make dupes of those. Although I am not a lawyer, I believe that once you have purchased music in any form US copyright law gives you the right to make a backup of that music in any form, whether or not you actually make the backup from the original medium. That is, if you buy the cassette tape of, say, Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits, you would be entitled to make a CD of that, whether or not you made the CD from the tape you'd purchased or from a CD version that you borrowed from a library or a friend. At least I think that's what the law says.

 


 

 

 

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Sunday, 23 January 2000

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I ran a backup yesterday on kiwi, using the Tecmar 3900 DDS3 tape drive with NT4W booted. The backup totaled about 8.5 GB and took just over 2 hours to complete, for a rate of just over 70 MB/min or about 4.2 GB/hour. That's on a combination of local and network data. On purely local data, the Tecmar maintains a rate of about 100 to 110 MB/min. That tells me that there's something seriously wrong either with Windows 2000 Professional itself, or with the limited version of BackupExec bundled with it. When I was booted under W2KP and running a backup to the same drive with the bundled backup software, backing up the local drives was about as fast as using NT4W and the workstation version of BackupExec 7.3. But backing up data from network volumes was hideously slow, so much so that I wonder if Microsoft crippled the backup functionality for network volumes. I wish that my copy of BackupExec 7.3 would run on W2KP, but it won't.

The forecast last night was for 2 to 4" (5 to 10 cm.) of snow, sleet, and freezing rain overnight and this morning. We got some accumulation overnight, perhaps a couple of inches, and freezing rain is falling as I write this. Our high today is to be just under freezing, so there's no chance the kids will be in school tomorrow. In fact, it's unlikely they'll be in school Tuesdays. Then Wednesday we're forecast to get more snow, which should take care of Wednesday, Thursday, and possibly Friday. They may have an extended early Winter vacation.

There's been lots of backchannel discussion about my comments concerning the relative speed of Windows NT Workstation and Windows 2000 Professional. The consensus is that I'm nuts, but there is a significant minority who agrees with me. One reader pointed out that configuration may have a lot to do with it. Apparently, certain video cards and sound cards in particular may contribute to very slow W2KP performance. I actually noticed something along those lines the other day and meant to post something about it. In kiwi, my dual-CPU main workstation, I have a wicked-fast Matrox G400 video card. When I installed Build 2195 of W2KP, it recognized the video card and installed drivers for it, so I didn't think much more about it. Until, that is, I was playing a game of Solitaire the other day. When I won the game, Solitaire celebrated by bouncing all the cards of the stack. They came off the stack in slow motion, about what I'd expect from the vanilla VGA driver rather than from a barn-burner like the Matrox G400. What's really peculiar is that kiwi was not one of the machines that appeared to be running slower under W2KP than NT4. I'd been using the Matrox G400 video under W2KP for at least a couple of days, and it seemed as fast as always until I played that game of Solitaire.

I actually have two chapters in progress at the moment, one on sound cards and one on cases & power supplies. As I've made clear here repeatedly, I run PC Power & Cooling power supplies in all my important systems. What's interesting is that as I write this chapter, I'm quantifying why that's important (and, believe me, it is). That's one of the often overlooked benefits of writing. Until you sit down to write about something, you don't really understand it.

Some writers write "short" and others "long". I'm definitely in the latter category. The very first thing I ever wrote for pay was a work-for-hire chapter for Roger Jennings' Special Edition Using Windows NT Server 4. Fred Slone, the guy managing the project for Que, told me that he'd like 20 to 25 pages. I submitted a rough draft of 125 pages, and couldn't figure out why Roger and Fred were laughing so hard. Apparently, most WFH authors do the absolute minimum they can get away with rather than submitting five times the requested amount, all usable. And that tendency to write long has been the curse of my life. Paper and printing costs money, so publishers definitely want to limit page counts.

The odd thing is that I'm always concerned when I start a chapter. When I started this chapter on cases, power supplies, and UPSs, my first thought was, "My God, what will I do to fill up some space? I can't possibly write more than five or ten pages about this." Of course, what happens is that as I start to write, I realize that I know a lot more about the subject than I thought I did. I'm up over 20 pages right now just on power supplies and UPS. I'm not done with either of those and I haven't even touched cases. What'll ultimately happen is that I'll write 50 good pages, cut it back to 30 before I submit it, and then get a note from my editor telling me to cut it some more.

There's mail, but I'm out of time.

 


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