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Daynotes Journal

Week of 21 February 2000

Sunday, 27 February 2000 08:46

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, 21 February 2000

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Our schedule is a bit askew this week. Ordinarily, Barbara cleans house on Sunday. While she does that, I do laundry. Yesterday, she played golf in the morning with a friend. When she got back, the Daytona 500 race had already started, so she never did get around to cleaning house and I never did get around to doing laundry. I spent most of yesterday writing instead.

Speaking of which, I'd better get my shower and then start on laundry and writing.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: TTG [mailto:ttgnet@operamail.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 19, 2000 10:33 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: W2K

You said:

With the W2K rollout, Microsoft is apparently belatedly admitting what a POS* Windows 98 is. They're also saying nasty things about NT4. Apparently, W2K runs for 90 days without crashing, while Windows 98 crashes every two days, and Windows NT4 every five days, or something like that.

I just received the retail packaged Windows 2000 Professional. The byline:

The Reliable Operating System for Business

The cynic would say they're burning the OS's that they're going to be forced to divest as a result of the DoJ case.

I don't believe Windows 98 compares with NT for stability, but when well configured, it does run for weeks without reboot. I have first-hand experience.

I doubt it has much to do with any possible divestiture of the older versions. More likely, it's just Microsoft marketing. What they have available to sell is is always the best thing since sliced bread until its replacement comes along, at which point the old product suddenly becomes junk.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Frank McPherson [mailto:frank@fmcpherson.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 12:53 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: DSL

I know that you have looked into getting DSL to your house. I came across this site last night that I thought you might find useful, if you had not already seen it. http://www.2wire.com/

Frank McPherson, MCSE
frank@fmcpherson.com, www.fmcpherson.com
Microsoft MVP - Windows CE
Windows CE Knowledge Center, http://start.at/know_ce

Thanks. I've been to that page before. In my browser, it displays as an empty page. I did a View-Source and found that it's all Javascript and Shockwave. I won't deal with any company dumb enough to use something like that for its home page. Nor will I turn on Javascript just to see what they have. 

Actually, it doesn't make any difference anyway. All these third-party DSL providers depend on copper provided by the phone company, and Bellsouth can't provide DSL to my area right now. That means no one else can, either. Sometimes a third-party company can provide DSL when the phone company can't, but when that happens, it's simply a matter of tariff issues. The phone company has everything in place to provide DSL, but hasn't gotten regulatory approval. That's not the problem here.

What is the problem is rather incredible. BellSouth has been busily burying SLCs all over their service area for the last several years. A SLC is basically a big box with a fiber coming in one end and a bunch of copper pairs coming out the other. Instead of running a copper pair from my house all the way back to the Central Office seven or so miles away, BellSouth runs copper to my house from the SLC (which is half a mile from my house) and then muxes that copper pair onto the fiber which goes to the CO. The incredible part is that BellSouth apparently has no idea what they buried where. That is, they don't know whether a given SLC has the necessary interface circuits, power supplies, etc. to provide DSL. The only way they can find out is to go look. They've buried thousands of the things, and no one has any idea which ones are DSL-capable or what's needed to make them so. So rolling out DSL is going to be a slow process.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Van Note [mailto:scottv@asu.edu]
Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 9:42 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: <unnamed>

I was surfing around trying to find references to how far you could push an Epox kp6-bs. Found your halloween 99 page.

I just got burned by supermicro with their PIIIDME and still need a dual option for upgrade. would like PC133 (supermicro lists that you can put PC133 in the PIIIDME - they just don't bother to tell you that memory only runs at 100 - between crashes that is)

Didja ever build it?

Don't see any stock PC133 duals out there - Rambus is out of the question.

ScottV
student/sysop/scientific illustrator
Dual PPro 133/512k - time to upgrade

My current main system, kiwi, is built around the EPoX KP6-BS with two Pentium III/550 processors. I checked the specs on it, and it's limited to running 66 MHz or 100 MHz FSB. The fastest processor it explicitly supports is 550 MHz, although there are "reserved" jumpers for faster CPU speeds. One problem, of course, is that the 440BX chipset is only rated for 100 MHz FSB. Some motherboards allow you to drive it higher than that, but overclocking is never a good idea, and is a particularly bad idea with a dual-CPU box. I'd say the best bet is to wait until EPoX and/or Intel release suitable dual-CPU 133 MHz motherboards.

 


 

 

 

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Tuesday, 22 February 2000

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I usually write up notes for each days posting the previous evening. Last night, I got a chapter from Tom Syroid that needed to be tech reviewed ASAP, since his deadline was 11:59 p.m. yesterday. So I spent a couple of hours on that, and never did get around to writing up any notes to post today.

Then, at 0400, we were awakened by a chirping sound coming from my office. Well, Barbara was awakened, and she awakened me. I ended up sitting, bleary-eyed, underneath my desk trying to figure out why the APC Smart-UPS 1000 UPS was unhappy. My first thought was that the problem was due to the Panamax Max 2 surge suppressor. It plugs into the wall receptacle and provides two surge protected receptacles. I have the APC plugged into one of those and a TrippLite 675 plugged into the other. 

The problem is, the Panamax just plugs into the receptacle. There's nothing securing it, and the two UPS power cords tend to pull it away from the receptacle. Several times recently both UPSs have started screaming because a dog knocked the Panamax loose. It was still connected to the receptacle, but not providing power to the UPSs. I figured that was the problem this time, too.

So I started wiggling the Panamax to see if that was the problem. Astonishingly, as I wiggled the Panamax, the APC UPS went completely black--all status lights out--and the two connected computers died. That's not supposed to happen. I thought perhaps I'd somehow pressed the power button or something, and I'm still not sure what happened. At any rate, I decided to get rid of the Panamax. The UPSs themselves have pretty decent surge protection built in. All the computers connected to the APC unit were dead anyway, so I disconnected both UPS power cords, pulled the Panamax, and plugged both UPSs back into the wall receptacle. Everything appeared normal, and I restarted all the machines.

I'd just gotten back to sleep when, at 0500, chirping noises started coming from my office again. I stumbled back into my office, where I found the APC UPS chirping again. One of the status lights was blinking, indicating some problem with the mains power. The TrippLite unit was silent, as was the APC Back-UPS Pro 650 back in Barbara's office, but that didn't necessarily prove anything. The Smart-UPS might simply be more sensitive to line problems, or so I assumed. Hoping to get at least a bit more sleep. I shut down the computers and the APC UPS and went back to bed.

First thing this morning, 0700, I fired everything up again. At first, everything appeared normal, but as I sat here responding to mail and checking my daily web sites, the APC started chirping again. Enough being enough, I again shut everything down, moved the APC Smart-UPS out from under my desk, and replaced it with the Smart Power Systems SineSmart 2000, a 2 KVA unit. It's been running for an hour or so, and everything appears to be working. I'll have to have a look at the APC unit when I have a spare moment.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Van Note [mailto:scottv@asu.edu]
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 12:26 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: <unnamed>

The problem is that no-one makes a chipset that supports PC133 and dual processor. And am not aware of any announcements from chipset makers saying that they will. Will be a long time before dual PC133. Everyones doing RDRAM. DDR might get here first. Intel has just confirmed that their i840/i820 SDRAM translator doesn't work - looks suspicious, Intel has invested heavily in RDRAM and now you can't run SDRAM on any of their new chipsets. . . It only ran at 100 anyway.

The KP6-BS will let you overclock the FSB incrementallly to 133. PC133 and the EB suffix processors are stable at 133 - but as far as I can tell the AGP doesn't run on a separate divider so most video cards would give up. And you would have to run a cooler on the BX chipset.

Oh well. thanks for the reply

I wouldn't count out PC133 SDRAM just yet. You're right that no one makes a dual-CPU chipset that supports PC133, but I suspect Intel will remedy that situation later this year. As far as the i820/840 MTH not working, that's not actually the case. There's a bug in the i820 that results in memory errors when using ECC. Not ideal, but as far as I know the i820 MTH works properly with ECC disabled. How fast it is relative to chipsets with native SDRAM support is another question, of course, and one that I hope to answer for myself. I have a CC820 motherboard and a VC820 motherboard, which differ only in that one supports SDRAM and the other RDRAM. We'll see what happens. As far as running the BX at 133, I'm not sure I'd want to do that even with a chipset cooler.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@micron.net]
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 3:39 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: SCSI & IDE: Dual Boot

Dear Bob,

Fascinating article today at Ars Tecnica on the arcane spells & technology involved in successfully achieving a dual-boot SCSI & IDE HDD box.

Regards,

JHR 
--
[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]
culam@micron.net

Thanks.


Noon: Trying to write with Border Collies around is such a joy. Malcolm is a paper-hound. He sits beside my chair for long periods with his snout stuck in the pocket of my sweat pants, rooting around for a paper towel or whatever else he can find. I craftily removed all the paper towels from my right pocket and transferred them to the left pocket while Malcolm wasn't watching.

In the mean time, in the high-tech version of "the dog ate my homework", Duncan rebooted my system for me. He was standing next to my tower system, shook his head to get his ears arranged properly, and rammed his snout into the reset button on kiwi. There I sat, typing away, when suddenly the screen cleared and the memory check started.

As I was waiting for the system to finish booting, trying to remember the last 10 minutes or so of work that I'd done so that I could reconstruct it, what should I feel but a puppy snout rooting in my left pocket. Malcolm is both smart and relentless. Barbara will be attending an out-of-town meeting Thursday and Friday. That's going to be a long two days.

 


 

 

 

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Wednesday, 23 February 2000

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Howls of protest have put plans on hold for a dress code for the Winston-Salem Forsyth County school system. The proposed dress code would have banned certain revealing clothing, wearing t-shirts with profanity or nudity, wearing underwear outside the clothes, wearing jewelry in pierced noses, tongues, and cheeks, and so on. This whole thing probably wouldn't have been worthy of comment except that the proposed dress code was to apply to teachers, not students. Apparently, the teachers regard the proposed dress code as an unwarranted intrusion on their freedom of expression. I can only think that our schools are in serious trouble if the teachers don't realize that one is supposed to wear one's underwear inside one's street clothes.

The Register posted an article this morning reporting what happened to one early adopter of Windows 2000. Not a pretty picture.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Van Note [mailto:scottv@asu.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2000 12:22 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: <unnamed>

I'm kinda hoping that AMD will get their dual capable system out first.

I've been checking around and apparently the BX440 chipset will quite easily push to 150Mhz. Most current boards actually have a heatsink on the hottest chip of the set. It looks like it *is* possible to comfortably push the KP6-BS to 133 using PC133 and an EB suffix PIII. The only question is if the chosen AGP card will be stable at 83MHz instead of the normal 66.

Though I'm still not comfortable with overclocking, the performance increase for EB suffix processors is quite substantial. Mostly because of the reconfiguration of the coppermine cache. My hurdle is that I've been running duals and ECC (started with EDAC - error detection and correction) since 1994 - and am set in my ways - I want duals, ECC and the fastest renders for the dollar. Also makes little sense to run a 133 FSB processor on 100 memory - only cache-work takes advantage of the technology upgrade.

The 533EB is listed at www.krex.com for 236.75 and the non-coppermine (re slower) 533b is 265.75. The 100FSB 550 processor is even more expensive! The same price order holds if you search elsewhere - the faster processor is cheaper. For comparison the switch from 100FSB to EB at the same CPU speed (say 600) gives a greater number crunching (render) capability than the difference between a 500 and 700Mhz PIII (100FSB) - and the price goes down instead of up. But if you factor RDRAM in - all price advantage flies away.

Hope I didn't bend your ear. Just that I decided to upgrade at a weird moment in technology. *I* thought that finally upgrading my dual ppro board when Intel finally got back to full speed cache (forget XEON) was a good idea. (sigh)

And yep. As far as I can see the 820/840 SDRAM translator bug is confined to ECC. Though I do think it a self serving coincidence that Intel made the MTH and MRH run at 100 MHz instead of 133. Makes RDRAM look better.

I wouldn't count on seeing MP Athlons any time soon, if ever. Although reports say we can expect that later this year, I'll believe it when I see it. Motherboard makers have had a hard enough time producing stable motherboards for one Athlon.

As far as pushing the 440BX to 133 MHz, I don't think that's a good idea, pariticularly in an MP environment. I'm not sure how you'd do it, anyway. At least on my KP6-BS, there don't appear to be any settings for host bus speeds above 100 MHz. Also, even if you somehow do that, you may well have BIOS problems. The ATC on the processors you mention operates differently, and I suspect you'll need a BIOS update to allow it to function properly.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2000 2:24 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: Saving your work

You wrote today: "As I was waiting for the system to finish booting, trying to remember the last 10 minutes or so of work that I'd done..." 

I've set Word to save my work every one minute. Even typing flat out, it's only a few sentences and, on a dual-CPU system seems to involve no noticeable pause on the system as I used to get with a single CPU. Works for me, anyway, and my short-term memory is such that I'd have no hope of remembering anything I've done in the past 10 minutes. My friends my age are now starting to complain that they can walk to the kitchen, stand in front of the fridge and wonder what they're doing there. Welcome to my world, I tell them - I've been like that ever since I can remember. Which is about four minutes ago.

Regards

Chris Ward-Johnson
Chateau Keyboard - Computing at the Eating Edge
http://www.chateaukeyboard.com

I'd never thought of that. My Autosave is set to ten minutes. As it turned out, I'd only lost about 5 minutes of work the other day, and much of that was time spent staring at the screen thinking about how I wanted to phrase something. But, as you say, it makes sense to set the Autosave time shorter on a fast system. Thanks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@micron.net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2000 7:14 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Intel Confusion

Dear Bob,

Register has an article here on the extremely confused (and confusing) Intel chipset & microprocessor situation. It confirms my intuitive take that Intel is charging off in a dozen different directions and pleasing no one in the process MoBo makers, Memory makers, or customers, corporate or individual. Meanwhile, it also seems, Intel is aggressively pursuing a policy and strategy of planned rapid obsolescence. (I was stung by this. Bought an ASUS dual-processor MoBo and one PII300 CPU, intending to add a second later as the price became more realistic. 6 months later the PII300 had been abandoned, along with its customers.) And the saga continues. I am now building a dual Celeron 466box. Will there be be any Celerons a year from now, when I hope to UG to a faster version? Will they fit the receptacle on my board? It seems highly unlikely at this point. The plethora of CPU & chipset configurations and receptacle types all incompatible with each other - issuing from Intel boggles the mind. This is not accidental, IMO. The sooner Intel can abandon a cheaper configuration, the sooner they can sell their latest and most expensive product. I, for one, am really tired of this. AMD is beginnig to look better & better to me. At least they seem to have some clear direction in mind, and are pursuing it.

Regards,

JHR
--

[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]
culam@micron.net

As I've said before, I don't think planned obsolescent has anything to do with Intel's planning, although it may seem that way. Most people don't upgrade systems, so Intel's focus is on selling processors here and now. As you've learned, there is good reason for my constant harping on the necessity of buying both processors at the same time. Even if 300 MHz PIIs had still been available when you were ready to add the second processor, you might have had problems. A dual-CPU system should always use two processors with identical S-Specs, and there have been many S-Spec versions of the PII/300. As a workaround for your situation, have you considered buying two inexpensive Celeron/PPGA processors and a couple of slockets? All together, that should cost you less than buying one more PII/300 would have, and you'll have a considerably faster system.

 


 

 

 

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Thursday, 24 February 2000

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I guess you really can find anything on the Internet. If you've ever seen the movie 12 O'clock High, you may remember the airmen singing the ballad Bless 'em All. When I watched that movie one time with my father, who was in the Eighth Air Force during WWII and flew bombing missions over Nazi Germany in a B-17, he commented that the words they sang in the movie weren't exactly the ones he remembered. 

Years later, a friend of mine who'd as a U.S. Army sergeant landed at Omaha beach and carried a Thompson gun all the way to Berlin sat down at his piano and sang several verses of the unexpurgated version for me. I decided last night to see if I could track down those lyrics. Sure enough (not for the easily offended) here they are. Or at least some of them. I know there are more somewhere, because I distinctly remember my friend singing one verse that had colonels in it. Actually, I may have found the version with colonels too, but the server is not responding. I did find another Bowdlerized version here. There must be hundreds of versions out there. Interestingly, when I tried the same search two years or so ago, I didn't find any of this stuff. The Internet really is growing.

* * * * *

Are spammers really as stupid as they seem, or do they just think the rest of us are stupid? Here's the first part of a spam I got last night:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

World Wide Web Opt In Mailing List

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To Unsubscribe your email address from our Opt-In listserver, see end of message.

Duh. Maybe if they call an opt-out mailing list an opt-in mailing list, people will be too stoopid to notice. Duh.

* * * * *

I love this job. What other job would allow me to spend hours connecting and configuring different game controllers, playing various games, and still call it work? When Pournelle called yesterday, I mentioned that I was playing with games, which was something I had studiously avoided in the past, fearing their addictive nature. He opined that perhaps that would have been a danger when I was 25, but not now that I'm 45. Yeah, right.

* * * * *

It looks like another Brit has joined the ranks of the daily journal keepers. Bob Walder maintains a diary in much the same form as Chris Ward-Johnson's Chateau Keyboard. Bob has clients for whom he does computerish things having to do with firewalls, but he apparently makes his wife do all the real work. He's only posted three days' entries so far, but it looks like a promising start.

* * * * *

If you thought the DDoS attack a couple weeks ago was impressive, just wait. The Register published an article this morning that reports the necessary client software is now available for Win32. Uh-oh.

* * * * *

Barbara is off this morning to a meeting in Georgia or somewhere. She'll be gone until late tomorrow night, or possibly Saturday morning. I tried to convince her to take Malcolm along, but (as usual) without success. I pointed out that a 5-month-old Border Collie puppy would be very popular with the other attendees, which she admitted. But she still refused to take him. Women are so unreasonable. 

Within literally five minutes of her departure, I heard splashing sounds in the den, followed by the sound of the stainless steel water bowl turning over and dumping a gallon or so of water on the den floor. Fortunately, the floor is hardwood. We have to keep the laundry basket of used towels in the bathtub in the hall bathroom to prevent Malcolm from pillaging the used towels. I ran into the hall bathroom, grabbed a couple of slightly damp bath towels, and ran back into the den to start blotting up the water. Unfortunately, I forgot to shut the bathroom door behind me. When I arrived back with the now-dripping towels, Malcolm had unrolled most of a roll of toilet paper from the holder and eaten a good bit of it. I shooed him out of there and cleaned up the mess. When I came back into the den, there Malcolm lay on the love seat, eating a book. I can see that I'm not going to get a lot of work done until Barbara gets back.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Michael Todd [mailto:rmtodd@mailhost.ecn.ou.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2000 1:11 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: re: your comment today on MP Athlons...

Regarding your comment today [yesterday. RBT] on not being likely to see MP Athlons anytime soon. Probably true, and even if you did see one, it's not clear that that you'd be able to do anything with one if you had one. As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong, oh hardware guru :-), the proposed interconnect scheme for the MP Athlons is based on technology derived from the Alphas, and thus not compatible with the APIC hardware used by Intel. Now, even if the motherboard fairy dropped an MP Athlon on your desk tomorrow, what are you going to do with it? All the MP-capable OSes (NT, Linux, FreeBSD) only support the Intel APIC hardware. Given how much work went into making the existing APIC-based MP code work reasonably stably, I wouldn't hold out hope of seeing working OSes able of using MP Athlons anytime soon, even if the hardware exists.

Good point. Intel owns MPS and I suspect they will not likely license it to AMD or anyone else planning an MP Athlon.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2000 2:34 PM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: Joke

The first par of your journal today [yesterday. RBT] is the funniest thing I've read in a very long time. I've just sent it to my sister, who's head of science in a large secondary school in the UK. I'll let you know what she says.

Regards

Chris Ward-Johnson
Chateau Keyboard - Computing at the Eating Edge
http://www.chateaukeyboard.com

So, am I making it up? Heh, heh, heh.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2000 4:04 PM
To: 'Robert Bruce Thompson'
Subject: RE: Joke

Doesn't matter; comes under the heading 'Too good to check'.

Regards

Chris Ward-Johnson
Chateau Keyboard - Computing at the Eating Edge
http://www.chateaukeyboard.com

I'm telling the truth, more's the pity...

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: S.S.Ghosal [mailto:ssghosal@caltiger.net.in]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2000 11:02 AM
To: Mr. Robert B. Thompson
Subject: Mail from Soumya Shankar Ghosal
Dear Mr. Thompson,

Sir, how are you? It's after a long time I'm writing to you. Sir, do you remember me? I'm Soumya Shankar Ghosal from Calcutta, India who has written a few letters to you earlier requesting to visit my home page. You visited my home page.

Once again I wish you a very Happy New Millennium. I hope you had received my greetings card via email. I thought earlier writing to you but I was unable to do so since my father was ill and he was admitted to Nursing Home.

My B.Com (Bachelors in Commerce) Part 1 exams are due on the March 14th. I seek your blessings for the exams and also for my future career. I will write a detailed letter to you soon as I need to discuss a few important things about my future career. I find you to be the right person to guide me. I use your photograph as my computer's wallpaper. I would like you to be my Guru. I would be grateful if you accept me as your sishya (Student).

Hope to hear from you soon. 
Waiting eagerly for your reply.
With due Respects,
Soumya Shankar Ghosal 
ssghosal@caltiger.net.in
http://angelfire.com/me/ghosal

Sure, I remember you. I'm sorry to hear your father was ill. I hope he is doing better now. Unfortunately, although I am flattered by your request, my existing commitments to home, family, and work impose time constraints that prohibit me from offering detailed personal advice or counseling. However, I wish you all the best.


14:45: Malcolm has just eaten a feather duster. All that remains is the handle, with three or four pathetic little feather stubs sticking out of it. Around 13:00, I went downstairs to make my mother a cup of tea. As usual, I let all three dogs out in the backyard, which isn't fenced. They usually stick pretty close--our back yard and two of those behind us--and there's usually no problem leaving them out there loose for the few minutes it takes to make my mom tea or whatever. When I went out to call them in, Kerry and Duncan were in our backyard and came immediately. Malcolm was nowhere to be seen. After calling him repeatedly, I finally got in the 4X4 and drove off in search of him. I found him in the front yard of the house behind us, lying on his back with the dog that lives there staring balefully down on him. 

I think I'm going to keep Malcolm penned in his crate the whole time Barbara is gone, for my sanity and his own safety. He's particularly demonic when she's gone, and I simply can't watch him all the time. I'll let him out periodically to get water and food and to go out. I'll let him sleep back in the bedroom with me, and allow him to run free in the evenings while I'm reading or watching TV. But other than that, it's solitary confinement for Malcolm.


16:45: Something has poisoned, kiwi, my main NT system. I downloaded the current week's MP3 file of Jerry Pournelle, Mary Moscone, and Paul Schindler discussing the current issues and started to play it. About 3 minutes into it, the audio died. At first, I thought it was just a long pause. Then I thought perhaps the file was corrupt, so I tried playing another known-good MP3. No audio. Then I figured perhaps my audio input cable had finally died completely (it had been providing only the left channel, but I was too busy to replace it). So I replaced the audio cable. Still no audio. So I decided that rebooting might help, and restarted the system. 

After watching a blank green screen for a couple of minutes, I headed back to Barbara's office to do a couple of things. When I came back 15 minutes later, the green screen was still up, and there was no disk activity. I finally ended up pushing reset. That's one nice thing about NT--NTFS is very robust. I had this problem with ridiculously long shutdowns on kerby, my former main system. It had gone from requiring a minute or so to shutdown and restart up to taking literally 45 minutes to shutdown. At one point, I actually solved the problem on kerby and got back to one minute shutdowns, so I'll have to go back to my notes and find out what I did.

 


 

 

 

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Friday, 25 February 2000

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Well, FrontPage managed to lose my data. This file contained several paragraphs here, mostly about Pstores.exe, but now all that text is gone. Just to make sure I hadn't perhaps put them in some other page, I used FP2K's global search to search all html pages in this web. It found three occurrences of Pstores, but none recent. So I'll try to reconstruct.

Basically, what happened is this. After pushing reset to restart the system and logging back in, I fired up IE5, whose start page is set to my links page. All of those links are, of course, normally purple, because they've all been visited. This time they were all blue, indicating that the IE5 history file had been cleared. Obviously, one of things that's taking so long to shutdown is something to do with IE5. My first suspect was Pstores.exe, that mysterious service that first showed up around the time Microsoft shipped IE4. I don't recall exactly what Pstores.exe does, but it has to do with storing passwords, S/MIME data, and so on for IE5 and related programs like Outlook Express.

So I went into NT's Services applet and set Pstores.exe to start manually. While I was at it, I shutdown Pstores.exe. Then, I decided to get rid of the obnoxious Loadwc.exe service. All that really does is check to see whether IE5 is the default browser. Duh. And that takes the better part of a megabyte of RAM at all times. I killed that one by deleting it from the Run key in the Registry. I then shutdown the system. Sure enough, it took only about a minute to shutdown and restart.

Once the system came back up, I got a scare. When I fired up Outlook 2000 and told it to go check the mail, it went catatonic for a minute or two and then displayed the dialog that says it can't connect to the mail server. Okay, I canceled out, assuming that killing Pstores had also killed my saved password. I then shutdown and restarted Outlook, and told it to check for mail. It immediately displayed the dialog prompting me to enter my password, which I did. There was a check box there to mark if I wanted it to save the password. I did so, figuring it was worth a shot but probably wouldn't work with Pstores disabled. OL then checked the mail successfully. I shutdown OL and restarted it again, just to check. It checked mail successfully without prompting me for my password. Being a suspicious cuss, I fired up Task Manager, assuming I'd find that IE5/OL2K/NT had started Pstores again without permission. Nope. Pstores was still dead.

Oh, yeah. The restart fixed the audio problem, and I was able to listen to the Byte.com MP3.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@micron.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2000 10:09 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: RE: Intel Confusion

At 08:55 AM 2/24/00 -0500, you wrote: 

>I see. Well, I prefer continuing technical advances to backward >compatibility. Look where that got us with DOS.

Dear Bob,

No argument there. I agree. AMD seems to have made some technical advances along the way, too - at least enough to seriously threaten Intel. I think both can be said to do very well in that area. My question was about Intel's confused and confusing multi-path advance.

If you were a Mobo or Systems maker - which would you rather bet the farm on - Intel's erratic, multi-path, and ever-changing advances, with its hazards to itself and its customers, - or AMD's relatively straightforward path of advance? Bear in mind - your company might go down the tube if CPUs could not be provided on time, as planned. (PIIIs in February?)

JHR --

You want a serious answer to that? I'd go with Intel in a heartbeat. Their problems are always short-term. AMD's problems are chronic. Right now, things are going right for AMD, and Intel is having some problems delivering product. That won't last. And that's not only my opinion. You'll notice that most motherboard and system makers stick with Intel as much as possible.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: bilbrey@pacbell.net [mailto:bilbrey@pacbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2000 9:43 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com; Marcia Bilbrey
Subject: Malcolm in solitary,

followed by the death by poisoning of Kiwi. Hmmm. I am minded of Star Trek TOS episode 60, *And the Children Shall Lead* ++, Malcolm shakes his paw in a slow, deliberate manner, and off goes Kiwi, to never-never land. Hehehe.

++ Episode reference 

.b

--
regards,                I replied, in my best eastern dialect
Brian Bilbrey           "Were you addressing me, a$$hole?" and
www.OrbDesigns.com      the conversation went downhill from there.
bilbrey@orbdesigns.com  RBT

Yeah, I remember that episode. I didn't think it had a Border Collie puppy in it, though.

 


 

 

 

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Saturday, 26 February 2000

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Barbara got home late last night. The dogs (and I) are happy. I'm sure she'll tell you about the trip on her page.

Yesterday was a zoo. Tom Syroid, who is striving mightily to get Outlook 2000 in a Nutshell to 100% completion, shipped me one last chapter to do a quick review on. Yesterday was drop-dead day--all chapters to his editor by the end of the day, period. He should be having breakfast with Leah and the kids as I write this. After spending an hour or so on Tom's chapter, I finally got my own Input Devices chapter shipped off to my editor and got started (or re-started) on the Audio chapter. Things may be sparse around here for a while, as I've promised my editor to have absolutely everything to him by 10 March. That means I have to finish one major chapter, one shorter chapter, and the Preface.

I found out why FrontPage seemingly arbitrarily decided to change all my HTML pages, which (a) changes the auto-generated dates on every page that uses the date/time bot, and (b) requires me to upload the entire site. It wasn't arbitrary at all. Oh, no. FrontPage was on a Mission. FrontPage decided, all by itself and for the third time this year, to delete the bottom shared border, which contains my copyright notice. I didn't notice that immediately, so when I published my web site yesterday, FP re-published every damned page, this time without the shared border. When I noticed it this morning, I fixed the problem. That changes every HTML page in the site, of course, so this morning I'll have to republish the entire site yet again. This is getting real old real fast.

Although the year is young, I recently received what has to be the Spam of the Year. I got a message the other day asking me to consider the advantages of high colonic enemas. I must admit that's not something I think about often. Come to that, I don't think I've ever thought about it at all. This message was so bizarre that I actually read the portion visible in AutoPreview, which I use in my Inbox. That the message was in my Inbox was because it was addressed to webmaster@ttgnet.com, so perhaps it was not a spam at all. Spammers being morons but not idiots, they don't usually bother sending spam to webmaster addresses. If this was not a spam, I hope whoever sent it will not bother sending any follow-ups. At any rate, the portion I read made a weird kind of sense if one likens the whole process to flushing out one's radiator periodically. I think I'll pass, though.

Speaking of webmaster accounts not getting spam (other than from spammers who sell web-site related products and services, of course) makes me think about those other addresses that receive little or no spam--postmaster@ttgnet.comabuse@ttgnet.com, and so on. Perhaps I should begin using postmaster as my main account address. Then, when I get a spam addressed to another ttgnet.com address, I could fire off a fake 550 notification message to the spammer that would cause them to remove that address from their list. Nah, probably wouldn't work, because most spam has a From: and/or Reply-To: that's not valid. It was a nice thought, though.

Finally, I need to register some domains today. My friend John Mikol has gotten DNS set up for me for the three domains I'm going to register, so I'd better get that done.


13:20: So much for my cunning plan. Malcolm pillaged not one but two rolls of toilet paper while Barbara was gone. I keep forgetting to close the bathroom door when I leave, or, if I do, I don't quite get it latched. This morning, while Malcolm was in his crate, I cunningly set a mouse trap, wrapped it in toilet paper, and left it on the bathroom floor. I then let Malcolm out of his crate, expecting that within a few minutes I'd hear a loud snap and a puppy yelping. Well, it was indeed a few minutes, but the snap I heard was rather subdued, and there were no anguished puppy noises. I went off in search of Malcolm, to make sure he didn't have a mouse trap hanging from his nose. I found him lying at the bottom of the basement stairs, happily chewing a mouth full of toilet paper, and with a dead mouse trap to one side.

Then Tom Syroid called and we talked for the better part of an hour. He's still not quite done with the book, but plans to finish it by tonight. I'm sure he and Leah will be relieved. So, I still haven't registered the domains and I still haven't gotten to work on the remaining chapters. I've decided to do them in order of increasing difficulty, the Preface first, followed by the easy chapter, followed by the hard one. That way, the two easier elements will be done, and if I need to call an end to things late on March 10th, I won't be missing the two easier chapters.

 


 

 

 

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Sunday, 27 February 2000

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Frank McPherson raises some interesting issues in support of Amazon's ridiculous patents in his daily journal article yesterday. However, he entirely misses the point. The original purpose of a patent was to protect a specific implementation of an idea, rather than the idea itself. You could patent a better mousetrap, in other words, but you couldn't patent the idea of using a mechanical device to catch mice, let alone the mouse-catching concept. The latter is what Amazon is attempting to do with their patent on the One-Click ordering system and, most recently, with patenting the concept of affiliates programs. 

Leaving aside the question of prior art, which is much in doubt in both of these cases, the fact is that Amazon is attempting to patent things that are not patentable, on at least two grounds. First, in order to be patentable, something must not be obvious, which both of these clearly are. Secondly, and most tellingly, Amazon is attempting to patent an idea rather than an implementation of an idea. In fact, one of the original requirements for being granted a patent was that you had to submit a working model of the device. Good luck to Amazon in that attempt.

The problem with patents really started with the drug companies. The US PTO made the mistake of granting patents on specific drugs, rather than on the equipment and processes used to manufacture those drugs. The problem got worse with software patents, none of which should have been granted at all. The reason that companies applied for software patents is that the correct mechanism, copyright, did not offer them the broad-ranging protection they desired. Of course it didn't. It was never intended to. Copyright protected an expression of an idea, while these companies sought to protect the idea itself. Nor did anyone even think that patents would be granted in such circumstances. Had the PTO been thinking properly, they would have recognized that and refused the patent. All software patents are invalid prima facie anyway. If only the PTO did their job, that'd be obvious.

Mr. McPherson presents Amazon's patents as justifiable protection of their competitive advantage. It's not. It's greed, pure and simple. They've invented nothing worthy of a patent. I'm joining the increasingly widespread boycott against Amazon.com. They are obnoxious, overbearing, and, worst of all, expensive. There are better places to buy books. I hope you'll join the boycott as well.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: HUPPNUT@aol.com [mailto:HUPPNUT@aol.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2000 2:02 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Lawyers

A very successful lawyer parked his brand-new Lexus in front of his office, ready to show it off to his colleagues. As he got out, a truck passed too close and completely tore off the door on the driver's side. The lawyer immediately grabbed his cell phone, dialed 911, and within minutes a policeman pulled up.

Before the officer had a chance to ask any questions, the lawyer started screaming hysterically. His Lexus, which he had just picked up the day before, was now completely ruined and would never be the same, no matter what the body shop did to it.

When the lawyer finally wound down from his ranting and raving, the officer shook his head in disgust and disbelief. "I can't believe how materialistic you lawyers are," he said. "You are so focused on your possessions that you don't notice anything else."

"How can you say such a thing?" asked the lawyer. The cop replied, "Don't you know that your left arm is missing from the elbow down? It must have been torn off when the truck hit you." "My God!" screamed the lawyer. "Where's my Rolex?"

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: M. Praeger [mailto:athyrio@hotmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2000 5:55 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Cc: scottv@asu.edu
Subject: How to raise the KP6-BS over 100

WRT Scott Van Note's emails earlier this week on the KP6-BS:

There is a "CPU Host Clock" setting in the BIOS Setup under "Chipset Features". In my manual it's described as an afterthought, on the very last printed page. Use Motherboard Monitor or the like to carefully monitor the temperature of your CPU. Also stick your finger on the two PCIset chips. And, on your PCI cards' main chips. Don't run them uncomfortably warm.

AGP on the KP6-BS, according to the manual p. 3-4, is fixed at 66MHz independent of the clock frequency of the CPU. As I scraped the floor and begged earlier, send me one of your high-end AGP video cards, whichever one you can't find a home for, and I'll tell you whether that's a fact or not.

Intel may own MPS, but Compaq owns the Digital Alpha bus patents and is perfectly capable of in-house-engineering its own APIC's/ASIC's. When Intel's product shortages hurt Compaq's bottom line badly enough, Compaq will retaliate. I don't doubt that by the end of this year we'll see dual-1GHz-Athlon boards in Compaq machines running double-rate 200MHz FSB using ordinary 100MHz SDRAM --which will make the KP6-BS, and everything else with the BX chipset, look anemic. Besides, given Michael Dell's recent public denouncement of the Athlon as insufficient to the needs of Dell's more extreme, outer-edge, lunatic, --what was the word he used? --fanatical? --customers, wouldn't that be delicious egg on the face of Compaq's chief rival.

I've already mailed Mr. Van Note privately to tell him about a new Tyan dual-Coppermine board that supports the 133 MHz host bus. As someone pointed out earlier, the issue about multi-processing is not implementing it in hardware. The issue is that you won't have an OS to support it. As far as giving you or anyone else video cards and other stuff, I've made the point before that I don't give away hardware or software to individuals under any circumstances, but perhaps I need to repeat that periodically. If you want the latest video card, you'll have to buy it.

 


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