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Daynotes Journal

Week of 27 March 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:28

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, 27 March 2000

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Yet another poor fool joins the ranks of the daily journal keepers. J. H. Ricketson announces that Warlock's Tower is open for business as of this morning at 0700 Pacific time. Unlike most of us, who just dove in and started publishing pages, JRH has been crafting his site for a couple of months now, so there's quite a bit of archived material present. Give it a look.

What's a poor author to do, part II. A week or so ago, I did final re-write on the chapter about sound cards and audio. We recommended Turtle Beach sound cards, which are based on the Aureal Vortex2 chipset. The Register reports this morning that Aureal is "close to collapse". Oh, well. I like Creative sound cards well enough. It's just that their EAX 3D sound can't compare to Aureal's A3D. Perhaps Voyetra/Turtle Beach will buy Aureal or something.

The Register has another interesting story for those who want to use an FC-PGA Pentium III in an SC242 (formerly known as Slot 1) motherboard via a slocket. Apparently, most of the existing slockets won't do, which isn't surprising as they were originally designed to adapt PPGA Celerons.

Back to work on the motherboards chapter.

 


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Tuesday, 28 March 2000

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I got a call yesterday afternoon by appointment from the Product Lead for Support for Microsoft FrontPage. He was calling to see if he could solve the problem with FrontPage randomly deleting the contents of the bottom shared border, but I took the opportunity to mention two other things about FrontPage that need fixed:

  • Its inability to store your user name and password for a remote server, which means every time you publish you have to override the default user name (your Windows NT account name) and enter the account name and password for the web server. I asked him to put in a request to add a "save account name and password" check box to that dialog, which he has requested.
  • The lost ability of FP2000, formerly present in FP98, to open a web on a remote server directly without requiring that FP extensions be installed. Pournelle had also mentioned this to Microsoft, and their response to him was "why would anyone want to do that?" Well, of course, people who travel a lot (like my friend Steve Tucker) would like to maintain their local master copy at home, but be able to update individual pages directly on the server, and then publish "backwards" when they get home. 

As has usually been my experience, Microsoft folks are extremely polite and anxious to get problems fixed. I agreed with the gentlemen I spoke with that the shared borders problem is a difficult bug to troubleshoot, simply because it appears at random and cannot be forced to appear reproducibly. He asked me if I'd mind publishing my web site to one of their private servers so that he could look at it in more detail. I told him that I'd be happy to, but asked if he wouldn't prefer that I just zip up my local master copy and mail it to him. He agreed that that would be even better, so that's what I did. The zip file totaled 17 MB, and took quite a while for Outlook to deliver over my poor pathetic little dial-up connection. Not as long as it took to download the 52 MB Office 2000 SR-1 file, though.

Malcolm got his fangs into one of my pipes last night. Barbara found him lying on the couch chewing on the bowl. And it would have to be one of my classic Dunhills. Oh, well. I suppose he saw me holding it in my teeth and figured he should do the same.

The paper reports this morning that a local man, aged 82, was convicted of animal cruelty for drowning five unwanted new-born puppies. I'm not entirely sure how what he did was any different or more cruel than what goes on in thousands of so-called animal shelters every day. Ultimately, the fact is that these puppies were the property of this man, and the government had no business intruding. He had every right to dispose of the animals, and the method he chose was no crueler than the supposedly humane practice of gassing unwanted animals. 

I know. I've been at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter when they gassed a group of dogs, and I listened to those dogs screaming for quite a while before they all died. I don't understand how the people who work there can stand it. I certainly couldn't. And the other animals know what's going on, too. I don't dispute that euthanizing animals is necessary, but I think they should remove them to a remote location first. The other animals know. They could at least spare them that. 

 


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Wednesday, 29 March 2000

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Intel has officially announced the Coppermine-based Celeron/566 ($167) and /600 ($181) processors. In effect, the only difference between these processors and a similarly-clocked Pentium III is that the Celerons run a 66 MHz FSB (versus 100 MHz or 133 MHz for the Pentium IIIs) and that they have half of the Pentium III's 256 KB L2 cache disabled. Also, of course, Intel does not represent the Celerons as being SMP-capable. Whether they really are or not is unclear at this point. The first steppings of the FC-PGA Pentium IIIs were not SMP-capable, so perhaps Intel is using one of those earlier steppings for the new Celerons.

The slower FSB and smaller L2 cache should result in the Celeron averaging perhaps 5% to 10% slower than a Pentium III at the same clock speed for most applications, and perhaps the same amount faster than a Mendocino-based Celeron clock-for-clock. We'll see. I've been so busy that I didn't get around to requesting an engineering sample from Intel, but I should have one on the way in shortly. If you're interested in the details, I see Anand has what appears to be a comprehensive review up, although I haven't had time to read it yet.

With a likely street price of $150 or so, the Celeron/600 provides a lot of bang for the buck, at least until the AMD Spitfire ships April 24th. The Spitfire/550 will cost $79, the Spitfire/600 $99, the Spitfire/650 $140, and the Spitfire/700 $175. Once these Thunderbird-core Athlons arrive, Intel is in for a real battle in Celeron-space. I wouldn't be surprised to see some very early price cuts on the Coppermine Celerons. And what does a $175 Spitfire/700 do to Intel's Pentium III/700?

When, I would like to know, is someone going to get around to releasing a browser that can be configured to ignore such HTML code as the following, found on Tom's Hardware: 

<META NAME="Pragma" CONTENT="no_cache">
<META NAME="Cache-Content" CONTENT="no_cache">
<META HTTP-EQUIV="Pragma" CONTENT="no_cache">
<META HTTP-EQUIV="Cache-Content" CONTENT="no_cache">

or:

<META http-equiv="expires" CONTENT="Tue, 20 Aug 1996 01:00:00 GMT">
<META http-equiv="Pragma" CONTENT="no-cache">

found on the PC Magazine web site? Shouldn't it be up to us, the users, whether or not we want to cache the pages? Those sites might argue that they are updated frequently (although that's not really true of Tom's Hardware), and that they force a page reload to make sure viewers are seeing the most recent version. Bull pucky. They force a reload to force their ads to be reloaded as well, and to artificially increase their page read counts, which they want inflated to impress advertisers.

This forced reload is very inconvenient for many users, and if the designers of IE and other browsers were truly concerned with their users' benefit, they'd already have released browsers that could be configured to ignore no-cache code. After all, it's easy enough to click Refresh if that's what you want to do.

Furthermore, why cannot browser makers allow custom settings on a site-by-site basis? There's no reason we shouldn't be able to create a connectoid for, say, Tom's Hardware, that says something like, "for this site, ignore no-cache code, don't allow any cookies to be written to my hard disk unless they originate from the domain tomshardware.com, don't allow any scripts whatsoever to run." And so on. And, for that matter, when is IE going to to make it simple to turn images on and off on a per-page (or per-site) basis? I use the Toggle Images.exe program found in IE Power Tools, but that's just not good enough. 

I often browse with images turned off, which Microsoft makes it hard enough to do with IE5 in its native state, but I sometimes come upon a page where I want to display all images. What's the matter with putting a button on the toolbar that says "Load all images"? Even Netscape has that, for heaven's sake, and it's years out of date.

I got so disgusted the other day with IE that I went over to see what Opera was up to. They had a new version, 3.62, available. I downloaded it and installed it. Opera keeps track of how many days you use an eval copy, starting at 30. Despite the fact that I'd uninstalled the previous eval, Opera still kept track (which I don't appreciate). I had 25 days left on this one. I used it for a couple of hours. It was as disgusting as Opera always is--slow, very limited features, and very poor rendering. In fact, its rendering is so poor that when I pointed it at BYTE.COM, it put the framework in the right place and all the text out to the far right. Jeez. Even Netscape does better than that.

So it looks like, at one day per version, I'll be able to eval Opera up to about version 27.5. Not that I expect it to get any better. What a pathetic product. If they expect people to pay money for a browser, they'd damned well better be selling a better browser than people can download for free. This ain't it.

 


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Thursday, 30 March 2000

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What's a poor author to do? I worked hard yesterday finishing benchmark testing on the Intel CC820 Cape Cod motherboard. When I finished that, I decided to check a few web sites to relax. The first one I checked was The Register, where I found this article, which begins, "The CC820 (Cape Cod) motherboard has been placed on hold until Intel fixes the memory hub translator (MHT), which has caused performance degradation, The Register has learned."

Oh, well. At least I'll have those benchmark tests for comparison later. Time to start testing the VC820 board with RDRAM. I also have an SE440BX2V (the "V" means it supports 1.6v processors) on the way in. Intel wants the CC820, VC820, and RDRAM back, so I'm going to try to finish testing the VC820 over the weekend.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:farquhar@lcms.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2000 10:46 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Ignoring certain code in browsers

Bob,

I think the Proxomitron proxy server (http://proxomitron.cjb.net) will do what you want. I haven't used it for a while (for ad filtering, I like the Proxomitron-derived AdSubtract, from adsubtract.com, a bit better because it automatically updates its filters) but Proxomitron will accept a user-written filter.

I don't have Proxomitron installed here at work, but I suspect a simple filter like this:

Name = "No-cache killer"
Multi = TRUE
Limit = 256
Match = "<\1 "no_cache" \2>"
Replace = "<\1 "cache" \2>"

Would do the trick. If any of the Daynotes-type sites are using no_cache tags, it'll defeat those too, which is a bad thing, but I suspect most of us are in the habit of hitting CTRL-R in Navigator or F5 in IE if we suspect a page has been updated.

Alternatively, since Daynotes lack most of the things we'd like to block (ads, cookies, blinky Java and Javascript applets) when hitting Daynotes sites you can just bypass Proxomitron by right-clicking its icon in the taskbar, then for sites like Tom's Hardware and ZDNet, turn it back on.

I hope that helps.

Thanks. The problem is, I'm running WinGate, which is also a proxy server. I tried some time ago to install Proxomitron and found that it didn't co-exist with WinGate. I also tried a couple of the proxy-based cookie management utilities and had the same problem.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Kerry M. Liles [mailto:kerryl@allinson-ross.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2000 10:49 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: Defeating Ads etc

A quick note that I am prompted to send after reading today's "rant" (grin) about browsers that do not allow selective - or even global - disabling of controls like no-cache (and other topics):

[1] I defeat the ads by putting entries in my local hosts file that point the offending site to the loopback address; eg:

127.0.0.1 ad.doubleclick.net

It seems a lot of people dont realize that the hosts file information is taken as gospel before DNS searching etc. Perhaps they just cant find the damn file (under Win9x there probably only is the hosts.sam file in the Windows directory; under NT its under

\%windir%\system32\drivers\etc (a pretty obvious place I guess!??)

This technique is very effective not to mention fast...but it does require user participation... ;-)

[2] the no-cache or expiration tricks in the name of money just force browser software to have a horrendous huge checklist of options. As a software developer, I cringe when our systems *have* to have a large list of "do you want this behaviour or this or that or this other thing?"

[3] I too tried Opera (even the new beta 4) and I thought it was slow too - glad to hear it may not be "just me".

[4] By the way, one of the IE power tools is a toolbar icon (that's an executable of some kind if I remember correctly) that toggles display images setting. Not exactly the height of user friendliness, but about as good as it gets from the Farm@Redmond

Regards, enjoying your musings as always.

````

Kerry M. Liles (Mr. for the gender-impaired)
kerryl@allinson-ross.com
Allinson-Ross Corporation

Thanks. With regard to [4], it's not a toolbar icon, unfortunately. It's an executable, named _Toggle images.exe_ that does just what it says. As a side benefit, it also occasionally forces Outlook to do a mail check. Bizarre but true. Also, it doesn't work properly if it's visible on the Links bar. I has to be concealed. Bizarre but true. I do use it, however.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 3:54 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Pipe

>Oh, well. I suppose he saw me holding it in my teeth and figured he should do the same. 

But how (when) will he find out how to stuff it and light it up?

>... "Load all images"? Even Netscape has that, ... 

I am using Netscape 4.x and I haven't seen such a button yet, and I haven't found a corresponding option either. How do you do that?

I use Opera most of the time. It is faster on my box than either IE and NS but I agree that its rendering gets tripped over easily. And it hasn't crashed on my (yet).

-- Svenson.

Mail at work : qjsw@oce.nl, or call : (Oce HQ)-4727 
Mail at home : sjon@svenson.com

Well, Malcolm has also at various times stolen my lighter, my tamper, and my tobacco pouch, so I'm sure he'd figure something out. As far as Netscape, if you have images turned off by default and arrive at a page that you want to view all of the images on, choose View--Show Images. Opera is much slower than IE5 (or IE4, for that matter) on every box I have every run it on, which is quite a few. Anything is faster than Netscape.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 5:31 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: disgust at Opera

Bob,

You are I feel unfairly dismissive of Opera, and the Byte.com page is in fact not a very "easy" layout to render, given all the columns, ads and overs in its complex html. In fairness, it should be noted that the the current beta v4 Opera does render this Byte.com layout pretty much the same as IE5 does. The Opera 3.6x versions were all acknowledged to not handle "layering" and other artsy-trendy new page layout features that IE5 supports.

I stand by my view that Opera was worth the registration cost when I got it, still is, and I will likely upgrade to the final v4. Unlike you, I do not find it slower than IE5 -- which I must use when ActiveX controls and other needless navigational "aids" are forced on me by e.g. Microsoft, and which I use from time to time to verify webpage rendering.

The easy-click features alone, like toggling images or styling, in fact make it faster in practice when browsing a mixed bag of sites. The bookmark hotlist works well, and is maintained as a flat-ascii file so it can be accessed outside the browser. Opera has excellent file transfer functionality, with a window that lets you know exactly what's going on while you continue browsing. The preferences are in my opinion easier to overview than in IE, and on the balance more flexible. OK, I can't VBA-program the GUI, but I don't really miss that... would you?

I know some people now dislike the "old" multiple windows within a window model, but to me this is preferable to the faux-instance model used by IE that just clutters up the taskbar. I can much quicker organize and manage 20 or more Opera windows when e.g. tracking down pages in searches, or doing a wide daynotes read, than I could handle the same number of IE windows. When I want to minimize the browser especially, it's a one-click thing. With IE I have to deal with each window separately (or minimize everything and reopen the app windows I was after).

So I know you are very used to IE, quirks, warts and all, but please don't dismiss Opera on the basis of what sounds like a very cursory and prejudiced trial. Remember too, that cookies can now be managed in Opera with a free add-on utility that's very good.

I don't use the email component, which like in many browsers is sort of rudimentary, but have on occasion used the newsreader. This is basic but usable, fast, and provides a seamless joining of webpage broswing and newsgroup reading. A "serious" usenet reader (there are some few around, lurking in the less trafficked areas) would much prefer Forte, but for casual dips into the flow you don't need more than what Opera offers here.

There is nothing tricky about the Opera eval as far as I know, unlike some other software I've tried. I believe the counter was in opera.ini, which is stored in the system folder. Kill that and see what happens to your eval day count.

The install is otherwise very good and sensibly retains/imports settings, bookmarks and other details from previous versions, even if you choose to install in a separate location (as I did with the beta).

The bottom line is that I feel more comfortable using Opera, than I do using IE with its largely unknown automatic features tied into the OS. At times I find I have to slap down IE automatic dialouts, attempts to upgrade my system, reconfigurations of my settings, and so on -- some of which I would probably not even notice on a 24/7 line, but which make me simply not trust IE on a day-to-day basis.

Oh yeah, Opera Software actually provides support for its registered users, with technicians who know the product and can/do answer intelligently! I also applaud their efforts to make a truly cross-platform product as of v4.

/ Bo

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

Unfairly dismissive? Come now. Surely the primary function of a browser is to render HTML pages. Any browser that cannot do that properly is not worthy of the name. Everything I've seen and everything that people have told me confirms that Opera sucks at rendering pages. Even you admit it. Whether or not the BYTE.com page is "easy" to render or not is immaterial.

The first page I hit with it the other day was BYTE.com, which Opera mangled. The second page I hit was AnandTech, which Opera also mangled. Even Netscape 4, a three-year-old product infamous for its poor rendering, renders both those pages usably. Between them, those pages probably get something like a million reads a day. Any browser that butchers them, as Opera does, cannot be considered a serious contender, at least by me.

One mark of good software, in my opinion, is its behavior when faced with data that it does not fully understand. Good software does it best to make sane decisions, as IE does. Bad software, like Netscape and, to a much greater extent, Opera, just throws up its hands and punishes the user. Not that I'm saying IE is "good software" in any absolute sense. It does things that infuriate me. But I don't think there's much question that it's by far the best browser available, albeit still not good enough.

As far as a cookie add-on, that's all well and good, but there are free add-on cookie managers available for IE and NS as well. The point is that rational cookie handling should be built into the browser. Opera has, as far as I could see, exactly two options: Cookies on and Cookies off. That's primitive, circa IE/NS 3.0. IE zones effectively eliminate cookies as an issue for me.

As far as opera.ini, you are mistaken. I uninstalled Opera, deleted every reference I could find to it on disk and in the registry, and the counter still survived. I even used Find to locate any files with a date/time stamp that corresponded to when I installed Opera. None of that worked. That means that Opera is probably either creating an obscure registry entry outside its own key or writing a small hidden/system file to my hard drive, neither of which I appreciate. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David M. Yerka [mailto:LeshaWorks@iname.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 7:52 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Strange problems

Bob: 

I'm writing in the hope you'll post this email. Perhaps one of your reader can give me an answer. I know you don't have time to consider this (how is the book going today??) judging from your workload and I know your opinion of Windows 9x (I agree but sometimes you go with what the client has); maybe a reader can pick up on this and help me. You may, of course, post my email address.

I've got a strange problem on a Win98SE peer-to-peer network. Some of the machines have developed very slow read times for file transfers across the network. The write times are O.K. Using the System Monitor what I see is that the "bytes written per second" is anywhere from 350K to 900k (on a 10T network) while the "bytes read per second" ranges from 13.5K to 21.5K. It is not wiring or hubs or location these have all been checked swapped or replaced. It appears local to Windows. I saw this once before and the only solution seemed to be a clean reinstall of Windows or a reload of the system's registry if the problem is caught before a reboot. Obviously it is something in the registry--but what? Is there a network read buffer size setting that is getting altered? What triggers it seems to be an attempted read to a system on the network which is either shutdown or "sleeping."

The systems have either 3Com 10/100 netcards or Netgear FA310Tx 10/100 cards. All are Windows 98SE. All are Pentium systems either with Intel P233's or Cyrix 266MII cpu's and 64 or 128K of memory. They are pretty straight forward: software is MSOffice Pro97, Photoshop, IE5 and Outlook Express. All running TCP/IP with 2 machines running Microsoft's IPX/SPX to connect to a print server using only that protocol. The only "exotic" software is MemTurbo on one of the machines which is acting up, the other 2 don't have it installed. The network totals 5 machines and 2 printers on print servers. Its a 10T UTP with 2 hubs interconnected over a 50ft distance (between two floors). One hub supports 3 computers, the other 2 computers and 2 printers. The print servers are 10T, the computers all 10/100T.

With many thanks, David Yerka

As you say, I'm not a Win9X guy, but I'll post this for anyone who might have an idea of how to fix the problem. Since it seems that the problem is local to some clients rather than to the server, my first thought would be to uninstall networking from one of the problem clients. Strip it all the way down, including removing the NIC drivers. Then re-install everything fresh and see what happens. If that fixes things, make a backup copy of the registry. Then put that machine to sleep and try accessing it to see if the problem recurs. If so, restore the good registry and see if that fixes the problem again.

Since it's a peer network, it wasn't clear to me from your message which direction you meant by "read"--from the problem client or to the problem client. If you're talking about the clients sending slowly, my guess would be that perhaps the MTU on that client is set improperly.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: TTG [mailto:ttgnet@operamail.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 8:25 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Ignore HTML Code

Your question:

When, I would like to know, is someone going to get around to releasing a browser that can be configured to ignore such HTML code as the following, found on Tom's Hardware...

is answered on your own site at 

in an email discussion of the Proxomitron

It is a proxy server that is designed to let you filter the HTML content of pages you browse before it gets to your browser. It has the ability to strip out those no-cache META's you object to.

Umm, yes, but what I want is a browser that will do that, not a proxy server.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger G. Smith [mailto:rgsmith@c-gate.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 8:55 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: opera

Re: "In fact, its rendering is so poor that when I pointed it at BYTE.COM, it put the framework in the right place and all the text out to the far right"

Although I'm sure you were referring to the whole site, Daniel's editorial displayed that way in IE when the site went up this Monday. Soon fixed.

Liked some Opera features, soon tired of interface and instability. Won't buy it or wipe my HD just to try it again.

-Roger

No, this was the main page. As soon as I saw how Opera had butchered it, I fired up IE and loaded the page, which rendered fine. Then I ran back to Barbara's system (she also has Netscape installed) and loaded the page in Netscape, which also rendered it fine.

 


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Friday, 31 March 2000

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If you've gotten your hands on one of the new VIA KX133 based Athlon motherboards, be very careful. Apparently, installing the original Windows 95 (retail version) trashes the BIOS so badly that the motherboard must be returned to the manufacturer for repair. EPoX was the first to report this problem, but it is apparently not limited to EPoX motherboards, but may occur on any motherboard using the VIA KX133 chipset.


My contact at Intel tells me that The Register is wrong. The CC820 is not on hold. It was on hold briefly while reports of memory problems were checked, but it is again in full production. Not that anyone should care much. The reports of slow SDRAM performance on the CC820 were, if anything, understated.

I'm benchmarking a VC820 (the RDRAM model) as I write this. The VC820 is fast. It's a very nice motherboard. In fact, its only problem is the hideously high price of RDRAM. If RDRAM sold at the same price as SDRAM, I'd use this board myself without hesitation. But RDRAM sells for five to eight times the price of SDRAM. That's just ridiculous. I have a new-model SE440BX2V on the way in, and it'll be interesting to see how PC100 SDRAM on the 440BX with the Coppermine compares to RDRAM on the VC820. Interesting times.

Incidentally, another interesting aspect of all this benchmarking is that it confirms Microsoft's claim that Windows NT 4 Workstation is faster than Win 9X in 64 MB is undoubtedly true. The difference is not huge, but it does show up across the board with all motherboards I've tried so far and with all processor speeds. NT4 really is faster. I suspect the difference would be more pronounced at 128 MB.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:farquhar@lcms.org]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 10:10 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Ignoring certain code in browsers

I think the newer versions of Proxomitron will coexist with a proxy server. If not, there's always Trevor Marshall's single-disk Linux distribution (from his Byte series) to replace the proxy server. Grab one of those 486s out of your closet, throw a couple of cheap NE2000 cards in it, string your modem off it, load his disk, plug in your ISP info, and run with it.

I ended up setting up Linux to do this manually (twice, once for me and once for a friend) because Marshall's distribution uses a kernel that requires a math coprocessor and all I had available were 486SXs. But I tried Marshall's disk later on an old Pentium and it's really straightforward. Turns what would normally be a weekend project into a really quick project--the big variable is the condition of the machine you intend to use.

Thanks. I may give Proxomitron a try. More likely I'll give Linux a try, thouigh. I have all kinds of old Pentiums sitting around here.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 11:22 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: Pipe

Make sure you have your camera ready when he figures it all out. I try to visualize a BC, sitting on his hindquarters puffing on a pipe.

My main browser is Opera and on my system(s) it is faster than both NS and IE. That of course is not under NT but rather under Win95 or Win98. I don't use chronometer so reality could be different but I don't notice a speed difference between NS and IE (*) and I do notice that Opera is (feels) faster. When I 'surf' files already cached IE speeds up a lot, NS doesn't go any faster.

(*)When pages contain lots of repeating graphics that can be cached IE will probably be faster than NS but I avoid that type of page.

That is only noticeable when I 'surf' locally, on the web my modem is the defining factor and all speed differences are cancelled out (*).

I think stability is more important than speed. NS crashes regularly, simply restarting solves that. (if it restarts too fast it will crash again soon:) ) IE doesn't crash often but when it goes it takes Win95 along. A reboot is called for here. Opera hasn't crashed (yet)

The only thing I see going against Opera is that it has problems rendering some pages. Most of these can be ignored easily. It still is a serious flaw.

All considered IE is (currently) the best if (Win9x) you remember to save all your work before you use it.

I can't comment on Win 9X. I wouldn't use it on a production system on a bet. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:dfarq@swbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 10:27 AM
To: LeshaWorks@iname.com; thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Slow Win9x network performance

Hi David,

I had a similar problem with my Windows 95 box on my home LAN, though it was just my 95 box that had abysmal network performance--my 98 box, my Linux boxes, and my Win2K boxes were fine.

It turned out I had run one of the many MTU-tweaking programs out there, which helped dialup performance (no longer an issue for me since I don't use dialup access anymore) but it sent my LAN performance into the toilet. Running the program again to reset the MTU to the default 1500 cleared it up. Maybe that's your problem too--who knows, some program (or well-meaning user) may have messed around with those settings.

I hope that helps.

Dave Farquhar
www.access2k1.net/users/farquhar

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David M. Yerka [mailto:LeshaWorks@iname.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 2:12 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Follow up

Dear Bob:

Sorry to be unclear. The "problem" system shows this behavior when it is COPYING a file/folder FROM another machine. Also it shows up if another system attempts SEND a folder/file TO the problem machine.

Actually, I have tried removing and reinstalling the NIC drivers. In fact I have actually removed the drivers, removed the card, rebooted the system and removed all networking, rebooted. Then I shutdown again and installed a new "different manufacturer/chip set" network card and allowed Windows 98SE to proceed to prompt me for drivers, etc. and reinstall all networking (reading off the Win98SE CD). The problem is still there. It appears whatever is going on, it is something that once it is set in the Registry is persistant, surviving Network software removal and reinstallation.

Also in both systems acting this way the only MTU value--maxMTU-- that appears in the Registry is associated with Dialup Networking, i.e., 576 the value needed to access the ISP without fragmentation.

Thanks again for the posting. David Yerka

Okay. I still suspect it's a maximum MTU setting somewhere. I've seen that kind of behavior before with Win9X. Windows NT has a lot more sophisticated TCP/IP stack, so one seldom encounters such problems with it. I'll see if I can track down a reference.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David M. Yerka [mailto:LeshaWorks@iname.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 2:38 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Problem solved, I think

Dear Bob,

After the followup email earlier something must have clicked in my brain. I remembered that the program MTUspeed had been used on at least one of the systems by an individual (children will play). Out of curiosity I downloaded a copy and reinstalled it. Checking its settings when it was run it was showing the MTU for dialup to be 576. Well, I changed it to 1500 and rebooted. Problem gone. Removed MTUspeed and went to Network properties=>dialup=>packet size to small and the problem is still gone. MTUspeed showed only one TCP registry key in the Registry which I assume was being used by both dialup and the TCP/IP network. Strange and wonderful the ways of Windows, huh?

Thanks for posting and being a stimulant to the brain.

David Yerka

Ah, well. It appears my last reply was OBE. Perhaps I should glance through all my mail before I start responding to any of it. Glad you got the problem solved.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 2:53 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: disgust at Opera

I still think you're unfairly dismissive. It is not valid to say that IE is "best" just because it renders a particular page when that page is almost certainly only "verified" to work with IE -- i.e. any faults that would crash IE are by definition excluded. I figure I could probably code up an html page that crashes IE but not Opera, if it comes to that. I don't intend to start a browser-bashing debate, but Opera renders perfectly ok -- except in a few very special (usuallyIE- specific) situations. And it is more stable than Netscape.

Anyway, I decided to throw the offending page at the double handful of recent reputable browsers and browser-editors I had on the system. As it happens, this byte.com "contents page" breaks enough elementary (html 1) rules that it actually *crashed* most of them. Interestingly, FrontPage 2000 wouldn't even preview the text at all, and the layout looked offset similar to the Opera 3.6 view.

IE5, Opera 3 and 4, Netscape4 and 1stPage could render readably and remain standing. You *can* in fact read and use the page with Opera v3.62, despite the horisontal offset, while as I noted earlier Opera v4 does give the same rendering as IE5.

It's easy to say that browsers should make "reasonable" assumptions about unknown coding, but what's "reasonable" in one context may not be in another, especially when even the basic tag usage is badly mangled. As it is here. It can be hard to say what's reasonable with for example contradictory and wildly varying width settings or col- span for cells within the same table block (plus tables within tables).

I did an analysis scan with Tidy (WC3 HTML varifier) on the byte.com page: 203 errors/warnings, many serious...

- unbalanced tag pairs - font-tags spanning into or out of other tag pairs, especially links - malformed comments - meta-tags inside styling elements - unknown &-entities, unescaped & characters alone - title in body - multiple body tags in content - content after body

In short, knitted noodles. This is equivalent to having readable text so badly mangled in spelling, grammar and visual styling that most people will be left guessing at the intended meaning.

/ Bo

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

Well, perhaps I am being unfairly dismissive, but I don't think so. There's a big difference between Opera choking on ordinary web pages that happen to have fractured HTML and you "probably" being able intentionally to write an HTML page that chokes IE but not Opera. Empirically, IE seldom chokes on a web page I visit, and I visit a lot of them. In fact, I can't remember if IE has *ever* mangled a web page anything like as bad as what Opera did to those two pages. Netscape chokes often enough to be noticeable, but much less than Opera. And, don't forget, we're talking about 3-year-old versions of IE and Nav rendering these pages properly, whereas the latest release version of Opera doesn't even come close. Also, please note that neither of the pages in question was coded specifically for IE. It's just ordinary, routine bad coding, the kind one is likely to encounter every day.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 5:25 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: disgust at Opera

Bob,

> Empirically, IE seldom chokes on a web page I visit, and I visit a > lot of them. In fact, I can't remember if IE has *ever* mangled a > web page anything like as bad as what Opera did to those two pages.

Clearly YMMV, and I have used Opera for years with few problems, but there are a lot of very varied webpages out there and our experiences obviously differ in this regard. For instance, I had IE5 totally crash on a mangled frame site belonging to a major European airline last year. The page was at least readable albeit just as un- usable in Opera.

But this sort of begs the question, how would you know a page is not rendered correctly in IE compared to the intentions of some webauthor who doesn't use IE? -- Granted a minority. In such cases one would typically just assume the page poorly designed.

Ok, I admit that this discussion easily gets kind of hypothetical given IE's total dominance (so far) as (Windows) browser client, and given the undisputable fact that most pages are designed for and checked using IE for a particular visual impression.

> It's just ordinary, routine bad coding, the kind one is likely to > encounter every day.

Well, I don't know about that, unless you keep going to the same problematic sites on a daily basis <g>. I'm sort of surprised that such a high-profile site as Byte's would have such shoddy code that even FP refuses to show the text.

It's somewhat like publishing a paper magazine that's readable only in flourescent lighting, because nobody thought to check under incandescent lamps and so discover that the ink then has too poor a contrast.

No matter, I bid you good night.

/ Bo

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

Well, I see that the W3C validator validates your index page, but doesn't validate any other page I tried, including my own. Overall, I tried pages from more than 30 sites, and yours was the only one that was fully compliant. Although it's admirable that you take pains to make your page 100% HTML compliant, the fact is that almost no one else bothers to do that. But the point is not how well a browser renders good HTML. The point is how it renders bad HTML, since nearly all real-world sites in fact use bad HTML. IE is definitely the best at rendering real-world HTML in usable form. Netscape is far behind IE, often choking on some trivial error. Opera is far behind Netscape. I know which of those three I'll use, because frankly I don't much care about good HTML. All I want is to see the page rendered reasonably.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:farquhar@lcms.org]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 5:59 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Ignoring certain code in browsers

Let me know if you need help getting IP masquerading going in IPCHAINS (assuming you don't just go with Marshall's distribution which does everything automatically). I wasn't the least bit impressed with the instructions in the various HOWTOs when I was learning how to do it (the book I'm working on will contain instructions on how to do it right, and won't leave steps out!).

Assuming I do it, I'd probably use Marshall's distribution. I have enough old Pentium systems floating around here that it'd make sense to stick a couple old Ethernet cards in one and use it as a dedicated firewall/proxy.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@micron.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2000 9:21 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Wingate & AdBlockers, Caching, etc.

Dear Bob,

This may help the situation: Wingate seems to have its own AdBlocker capability, in their add-on called InterQuick, [here

Regards,

JHR

Thanks. Of course, if I do bring up a Linux firewall/proxy, it wouldn't make sense to buy this. We'll see.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:dfarq@swbell.net]
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 1:35 AM
To: jerryp@jerrypournelle.com
Cc: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: A commercial enterprise that seems to be profiting off Windows' security flaws

Jerry and Bob,

I found something tonight that I really, really wish I hadn't. I was searching for good information on Linux security for the O'Reilly book I'm writing when I found a reference to something called scour.net in a text file that talks about setting up and securing Linux servers.

Now, I don't know if this is as big as the Aureate thing or not. It may be. I'm just not quite sure what to do with it. My first inclination is to post it to my Web site immediately. But probably someone with more than just a single O'Reilly book to his credit ought to look at it before the whistle gets blown. This is, after all, WAY outside of my realm of specialty, and frankly, I find most whistle-blowers annoying.

So, keeping that in mind, here's what I wrote for posting:

A site that needs to be shut down. NOW. Wanna know who's stealing images and MP3s off your hard drive? www.scour.net, that's who. Here's a link that'll give you a smoking gun: . Click "Download with SMA." Those files are stored on someone's Windows SMB shares!

Now... I dig around and I find this link from which you can opt out--scroll down to "Remove my SMB server from Scour." Resist the temptation to click that link--I just opted out by clicking on that link. We'll see if I really opted in. Fortunately, I've got a firewall that tracks this junk in addition to denying. We'll see if I in actuality opted in to something. (You'd better believe my Linux gateway has no logical connection to the rest of my LAN now! No, world, you can't have my Leonard Cohen MP3s!)

I found an accusation (find it by clicking the link, then search for scour.net with your browser's search function) that scour.net may not be exclusively an opt-in type site. They may go looking for you.

This has to be the most pathetic excuse for a commercial enterprise that I've seen yet. We're gonna go find every open Port 137, 138 and 139, hunt down their MP3s and their dirty pictures, then link to them, and profit from using their bandwidth.

-30-

Do you two share my opinion that this could be a major, major problem? Remember, any college student who plugs a Windows box into a LAN and turns on file sharing is wide open to this--and many people set up passwordless accounts. It's legal for me to encode my CD collection, but if I inadvertently share it with the world because these bozos found my unsecured PC, am I liable? Tough question.

Now, even if scour.net isn't hunting people down, they're encouraging people to open their computers up to the world and advertise that fact, which is very, very bad.

Care to comment?

Thanks.

Dave Farquhar
www.access2k1.net/users/farquhar

Well, if what you suspect is true, these folks are breaking the law big time and I don't suppose it'll be long before they end up busted.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 3:36 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: opera

>>Whether or not the BYTE.com page is "easy" to render or not is immaterial.

I am not sure why Opera (3.6) mangles the byte.com page but I do notice there are errors and inaccuracies in the HTML ex twice </head>, using a table with different numbers of columns on different lines (without using the colspan attribute), defining a table with a fixed width and filling it with fixed-width columns for a total that is less than the table, etc. Other browser may be used to sloppy code (they are probably written in sloppy code themselves) Opera however is known to be rather strict about the rules.

AnandTech did render correctly. He does have a table of 100% and a table cell of 1001 fixed width in it ( ps mixing relative and absolute sizes is bound to produce layout surprises.) NS and MS both take the 100% correctly but ignore put the 1001 fixed width column. I don't think a good browser should ignore perfectly legal and correct HTML information.

Some tags are (constantly) misinterpreted. This could be a case of following the original definition while everybody follows another definition (often, but not always caused by the embrace-and-enhance philosophy preached by NS and MS )

As you say, whether or not a page is "easy" to render or not is immaterial. And I agree that Opera should display them better. But some sites make things problematic.

I was bitten by the install counter as well. On the one hand an counter that can be easily reset defeats the purpose entirely. On the other hand uninstalling and re-installing should do the trick. That uninstalling leaves something on my disk, something that is not shared with any other application at that (otherwise it could be a cautionous uninstall) is totally unacceptable.

-- 
Svenson.

Mail at work : qjsw@oce.nl, or call : (Oce HQ)-4727 
Mail at home : sjon@svenson.com

Right, but again the point is that a browser is not supposed to be an HTML validator. It's supposed to render HTML into readable pages. Netscape, for example, often chokes on something as trivial as a forgotten end tag. IE just ignores the missing tag and does the best it can, which is usually pretty good. Your and Bo Leuf's viewpoint seems to be that one can't blame a browser for not rendering poor HTML well. I disagree. My point is that IE and, to a less extent, Netscape render improperly coded HTML pages reasonably, whereas Opera does not. Given that there are millions of improperly-coded HTML pages on the web, including my own, it's a Good Thing that IE renders them well. It's a Bad Thing that Opera does not. After all, what all of us are using a browser for is to view pages, not to see how well (or how poorly) a given webmaster can code HTML.

 


wpoison

 

 

 

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Saturday, 1 April 2000

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Barbara left at 0630 this morning for two days in Charlotte, where flyball teams from all over the state are gathering. She said she could take Malcolm along (the motel accepts pets) but he'd have to stay in his crate the whole time. So I ended up with all three dogs for the weekend. 

Actually, Malcolm will probably be spending most of his time crated anyway. I simply can't watch him every minute and that's what it takes to keep him from getting into things. Malcolm is exactly the kind of Border Collie pup that ends up in rescue because the owners simply can't handle it. He probably would have been a better working dog than a pet, but one never knows that until it's too late. Besides, Duncan was demonic at that age, too, and he's settled down and become a good pet. Border Collies are not for the timid, though.

One disturbing thing about Malcolm is that he's very territorial. He growls at us if we attempt to take a treat away from him, and he growled at Barbara the other day when she tried to shift him from her normal position on the sofa. That's simply unacceptable. We'll let Duncan and Malcolm decide between them who's top dog, but we sure won't let a 6-month-old pup challenge us.

Yesterday, he growled at me, so I growled back and started to grab him to toss him in his crate. He ran away from me and ended up between Barbara's Ottoman and the sofa. I reached in to grab his collar and he bit my hand. Well, not bit, really, but he showed his fangs, snapped at me, and closed them on my hand. At that point, I thrashed him with a rolled up newspaper for quite some time, shouting the whole time, until he was thoroughly cowed. One thing I will not put up with is a dog that thinks it can use its teeth on me.

Maybe it's just me, but I am disturbed by the reports on various web sites that explain how to convert a $30 Promise Ultra/66 IDE controller into a $100 Promise FastTrak/66 IDE RAID controller. All you need do is solder one resistor onto the board and steal some easily-downloadable software from Promise. Tom Pabst apparently condones such theft, saying in part: 

"I'd also like to point out that I don't appreciate the high price of the FastTrak66 if you should be honest enough to buy it as such. Promise cannot possibly tell me that the $50-$80 price difference to the technically identical Ultra66 can be justified by high development costs for the RAID-software."

Well, Tom, if you don't like the price, don't use the product. No matter how easy the conversion, paying for an Ultra/66 and converting it to a FastTrak/66 by downloading software licensed only for use on the FastTrak/66 is theft, pure and simple. And, yes, it is quite possible that the difference in price is justified by the software development costs. The FastTrak/66 is likely a relatively low-volume product, and Promise is entitled to charge whatever they think the market will bear to recoup their development costs and make a profit.

I was quite surprised that someone as respected as Dr. Pabst would advocate, or at least condone, such actions. I doubt that he would advocate stealing a copy of Windows 98 or Photoshop, which is at least as easy to do. And yet he apparently sees nothing wrong with stealing software from Promise. I will email him and ask him to reconsider his position.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 11:37 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: disgust at Opera

Robert Bruce Thompson, on 31 Mar 00, at 7:52, you wrote:

> Well, I see that the W3C validator validates your index page

And weekly page too, as I just checked. Interesting, since I've in fact not taken any special "pains" to do so apart from my general principles and a tolerably compliant editor.

> doesn't validate any other page I tried, including my own.

I would expect as much since you use FrontPage, but these MS/FP- induced "errors" are at least not of the critical crashable nature of the byte.com page.

> But the point is not how well a browser > renders good HTML. The point is how it renders bad HTML

I don't argue with that, only with your ranking Opera as junk. But you know that by now, this must be taking time you don't really have, so I'll leave the subject.

Take care.

/ Bo

--

"Bo Leuf"

<bo@leuf.com>

Leuf fc3 Consultancy http://www.leuf.com/

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard F. Booth [mailto:richard.booth@umist.ac.uk]
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 2:42 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Browser `wars'

Let me start this comment by saying that I haven't tried Opera, and that I agree that IE5 is comfortably the best browser I have used. Since I choose to use Linux as my day-to-day operating system, I get by with Netscape. It's adequate, and like many people I have high hopes for Mozilla. On the other hand, if IE was released for Linux (unlikely), in particular Linux on the PowerPC (very unlikely!), I'd switch over to it now.

All the same, I think you _aren't_ being entirely fair to the other browsers. The fact is that, since IE now dominates the browser usage numbers, virtually everyone checks their pages in IE. Thus, you aren't going to see sites that don't work right; they get fixed before you get there.

Most people, one hopes, will check with Navigator. This is surely obligatory for anyone trying to make a living out of the web; there's still a lot of use using it.

And that's where most people will stop. As you rightly point out, few hand-coders bother to write `correct' HTML, and most authoring tools don't even pretend to try. In my opinion, this is a Bad Thing, because it makes competing with a dominant browser much harder. Given that people write mangled code and stop `un-mangling' it as soon as it'll pass muster in IE and (maybe) Navigator, is it any surprise that Opera doesn't always achieve what the designers intended? After all, there can be more than one sensible thing to do with broken code.

Of course, this doesn't alter the fact that, right now, IE is going to do the best job of rendering pages as they were intended; and you, reasonably enough, say that you don't care about bad HTML. You should, though, since you were `disgusted the other day with IE'.

IE won't get better unless it has real competition; and it'll be much harder to get that competition unless people write clean HTML. It's not as though it's difficult ...

Regardless of the quality of your HTML, I hope you keep producing the quality content.

- Rick
--
richard.booth@umist.ac.uk
http://www.ma.umist.ac.uk/rb/

Well, actually I suspect that few people check how their pages render in any browser other than by viewing those pages in the normal course of work. Those who do check formally probably do so in IE and Netscape. I keep a copy of Netscape around for just that purpose, although I seldom check anything because my new pages are usually just cut and paste from existing pages. And when I said I was disgusted with IE, I was referring to functions and features rather than rendering.

If there's any unfairness here, it's not on my part. Complying with existing standards, whether de jure or de facto, is part of the job of any software. Complaining that Microsoft's dominance makes things unfair for other software vendors is neither here nor there. It's simply a fact, and those other vendors had better see to it that their products comply if they want them to be used. If we were talking about a competing word processor, everyone would acknowledge that that product had better be able to open and save documents in Word format. If it can't, one can complain all day about how unfair it is that Microsoft Word format is dominant, but that isn't going to help the competing vendor sell any more copies or indeed make that product any more usable. Facts are.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Werth [mailto:twerth@kcnet.com]
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 8:10 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: KVM Switches

Bob,

I've read that a KVM switch is not a good place to cut corners on. What kind of KVM switch do you use/recommend? Thanks

Good question. I probably shouldn't admit this, but the only KVM boxes I use are cheap little Taiwanese manufactured manual switches. They're good enough for what I use them for, which is sharing old 15" monitors among servers and other subsidiary boxes. Pournelle tells me that these manual boxes sometimes damage monitors, but if that happens it's no great loss. If I needed a good KVM, I think I'd buy a Belkin, but I have no real basis for saying that. Perhaps other readers can recommend something to you.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David M. Yerka [mailto:LeshaWorks@iname.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 01, 2000 8:04 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: firewalls & proxy

Dear Bob,

"Assuming I do it, I'd probably use Marshall's distribution. I have enough old Pentium systems floating around here that it'd make sense to stick a couple old Ethernet cards in one and use it as a dedicated firewall/proxy."

You might get a kick out of this. As part of a project for a client I was testing out proxy servers on older PC's. I managed to get one for dialup running on an old 100mhz 486 (Intel) system with 16 megs of memory and a 250 meg. hard disk. Dialing into my ISP at either 46K or 48K (I'm lucky as I'm 3 miles away from their shop and Bell Atlantic had upgraded the telephone wire a couple of years ago) It would support 3 Pentium systems with no apparent falloff compared to linking dialup from one of the machines directly.

I used Win98lite to stuff the smallest possible Windows footprint onto the hard drive (actually I built an image on a large drive and copied it over. Then installed the client's copy of Wingate and a copy of BlackIce. With a 10T netcard to link to the network. The drive totaled out just a tad over 100meg. without swap file or Wingate's cache. With a 50meg. swap file and Wingate's cache at 50meg. there was still around 40meg. free on the hard disk.

Thankfully, the client believed me when I pointed out that cheap is not the way to go. So we compromised and I got him to buy a Netwinder proxy system. You know: "What, are you nuts! Planning for the future with defunct, obsolete equipment! And you want ME to support it, AARG!"

But, as an exercise I did learn a few things, so the computer sits motballed in my workshop and when Bell Atlantic finally brings up DSL in my area or MediaOne/RoadRunner/AT&T decides that all the nice new fiber they just hung this winter might be good for offering cable modem service rather than selling it as for "local/long distance digital telephone service" I'm gonna pull it out and hook it up and see--just for kicks!

David Yerka 
"The amazing think is not how well it dances; but that it can dance at all"

Yes, if I do end up bringing up a dedicated Linux firewall/proxy/router I'd do so with a re-built older box. Old doesn't necessarily mean unreliable. With a good cleaning out and check over, one of the vintage 1986 Pentium systems around here should be more than good enough as a dedicated firewall/proxy/router. I'll probably just keep using WinGate for the time being though. There'll be time enough for the Linux box when BellSouth and/or Time-Warner get around to delivering fast access in our neighborhood.

 


wpoison

 

 

 

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Sunday, 2 April 2000

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I just noticed that my clock was off by an hour. When I walked out of the den, it was 0845. When I sat down in my office, it was 0945. Come to think of it, Barbara did mention something about Daylight Saving Time before she left, so I guess that's what happened. I'm glad my computers keep track of this stuff, because I sure don't. I've tried to convince Barbara to convert to UCT here, but she prefers ET. Speaking of changing clocks, I see over on Tom Syroid's page that Saskatchewan takes a rational approach to timekeeping, apparently based on advice from cows.

As I sit here trying to write this, I have two dogs literally underneath my chair. Duncan is on one side, and Malcolm on the other. They are tussling, kind of. Actually, the full-blown tussles that they used to engage in are a thing of the past. Malcolm still wants to tussle, but Duncan isn't having any, probably because he thinks Malcolm is now too old to play with that way. So when Malcolm tries to get something started, Duncan shows his fangs and isn't kidding. So here I sit, with my chair bouncing around and snarling sounds coming from beneath it. And someone just chomped me in the ankle. I'll assume that was an accident. It better have been.

I'd better go get the laundry done. Barbara is due back this evening, and then takes off Wednesday for a week in Washington, DC. Oh, joy.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Thomas [mailto:thomaspj@home.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 01, 2000 11:45 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Fireplug

Robert

With your recent interest in small firewall systems for sharing network connections, try taking a look [here].

It's a single floppy based pre-configured Linux system (optionally, installable on a hard disk) that supports your choice of dial-on-demand, cable or ADSL access. This is right now being done by the supplier as a demo of their "ThinLinux" project [here]

Thanks. That looks like another good option.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@micron.net]
Sent: Saturday, April 01, 2000 11:50 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Alpha Male Asserts His Prerogatives

Dear Bob,

I am delighted to hear that the Alpha Male of the Thompson Pack has asserted himself. I think all members of the pack will be a bit more content with their lot now that this has been established. Frankly, I was getting a bit annoyed by Malcolm's behavior, even a continent away and with not a nickel in it. Hard on you, though. Malcolm really is a cute pup.

And, too, I personally view dog-human relationships as quite similar to liege-lord relationships, in that both parties have firm and binding-unto-death responsibilities to the other. Nor was it ever forgotten by either who was lord, and who was liege. They are not the same thing, nor ever will be. Both relationships were survival mechanisms in a tough world.

Congratulations - I hope the sailing will be a bit smoother henceforth.

Regards,

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

Oh, it's not a question of me finally asserting myself. It's a question of asserting myself multiple times per day, every day, from the time the pup came to live with us until he's fully grown. This was just the latest in a continuing series. Border Collies are smart, assertive, and dominant. They take over the house if you let them. They tell you when it's time to have dinner, when it's time to go to bed, and when it's time to wake up. Someone who doesn't pay close attention can easily find that his life has been planned and regimented by his dog.

They also do their best to train their owners. For example, Barbara trained Duncan to bring the tennis ball to her and place it on the Ottoman so that she could easily retrieve it and throw it for him. He did that for a while, and then gradually started tossing it on the Ottoman instead of placing it there gently. In what was almost certainly  not a coincidence, he gradually started tossing it a little to one side, so that it would roll off onto the floor, which was where he thought he should be putting it in the first place. Before long, he'd retrained Barbara to pick it up off the floor rather than expecting him to put it on the Ottoman.

BCs are used to acting independently, and do everything they can to preserve that autonomy. People who haven't been around BCs don't believe just how autonomous they are. A properly trained BC can, for example, without human intervention take a herd of a couple hundred sheep out to graze in the morning and then bring them back in the evening, having first counted them to make sure they're all there. I am not making this up. I honestly believe that if they had the requisite vocal hardware they'd be able to speak fluent English. And if they had opposable thumbs, we'd all be in trouble.

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-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Walder [mailto:bob@bobwalder.com]
Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2000 6:18 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Malcolm

Bob,

Don't let the little bugger get the better of you. I guess you have had it before, but all male dogs will go through a phase of trying to be leader of the pack, the extent to which they push the claim is down to the breed. I used to have a Rottweiller and that was just a constant battle from 8 months to 24 months old - but once I got the better of him for good he was a wonderful pet. I must admit, it was the last thing I expected from a breed as placid as the lab, but I did get it from Benson as well. Only on two or three occasions did he try to bare his teeth and snap, but I still made sure I got the better of him. The rolled up newspaper and shouting trick is spot on (I used a slipper).

Regards,

Bob

Yes, I actually feel kind of sorry for Malcolm. Border Collies are dogdom's natural generals, and here he is a buck private in a household with three humans and two senior BCs. It's just so unfair. I've had BCs for more than 40 years now, and watched them dominate all other dogs they come into contact with, including large alpha male Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Alsatians, Airedales, and so on. I don't think other dogs recognize a BC as a dog. I think they recognize them as the wolves that they really are.

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-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Walder [mailto:bob@bobwalder.com]
Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2000 11:02 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Malcolm

I guess Malcolm is likely to find other ways to make his presence felt then.... ;o)

The struggle between Benson and the BC bitch next door has been interesting. He got into a fight with the dog (Spot) early on, but was always reluctant to scrap with the bitch (Sally). She got nastier and nastier until she drew blood and then he started retaliating - now she will not come anywhere near him (though she still tries to see him off if he walks by). It is really funny watching Benson, who is normally pretty placid, turn and run towards her baring his teeth. She yelps, turns tail and runs like hell! Always best to just let them get on with it and sort out the pecking order amongst themselves I always think.

I'm surprised Benson stands up to them. Tell him to be careful, though. They're crafty. They're liable to send anonymous email to the authorities reporting that his rabies inoculation is out of date or something. After all, on the Internet no one knows you're a dog.

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-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Walder [mailto:bob@bobwalder.com]
Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2000 11:31 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Malcolm

Benson is a strange one - being a Lab he will never start a fight and usually appears a bit of a wuss. However, once he is attacked I have never seen him run, and he will happily take on dogs bigger than himself. Funnily enough, I have never seen him beaten yet either! He always goes for the scruff of the neck and then keeps hold until the other dog gives in. Sally, on the other hand, goes for the hamstring -a sure sign of a REAL killer!

Benson sounds like a typical Lab to me, laid-back but courageous. In all the years I've been around BCs, I've never seen one involved in a real fight, except with another BC. Threat displays, sure. But when things get serious, they always just go into their famous crouch and give the other dog their steely-eyed stare. The other dog invariably decides that discretion is the better part of valor and leaves. I'm surprised that your neighbor BCs actually got into it with Benson. That's not typical of a BC.

On the other hand, we used to live next door to something I'd never heard of before and will probably never hear of again. Two vicious Golden Retrievers. I mean those things might as well have been trained attack dogs. If I got near the hurricane fence on our side, they'd lunge at it, snarling ferociously, and fang the fence. There were teeth marks in the metal.


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