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Daynotes Journal

Week of 29 May 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:17

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


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IF YOU SEND MAIL to thompson@ttgnet.com or webmaster@ttgnet.com, I may publish it, including your email address. If you do not want your message published; or do not want your email address published; or want your email address published but in disguised form (e.g. thompson at ttgnet dot com); or want a different email address published than what appears in your "From:" field; or want your message published anonymously, send your message to anonymous@ttgnet.com and note whatever special handling you want at the top of the message. I don't publish many completely anonymous messages, but I do my best to honor requests to remove or conceal senders' email addresses. Note that if I reply to one of your messages, my message will be From: thompson@ttgnet.com, so if you reply to one of my replies and want any special handling, make sure to change the To: field to anonymous@ttgnet.com before you send your reply.

I try to respect confidences, but I sometimes get more than 100 email messages a day, not counting mailing list traffic and spam. Things are always very hectic around here, and stuff happens. Using anonymous@ttgnet.com helps me keep things sorted out. Using it is not a 100% guarantee that I won't mishandle your message, but it is about 99.999% certain, because messages sent to that account are sorted into a special Outlook mail folder.

If mail you send to one of my ttgnet.com addresses bounces, you can resend it to ttgnet@triad.rr.com. That's my alternate main mail address, and I check it frequently. I try to answer mail as soon as possible, but it's gotten to the point where I simply don't have time to reply to all of it. So if you send me mail and get a short reply or no reply at all, I apologize. I'm working as hard as I can.


Monday, 29 May 2000

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Memorial Day here in the U.S., the day set aside to remember those who sacrificed to keep us free.

I'm going to take part of the day off, although I do want to get some work done on incorporating tech review comments into the draft manuscript of PC Hardware in a Nutshell. I got through chapters 1 and 2 yesterday, and hope to complete chapters 3 through 5 today.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Sunday, May 28, 2000 9:52 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Win2k woes

Isn't it amazing how something can appear so different to two different users? Adaptec EasyCD works just fine with my ancient Adaptec 1505 scsi adapter and Mitsumi CD writer. Despite copious quantities of advice from all and sundry, I never got any version of Linux to see that adapter until RedHat 6.1!

I also agree that if it ain't broke, why fix it? OTH I think you also experiment with things from curiosity just to see how they function. That's how I discovered that Win2k was a close to perfect fit between my hardware, my software and me. The only fly in the ointment for me has been the Matrox G400, but I'm happy enough with the Millenium II and the server box doesn't need a fantastic video card.

You are correct that driver support for Win2k is lousy. It wasn't all that crash hot for NT, either. But as the Linux advocates are quick to point out when that criticism is levelled at Linux, that's not the fault of the OS; the hardware manufacturers are to blame. I don't know whether it's true or not, but MS were rumoured to have written quite a few NT drivers for HP hardware when HP were reluctant to do so. Why hardware manufacturers are so loath to embrace NT/Win2k is beyond me. Do you have any theories?

Perhaps the fact that your CD burner is SCSI is the reason. All of my SCSI burners are on production boxes, upon which I haven't installed W2K. Those systems with CD burners that I have installed W2K on all use one or another ATAPI burner. I don't think fault is at issue. I don't really care whether it's the fault of the OS or the hardware manufacturers. The only thing I care about is whether or not the OS is usable. If it doesn't have drivers for mainstream hardware like the Matrox Millennium G400, it isn't usable no matter whose fault that is. As far as the reasons for the pathetic driver support in W2K, I could speculate, but perhaps I'd better not do so.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David M. Yerka [mailto:LeshaWorks@iname.com]
Sent: Sunday, May 28, 2000 11:43 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Ghost & backups

Dear Bob:

Thought you might be interested in how I've been using Ghost for backup purposes.

As part of my consulting I deal with Dentist offices. The usual office setup is a peer-to-peer network of 1 "Data server", 3 Workstations, 2(HP) lasers networked with print server appliances and a color inkjet (practice management software does schedules in color).

When installing a workstation or when software updates are installed I use Ghost to create a compressed image of the hard drive onto a parallel port hard drive, later I burn this image along with Ghost and an automated install batch onto a bootable CD. Recovering from a hard drive crash is a 1 hour task and one even possible for office staff if the hard drive isn't physically dead.

For the "server", the drill is basically the same, except once a month a Ghosted image to CD is always done with a separate image of the office data to a second CD. I would prefer every two weeks but office constrains usually effect this. Thankfully, installed software limited (only software REALLY NEEDED installed) the disk image (minus data files) fits on one CD. Again restores are automated.

All CD's are tested & duplicated. One copy is held offsite while the other goes in a onsite firesafe, available but reasonably protected. Also a rotating tape backup schedule is implemented. The "data server" is backed up every evening and then again first thing in the morning before starting the day. The evening backup goes offsite, the morning backup goes to the office firesafe. A new evening tape is inserted, a lunchtime backup is done onto it of the morning's work, which is then overwritten after work with the full day's data. Offsite tape backups accumulate then are recycled the next week.

This all may sound paranoid (it is) but due to problems: First, insurance companies want electronic claim filing which the office is responsible for tracking not the insurance company. If a claim isn't "received" within 30-60 days the insurance company won't pay and simply say "you sent it? It isn't OUR job to track it." Second, guess what happens if you end up double billing a patient or they get a letter saying "Oops! We lost your information. When were you in last? What did we bill you last for?"

What I've found most interesting about the Image restore process is that because we use plain vanilla computers restoring the image to a different computer works about 90% of the time. As long as you've got a Win98SE CD and drivers for sound, video, network card and printer Windows 98 happily will kill the old stuff and install the new drivers. I couldn't believe this the first time I tested this but seeing is believing. Of course, all the old junk still is kicking around in the Registry and the computer is not as efficient as it could be but if need it means the office can be up and running within an hour or two (Fingles 4th rule: Crashes never happen after close or during slow periods).

While it sounds complex it really isn't. Because all workstations are the same only one image is needed, a 30 minute job. Also it can be done during office hours because only 1 workstation is tied up. The server can be done at the end of the workday about a 1 hour job. Why not mirror the "data" server? Because virtually all the problems we have seen are software generated from the practice management software and its updates (a whole topic in itself!) and those problems would be mirrored also. In 3 years I've only seen one hard drive physically die. Also, because the practice management software used cannot must have a full version of the program (configured as a client) on each workstation service packs are applied to all workstations rather that only the server. Why Win98? Because it's "Good Enough." Little demands are made on it and we've rarely had O.S. crashes.

I must also agree with the gentleman who commented that it's cheaper for a client to buy pre-built rather than for him to assemble a custom made system. I cringe to admit it, but 2 years ago at a client's request we started testing eMachine systems as workstations--they worked and I've expanded their use. Over the last two years, of 20 systems, not one has died. The first few had Trigen hard drives but all the rest have Seagate drives. Integrated ATI Rage 128 video and integrated Crystal sound. CD OK, but who cares as it's never used. The worst problem is a low powered power supply, but nothing extra is getting stuffed into it. Memory is probably generic but it hasn't failed and I always use Crucial to increase it to 64meg. We use 3Com network equipment. Purchase separately quality 17" monitors because computers can come and go but monitors are forever. I guess the bottom line is they have been working and where else can you get a Celeron 500 system for $399. They are throw-aways--after 2 years my clients have them totally written off and for another $399 can get twice the speed. We started with AMD 333's and are now at Celeron 500's. Of course, the data server is a different story: I generally use Dell because I've had excellent service from them and great tech support. Bottom line is the eMachines are more than "Good Enough" for my clients (at least so far) and they can buy two workstations for what they would pay me in labor cost alone to build one workstation. They get to put their money into overall support where they see the most value.

Personally, I agree with you and would always build my own system but then I don't have to pay for my time (or should I say I see the cost of my time returning better value to me). And on that note let me say I impatiently await your hardware book. I see it as being a necessary part of my reference library.

David Yerka

P.S. Gosh, I ramble on. Feel free to slice and dice this missive if you want to publish it.

That's an interesting application of Ghost. I suspect that Drive Image could be used in the same manner. As far as mirroring, I'm surprised you haven't installed a Promise FastTrak IDE RAID adapter and a second hard disk on the server. Hard disks do die sometimes, and that would prevent a hard disk crash from bringing down the entire office.

As far as building versus buying, we all may be talking at cross-purposes here. If I were recommending to a small business client what to do about PCs, I'd always recommend they buy Dell systems. For that matter, if I were recommending to a friend who just wanted a PC to get work done, I'd recommend a Dell. In both situations, the advantages of rolling your own are outweighed by the advantages of buying a pre-built system. But for people who take an interest in the personal PC hardware, it's definitely worth building their own, as you say. And, for that matter, for larger companies who have full-time PC technicians, it may well be worth building their own. Not just because you get better systems at a lower price, but because you can control what goes into them. As a network manager, I want absolute control of what hardware the clients use. I've had too many experiences with pre-built boxes causing problems. For example, years ago I ordered a bunch of Gateway PCs to install on an existing network. Of the 60 or so computers that showed up, all came with the same network adapter, but about half came with a Rev B version and the other half with a Rev C version. There was no discernable difference between the two versions, either externally on a label or when running the provided diagnostics. The Rev B version worked fine. The Rev C version almost worked, and that "almost" cost us probably a man-month of effort, quite a bit of out-of-pocket expense, and a lot of very upset users and managers before we resolved it.

 


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Tuesday, 30 May 2000

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I'm working hard on incorporating tech review comments into the manuscript for PC Hardware in a Nutshell. I did chapters 1 and 2 on Sunday and chapters 3 and 4 yesterday. I'd hoped to get all the way through chapter 5, but at 5:00 p.m. I'd only finished chapter 4 and was too tired to continue last night. Barbara will be doing a final sanity-check read-through before we send the (presumably final) chapters back to O'Reilly. After that, it'll be merely a matter of dealing with minor nits turned up by the copy editors.

Barbara is trying to design a logo for her research business. She was using Publisher, which didn't seem to have the horsepower to do the job. I installed Photodraw for her, and she's made some progress, but I'm not happy with the results. Both of us are graphically-challenged, so I really can't be much help to her. If you know anything about graphics and logos and have a moment, please stop by her page. I'm sure she'd appreciate advice.

Bo Leuf has an excellent rant about frames up on his site. He explains in detail what's wrong with them and why no webmaster with any sense uses them. I must admit that, although I intensely dislike frames, I've never thought through exactly why I dislike them so much. Bo does an excellent job of explaining what's wrong with them, and I agree with what he's said. Only one site I visit regularly uses frames, and I continue to visit that site because the content makes it worth suffering through the frames. Otherwise, when I encounter a framed site, I usually avoid it in future. 

One thing Bo didn't mention, though, when he talks about framed sites always displaying the home URL regardless of which page you're viewing, and the accordant difficulty in bookmarking individual pages within that site. When I need to bookmark a page on a framed site, I've usually been successful by opening that page in a new window rather than simply clicking the link. Doing the latter results in the main URL for the site being displayed on the browser's URL line and stored in the bookmark. Doing the former displays and stores the actual underlying URL for the page. Usually.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Monday, May 29, 2000 4:29 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Win2k woes

In Line:

> I don't really care whether it's the fault of the OS or the hardware manufacturers. The only thing I care about is whether or not the OS is usable.

Amen to that. Getting religious over computers bewilders me. 90% of what I use my computers for utilises MS Word, Outlook, Excel, Internet Explorer, CorelDRAW!, PhotoPaint, Claris FileMaker Pro and Adobe Pagemaker.

The other 10% is for personal development to expand my services to clients. A part of that is learning Linux and could include BeOS soon. Mostly it's Back Office Small Business Server; a mixed blessing, but it works. I have yet to find a cogent reason for moving away from NT.

> If it doesn't have drivers for mainstream hardware like the Matrox Millennium G400, it isn't usable no matter whose fault that is.

Inclined to blame myself for choosing hardware that isn't on the HCL. I should have known better! The new machines are the first I have bought that are so close to the cutting edge; I usually stay a generation behind.

> As far as the reasons for the pathetic driver support in W2K, I could speculate, but perhaps I'd better not do so. 

Mysterious. You make it sound like there's a conspiracy, or something :-) When NT was still a babe, back in 96/97, I could put it down to low demand...

Jonathan Sturm

PS I developed a theory about how my dog knows whether my son is on the bus or not. I figured that it might be the gear change as the bus slows down for the drop-off. I was wrong! He barks well before that. Since the bus is labouring up a grade for some distance before that, it can't be an anticipatory slowing down by the driver either. Another mystery :-)

I agree about the religious issue. I use NT4 because it happens to be the best thing available for the things I need to do. I use Word, FrontPage, and so on for the same reason. If something better comes along, I'll use it. But nothing better has come along, and that emphatically includes Windows 2000.

As far as the dog, I think you're missing the simple explanation. Border Collies can tell time by looking at a clock, digital or analog. Barbara or I goes down to get my mother ready for bed at the same time each evening. Duncan always tells us when it's time to do that if he thinks we're leaving it too late. At about the time when we should be heading downstairs to take care of my mother, we often notice Duncan periodically walking over to the VCR and looking at it. I told Barbara that he was looking at the digital clock on the VCR to see whether it was time to do mom. She told me I was being ridiculous, and that he must be judging by the sun or something. Okay, so why when we change back and forth from Daylight Saving Time does Duncan still come get us to go downstairs at the correct time, as indicated by the clock on the VCR?  

Border Collies also remember where they put things. So my guess is that your dog remembers that he put your son on the bus in the morning, and watches the clock to figure out when it's time for him to be getting home.

 


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Wednesday, 31 May 2000

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I finished the first tech review pass on chapters 5 and 6 yesterday. No matter how hard I work, I can't seem to get through more than two chapters a day. The main reason is that I encounter things that need to be tracked down, tested, or otherwise disposed of before I can declare the chapter finished. 

Here are the kinds of things that come up in tech review. I had a table listing the Zip Drive and some of its competition. One of the lines in the table was "Bootable?". I had the Zip Drive marked No. The tech reviewer commented "Some zips are indeed bootable. Depends on BIOS support." Well, that struck a chord, so I went off and searched the Internet. I found a bunch of press releases circa 1996 from AMI and other BIOS makers announcing "Zip Drives to be bootable with next BIOS version" and so on. What I didn't find was any press releases (or indeed any other information) saying "Zip Drives now bootable." I checked several of my machines, all of which are recent, to see if there was a "Boot from Zip Drive" option in CMOS Setup. None had that option. So I sent the following query to the reviewer:

I don't know of any system that supports booting directly from a ZIP drive, but perhaps you know something I don't. Have you actually seen one? I know that BIOS manufacturers back in about 1996 made a big deal about the fact that forthcoming versions of their BIOSs would permit booting directly from a ZIP drive, but as far as I know they never implemented that idea. I can't find anything on the Iomega site about booting from a Zip drive, Mueller's 10th edition says you can't do it, and none of the machines around here that I've looked at have an option to set the ZIP drive as the boot device.

But if you've actually seen a system boot from a Zip drive, I'd appreciate you letting me know so that I can do some further research.

To which he responded that he wasn't actually booting from his Zip Drive but would be happy to check it for me, although he was out of town and wouldn't be able to get to the machine with his Zip Drive on it for a couple of days. So I made a couple of other queries and got similar answers, something like, "I think it might be possible, but I've never actually seen a system boot from a Zip Drive." Figuring that Jerry Pournelle does a lot of work with Zip Drives and would know if anyone did, I sent the following:

I'm working on tech review for PC Nutshell, and I'd written that Zip drives are not bootable, which I still believe is the case. One of the tech reviewers says that Zip drives are bootable if there is BIOS support for that function. I did a search of the Internet and found that the BIOS manufacturers ran a whole bunch of press releases back in 1996 claiming that their next version would support booting directly from a Zip drive. But I have never seen a system that had a Zip drive as a bootable device, nor can I find anything on the Internet that claims that this is possible, nor do any of my systems that I've tried offer a BIOS setting for Boot Sequence that includes ZIP, nor can I find anything on the Iomega site about being able to configure a Zip as a boot device.

I know you have tons of experience with Zip, so I'll ask you: do you know for sure whether or not it is possible to boot a system, any system, from a Zip drive?

To which he responded:

I have heard that you can make an IDE Zip drive an ATAPI boot device but I have never seen it done.

... which seems to be the consensus.

So my question to my readers is this: have you ever actually booted a system (a PC, not a Mac, if that matters) from a Zip Drive? Not heard about it, or read about it, or been told by someone else that he does it, but have you actually seen it happen yourself? Note that I'm asking about using a Zip Drive as the primary boot device, not as a secondary. That is, for example, it is possible to "boot" NT from a Zip Drive, but NT isn't really booting from the Zip Drive. What happens is that you create an ordinary DOS bootable 1.44 MB floppy diskette that has the Zip Drive drivers on it, boot that and then start NT from the Zip Drive. What I'm talking about is making a bootable Zip disk (I know there's an option to do that in the Zip utilities), sticking it in the drive, restarting the system, and having it boot to a DOS prompt from the Zip disk.

I'd better go get a shower and then get to work on tech review. I suppose I'll get chapters 7 and 8 done today. Although I'd like to get 9 done as well, my experience of that last several days says I probably won't.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Robichaux [mailto:paul@robichaux.net]
Sent: Monday, May 29, 2000 9:41 AM
To: Bob Thompson
Subject: Interesting stuff

Mostly fluff, but some new-to-me info on dye types and longevity. [here]

Cheers,

-Paul

--
Paul Robichaux, MCSE | paul@robichaux.net | <http://www.robichaux.net>
Robichaux & Associates: programming, writing, teaching, consulting
See http://www.exchangefaq.org for all your Exchange questions!

Interesting, but I'm not sure how much credence I'd put in most of what these people have to say, even the apparently authoritative portion from the poster who claims to have extensive experience in the industry. I mean "azu" instead of "azo"? Come on. In general, there's some correlation between how hard a dye is to write to and how long-lasting it can be expected to be. Metal-stabilized cyanine is generally the easiest to write to, and therefore the dye most likely to be writable by nearly any CD-R drive. Pthalocyanine is in the middle in both characteristics. Azo, as used by Verbatim, is both the hardest to write to (and therefore the one most likely to be incompatible with any given CD-R drive) and the one likely to last longest. I've heard nothing about problems with CD-R discs rapidly becoming unreadable, and I've spent some time checking into CD-R media issues. I may be wrong, but I don't think so.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2000 4:20 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Win2k woes

That's sad! Win2k is noticeably quicker on the same h'ware and I especially like the off-line folders thingie. It means if I want to do something silly with my server, like play with Linux, my workstation still has access to most of its data from a local cached copy. (It refuses to cache outlook.pst or any Access data files).

The simple explanation for Ricky the WonderDog's knowledge of whether Thomas is on the bus or not doesn't quite work. Thomas gets on the bus EVERY morning. It's only odd occasions that he doesn't return on the bus.

I asked Thomas which side of the bus he usually sits and he told me it is the near side. We are going to test if Ricky sees Thomas or not. This may take some time as we are experiencing some severe weather from 1500 km south and will probably last a few more days. In Tasmania's worst recorded drought the rain is more than welcome. Will let you know result :-)

You're missing the other obvious explanation. Keep an eye on Ricky one day before the bus is due, to see if he uses the phone. He may be calling the school to see if Thomas will be on the bus.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: The Moores [mailto:themoores@the-i.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2000 7:38 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Fwd: Great comeback

Got this from a friend and thought you might find it amusing. Don't know if it's true, but it could be. Too bad Rosy O'Donnell won't have this guy as a guest. I suspect he wouldn't back down if confronted on the issue of gun control. 
----------------------------------------------------

I was listening to the radio the other day, and I heard one of the all-time best comeback lines in my life. Note: This is an exact replication of a National Public Radio (NPR) interview between a female broadcaster, and US Army General Reinwald, who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military installation.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: "So, General Reinwald, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?"

GENERAL REINWALD: "We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting."

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: "Shooting!!! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?"

GENERAL REINWALD: "I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range."

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: "Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?"

GENERAL REINWALD: "I don't see how,.....we will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm."

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: "But you're equipping them to become violent killers."

GENERAL REINWALD: "Well, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?"

The radio went silent and the interview ended. And all I could think was, "Go Army!"

I did a quick search of the Internet and found that story numerous places, but I couldn't confirm that the story is true, or indeed even that a General Reinwald exists. Searching the .mil domain turns up a Major Brian Reinwald and a Major Mary Reinwald, but no general officer with that surname. Searching the NPR site for "reinwald" returns nothing. So I'm afraid that this is an urban legend. But it's a good story nonetheless.


15:50: I've already gotten a dozen or so messages from readers telling me that a Zip Drive is indeed bootable. Thanks. Pournelle, on his site, frequently says that his readers collectively know everything. I think my readers are more knowledgeable still...

 


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Thursday, 1 June 2000

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While I was tracking down information on the web about booting from a Zip Drive, I found this site, which has the entire text of Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Tenth Anniversary Edition. As it happens, I own that book, so I didn't feel at all guilty about downloading the full-text to my hard disk. That's Fair Use under any copyright law I know of. But how long can it be before the current 11th edition shows up? Mueller, incidentally, says you can't boot from a Zip Drive, which is obviously wrong based on the messages I've gotten.

Barbara asked me to thank everyone who replied to her plea for help with her logo. She says she has things under control now, and she appreciates the advice and tips that everyone offered. See her page for details.

Here's an interesting site that purports to estimate the value of a domain name. Here are some domains Barbara and I own and their suggested valuations:

ttgnet.com - $2,500 to $10,000
hardwareguys.com - $2,500 to $25,000
fritchman.com - $0 to $7,500
fritchman.org - $0 to $2,500
fritchman.net -  $0 to $2,500

I guess I should have registered numerous domains back before most people had heard of the Internet. I see, for example that f**k.com is estimated to be worth $500,000 to $5,000,000. What is wrong with people?

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:farquhar@lcms.org]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 10:02 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: booting off zip

Bob,

I've had mobos that had an LS120/Zip option in the BIOS. I know Soyo's first Super7 boards permitted it, and I'm pretty sure my Abits and AOpens do. No idea if they worked--never had a working IDE/ATAPI Zip to test.

I have accidentally booted a PC off a SCSI Zip before. Asus P55T2 mobo, Asus SCSI card, set to boot off SCSI first. Freaked me out to get the "Invalid system disk" with the Zip LED going but no HD activity. So I ejected the disk, and the system booted off the HD. So I tried SYSing the Zip disk and booting off it. It worked. Incidentally, Macs and Amigas boot off SCSI Zips too, just like a hard drive.

There supposedly was a special card that made parallel Zips bootable but I never saw one in person.

Thanks. It appears that Zips are indeed bootable. I'll change that table accordingly.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Morse, Ronal B. (CAPT)~U [mailto:MORSER@stratcom.mil]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 10:32 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: booting from a ZIP drive

Robert:

I have an internal SCSI 100mb ZIP running off an Adaptec 2930CU controller. By setting my system BIOS to boot from the SCSI device, and setting the BIOS on the Adaptec controller to support bootable devices, I can (and have) booted my system from a ZIP disk.

My main OS is Win2K. I use the bootable ZIP when I need to boot DOS. The zip starts the machine and gives me access to all my device drivers (SCSI, zip, CD-ROM), repair tools and some basic communications programs (ProComm + and Lynx) so I can at least e-mail and text web even if the entire hard disk subsystem goes bad. I don't have a tape unit, but if I did, its DOS mode drivers would go on it as well.

The system BIOS (AWARD) on my new Tyan 1854 motherboard (the one with the VIA 133A chipset) shows a boot device setting for ZIP drives. Have not tried it as my experiences with IDE ZIP drives has been universally bad. The SCSI unit has been reliable as rock.

Hope this helps

Ron Morse

It does indeed. Thank you.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Bridgers [mailto:markbridgers@yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 11:16 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Bootable Zip Drives

Bob,

I have in fact booted to Zip drives. My bios, which I believe is an Award, lists Zip/LS120 as a boot option, and I did that for a while to play around with it as a rescue disk option. I have a Micron Millenia 450 with an internal Zip.

Thanks for the site. I went to Wake Forest, graduating in 1987, and between you and Steve Tucker, I can catch up a bit on Winston-Salem. I miss that town. Never have I lived anywhere else where 3 police officers responded to a malfunctioning traffic light.

Thanks. We live a mile or so up the road from Wake Forest, off Reynolda Road. I hadn't thought about the traffic light thing, but you're right. Not long ago, I encountered a dead traffic light, and there were at least three cops directing traffic.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 11:26 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Hardware, Windows Software, & Zip Drives

Mr. Thompson:

1.) Thank you for responding to my emails regarding Build-Your-Own vs. Dell, etc. Good discussions. After your last response I realized we've been saying the same things, we're just on different sides of one coin. I think though, that the cost difference is narrowing. Also, for a customer, I include my own time as a cost. When building for myself, I do not.

2.) Regarding your OS and software price comments, I wanted to pass on some information that I think would be useful for your writing if you are not aware of it already. Two Microsoft programs that I use are DirectAccess and OEM System Builder. DirectAccess is a quarterly dog-and-pony-show for any computer consultant, reseller, IT worker, etc. System Builder is specifically for PC clone builders.

The only source for legitimate Windows OS and S/W for clone integrators is through the System Builder program, which is available through Microsoft's limited list of authorized distributors. The one I use is D&H Distributing (www.dandh.com). The pricing is pretty much set by Microsoft; I have checked various distributors and haven't found more than a ~$1.00 difference. For example, a Win98SE 3Pack I purchased last month was $267.00, or $89.00 each. Office2000SBE 3Pack is $535.00, or $178.33 each. Larger integrators have access to specific pricing and agreements direct with Microsoft (which I believe is part of the Justice Department's antitrust case), but in general the pricing at my level is fairly consistent across the board. Another "rule" of Microsoft's is that you have to sell these items with a "system" which they define usually as a cpu, mb, and/or harddisk. There is quite a bit of other rules, but my point is that the pricing is pretty consistent. The price I quoted of $92.00 for Windows98 from The Chip Merchant (www.thechipmerchant.com) is in line, and their website notes the requirement of purchasing the additional hardware.

When I attend direct access seminars, anti-piracy is always a topic for MS. Last year I was able to talk with the Microsoft anti-piracy rep and was informed that if pricing seemed to be too good to be true, it probalby was. I'm not sure of the current state of affairs, but at the time she claimed that any copy of Windows sold by itself for less than about ~$90.00 was counterfeit, along with the plethora of Office97 software for ~$100.00. The story that often was told was the seller purchasing a large amount of "fulfillment" copies from Gateway/Dell/orWhoever because Gateway/Dell/Whoever overbought and had to unload... The MS rep had numerous copies of seized counterfeit Windows and Office packages, and I can attest that they all looked authentic on casual look. As it was explained to me, organized crime has discovered that you can make a rather tidy sum producing copies of Microsoft's software and hardware (mice) and selling them. She said Microsoft has made raids on warehouses full of counterfeit copies of the software and hardware. Based on this, I would worry whether a $50.00 Windows 98 and Works combo is counterfeit, along with a $100.00 copy of Office.

I'm sure Microsoft would provide you with more information on this than you care to know. I thought this would be of help to you in your writing.

3.) Booting from a Zip drive: I know this isn't the authoritative answer you're looking for, but I have had one experience with booting from a Zip drive. Over a year or two ago I had a customer who I built a Pentium II clone for that had a B: drive that I couldn't figure out for the life of me. I must have t/s the system for a day, trying every registry hack, etc. Turns out the bios was assigning B: to the zip drive. I also remember that BIOS had settings for boot that included Zip100, one of which was Zip100, A:, C:, or something similar. The motherboard was made by DFI (www.dfi.com). I finally "solved" the problem when I upgraded the unit to a newer Pentium chip that required a 100MHz bus. The existing DFI board couldn't handle it, so the board was replaced, and of course the new board did not have the zip options. So, I cannot attest to the existence of a working system that could boot from a Zip, but I can attest to a system that seemed to have the possibility. If you need more info, I can look up the specifics.

Thank you for your courtesy,

Richard Micko
Clipper Computer Consulting, Inc.
rmicko@ClipperInc.com

Thanks. You may be right about the OEM versions of the software, but I'd be very surprised if the reputable mail-order places selling Microsoft OEM versions for much less than the prices you list are in fact selling counterfeit copies. I think it's more likely that they have special arrangements directly with Microsoft to distribute that software rather than getting it through distributors. I've gotten quite a few messages from people who have actually booted to a Zip drive, so thanks for your offer but it won't be necessary for you to look up the specifics. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Werth [mailto:twerth@kcnet.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 11:58 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Bootable internal IDE Zip drive

Bob,

In answer to your question about actually being able to boot from a zip disk. I was pretty sure that my ASUS P5A m/board had that boot option. I copied a Win98 Startup floppy disk to a blank Zip disk and rebooted to get into the BIOS. It is an Award BIOS, v. 4.51 PG, and I have flashed it to v. 1007.A. Under "Boot Sequence" there is an option for "LS/Zip, C". I changed the boot sequence and let it reboot. It booted up w/the Win98 RAM disk and w/the drivers for both DVD and CD/RW drives loaded off of the Zip disk in the internal IDE Zip drive. The only interesting thing was that the Zip drive became the A: drive.

Is this what you were looking for?

It is, thanks. It's odd that none of the systems here that I checked offer that option, although I did check only three or four, all with very recent motherboards. I wonder if it's sheer coincidence or if the declining popularity of Zip Drives is being reflected in that option no longer being offered in some new motherboards.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Ric Frost [mailto:rdfrost@yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 1:05 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: Great Comback - urban legend?

I have a version of this story on my web site: [here] which I received a couple years ago that reads in part:

"Thanks to the office of Rep. Edward Royce, California Republican, for sending us the following excerpt from a local radio interview. A female newscaster is interviewing the leader of a youth club."

The remainder is nearly word-for-word identical to the version sent to you, except the interviewee is a "Mr. Jones". I can't find anything on http://www.urbanlegends.com/, which is where I usually go to verify stories. Guess I'll have to add a disclaimer now...

I suspected it was an urban legend as soon as I read it. It just has that nebulous feel about it. Who was the interviewer? What was the air date? What was a general (in other versions described as a LtGen) doing hosting those kids at a base, and what was the name of the base? When did all of this supposedly occur? Would a general officer really confront an interviewer like that? Would an NPR interviewer really phrase questions in such a confrontational manner? Why would the interview be terminated so abruptly? And so on.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Ross Fleming [mailto:rossflem@serv.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 1:15 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: booting from zips

All of the Dell Dimension S and T series computers (PII and PIII) in my office have a boot from removable media option in the bios. I assume that this works with any ATAPI drive. We only have a single SCSI zip on a server that we share so I have never tried to boot from one.

Thanks. From the other messages I've received, it appears that you could do so if you wanted to.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 3:01 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Booting from Zip drive

I have created a bootable Zip disk using the Award BIOS on an A-Open MoBo (TX chipset, can't remember the model number) and my ASUS K7V. This is an IDE Zip, not scsi with BIOS. It runs Win 3.11, albeit slowly. Symantec had a utility to allow Win95 to be installed to an IDE Zip disk, but it didn't work very well. After an hour of fiddling, I gave up. Win95 didn't like being on drive A: at all. I have no idea how to install NT to a Zip disk, but I have heard you can install enough NT to boot to a DOS prompt.

Thanks. From other messages I've received, it appears that you can boot from at least an ATAPI Zip drive or a SCSI Zip Drive, and possibly even from a parallel Zip Drive (although I don't understand how that would work).

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 9:24 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Laugh at me!

Well, you'll be amused to know that my first serious problem with Win2k occurred today. After judicious research, I ordered a Canon transparency scanner (FS 2710). It came with its own PCI scsi card, an Adaptec AIC 7850. Win2k duly recognised the scsi adapter and installed the driver. Plug'n'Pray also detected the scanner, but didn't have the appropriate driver. I had already prepared for this by downloading the Win2k software from Canon's website.

The software resolutely refuses to believe there's a scsi adapter in the box! So, I reboot into Win98 (shudder) where Plug'n'Pray finds the adapter and the software bundled with the scanner performs dutifully and I scan an image.

Rebooting into Win2k I run Canon's configuration applet again, but still no dice. Windows update tells me that the driver is current and I test the adapter by plugging in an Orb removable hard drive. The Orb works just fine and dandy.

My server is running Win2k as well and has an Adaptec 1505 in it to drive the CD burner, so I bring it down to remove the terminators from the card. Reboot and discover that the scsi card wasn't initialised. I eventually discover that the scanner has to be turned on before booting in order to initialise the scsi adapter.

Install the Win2k scanner software and the scanner works just fine. Log onto Canon's website to seek assistance with this. I don't actually want the scanner on the server, or the burner in my workstation. Canon support is only available locally and not by email. I am supposed to phone the bastards long distance.

Cheers

Jonathan Sturm

PS Found doggy saliva on the wallphone. Now I've got to figure out how Ricky gets the stepladder out of the cupboard and puts it back :-)

Yeah SCSI devices have to be active before they can be recognized, so I wouldn't blame that one on W2K. As far as the phone, I'd keep an eye on Ricky. Border Collies get along with technology better than some people do. A month or two ago, I came out of my office and found Malcolm lying on the couch with my remote controller, which he'd stolen from my end table. The controller was lying on the couch pointed at the TV, and Malcolm had his paw on it. He was watching TV, as he often does. As I stood there watching him, he switched back and forth several times between the Weather Channel (which fascinates him) and a program on Animal Planet that was showing Border Collies going through an obstacle course. I am not making this up.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Huth [mailto:mhuth@internetcds.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2000 1:22 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: How do dogs know?

Dogs are amazing creatures. I've a sort of German Shepard who clearly knows when I'm on the way home. My wife reports that the dog begins to watch for me about 3-4 minutes before I get home. Doesn't matter the hour of my arrival, she begins to watch. I felt it likely that she can pick out the sound of my car from the other cars. When I switched cars 3 years ago, she didn't know I was coming for about a month, then began to watch again. Amazing hearing, I guess.

Yes, they are, and their hearing is indeed incredibly acute. I remember seeing something on the Discovery Channel years ago (back before they had commercials, so it must have been ten years or more). They'd done some testing and found that dogs could discriminate between different examples of the same model of vehicle. Apparently, to a dog, each car has a unique sound signature. And I believe that, because Barbara and I both drive Isuzu Troopers, which are one model year apart but otherwise identical. All of our dogs can discriminate between the sound of Barbara's truck and mine. I also remember reading years back about dogs being used in an experimental medical screening program. I forget exactly what it was they were screening for (something to do with cardiac problems, I believe), but the dogs were quite successful at picking out people who were apparently asymptomatic. Those running the trial were unsure whether it was the dogs acute hearing, sense of smell, or what that allowed them to detect problems that weren't immediately evident to a good diagnostician.

 


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Friday, 2 June 2000

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I worked all day yesterday incorporating tech review comments. I got through the end of chapter 8 (left over from Wednesday), all of chapters 9 and 10, and got a start on chapter 11, which I finished up this morning. That leaves chapters 12 and 13 to finish up today, but both of them are pretty big chapters.

Barbara is off to Rebecca Shouse's farm this morning with Duncan and Malcolm. 

We're getting concerned about Malcolm. He bit me again last night. Barbara's sister's car broke down, and she took off about 9:30 to retrieve her sister from the parking lot. I was sitting there reading my book when I heard paper shredding noises. Malcolm was standing there looking at me with a napkin in his mouth. I didn't want him to swallow yet another napkin, so I reached into my shirt pocket, which is where I normally keep the doggy treats. Malcolm immediately dropped the napkin and rushed over to me to get a treat. I retrieved the napkin and threw it in the wastebasket. I didn't actually have a doggy treat in my shirt pocket, but I didn't want to disappoint Malcolm, so I walked into the kitchen and got doggy treats for him and Duncan. Duncan jumped up on the loveseat to eat his, and Malcolm jumped up on the couch where Barbara normally sits. After a lot of crunching, Malcolm started digging around in the cushions, looking for crumbs he'd missed. I told him he'd gotten it all and reached over to pet him. Without warning, he lunged at me and snapped, biting my hand badly enough for it to hurt, but not to break the skin.

I roared at him, and he immediately jumped down off the couch and ran over to and into his crate. That's what he does when he knows he's been a bad puppy. Ordinarily, I'd take a dog who'd bitten me out in the back yard and shoot it, but Barbara and I have decided to work with Malcolm. We don't think he's really aggressive in the sense that he'd be a danger to anyone except me. He attacks Duncan frequently, is aggressive to me somewhat less frequently, and occasionally growls at Barbara. He's never shown any aggression at all toward any other person. Interestingly, that corresponds exactly to pack hierarchy. Barbara is most senior (in Malcolm's opinion, anyway), I'm next, and then Duncan. We think this is all a dominance/pack hierarchy thing. This is the first time we've had two intact males at one time, and it's an experience.

It all kind of makes sense from the point of view of a dog's instincts. In the wild, any adult male animal is a deadly threat to a young male, particularly a young male who has reached puberty and is therefore recognizable as a male. That, of course, is why a mother bear is likely to attack any male (of whatever species) who dares approach her cubs. She knows instinctively that adult males kill juveniles, particularly juvenile males.

We think the same thing is true of Malcolm. He understands that he's a young male and that Duncan and I are adult males, who are therefore a threat to him. Interestingly, when Barbara (his "mother") is around, Malcolm is much less prone to aggressiveness toward Duncan or me. I think he feels secure because his mother is there to protect him. Also interesting is how we're able to change his behavior. We know immediately when he's feeling threatened, because he assumes a different posture, with his head down and a slight crouch/cringe. If I (or even Barbara) approaches him when he's in that mood, he shies away. If we pet him, he growls. But if we pick up a toy, he immediately abandons his defensive posture and begins playing normally. I can almost literally see what's going through Malcolm's  mind when he weirds out. "Alert! Alert! Deadly threat. I'd better look and sound ferocious so that Bob won't risk trying to kill and eat me. Oh. He's picking up a ball. He must want to play. He certainly can't be thinking of killing and eating me if he wants to play."

We're hoping that Malcolm straightens out as he approaches adulthood. With the exception of the incident last night, he's been better lately. If the problem doesn't go away, we'll talk to a woman we know who trains Border Collies to be working dogs. Fear-aggressive dogs are completely unsuitable as pets, but some of them turn into very good working dogs. We'd hate to lose Malcolm, but better he become a working dog than be put down because we can't trust him around people. Only time will tell, and we're still optimistic that we can work through the problem.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2000 11:24 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: MP3

With Mossberg focusing on MP3 today, you might be interested in something I stumbled across recently: a March '00 Ars Technica review of popular encoders.

Very interesting mix of technical test and subjective listening--results summarized as: at 128 encode rate, Fraunhofer best, being flat to 20khz while Xing, Blade, and LAME have sharp falloff at 16khz; at 192 encode rate they all track fairly equally out to 20khz. Reviewer suggests 192 rate for general use, 256 or higher for important pieces (Fraunhofer is not capable of anything higher than 256), although his tests show there is very little return in using rates above 192. He rates LAME above Blade and Xing (Xing is used by the popular MusicMatch Jukebox).

In final analysis, the reviewer was able to tell the difference between CD and MP3 in all cases--even up to 320 encode rate with all the tested encoders. I guess that's not surprising, since MP3 is lossy compression. Review has an simple interpretation of what MP3 discards in the encoding process.

I'd actually seen that review soon after it was posted, and should have pointed to it here. Thanks for reminding me. As you say, given that MP3 is a lossy compression algorithm, it's not surprising that even high-quality MP3s aren't as good as the source. I was surprised at the differences in quality between compressors, though.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 7:24 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: domain valuation

I tested for swijsen.com (and .org and .net) which I own. Playing with the 'language clarity' and 'market size/brandability...' I got assessments varying from 2500-10000 to 500000-5000000. Quite a large range. The .org and .net versions were 0-2500 with any reasonable setting of the parameters. And I don't expect I would ever get anything offered for it if I would put them on sale.

>and possibly even from a parallel Zip Drive (although I don't understand how that would work).

I have two parallel Zip drives (and one more recent USB/SCSI one). Basically the Parallel Zip drives are SCSI devices with a special cable (checking device manager in Win9x you find the parallel-Zip listed under the SCSI controllers. Even if the PC has no SCSI cards.) They work similar to the portable CD drive (BackPack) we use at work for loading software on PCs without a CD drive (standard until this year). While I never booted from one of them I recently used one trough a SCSI card (Zip-Zoom from Iomega (with an Advansys chip)) with a special cable to help out a friend. The drive was about twice as fast compared to using it via the parallel port at home but still slower than the USB version.

Booting from a parallel or even USB connected Zip drive doesn't sound possible to me but connecting trough a SCSI card should work.

>They'd done some testing and found that dogs could discriminate between different examples of the same model of vehicle.

No two cars are the same. Well maybe straight out of the factory but after some months on the road they wear down at different rates. Two of the kids of our neighbour have the same type of car (make, model and even engine) only differing in that one of them drives real distances while the other is used for shopping only (lots of stopping-starting and only short distance). While my hearing is not the best I can hear the difference. So no doubt that dogs can hear difference even if they are smaller. Especially if the differences are in the high frequency range.

--
Svenson.

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

Yep, I think that valuation site is really just cheese in the mousetrap. What they really want is for you to contract with them to sell your domain. 

As far as booting from a parallel Zip drive, I don't see any way that a device can boot unless it is supported in BIOS, either the main system BIOS or a supplementary BIOS (like a SCSI boot BIOS) that is loaded at boot time. 

I suspect that even right off the assembly line two identical model vehicles sound different to a dog. Cars are, after all, an assembly of thousands of parts, so there are plenty of opportunities for minor differences. I know that the sonar on US attack submarines can discriminate between different examples of the same Soviet sub models on that basis, and I see no reason why dogs shouldn't be able to do the same for cars.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chirag Wazir [mailto:wazir@vsnl.com]
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 7:45 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Nice Site

Hi,

I found your site through Jerry Pournelle's when he was in Paris. It looked interesting so I decided to start from the beginning.... I've just reached the present. Great site -- I learnt a lot and enjoyed myself as well.

Now for a couple of corrections in the interests of journalistic accuracy -- ignore me if I'm nit-picking :-)

>> October 18, 1998
>> Morse's Robbie

Inspector Morse's sidekick is Lewis not Robbie

>> 4 December 1999
>> Tricki Wu suffered from impacted anal glands, which Mr. Pumphrey 

Woo not Wu & Mrs. not Mr.

You mentioned a website ripper / offline browser Teleport Pro (January 26, 2000). I've used it & found it ok but not really perfect. I've tried quite a few & this seems to be the best. Have you found anything better? I could use a good one since I download quite a few books -- we get charged per minute for both phone time and connect time here (Bombay, India). The ridiculous part is that my phone charges are about three times the charges of the ISP (ISPs have been privatized and the phone company is a government monopoly as you might guess).

I see that you gave up on a "book of the week". How about doing a list of your all-time favorite authors / books instead?

Waiting for your hardware book. O'Reilly's have a partner here who does Indian editions for reasonable prices (on lower quality paper). I presume the larger (Pournelle & Thompson) book is going to be a superset of the Nutshell book, so I'm planning on waiting for that.

Thanks for the kind words. 

As far as Morse, his sidekick is indeed Sgt. Lewis. I both read the Chief Inspector Morse books and watch the television versions, so I may be confused about what was said where, but I'm pretty sure that in one or the other they make it clear that Sgt. Lewis's first name is Robert and he goes by Robbie. Incidentally, I just finished reading the 13th (and final) Chief Inspector Morse book yesterday. I can't say that this is my favorite mystery series by any means, but I will regret the absence of any new titles in the series.

You're correct that it is Mrs. rather than Mr. Pumphrey, and that was a simple typo on my part. Again, I've both read the books and watched the television series (I really liked, Carol Drinkwater, who played Helen in the earlier episodes). Who could forget the character of Mrs. Pumphrey, either in print or in the series? You may be right about Woo versus Wu. I've never checked.

I gave up on Teleport Pro, although I can't remember why. I've not found a website ripper that I regard as usable, and would love to find one. If you happen upon one, please let me know.

As far as the book of the week, I simply don't have time to write even short reviews these days. I still read a lot, although nowhere near as much as I used to. I'm lucky to get through three or four books a week these days. That slow pace is the main reason why I really would like to live forever. So many books, so little time.

The book that Jerry and I are doing will indeed be a superset of PC Hardware in a Nutshell. We are, of course, hoping that many people will buy both. Although it's by no means certain, I think it likely that we'll end up in an annual revision cycle for both books that will put a new version out every six months on an alternating basis, with a new Nutshell version appearing perhaps each August and a new Definitive Guide version appearing perhaps each February. Or so I speculate.

 


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Saturday, 3 June 2000

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Well, yesterday I finished incorporating tech review comments for Chapter 11, got through Chapter 12, and got a start on Chapter 13, although I wasn't able to finish it. Today, I will finish Chapter 13, the final chapter. Then I start splitting up chapters, which everyone involved agrees will make the book better. The new chapter lineup goes from 13 chapters to 26, with many chapters being split into two parts and some into three parts. For example, Chapter 12 is currently titled "Cases and Power Supplies". That one gets split into Chapter 22, Cases; Chapter 23, Power Supplies; and Chapter 24, Backup Power Supplies. After I complete the splits, I have to re-write "Chapter 0" (the Preface) to accommodate the changes in the chapter lineup. 

All of that will probably take me all day today and tomorrow, and perhaps Monday as well. But once I get through that, it's all over but the shouting. There'll be a few comments and queries from the copy editors, but those will be minor. The book will soon be its way to the printers and then the bookstores.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Mugford [mailto:mugford@aztec-net.com]
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 10:04 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Win2K and WebCamGo

Robert,

I bought a box to house Win2K and Delphi, but the first thing I wanted working on it was Creative Lab's WebCamGo. I was hoping to get pictures to send to the folks in their new retirement 'villa' on the lake. (Usual stuff, the still-intact house, pictures of the grandkid, etc. [G]).

Can't get it to work. The April 24 drivers on the website let me see the device, but the control program comes up with totally inoperative buttons. Interestingly enough, the W98 drivers in the box allowed the program to function, but the device couldn't be found.

Is there some amalgam of W98 and the 'beta' 2K drivers that does work? Would any of your readers know? If the answer is no, what's the best way of adding W98 AFTER the fact to a W2K install? And yes, I have one of those internal ZIP drives and would willingly guinea pig if somebody wants to offer direction.

Thanks in advance for a continually entertaining read, 
Gary Mugford

Thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately, I have no clue about how to make your webcam work under W2K. Perhaps one of my readers will. If not, I don't know of a good way to install Win98 after the fact to an existing W2K installation. I'm not saying that it cannot be done, but (assuming that W2K currently occupies the entire hard disk) I think by far the easiest and safest method is to strip your entire disk down to bare metal, install Win98, and then install W2K. All of that said, if you have W2K installed on a primary partition formatted FAT or FAT32, it *may* be possible to install Win98 on the same volume and have it dual-boot. I say "may" because I don't know for sure. I've never tried doing it.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [mailto:waggoner@gis.net]
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 1:29 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: Microsoft

BBC reports today that Canada is courting Microsoft to move everything 100 miles north across the border to BC, in return for help building new quarters, clearing any red tape, and a promise they won't try to bust them up.

Wouldn't that be interesting.

Yep. Pournelle and I have frequently discussed this issue, and concluded that Gates should buy Liechtenstein. If Microsoft decides to consider Canada's proposal, I think they should hold out for a bit more than Canada seems to be offering. If I were Gates, I'd tell Canada that I would seriously consider moving my company if and only if Canada is willing to (a) cede to Microsoft at least 10,000 square miles of territory, centered on Vancouver, and immediately recognize the newly-created sovereign nation of Gatesland, (b) sign a mutual defense pact with Gatesland, which agrees that each will come to the defense of the other against any foreign aggression, including an invasion sponsored by Reno, and (c) sign a free-trade agreement with Gatesland, guaranteeing that no barriers will ever be raised against the free flow of goods, services, and people between the two nations. Doing it that way would have significant benefits for both parties. If it ever happened, I'd move to Gatesland in a heartbeat.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: John Tucker [email address removed by request]
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 2:44 PM
To: anonymos@bellsouth.net
Subject: Website "ripper"

Bob,

In regard to a website ripper, here is one that I use called SB WebCamCorder it is available from the following site. (I am assuming that a ripper is defined as a program that duplicates a web site on a local drive.) I have used it quite a lot for sites that I want to be able to read without being connected. It fixes pointers so that it looks to your harddrive for links that are 1 or 2 levels from the current page, this is a settable(?) parameter. You can also select what content you want to include or exclude. Text/html, text/other, Application/Zip etc,. You can also set size limits.

I have copied various publicly accessible tutorials on Word, Excel etc., for various people at work and put them on the server where they can then go through the tutorials at their own pace or refer to it to answer specific questions.

I have attached a zipped copy of wcc.html (wcc.zip 8,983K) which describes the program and its capabilities.

Thanks. I don't think that's one I've looked at. I'll check it out when I have a moment.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Denman [mailto:bdenman@ftc-i.net]
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 3:35 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: MP3

Bob,

FWIW.... I suspect in that there may be more than one (software) Fraunhofer engine. Fraunhofer says: "FastEnc provides a comprehensive interface for easy integration into any software framework. The new software is already integrated into first products - for example in MUSICMATCH JUKEBOX 5.0."

I know that some mp3 I have heard at 128 or 192 are fine; others not so fine. And one cannot exclude other variables at work (speakers or headphones, amp; sound card). (I have MMJB 5.0).

Most of the mp3 I have d/l from net have ranged from good to fair regardless of bitrate. Which points I would think to different encoders used. Those I made are mostly fair but were limited to 128 bitrate I believe (using MMJB4.0 not 5). And my sound system is only fair.

Regards

Bruce in Sumter

You may be right about different encoders, but I suspect the problem is more likely due to the hardware used by the people who produce the MP3s. In particular, I've noticed that using an IDE-based system often results in low-quality recordings, with pops and drop-outs common. That's true across the board, from ripping the original data to encoding it to playing it back. And the quality of the source CD-ROM drive has something to do with sound quality as well. Some drives aren't capable of DAE at all. Even those that are vary noticeably in the quality of the DAE they provide, as can be proven by ripping a track and then doing a binary compare of what you've ripped against what's on the CD.

* * * * *

I received the following message Thursday evening. Mr. Pineo had quoted the text of the article he refers to in his original message, but I can't publish copyrighted material without permission, so I asked Mr. Pineo if he could send me the URL.

-----Original Message-----
From: AP [mailto:lti@idirect.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2000 8:58 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Dogs smell melanoma

Bob, 

On Thursday June 1 you wrote: "I also remember reading years back about dogs being used in an experimental medical screening program."

That sounded familiar, so I dug into my database and came up with this article from the web site of the Toronto Sun newspaper. It's about 700 words.

Regards,
Allan Pineo
lti@idirect.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Allan Pineo [lti@idirect.com]
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2000 6:17 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Dogs smell melanoma URL

Bob,

I never save URLs for Canoe articles because they usually disappear after a day or two. This one is still online, though. Here's the URL:

Fascinating. Even the human sense of smell can detect small concentrations of some compounds at levels significantly lower than are detectable by common scientific equipment. As the article points out, a dog's sense of smell is much more acute than a human's. So I'm not surprised that a dog can smell the presence of things that humans, with all their equipment, don't even notice is there.

 


wpoison

 

 

 

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Sunday, 4 June 2000

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I'm so busy working on splitting out PC Hardware in a Nutshell chapters--trying to get everything done by tomorrow--that I almost forgot to post an update today. I probably would have forgotten entirely except that I've received several mail messages asking me if I'm okay. That's normal when I update later than usual. I appreciate the concern, and I'm fine. Thanks for asking. I guess that's what happens to people like me who are too predictable.

The splitting of chapters was going fine until I got to the one on DVD. Things have changed a bit since I last worked on that part of the manuscript, so I'm changing the text and recommendations to reflect those changes.

Not much mail today, but I did get one that answers the question about installing Windows 98 on a system that already has Windows 2000 installed. I almost suggested this myself, given my good past experiences with Partition Magic, but I didn't want to recommend something I'd never done myself.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Saturday, June 03, 2000 4:11 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: what's the best way of adding W98 AFTER the fact to a W2K install?

To answer Gary Mugford:

Buy or upgrade to Partition Magic 5. Download the Win2k version [1] and make the two floppy disks. The first just boots DR DOS and the 2nd runs PM5 under DOS, but emulates the Windows interface. It even understands my PS2 mouse :-)

Resize your Win2k partition to leave space *before* for Win98. Create a FAT32 primary partition there and format it with PM5. Mark it as active. Ignore messages about passing cylinder boundaries. Win2k is a lot more tolerant of these things than Win9.x or Linux. Install Win98. Install Boot Magic.

Note that as this is a 2nd primary partition, Win2k will not be able to see the Win98 partition unless you first mount it with the disk management tool.

Did this a week ago.

Jonathan Sturm

[1] I ordered the CD with PM5 for Win2k a couple of months ago and it has yet to arrive!

Thanks.

 


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