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Daynotes Journal

Week of 5 June 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:05

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


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About Mail

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, 5 June 2000

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I got all 26 chapters completed and mailed to my editor about 10:00 last night. The only thing that remains is to update the Preface to reflect the new chapter line-up. I should have that done and off today. Once that's complete, it's all over but the shouting. I'll get occasional minor queries from the copy editors ("Did you really mean "microATX" or should it be "MicroATX"?), requests for clarifications or missing graphics, and so on, but it should be smooth sailing from now until the book finally appears in the bookstores, perhaps as early as late next month.

Oops. I can tell when I have too many balls in the air, because I start things and forget to finish them. Like this post. I started writing it before 0800 this morning, but then I got caught up in responding to email, working on the Preface, and so on. Here it is after noon, and I just happened to notice FrontPage was still showing on my task bar. Opening it showed the first paragraph I'd written, with the intention of writing several more. But I'm out of time, so that'll have to wait until later.

 


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Tuesday, 6 June 2000

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PC Hardware in a Nutshell is finally done and off to my editor. Well, all except for the Preface, which is done, but which I'm holding to think about for a day or so before I submit it. But the book is done. And a nice birthday present that is, too. I'm 47 years old today. Barbara came into my office this morning to remind me that it was my birthday, which I might well have otherwise forgotten. She brought cards and presents from her, my mother, and the dogs. To celebrate, I'll probably take a couple of hours off today and just read or do something else not work-related.

Thanks to the several readers who told me that the Wall Street Journal article on dishwashers appeared on the front page of yesterday's edition. Barbara and I apparently made it into the continuation on page A18. We don't take the WSJ, but we planned to make a library stop this afternoon anyway, so I'll look it over while we're there.

I'm watching the Decline and Fall of PC Magazine with interest. Remember the days when PC Magazine was nearly an inch thick? The latest issue arrived yesterday. It has 248 pages. Not much content. Even worse for PC Magazine, not many ads. 

Most of their good columnists have disappeared too. I don't know why I bother, but I always read the usually-clueless John Dvorak. In this issue, he's blathering on about the new Big Thing. That happens to be, get this, naming processors. Yup. Dvorak seems to think that the idea of naming processors is new. The fact that Intel has been doing that for, what?, five years now seems to have escaped him. He thinks that *ium names belong to Intel and *on names to AMD. He even points out that the Celeron is an anomaly, and should by rights be an AMD processor. Excuse me? Intel named the Celeron back in 1998, well before AMD first decided to call the K7 the Athlon. 

Dvorak hasn't written anything worth reading for years now, if indeed he ever did. It looks to me like he's coasting. Pournelle puts out 8,000 or 10,000 words of real work every month for BYTE.com. I know. I read Pournelle's early drafts, the latest one just this morning. Dvorak writes a monthly one page column, a second monthly one-page list of out-of-date news blurbs (most of which I suspect he pulls off the net), and a weekly column, if you can call it that, for the web site. That column appears irregularly. I suppose in theory it's supposed to go up each Monday, but it seldom makes that deadline, if such it is. When Dvorak doesn't feel like writing anything, he pulls out a bunch of lame photos he'd shot at one show or another, sticks on short labels, and calls that a column. Nice work, if you can get it.

There's mail, but I have several things to get done this morning, so I'll defer responding to the mail until tomorrow.

 


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Wednesday, 7 June 2000

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I really like the Intel CA810E motherboard, but I'm getting very tired of seeing this message:.

Microsoft (R) Windows NT (TM) Version 4.0 (Build 1381: Service Pack 6).
1 System Processor [63 MB Memory]
.........
STOP: c0000221 {Bad Image Checksum}
The image wow32.dll is possibly corrupt. The header checksum does not
match the computed checksum.

Restart and set the recovery options in the system control panel
or the /CRASHDEBUG system start option. If this message reappears,
contact your system administrator or technical support group.

That happens, fairly reproducibly, every time I try to boot Windows NT 4 Workstation on the CA810E. Well, to be precise, it happens when I attempt to boot with the Intel video drivers installed. The system will boot without problems with only the vanilla VGA driver that NT supplies, but as soon as I install the Intel-supplied drivers, the blue screens start happening. 

I first noticed the problem on a system that's set up to triple-boot Windows 98SE, Windows NT 4 Workstation, and Windows 2000 Professional. Thinking that it might be caused by the fact that W2KP slightly modifies existing NTFS4 partitions, I reinstalled everything using FAT for all three operating systems. Same thing happened. Then, figuring it might be something weird about triple-booting itself, I wiped the hard disk and installed only NT4W. Same thing happened. So I re-built the system to triple-boot, again using FAT for all three volumes. In case you're wondering why I'm so persistent about triple-booting the system, I have some unusual hardware installed, such as a DVD-RAM drive, that I wanted to test under all three operating systems.

Notice the "63 MB" above. The system has 64 MB installed, but the CA810E claims 1 MB for its embedded video. I noticed that the docs with the Intel video driver said that they required 64 MB. Okay, perhaps that missing 1 MB is the problem. I really wanted to run only 64 MB on this system (for benchmarking consistency with earlier tests) but I figured it was worth a try to install additional memory. I popped in a 128 MB DIMM, giving the system a total of 192/191 MB of RAM and tried rebooting. No problem. Fortunately, I'm relentless. I decided to reboot under NT4W 20 times and declare it a win if it rebooted 20 times in a row without problems. It rebooted 16 times normally, but the 17th time it blew up to the same blue screen.

This motherboard works fine under both Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 Professional, but it simply doesn't like NT4W. I've now tried running the motherboard with different cases/power supplies, memory, hard disk, etc. etc. The only common factor is the motherboard, and it just doesn't get along with NT4W for some reason. My first thought was that it might be significant that Win98SE and W2KP both supported PnP, which NT4 doesn't. I've checked the "PnP OS?" item in BIOS Setup. It's set to "No", which simply means that the BIOS handles mapping IRQs to INTs rather than allowing the OS to do so. I've contacted Intel to ask if they have any idea what's going on. Perhaps the motherboard itself is defective. We'll see if they can suggest anything.

The Register has done a re-design of their site. Unfortunately, they've joined the ranks of those who specify explicit font sizes, which makes it impossible to use the Font Size button in Internet Explorer to increase the size of the font on-screen. That gives me two choices: get eyestrain trying to read their tiny little font, or set Accessibility options in IE to disregard font sizes specified in the web page, which has drawbacks of its own. There's simply no excuse for forcing font sizes on readers. Web "designers", a generally contemptible breed, do it that way because they want to control how "their" pages look to the reader. Well, they've succeeded in doing that, ignoring as usual the fundamental precept that once I retrieve a page it becomes "my" page, to view as I please. That, after all, was one of the original ideas of the web: platform-independent delivery of content. Unfortunately, their pages now look unreadable to me. Once again, anal-retentive control freaks masquerading as web designers get their way, and once again appearance triumphs over content. I do have a third choice, of course. I can simply stop reading The Register and get my news elsewhere.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Savage, Mike [mailto:Mike.Savage@isecure.com.au]
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 6:56 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: A help request

Hi Robert,

Your site makes very interesting reading. Keep up the good work!

I just read the following, at:

"Yes, that should have raised a red flag for me, too. And now, more weirdness. I actually got my test bed machine triple-booting Win98, WinNT4, and Windows 2000 Professional. Everything was working fine. Then I installed Adaptec Easy CD Creator on the Windows NT 4 system. Now, when I try to boot NT4, it simply loops. It gets to the first blue screen, the dots progress normally to the right, and then the system reboots itself over and over. Win98 and W2KP both still work fine. Very strange."

I've just experienced the same thing, on a plain NT4 server box, after fitting a Ricoh CD-RW drive & the Easy CD Creator 2.5 that came with it.

How did you overcome the continuous reboots? A search of the MS knowledgebase gives a potential solution that involves re-installing NT to a different and then doing a registry hack - sounds rather ugly. I'm hoping you may have a simpler solution...

Cheers,

Mike Savage

Actually, as I recall, I never did get past it on that machine. I simply stopped trying. I've run Adaptec Easy CD under NT4 on numerous machines and with numerous CD burners, with never a problem. In that case, I attributed it to problems with either triple-boot or with the beta version of W2K I was running. Apparently, that was not the case since you're experiencing the same thing on a production NT4 box. I suspect the registry hack you mention may be the best alternative. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Mugford [mailto:mugford@aztec-net.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 9:07 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: PC Magazine

Robert,

I'm with you on PC Magazine. I lost my love of the magazine two years ago when the annual 'Utilities' issue once again intentionally overlooked backup software that wasn't web-oriented. I complained about the oversight and got back a drone letter saying the subject had been covered to the extent its readers were interested in.

Not interested in backups? And this is the publication that purports to be a leader? I cancelled my sub and only buy the magazine now if the on-line content indicates something worth taking to the throne room.

I always subscribe for two or three years at a time to magazines like this. If I had time to deal with the hassle, I'd cancel PC Magazine and get a refund, but it's easy and cheaper (my time considered) just to let it run out. I won't be renewing my subscription, though.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 11:27 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Decline of PC Magazine

Mr. Thompson:

I've noticed the decline of PC Mag also. I used to subscribe to byte, pc mag, and pc world. I now subscribe to none. In your opinion are there any magazines left that are useful sources of information?

tx,

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

None that I know of. Some are better than others, but the Internet is killing computer magazines. I used to read all of them every month, but nowadays I find it's just not worth my time to do that. I'm better off spending that time on the net, finding stuff that is of direct interest to me.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 3:53 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Canon Scanner + Win2k issue solved

Thanks to Steve Gibson, not Canon, my CanoScan FS 2710 now works under Win2k.

I was browsing Steve's site to check my network security following some changes and decided to look at his free stuff. Steve has a SCSI ID applet that I downloaded and it not only told me I needed an ASPI driver, but also the URL to download it from Adaptec. Downloading and installing ASPI32.exe did the trick.

Full marks to Steve. Zero marks to Canon for making me wait on the phone so long I gave up, not answering the fax I sent, not allowing users to email their problems, not including instructions with the Win2k software download that might have pointed to this as an issue (am I the only one?), and not including the ASPI driver.

Where does MS fit into this? Windows update assured me I had the latest driver for the scsi adapter. The Orb drive certainly seemed to work when it was plugged in. Perhaps your new book will enlighten me about scsi; I am certainly no adept.

Why the scanner refused to co-exist on the same scsi chain as the Mitsumi CD writer is still a mystery. And it's going to remain so while I get some real work done!

Actually, I've used several devices that ran exclusively on a dedicated scsi adapter over the years. I used to own a Floptical drive, the one with incredibly short-lived and expensive 20 MB disks. I was one of the first purchasers of the Zip 100. That used to exhibit quite strange behaviour dual booting between Win95 and NT4 ws. If I failed to access the Zip drive during a Win95 session, NT4 would hang trying to load the scsi miniport driver. A Zip access during a Win95 session ensured a successful NT boot. It took a while and much tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth to discover that one.

I've decided that Canon deserve full marks for the CanoScan *hardware*. The results are superb at a reasonable price.

Happy birthday Robert! Congratulations on the presents, esp. from the dogs. My 15 yr old son forgot to by me a birthday gift for my recent 49th. Sadly, it never occurred to me to give Ricky the Wumberlog pocket money, but he took me for a walk instead :-)

Yes, my rule of thumb is that you can't trust either Microsoft or the hardware maker to supply good SCSI drivers. Which isn't really their fault. It only makes sense to visit the web site for the SCSI host adapter periodically to download the latest drivers. I hadn't heard about the dual boot problem with Zip you mention, but I'm not surprised. Dual boot systems are weird anyway, and Zip certainly has its share of weirdities. As it turns out, the dogs didn't actually buy me anything. Barbara bought it for them and they put their names on it. But then Border Collies are notoriously tight with a penny anyway.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: John Dominik [mailto:John.Dominik@GreatClips.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 4:31 PM
To: 'thompson@ttgnet.com'
Subject: The Death of PC Magazine

I suspect that you'll get a lot of commentary that it's being widely exaggerated, but frankly, I dropped the thing from my regular reading list this winter after their most recent attempt at "design". When Bill Machrone was running the joint, you could expect some rather humbling plain speech when it came to "we just can't get this to work a damn" and the occasional "off-topic" music software/equipment article. Lately I get the distinct feeling that they're trying to be nice to everyone, regardless of how pathetic the products are. Perhaps it's a pulling of the teeth or something.

Dvorak used to be somewhat more intriguing, but his rants come off more lately like whines. Seems he's run into the "-ites" one too many times, and having broken his nose, teeth, and face on Mac-ites, Linux-ites, MS-ites, and the others, I think he's sick of defending opinions he's staked out only for the sake of another issue's column.

Let's face it - Byte may have died an early and horrible death, but I read it now more than any other paper magazine (with the exception of Windows NT (now 2000) Magazine). By the time you lay hands on the paper edition, it's completely out of date. If you have a "how-to" question you're going to wait 3-6 months to get the answer out of these folks. . . I've not waited more than two days for answers in the last two years with the web (and that was because of a weekend) - if you can't find the answer on your own, ask someone more knowledgeable (yourself, Dr. Pournelle, other members of the Daynotes group). Likely as not, if they don't have an answer off the cuff, someone else does.

Just think the number of trees we'll save if we can get them to stop publishing all the slick-paper magazines and turn to web-based media. Someday we'll get that paperless office... (sorry, couldn't resist)... I think Ziff-Davis will likely scramble quite a bit now that they're out from under Softbank's "patronage" and we'll see what comes from it. Who knows, maybe AOL will drop a few bucks on the thing on the theory that "hey, one relic (Time) deserves another (PC Magazine).

Thanks for all the information and help, and please, enjoy your birthday - no telling how many more you have left. Relax, put your feet up, have a beer/pop/coffee, and do something FUN for crying out loud. Get taken out to dinner, and enjoy life for a few hours.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
John.Dominik@GreatClips.com
Information Technologies Manager
Phone (952) 893-2683
Fax (952) 844-3444
Cell (612) 730-8304

Actually, not. Of the dozen or so responses I've gotten so far, every one agrees that PC Magazine is going down the drain, and most have mentioned that they've dropped their subscriptions. I don't think the problem is with PC Magazine per se. The problem is endemic to magazine publishing in general and computer magazine publishing in particular. The audience for computer magazines is, no surprise, computer literate. They used to read computer magazines because at the time that was the best way to get information about computers. Nowadays, there is much more current (and, some would argue, more reliable) information available freely on the web.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Nick Hanstock [mailto:j.n.hanstock@blueyonder.co.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 1:06 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Dvorak

I agree with your comments on Dvorak. I'm in UK and used to make special journeys (150 mile round trips ) to get US comp mags in early days. Still remember near hernia from my first PC magazine. 

PS On Dvorak I'm afraid after I finished laughing I wanted to offer you a saucer of milk! 

PPS Z-D remade PCComputing into an E_Biz mag just in time for the Nasdaq reality check. Cool

Yes, the musical chairs in magazines would be amusing if it weren't so aggravating. I still remember when BYTE foundered. We got a notice saying that it had ceased publication and that they were going to substitute Wired or some such garbage. No offer to refund our remaining money. We got Wired briefly and then that stopped coming too. I assume Wired collapsed, but I no longer pay much attention to the travails of the magazine business. Then, most recently, PC Computing decided it didn't want to be a computer magazine any more. So they started sending us their new business-oriented magazine, which I don't have much use for. But it's not worth getting involved in the hassles of trying to get a refund. It seems to me that it's a basic principle of business that if you're not going to deliver the product you have to refund the money you've been paid for it, but that doesn't seem to be operative in the magazine business. It's like opt-out versus opt-in for spam. I think that the magazine publishers who keep my money and stop delivering the magazines I subscribed to are thieves, pure and simple. But I don't have time to make an issue of it.

 


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Thursday, 8 June 2000

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I got an odd email yesterday from NECx. It said, in part:

Each state's laws are unique in determining the collection of sales tax. Several states have laws that make NECX Direct liable for sales tax because of activities we perform in a particular state. Since NECX Direct conducts its business in accordance with the highest ethical standards and in compliance with all laws and regulations, effective immediately we are required to collect sales tax in North Carollina.

I thought that was strange, because I doubt that NECx has suddenly opened a warehouse here or done anything else that would have given them a business presence here in a legal sense. As it turns out, the answer was in this morning's newspaper. North Carolina is distributing sales tax collection software to mail-order and Internet resellers that allows them to collect and remit sales tax to North Carolina. It makes no difference that courts have ruled for 50 years or more that states have no right to collect sales tax on transactions unless both buyer and seller are within their boundaries.

North Carolina's new initiative is "voluntary", you see. Voluntary in the sense that small merchants voluntarily pay protection money to the mob. If I'm an out-of-state reseller, North Carolina can't force me to collect sales tax for them. So instead what North Carolina has done has said that out-of-state resellers who don't comply with this new tax grab are to be refused access to North Carolina courts for such things as collecting bad debts. This is entirely unconstitutional, and North Carolina is counting on the fact that individual vendors have neither the time nor the resources to bring suit against them. I hope that mail-order trade groups sue North Carolina into the ground.

For it is a new tax in every sense. North Carolina has no legal right to collect Sales Tax on out-of-state sales. That is beyond dispute. It's gone all the way to the Supreme Court. North Carolina has a Use Tax, which substitutes for Sales Tax on out-of-state sales. And that Use Tax is already collected. There's a line on the North Carolina Income Tax form where one must either report all purchases made out-of-state and pay taxes on the full amount or pay of a standard percentage of one's income in lieu of calculating Use Tax on the actual total amount of purchases. So what this really is is double taxation. You pay Use Tax on all out-of-state purchases, even though North Carolina's new extortion plan means that you've already paid Sales Tax. The bastards.

And NECx is rather sanctimonious, aren't they? First they cave to unconstitutional pressure from North "Carollina", then they turn around and send email to their customers pretending that, rather than wimping out, they're doing a Good Thing. Ethical, indeed. They won't be getting any of my business, nor will any company that caves to North Carolina's extortion. 

And speaking of odd emails, I got a nasty spam the other day from some used equipment broker. It said that they'd spidered my web site and noticed several words on it including "Dell" and "memory". Accordingly, they just knew I'd be interested in getting their spam, which offers me the opportunity to buy and sell used computer equipment. Being honorable spammers (an oxymoron if there ever was one), they offered me the opportunity to be removed from their list simply by replying and asking to be removed. Yeah, right. The message even bragged that they could send 30,000 spams per second. It also said that they could send high-volume faxes, but those were too expensive, so they'd use spam instead. So a couple of hours later the spams start arriving from them, in volume.

I checked the headers, intending to complain loudly to their service provider, but their service provider is them. They're running their own SMTP server. At that point, I decided to find out who their upstream provider was and complain to them. But that was too much trouble, so I just added their entire domain to my kill file. Someone needs to track down people like this, knock on their doors, and blow their heads off. If that happens just a few times, it may discourage the others. 

And speaking of spam and nastiness, something interesting happened the other day. Someone had mentioned www.websmostlinked.com so I decided to visit it. While I was there, I registered a web site to be checked for links. I did all that anonymously, so imagine my surprise when I got email from websmostlinked telling me that the site had been spidered. That email was addressed to thompsrb@bellsouth.net, an email address that I never use, but which is the underlying account for my dial-up Internet access. Just to make sure, I added ttgnet.com to their database the other day, being very careful not to provide any information they could use to contact me. Yesterday, I received email notice from them that ttgnet.com had been added to their database. Once again, that notice was sent to thompsrb@bellsouth.net

I never gave websmostlinked.com my email address, or indeed any other email address. So how did websmostlinked.com know how to contact me? Only one possible answer. BellSouth.net, the bastards, gave my account information (email address) to these people. That is a completely unacceptable violation of my privacy. I just called BellSouth.net tech support to complain. The lady told me that there was nothing she could do and that there was no one I could talk to to complain about the problem. She suggested I send email to feedback@bellsouth.net but says there's no one that I can actually speak to about what they're doing.

Right now, I have Barbara's email on pair set up to autoforward to thompsrb@bellsouth.net, from which she POPs. I think what I may do is set up her pair mail to autoforward to one of the subsidiary POP accounts at BellSouth and just let the main mailbox fill to its limit and never POP from it. Supposedly, the subsidiary mailboxes are completely independent, so filling up the main box should have no effect on the others.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Garvey [mailto:mgarvey@pcmac.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 1:21 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Your "STOP: c0000221" message

I read about your problem with NTW4 and the Intel video driver for the CA810E motherboard and have a few suggestions to try. A quick search of the Microsoft KnowledgeBase turned up the following:

Q172340 - STOP C0000221 Bad Image Checksum After Adding RAM Excerpt from this page: After you add additional RAM to your Windows NT system you may receive the error message (size 7109 bytes, updated 2/24/1999 9:32:00 PM GMT)

Q245087 - Err Msg: STOP C0000221 - Bad Image Checksum in Ntvdm.exe Excerpt from this page: When you use a computer that is running Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 or Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0, the computer may stop responding (hang) and you may receive the following error message (size 6639 bytes, updated 1/4/2000 3:36:00 PM GMT)

The first document seems more germaine to your problem and recommends removing the additional RAM, deleting the paging file(s), running CHKDSK against the volumes, recreating the paging file(s) reflecting the additional RAM to be added; then reinstalling the additional RAM.

If the wow32.dll consistantly shows up in the message, then it may in fact be corrupt and should be replaced per the second document. Since you probably have another computer with a working copy of NTW4 and SP6 (SP6a?) you can save time by obtaining the file from the other computer. ___________________________
Mike Garvey
PCMAC
555 Montgomery St., Ste 650
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone: 415-731-1111
Fax: 415-731-4270

Thanks. I'd already found those articles and done all of that, which I should have mentioned in my original post.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Tanner [mailto:david.tanner@lecroy.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 4:47 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: CA810E

Bob, Enjoy your site. Don't always agree with your opinions on non-computer topics, but appreciate them.

With respect to your onboard video ram, I vaguely remember a Daynoter having this problem in the last year and solving it. If anyone else had asked, I would have said it was you. Since it is not you, maybe it is Tom (or maybe JHR?). Something (in the bios???) had to be set to 63k and then everything was happy. I also don't remember if it was NT or 9x. This would seem to be consistent with NT putting something in the video memory which then gets video written to it, hence the checksum error.

I hope you get better advice from someone else, if not, hope this helps.

Thanks. Yes, that was me. Steve Tucker was building a Linux box on a system with a CA810 motherboard, and having all sorts of problems. I pointed out to him that he didn't really have 64 MB of memory. He excluded the memory that the 810 video was usurping by telling Linux that it had only 63 MB, and everything started working fine. My problem may also be related to memory allocation or to some interaction between the video drivers and memory allocation, but so far I haven't come up with a solution. Intel now knows about the problem and is looking into it for me.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David N. Reiss [mailto:dnr@frontiernet.net]
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 9:23 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: magazines

Robert,

I thought I would weigh in on the magazine discussion.

The only computer magazine I still subscribe to (pay for) is Dr. Dobb's Journal. It is a programming magazine. I mainly read it for Michael Swaine's columns each month. I can get most of this on the web, for the most part, now. But I like to remain loyal to some things and pay for them a little. It is pretty cheap. Last time I resubscribed it was like $40 for three years.

As for PC Mag... I let my subscription lapse. The only thing I was reading in it of late was Dvorak and he appears to have lost his edge. Of course, PC Mag has priced itself out of the market to some extent too. $40.00 for one years subscription is a little steep.

Byte was the best of the general purpose computer mag's. I don't find the web site to be much like I remember the magazine being. Computer Shopper in it's hay day was cool. Especially when you bought it at a supermarket or something. Milk, eggs, a set of encyclopedias, and some toothpaste. Of course, its dead now (or maybe still dying) because of the Internet. Saw it a little while back and it was pretty much a normal sized magazine

Now a days, I just get the standard issue free magazines like Network World and Computer World and Internet Week. They ain't bad. They are at least as good as the present incarnation of PC Magazine. Which is the primary reason I let PC Magazine lapse. I can get the same general type of thing for free now.

Another one that is now long gone... Maybe ten years back now, which I still miss is PC Tech Journal. It was a good magazine in its time. But it died even before the Internet came around.

UNIX Review, I think it was called, was pretty good too. It briefly morphed into Performance Computing Magazine... but then died. SUN Expert is still around as Server/Workstation magazine serving the same niche, but it isn't much the same. Another I remember is Computer Language... no idea if it died or morphed into something else.

Maybe we are all starting to lose our minds. We're missing old computer rags. Maybe we can talk about the times before the mouse and you had the F keys on the side of the keyboard, rather than along the top. :-)

-----
David N. Reiss dnr@frontiernet.net
Internet System Administrator 716-777-5636
East Coast Admin. Team www.frontiernet.net
Frontier Global Center www.globalcenter.com
A Global Crossing Company www.globalcrossing.com
A paranoid is someone who has all the facts at his disposal. - William Burroughs

I agree that the controlled-circ pubs are no worse than the ones you have to pay for. I used to get a bunch of them, but I gradually let my free subscriptions expire. PC Week became pretty useless, and it got to the point where I didn't have time to read the recycled press releases that a lot of the others publish as editorial content. At this point, I'm down to reading only InfoWorld.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2000 4:42 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: The Register

Apropos The Register (why do you read it anyway?). I note that at least the new design is doing things by the CSS rules, so the user can override it with a user preference by e.g. having your own local CSS file defined. This is far prefereable to specifying point size in the web page itself.

Deplorable as specifying fixed sizes is, The Register site has in fact only "suggested" them by using CSS. I find it curious that IE interprets CSS font-styling so inflexibly, and in that case it is a fault with IE, not the site as such.

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

Well, given that the majority of people use IE (about 75% on my site and something like 70% on Pournelle's), it seems to me that The Register needs to be paying attention to that. I tried using Netscape Navigator 4 to view The Register, and it indeed does allow me to change the displayed font size. That's a point for Nav, although it's still so pathetic that I wouldn't consider actually using it. I keep it around just to check how my page looks in it. 

As far as defining one's own local CSS file, that's something that not 1 in 10,000 people knows how to do, or even that it can be done, so that's obviously no solution for most users. As far as the fault being with IE, I can't agree, although I'll take your word for it that IE is not handling CSS correctly. If a site doesn't render properly in IE, that's the site's problem. Not fair, certainly, but that's the reality in a world where most people use IE.


18:35: Thanks to everyone who has mailed me to point out that my thompsrb@bellsouth.net address is on file at InterNIC. Believe me, I'm well aware of that. As a matter of fact, I spent a good deal of time this morning trying to get a domain transferred to my RT121 handle. Every time I deal with InterNIC it aggravates me that they both require this information and publish it. That's not the answer in this case however. TTGNET.COM is indeed registered to me, and my email address can be located with whois. That wasn't the case in the first incident, however. The first domain I mentioned has no known link to me, and will stay that way. That's why I was so shocked that they were able to respond to my underlying account name. The only possible answer was that BellSouth was providing account information to these people. Or at least that's the only answer I can think of.

 


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Friday, 9 June 2000

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I got email from Steve Tucker last night saying he was connected to Road Runner, so guess what I'm doing today. It costs $39.95/month, which is about a wash with what I have now. BellSouth dial-up Internet service costs $20/month, and the phone line I use nearly full-time to connect to it is another $20/month or so. Road Runner provides only a dynamic IP address and doesn't even offer an option for a static address, so I won't be running any public servers here. I'll be paying about the same amount every month. The only difference is that I'll be connected at cable-modem speed instead of dial-up speed. Installation is free if I choose "self-installation". That's what Steve chose. He says the guy showed up and installed a dedicated home-run to the location where he wanted access, dropped off the cable modem and left. He was there for a total of about half an hour.

The only thing that concerns me a bit is reliability. For all the complaining I do from time to time about BellSouth.net, the fact is that they're up about 99% of the time. Cable companies aren't known for high up-time stats. I just now got off the phone with Time-Warner. They're sending someone out next Thursday to do the installation.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Greg Lincoln [mailto:glincoln@mazin.net]
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2000 9:40 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: how websmostlinked got your email address

Mr. Thompson,

I read and enjoy your daynotes daily. Today you have a story of a website that is getting your address from seemingly nowhere. I think they are getting it from the WHOIS service from www.networksolutions.com. Below this note is the whois entry for your domain.

Incidentally, if that is your home address, I would highly suggest you update your domain info with a PO box or something. I also notice what seems like a home address for Dr. Pournelle's www.jerrypournelle.com. Anyone can get this information, and with you and Dr. Pournelle it advertises where several thousand dollars of computer hardware can be found.

Greg Lincoln
www.mazin.net

Thanks. It's not the domain record at InterNIC. The first domain I listed with websmostlinked.com has no traceable association with me, so the explanation must lie elsewhere. As far as my home address being listed in the domain record, that doesn't make me happy, but neither am I particularly concerned. Barbara and I work at home, and one or both of us is almost always here. When we're not, my mother is still here. She has a hot button to dial 911, not to mention a riot gun beside her chair (I'm told that there's nothing that strikes fear into the heart of a burglar like an old woman with a shotgun). We also have three 65 pound dogs who don't take kindly to uninvited visitors. They love visitors, as long as we're here to tell them the visitors are okay. They don't like visitors who show up when we're not here. I'd actually feel some pity for anyone foolish enough to attempt to break in here.

* * * * *

<all identifying information removed by request. RBT>

Please don't post this on your website, unless you do it anonymously ! :)

"Being honorable spammers (an oxymoron if there ever was one), they offered me the opportunity to be removed from their list simply by replying and asking to be removed."

If people really, really annoy me then I have a reasonable way to spam them back and really, really mess things up, especially if they run their own mail servers.

Using my uni account, and the stupidly fast network backbone between University's in the UK, one can email the contents of "Sunsite" (running into 100's of Gigabytes of data), at rather astounding rates. I've never done it, the backlash would be amazing, but it's one of those weapons (like a Nuke), that I could use if sufficiently provoked.

Now there's a thought.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2000 12:54 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: nasty spam

>And speaking of odd emails, I got a nasty spam the other day from some used equipment broker

Speaking of nasty spam indeed. As far as I can remember I have never used "used, Dell, monitor & sales" on any of my pages. Maybe separate but never on the same page. So I don't think they can have collected my address from my own site.

The nasty thing is not that they pick your own address and spam you, you can protect yourself, but that they also spam all your friends. That is more than nasty.

I don't mind too much (I direct all the spam I get to a 'zpam' folder and it currently holds 16 mails, not bad for one-and-a-half year). Even though I don't normally publish other people's address I did copy the addresses that Dave has at the bottom of his daynotes. I hope that if they scan my site they will spam the wrong people that way.

I only wish one could send some sort of mail-bomb to them. (I do have the ILOVEYOU source if you are interested in building such a bomb :-) )

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: WE ARE BLABBERMOUTHS
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2000 21:38:24 -0700
From: "Dialing Dave at SCI" <sci@serviceconceptsint.com>
To: sci@serviceconceptsint.com

Dear Fellow Computer Trader.

I obtained your email address by searching the internet for web pages that included the words "used, Dell, monitor, & sales". I will assume that I may send you our requirements and offer broadcasts if you don't return this email with REMOVE in the subject line. If you are already receiving our broadcasts than let me take this oppurtunity to thank you for reviewing same.

If you wish to yell at (me) I can be reached at 817-860-7483. My name is Dave Henkin and I am known among the 13,000 traders that presently receive our list as Dialing Dave.

SCI is a LIST BROKER. What this means is that we have brokers that are on the phone all day that take phone calls from traders that have items that they want to buy and sell. We then post these and transmit the requirements and offers to the major computer trading organizations and to approximately 13,000 traders on our broadcast list. We also have a 21,000 sq. foot warehouse to store the products that we purchase and redistribute. We have a $5,000,000.00 purchase order funding line with Bankers Mutual of Florida. Of course our bank and trades are available on request

You may feel free to call us and have your requirements and offers posted AT NO CHARGE as we make our margins on the selling or buying of your product.

As we go out to +13,000 people nightly, WE ARE BLABBERMOUTHS so please don't give us a product to list that you are concerned about affecting market conditions. We couldn't keep a secret if we tried and we will violate the secret +10,000 times nightly. We use the Hughes Aircraft System Galaxy 4 Satellite to transmit approximately 3000 emails/second. We also have the capability to send out fax transmissions at the rate of 20,000 per minute NO KIDDING but the cost is prohibitive compared to the internet.

You Will Be Receiving Our First want To Buy /Offer List Shortly

I do have the source for ILOVEYOU if you really want it. But I think a personal visit would be even better. Their address from InterNIC is either 331 Aaron Avenue, Arlington, TX or 2202 E. Randoll Mill Rd., Arlington , TX. Perhaps someone who lives in Arlington will drive over and have a heart-to-heart chat with them.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2000 5:21 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Internet Connections with ISDN

Mr. Thompson:

In an effort to "cross-submit", I am attaching an email I sent to Mr. Pournelle regarding my experience with 3Com's ISDN Lanmodem. You and your readers may find it useful also. Feel free to edit, etc.

Thank you for your courtesy,

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

Jerry:

I'm slow. You mentioned Steve Gibson's wonderful website a while ago during the DOS attacks. I saved a link in my reference folder and had a chance to surf there today. After testing my system and verifying what I already knew - that I'm secure due to using a private net, I realized you and your readers may find my experience useful.

I use a 3Com ISDN LanModem (model 3c892). The unit is darn good and has quite a few useful features. The box is smaller than a cigar box and is an ISDN terminal adapter, 4port Ethernet Hub with router functions all in one. The firmware performs DHCP and NAT, or IntelligentNAT as 3Com labels it. On the back of the unit, the connectors are the power supply, ISDN line, 4 Ethernet ports, and 2 telephone jacks. If you need more ports, you can connect another hub for a max of 25 PCs (the limit due to the way the LanModem implements its subnet.) I have used this unit for some of my customer's home offices along with my own office and highly recommend it.

Setup is extremely user friendly. The unit operates on a 192.168.1.x ip network. 192.168.1.1 is the address of the LanModem. You simply connect your PC to one of the ethernet ports, leave the NIC card settings at their default (use DHCP for everything), and open a browser window. Surf to the address 198.168.1.1 and the web-based configuration page appears. After that, everything is menu oriented. The historical difficulties in configuring ISDN are non-existent. You simply enter the ISDN numbers assigned by your telco, and the lanmodem trundles along checking status and bringing up the ISDN link. Setting up your ISP is also menu oriented and just as easy. The lanmodem has provisions for multiple ISPs and configurations.

The reason I wanted to bring it to your attention is that it works like your rebel netwinder: you forget it's there. As far as your PCs are concerned, you have a constant connection to the internet. The LanModem does the rest. Whenever a net connection is requested, the modem will dial-on-demand and connect to your ISP. Since the unit operates on a private network address, none of your PCs are available to the outside world. Very Secure.

If all you need is connectivity and you don't want to host anything, I think ISDN with this modem is the ticket. Of course, I am assuming that ISDN is available and sold on a flat-rate call basis. Where I'm at in Cleveland, OH, Ameritech sells residential ISDN at a flat rate of about $60.00/month with all the phone whistles - caller id, call waiting, etc. I pay my ISP $40.00/month for dual-channel ISDN. Sure ISDN is slower than most DSL, but 128K is surprisingly fast, all things considered. I have a theory that for most users the speed is not as important as the annoyance of the two minutes you wait for your modem to dial and connect. The nature of ISDN makes the dialing process occur in less than a second or two... fast enough that you don't notice it. For me, I think that's probably the nicest feature. It may not be a constant connection like dsl or cable, but I can't tell the difference. For home office use, I think that having 2 phone lines included makes ISDN a better overall choice for home professionals. $60.00 a month is about what you would pay for 2 pots lines as is.

I use a configuration which I consider the "cat's meow". I have dial-on-demand setup to create a 64k connection when needed. If bandwidth requires it, the lanmodem automatically creates a 128k multilink connection. If bandwidth drops, the second b channel is dropped. The reason I like the unit so much for home offices is the two telephone lines you get due to ISDN. I have a 2 line phone connected to the unit. If I'm not on the 'net, I can use both lines for phone calls. Even when I am on the net, I can either have one b channel for data and the other for phone, or if both channels are used for a data call, when I pick up the phone, the lanmodem intelligently drops the data call and allows me to make a voice call. When I'm finished with the call, the lanmodem will re-connect a multilink data connection if warranted. Sure it slows down a download, but it works... and seamlessly.

The unit has a street price of about $400.00. This is considerably less than a netwinder. 3Com also makes a 56k lanmodem with the similar features. I have no experience with the 56k modem, but if it has the same net features it would be a great way for home networks to securely share a net connection without the hassle of a mcafee or norton internet security product. Also, you have all the benefits of an internal ethernet: file & print sharing, etc.

I hope you find this info useful. I enjoy all your work.

Thank you for your courtesy,

Thanks. Unfortunately, we don't have unmetered ISDN here.

 


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Saturday, 10 June 2000

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We'd been making some progress with Malcolm, based on advice that Sue Stephens (our vet) gave us. Sue said not to pet Malcolm's back and head (he sees that as a dominance display), not to stand over him, not to look him straight in the eye, and so on. That all seemed to be working. As of Thursday, Malcolm was acting like a happy pup again, instead of cringing and slinking off every time I entered the room. That all went out the window yesterday. Sue and Barbara think that Malcolm, too, may have hip dysplasia, and they wanted to X-ray him. 

That involves anesthetizing him, so Barbara hauled him over to Sue's clinic yesterday. Sue had pre-sedated Malcolm and was preparing to anesthetize him and do the X-rays when her X-ray processor flooded. So she called Barbara to say that she wouldn't be able to do the X-rays yesterday. We went to pick Malcolm up, and he was not amused. He was still pretty drunk from the sedative. I drove, and Barbara rode in the front passenger seat with Malcolm in her lap. When they got in, Malcolm nuzzled my hand and growled at the same time. Talk about mixed signals. Malcolm was back to feeling very insecure and regarding all of us, even Barbara, as potential threats to him. Fortunately, he seems better this morning, so perhaps the backsliding was only temporary. Of course, we haven't told Malcolm that Barbara is taking him back to the vet's office next Tuesday for another go-round. He's going to be pissed when he gets back from that one.

I'm not entirely sure what to do about a firewall/proxy/NAT for the cable-modem connection that's to be installed next Thursday. I'm inclined to use WinGate, mainly because I know it. I'd like to use Linux, but I'm uncomfortable depending on Linux, about which I know little, for a function that important to us. I thought about using one of the single-floppy Linux firewalls that I've read about, but I'm not certain how best to proceed with that. I have several systems that'd probably be fine for that purpose, including a full-tower Gateway Pentium/133 with 64 MB. That box already has a 10BaseT card in it, and I could easily scrounge up another 10BaseT card for the second interface. I'll have to do some thinking on this.

Barbara forwarded me the following message that she'd received on one of the mailing lists she belongs to. I mailed Mr. Goodman asking for permission to reprint his message, which he kindly granted. If you have any interest in electronic books, this one is worth reading.

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Goodman [mailto:sbpedit@stonebridge.com]
Sent: Friday, June 09, 2000 3:22 PM
To: pub-forum@egroups.com
Subject: Re: [pub-forum] microsoft reader e-book builder launch at BEA

I was asked for a minireport. Here goes:

I attended the all-day Microsoft launch of its e-book reader (http://www.microsoft.com/reader). I had to sign some sort of nondisclosure agreement, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it is that I'm not supposed to disclose. Nothing I heard was anything more than an extended discussion of what is already available in the public literature and press releases.

As there was just too much info to summarize (actually, I'm sure it can be summarized; I just don't have the time to do it!), I will cover some of the high points and my conclusions.

1. The Reader software is terrific. Combined with ClearType display software, the package presents a clear and extremely readable screen page. All the nav buttons are hidden, and even when you add a bookmark or note, all you see is a tiny little mark on the page. Plus it's free, not just as a download but as OEM on all PCs shipping this summer and beyond (it's already available on pocket PCs). Prerelease versions were given to all who attended, and apparently there will be some further refinements before the final release this summer.

2. But what can you read on it? This to me is the real big news. MS has corralled big publishers, bn.com, and a software company (Overdrive) to work together and ensure that (1) there is lots of content, (2) the content is available in Reader format, and (3) the content can be easily purchased on the Internet. MS stated that they are initially focusing on trade books for two reasons. First, trade books are text heavy and in standard formats, making them fairly easy technically to covert to e-formats. Second, trade books garner the most media attention, and the whole idea is to create an e-book fever among the sheep, er, consumers, by this fall. Bn.com is going to focus on the Reader format and says it will have 1,000s of titles for download, including lots of midlist books and indie publishers. They will also be selling subscriptions to magazines in Reader format, an idea I frankly find even more interesting than e-books. (Note: The people who attended from bn.com were extremely friendly and very partial to books and reading. I ended up at a table with a bunch of them and found them most helpful, and just as proud and excited about what they are doing as we are about our own books. It's an interesting contrast, in that Amazon approaches this whole thing as a "consumer" revolution, while bn is still thinking like a bookseller. Who would you rather sleep with?) The whole point when it comes to demand, then, is to create, inflate, and satiate, and Rev Jesse J couldn't have rhymed it better than I just have.

3. For those of you into whose minds just popped the word "regurgitate," the question remains, who wants to read this stuff? These are long-ball players involved here, and my impression is that the gameplan extends out over the next few years. The Reader will become more sophisticated and able to handle more complex documents and images (the goal being to manage what someone called "extreme graphics"). At the same time, the Reader will spread, spurred by free giveaways, better hardware (the Microsoft tablet for one), and more and more alliances with vendors and manufacturers (word is that a Rocket version is being negotiated) so that no matter what you've got you'll be able to take your "lit" files (that is, the Reader formatted files, from the ".lit" extension) and read them on it. The theory underlying all this is that marketing, ease of use, tons of content, and a more pliant demographic is going to create as much demand for this stuff as the market can fill. And while p-books (this year's new term; last year it was disintermediate; p-book provides riper joke opps don't you think?) are not dinosauring out, clearly the strategy is for a lot of big publishers to begin offering e-book only publishing strategies and "events." Sounds like a plan.

4. One term that barely cropped, to no one's surprise, is "pdf." Publishers like pdf, but I personally don't think it's going to make it as the e-book standard. Glassbooks may shatter.

5. PDF does offer good online purchase security through Web Merchant and Softlock, but the Reader will offer similar security, protection, and download flexibility. Microsoft is readying for release a whole package that publishers can use when creating their lit files. I find the subject of data rights management and security a bit over my head, and anyone reading this who can weigh in with more info and clarity is invited to do so.

6. The company Overdrive has created a program called Readerworks, designed to take publishers' content and render it as lit files. There are 3 varieties of program. The first is free and designed for noncommercial use and lacks some features. The second is what I would consider using, in that it provides a place for inserting copyright information, cover images, and, best of all, marketing information and "metadata" that can trail along with the file and be picked up by online merchants for inclusion in their product databases. (Including means of autoupdating information at bn.com and other vendors.) This program is going to retail for $149, not bad. There is another program out there for companies that need to create hundreds of these lit files. As I wasn't interested in this, I didn't find out more about it.

7. Quark is creating an extension that will allow you to save your qxp files for export to Readerworks (or other formats you select). You need an additional Quark extension first, avenue.quark.

8. I asked about whether any of this is for the Mac. Everything is in beta, they say. I am a Mac user, and of course took this with the appropriate umbrage. The irony of every publisher working on a Mac but being forced to load all sorts of Windows software was not lost on me or the others in the room. Complain all you want. Mac will get there, but not soon enough.

Conclusion: This stuff is coming like a freight train. You need to collect info, see where you fit in, make some initial deals (check out publishingonline.com) to get your feet wet, and begin building the creation of XML files into your standard p-book work flow. In the initial stages of launch, you will find tons of friendly vendors desperate for content and willing to work with you. Over time, you will find the e-book universe even more glutted than the standard bookstore. There will be more product than anyone wants. A lot of vendors will die out. And we will be in phase two, where marketing and publicity are just as important as ever, and specialty booksellers and shops are set up to serve as context and quality filters. And in the end, as in independent press, THAT'S where you need to be.

You may crosspost this note if you wish. Comments to the list are invited.

Peter Goodman, Publisher
sbpedit@stonebridge.com
STONE BRIDGE PRESS: Books and Software about Japan
P.O. Box 8208, Berkeley, CA 94707
Become a Stone Bridge Friend at http://www.stonebridge.com
Just published! YOGA POEMS: LINES TO UNFOLD BY by Leza Lowitz
Distributed to the trade by Consortium

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Friday, June 09, 2000 8:39 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Internet Connections with ISDN

Mr. Thompson:

Good luck with the cable modem service. I'm interested in your experience, and I'm sure it will be documented on your site.

Ironically, Dvorak had an article in PCMag some time back regarding phone companies' ISDN billing practices and how the metered or per-call billing practice simply caused users to create a connection and leave it up constantly. He postulated that if flat-rate were more widespread, people would do what I do, dial-on-demand, which would have the effect of reducing congestion and the amount of infrastructure the phone companies would have to maintain. (Once upon a time, I found his comments useful and worthwhile. I cannot say whether I agree or disagree with recent comments on his writings. I stopped reading his work some time ago.)

Thank you for your courtesy,

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

I'll certainly report my experiences with Road Runner. As far as keeping a dial-up link nailed up, there's a lot of misinformation about that. I don't know for sure about ISDN, but I suspect the situation is the same as for standard analog calls. For those, keeping a link nailed up is no problem for most phone companies, at least if the call is entirely within the CO. Many modern switches are "non-blocking". That is to say, every station can be connected to another station simultaneously. You occupy scarce resources when you place a call. The phone company can only generate dial-tone for a limited number of calls simultaneously. That's why, during natural disasters and so on, you may pick up your handset and not get dial-tone. Similarly, the the phone company has only a limited number of DTMF decoder cards installed in any one frame. Those cards are what recognize the Touch-Tone buttons you press and route your call accordingly. Same thing with ring generators. But once that call goes through, the scarce resources are freed up for other people to use. Your connection is simply a logical link across a multi-gigabit backbone from your line to the line you've called, and you're not occupying any scarce resources at all. Back when I had a full-time dial-up connection to the Internet, I placed one intra-CO call (from my home to my office, both of which were served by the Fifth Street Central Office) that lasted about 8 months. And they say teenagers stay on the phone forever.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Hassell [mailto:hassell@hasselltech.net]
Sent: Friday, June 09, 2000 10:48 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Road Runner

Congratulations (I guess) on your upcoming Road Runner upgrade. You'll either love it or hate it. The service here in Charlotte has become atrocious, whereas when I first signed up it was great. I attribute this to the "cable modem syndrome," where the more people on your subnet there are, the less bandwidth each person gets. What really peeves me, though, is that Time Warner is advertising that this does not happen! They should be sued for false advertising. And while the service is deteriorating rapidly for existing customers, they just keep signing more and more people up. AOL has really gotten to them.

I would definitely keep your old dial-up account handy. I find myself dialing up almost nightly because the response times through the 56k line are so much better than through the cable line. And don't even think about running a mail server off of it, even with a dynamic DNS service. If you're even 1% dependent on e-mail, you'll feel some pain when your contacts say they've sent you mail and you've never seen it.

Welcome to the broadband family.

---
Jonathan Hassell
hassell@hasselltech.net
http://www.hasselltech.net

You're not the first person who's told me that, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. On balance, I think my usage pattern is a good fit for a cable modem. Most of the congestion is likely to start when the kids get home from school and continue throughout the evening. Of course, when I need my connection the most is during the working day. So we'll see how it goes.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Grosskurth [mailto:dgrosskurth@mediaone.net]
Sent: Friday, June 09, 2000 3:52 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RoadRunner

Hi Robert, been reading your daynotes for a little while now and am *impressed* by your prodigious output, saw that you are getting RR installed soon and thought I'd comment.

My experiences with MediaOne's RR here in Atlanta have been very positive; the cable and PC techs that came to install it last December were both very competent, and the service worked well from the day they put it in. I chose to purchase my modem, a Toshiba, even tho I've heard it's better to lease since they will sometimes upgrade you to newer models, but I have only seen the modem lose sync with the cable a few times. Powering off/on the modem invariably takes care of this after a DHCP lease renewal on my gateway, a W98SE box. I figured that the payback of 15 months on a $10 lease (had to buy my modem for $150 but got free installation) was worth it; I might switch to DSL by this time next year after breaking even on the modem. The only time the service has been extensively down (a day) is when we had the ice storm in January that you know well about. I seem to get around T1 speed no matter what time of day it is, but I am not in a heavily wired area; a lot of people here get by with dialup I think.

Speaking of gateways, I straddled the fence initially between a cheap Linux box and a W98 gateway. My house is wired for 10BaseT Cat5 with a cheapo Ethernet hub, so I wanted an easy way to share the net feed. My solution (so far) was to install Sygate on the W98SE box; this is a software NAT that installs as a Win32 service and just runs fine out of the box; it had no prob setting up my dual 3Com 3C509's NICs for net and private LAN's. The only other machine I have on the LAN now is my work Toshiba laptop which I'm currently using to send this mail. With the NAT I can have as many machines as I want on the net even tho MediaOne RR does not officially support this; as you mentioned they will only give you one DHCP address. Also, my wife can still use the W98SE box for her work while I do mine; the only prob is the occasional system crash but that is rare with the tweaking I've done on it (well, there is that ATI Rage 128 driver lockup playing Quake 3, but... :). Nice thing about the Sygate NAT is that it supports IPSec encryption, which allows me to use my employer's Nortel VPN client to access my work LAN just as if I am sitting at work. Not quite as fast/more lag, but good enough. I looked intensively at the Linux alternative since I am a decent Unix sysadmin (and even downloaded the ThinLinux EDGE router software - http://edge.fireplug.net) but finally decided not to dedicate a separate machine as a NAT router since I already had the W98SE box ready to go. There are tradeoffs with both solutions; I think if you just want a basic NAT then a cheap Pentium and Linux is the way to go, just set it up and throw it in the room with the modem/hub/etc., but if you don't want to fool with another box and the Linux config then I find Sygate to work well for me, and it's cheap enough at $40 or so.

Good luck with your RR install; I also looked at Bellsouth DSL but they want more money for it, I'm 17,000 or so feet from the CO so who knows what date rate I'll get, and they require you to obtain their unnecessary (for me) Complete Choice package to get the good deal ( $40 but you must keep your primary line and get Complete Choice vs. $40 total for RR). I ditched my 2nd line when getting RR so my incremental cost is only around $15/mo, my employer and Freewwweb were my last dialup ISPs before RR came along. I know the cost for broadband will come down over time as more competition arrives; when wireless really comes in we'll have better days ahead, but in the meantime I have no complaints with RR.

Thanks for the kind words. I haven't decided for sure what I'll do about a proxy/firewall/NAT. I suspect I'll stick with WinGate, which is secure enough if configured properly. It's what I'm using now to share my dial-up connection. The trouble is, I can't simply change it from using one network interface and one dial-up interface to using two network interfaces. I have to re-install to do that. I'd prefer not to trash my existing installation, so the best choice is to create a new WinGate server box for the Road Runner connection. I hesitate to use a Linux box, simply because I don't know Linux and I'm very uncomfortable having something that important to me running on something I don't understand. So, for the time being anyway, I think I'll go ahead and use WinGate. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Grosskurth [mailto:dgrosskurth@mediaone.net]
Sent: Friday, June 09, 2000 4:07 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RoadRunner security

Oops, forget something in my last long-winded post to ya, Mr. T. MediaOne's RR seems to be fairly well secure so far; I went to Gibson's grc.com website and ran his port probe utility against my gateway and it found nothing with Sygate running as the NAT, even tho I have File and Print sharing bound to my private lan adapter (not the Net adapter of course). This is supposedly a Bad Thing to do if you have an always-on link, but I've tried dslreports.com's prober too and it can't find anything open on my IP addr either. So, I don't know who's doing the blocking but I suspect RR is not allowing a lot to come inbound. I still keep up-to-date with all of Mickeysoft's innumerable security patches on my W98SE gateway but I am not so concerned about hijacking at this time. IMHO, probing your NAT once a month or so is a good thing to do to make sure tho, even if you run a firewall like ZoneAlarm or BlackICE with your NAT.

Good point. I'll have to think carefully about security, particularly since I'm reasonably high-profile. Pournelle and I were talking about that issue a year or so back, when he was first looking into getting a high-speed always-on connection for Chaos Manor. Obviously, there are a lot of punks out there who'd love to have Pournelle's scalp on their belts. I have only a quarter or less his readership, but that still leaves me wide open to a lot of script-kiddies who'd love to prove how smart they are and what an idiot I am.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Huth [mailto:mhuth@internetcds.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 10, 2000 12:33 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Burning CD's

Robert,

I've no interest in pirating software (I'm past that, I guess), but I'd sure like to make a second copy of a software package on CDs that I own. The package is our commercial accounting software. The software lists at close to 4k and the company won't provide a backup CD (they tell me they will fedex another copy right out to me...sigh). I purchased a HP CD-Writer 9300i CDRW. The software that comes with it doesn't work with windows 2000 so HP upgraded the software. While waiting for the upgrade I purchased a copy of the commercial version of the Adaptec Easy CD-Creator 4. Works well for backing up data, but won't copy my accounting software disk. I suppose that it has some kind of copy protection on it. Do you know if the the Adaptec software allow some kind of low level copy routine that can bypass those sorts of things?

I find this a bit absurd. Not only does the company force me to enter a bunch of 16 digit numbers on installation, now to find that I can't even copy the disk.

I know that such things as copy-protected CDs exist, but I have no personal experience with them. I believe that copy-protected CDs use a method similar to the old sector-diddling that Copy2PC used to break on protected diskettes. Off the top of my head, there are a couple of things I'd try. First, just because the CD itself is copy-protected doesn't mean that the files on it are. I'd put the CD in the drive and do an xcopy /s /e to a directory or partition on my hard drive and then copy the files from the hard drive to the CD-R. That may work, although it probably won't. The install program may check to see that a particular file is on a particular sector, or there may be an intentionally incorrect CRC associated with a particular sector. 

The next thing I'd try, if my drive and software supported it, is doing a "raw mode" copy. That requires a bit of explanation. A standard CD uses 2,352-byte sectors. On a standard data CD, there is a 2,048 byte data block followed by CRC data, which occupies the remainder of the 2,352-byte sector. When you copy a CD in "cooked mode", the CD-ROM drive reads the 2,048-byte data sector, calculates a CRC, compares the calculated CRC against the CRC written on the source CD, writes the 2,048-byte data sector to the target CD-R, calculates a new CRC, and writes that new CRC to the remainder of the 2,352-byte physical sector on the CD-R target disc. If your source disc has had one or more of the CRCs intentioned diddled, which may well be the case, the duplicate CD won't run because its newly-calculated CRC is "wrong" as far as the installation program is concerned. A raw-mode copy may overcome this problem. In raw mode, the source CD drive reports both the data sector and the original CRC to the burning application, which writes both data and CRC exactly as they exist on the source CD. Using a raw-mode copy may allow you to burn a duplicate that'll run.

But again, I know next to nothing about copy protection on CDs, so perhaps one of my readers will have some better ideas.


15:40: Thanks to everyone who responded concerning bringing up a firewall/proxy/NAT for my RoadRunner connection. I'm already covered up in replies from readers of this site as well as from the back-channel Daynotes mailing list.

The consensus seems to that there are a lot of good ways to use Linux, but several people have mentioned that RoadRunner does things strangely and getting it to work with a Linux gateway can be problematic. Interestingly, several Linux advocates have suggested I avoid Linux for this purpose. All of them asked to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons. A couple suggested using WinGate, which I currently use and am comfortable with, and another suggested just putting up a dedicated Win2K Pro box running Internet Connection Sharing with BlackIce running on top of it, which is what I decided to do.

That's no slam on Linux, either. The pro-Linux folks who suggested using something other than Linux aren't religious about operating systems. They realize that I have my own problems and priorities. First and foremost, I need this connection to work. If it breaks, I need to be able to fix it rather than sitting here with a Linux book in my lap, staring at a screen and scratching my head. Also, I'm concerned about security, and I don't understand Linux well enough to be sure that I'm secure. I could spend all my time nailing the front door shut and not even realize that the entire back door was missing. All of this is so new to me that I'm doing to do everything I can to minimize the variables, at least until I get a handle on things.

I'm just now building a dedicated RoadRunner box from old parts, including an EPoX EP-BXT motherboard, 128 MB of RAM, a Celeron/333, an old Western Digital 4.3 GB hard disk, and a couple of old LinkSys and/or Addtron Ethernet cards. A motley collection, indeed, but they've all been stable and I suspect this box will run forever with no attention. I think I'll have to renumber my network, because I seem to remember that ICS is hard-coded to use 192.168.0, but that won't take long.

There's a lot of mail on the topic, which I'll put up tomorrow or Monday. Even though I've decided against using Linux for now, other readers may find the suggestions and comments useful, and there's always a chance I'll convert to using Linux later. Thanks again to everyone who responded.

 


wpoison

 

 

 

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Sunday, 11 June 2000

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I have lots of mail concerning bringing up a firewall/proxy/NAT for my RoadRunner connection. I don't have time to deal with it this morning, so I'll probably work on it throughout the day. I think I'll put it all up on a separate page as a resource.

I despise Western Digital hard drives. Maybe it's just me, but I've had terrible experience with them. I have many different types of hard drives around here. The Seagates, Maxtors, IBMs, and Quantums seem to run for years with no problems. Not so the Western Digitals. I have a stack of dead Western Digital drives, or did before Barbara made me toss them. The most recent casualty was the Western Digital AC34300L 4.3 GB drive I was using to build my new RoadRunner box.

After flirting with the idea of using Linux to build a firewall/proxy/NAT for RoadRunner, I finally decided to install Windows 2000 Professional and use its Internet Connection Sharing feature in conjunction with BlackIce. That meant building a box sufficient to run W2KP. I fished around and came up with the necessary components and built the box last night. Everything went normally, until I attempted to install W2KP.

After booting the W2KP Setup floppies--all four of them, which takes something like 15 minutes--I finally arrived at the Setup fdisk screen. It told me that there were two areas of unpartitioned space on the drive, an 8 MB area followed by a 4100 MB area. That seemed odd. I mean, if both spaces are "unpartitioned", why isn't it showing just one area that encompasses all the space? I tried using the Setup fdisk utility to delete/combine those areas, but it wasn't having any. I finally decided to forget about the 8 MB first area and just install to the 4100 MB second area. That didn't work, either. Setup informed me that it couldn't install to the second area because it needed to install some files in the first area, which wasn't large enough to hold those files.

Okay, time to punt. I restarted the system with a Windows 98SE boot floppy and fired up fdisk. It told me that the drive contained only one partition, the 4100 MB one, which was an extended partition. Huh? I tried to delete that partition, and fdisk told me I had to first delete the logical drives within the extended partition. I'd run into something like that in the past, and it usually required a low-level format to fix. Not expecting to succeed, I told fdisk to delete the logical volumes in the extended partition. There was only one logical volume there, and it was labeled C:. That's truly weird. At any rate, I was able to delete the C: logical volume, and then the extended partition. Win98 fdisk then showed the drive as having no partitions. Good enough.

I restarted the 15-minute W2KP Setup boot process, and it got to the fdisk screen, which showed a single unpartitioned area of 4103 MB. I told Setup to install W2KP in that area, chose NTFS formatting, and started the process. It seemed to take a long time before the first bar on the formatting status line appeared, but I attributed that to the age and slowness of the drive, and turned back to my main computer to do some more work. A few minutes later, I turned around to see how it was doing, and it was only up to 5%. An hour later, it was only up to 17%. At that point, I started watching the system more closely, and it didn't move off 17% for several minutes. I'd about decided that W2KP Setup was locked up when the status bar finally moved to 18%. I finally decided just to let it run to see what would happen, so I turned off the lights and went out in the den to read my book for a while. An hour or so later I came back to check and it was only up to 22%. Okay, enough is enough.

I powered the machine down, restarted it with a Win98SE boot floppy, used fdisk to blow away the partition that W2KP Setup had created, created a new 4103 MB Primary DOS partition, restarted the system, and started it formatting under Win98SE. The format was slow, but not terribly so. A few minutes later, the DOS format told me that it had completed, but the drive showed a few KB in bad sectors. It's never good news when an IDE drive shows bad sectors. They're supposed to be spared out so one never sees them.

At that point, I decided there very well might be something physically wrong with the drive. I downloaded the WD diagnostics program from their web site, copied it to a Win98SE boot disk, and ran it. When I attempted to run the exhaustive surface diagnostics, the program immediately returned a fatal error #0207. It informed me that

This drive has one or more errors that are not repairable.
The final status code is 0207.
Please contact Western Digital Technical Support,
and report the status code shown here.

At a guess, that drive is somewhere between 18 months and two years old, so it's probably still under warranty. I won't bother to try to get WD to replace it though. At current hard drive prices, a 4.3 GB drive is about $30 worth when new. It's just not worth my time or the shipping costs to deal with it. It's cheaper just to buy a new drive. But you can be sure I won't be buying a Western Digital.

 


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