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Daynotes Journal

Week of 12 June 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:10

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, 12 June 2000

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Lots and lots and lots of mail from readers about RoadRunner and sharing/securing a connection. I've put up a separate page for this stuff, over in Current Topics.

Concerning Western Digital hard drives, given the recent problems I've reported with them it's interesting that Pournelle just posted a story about an unrelated problem with Western Digital. For the remainder of this week, you can read it here. After this week, it'll be available here.

AMD seems destined to follow in Intel's footsteps. After the recent wide-reported fiasco with Intel 820 chipsets, which resulted in many motherboard makers being stranded with hundreds of thousands of unusable i820-based motherboards, the same thing is apparently happening to AMD. The Register reports that "[...] there appears to be as many as a million boards piled up in Taipei warehouses which were designed using the KX-133 chipset, and which will now be useless. Fingers are being pointed at both Via and AMD." Motherboard makers have been having a very rough time lately.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeffrey Bruss [mailto:jbruss@csus.edu]
Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2000 2:29 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Hard Drive Woes

Dear Robert,

I, too, can appreciate the difficulties you are having with your hard drive. Although I have generally had good experience with Maxtor products, I am currently in a head-scratching state due to a recent replacement. A bit of background: the hard drive in question is a replacement drive for a 6-gig drive that died in my server. As it was under warranty, I sent it back to Maxtor and the exchanged it for a refurbished model (incidentally, their exchange program is efficient and painless; I had the new hard drive within a week). Not surprisingly, they were not able to scrounge a replacement 6-gig drive, so they sent along a 13-gig drive instead. I thought, "Great! More storage on my server!"

My server, it turns out, uses Windows NT 4.0, which is, in my opinion, a fabulously stable environment. The NT setup utility trundled along for a bit, then popped up the usual set of questions: do you want to partition this drive? Do you want to format said partitions? Would you like to use FAT16 or NTFS? I told the utility to go ahead and make the drive a single partition. The partitioning being done, the next step was, of course, to format the partition. No can do, says NT. Partition too big. Resize to 8 gigs and try again. So: resized to 8 gigs, tried again, no luck. Resized again to 2 gigs, installed NT, everything okay. Now here's where it gets weird. The NT disk administrator DID allow me to see and format the part of the rest of the drive, but only up to 8 gigabytes. In other words, there was still 5 gigs of unused space on the drive that NT can't see.

Dang. Okay, perhaps Win2K will have better luck. I blasted the drive with Maxtor's low-level utility, then put the Win2K CD in the computer. Understand that my intention wasn't to install 2000, only to use its setup procedure to partition and format the drive (Win2K doesn't like my server's motherboard). This seemed to work...but wait! When I tried to re-install NT, it reported that the partition created by Win2K was damaged or unformatted. Arrgh! In short, I have had to re-partition the drive and install NT in a 2-gig partition at the front of the drive. Disk administrator still sees the rest of the drive as only having a capacity of an additional 6 gigs, so once again, I am back to using 8 gigs of a 13-gig hard drive.

So it goes, until I replace that stupid motherboard and get Win2K installed. Incidentally, now fdisk is reporting odd things, too (such as non-existent logical drives and un-deletable partitions). Still, I am 2 gigabytes ahead of the game; remember, that computer started out with 6 gigabytes. Incidentally, the day I received the refurbished drive from Maxtor, the hard drive in my main workstation blew up (and I do mean that quasi-literally...there was visible damage to one of the chips on the drive). That hard drive, too, was a Maxtor, but I use a dual-boot scheme of Win98 and Win2K on my workstation, so no problems thus far with the second replacement drive.

Keep up the good work!

Thanks for the kind words. Your problems have nothing to do with the drive per se. The problem is the motherboard. You may be able to solve the problem with a BIOS update, but it's possible that you'll need either to replace the motherboard or add a third-party IDE interface like the Promise Ultra66. Be very careful. The way things are now, your data is at risk. I'd suggest you visit the Microsoft web site and do an all-words search for "large" and "IDE". You'll find several articles there that explain what's going on and what can be done to fix the problem. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Shawn Wallbridge [mailto:swallbridge@home.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2000 2:57 AM
To: [mailto:mhuth@internetcds.com
Cc: Robert Thompson

Subject: Re: Burning CD's

I read your letter to Bob about burning your CD's.

One thing I have found is that companies are coming out with CD's with more than 650MB on them. Since the new version (4.x) of Adaptec will not try to overburn a CD (probably a good thing), you can't copy it. Check to see how much data is on the CD you are trying to copy. If it is more than 650MB then you will need a 80min (approx. 700MB) to copy the CD.

Shawn 
www.maximum-tech.com

Good point, and one I should have mentioned. I know that 80 minute CD-R blanks are a lot more available and less expensive than they used to be. The last time I looked at 80 minute blanks, they were something like $4 each, compared to $1 for a standard blank. I think the 80 minute ones are a lot cheaper now, and it may be worth a try using one.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeffrey Bruss [mailto:jbruss@csus.edu]
Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2000 9:06 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Hard Drive Woes

Dear Robert, You are right about my data. If I were not fastidious about burning backup CDs, I would have lost my data several times over. Also, I betcha you're right about the motherboard, too. I have plans to replace it with a Celeron-equipped board in the very near future, so I doubt I'll be investing in a 3rd party IDE card. It's curious, though, that Win2K manages to format that drive (on that motherboard), and will sort of install itself. Yet NT 4.0 won't even see the whole drive. However, I'm off to the MS website to do the searches you've suggested. I'll keep you updated, if you're interested. Cheers, Jeff How

The problem really isn't with NT4. I've installed NT4 many times on hard drives larger than 8 GB. The NT4 distribution has an ATAPI.SYS file that limits you to installing it to a partition smaller than 4 GB. You can (kind of) overcome that limitation by substituting the ATAPI.SYS from SP4 or later during installation. Rather than allowing NT4 to detect drives, you tell it that you have a driver and supply the newer version of ATAPI.SYS on floppy. That allows you to install NT4 to a partition up to just under 8 GB (Microsoft calls it 7.8 GB). It still won't recognize your full 13 GB drive at install-time. But you can install NT4 to a partition of 7.8 GB or smaller, and subsequently use Disk Administrator to partition and format the remainder of the drive. There are ways to get around the 7.8 GB limitation (Barbara's NT4 box has one 10 GB partition), but it's easier and better simply to work the way NT4 wants to work.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Donders [mailto:alan_donders@hotmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2000 9:58 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Microsoft's New CD Policy

Bob, Regarding Microsoft's new policy of only allowing a 'rescue' CD to be supplied, what does one do when installing something new and you need a driver and up pops the dialog box that says "insert your Windows CD"? Just wondering.

Well, at that point, you'd better have a Windows CD handy, or you're out of luck. That's why Microsoft's new policy is going to lead to more, not less, copying of their OS CDs.


11:05: I spent this morning getting my RoadRunner machine finished and tested. It's named meepmeep for obvious reasons. Actually, that brings a burning controversy to the fore. Is the Roadrunner's call "meep, meep" or "beep, beep"? I've been in the former camp for forty years now, and I see no reason to change. Actually, if there's a final "p" on the sound, it's just barely audible. Judge for yourself here.

I found a couple of 10BaseT cards, but they're ISA and I didn't want to poison meepmeep with any ISA cards. I found a couple of LinkSys PCI EtherFast 10/100 LAN cards that I'd bought at Computer & Software Outlet and stuck on the shelf, so that's what I decided to use. The danger in building a multi-homed system with two identical Ethernet cards, of course, is that it can get confusing as to which card is which. So, before closing the case, I documented the cards as follows:

Card A:

Label:    A
Type:     LNE100TX Fast Ethernet Adapter Version 1.0
MAC:      00-A0-CC-24-E8-11
IP:       192.168.0.2
Location: Location 1 (PCI bus 0, device 8, function 0)
I/O:      E400 - E4FF
Memory:   E8008000 - E80080FF
IRQ:      11

Card B:

Label:    B
Type:     LNE100TX Fast Ethernet Adapter Version 1.0 #2
MAC:      00-A0-CC-26-83-7A
IP:       192.168.0.1
Location: Location 4 (PCI bus 0, device 11, function 0)
I/O:      E800 - E8FF
Memory:   E9009000 - E90090FF
IRQ:      10

At this point, meepmeep is ready to go when the cable modem installer shows up.

As I was making brunch for my mother, she was watching CNN news. It mentioned that at least one airline is considering using strait-jackets to restrain unruly passengers. I'm not sure how that differs from typical coach seating.

 


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Tuesday, 13 June 2000

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I wasted a bunch of time yesterday trying to deal with Barbara's mail problem. She uses a bunch of email addresses, such as barbara@ttgnet.com, but all are forwarded to her main mail account, thompsrb@bellsouth.net. Unfortunately, the BellSouth SMTP server yesterday decided that there was no such account as thompsrb for about four out of every five messages sent to that account. As a result, it started sending 550 error messages to remote SMTP servers, which of course results in people who attempt to send mail to Barbara getting a fatal error message telling them that there is no such user on the server. Fortunately, most of Barbara's mail comes to one of her autoforwarded accounts at pair, which means that I was the only one seeing those bounces.

I called BellSouth and gradually worked my way up from the level-one support morons to an "email specialist". She actually did seem to know a little about mail but she wasn't able to be much help because she was hamstrung by Bellsouth's policies. She knew there was something wrong with the mail.lig.bellsouth.net mailserver, because she could see for herself it wasn't working properly. But she couldn't turn in a trouble ticket to report the problem to someone who could do something about it, because doing that required that she have a copy of one of the bounce messages that I was seeing. I was forwarding those to her, but she couldn't get them because the server was having problems. She couldn't report that the server was having problems until she got one of the messages. Duh. Catch 22. She finally went over to Yahoo and opened a free email account there so that she could get the messages I was forwarding. The bounces were continuing as of 11:00 last night. This morning there were no new bounces in my general-delivery mailbox, but neither did Barbara have any mail in her main box. I sent two test messages. One of them arrived and the other disappeared into the ether. So I don't know if the problem is fixed yet or not.

More new stuff on the RoadRunner page, this time about small dedicated hardware routers.

* * * * *

Here's one of those messages that I have no idea how to reply to:

-----Original Message-----
From: normand [mailto:ntrudel@travelnet.ca]
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2000 3:27 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: win98 and Netware
Monday june 12th 2000

i must connect to switch together. first is a 3Com super stak II with linux and NT 4.0 plus one router all in tcp/ip and NetBEUI. The second switch isa Des-1004 with Novell and ipx/spx. But i have a collision and frosed the Netware Network. ???

I want to have a connection with the router to novell. Am not very good with Netware.

Norm

It sounds like you need to hire a consultant who understands switching, routing, NetWare, TCP/IP, and IPX/SPX.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2000 5:16 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Microsoft's New CD Policy

In response to Alan Donders' original message and your reply, you don't need the original CD after installing Win2k. All the drivers are installed to the hard disk during the install process. Presumably this will also be true for Windows ME.

Well, perhaps. But you're more of an optimist than I am.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David M. Yerka [mailto:LeshaWorks@iname.com]
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2000 7:21 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: 700meg CDs and copying

Dear Bob,

Saw this message below. Actually I've been able to burn 700MB CD's with Adaptec 4 and both a HP 4x4x24 IDE CDRW drive and an older 2x2x6 Digital Research Technology IDE drive. I believe it has more to due with whether the drive has the capability to "overburn" than the software (at least for IDE drives). I did nothing special but I believe most were "image" burns rather than "file-by-file" burns. I tend when creating a CD to "burn" to a file image when complete and later burn the image.

I also been able to burn 700meg CD's with the Nero Burning software.

I've been using CDR blanks from PNY of all people. Staples was/is running a deal on them with $15 back from PNY on a spindle of 50 with a store price of approximately $43. (Actually, my local store messed up and ticketed the spindles at $32 originally so I got 50 for $15).

One other thing I've found out is that the old Adaptec software Easy CD Pro95 is the best for capturing and image of a CD. I've tested it on several "production" CDs both old and new from various "evil empires" of software and been able to create images. I've even burnt a copy of software I OWN to be able to protect my original CD (i.e., offsite to a fireproof safe).

Finally, I have noticed that some companies diddle the "recorded" vs. "actual" file size for some files on CDs they produce. Then, when one attempts to do a copy (file-by-file) you see an error as sizes or checksums on the file don't agree. I think that the old MS Frontpage 98 CD had a file of an image (gif,bmp,jpg or something) in the data for the canned pages that had this "corruption" and a file copy would die using Easy CD (3.5, think was being used).

One qualification: A client had this happen when attempting a copy of his CD, called me in, retried in my presence and showed me. I didn't follow up on this. While I might copy MY purchased software to protect the original CD, taking money from a client for explaining/encouraging them how to copy software might get a person in quite a bit of trouble. And I'm always afraid that copying a buddy's software and ripping of the manufacturer leads down the road to Napster and finally a contempt for any author's right to intellectual property. I rather like the DayNotes Gang and respect their ability to put their expertise into print and their willingness to share it online and really don't want to see you all getting sick of being ripped off and close it all down.

Thanks for the kind words. You're correct that overburning must be supported by the drive hardware. As far as the size mismatch, that's one I'd not heard of, but it makes sense. When I'm copying a distribution CD, I always do a full disk copy, so I've never encountered that problem. Usually, I just use the Plextor disk copy utility, which seems to work fine. As far as copying software, I agree that it's a bad idea to show someone how to steal the software, but there are certainly legitimate reasons to make a backup copy, which is permitted under US law (or was the last time I checked). I tend to abuse CDs when I'm building a system, leaving them lying on the desk covered up by other stuff and so on. So I usually knock off a copy of the distribution CD, put the original back in the box, and work from the copy. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Mugford [mailto:mugford@aztec-net.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2000 12:11 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Partition Magic and disappearing Printers

Bruce,

I thought I should update you on my quest to back-install W98 on a w2K machine. I had purchased Partition Magic 5, but it wouldn't work, so I cupboarded the program and let it sit. After Jon Sturm suggested the patch was now available and would be a solution to what I needed, I went to dl the patch and get started. What follows is quoted from an email sent this night to Syroid Manor.

"If you want some fun, go out and buy Partition Magic 5. I bought it to resize some Windows 2K partitions to allow me to install W98 after the fact. But it won't do W2K out of the box. Off to the web-site, looking for the 30MEG patch. Get through the whole rigamarole and after taking my serial number, won't cough it up because I'm not registered. So, I try to register (against my wishes) and the vibes seem in sympatico. The registration screen ends in an error, whether I access it in Netscape 4.72 or in Internet Explorer 5. I turn OFF all of the little goodies I use to protect me from the bad world out there and still, registration ends in failure. A friend tried from his cable modem at home and from a ISDN line at his office to register. You can't get there from anywhere labelled 'HERE.'

I was warned the patch download was difficult. Surprised to find it is actually impossible."

As my tech joked, "And the reason we BUY software rather than download it FIXED from a pirate site is ....?"

At any rate, have you or any of your readers come across a solution that some of my clients seem to share with hundreds on the internet, that of completely disappearing printers? Every now and then, the users have trouble printing. And when they go into the printers folder to look for answers, they discover ALL of their printer, local and network, are gone. Rebooting solves the problem. A search through Deja News has revealed many comiseratees, but no answers. Any of you REAL experts know?

GM (Never the mark of excellence, just a sign of being generally muddled)

Gary Mugford
Idea Mechanic
Bramalea ON Canada

That's something I've not encountered. I have Partition Magic 5. I know I have it, because I have the CD sleeve lying right here on my desk. Damned if I can find the CD, though. At first I thought it must be in one of the CD drives, but after an exhaustive search it didn't turn up in any of them. So it's around here somewhere, and I'll try installing it and getting that patch when I have a moment. As far as disappearing printers, that's a new one on me.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2000 7:56 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Microsoft's New CD Policy

ROFLMAO! I consider myself to be an optimist, but my standard reply to "How are you?" is "So far, so good!" Many construe that to be pessimism.

Anyway, having futzed around with Win2k for the better part of a year, I have yet to be asked for the CD by the os. "So far, so good", as the guy who jumped off the Empire State Building said as he passed the 13th floor!

I also note that the Win2k CD I have was purchased somewhat after 1 April from a white box OEM. Mebbe the new strategy'll work against the tier one boxenbilders as much as for the Linuxen.

The Empire State Building is perhaps a good analogy. As they say, "If at first you don't succeed, don't take up skydiving."

 


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Wednesday, 14 June 2000

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After all those nice things I said about BellSouth, they turn around and screw up big-time. Their SMTP server started having problems Monday, refusing to deliver 80% or 90% of the messages addressed to our main mailbox. The POP server works fine, but that's little consolation when the SMTP server isn't delivering the mail to the mailbox in the first place. That continued through yesterday, but with an added twist. Now the SMTP server won't allow us to send mail, either. We can get one out once in a great while, but otherwise stuff just stays queued up in our outboxes. 

Nor is the problem limited to just our own mail server. BellSouth names servers for the cities they serve. For example, the server that serves the Raleigh-Durham area is mail.rdu.bellsouth.net, and the one for Atlanta is mail.atl.bellsouth.net. We're on the catch-all mail server, mail.lig.bellsouth.net, the one they use to serve everyone who doesn't have a dedicated city server. In the past, when I'd had problems sending mail via mail.lig.bellsouth.net, I'd switched to mail.rdu.bellsouth.net. They're all on the same internal network, so there's no problem accessing some other city's server. This time, though, I can't get mail sent through either lig or rdu.

So the upshot is, most mail sent to Barbara is bouncing, and she can't send any mail. I can receive mail, because I POP from the server at pair Networks, but I also can't send mail because the SMTP server won't accept it. As I was writing this, the SMTP server came back to life. Wonderful. Only about two days without inbound mail and one day without outbound mail. I don't guess I'll be keeping BellSouth service for long after RoadRunner is installed. I planned to do that just to have something reliable, but these recent problems make that a dubious plan. I really must bring up a local mailserver.

I'd almost decided to use BlackICE Defender but, as usual, I decided to do a bit more research. I'm glad I did. BlackICE gets glowing reviews lots of places. But if I read ten 5-star reviews of a product in the PC magazines and then read one 0-star review from someone I know and respect, guess whose opinion I give more weight to? If a magazine gives BlaceICE a great review, that may mean nothing more than that BlackICE bought a big ad from them for that issue. Who knows? But when Steve Gibson says "I can no longer recommend BID . . . even with reservation", I sit up and take notice. Steve recommends ZoneAlarm (which, perhaps not coincidentally, is what RoadRunner recommends), and that's good enough for me. Steve mentions that ZoneAlarm only works with stand-alone PCs, not with Internet Connection Sharing, but he's referring to an earlier version. The ZoneAlarm FAQ claims the current version works fine with ICS, so we'll see.

Barbara leaves this evening for a trip to Pennsylvania with her parents. Her father is attending his 60th high school reunion, and Barbara is riding along to visit relatives and friends. That means I get to dog-sit while she's gone. As usual, I tried to convince Barbara of the benefits of taking Malcolm along on the trip. As usual, I failed. At least she'll only be away until Monday.

And I'd better get my estimated taxes mailed. Ugh.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: George Laiacona III [mailto:george@eisainc.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2000 9:00 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: WD Drives RMA Consideration.

Mr. Thompson,

Read your rant on Dr. Pournelle's web site about WD drives. I work for a small reseller, and we have had no problems getting WD drives replaced under warranty. It takes a little time, but they do send repaired units back. You paid money for them, so you should send them back. I have spent no more than 10 minutes on the phone with them getting an RMA number, and less than three weeks return. Their returns department, it seems, is more serious than their rebates department.

George Laiacona III <george@eisainc.com> ICQ 37042478/ 28885038

"Your shots will be more consistently accurate if you keep your eyes open." -Sgt. Schustec, King's Men Drill Instructor

"Listen, when I want your opinion, I'll tell you what it is." -Sgt. Ingram

You may well be right, but I simply don't have the time to mess with them. When I bought those drives, they cost $200 each, so it's aggravating. But now the value of a used 4.3 GB drive is so small that it's just not worth the time and effort it would take to get the RMA information, track down the receipt, package the drives, and get them delivered to WD. A 4.3 GB drive is still a decent size for a client PC, so it might still be worth the effort if I were short of drives, but I'm not. I'll stick with Seagate SCSI drives and Seagate or Maxtor ATA drives.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Blodgett [mailto:david_blodgett@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2000 10:25 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Disapearing Printers

I've seen the disappearing printers on 95 and NT machines from time to time. With 95 I just reboot and they seem to come back fine. Under NT you can sometimes stop and start the spooler service and they'll come back, which is nice (as I found out)if it's a file/print server being used by many people in the middle of the day ;) Otherwise rebooting NT seems to work too.

Thanks. That's something I've never encountered. I suspect if the problem is occurring on a network that runs only TCP/IP transport, it may have something to do with the whole WINS/browser/NetBIOS over TCP mess. A lot of people run NetBEUI on their TCP/IP networks for just that reason. Microsoft Networking was designed around NetBEUI, and always seems happier on a network that has NetBEUI transport available.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David M. Yerka [mailto:LeshaWorks@iname.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2000 11:58 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: 700meg CDs and copying

Bob:

I suspect the size glitch may be an oddity of Adaptec's Easy CD. When I'm copying my software I generally grab an image of the CD, burn a copy and then tuck the image away on a big hard drive on my server. Weekly the hard drive gets backed up to tape. Paranoia lives!

I truly understand CD abuse. I've been known to run my chair over a CD which slid un-noticed to the floor.

My aversion to explaining to clients how to duplicate CDs stems from an incident I had a few years back. I was doing contract work for a firm upgrading hardware. I answered an employee question on copying some software which he was installing on his workstation. (It was an CD where the software company had simply copied the floppy install files to folders on the CD. My brain was probably switched off because I simply said "Oh, sure, you only need to copy those subdirectories to separate floppies." I assumed the guy meant what he said about the inability to get back the CD after they sent them on to the next job. After all the guy was a group manager. Well two weeks later the SOB is in the VP's office trying to save his butt by telling all that I all said it was O.K. to do the copying. Security had nailed him going out the door with duplicates of company purchased software. Taught me a lot about being "helpful" outside the parameters of the job I was doing.

You may be right about Easy CD. As far as copying stuff, it's amazing what lies people will tell when their jobs are on the line. Conversely, some companies are a bit unreasonable about what employees take home. I once received a message with a sad tale. The guy who sent it was a systems/network administrator for a medium size company. The company was too cheap to spend the $1,000 or so a data-rated fire safe would cost. So, with the best of intentions, he'd started taking the previous night's backup tape home with him each day, and bringing back the next-oldest tape the following morning. All he wanted to do was have a recent tape stored securely off-site in case a disaster occurred. One day, he was "caught" carrying the backup tape off premises. They called him on the carpet and accused him of stealing company data. They actually threatened to call the police and charge him with theft, but they didn't end up doing that. They did, however, fire him. So the moral is that trying to do someone a favor can get you in big trouble.

 


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Thursday, 15 June 2000

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The Time-Warner guy is supposed to show up between 0800 and 1000 this morning to install my cable-modem. I'm assuming it'll be closer to 0800, since this surely must be his first stop of the day. I'd better get the dogs out for their morning constitutional and then get them all the pills that Barbara has lined up for them. I'll pen them all downstairs with my mother while the cable guy is here. The new RoadRunner box, meepmeep, is set up and ready to go. With any luck, I'll have joined the ranks of those with high-speed, always-on Internet connections by the next time I update this page.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: George Laiacona III [mailto:george@eisainc.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 10:15 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: WD Drives RMA Consideration.

Can't say I blame you for not going to any trouble, especially if you lack the time. I have become a bit of a pack rat, so I try and hang on to anything potentially useful. We use RMA returns here for swap-outs. I haven't needed a reciept for a return, but that may be because we are resellers. Lately we have been using Fujitsu IDE drives here. Honestly, we have had more WD drives fail than all other brands we have sold combined. Go figure.

Good luck.

Which says it all. Thanks. I haven't bought anything other than Maxtor or Seagate drives for the last 18 months or so, and see no reason to change.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 1:26 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Western Digital Drives

Mr. Thompson:

I'm sorry to hear your and Mr. Pournelle's troubles with WesternDigital hard drives. The rebate problems Mr. Pournelle experienced are unfortunate and unexcusable. I have had expereience with them from good to worse. The worse being not receiving any kind of response at all. Leaves you with the feeling of "sucker". If attorney generals need something to do, maybe they could look into this.

Regarding experience of different brands of hard drives, my experience is that all the manufacturers seem to cycle between awful quality and great quality. I can recall periods of time when seagate, maxtor, and quantum were selling junk. My experience concurs with yours that WesternDigital is currently going through a quality dive. To their credit, until the last year, they built rock solid stuff for me. I also wonder at how you can release a million defective parts into the wild, but it seems that intel, amd/via, etc all are having problems.

In regards to WD's return policy, I would suggest you get them replaced. Western Digital's support has always been top notch for me. I would suggest you use their advance replacement service. They ship you the replacement drive. You take your defective drive, put it in their box, stick their return label on the box, and ship. Also, you do not need a receipt as long as the manufactured date on the hard drive itself is within warranty. Your 4gb drives should easily be within the 3 year window, if my recollection of WD's warranty is correct. (I know it's not less than 3 years, maybe 5 years?) The only item you may find irksome is WD's requirement of credit card info. I feel the requirement is reasonable. I haven't had any problems whatsoever the times I've had to replace drives.

(If you still do not find the process worth your time, send me the drives... while I agree that 4gb is nothing today, it's actually more than enough for most uses. I'd like play with the newer ide raid controllers I've seen popping up. <g>)

Thank you for your courtesy,

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

Thanks. I may give that a shot. You're correct that all the drive makers have had bad patches, but it seems to me that Western Digital has been going through one for much longer than anyone else has.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: wganz@texoma.net [mailto:wganz@texoma.net]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 7:20 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject:

Robert,

In the same vein as the rants about the lack of Windows OS disks, is the fact that Hewlett Packard is now saying that Windows is part and parcel of the whole OEM package.(I am willing to wager that other OEMs are the same) Their position is that if you want to return Windows because you are using Linux, then you have to return the whole PC. I queried them as to how to get refunded the cost of Windows98 and have included a copy of their response from their public customer support forum.

Would you consider rounding up enough users/consumers/voters to submit a petition to the FTC and the DOJ for them to look into the mess about the lack of OS disks and this new bundling scheme? The politest thing that I can say about Microsoft is that they like a pile of dead fish. The more that you mess with them, the more that they stink.

Will Ganz
wganz@texoma.net

Sorry, but I can't agree. That's like going out and buying a Ford and insisting that the Ford dealership take back the bundled tires and pay you for them because you want to put some other kind of tires on your new car. Just as Ford has the right to bundle whatever tires they choose, HP and Microsoft have the right to agree that HP will bundle a copy of Windows with every PC they sell. When you buy that computer from HP, you're buying one product, with one SKU, not a collection of individual products. You no more have the right to insist that they take back Windows and pay you for it than you have the right to insist that they take back the hard disk or the video card because you happen to prefer some other model. If you don't like the deal, buy from someone who doesn't bundle Windows with the PC. There are any number of places that would be happy to sell you a PC without bundled Microsoft software.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Mugford [mailto:mugford@aztec-net.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 11:46 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Some info on the disappearing printers

Robert Bruce,

Quick segue back to Partition Magic. Jon's offer to email the patch proved unsuccessful, although I'm not sure which end complained. My tech guy does have email from PQ saying to just email the info and they'd take care of the registration at their end. (Does this sound as DUMB as I think it does?). So, maybe they'll let me download the dang patch to their dang program sometime this millenium.

Okay, back to the disappearing printers.

Apparently, this is a known problem with Novell and WIndows 95 (all flavours). Unfortunately, the absolute fix appears to depend on which Novell client you use. If you are using the Microsoft version, the following URL details the problems with a file called SPOOLSS.DLL. The 1996 version of the file should be replaced with the most recent version, dating to 1997. If you are using the Novell version of the client, then MS adopts the 'not invented here' response to problem resolution.

An easier fix that has worked through the day today is to turn off spooling in the printer properties for the network printer(s). By making printing direct:RAW, the problem machines seemed to have ducked the seemingly daily need to reboot to recover the printers. And this change seems logical in the fact of asking why you would spool locally, and then to the network to unspool from there.

The knowledge base article was found thanks to a message found through DejaNews.

Author: Debra Earle <newsgroup@intranet-works.com>

- If Win95 has not been updated, the following article may apply, which says to download the updated SPOOLSS.DLL version 4.00.952 dated 04/17/97 86,528 bytes; see [here

The header to the article starts: Spool32.exe Error When Printing on a Network

The information in this article applies to:

Microsoft Windows 95

Microsoft Windows 95 OEM Service Release version 2

Microsoft Windows 95 OEM Service Release version 2.1

SYMPTOMS

When you print from a Windows 95 workstation on a Token Ring, Ethernet, or Windows NT network to a printer shared on a Novell NetWare print server or a Windows NT network-based server, you may experience the following symptoms, which occur in sequence, on an intermittent basis:

Printing stops responding (hangs) for a short period of time.

The Printing dialog box displays a spool32 error message.

The print job is usually printed correctly.

When the workstation recovers from the hung state, there are no printers listed in the Printers folder.

Hope this helps any user who might encounter this baffling problem.

GM

Gary Mugford
Idea Mechanic
Bramalea ON Canada

Ah. Sorry, I didn't realize from your original post that you were operating in a NetWare environment. The problems with the Novell NetWare client for Windows  versus the Microsoft NetWare client for Windows go all the way back to at least Windows 3.11 for WorkGroups. I forget all the sad details now, but Novell sued or threatened to sue Microsoft for including their software in Windows. Microsoft pulled it, and the result of the ongoing spat between Novell and Microsoft was that users and administrators got screwed. What should have happened, of course, is that both companies should have worked together to make sure the Windows client for NetWare worked properly. But that would have been putting users first, a consideration that neither Novell nor Microsoft seemed to consider important.


17:23: The cable guy finally showed up at 0945. I guess I can't complain. They did say 0800 through 1000. They schedule the cable guy to do two installs during each two-hour period, and I was the second install scheduled for 0800 to 1000. The first install wasn't easy. Neither was mine. He ended up leaving here at 1145, having spent an hour and a half on the first install and two hours on mine. I kept Malcolm crated the whole time, and he barked. The whole time.

Once he left, I was looking forward to getting RoadRunner up and running on meepmeep. To make a very long story short, RoadRunner is working now on meepmeep, but meepmeep is no longer a Windows 2000 Professional system. It's now running NT4 Workstation. Why? I messed for the better part of two hours with W2KP, trying to make it recognize that I had an Internet connection on one of the interfaces. No joy. I finally ended up removing the other interface, leaving only the one connected to RoadRunner. No joy. I reinstalled W2KP. No joy. I finally stripped the disk down to bare metal and installed Windows NT 4 Workstation. 

Alas, the symptoms were exactly the same. No IP address assigned to the RoadRunner adapter. I remember thinking more than once that it seemed as though the DHCP server at RoadRunner was not responding. But that's impossible, I thought. Surely if you're going to run a service that uses dynamic IP addresses, particularly when you assign very short lease periods and expirations, you'll make absolutely certain that your DCHP server is available at all times. Finally I ended up calling RoadRunner tech support. "Oh, yeah," says the guy. "the DHCP server is down." I was struck speechless.

At any rate, the DCHP server came back up shortly after I hung up with tech support. At that point, I had a functioning system connected to RoadRunner, but running NT4. Oh, well. No great loss. I'd frankly just as soon run NT4 as W2KP anyway. The second interface was on a private IP number, 192.168.111.204, and I did the usual stuff with bindings and so on to secure the network on the private side. I was able to get to the other machines on the network with no problem, so I copied WinGate Pro 3.0 over from my install directory on theodore and ran Setup. Everything worked fine. WinGate automatically recognized both interfaces. All I needed to do was change the proxy server configuration in IE5 from 192.168.111.203 (kerby, the old dial-up WinGate server) to 192.168.111.204. At that point, I could use IE running on any machine on the network to access the Internet, and I was able to POP mail with no problems. Setting up SMTP takes a couple more steps. For some reason, WinGate doesn't install the TCP mapping service by default, so I installed that and configured it outbound on Port 25 for SMTP. At that point, I was able to send mail as well. 

So at this point everything is working fine, with one glaring exception. FrontPage 2000 can't publish. Microsoft butchered the FTP implementation in FP2K, and it can't use a proxy server, at least not without going through hoops. That leaves me three choices: install FP2K on meepmeep, which I may eventually do; put up with the hacked configuration required to publish through a proxy server (which I can't make work, anyway); or publish manually with FTP Voyager, my ftp client. For now, at least, I'm going to use FTP Voyager and publish manually. I'll probably eventually install FP2K on meepmeep. Nothing new there. Until today, I was writing this stuff on kiwi (my main workstation) and publishing it from kerby (which has the direct dial-up connection). I sure wish that Microsoft would fix the FTP client stub in FP2K, though. It'd be nice if it actually supported publishing via proxy server, as it's supposed to.

 


wpoison

 

 

 

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Friday, 16 June 2000

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My first reaction to browsing with RoadRunner was disappointment. The first half dozen or so web sites I hit didn't load any faster than they normally do on a dial-up connection. But then I hit Jerry Pournelle's site, which loaded almost instantly. My site did the same, as did Steve Tucker's site and Paul Robichaux's site. All four of those sites are hosted by pair Networks, which knows how to run a web host and has the connectivity to back up that knowledge. Then I downloaded a 2.6 MB file, which transferred in about 20 seconds, as opposed to the 10 or 15 minutes it would have taken on a dial-up connection. That's very nice, but hardly earth-shattering. On balance, I'd have to say that a cable modem is a nice upgrade over dial-up access, well worth doing, but not something that'll change my life.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Rod Montgomery [mailto:monty@sprintmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2000 8:25 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Bellsouth SMTP server used for SPAMming

I just this morning received some SPAM, whose headers indicated it came from one of the Bellsouth SMTP servers you mentioned.

I wonder whether the Bellsouth SMTP servers were too busy sending SPAM to handle your EMail traffic, when you had your EMail service disrupted a few days ago?

I suppose that's possible. If true, it's yet another good reason for spammers to be tracked down and killed, or at the least horsewhipped. 

Understand, I make more distinctions about spam than most people. For example, I regularly get what most people would call spam from such companies as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Insight, L. L. Bean, and so on. Although I wish they wouldn't send it to me, I'm not upset with them for doing so, nor do I consider it spam. I have purchased from each of those companies in the past and so, while what they're sending me is definitely Unsolicited Commercial Email, it is not spam, at least in my opinion. Similarly, I sometimes get targeted email from a company I've never heard of. Although many, perhaps most, would consider such messages spam, I do not. Those messages are addressed individually To: my address (rather than X-envelope-to), have a valid reply address, and often contain a message that I might reasonably be thought to have potential interest in.

To my way of thinking, true spam has several characteristics. First, it is a substantially identical message sent to thousands of people, usually via BCC. Second, it is sent from a false or non-existent source address, with efforts made to conceal the true source of the message. Third, the addressees are taken from a purchased list, or one compiled by an address parser.

As much as I hate spam, I'm very uncomfortable with every proposed government restriction on spam that I've seen. If there must be a law against spam and I were able to wave a magic wand to define that law, I think I'd define spamming as sending 1,000 or more substantially similar messages (individually or in the aggregate--that is, sending five different messages to 200 recipients each counts as an aggregate 1,000 messages) during any 24-hour period to recipients with whom the sender had no pre-existing commercial relationship. That leaves the door open for closely targeted UCE while slamming it shut on the true spammers, who can't make a living sending only 1,000 messages per day. There should be severe punishment for spamming, with expedited trials. Caught spamming on Monday, tried on Tuesday, state court appeal on Wednesday, Supreme Court appeal on Thursday, hanged on Friday would be about right.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Pierce [mailto:dpierce@Synteleos.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2000 11:17 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: Microsoft and Novell

Robert,

Enjoy your site. Found it during Pournelle's absence, it's now on my "morning read" link list.

You said:

But that would have been putting users first, a consideration that neither Novell nor Microsoft seemed to consider important

Surely this doesn't surprise you... ;)

I was administering a mixed Novell/Microsoft environment in those days (circa '93 IIRC), and it was not fun.

--Dave

======================================
| Dave Pierce dpierce@synteleos.com |
| Network Engineering Manager Office: 925.600.7200 |
| Synteleos, Inc. Fax: 646.810.5497 |
| www.synteleos.com Mobile: 408.393.4379 |
======================================

Thanks for the kind words. No, it doesn't surprise me, but I sure wish things were different. Ultimately, I blame it on the MBAs, most of whom are smart enough to run the numbers but not smart enough to understand the importance of things that can't be quantified in a spreadsheet. The original Cringely has a PBS column. A couple of weeks ago, he talked about the industrial recovery of Japan after WWII. There was a quote in there from a US company that built ships during WWII. "We build good ships. At a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but we build good ships." Nowadays, with the MBAs in control, that quote would instead be something like, "We build profitable ships. Good ships if we can, bad ships if we must, but we build profitable ships."

There are a few companies that still have that "customer first" philosophy, and all of them are well respected. L. L. Bean is an obvious example. Most of the stuff they sell is readily available elsewhere at lower prices. But I buy from them because I like the way they do business.

Crutchfield is another. Years ago, I ordered a bunch of audio equipment from them--receiver, speakers, cassette deck, CD changer, VCR, and so on. All of it was JVC, and all of it was supposed to work together automatically to do stuff like record a CD to tape, automatically setting volume level, mapping tracks to fit them on the tape, and so on. As it turned out, the CD changer I got didn't have the automatic interface necessary to do what I'd planned to do. I called up Crutchfield, and they checked their technical documentation and admitted that I was right. 

They offered to exchange the CD changer for a single-disc JVC player that did have the automatic interface. I told them that was no good, because I specifically wanted a changer *and* the ability to automatically set recording levels. JVC at that time made only single-disc players that had the automatic interface and changers that did not. I told the guy at Crutchfield that if I'd known that in the first place, I'd have bought all Sony gear instead of JVC. The tech support guy said he had an idea and asked me to hold for a manager. The manager came on the line about 30 seconds later and said he had an easy solution. "How about if we just send you a free single-disc JVC CD player and you keep the changer as well? You can connect both, use the changer for playing CDs normally, and use the single-disc player when you want to record something to tape."

That was indeed a solution to my problem, and one that must have cost Crutchfield more than the profit they'd made on the original sale. But they made me very happy. I've never bought any audio equipment from anyone but Crutchfield since then, and I've recommended them strongly to many people. Overall, Crutchfield lost money on that original sale to me, but they've much more than made up for that loss in the additional business I've sent their way since then.

Same deal in computer book publishing. O'Reilly and Associates focuses solely on quality, to the exclusion of all else. O'Reilly's attitude is that a book is done when it's done. I took more than 18 months to finish PC Hardware in a Nutshell, a book that was originally scheduled to take six months. Most other computer book publishers focus on deadlines. They want the book finished on the schedule originally agreed to. They prefer a good book, but if the choice comes down to getting a bad book on time or a good book late, they'll take the bad book on time every time. O'Reilly wants a good book no matter how long it takes. And it's no coincidence that O'Reilly is the most respected name in computer books.

I didn't really intend to write an essay, but I guess my point is that if Microsoft, Novell, and other software companies were smart, they'd take this customer-first approach. It may give up short-term profits, but it's the way to build a viable business that will succeed in the long term.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott at Help Desk [mailto:scotta@chugach.net]
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2000 11:13 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: FP2K

>So at this point everything is working fine, with one glaring exception. FrontPage 2000 can't publish. Microsoft butchered the FTP implementation in FP2K, and it can't use a proxy server, at least not without going through hoops. ... 

>I sure wish that Microsoft would fix the FTP client stub in FP2K, though. It'd be nice if it actually supported publishing via proxy server, as it's supposed to.

And yet you still use FP2K. Why? Do you recommend it, or just use it as self-torture? Unlike MS Office, where there is no real competition (except Office 97), there are plenty of html/page building/site management tools. And yet respected, otherwise smart people continue to think it is (dare I say it) Good Enough.

I just don't understand.

Scott Anderson

Because the FTP problem is a very minor one, easily worked around by publishing manually with my FTP client, or by installing FP2K on the system that connects directly to the Internet. And, yes, I do recommend FrontPage for people, like me, who just want to get a web site published without worrying about the details. All of the competing products I've seen are inferior for that purpose. FrontPage is more than "Good Enough". It's the best product available by far for people who just want to have a web site without becoming full-time webmasters. FrontPage is not perfect by any means, but it beats the hell out of whatever comes in a far-distant second place. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Orvin [mailto:JeffOrvin@fni.com]
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2000 12:09 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RoadRunner in the Camel City

I'm obviously following your progress w/ great anticipation. Even though you're on Reynolda and mom and dad are near Kernersville, your experiences will be the nearest I've heard of. Selfishly, my DSL connection has me spoiled - so cable would be a nice treat when I'm able to go home for visits. After all, what better pastime for retired non-computer users than broadband access? :-)

(In case you don't have things like this bookmarked, [here] is one speed test site.)

Press on through the wilderness that is high speed access!

That's probably a reasonably valid comparison, because Kernersville is served by the same RoadRunner affiliate. I just hit the speed test site you mention, and they report that my line speed is 620.2 Kbps or 76 K bytes/sec. Yesterday afternoon I was getting 133 KB/s, so the speed clearly varies according to time of day, system load, and other factors. But it's fast no matter what.


11:45: I've printed numerous rants about the music industry, so when J. H. Ricketson posted this link to a speech made by Courtney Love I immediately followed it to see what she had to say. Although I recognize her name, I knew nothing about her, and I don't believe I've ever heard any of her music. But what she has to say about music piracy and who the real pirates are is definitely worth reading. We see similar things happening in the publishing industry. Until now, distribution has been key in both music and publishing. The Internet is in the process of making distribution trivial, which gores the ox of the music companies and publishers. It's not surprising that they're doing everything they can to hold back the tide, because what they do as middlemen will soon lose its value. So both the music publishers and book publishers are attempting to lock the content creators into contracts that will guarantee the publishers their traditional major piece of the pie. That effort is doomed to fail in the long run, but a lot of content creators will suffer in the short run.

 


wpoison

 

 

 

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Saturday, 17 June 2000

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I installed FrontPage 2000 on meepmeep yesterday, so I can now publish this site normally. I actually write this material on kiwi, my main workstation, and then use FP2K running on meepmeep to publish it. 

I also migrated Analog, the program I use for processing web stats, over to meepmeep. I was hoping that the higher speed connection would allow me to go back to doing DNS lookups while processing the raw log files. That probably won't turn out to be the case. I did a test run last night with six days' worth of data from my own site (~ 1,000 page reads/day). It took 45 minutes or so to process with DNS lookups enabled, versus probably 5 seconds (literally) without. Analog caches DNS lookups for a user-specified period (I have it set to one month), so it took only 5 minutes or so this morning to run my stats for the full seven-day week. All it had to do DNS lookups for was the new IP addresses from one day's worth of data.

I also run Pournelle's stats for him, and his site gets 5 to 7 times the number of page reads that mine does. That means I can expect his weekly stats, which I'm running as I write this, to take perhaps 4 or 5 hours to run. I helped as best I could by copying my own dns.txt file over to his data directory, on the assumption that we have many readers in common, so that should allow his report to run using my DNS lookups for those who accessed both sites with a static IP address. We'll see.

The bad part is that I had been running stats for week, month-to-date, and year-to-date. There's no way I can do year-to-date stats, particularly for Pournelle's site. It'd take forever. I suppose I could set the DNSGOODHOURS parameter to something like a year and just bite the bullet and let the reports run for the days it'd take them to complete, but that doesn't seem worth the effort. The annoying thing is that pair Networks will process the stats locally on their servers, including DNS lookups, but when I mailed them to ask if they could supply the raw logs with DNS data included, they never responded.

Speaking of pair Networks, I need to get hardwareguys.com, the domain for the hardware books, running on their server. Getting to the point where I can do that has been an exercise in frustration. More than a year ago, I talked to David Rogelberg of StudioB (my agent) about registering a domain for the hardware books. We tossed many ideas around, and everyone seemed to like hardwareguys.com. It wasn't my favorite, but David, Barbara, and several others really liked it, so I decided to go with it. The trouble was, I kept dithering about actually registering it. David was afraid I'd lose it to someone else, so he finally asked if I'd like him to just register it for me. I was so busy that I gratefully accepted that offer.

The problem was, David didn't realize that it's extremely difficult to transfer a domain name from one entity to another, so he registered it with StudioB as the registrant rather than me. After a major struggle, we managed to get me listed as the Administrative Contact, which should have been a trivial change, but was not. That means I now have the power to manage that domain. Currently, it's still listed with StudioB as the registrant, but I'll take care of that shortly. The first step, though, is to get the domain activated at pair Networks. Once I do that, I'll transfer the domain to joker.com (still with StudioB as the owner of record) and then transfer ownership from StudioB to me. It seems as though that should be do-able in one step, but it's not. NSI wants paid twice for the change.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Timm [mailto:gcjtimm@earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2000 10:11 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Spam and Cable modems.

Robert:

Reference Bulk Emailing you don't mind receiving, I coined the term "bologna" a few months back: Bologna: Solicited E-mail advertisements you were silly enough to ask for, in a brief article I did for the Computer Aided Genealogy Group where my wife is an officer.

[here]

Has the collection.

I've been promised Cable Modem since I moved in "Right After the First of the Year" it's been six years now...and both Ameritech and Cox say "Real Real Soon Now" (That makes the abbreviation a four letter word.) Two years ago both companies worked on the cable running along my yard with "upgrades" just to raise my hopes and dash them.

Despite the receipt of two mailings (snail) and a solicited telephone call from a marketer, I remain 2,000 feet too far from my telephone exchange for DSL. Do you think I should sue the phone company for mental cruelty?

Jeff Timm 

Who has envy attacks when a friend who just got into computers at home has to chose between cable modem and DSL, worse he's comparing them on low-price, free installation, specials.

Ah. My sympathy. I've gone through the long waiting period, too. One day, you'll have it. I have to say that it's nice, but nothing earthshattering.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: WebMaster [mailto:webmaster@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2000 10:31 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: The Ususal Things regarding Security

Mr. Thompson:

"The second interface was on a private IP number, 192.168.111.204, and I did the usual stuff with bindings and so on to secure the network on the private side."

If you have the time and inclination, I would be curious for the details of the "usual" stuff. Security is "the" issue today, and I've found that the "usual" stuff means different things to different people. I would find it very useful and educating to know what you did to lock down your network. I assume other readers would be interested also. Perhaps this could be placed in the special reports section.

Thank you for your courtesy,

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

Sorry. I should have been explicit. Basically, all I did was install SP6a (which takes care of nearly all the security updates to NT4) and unbound everything except TCP/IP from the adapter connected to RoadRunner. You'll find a pretty good summary of the whole process on Steve Gibson's page.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Kitterman [mailto:scott@kitterman.com]
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2000 12:10 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Good Ships

A couple of weeks ago, he talked about the industrial recovery of Japan after WWII. There was a quote in there from a US company that built ships during WWII. "We build good ships. At a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but we build good ships." Nowadays, with the MBAs in control, that quote would instead be something like, "We build profitable ships. Good ships if we can, bad ships if we must, but we build profitable ships."

The company in question was Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. When they were bought out by the conglomerate Tenneco (late 60's or early 70's) it is my understanding that the sign lasted less than two weeks. I have heard that it can now be found in the shipyard's museum.

Thanks. And that brings up something I should have mentioned in my original post. I was speaking generally rather than specifically about that company. For all I know, they still make good ships.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Syroid [mailto:tom@syroidmanor.com]
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2000 12:59 PM
To: Bob Thompson
Subject: ZoneAlarm

Sorry, my friend, but I can't side with Mr. Gibson's glowing praise of ZoneAlarm (v2.1)

I've just spent 2 hours trying to get it to function with no success whatsoever.

It worked fine on my system locally, however I find the program's need to block each individual application that tries to access the net annoying and unnecessary (contrary to Gibson who thinks BlackICE should have this feature). I simply want to allow/deny IP's. I suppose these dialogs would be less intrusive once I got the program "trained". The kicker came when I went upstairs and fired up Donovan.

The program immediately blocked all network access (from Donovan). Fine, that's what it's supposed to do. So I added in the IPs on my network to the "allowed" list. No joy (picture me walking up and down the stairs every time I made a change to ZoneAlarm). I then tried to add a "range" of IPs (192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.101). The program crashed. Reboot and try again. Program crashes again. This time I don't reboot; I simply re-open ZoneAlarm. The range is shown on the allowed list, but I still can't access the net from Donovan. I check ZA's web site, and confirm that all the settings they describe for ICS access are in place. Yup, all is well and good. The program is supported on Win2K with ICS running. So I uninstall, download another copy (in case the first was somehow damaged in transit), and try again. Same-same.

I obvious did not get something configured right, but after two hours I gave up. I think I'm intelligent enough and seasoned enough to try the non-obvious, but at no point in time could Donovan access the net through Janus. Nor could it access a shared folder there; it did however, manage to grab a dynamic IP via ICS, so go figure.

So,

  • The program crashes repeatedly when I enter a range of IP's.
  • I can find no way to allow other computers on my network to get out through ICS.
  • When the program uninstalls, it does NOT clean up behind itself. The second installation picked up particulars entered from the first installation that must be stored in a registry entry. Very Ungood to my way of thinking.
  • The interface is non-intuitive to me.

Of course, YMMV and your perceptions could very well be quite different than mine.

On BlackICE and in response to Gibson's criticisms:

  • I do not find the verbosity of BlackICE's logging intrusive; I simply ignore what does not interest me.
  • The program has never crashed on me, nor has it had any difficulty adapting to network changes.
  • To the best of my knowledge, the program has never simply "stopped firewalling".
  • Being as I've never had a problem, I've never had to contact customer support.
  • I'd happily pay for a product once a year, as long as the updates were worthy.

For me, BlackICE simply works.

When I finished ripping out ZoneAlarm by the roots, I re-installed BlackICE (yes, I removed it like a good boy so there would be no conflicts with ZA) and decided to check for any new updates. I was using V.1.9.15; the latest is 2.1.22. This latest release has several notable improvements:

  • The addition of a menu bar (you used to access settings by a non-intuitive icon in the upper left of the dialog)
  • The dialog is resizeable.
  • You can now display which intruders on your attack list are blocked.
  • You can set an audible alarm when you're attacked.
  • The program automatically blocks certain types of attack (for example, Trojan Horses).
  • Prior versions automatically allowed machines on my LAN to access the net through ICS; now I'm queried and must explicitly allow/deny the request.

I've attached the README for your perusal.

That's three times now I've tried ZoneAlarm on other people's recommendation. Not once have I figured out how to make it work to my satisfaction. And that's three different versions of the product. I won't be trying again.

Find another guinea pig <g>.

Thanks. I don't guess I'll be trying ZoneAlarm. I knew that if I waited long enough someone else would do all the hard work.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: P.M. Baxter [mailto:PMBaxter@twcny.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2000 2:12 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Tweaking your high speed connection

Dear Mr. Thompson:

Now that you are active with your new high speed cable modem connection, it occurs to me that you might find the following site to be of interest:

Their Patches page [here] makes all of this easy.

They also have a wealth of other resources on optimizing your setup for use with cable modems. My RoadRunner connection was appreciably faster after following their recommendations.

- Paul

Thanks. There is indeed a lot of interesting stuff on that site. I spent a few minutes cruising around it, but will have to go through it in detail when I have more time.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Nick Hanstock [mailto:j.n.hanstock@blueyonder.co.uk]
Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 8:29 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: an ODD problem

I'm currently running a Win98SE/ Win2KP dual boot system on a Dell Dimension 450 Pentium II ( state of the art mucho dollar in Jan 99!!) To be more precise I was! Win2KP works perfectly . Any attempt to boot into Win 98 leave a blank screen with a rapidly scanning dot that resolves into a blinking under bar cursor boy two thirds down and two thirds across screen . I restored a known good Drive image to the partition but it no go.

Can you or your cohorts offer ANY advice?

Nick Hanstock
"Why does UK have only ONE Monopolies commission?"

I'll say up front that I'm no expert on either Windows 98 or Windows 2000 (yet). That said, it sounds to me as though there's a problem either with the boot.ini file or with the master boot record and/or partition table on the hard drive. Here, for example, is the boot.ini file from the root directory of C: on one of my systems that triple-boots Windows 98, Windows NT4 and Windows 2000:

[boot loader]
timeout=10
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00 [VGA mode]" /basevideo /sos
C:\="Microsoft Windows"

If that final line is trashed, the system can't boot to Windows 98.

When I've encountered similar situations in the past, I've sometimes had success by booting a Win98 emergency disk and running FDISK /MBR. That restores the default Master Boot Record. I can't say for sure that it's safe to do that in a dual-boot Win98/W2K environment, but I believe it should be. Alternatively, since you have an image file of your Win98 installation, it may be easier to reformat C: and restore the image. If you do that, however, be aware that Windows NT/2000 installs several files to C:\, which you must have available if W2K is to boot. On my triple-boot machine, those files include BOOT.INI, BOOTSECT.DOS, BOOTLOG.TXT, VIDEOROM.BIN, BOOTLOG.PRV, AUTOEXEC.001, CONFIG.SYS, NETLOG.TXT, SETUPLOG.TXT, MSDOS.SYS, DETLOG.TXT, SUHDLOG.DAT, SYSTEM.1ST, and MSDOS.--. Some of those may not strictly be needed, but I'd copy them to a safe place nonetheless before formatting.

Once again, I'm speculating here rather than speaking from definite knowledge. Perhaps some of my readers will have some better ideas and can mail you directly.


17:15: Here's a message that may be important for anyone considering using the procedure I mentioned above to restore a dual-boot Windows 98/2000 system:

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Beland [mailto:matt@rearviewmirror.org]
Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 3:35 PM
To: j.n.hanstock@blueyonder.co.uk
Cc: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: FDISK /MBR on Win2k

DO NOT DO THIS.

If you use the fdisk /mbr method, you may be able to boot into Windows 98 again, but not 2000. You would have to reinstall Windows 2000 to recover.

Instead, boot to Windows 2000, and as soon as you leave the boot.ini menu, press F8. You want to boot to Safe Mode with Command Line. Windows 2000 will start, ask for your username and password, and display a command prompt window that fills the screen. You can't resize or move the window; in Windows 2000, command-prompt mode boots a minimal Windows 2000 kernel, then loads cmd.com over top of it.

Execute the command FIXMBR, and reboot. That will restore the MBR to a normal state for Windows 2000. That should not prevent your ability to use Windows 98; I use the same method on my laptop to dual-boot to Mandrake Linux. I have more detailed instructions at my site, here:

The first few paragraphs deal with restoring the MBR and setting up dual-booting.

How odd. Before I wrote that response this morning, I ran Windows 98 FDISK /MBR on my secondary system, which triple-boots Windows 98/NT/2000. After running FDISK /MBR, it successfully booted all three operating systems as usual. When I got this message, I immediately tried running FDISK /MBR on two of my test-bed systems, both of which are currently set to dual-boot Windows 98 and 2000. Again, it had no apparent effect, and both systems successfully booted both Windows 98 and 2000 after I ran FDISK /MBR. The only things I can think of to explain this anomaly are: (a) all three of these systems happen to be running FAT32 for both Windows 98 and Windows 2000. Perhaps the results would have been disastrous if I'd been running Windows 2000 with NTFS, or (b) perhaps there's some kind of hardware problem on the system you had the problems with.

 


wpoison

 

 

 

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Sunday, 18 June 2000

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Malcolm loves any dog food except his own. Any time he gets the chance he starts scarfing down Kerry's Fat Dog Chow or Duncan's Dog Chow Lite. Last night, Malcolm hit the mother lode. 

Duncan informs us when his bowl is empty by batting it around. Let me tell you, a stainless steel bowl bouncing around on a hardwood floor is hard to overlook. After Duncan batted his bowl several times with me ignoring him it became obvious that he wasn't going to give it up. He'd just eaten, you understand, and he wasn't hungry. But he likes having food in his bowl at all times, and it was obvious that he planned to make my life miserable until I put some food in his bowl. 

So I picked up his bowl and went into the kitchen. Barbara has a couple of giant RubberMaid tubs to store dog food. They hold something like 100 pounds (say 45 kilos) each, and they have snap-fitting tops. Ordinarily, they sit in the corner of the dining room, where the open door to the kitchen hides them. We're using them now, however, to block Malcolm's access from the kitchen to the dining room and library (where our first editions live).

When I took the top off the tub, I tried to prop it whilst I filled Duncan's bowl with the scoop. The top slid off into the dining room, where I couldn't reach it. Figuring I'd replace the lid later, after filling Duncan's bowl I went over to the far end of the kitchen where Barbara keeps the Post Bran Flakes that she sprinkles on Duncan's food (I am not making this up). While I was there, sprinkling bran over Duncan's food, I heard munching noises coming from the direction of the dining room. Not a good sign. Sure enough, there was Malcolm, standing with his front paws inside Duncan's tub and eating as fast as he could. I yelled at him, and he took off running, but not before grabbing one more huge mouthful. He got past me and into the den, shedding dog food kernels from his mouth as he ran.

I told Barbara the other night that I don't really blame Malcolm for "stealing" food. In the wild, senior dogs eat first, and junior dogs get whatever is left over. When Malcolm sees food left in Kerry's or Duncan's bowl, I'm sure he instinctively regards it as belonging to him.

This morning I was awakened at 0545 by Duncan making the characteristic noise that means he's about to vomit. I leapt from the bed, trying to get him out of the bedroom, down the hall, and out the front door before he erupted. I probably would have succeeded, too, if it hadn't been for Malcolm. Malcolm got all excited and started barking at Duncan and body-blocking him from getting out the door and down the hall. As a result, Duncan vomited all over the bedroom floor and down parts of the hall. Thank goodness we have hardwood floors. Mop and bucket time...

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Taylor [mailto:rtaylor@stny.rr.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 2:19 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Roadrunner, Daynotes, and AvantGo

Robert, I've been an avid reader of your daynotes for some weeks now, since I followed a pointer from Pournelle's notes to Tom Syroid and thence to your day pages. Since I've been using Roadrunner for a few years now, I have been particularly interested in your recent cable modem installation. We're running similar configurations: I run Windows 98SE with ICS on my main machine, using Zonealarm as a firewall. Per Steve Gibson's recommendations, my home network shares files via NetBeui, though I do have TCP/IP also. My other computer at home also uses ZoneAlarm for its firewall, at a higher security level.

I used to use Wingate, but ICS does the job and is free. Seems to be less hassle to setup on clients too.

I sympathize with your conclusions that Roadrunner isn't going to change your life, but there's one area you may have overlooked. I don't know how continuously your dial-in connection used to run, but with the Always On cable modem, you'll find that the last bit of friction in using the Internet for minor lookups is gone. There are times I'll look up the evening's TV program schedule on my computer, rather than wait for the program listing channel to crawl to the channels I'm interested in. Minor trivia points can be checked fast. Any impulse that might require a web search can be given into with no hesitation, since there's no waiting. And downloads require no thought to size ... if I want it, I get it. Even 10's of megabytes come in fast enough not to think twice about. That's the true revolution, not real time video or fast web page loads.

I tried to add your web page as a channel on AvantGo, a service that packages web pages for Palm computers. It worked a few times, but now I get errors that the file size is too big, though I've set 500K as a limit. I'm not sure why I can't get your page. Probably there's some other limit to AvantGo channels that your single long page trips. It's too bad, 'cause it'd be nice to keep up with your notes while I'm on the go. Do any of your other readers d/l you to handhelds?

Keep up the excellent work!

Thanks for the kind words. 

As far as the "always-on" aspect, that's nothing new for me. Back years ago, I had a full-time dial-up Internet connection to my employer. Those phone calls lasted literally months on end. When I left that job back in 1994 or 1995, I signed on with BellSouth.net. They advertised "unlimited" usage, and I took them at their word. Actually, they lied, because they have a 12-hour timeout on dial-up connections. But my typical usage pattern has been to dial in to BellSouth when I first get into my office in the morning (about 0700 to 0730 pre-puppy; anything from 0615 to 0645 now that we have Malcolm) and stay connected all day long. And I was actually *using* the connection all day long, so I didn't feel the slightest bit guilty about it. I'd usually drop the connection sometime after dinner, when the timeout meter was about to expire, and then immediately re-establish the connection. It'd then stay up until about 2300, when I went to bed. At that point, I'd manually drop the connection.

A regular ISP would have gotten very upset with me for being connected for such long periods, but BellSouth never said a word about it. Nor should they have, because, being the Phone Company, they have advantages that ordinary ISPs don't have. The only resources I was using were (a) the phone line I use to dial in, which I'm paying for, and which doesn't occupy any CO resources once the connection is made; and (b) a modem in their rack, which probably costs them less than $5/month on an amortized basis. Unlike regular ISPs, BellSouth.net doesn't have to worry about paying for the inbound telephone line I'm using, because there isn't one. If I'd been connecting instead to a private ISP, I'd also have been consuming essentially 100% of a $60/month 1FB business CO line (or the equivalent percentage of a trunk line or PRI ISDN line), which means they'd be losing something like $45/month on my account.

So, in effect, I was already enjoying the benefits of always-on. (Right now, my European readers are probably gnashing their teeth, because most of them pay by the minute for local calls. Sorry, guys).

As far as downloads, I never worried about them, either, because everything took place in the background. I downloaded a 75 MB service pack not long ago, for example. It took something like 6 or 7 hours to download, but I didn't care. I wasn't in a hurry to get it, and the only noticeable impact was that it was a bit slower to retrieve mail and web pages while the download was in progress.

I'm not sure what the problem is with AvantGo. My web pages (for the complete week) are typically in the range of 50 KB at the smallest to perhaps 200 KB at the largest. Obviously, they're smaller during the earlier part of the week. I don't know if any of my other readers download to PDAs. If one does, perhaps he'll have a suggestion.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Beland [mailto:matt@rearviewmirror.org]
Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 5:17 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: FDISK /MBR on Win2k

The FAT32 would do it. I'm so used to NT, I forget there's any such thing as a FAT file system. Sigh.

Ah, that means I'll have to try it myself with W2KP installed on an NTFS volume. Not that I don't believe you, you understand, but nothing substitutes for doing it myself.

 


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