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Daynotes Journal

Week of 7 August 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:20

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


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Monday, 7 August 2000

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I spent some time yesterday working on the web site for PC Hardware in a Nutshell. I didn't get nearly as much done as I planned to, but it *will* be live and working by the first week of September, when the book is scheduled to hit the bookstores. And speaking of the book, the best shot of the cover I have is below. This is actually the second of three covers. The first is what's up on Amazon.com. They left Barbara's name off that one. The third I haven't seen yet, but it will resemble the one below with the addition of a banner referring browsers to Pournelle's introduction on the opening page. This is the largest image I have of that second cover, alas.

Back to work on the web site, the book, and a bunch of other stuff.


-----Original Message-----
From: AP [mailto:lti@idirect.com]
Sent: Sunday, August 06, 2000 2:11 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Explosions

Mr. Thompson,

On Sunday August 6, in response to a letter from Mike Boyle, you wrote: <I've never seen a detonation look like one of those slow, yellow-orange flame-y things they use on TV and in the movies. >

You may already know that movie and TV explosions are usually enhanced with gasoline. As you say, this is visually more impressive than a real explosion.

You also wrote: <I've blown a lot of stuff up...>

What was your profession before you became a writer of computer books?

Regards, 
Allan Pineo

Did I say that? I must have misspoken. What I meant, of course, was that I'd *seen* a lot of things blown up--all of them by qualified and licensed personnel. I'd never dream of actually blowing anything up myself. That would be illegal. I think I had heard that the special effects folks used gasoline, black powder, and so on to improve the visual effect of their fake explosions. The other thing you never notice on TV or the movies is the blast wave, which one can actually see propagating through the air. And, of course, light and sound travel at the same velocity on TV. When a building 300 yards away blows up, you see it and hear it at the same time. As far as what I did before starting to write computer books, I worked with PCs in one way or another for about 15 years. More, actually, because I built my first one in 1976.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Dominik [mailto:Jdominik@Goldengate.net]
Sent: Sunday, August 06, 2000 3:03 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: "Thank you..." and serial commas

Robert;

I've got no source to go with my vote, just an incredibly spongy brain - but I'm certain it was B&J on the "Thank Yew for Yer Support" bit.

Regarding your serial comma "issues" I ran across this dreadful list...

Reasons Why The English Language Is Hard To Learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

(Lastly, and feel free to snip this - depending on the Panda's dietary and alimentary habits, you could get vastly different results from your sentences. Both of my children have shown frightening accuracy in launching projectiles from either end of the gun, as it were. Yikes. Of course, the first time I read [this] in the original, I hurt myself laughing - so I'm weird).

-<*>-<*>-<*>-<*>-<*>-<*>-<*>-<*>-

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it. -- Lazarus Long (Robert Heinlein).
http://www.goldengate.net/~jdominik/index.html

Thanks. But, as they say, nothing worthwhile is easy. English by virtue of its huge vocabulary is by far the most flexible and useful of languages. I feel sorry for the poor, pathetic French, who actually have an official government body charged with maintaining the purity of their language. The fact that it needs to be protected (as it does) indicates that it's insufficiently robust to survive in the wild. English, on the other hand, has what the vets call mongrel robustness. When an English speaker learns a new and useful foreign word, he simply steals it. If it's useful enough, it soon becomes part of spoken English. That's why English has become the new "lingua franca". The Internet just puts another nail in the coffin of other languages.


-----Original Message-----
From: Corey McKinnon [mailto:clm@clm.cx]
Sent: Sunday, August 06, 2000 3:22 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Viruses

Robert,

After reading the discussion on your page about viruses/virii, I remembered reading the following link, which has some interesting details on why the author believes it should be 'viruses':

http://doriath.perl.com/misc/virus.html

Corey McKinnon
clm@clm.cx

Yes, Robert Denn made most or all of those arguments, but I maintain my position. When I visited that web site, I was shocked to find an egregious error. How can one trust the opinion of a man who thinks "octopus" is a Latin word?


-----Original Message-----
From: Jon Singer [mailto:jon@bazilians.org]
Sent: Sunday, August 06, 2000 10:16 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Cc: Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Subject: Re: serial comma

>Large bearlike mammal, native to China. Eats shoots and leaves
>
>Presumably the panda had red herring on his sandwich.

I'm not sure about that, but there certainly weren't any commas on it.

>How do the two following phrases differ in meaning?
>
>Eats, shoots and leaves
>
>Eats, shoots, and leaves

They don't. One of them, however, is incorrectly punctuated. (I'll get back to this in a moment.)

>Both unambiguously describe an antisocial panda, and neither can be understood by any reasonable reader as meaning that a panda's diet comprises shoots and leaves.

One object of discursive writing is to convey information or emotion. Another is to let the reader absorb that information or emotion as smoothly and swiftly as possible. Correct punctuation is usually more important to the second of these aims than the first, though in the "Ayn Rand and God" example it actually changes the meaning.

In other words, while it is true that both alternatives you provide are comprehensible (because in this particular case the serial comma does not control the meaning), nonetheless the version without the serial comma is an example of poor writing: it is punctuated in a way that interferes with the reading process and degrades the reader's experience.

By the way, kudos for correct use of "comprises". I don't encounter that as often as I'd like.

Actually, neither of them is incorrectly punctuated, unless you accept a particular style manual as being correct to the exclusion of all others. The AP Style Manual and the New York Times Style Manual, for example, recommend against the serial (or "Harvard") comma except when it is needed to avoid ambiguity. The theory behind using the serial comma is that "it sometimes helps and never hurts". In other words, advocates of the serial comma say that using an extraneous comma is not just acceptable, but mandatory. People who agree with me, however, and there are many of them, suggest that a comma should be used only when needed for clarity. 

The "Ayn Rand and God" thing is another red herring. I punctuate the three-color phrase as "red, green and blue" because there is no ambiguity, and no need for the extraneous comma. I punctuate the Ayn Rand phrase as "my parents, Ayn Rand, and God" to avoid ambiguity. Many of the most respected writers of English avoid the serial comma except when it is needed for clarity, and using or not using it is by no means as clear-cut as you state.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Monday, August 07, 2000 4:24 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: explosion

>... the explosion has always been a short, sharp white flash. I've never seen a detonation look like one of those slow, yellow-orange flame-y things they use ...

That is normal explosives. A short flash followed by a cloud of dust, which you must admit is seldom an appropriate effect on film. If you use in incineration 'bomb' (petrol bomb or molotov-coctail or ...) you do get that slow flame-y stuff. But it never lasts as long as on film :-) .

Of course people who want to blow up stuff don't use incineration stuff.

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

True. But I was referring to something detonating rather than something conflagrating...


-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Monday, August 07, 2000 7:40 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: tv explosives

You noted apropos bogus explosions on film...

> one of those slow, yellow-orange flame-y things they use on TV and in the movies.

I've often read that sfx people put a lot of time and effort into devising appropriate gasoline/oil/other mixtures that give "photogenic" (low-yield) explosives, aided by specific point charges to make the debris fly. The desired for-film result should apparently look a lot like napalm without the oily smoke, so to speak. Then they usually run the result at some suitable slow-motion rate to get that "liquid" feel in closed spaces. Nothing that anyone who survives a real explosion would ever recognize -- as you say, bomb witnesses generally describe a sudden flash, lots of stuff flying about, and dirty smoke. Things like dodge into a corridor to avoid the blast, etc. puh-lease... I just saw some footage of Pearl Harbor the other night, and it essentially confirmed the above -- any flames were from burning powder and oil fires subsequent to the actual explosions.

/ Bo

--
Bo Leuf
Leuf Consultancy
LeufCom -- http://www.leuf.com/

True. But movie people aren't known for verisimilitude. Remember that scene in Starship Troopers with the <fill in your favorite dumb ethnic group here> Firing Squad--a bunch of them standing around in a full circle, facing inward, hosing down the bug with their automatic weapons? And they hit nothing other than the bug. Give me a break.

 


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Tuesday, 8 August 2000

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Adobe reports that there is a major security flaw in Acrobat 4.0, including the freely-downloadable Acrobat Reader. Apparently, no one has so far been burned by this security flaw, but it's potentially very nasty. I've downloaded and installed the patch and suggest that my readers do the same.


On the run today, so it's short shrift time.

Justice is dead in Britain. Read all about it here on Bob Walder's page. Justice, hell. Simple common sense is apparently in short supply in Britain. I'm glad I don't live there.

Click here for a very interesting story about the latest operating system to come out of Redmond. (Hint: its name begins with "Lin" and ends with "ux").

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Monday, August 07, 2000 10:14 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: explosion

Of course. But for film you don't detonate things. You don't want the destruction, only some visuals.

I remember one film set where a medium sized garden shed had to be blown up (I was doing a vocation job at the fire brigade). They blew it up with a small amount of gunpowder (from fireworks) and had to repeat it, twice, because it actually blew up in pieces. In the end they used a big cardboard box filled with gas (and air) to get the right effect for the film. Even then they moved the debris between shots.

Hmmm. If it'd been me, I'd've used a couple sticks of dynamite or a kilo of C4.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Pierce [mailto:dpierce@Synteleos.com]
Sent: Monday, August 07, 2000 11:43 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: On Following The British' lead in grammar

Robert,

This discussion of British vs. American grammar standards reminds me of a humorous anecdote --

At a meeting in Soquel, California a few years ago, the featured speaker was a long-time resident of our community, who was originally from England. His speech patterns hadn't changed much from American influence, and he started his remarks by saying, in lovely London tones:

"I want to get one thing straight right off the top. *I'm* not the one with the accent. *Think about it*."

--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.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Hellewell [mailto:rickheck@jps.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2000 12:19 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Intel 815 MB Upgrade & Win2K

Robert:

Thought you might be interested in my experiences this weekend with a motherboard (MB) upgrade and Win2K, and the problems encountered therein.

As you might recall from a previous message, I had an Intel 820 MB with a Pentium 3-600Mhz processor, 128MB ECC RAM (133 speed). This is the mb that Intel has acknowledged a bug with the MTH memory chip, and they are recalling the MB.

We had discussed that the INtel 815 mb might be a good replacement, so I looked at the specs and got one from my dealer. We have a good relationship, so I brought my box to his shop and we replaced the mb.

On bootup, BIOS settings recognized the hard drives (WD 205BA ATA/66. 20GB, 7200 rpm), and Win2K started booting. The first 'progress bar' screen appeared (the one that lets you press F8 to get into startup options), then the second GUI startup screen came up. The progress bar got about halfway, then I got an error message "Inaccessable_boot_device", error code 0x0000007B, and the computer stopped.

As Tom would say, WTF? <g>

Here's all the things I checked:

1) put the old mb back in, W2K boots up fine. (so installed a temp hard drive and copied all important files to it)
2) put the 815 mb back in, still same lockup. Double-checked BIOS settings.
3) made sure LBA set up OK, ATA/66 working OK, 80 pin cable recognized
4) tried all sorts of BIOS settings related to hard drive (PIO, LBA, mode)
5) put a 40pin cable in, disabled ATA/66
6) used a WD diag to force set ATA/33 mode

I also looked at Intel, Microsoft, and WD's web sites for help, no joy.

Tried a Win2K recovery (boot from Win2K CD, use first 'recover' screen (keystrokes R then C), no joy.

Since I had all important data backed up, decided on a W2K reinstall. Booted from the CD, waited while all the drivers were loaded (you'd think that the install wouldn't have to spend 10 minutes loading unnecessary drivers), then spec'd a installation (on the first screen, where it asks if you want to recover or install). Install process wandered through the C drive, decided there was already a W2K install, and asked if I wanted to fix it or install fresh. Decided to fix it, so a bunch of files were recopied, the install said it was done, and was ready for a reboot.

The machine restarted, and everything was OK. All the programs/desktop/etc were right where they were supposed to be, so no programs had to be reinstalled. All the data was OK. Had to reinstall the video drivers (the 815 mb has video on-board, but can be disabled) and reset the screen resolution. But everything worked OK.

So, the moral of the story: the 2nd reinstall/fix screen fixed things, not the first recover/fix screen.

Perhaps this will help others upgrade their motherboard in a shorter time period than I did....about 8 hours over a couple of days.

BTW, still working on the book. Suspect that it will only get published at my house, but am enjoying the process anyhow.

Rick Hellewell
(in the wilds of Newcastle, CA)

Yep, the general rule is that any time you replace a motherboard (or move an existing hard disk to a new system) the best course is to strip the hard drive down to bare metal and do a re-install. There's just too much stuff in the registry that refers to low-level hardware stuff on the old motherboard. As you found by sad experience.

 


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Wednesday, 9 August 2000

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Because this is my page, I get the final word on the serial comma question. I was reading something last night. It concluded, "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Thomas Jefferson, unquestionably a proficient writer, used the serial comma only when it was required for clarity, as a quick perusal of his other writings shows. In a truly bizarre twist, most of the transcriptions of the Declaration of Independence available on the Internet have been "fixed" by editors who added a serial comma to a sentence that did not originally contain one. Of course, the same thing happened to Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde.

Ars Technica reports on a guy who's built his own PC case out of, believe it or not, PVC pipe. I was particularly impressed by his cooling solution. Now he needs to build himself a CPU cooler from some PVC pipe, a sump pump and an old automobile radiator. Or better still, a refrigerator.

Here's something incredible, at least to me. As my regular readers know, I discovered a new CD-R burning program a couple months ago. It's called Nero Burning ROM, and I've been using it with great success on my main CD burners (all Plextors).

I recommended Nero to Jerry Pournelle, who found it so much better than Adaptec software that he abandoned Easy CD Creator entirely. Pournelle in turn recommended Nero to readers of his web site and his Byte.com column. He's now had hundreds of email messages from people who've tried the Nero eval version on his recommendation. Many, perhaps most, of those have purchased the full Nero package. Among those hundreds of new users, not one has reported a bad experience.

Given how robust Nero is, I decided yesterday to try running it on my "problem" system. This box has the worst of everything as far as burning CDs is concerned--an inexpensive 4X2X24 Smart & Friendly SAF798 ATAPI CD SpeedWriter Plus, a relatively slow processor, not much memory, and a small, slow IDE hard disk. And I use Smart & Friendly 4X media in it, mainly because I can't burn anything but coasters on these discs with any other CD burner I've tried, and I have a spindle of the damned things. To top it all off, this system runs Windows 98SE.

In the past, I've had mixed success burning CDs on this system using Adaptec Easy CD Creator. I'd get perhaps one coaster in every five or eight attempts using the S&F discs. Even when using high-quality discs--Kodak or Taiyo Yuden--I'd get perhaps one coaster per 15 attempts. But to get even that level of reliability, I had to take extreme measures. Copy an ISO image to the hard disk rather than attempting to burn on the fly. Defrag the hard drive before each burning session. And so on. This system was so sensitive that I didn't dare do anything to it while a burn was in progress. Even moving the mouse (literally) sometimes caused a coaster.

So I decided to see if using Nero on that system would improve matters any. It does, and to an unbelievable extent. Since I replaced the Adaptec software with Nero, I haven't burned a single coaster on that system. Not one. I've duplicated audio and data discs, and created mixed data compilations. It all just works. And no coasters.

But here's what's really incredible. Yesterday I decided to see what would happen if I tried burning a CD from source files located on a network volume. With Easy CD Creator, I wouldn't have even considered trying this. It'd be quicker just to throw a new blank disc into the wastebasket, and the results would be no different. So, not expecting much, I fired up Nero on the problem box and dragged a couple of directories totaling about 500 MB over from the network volume. Sure enough, Nero started burning without complaint. Nero apparently decided that the default 4X burn speed was too fast, so it automatically shifted down to doing a 1X burn. Slow, but it worked.

If you burn CDs, you owe it to yourself to try Nero. It really is a superb product.


-----Original Message-----
From: Phil Hough [mailto:phil4@compsoc.man.ac.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2000 10:02 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: blowing things up

Taking it to extremes:

ATB.

Phil

Phil Hough                                             Out of memory.
E-mail: phil4@compsoc.man.ac.uk    We wish to hold the whole sky,
Phone: 07720 291723                         But we never will.
WWW: http://www.compsoc.man.ac.uk/~phil4

Sounds bogus to me. I've never tried cesium, but I have done the same with sodium and potassium metal. The reaction is indeed extremely exothermic, but not to the extent that page suggests.


-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Syroid [mailto:tom@syroidmanor.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2000 12:46 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Acrobat Update

Thanks for the head's up on the Acrobat patch.

One note: You have to have Acrobat 4.05 installed before you apply the patch. I was still using 4.0, and the 4.05up2 failed. I had to first upgrade to 4.05, then apply the latest update.

Thanks for pointing that out. I had 4.05 installed on my main system, so the patch installed normally. When I went to install it on Barbara's system, I found that she was still running Acrobat 3.X. So I upgraded her to 4.05 and then applied the patch. As best I can tell, the security bug exists in all versions of Acrobat 4.X, but as you say the patch can only be applied to 4.05.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Hellewell [mailto:rickheck@jps.net]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2000 1:05 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: [Fwd: ] Intel 815 MB response

Robert....

Thought you might want to see the response from the Intel guys (attached).

All is well with the system now, a reinstall/fix fixed the problem. It's interesting that W2K didn't notice the different motherboard chipset. Looks like the 815 is not quite perfected, although it seems to be working OK.

BTW, you probably should strip the mail info from the Intel guy. Although I did get good response....my question was sent on Saturday, and I got a response on Monday. A point in their favor.

Cheers......Rick...

Yes, he's right that, technically, Plug-'N-Play should detect the new motherboard, uninstall support for the old motherboard, install all necessary support for the new motherboard, and then reconfigure things automatically. But that just doesn't work very often in practice. Even when it appears to, I'm uncomfortable depending on it. By far the better solution when you install a new motherboard (or move a hard disk to a system with a different motherboard) is to strip the disk down to bare metal and reinstall the OS. This has nothing to do with the 815, by the way. It's true of a motherboard based on any chipset. If there's anything at fault here, it's Windows 2000 rather than the motherboard.


-----Original Message-----
From: Phil Hough [mailto:phil4@compsoc.man.ac.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2000 8:00 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: RE: blowing things up

On Wed, 9 Aug 2000, Robert Bruce Thompson wrote:

> Sounds bogus to me. I've never tried cesium, but I have done the same with sodium and potassium metal. The reaction is indeed extremely exothermic, but not to the extent that page suggests.

From my memory of Chem lessons, I thought it quite likely that it could certainly wipe someone out (maybe not a city block though). Remeber reactivity increase greatly as you go down that periodic table. That said, who would sell the stuff to a random kid?

That's what I meant. According to the report, he took a boat out on the lake, tossed 10 grams of cesium into the water and was never seen again. Now, if he'd dropped 10 grams of cesium into his coffee cup, I'd believe he might have had an unpleasant, perhaps fatal, experience. But tossing 10 grams into the lake? Come on.

 


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Thursday, 10 August 2000

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Apparently we had a major thunderstorm last night, from about 1:20 until nearly 4:00 a.m. It apparently fired up right on top of us and then just sat there and dumped a couple of inches of rain on us. I woke up when it started and then went back to sleep immediately. Barbara is annoyed with me because she was awake the entire time. Why are people who have poor sleeping skills always annoyed with those of us who don't?

I placed a small test order with http://www.onvia.com at the end of last month. Interestingly, one of the products they shipped me was defective. Per their guarantee, I notified them and asked for a credit to my credit card and a return shipping label. They responded, telling me that they'd credited my credit card with the full price. I can therefore recommend Onvia highly. They have good selection, good prices, ship what they say they're going to ship, ship it quickly and are very responsive if there's a problem. They also have US and Canadian warehouses, so Canadians won't run into the delays and other problems they often encounter when ordering from US companies.

We took Barbara's Trooper in for periodic maintenance yesterday. The mechanic called to say that there was a small leak in the radiator, that it was probably okay for now, but that it needed to be replaced before we drove the truck to New Hampshire this fall. Barbara has this tendency to pillage my Trooper when she needs something for her Trooper, so I calmly told her and the mechanic to go ahead and take my radiator. They both thought that was hilarious. I must confess I was relieved that Barbara treated it as a joke. When I mentioned it, I thought there was a 50/50 chance that she'd go for the idea. At any rate, we told him to go ahead and order a new radiator. He called back yesterday afternoon to say that the radiator would be about $400 plus labor. That plus the 50,000 mile periodic maintenance will come to about $1,400. Maintaining a vehicle ain't cheap.

I checked the OnStream web site last night to see if they'd gotten around to releasing a version of their Echo backup software for Windows 2000. I was pleased to find that a Windows 2000 compatible version was available for download, albeit a beta. I downloaded that and installed it on the testbed system that has the OnStream DI30 installed. After a reboot I fired up the software and told it to backup the entire system. That's C: (Windows 98) and D: (Windows 2000) volumes, totaling about 10,000 files and 1 GB. That took just over 22 minutes at an indicated rate of 54 MB/min. Actually, that's a bit slower than what you might expect with a real backup, because for the first 2.5 or 3 minutes, Echo just sat there not doing much of anything except backing up the registry and so on. Once it got rolling, it maintained a steady 60 MB/min, which is the drive's rated speed. 

The verify pass ran at an indicated 59 MB/min. Unfortunately, there were about 20 compare errors on C: and D:, all relating to system files. That's something I'll have to check out with OnStream. I expected a few compare errors on D:, where Windows 2000 is running, but Windows 98 wasn't running, so I don't know any reason why any files on C: should have generated compare errors. On the other hand, I haven't cleaned the drive lately (well, ever), so perhaps that's what caused the problem.

All that was with compression turned off. In the past, some versions of Echo have been exceedingly slow when compression was enabled, so the next thing I did was turn around and run the same backup again, but this time with compression enabled. Before doing that, I re-initialized the tape to make sure that the results wouldn't be skewed by the time required to seek to the beginning of the unused tape area. I ran the backup with compression on a Pentium III/600 system with 64 MB of RAM. 

The first thing I noticed was that the 2.5 or 3 minute pause I'd experienced with the uncompressed backup did not occur. Within 30 seconds, the drive was streaming data onto the tape and indicating a dynamic backup rate of about 55 MB/min. That rate or close to it was sustained throughout the backup, which required 20:36 at an indicated rate of 58 MB/min and an indicated compression ratio of 1.4:1. So backing up with compression is, if no faster than backing up without compression, at least no slower.

The verify pass ran at 76 MB/min indicated, which is just short of theoretical (60 MB/min * 1.4:1 compression ratio = 84 MB/min). Once again, there were about 20 compare errors spread across C: and D:, although not the same files as during the previous backup. I've never gotten any compare errors with this drive before, so I conclude the these compare problems are due either to a dirty drive or to the beta software. So I cleaned the drive and tried again.

What's different about the OnStream drive is that they recommend cleaning it only every three months under heavy use or when running in a dirty environment. Compare that to a Travan tape drive, which may require cleaning every couple of days if you use it to perform daily full backups overnight. A typical Travan cleaning cartridge costs about $30 and does 30 cleanings, so it might easily cost you $100 or more per year to keep the drive clean. The OnStream cleaning cartridge costs about $40, and is also good for about 30 cleanings. But that's 7.5 years worth if you clean the drive every three months, which is longer than the useable life of the tape drive itself.

Cleaning the drive is a matter of inserting the cleaning tape. About 12 seconds later, the tape ejects and the drive is clean. After doing that, I started another full backup of C: and D: with compression enabled. This time, files started streaming to tape immediately, but only about 10 MB worth (presumably the registry). After that, nothing much happened for a couple of minutes. Then files started streaming again, and the backup ended at 21:56 with an indicated backup rate of 55 MB/min and compression of 1.4:1. There were a dozen errors this time. Here's the report:

*** Starting Backup Echo Manual Backup -- 8/10/2000 - 8:05:08 AM *** 

*** Operation complete. Echo Manual Backup -- 8/10/2000 - 8:27:01 AM ***

-----------------
Errors: 0
Total files copied: 9886
Deleted files processed 0
Total bytes copied: 1180483 KB


*** Starting Compare Echo Manual Backup -- 8/10/2000 - 8:29:27 AM *** 

C:\WIN98\HELP\NETWORK.HLP ** The file data is different.
C:\WIN98\HELP\NETWORK.HLP ** Files failed to compare.

C:\WIN98\JAVA\Packages\HVTF1J9J.ZIP ** The file data is different.
C:\WIN98\JAVA\Packages\HVTF1J9J.ZIP ** Files failed to compare.

C:\RECYCLED\DC3.EXE ** The file data is different.
C:\RECYCLED\DC3.EXE ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\snmpsnap.dll ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\snmpsnap.dll ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\h261_32.ax ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\h261_32.ax ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\msh263.drv ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\msh263.drv ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\msh261.drv ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\msh261.drv ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\cards.dll ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\cards.dll ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\h261_32.ax ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\h261_32.ax ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\h263_32.ax ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\h263_32.ax ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\quartz.dll ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\system32\dllcache\quartz.dll ** Files failed to compare.

D:\WINNT\java\Packages\71VNPJXF.ZIP ** The file data is different.
D:\WINNT\java\Packages\71VNPJXF.ZIP ** Files failed to compare.

*** Operation complete. Echo Manual Backup -- 8/10/2000 - 8:45:54 AM ***

-----------------
Errors: 12
Total Files Compared: 9874
Total Bytes Compared: 1176199 KB

Now I'm wondering if those are real compare errors or if they are files that somehow Windows has marked as "always open" or something. They seem to be consistent across the several compares I've run, which makes me wonder. I suppose the tape itself may have bad spots, but I'd think that if that were the case the error correction in the tape drive would take care of marking them bad and not using them. So I'm going to ask OnStream what may be going on here.

For now, I obviously can't recommend using the OnStream DI30 under Windows 2000. But although the Windows 2000 version of Echo has some rough edges, I suspect they'll get those fixed soon. Once they do, the $175 OnStream DI30 will be an excellent choice for backing up a Windows 2000 PC, as it already is for Windows 98 systems. At $35 or so each, the tapes aren't cheap, but then they hold 15/30 GB, so you probably won't need a lot of them. All in all, if your backup needs are a bit more than a CD-R(W) drive can accommodate, the OnStream DI30 is probably the best next step up.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2000 9:44 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Cc: Jdominik@Goldengate.net
Subject: Fun with English

Apropos that contribution Reasons Why The English Language Is Hard To Learn, you might want to look at This Phonetic Labyrinth, a classic rendition of the same:

http://www.leuf.org/archive/echaos.htm

/ Bo
--
Bo Leuf
Leuf Consultancy
LeufCom -- http://www.leuf.com/


-----Original Message-----
From: P.M. Baxter [mailto:PMBaxter@twcny.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2000 11:50 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Overclocking via a freezer

Robert:

It won't surprise you to find that it's been done. See:

http://totl.net/Eunuch/index.html

for someone who overclocked a 486sx from 25 to 247 mHz running it in a freezer nestled up to liquor bottles (OK, someone's tongue may have been ***slightly*** in cheek here...)

Thanks for a continued great Web site.

Paul

Yes, I recall seeing that a few months back. Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Nance [mailto:nancepub@nancepub.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2000 2:02 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Road Runner Woes

I benefited from reading about your experiences installing Road Runner.

My day came today. I have a Win98SE peer to peer with one Win2kPro box. I used ICS to a dialup in Buck (the Win2K machine).

This morning the RR techs came and installed another NIC in one of the Win98 boxes. When she tried to fire up the cable connection the machine connected with Buck and dialup over the twisted pair. The techs said, "That page is coming up slow!" They didn't know they were on a dial up.

That stumped them. They wanted to take the machine back with them to the hotel to have someone to look at it and bring it back in the morning.

I reached over and removed the TCP/IP protocol from the peer to peer NIC and it immediately (well, after reboot) found the cable modem and we were in business. They hurriedly packed up and left.

But now the peer to peer is dead. When I reinstall the TCP/IP protocol on the NIC the cable modem cannot be found.

Can anybody point me in the right direction?

Thanks!

Tim Nance
Nance Publishing
mailto:tim@nancepub.com

http://www.nancepub.com
Your Eye on What Matters to You: http://www.iconzine.com

Perhaps one of my readers will have a solution and can contact you directly. Unfortunately, I seldom work with Windows 98, and I have no experience at all with ICS.


Paul Robichaux called my attention to the fact that I forgot to update my Daynotes Home page with a link to this week's page. My apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced. It's fixed now.

 


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Friday, 11 August 2000

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I took a nap at about 4:00 p.m. yesterday. When I awoke at 5:30, the house was quiet and Barbara was gone. I'd forgotten that she'd mentioned we needed to eat dinner early because she was going to her spinning class, whatever that might be. There was no smell of food in the house, and the kitchen was clean. I went downstairs and asked my mother if she'd had dinner. Yep. Chicken and other stuff. Oh, well.

Since I am not entirely helpless in the kitchen I decided to make myself a gourmet meal. I opened a bag of frozen corn and another of frozen peas. I dumped them in a microwave safe container, added some water, sprinkled on substantial amounts of garlic and onion (those two'll fix anything) and nuked until dead--about 12 minutes on high. I then drained the water, cut a stick of butter in small pats which I distributed over the cooked vegetables to melt, waited a few minutes and ate it. That meal was actually pretty good and had 100% of the MDR of everything.

The problem Paul Robichaux reported yesterday occurred because I forgot to update the Daynotes Home page with this week's link. I sent the following message to him, which I'm reproducing here because I thought it might also be of interest to other readers.

If you want to, you can just bookmark [this] which is always the current journal page. I keep two copies of the current daily journal. I actually edit the named version, and then copy that to thisweek.html before publishing. I did that originally in case anyone wanted to bookmark a particular entry, because thisweek.html isn't persistent beyond the current week.

I still have some people who, like you, come in through the Daynotes home page. I get maybe 500 page reads on that file each week, nearly all of them on Sunday and Monday morning, so probably 400 or 500 of my readers prefer that method. I suspect that most of them are weekly readers, because I typically get only 500 page reads per week on the named file for the current week, and perhaps half that for the prior week's named file. That's less in a week for those files than I get in a day on the thisweek.html file. 

Guessing the number of actual visitors is tough. The only thing I have to go on is unique hosts, which as I recall is something under 5,000 per week. With the increasing preponderance of cable modems and DSL, I figure that means I have something like 3,000 to 4,000 regular readers. Of course, with so many ISPs running caching proxy servers, I may well have significantly more than that. Perhaps I'll put the no-cache pragma in one week just to see how many page reads that generates. Of course, not all caching proxy servers honor the no-cache pragma, either.

Interestingly, though, you're the first person who's mentioned the problem, and here it is Thursday.

An honest and competent automobile mechanic is a pearl beyond price. Tim called yesterday morning to say that he had good news. When they pulled the radiator on Barbara's Trooper, they found that the radiator itself wasn't defective, so that's $400 we didn't have to spend. The total for the 50,000 mile periodic maintenance came to just under $1,000. And $147 of that was for a set of ignition wires. Tim said that ignition wires weren't cheap, but that he'd expected them to be about $50. He was rather shocked when he saw the price of an OEM Isuzu ignition wire set.

I need to get ready to power wash the house and perhaps the deck tomorrow. When Barbara and I got quotes of $3,000 or thereabouts to paint the trim (the house is brick), I thought that was pretty outrageous. So we decided to do it ourselves. My friend John Mikol was kind enough to let me borrow his power washer, so I get to power wash the trim and the deck. Barbara will take care of painting the low stuff, and I'll take care of doing the high stuff. I'm going to do a gentle power wash, because I want to put on only one coat. With a power washer, it's easy to strip the surface down to bare wood. In fact, with a power washer, it's easy to write your name in concrete.

I figure realistically that it'll take us three weekends to get everything done. I say weekends, but the nice thing about working for ourselves is that we can do it on weekdays if that turns out better for us. The weather has been reasonably cool of late, although we've had a couple of scorchers. Once we get the power washing done, we can wait to do the actual painting until we have a nice cool cloudy day. I wanted to use my Wagner Power Painter, but Barbara won't let me.

One thing for sure. The house we buy in New Hampshire will not have anything that needs to be painted. In fact, I'm trying to convince Barbara that we don't want any lawn that'll require mowing. I'd be perfectly happy with a yard that's entirely wooded and natural, and so would the dogs.

I know I've said this before, but this time I really mean it. I'm going to cut back on the length of my weekend posts. Unless something really important comes up on a weekend (or unless I just feel like doing it) I won't bother to post a long update. Interestingly, the number of page reads on weekends keeps creeping up, probably from people looking for something new to read on the weekend. I had about 1,500 page reads last Saturday, and about 1,000 page reads on Sunday. Much lower than the weekday numbers, but certainly nothing to sneeze at.

At any rate, unless the weather is beastly, I expect to be spending most of my time this weekend power washing. Perhaps I'll have Barbara take a picture to post here. As far as I know, there are no photos extant of me doing physical labor. That's if she's not shaking too much to take a usable picture. She's always nervous when I'm walking around up on the roof blowing out gutters or doing something else that she thinks is dangerous. When I fire up the chainsaw, she usually hyperventilates. Interestingly, she's not the slightest bit nervous when we go shooting. I can bang away with my .45 Auto or my .44, and she takes that all in stride. 

Well, I'd better go get the weekly network backup started and get to work.

 


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Saturday, 12 August 2000

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ARRRRGHHH! (That word is in my FrontPage spell checker, by the way. I got a wavy red line under it when I typed it in just now. When I right clicked, I found that I'd put one too many R's in the version I typed. Well, it's in my spell checker now. I added it myself, though.)

I was minding my own business yesterday, working on a chapter, when I needed a photograph of an expansion card to insert into the chapter. I set up in the kitchen, shot several photos, and then came back to my office to insert the best one into the chapter. That's when the whole sad story started. Six hours later, after stripping it down to bare metal and reinstalling the OS more than once, I finally had kiwi, my main workstation, working again. Details tomorrow or Monday...

I'm running web stats for my own sites and Pournelle's at the moment. This is the first week that I've ever had more than 2,000 page reads each day for every day of the week. I've had other weeks when I averaged 2,000+ pages reads per day, but never one when every day was above 2,000. I'm not sure what's going on, but I like it.

And that brings up another subject. After I commented on my site traffic yesterday, I got a couple messages along the lines of "Rub it in, why don't you?" I apologize to anyone who thought I was gloating at his expense. That's definitely not the case. Everything is relative. For example, compare my site stats to those of Pournelle, who averages something like 6,000 or 7,000 page reads per day. I remember how happy I was the first day I got 100 page reads, the first week I got 1,000 page reads, the first day I got 1,000 page reads, the first week I got 10,000 page reads, and so on. In reality, it's all about watching site traffic grow, not about having more traffic than someone else. There's always going to be someone who has more traffic than I do, but what counts for me is that people are reading my pages.

Well, I'd better get ready to pressure wash the front of the house.

 


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Sunday, 13 August 2000

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We got the front of the house pressure washed yesterday, including the brick facing. We started about 9:15 and finished around noon. I also did some work on the back: both garage doors, the ground-level entry door to the garage, and a bit of the deck stairs (just to check for effect). 

Overall the existing paint is in good shape. There were a couple small areas that I stripped down to bare wood, but generally all the pressure washing did was clean off some chalking. Barbara is going to prime the bare wood areas Tuesday, cover the priming with a first coat of the finish paint, and then we'll paint the whole front next weekend. While she paints the front of the house, I'll probably be pressure washing the deck.

Once we get the deck clean, we'll put on a stain/seal coat. Barbara is vacillating about letting me use my Wagner Power Painter to do that. It would certainly be quicker. I should probably check the contents of whatever deck stain/sealer we decide to buy. Back in the days when people were rational, exterior paint and stain always included a tiny amount of a soluble mercury compound. It didn't take much, but the mercury was essential to prevent molds and other microorganisms from feasting on the paint. The morons at the EPA outlawed using mercury for that purpose although there was no demonstrable risk to doing so. Perhaps I should do a field-expedient improvement on the formula. Then again, perhaps not, since we're going to sell the house. I'll let the future owners worry about how to keep microscopic flora and fauna from munching on the paint and stain.

We've officially renamed Kerry, our 12-year old Border Collie. I commented to Barbara that looking down on the dogs' backs reminded me of warship silhouettes as seen from above. Malcolm and Duncan are long and narrow in the beam, like destroyers or frigates. Kerry, on the other hand, is extremely wide in the beam, more like a battleship or an aircraft carrier. So, from now on, Kerry is officially renamed Kerrier.

 


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