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Daynotes Journal

Week of 14 August 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:27

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, 14 August 2000

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It all started when I was working on a chapter for PC Hardware: The Definitive Guide (the book Pournelle and I are doing). I needed a photo of an expansion card. That was easy enough. I found a likely looking candidate (a Turtle Beach ADXstream sound card) and took it into the kitchen table, where I have lights and backgrounds set up and ready to go. I shot several photos. So far, so good.

I usually transfer image files from the Olympus D-400Z's SmartMedia card to my computer using the FlashPath adapter, which allows the cards to be read in a standard floppy drive. But when I got back to my office, I found that in all my stripping down and rebuilding of systems, I'd left myself without a system that had the FlashPath drivers installed on it. Being a packrat, I had the latest version of the FlashPath drivers for both Windows 98 and Windows NT4 stored in F:\data\install\Olympus, a network volume on Barbara's system.

So, working from kiwi (my main workstation), I browsed to that file and clicked on the FlashPath .exe file in the install directory, expecting that it would simply install the software on kiwi. Unfortunately, it instead unzipped the installation files into the Olympus directory on the network volume. Okay, no problem. I can install from there, and there aren't that many files, so I can clean them up later.

I ran the Setup file, and everything appeared to proceed normally. A dialog soon popped up to tell me that installation was complete and that I needed to restart the system. Figuring I'd probably forget to clean up the install directory if I didn't do so immediately, I highlighted all the installation files and deleted them, which was my big mistake. I then told the FlashPath setup dialog to go ahead and restart the system. It briefly displayed a message about not being able to find one of the install files, and then restarted the system, or tried to.

Kiwi bluescreened immediately with a message about a missing driver. Hoping against hope, I powered down and did another restart. Same bluescreen, same message. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to try doing a repair using NT Setup. I got through that as far as the first system restart, when I got the same bluescreen error message.

At that point, I had no real choice but to reinstall. I'd just done a full backup that morning to the Tecmar 3900 DDS-3 tape drive, so I wasn't really in danger of losing anything. But the more I thought about it, the more I was inclined to go ahead and join the 21st century by installing Windows 2000 Pro. The downside of that was that Veritas BackupExec doesn't run under Windows 2000 Pro, so I wouldn't be able to restore that morning's backup tape. But on the other hand, the original data was all still on the disk, and I was hoping that I could do an upgrade installation of Windows 2000 Pro, saving all my data and settings. Alas, that was not to be.

When I started Windows 2000 Pro Setup, it gave me two choices: install to the original \WINNT directory, which would cause me to lose all my data and settings; or install to a different directory name, which would not migrate all my installed applications and configuration data. What the heck. I decided to do a fresh install of Windows 2000 Pro. So I used Windows 2000 Pro Setup to fdisk the entire hard drive and install a new Windows 2000 Pro installation. That went fine. While that was going on, I remembered that one of the main reasons I wasn't running Windows 2000 Pro on this system was that there were no usable Windows 2000 drivers for my Matrox G400. So I went over to the Matrox web site, where I found and downloaded a Microsoft-certified G400 driver for Windows 2000.

After Windows 2000 Setup completed, I fired up the Matrox G400 driver setup program. It completed normally and forced a system restart. Unfortunately, the system hung at the initial Windows splash screen. At first, I thought it was just being slow. But after waiting nearly half an hour and still having only an hourglass to look at, I finally decided to power the system down. When I brought it back up, it again hung at the initial Windows splash screen. After another half hour, I decided that wasn't going to work. So much for Windows 2000, and so much for Microsoft-certified G400 drivers for Windows 2000.

So I stripped the hard disk down to bare metal again and started Windows NT 4 Workstation Setup. That proceeded normally. After setup completed, I first installed SP6a, then the Windows NT4 G400 driver, and finally Veritas BackupExec. After a system restart, I inserted the DDS-3 tape that I'd made that morning and started the restore. Everything, including the registry, restored perfectly. Any reasonable person would expect that the system would have been back to its former state as of that morning. I didn't expect that, though, because I know one simple but hideous truth. It is not possible to backup a system running any version of Windows and then restore it to its original state. More on that tomorrow.

Microsoft has entirely lost touch with reality. My regular readers will recall that I pointed out years ago that Microsoft was in deep trouble financially in the long run because of their dependence on upgrade revenue, which was even then showing signs of starting to shrink. Much of Microsoft's attention over the last couple of years has been on how to mine their installed base for additional revenue. Recently, two revenue-enhancing changes to their license agreements have made the news. The first, refusing to allow OEMs to bundle a Windows CD with new computers, has gotten the contempt it deserves. 

The second was pointed out recently by the Gartner Group, and addresses cloning, an almost universal practice among corporations with large PC fleets. I used to do this myself, starting ten or fifteen years ago, and I don't know any PC manager who doesn't do the same. In a nutshell, the situation is this:

As a PC manager, I order 50 or 500 systems from Dell, Gateway, or one of the other large suppliers. Each of those systems comes with Windows 98 pre-installed. But the standard setup that Dell supplies doesn't fit our requirements. So when the boxes show up, I open one, rebuild that system the way I want it--with my corporate policies in place, my standard corporate desktop setup, custom programs installed, and so on. Once that machine is complete and tested, I clone it by backing it up to tape or CD-R and then restoring that custom configuration to each new machine as I take it out of the box.

No problem, right? I have a Windows 98 license for each of the new machines, so I'm not doing anything wrong. Not so, says Microsoft. According to them, when I'm finished with that process, I have one properly-licensed machine and 49 or 499 machines with pirated operating systems installed! Why? Because their OEM license agreement doesn't permit users to customize one copy of the OS and then reproduce that custom copy to the other machines. Their solution? Pay them again for the right to do that. In effect, they're demanding that we pay twice for the same OS, once when we purchase the machine and a second time when we purchase the right to do what reasonable people have been doing all along.

It is a fundamental principle of law that laws must be reasonable. If they are not, few people will obey them. And by passing unreasonable laws, which are destined by virtue of their unreasonableness to be widely ignored, all that one accomplishes is to reduce respect for laws in general. Microsoft has taken this course with their recent attempts to mine more revenue from an installed base that has already been bled white. Any reasonable person will agree that Microsoft is entitled to be paid for their operating system once. But expecting people to pay twice, literally, is expecting too much. By attempting to claim double payment, Microsoft is simply diluting respect for software licensing agreements in general, something that they can ill afford to do.

For anyone who wondered why Microsoft was such a strong advocate of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Article 2B (now UCITA), you now have your answer. They wanted the tools in place that would allow them to enforce Draconian licensing restrictions on users. Both of these are horrible laws. DMCA is now the law of the land, and UCITA is beginning to be adopted by various states. Microsoft desperately needs these tools to ensure a continuing revenue flow, which is reason enough for any right-minded person to oppose both laws.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, a free market always provides self-adjusting mechanisms that doom any company who gets too greedy. In the case of Microsoft, that mechanism is called Linux. As I've said in the past, Linux isn't here yet as a mainstream desktop OS. But it's making progress every month, and it probably won't be too much longer before Linux becomes a real alternative to Microsoft on the desktop.

As someone once observed, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing. Not that Microsoft is evil, by any means. But by nature of what I do, I'm supposed to be a leader rather than a follower. So I guess the time has come to get out there and lead. Not that there haven't been numerous people breaking the path before me. Tom Syroid and Brian Bilbrey, among others of the Daynoters, have been taking the lead on Linux as a desktop OS for quite a while now. I've downloaded the latest NT and Linux versions of StarOffice, and mailed Tom and Brian to ask them what Linux distribution to start with. I plan to keep a log. I'll call it the Linux Chronicles, and keep it updated as I learn more about how to use Linux as a desktop OS replacement for Windows.

To quote Winston Churchill, speaking after El Alamein, "This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Friday, August 11, 2000 11:44 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: cesium.

>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.

Fatal? Perhaps but not from the exploding caesium. Maybe from bits of the cup but I doubt it. Sometimes caesium is used when making a molotov cocktail where it serves to ignite the fuel. I don't know how much caesium is normally used but while learning the technique while in the army (we, recruits, were not allowed to touch the molotov, we had to play with bottles, gasoline and cloth wicks) the instructor used a few grams of caesium. He also demonstrated the use of potasium and sulphur for starting fires.

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

That's very strange. I'd never have considered using cesium (or any other alkali metal) for a Molotov Cocktail. They're expensive, difficult to obtain, dangerous to handle, and not particularly reliable as igniters. If I wanted to build a self-igniting Molotov Cocktail, I'd use sulfuric acid and potassium chlorate, both of which are cheap, easy to obtain, safe to handle, and quite reliable. All you need do is put a half-inch or so of concentrated sulfuric acid in the bottle with the gasoline/oil mixture. Prepare a saturated solution of potassium chlorate, soak a sheet of paper in it, and allow the paper to dry. Secure the paper around the outside of the bottle with glue, tape, or a rubber band. To use the Molotov Cocktail, shake vigorously to disperse the sulfuric acid as droplets, and then throw. When the bottle hits and breaks, at least a droplet of acid will come into contact with the paper, which immediately bursts into flames.


-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Werth [mailto:twerth@kcnet.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2000 10:42 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Printers & P4's

Bob,

Two questions. First, like you I have used and had very good luck w/HP printers, scanners, etc. for many years. Like you I've also gone through waiting for HP to release W2KP drivers for an HP scanner and have noticed a general slip in HP. I need to look for a small LaserJet printer now. Not long ago I would have only looked at HP models. Have you looked at any other brands of printers lately and/or what do you currently recommend?

Second, I remember you writing a while back about the P4 from Intel. You mentioned that even though it would be released at a higher clock speed than the P3 it wouldn't have the performance of a slower P3 initially. I also read something to that effect the other day on the Register. I'm curious, what has Intel done w/the P4 that enables them to ramp the clock speed but hurts the actual performance??? As always, thanks in advance.

As far as printers and scanners, I haven't yet found another source, although I do know that I'll not buy another HP model. In lasers, I suspect that IBM Lexmark may turn out to be a good choice, and for inkjets Epson is pretty well thought of. I don't have much experience with either yet, though.

As far as the P4, I'm not a processor designer, so I can't comment authoritatively about the reasons why a Pentium IV is slower than a Pentium III clock for clock. I believe that will turn out to be the case, though, as Intel has made public statements to that effect. My guess is that the Pentium IV will probably ship at first in 1.3 or 1.4 GHz versions, which will probably have overall performance similar to that of a 1 GHz Pentium III. 

Unfortunately, in the eyes of most consumers, MHz is king. Processor makers have found that most buyers choose a processor based simply on its rated speed in MHz, without consideration to underlying differences in efficiency. That's why VIA is selling their latest as a "PR500" processor, although its actual speed is 400 MHz. I consider this practice questionable to say the least, particularly since PR-rated processors frequently perform nowhere near their PR rating in real-world tests.

So, given the choice between offering a 1.4 GHz processor that provides 1 GHz performance and a 1 GHz processor that provides 1.4 GHz performance, Intel's decision is a no-brainer. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Scott at Help Desk
Sent: Sunday, August 13, 2000 10:02 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Looking for something to read...

Just like you surmise, I am looking for something to read on the weekend and hitting your site. I normally read 'thisweek' every day anyway, but tonight the calls at work are slow, so I poked around a little.

Found 'Technical Inaccuracies in Novels'. Great section, especially the narratives of your youth. Are there more, or will you write more? They are quite entertaining.

I have also wondered about silencing a revolver, but not the Hushpuppies of Vietnam. Does the Nagant gas-seal revolver seal enough to be effectively silenced? That would seem much simpler than tweaking a 'standard' revolver into an unreliable state.

Anyway, great pages, and I hope you will write more about your experiences.

Scott

PS- A while back I wrote that I was waiting for ADA suits to be filed regarding web access and design. That didn't mean I thought they would have merit, just that they would be filed. The government's own regulations probably make government sites subject to ADA, although that should not affect private companies. The suits will, however, not be thrown out immediately. They will suck up public and private resources and enrich lawyers. Courts are no longer about justice, but (like too many things) getting someone else's money.

Thanks for the kind words. I may write more in the sections you mention, but right now I have little time to do so. As far as the Nagant, as you know but others may not, it cams the cylinder forward against the forcing cone before firing, thereby achieving a reasonable gas seal. I suspect this would allow it to function properly with a silencer, but I have no direct experience.


-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Sunday, August 13, 2000 10:10 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: Where to put what

I'm in the middle of assembling the two Intel D810EMO boxes.

Not having a boot floppy drive requires learning new techniques to get brand new drives partitioned and formatted--W2k CD setup wants only to partition into one large drive and have at it, with no other options. (Actually, I'm doing them on another machine and moving them over, as I've got no time to waste on a learning curve right now.)

You might be interested in something from the .pdf manual [ftp://download.intel.com/design/motherbd/MO/A0065301.pdf] for this board--page 63/98 section 3.3.2.

In the BIOS section is the following: "NOTE Do not connect an ATA device as a slave on the same IDE cable as an ATAPI master device. For example, do not connect an ATA hard drive as a slave to an ATAPI CD-ROM drive."

It's not explained whether the caution is for THIS board only, or for all ATAPI configurations (wording seems to imply any board with ATAPI IDE support), but I thought this interesting in light of how many problems there seem to be getting CD burners to work reliably.

Yes, that rule is generally true any time you're working with ATA/ATAPI drives. Jumpering a drive as Master (or Only) activates the controller on that drive. Jumpering a drive as Slave disables the controller and tells the drive to use the controller on the Master device. In general, if you have an ATA and an ATAPI device on the channel, you want the controller in the ATA device active. Violating this rule isn't guaranteed to cause problems, as the controllers in some ATAPI devices work fine with ATA devices. In fact, most ATAPI CD-ROMs work properly when configured as Slave even if they are the only devices on the channel. But good practice suggests jumpering the ATA drive as Master and the ATAPI device as Slave.


-----Original Message-----
From: Simon Law [mailto:sfllaw@engmail.uwaterloo.ca]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 12:44 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: Intel 815 MB Upgrade & Win2K

Regarding Rick Hellewell's Win2K Motherboard upgrade.

Whenever the WinNT HAL is wrong for a particular machine, it just will not boot.

I have an old QDI BrillianX-1S motherboard that is NOT ACPI compliant. Of course, I went ahead and told Windows 2000 Server that it was. (Go to Device Manager, the Computer properties panel, and update the driver to "ACPI PC")

I reboot, and it fails to boot with a 0x7B stop error.

So, I go into Win2K recovery console and do a chkdsk /r c:

Reboot, and I get a little further before a 0x7B stop error.

The moral of this story? Change your HAL to Standard PC before any motherboard upgrades to prevent hassle. Then change it back afterwards.

Well, most motherboards nowadays are "Standard PC" as far as Windows NT/2000 is concerned. And although it's not impossible to upgrade to a different motherboard and continue to run the same installation of NT/2000, it's generally a bad idea. A lot depends on how similar the motherboards are and how they are configured. For example, attempting to move from one 440BX-based board to another is more likely to be successful than attempting to move from a 440BX-based board to a VIA PC133A-based board, or vice versa. The best practice is still to re-install Windows when you change the motherboard.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dan M [mailto:dandaman72@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 2:14 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: win nt/2000 and net motherboard

To Robert,

I recently found a way to move a windows NT installation on a motherboard with an IDE controller to a new motherboard with a scsi RAID controller. My first attempt using restoring an image that I made of the old system onto the new scsi RAID system did not work. I started Windows NT and got INACCESSABLE_BOOT_DEVICE.... Then I brainstormed and tried a few things and came up with the idea that maybe NT needs to load the driver for the disk controller. This was because I was told in school that NT starts up using some bios code but switches into 32 bit mode(which requires drivers to directly access hardware), unlike windows 95 which can run using compatibility mode thru bios routines. so I went back to the old system with the IDE controller and installed the Scsi RAID driver then I made an image of this current installation/configuration and I restored it to the new system(scsi RAID) and it worked. I only got a few minor errors in the error log that I was able to correct uninstalling drivers/services and installing the drivers for the new hardware, I however decided to keep the IDE driver installed just in case I want switch back, even though it complains it cant find an IDE controller.

Yep, it's sometimes possible to do the kind of migration you mention. If you attempt it, you definitely want to install drivers that will be necessary on the new system on the old system before migrating. Equally, you want to uninstall drivers (such as video drivers) on the old system that won't be used on the new system. But it's still far better practice to do a fresh Windows installation on the new system, reinstall applications, and only then migrate just your data from the old system.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 3:19 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: cesium.

Strange indeed.

The instructor explained and demonstrated a lot of methods for making molotov cocktails and other incineration devices including black powder. I forgot most of them but remembered the caesium because he burned half the demonstration setup by spilling it on the desk. He grossly wiped it off with a dry cloth but left enough scattered around. After the demonstrations he cleaned the desk again, with plenty of water and predictable results.

It was actually more difficult to obtain sulphuric acid than most of the other chemicals used because we needed special papers and clearance documents. We only needed a single signed request for the other pure elements (caesium, potassium, sulphur, phosphor,...). Heck, even for the petrol we needed more paperwork.

Sulfuric acid difficult to obtain? All you need do is lift the hood on the nearest car and pillage its battery. But then again, Molotov Cocktails are normally used by partisans and other irregular forces who seldom have formal requisitioning procedures in place.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 9:15 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: cesium.

Of course it is not difficult to obtain. The course was just about that, making uses of whatever is at hand to fight an enemy with superior weapons.

But remember that was in the army with army logic. And in peace time.

If you have ever been in an army without a war going on you know who invented bureaucracy. After I tore a tendon at the back of my knee I got transferred to the personnel service, writing out train tickets for people going home for a weekend. All the conscripts got home for weekends so that was normal fare. Sometimes however, mostly as a punitive measure, a platoon wasn't let out. We still had to write the tickets though. And afterwards do an administrative call back of them.

In the army, everything that happens on a fixed regular schedule is easy. Things that are absolutely unpredictably or uncommonly dangerous are easy as well. Anything else requires copious amounts of paperwork.

Sorry. Somehow the idea of doing a formal requisition for the materials to make a Molotov Cocktail just makes me giggle uncontrollably.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 10:04 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: cesium.

And don't tell this around but, we had to file a request for empty bottles as well. Like most stuff however a lot of them got smuggled in :-)

Stop, stop. You're killing me...

 


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Tuesday, 15 August 2000

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]


PC Hardware in a Nutshell has started a gradual climb in the Amazon.com rankings. Last Friday, it was sitting at 489,XXX. Over the weekend, it climbed to 426,XXX. Yesterday at noon, it had reached 91,101. This morning, it's up to 82,144, so it apparently sold at least one advance copy yesterday. We're hoping that when it actually ships it will rapidly climb to the sub-500 range initially and settle down into the sub-1000 range, the lower the better. That would indicate extremely good sales. Of course, one never knows. Some books seem to have great potential, but flop in the market. Others that seemed to have only middling potential do very well. Some take a while to catch on, while others do very well from the start. All we can do is wait and see. The book should hit the bookstores by mid- to late September. We'll see what happens then.

Continuing from yesterday, why doesn't a full restore of a backup tape return Windows to its state as of when that backup tape was made? Two reasons, one the familiar DLL Hell, and the second the totally incompetent way that Windows supports long file and directory names. The latter is the more serious. Basically, Windows creates a short file/directory name alias for every long file/directory name. It does so dynamically, and that causes major problems. To understand why, let's look at a concrete example. This system originally had three "Microsoft" directories under the "Program Files" directory. They were created in the following order, and Windows assigned the short file/directory name aliases given in parentheses:

Microsoft FrontPage (micros~1)
Microsoft Office (micro~2)
Microsoft Hardware (micro~3)

The first directory was for FrontPage 98, which was installed before any other software that created a "Microsoft ...." long directory name in the Program Files directory. Accordingly, it was assigned the alias micro~1. With FP98 still installed, I installed Office 2000, which was assigned the alias micro~2. I then installed a Microsoft keyboard and a Microsoft mouse, both of which required drivers. Those were installed in the Microsoft Hardware directory, which Windows assigned the alias of micro~3. After I made the migration to FrontPage 2000, I uninstalled FrontPage 98, removing its directory.

When I did the restore from tape, there were only two directories to restore--Microsoft Office and Microsoft Hardware. Because the short filename aliases are created dynamically, Windows assigned the alias micro~1 to the Microsoft Office directory and the alias micro~2 to the Microsoft Hardware directory. That wouldn't ordinary be a problem (e.g. with data files), but it's a real problem with program files. Why? Because the registry uses aliases to locate program files! That means that all the pointers in the registry now point to short directory names which are no longer valid.

That meant that when I fired up the system after the restore, nothing worked. I double-clicked the Word icon, and Windows displayed its "Searching for..." dialog. Short of going in and doing a manual search and replace in the registry, the only option is to reinstall Office using the repair option, which is what I did. Even then, all was not yet correct. Firing up Outlook generated a strange error dialog, which I knew enough to realize was due to the fact that I needed to reinstall Internet Explorer. So I fired up IE 5.01 Setup and reinstalled IE 5.01 over top of IE 5.01. That solved the Outlook problem (other than the fact that the rules were trashed, of course). After an hour or two of manual reconfiguring and fixing things that pointed the wrong place, I finally had a functioning system again.

Note that there's no way to make a straight restore work the way you'd expect it to. Choosing "overwrite all", "overwrite older" or "don't overwrite" each has advantages and drawbacks, but none of them works by itself. Whichever you choose, you'll need to manually fix the mess that results. This is fundamentally a problem with the registry, which is the worst abomination that Microsoft has ever foisted on its users. Back when Windows used .ini files, at least it was relatively easy to fix them to point to the correct locations. The registry eliminates that possibility, at least in any practical terms.

Short shrift time on mail...


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 11:48 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: cesium.

As with most of this paperwork stuff nobody really took it serious.

Take for example the bottles (but it applied to almost all the stuff except ammunition and fuel). We dutifully filled in the forms for a batch of bottles. One platoon was 16 men so we did get an allowance for 16 bottles. Which is obviously way too little for learning to fill and trow various incineration 'bombs'. Up we went to the mess, picked up the assigned crate of bottles, walked past the parking lot, and returned at the gate with more than fifty bottles. At the gate, loading up the truck the officer would come by to check and actually just walk by grinning while we obviously were packing much more than we should.

Then things like petrol and gasoline and old lubrication oil and fat were collected at a normal garage on the road for sure as hell we had received, after several forms, a jerrycan with 16 litre of petrol.

Yep, that was the way the Belgian army trained its conscripts.

btw and old joke :

You know the Russians were terribly afraid of the Belgian army.

Why?

It's so small they wouldn't see it coming.


-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Butler [mailto:cbutler@cbjd.net]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 12:29 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Windows under Linux

If you are getting serious about Linux, you might want to look at VMWare:

According to some Linux gurus that I know who have used VMWare, Windows under VMWare on Linux is more stable and faster that Native Windows.

They have a download (~6 MB) with a 30 day trial license.

I plan to test VMWare Real Soon Now.

Thanks. I've actually been using VMWare for a year or so now. It is indeed a fine product. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Donders [mailto:alan_donders@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 1:06 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Developers of Linux Software Planning Assault on Microsoft

Bob, Apropos to your Linux comments today, I just wanted to make sure you saw the following from today's NY Times:

Developers of Linux Software Planning Assault on Microsoft

Thanks. I hadn't seen that. It indeed appears that Linux may be reaching critical mass as a viable desktop OS.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Hassell [mailto:hassell@hasselltech.net]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 6:54 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject:

In your Linux chronicles page, you mention you had a fail on CS4232. I think CS4232 is your Crystal sound chipset. That name seems familiar to me, but of course I could be wrong.

Good luck. 
Jon

Yep, this machine definitely has a Crystal sound chip in it, so I'm sure you're right. Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Werth [mailto:twerth@kcnet.com]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 7:54 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: RE: Printers & P4's

http://hp2000c.com

Bob,

You might want to check out the above URL for the HP 2000C Inkjet printer. (It is in the business store side of the HP website if you go looking for it there.) It is the first Inkjet printer I have seen that has each color in a separate ink cartridge. The salesman told me (if you can believe a salesman) the black ink cartridge is rated for 12,000 pages and each color ink cartridge is rated for 6,000 pages. That is pretty close to what you had mentioned that you were looking for in a color Inkjet printer.

A rep from Lexmark brought in a workgroup size printer for us to test at work a year or so ago. We just weren't that impressed with it. The Lexmark printer just didn't seem nearly as well built, a lot more of a "plastic" feel to it if you know what I mean. I know I'm leery of HP right now but their LaserJet printers have always just worked and kept on working in my experience. After looking around I'm probably going to stick w/either an HP 1100 or 2100.

On another topic you seem to be having a lot of problems w/the Matrox G400 and W2KP. FWIW I have been running a G400 in an ASUS P5A m/board ever since W2KP was released and it has been rock solid stable from day 1. The only problems that I had were when W2KP was still in beta. I'm curious if it is possibly some interaction between your m/board (which is dual processor), the G400 and W2KP. I'm guessing that since NT 4 doesn't do PNP it might not run into the same problem??? Have you tried a different video card w/kiwi when installing W2KP and/or tried the G400 in a different machine and tried installing W2KP? Just a couple of thoughts since my experience w/the G400 is totally opposite of yours.

Thanks. I'd seen the HP printers that use separate ink cartridges, but as I said I won't be considering any HP products for any future purchases. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. The Matrox Millennium G400 remains on my recommended list, because the only problem I've had with it is in my dual-CPU system, and I've had enough reports from readers to believe that the problem is not common to other dual-CPU systems. There's something about my particular system (or the EPoX motherboard) that the Matrox doesn't like. The G400 works fine under W2K in a couple of other systems I've tried, and other video cards work fine in kiwi under W2K. But I can't get the G400 working under W2K on kiwi to save my life. Under NT4, though, it's rock-solid. And since I run kiwi at 1280X1024 or 1600X1200, the 2D display quality of the Matrox board is worth more to me than the ability to run W2K, which really doesn't buy me a thing.


-----Original Message-----
From: mhuth@wawrra.pair.com [mailto:mhuth@wawrra.pair.com]On Behalf Of Mark Huth
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 1:40 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: On Microsoft, Matrox G400, and cloning

Bob,

I'm much less expert than you and don't presume to correct you, but we've several different experiences.

On Windows 2000 and Matrox. I'm running 2000 on a dual cpu system running a Matrox G400 dual head card and the standard windows 2000 driver from the matrox site. Installation was painless. There are several drivers on the Matrox site and I found it confusing. Perhaps you got the wrong driver. The driver I'm running is 5.00.2195.1030 (seems like a lot of numbers for a driver)

On cloning systems with windows 98. I checked with our network manager and he says that there are two ways (at least!!) to buy licenses. The first is the way you describe...you go out and purchase systems with the os on them and manually configure them. The second is do just what you want, buy systems and buy a license for the entire site. We've no trouble buying systems from Gateway under such agreements. I understand your point, if you buy 100 machines with the os on them, why can't you just clone the os and put one copy on all machines. It is bizarre that you can't, but you do have other ways to go.

As to Linux, I'm senting this message to you from a linux box, but I still prefer to run from 2000. 
--
mhuth@coldswim.com
Is it too wild to still want to get into space?

As far as the Matrox G400, I've used every driver they have posted on their site, and none of them work on my dual-CPU EPoX box under Windows 2000. Oddly, one of their early beta W2K drivers did work, but I've since lost that and it's no longer posted on the Matrox site. I've no doubt that you're working fine on your dual-CPU box with a G400 under Win2K. I've had several other people tell me the same thing. As far as cloning, if Gateway will sell me 100 systems without Windows (and crediting me the price for the OEM license), that's news to me. As far as I was aware, Gateway is contractually obligated to pay Microsoft for an OEM license for every system they sell. It wouldn't surprise me if Gateway would also sell me a volume license, but I suspect that's priced in addition to the standard license that I'd already be paying for.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Pierce [mailto:dpierce@Synteleos.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 2:00 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: WOW!

Robert,

I have no words to express how greatly I look forward to this:

So I guess the time has come to get out there and lead. Not that there haven't been numerous people breaking the path before me. Tom Syroid and Brian Bilbrey, among others of the Daynoters, have been taking the lead on Linux as a desktop OS for quite a while now. I've downloaded the latest NT and Linux versions of StarOffice, and mailed Tom and Brian to ask them what Linux distribution to start with. I plan to keep a log. I'll call it the Linux Chronicles, and keep it updated as I learn more about how to use Linux as a desktop OS replacement for Windows

This is something that I very much want to explore myself, but I simply don't have time for the experimentation that's required to do something like this from scratch. I haven't even upgraded my main working machine to Win2K, I can't even afford the day of grief that would cost (although I do see like at the end of the tunnel in terms of my big project, and I hope to do that this fall).

I wish you lots of luck. Although, as a selfish reader, what I should wish for is lots and lots of problems and snafus -- then you'll solve them and write about it. :) What is it that Pournelle always says, "I do these silly things so you don't have to" or some such? Do silly things for us, buddy, we need you!

--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. I should emphasize that this is a low-priority, time-available project for me, but I will make progress on it. Probably the first thing I need to do is get my hands on a couple of books like O'Reilly's Running Linux and read them. But I will make progress.


-----Original Message-----
From: AP [mailto:lti@idirect.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 6:40 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Silenced Revolvers

Mr. Thompson,

A Paladin Press catalog in the 1970s had on the cover a picture of a silenced revolver (possibly taken from the book _Silencers for Hand Firearms_ by Siegfried Heubner), which had a shroud surrounding the barrel and extending back around the cylinder to the standing breech. This would solve the flash gap problem, but how the weapon was to be reloaded is not obvious. Perhaps the user was simply expected to solve his problem with six rounds.

Also in the 1970s, Guns & Ammo magazine carried a story by Konrad F. Schreier about a revolver developed for tunnel rats in Vietnam which silenced the ammunition, not the revolver. The revolver was a S&W M-29 with a very short, smooth bore barrel, and the ammunition contained a captive piston. There was a shot capsule in front of the piston, and the propellant was behind it. When the propellant ignited, it drove the piston forward, and thus the shot, until the piston hit a stop inside the case mouth. All the flash and blast were contained inside the cartridge case. There were problems, including split cases and low muzzle velocity, and nothing much seems to have come of it.

Around 1991, Knight's Armament Company of Florida developed a silenced Ruger GP-100 using a muzzle suppressor attached to a very short barrel and a proprietary 5.56 mm cartridge which "secretes a heat sensitive, quick dissolving lubricant which temporarily seals the gap between cylinder and barrel." (Chris McLoughlin, _Special Weapons for Military and Police, 1992_ page 9.) KAC claimed a 42 dB sound drop. Nothing much seems to have come of this one either.

Silencing a revolver seems complicated, but silencing a major caliber locked- breech semi automatic handgun, and making it function properly, is not exactly simple either. The fact that the revolver retains its fired cartridges could justify the effort of silencing it, for some purposes .

Regards,

Allan Pineo

Yes, I've seen some real oddball silenced handguns, although never those you mentioned. My favorite was a Chinese (?) model, obviously intended for assassins. It was a pepperbox, with four separate barrels in a square arrangement. The last half or so of the barrels was drilled, and the silencer fit over the barrels, extending all the way back to the breech and about six inches past the muzzles. The gun used electric ignition, powered by a battery/capacitor arrangement in the butt. The ammunition was .30 caliber (7.65 mm) with what appeared to be a very light bullet. It was loaded for subsonic speed, so I imagine it had very little punch. I never heard the gun fired, but the guy who showed it to me claimed that it was nearly inaudible, which I believe.

I always thought that such devices were pretty ridiculous. The point of a silenced pistol should not be to eliminate all sound, because that makes it impossible to use a reasonable cartridge. The point should be to make a gunshot sound like something other than a gunshot. For example, I was always happy with the .45 ACP MAC10 with the Sionics suppressor. It wasn't silent by any means, but what it sounded like was a fully automatic cap pistol. The other advantage of the suppressor was that muzzle blast impinging on the suppressor greatly reduced felt recoil. With the suppressor in place, it was possible to hold and fire the MAC10 one-handed and hold bursts on a silhouette target out at 25 or 50 yards. Without the suppressor, the gun climbed uncontrollably unless fired in very short bursts. With it, the gun didn't climb.

 


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Wednesday, 16 August 2000

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Leave it to Brian Bilbrey. He attends a Linux conference, where he unintentionally nearly assassinates Linus Torvalds. Things are often a matter of inches one way or the other. Had things gone differently, Bilbrey might have single-handedly ended the Linux movement and thereby gained a high-paying job for life at Microsoft.

Lots to write about today, but little time. We had to take Kerry to the vet yesterday because Barbara found a couple of lumps on his side. It turns out they're abscesses and probably not cancerous, but we had to schedule minor surgery for him today. Barbara is off this morning to deliver Kerry to the vet and go grocery shopping. We got a good bit of painting done yesterday, and more is on the schedule for today. It's to be relatively cool and cloudy, so it's a good day for it.

rbt-ladder-paint-1.jpg (59595 bytes)

As promised, a shot of me doing (gasp!) physical labor.

 

duncan-on-barbara-1.jpg (44851 bytes)

And another of Barbara and Duncan relaxing after work...

There's mail, as usual, but I'm out of time.

 


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Thursday, 17 August 2000

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We're taking a day off from painting today. Barbara is playing golf, and I'm working. We got nearly all the front of the house done yesterday, except the windows and shutters, which Barbara will work on tomorrow. She did decide that I will be allowed to use my Wagner Power Painter to do the sides, eaves, and high stuff on the back.

Kerry's surgery turned out to be not so minor. He had two abscesses, which we'd hoped they'd simply lance and drain. As it turned out, though, they needed to cut both of them out entirely. We picked him up from the vet yesterday afternoon and brought him home. Much of his right side is shaven, and he has Frankenstein stitches. He seems to be doing okay, though.

As I was cruising through the tech news sites the other day, I came across an article on SETI@Home (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). And the thought that immediately ran through my mind was "why am I not participating in this project?" It costs nothing (in any sense) to do so, and the project itself is worthwhile, even if no alien intelligence is eventually discovered.

For those not familiar with the SETI@Home, the problem is that they have much more data than they can analyze themselves, even using their supercomputers. So they wrote a client which runs on PCs (and other types of computers) and made that client available to anyone who wants to download it. When you run that client on your PC, it goes out to the SETI server and gets a small block of data (called a work unit). The client then uses spare CPU ticks on your machine to crunch the SETI data. On a typical PC class system, processing one work unit requires from about 6 hours to as long as a couple of days, depending on CPU speed. The SETI@Home client works in the background at low priority. (It's actually implemented as a screen saver). 

When your CPU isn't doing something for you, the SETI client grabs 100% of the CPU to crunch SETI data. As soon as your PC needs to do something else, the SETI client immediately gives up the CPU to the priority process. Other than by looking at the CPU Utilization in Task Manager, I can't tell the difference between a system running the SETI client and one that isn't. It gets out of the way of a priority task so quickly that I don't notice any performance degradation at all. The only difference is that spare CPU ticks go to processing SETI data instead of to running the Windows NT idle process.

So here's an opportunity to do something good at no cost to yourself other than the five minutes or so that it takes to get SETI up and running on your machine(s). If you want to get involved, take the following steps:

1. Go [here] and download the SETI@Home software. It's available in a GUI version for Windows (95/98/NT) and Macintosh, as well as a text-only version for UNIX, OS/2, etc. I've installed the Win version on three machines now, two NT4 and one Win98, and Setup blew up all three times with a GPF. There's no damage done, however, as the software works fine after you clear the GPF. The GPF problem may have to do with the fact that I'm running through a proxy server, as others have reported no similar problems.

2. As you install the software, you're given the chance to create a new account for yourself. Do so, and let the software download a work unit and go to work.

3. If you have multiple machines, you can install the software on each. When asked, enter your existing SETI account (you can use it on as many machines as you want).

4. Go [here] and click on the User Account Area link. Enter your SETI account (email address) and click on the link to have them mail you your account password.

5. Click on this link and join the Daynotes Gang group. Doing that requires the password that SETI just sent you. This step is optional, and provides no real benefit to you or to us, but everyone else has formed SETI groups, so there's no reason why we shouldn't do the same.

If you're already running SETI@Home, either as an individual or as a member of an existing group, you can still join our group. You won't lose any of your individual credits by doing so. If you're a member of another group, joining our group will simply transfer your existing credits from that old group to this new one.

I'm running the SETI @ Home client on my two main machines right now, which should tell you something about the level of trust I have in the stability and unobtrusiveness of that client. On my primary system, a dual Pentium III/550, the SETI client takes about 11 hours to process one work unit. On my secondary system, a Pentium III/600, it takes about 10 hours. I could run a second instance of the SETI client on the dual processor machine, but I'm happy for now just to allow it to do its thing on one processor. Between the two machines, I'm doing about 4.6 units per day. I'm considering running the client on some of my faster boxes (Pentium III/733s, /850s, and /933s) but those systems are test beds which are constantly being torn down and rebuilt.

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 9:36 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: HP 2000C

Mr. Thompson:

Like you, I have had my fill of problems with HP products recently. My experience has been that some of the product has declined drastically in quality, but worse, customer service is now abysmal.

Regarding the HP2000C, I have a customer who purchased a HP2500C and has had no end of trouble with it. The HP2000C is based on the same engine, so I would stay away from it. After many months of fighting the unit by myself and HP's (abysmal) technical support, I finally convinced HP the unit needed to be fixed. Because of the size of the unit, HP sends out a technician. The technician was very nice and knowledgeable... he had nothing good to say about this series of printer.

Thank you for your courtesy,

Thanks. As I said, I won't even be considering HP products the next time I need to buy a printer.


-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Mugford [mailto:mugford@aztec-net.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 11:31 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Printer choices

Robert,

"As far as printers and scanners, I haven't yet found another source, although I do know that I'll not buy another HP model. In lasers, I suspect that IBM Lexmark may turn out to be a good choice, and for inkjets Epson is pretty well thought of. I don't have much experience with either yet, though."

Based on my experiences with the HP6 and your stuff, I had decided a while ago to start looking at laser alternatives. At one client, we tried a Fujitsu PrintPartner which did an okay job, but was a little flimsy and busted under the workload. Getting it repaired was nightmarish. We decided then to look at Lexmark models and have been impressed, happy and hassle-free. I have an HP4 I wouldn't trade for twice the price I paid for it, but its replacement will be a Lexmark. And the Epson Stylus Photo 700P I have been using as a colour printer, is being given to the newly computerized parental units. I'm seriously thinking of going with the Lexmark Z52, rather than continue with the Epson. The reviews have been good and the experience with the Laser has made me almost adopt an HP-mantra like approach to Lexmark.

Thanks. As far as lasers, we have an HP 5P that just keeps plugging away. If I need to replace it or add another laser, I'll certainly look at the Lexmark models. Based on their very high consumables cost, I'm not a fan of inkjets, but Barbara is angling for something to print digital camera photos with, so I may have to get one.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 12:08 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: More on the decline of HP

Mr. Thompson:

May I vent?

Another example of the decline of HP, not so much in product, but its business practices:

This is a lot of work and research to get a replacement ink cartridge for a HP DeskJet 720C printer:

from searches on www.shopping.hp.com:
C1823G - economy color cartridge (15ml) - $24.99
C1823D - large color cartridge (30ml) - $32.99
search for the C1823A on the site: no matches

however on the C1823D page, in the description: "The HP C1823D print cartridge is a replacement for the HP C1823A print cartridge."

Now I surf over to www.officedepot.com and do a search on "C1823A"

C1823D - $33.99
C1823T (two pack) - $44.99
C1823A (39ml) - $35.99

Then back at the HP site I search and find this:

-----

I find it infuriating when a company uses these kind of practices: flood the market with a confusing array of products to make it difficult to classify and differentiate product. HP is using the same practice with the inkjet printers themselves by flooding the market with virtually the same printer under many different model names. Exactly who does it serve to "replace" a print cartridge with a newer model that has less ink? The economy "g" series of ink cartridges is another deceptive "innovation" that didn't exist previously.

The frustrating part for me is that a company can make just as much money with straightforward honest business practices. I know this is a dead horse and you feel the same way...

Thank you for your courtesy,

Richard Micko 
rmicko@clipperinc.com

Yes, as I've said many times, the main reason that I don't have an inkjet printer is the hideous cost of ink cartridges. To the best of my knowledge, there's no technical reason why the cost-per-page with an inkjet printer should be any higher than with a laser printer, which is to say less than a cent per page. Inkjet printer makers have all sorts of sanctimonious excuses for using ink cartridges rather than ink reservoirs, but the simple fact is that they can sell ink cartridges at huge margins, whereas if they built their printers with ink reservoirs consumers could simply buy ink at market prices. This is just the old King Gillette "give away the razor and sell the blades" marketing scheme. But those blades are so expensive and have such high margins that I recommend avoiding inkjet printers unless you absolutely require color output.


-----Original Message-----
From: R. Neil Heidorn [mailto:nheidorn@sigecom.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 3:27 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Microsoft Registry

Robert,

You recently wrote in your daynotes:

"This is fundamentally a problem with the registry, which is the worst abomination that Microsoft has ever foisted on its users. Back when Windows used .ini files, at least it was relatively easy to fix them to point to the correct locations. The registry eliminates that possibility, at least in any practical terms."

A sentiment I agree with heartily, but having recently finished reading _Windows NT 4.0 for NetWare Administrators_ I couldn't help but notice a distinct change of opinion on your part. Perhaps given enough time (and enough bad experience) any solution tends to look like a bad one?

As I said, I agree with you. I just thought it was an interesting turn of events. I'm a daily reader, btw... keep up the good work.

R. Neil Heidorn
MIS Manager
InsureMax Insurance Company
http://www.insuremax.net/

Hmm. I wrote that book more than three years ago. I'm not sure what I said then that would lead you to believe that I like the registry, but that's certainly not the case. Perhaps I'd said something about the registry being much preferable to the NetWare 3.X bindery, which is certainly the case. But in absolute terms, I sure don't think much of the registry.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard H. Brown Jr. [mailto:c_brown@ids.net]
Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 9:47 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Linux CS4232 Failure

Mr Thompson:

Welcome to the wonderful world of Linux.

I had problems the first time I tried to load Red Hat Linux 6.0 onto a NEC Versa 2435CD laptop. Between my ignorance of Linux and the lack of documentation it required 2 weeks of install, try, scrub off partition and re-install before I managed to get things working.

On Mother Board sound chips, video chip sets are not really supported by Linux as the drivers have to be written by someone and trying to get proprietary information out of MB mfr's is like pulling teeth.

On a desktop system that has a MB sound chip it's usually much more mind saving to disable the chip in the BIOS and install a sound card.

I've done this on a E-machine P2 533Mhz machine and will be doing it on a HP 8650C Pavilion later this year. (funny How HP trumpeted it from the roof tops that it's has Linux Support, but fails on the personal computer side)

Many sites for OEM machines have little or now information on using Linux on their boxes, hopefully this will change.

As of today I have the NEC 2435CD, and the E-Bay machine dual booting with Red Hat Linux 6.1 and Windows 98 2E. The HP 8650C Pavilion is dual boot but without sound until I can get a spare CREATIVE Sound Blaster card installed in it.

However as to networking the machines together I still use Win98 2E as it's a no-brainer to install peer-to-peer networking. I have to do some research on the web to find more info on getting a p-t-p network going in Linux.

As to WWW use, that's another story entirely, I'd have to get with my ISP tech support and physically try different setups as they presently do not support Linux SLIP/PPP assistance.

Keep up the work and maybe you'll get another book on "Linux for the Technically Deprived" out of your experiments.

Yes, with Linux a lot of things are hard that are trivial to accomplish with Windows. After playing with Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop for a few days, I'm concluding that it's a viable desktop OS for anyone with some smarts who is willing to invest some substantial time in learning Linux plumbing. But there's still so much missing that Linux is a long, long way from being a viable replacement for Windows as a desktop OS for the Aunt Minnie market. One of the most serious major gap is the absence of a usable Microsoft Networking client. Configuring Samba for that purpose just doesn't make it. 

 


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Friday, 18 August 2000

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Ah, the wonders of technology. I slept in this morning. When I awoke at 8:00 a.m., I found Malcolm in his crate, Duncan napping on the sofa, and Barbara gone. I had no idea where she'd gone, so I checked her diary page and found that she'd gone to the gym. She'd also left me email. No painting today, I learned on her diary page, because we're expecting rain. I didn't even have to check the weather report or look out the window. Isn't technology wonderful? 

Thanks to everyone who's joined the SETI@Home Daynotes Gang group. Several who've joined have already been at this for a long time, as evidenced by the number of work units they've completed. Others, like me, have just gotten started. You're welcome to join us whether you're just starting or have already accumulated hundreds or thousands of work units completed. The more the merrier.

A couple of points:

  1. If you want to process the most possible work units per unit time, there are a couple of options:
    • In Settings - Preferences, mark the "Data Analysis always runs..." option button. With this option enabled, the SETI client always grabs 100% of the CPU when it's not busy doing something else for you. This is the option I'm running on my main workstation, and it doesn't impact performance at all so far as I can tell. SETI does, however, recommend using this option only on machines that have at least 64 MB RAM. The reason for that is that although the program instantly releases the processor when it's needed to do other work, the client does occupy a significant amount of memory as long as it remains loaded and running.
    • If you've chosen the other option ("Data analysis runs only..."), you can reduce the time to process a work unit by turning off graphics in the screen saver. To do that, right click an empty area of your desktop and choose Properties. On the Screen Saver page, make sure the SETI@Home screen saver is selected and click the Settings button. Enable the option to blank the screen and set the number of minutes (30, by default) to some lower number. I use 1. That number doesn't affect how long the screen saver takes to kick in, but only how long the graphics display is visible before the screen saver changes to a black screen.
  2. You can configure your account to display your name with a link to your web page. To do that, go to the User Account Area, enter your SETI account name and password in the top two boxes, and click the Change User Info button. On the screen that appears, enter the URL of your home page in the URL box (make sure not to include the http:// part or the link won't work) and click the Submit button. For example, I've entered www.ttgnet.com/thisweek.html for my account.
  3. On the group status page, the "Results received" and "Total CPU time" items in the group summary box (above the listing of individual members) are completely screwed up. These bounce up and down each time a new unit is received from any group member, and bear no relation to reality that I can see. At one point, we actually had just over 4,000 units received (figured by totaling the individual numbers. The group summary showed something over 1,500 units. My computer then sent a completed unit, which bumped my individual total by one, but dropped the group summary total by more than 600 units! I've watched this happen repeatedly, and I've tried doing a regeneration as described to fix it. That has no effect. At any rate, disregard the cumulative totals.

Barbara will be back to painting tomorrow. She should finish up the windows and shutters on the front of the house. She also got a small can of black enamel to freshen up the house numbers that I pried off the front of the house. Our address is 4231, and I suggested that when I nail the numbers back up on the house I should do so in sorted ascending order. She was not amused.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2000 1:03 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Hounted

>Kerry ... has Frankenstein stitches.

and Malcolm is a demon.

Sounds like a hounded house. <g>

BTW Ink jets are cheap because the up-front price is almost the only thing an average user has to compare. Low up front price means that the manufacturer has to make a profit elsewhere.

For (occasional) printing in colour it is hard to beat an inkjet. At home I use the HP 840C for colour and a Lexmark E+ laser printer for most of my black and white. And while that Lexmark looks rather flimsy it works more than good enough. Remember it was the bottom of the range (4ppm) so good looks and a solid feel are not to be expected. And it did only cost about twice the price of an inkjet (+2y ago).

--
Svenson.

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

Thanks. You know, I'd always heard that the true measure of fluency in a language was the ability to understand rock lyrics sung in that language. I think they're wrong, though. The true measure of fluency is the ability to make hideous puns.


-----Original Message-----
From: Holden Aust [mailto:linuxenthusiast@postmaster.co.uk]
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2000 2:17 PM
To: Bob Thompson
Subject: Linux and the Internet, some information for Richard

Bob,

Here is a copy of an email I sent to Richard, whose message you'd posted on your site:

brown@ids.net Richard,

If your ISP doesn't support Linux, you might want to consider changing to an ISP who does. I've helped setup several friends and relatives on Earthlink (www.earthlink.net), which is consistantly one of the top-rated ISPs. They have several documents on their web site which give you the information you need to setup the KPPP dialer in KDE.

This document gives the IP addresses of the DNS servers, domain names, and mail server names:

This document has screenshots which show how to configure Netscape Navigator for Linux:

To use Linux with a modem, you want to be sure that you have a controller-based modem, not a Winmodem. Most external modems are controller-based. Zoom has a new, PCI controller-based modem (model 2920) which includes specific information on configuring their modem with Linux. Here is a website which will tell you if a modem works with Linux:

It is worth getting Linux setup for Internet access, since Linux is noticeably faster on the Internet than Windows running on the same machine.

Also, if you haven't upgraded to a later version of Linux, I would encourage you to do so. The installation process has been significantly improved, there are many new device drivers and many programs have been updated since Red Hat 6.0. You might want to wait a month or two, since a new version of Red Hat will be out shortly. Linux is being improved at such a rapid clip that it is advantageous to update on a regular basis, especially given how inexpensive Linux is.

Thanks. My experience with Linux, though, is that it's much slower than Windows on the same machine. I don't dispute that Linux running in text-mode as a server is much faster than Windows on the same machine, but Linux running KDE is a pig. For example, I find NT4 with IE, Office, etc. perfectly usable on a Pentium II/300 with 128 MB, but Linux/KDE/Netscape running on that same machine is slower than molasses in February. So much so that I just blew away my Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop installation on my old Pentium II/300 and replaced it with Windows Me. I'm going to have to come up with a faster machine to run Linux/KDE on.


-----Original Message-----
From: maceda [mailto:fremen@pobox.com]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 1:02 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: On SETI

Just a couple of pointers about the SETI@Home GUI client for the PC. To get the best performance you have to use a different screen saver. Seti's screen saver uses a lot of cicles and in some cases it can double the time it takes to complete work units. I set up my machines to continuously run SETI in the background, but only because I use at least 128 MB of RAM. When running, SETI will take 16 MB of RAM so in a Windows 95/98/NT/2000 environment with 64 MB of RAM it will really slow things down.

I will also suggest the use of a program called Seti Queue by Ken Reneris (www.reneris.com). This little app will grab a number of work units at a time (I have mine set at 30 work units) and then distribute them to all your clients; it will also save the finished results. Then at a time of your choosing, or when a number of work units have been completed, it will connect to the SETI@Home central database send the finished results and refresh your work unit stock. This has the advantage for dial up users that you only have to connect once, but the biggest advantage of all is that if SETI is unreachable for some reason (it has happened a lot of times since I joined) your computers will not be idle since you have your own stock of work units to keep on processing.

Francisco Garcia Maceda
maceda@pobox.com

Thanks. I may try that. So far, I've been very lucky getting through to the SETI server. There's been only one failure while I was trying to install the client on a new machine, and perhaps one other when one of my seldom-supervised machines generated an error message after finishing a work unit. On the other hand, Steve Tucker, who lives half a mile from me and also has Roadrunner, has been trying since Tuesday to get connected and only finally succeeded last night.


-----Original Message-----
From: Greg Lincoln [mailto:greg@mazin.net]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 10:26 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Linux Speed

Hello Mr. Thompson,

I read today in your daynotes entry that you are noticing a very large speed difference between Windows and Linux on the same machine. I think that there are a few reasons this is happening, and will attempt to detail them here.

First, your P2-300 machine is likely to support UDMA. UDMA support in Linux is relatively new, and isn't enabled by default. I think you will find a large improvement in your IO performance if you enable it.

It is very likely the motherboard you use has a PIIX4 South-bridge, which has good support. To see the stats for your drive, as root type:

hdparm -i /dev/hda

(hda=primary master, hdb=primary slave,etc)

Here is what that command returns on my 440FX box:

Model=Maxtor 88400D8, FwRev=NAVX171F, SerialNo=L80CQLRA
Config={ Fixed }
RawCHS=16278/16/63, TrkSize=0, SectSize=0, ECCbytes=20
BuffType=3(DualPortCache), BuffSize=256kB, MaxMultSect=16, MultSect=16
DblWordIO=no, OldPIO=2, DMA=yes, OldDMA=2
CurCHS=16278/16/63, CurSects=1587544314, LBA=yes, LBAsects=16408224
tDMA={min:120,rec:120}, DMA modes: mword0 mword1 mword2
IORDY=on/off, tPIO={min:120,w/IORDY:120}, PIO modes: mode3 mode4
UDMA modes: mode0 mode1 *mode2

The stuff you should take a note of is the MaxMultSect number, the highest UDMA mode available (in my case UDMA mode2 which is UDMA33), and which udma entry has a star next to it. This denotes which udma mode will be used automatically when DMA is activated.

Here is how to optimize the Linux IO subsystem:

hdparm -c1 -d1 -X66 -m16 /dev/hda

I will break this down for you.

-c1 = Turns on 32 bit ide.

-d1 = Turns on (U)DMA (uses the mode with a star next to it from above)

-X66 = forces a specific DMA mode. Set this to the highest mode your hardware supports. To get the number follow this simple formula. If you want a DMA mode take the mode number and add 32. So if I wanted DMA mode 2 I would use -X34. To get a UDMA mode, take the mode number and add 64. If I wanted UDMA mode 2 I would use -X66, UDMA mode 4 is -X68, etc.

-m16 = Sets turns on multi sector IO with 16 sectors at a time. You should set this to the max your drive supports from hdparm -i. (MaxMultiSect)

This should show a marked improvement. Next, should be sure you are using a display adapter that has an accelerated X Server. Good boards are the Matrox MGA series, (The millennium and millennium 2 and gxxx ) voodoo 3 boards, everything from NVIDIA since the TNT, and most S3 boards. Let me know what board your box has and I can tell you if it will perform well.

The final change I recommend you make is to use another distro. =) Distro wars are some of the bloodiest in the Linux community, but my testing and experience has shown that Redhat 6.2 seems to perform the better than every other distro I have tried. Mandrake is supposedly optimized for Pentium class machines, but I have found it slower on every machine I have.

Even if you choose to stick with Caldera, the above changes should make you happier with Linux speed in general. They won't make Netscape work as well as IE alas. =) Netscape 4.74 is the most stable release I have used. In fact, it is the first Netscape I have used in Linux that hasn't crashed. (For a month now!)

Sorry for the long-windedness, please get back to me with any questions.

All the best,

Greg Lincoln
Mazin Software
www.mazin.net

Thanks. I already blew away Linux on that box and installed Windows Me, so I can't look at the parameters. That box has an Intel i740 video card, which (surprisingly) isn't well supported by anything. Even Windows Me didn't have a driver for it. So I suspect that Linux doesn't either. I'll let you know when I bring up Linux on another box.


-----Original Message-----
From: Shawn Wallbridge [mailto:swallbridge@home.com]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 10:54 AM
To: Robert Thompson

Subject: Seti

For maximum performance you should be running the command line version of Seti. From what I have read, it is about 20% faster at cranking out a WU than the pretty GUI version. You can also download a program called SetiLog that will hide Seti from your task bar and make it run in 'Quiet' mode.

Thanks.

 


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Saturday, 19 August 2000

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Power washing the deck is on tap for today. It's supposed to be reasonably cool, but sunny. That's too bad, I'd have preferred very cool and rainy. I wouldn't get any wetter than I will using the power washer anyway, particularly when I'm working under the deck.

Our SETI effort continues to grow. We now have 25+ members, and 4,000+ work units completed. Most of those are from people who had already completed a significant number of units before joining our group, but everyone is plugging away. Thanks to all the new members, I'm having trouble staying in the Top 10 for the group, but that's fine with me. For that matter, I wish I was having trouble staying in the Top 100. If you haven't joined us, please do.


I get a lot of whacko mail. Some is irrational, some illiterate, some vaguely threatening, and some any combination of those. There's one guy whose stuff I won't print who now mails me under an alias, with a woman's name yet. Or so I suspect, based on superficial syntactic analysis, including unusual misspellings common to "both" senders and other, more definitive, factors that I won't make public. Most of that stuff I just delete without reading more than the first sentence or so. But periodically I decide to post one just to show my readers the kind of messages they don't usually see posted here. Here's one of those, unedited:

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin S Ngireu [mailto:laiser@juno.com]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 11:24 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: your experiences in what you have done so far!

What you have written on your page seems to suggest that the government could do nothing to you then.Can they get you now for just admitting to what you have gone through? Is what you went through increminating? If so why are you volunteering unless you are in the inside net?? If you are, you should be ashamed of yourself to curtail a hobbie for others who have the same urge like you.What makes you so forgived to pursue your hobbie, but makes others victims!!!! Of your treachery!!!


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 12:54 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: Hounted

I was born, bred and raised in Flanders, Belgium. That means my native language is Flemish (of which Dutch is a dialect though in the Netherlands people like to see that differently <g>).

Belgium is split in three linguistic regions, the north (Flanders) speaks Dutch, the south (Walloon) speaks French and in the east there is a small region that speaks German. From independence (1830) to the seventies the French speaking part has been dominant (and they still think they are) so everybody gets French at school.

Having more than one language means that most foreign programs that the TV buys are not dubbed but sent out with sub-titles. For example a BBC documentary in sent out in Belgium is sent out in English with Dutch subtitles. That beats the hell out of for example the Germans where you can heard David Attenborough speaking German (but out of sync with his movements.

There are about 25 to 30 million Dutch speaking people on the world so you don't get far when you only speak that. Not only are there relative few people, the region is rather small as well. From the 50 odd TV channels we get on the cable only about 10 are Dutch. Which means everybody not only learns two languages at school but also gets to hear several languages when relaxing.

The result is that most Belgians speak two or three languages. I speak Dutch and English quite good and I can follow a discussion in German and French. Hey, I never got German at school and yet I was sent off once to work for a German firm (in Nuremberg) without anyone even asking if I knew German.

Well, your English is a lot more fluent than my French, Dutch or German.


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael A. Howard [mailto:mhoward@mahoward.com]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 5:14 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Nero Burning Rom

Robert,

Thank you for pointing me towards the Nero CD writing software. Previously nothing I tried worked under Windows 2000, but Nero has worked without error on everything I have tried.

As I write this on my main workstation I am burning at 8X across a network share, with Nero, IE, Outlook and SETI@Home running at the same time (CPU Utilization at 100%). Even though I use a SCSI burner so CPU utilization should not matter, this is a much tougher test than Adaptec could ever handle.

Nero is a product to recommend highly to all your readers.

Glad it worked out for you. I wouldn't consider using anything else at this point. I haven't tried it yet on Windows Me, but it works fine for me on several systems running Windows 98, NT4, and 2000, using a variety of burners.


-----Original Message-----
From: McDonell @ The Park [mailto:mcdonell35@earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 7:40 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: MS Win 98 "Third Edition" aka MS Win Me

I have been having fun trying to dissuade others from buying this product when it comes out next month. Usually such tactics don't affect the MS operation but they surprised me with a "Temporary Discount" price of $59.95 for the Me thing.

Someone rated Me as a Five Star product - apparently the reviewer is a Beta Tester who was not happy about the Con side (as in Pro/Con). "Read that elsewhere." was the message.

Then he floored me with the statement to the effect that "...MS Win Me is the release that users expected with Win 98..." In essence, he was agreeing with me that Win Me is really Win 98 TE (Third Edition). I still maintain that MS should post the whole mess as a free upgrade.

I also maintain that nobody should touch any part of this Win 98 fiasco and wait for something better or something else.

I recollect that you are not a Win user but these observations add somewhat to your recent comments that MS is in trouble and is trying to squeeze blood out of the turnip.

Regards

McDonell
Carson Valley Nevada
e-mail mcdonell35@earthlink.net

Actually, from what little I've seen of it, Windows Me seems to be a pretty good product, as far as Win9X goes. I can't imagine using it by choice when Windows NT4 (or even Windows 2000) is available, but I'd take it if I were buying a new machine and NT/2K wasn't an upgrade option. I sure wouldn't buy it as an upgrade if I were already running Windows 98 SE, though. Well, perhaps I would, but only if it sold for $20 or so. I only have one machine running it at this point, but it does seem reasonably stable, if a bit slower than Windows 98 SE. Of course, part of that speed penalty is probably due to the system recovery options. At this point, all of my serious machines are running NT4, which is what I continue to use and recommend. That may change when Windows 2000 gets a bit better (say, SP3), but for now NT4 does everything I need to do.

 


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Sunday, 20 August 2000

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More on the SETI project. A couple of people have asked how I've managed to accumulate so many work units completed since I started using the SETI client on Tuesday afternoon, especially since my average CPU time per work unit is something in the 11 hour range. The answer is simple. I have five computers working on SETI right now. The two fastest ones, a Pentium III/550 and a /600, do just under three work units per day each, say 5.5 units total. I also have two Pentium II/300 systems cranking away, which do something under two work units per day each, roughly 3.5 units total. Then I have a Celeron/366, which does something like 1.5 work units per day. All told, the five machines complete about ten work units per day.

We got quite a bit done power washing the deck yesterday. It's amazing how much better it looks after washing. We'll probably finish washing the deck today. Then, after giving it time to dry thoroughly, it's time to get out the Wagner Power Painter, drop its intake hose in a five-gallon can of deck sealer/stain, and start spraying. Here's Barbara doing some power washing. Once she gets her hands on it, it's tough for me to get it back.

bft-power-wash-deck.jpg (91796 bytes)

It's supposed to be cool and cloudy today. The high is only to be 78F (25.5C), so it'll be a good day for working. Barbara is going to finish painting the windows on the front of the house, and I'll finish power washing the deck. The underneath will be the fun part. I remember that from last time.


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