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Daynotes Journal

Week of 21 August 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:06

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, 21 August 2000

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Our new SETI@Home group is doing well. We have more than 30 members, a cumulative total of something like 4,600 work units completed, and are adding to that total at probably 50 or more work units per day. If you haven't joined us, please do. Here's how. 

We got finished with the top of the deck yesterday, but the bottom remains to be done. It's to be nice weather most of the week, and there's no hurry to get it done, so we'll pace ourselves.

I have some interesting stuff either here on on the way in, including a Turtle Beach Voyetra Santa Cruz sound card, a couple of Belkin KVM switches, and some Maxtor hard drives. Also, Barbara wants an inkjet printer to print images from the digital camera. Given my disgust with HP, I didn't even consider any HP models. I looked at the Epson models and, after some research, settled on the Stylus Color 760. It costs only about $95 including overnight shipping from Outpost, so there's no excuse for not buying one. 

As always with inkjets, the cost of consumables is an issue. Epson-branded black or color ink cartridges sell for between $20 and $25 each. But Outpost also carries third-party cartridges from a company called AIJ/CompuJet, which appear to be good quality. They have six-packs available in either black or color for $50. I was considering ordering a six-pack of each when it occurred to me that it might be better to try one of each before committing to the six-packs, even though I'd have to pay a premium for buying single units. Then I noticed that Outpost also carries a mixed pack, one black and one color, for $15. So I can either buy two six-packs for $100 or six two-packs for $90. So much for quantity discounts. I think I'll order one two-pack. If that works out, I'll order a bunch of the two-packs. Ink cartridges typically stay good for a couple of years unopened, so that shouldn't be a problem.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Morse [mailto:rbmorse@attglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2000 9:40 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Windows, et.al.

Robert.

I am pretty operating system agnostic...preferring a solution that meets my needs as opposed to getting too involved with what it actually is...but I want to point out for the record that Windows, in its various incarnations, works for lots of people and supports their organizations by contributing to their ability to get WORK done.

My headquarters has a LAN system based on NT servers supporting about 1,800 clients (both local and remote) running Office 97 applications (with Outlook 98) and a number of third party specialty applications.

It works pretty well. We're government, so the IT people have to withstand a pretty rigorous economic analysis ever year to support their budget requests. They make a convincing case that maintaining what we have, even with it's relatively high per seat support costs, makes far more sense than upgrading the clients to either NT or Win2K or switching the entire works to something else.

Users are surveyed quarterly and the trouble desk logs analyzed monthly by people outside of the IT group (I sit on that committee). My personal bottom line is that the system works and the users are satisfied. We have some really great folks in the support staff that work hard to minimize the possibility of a terminal problem. We train rigorously to help users get best use of the tools and adopt practices that safeguard their personal data.

General use policies are more restrictive than I prefer, in some cases, but the system management is enlightened enough to support and advocate on behalf of those with special needs (like mine) to obtain stand-alone solutions that let us do what we need without jeopardizing the integrity of the net(s).

I wonder if some of the animus against Windows is the result of bad management of the overall hardware and/or software environment (either by individual users or the organization as a whole) rather than because Windows is a bad product.

By way of disclaimer, I choose to run Win2K on the home machine and my personal laptop...but changed only after reading the upgrade guide and making sure all my hardware was listed on the HCL. Please note I do not own an HP printer <g>. Epson was a little slow out of the box to provide a full function driver for my Color 850, but Win2K came with a native driver that supported basic functions and settings.

Oh, I don't have anything against Windows as a desktop OS. For all its flaws, it's the best choice out there right now, which is why I'm running it. Nor do I have anything against Windows NT Server as a workgroup/departmental server OS. I use it for that myself.  What I object to are Microsoft's increasingly obnoxious licensing policies, as they attempt to move away from licensing and into software rental. They have to do this to offset flattening new sales and upgrade revenues, but that doesn't mean I have to put up with it. For now, Microsoft is in all practical terms the only game in town for a desktop OS. But that'll change. A year from now, I expect that all of my main desktop systems will still be running Windows. Two years from now, I expect to have a mix of Windows and Linux on my desktops. Three years from now, I suspect I'll keep a Windows system around for shooting screenshots, but nearly all of my work will be done on Linux desktops.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ronald McCarty [mailto:ronald.mccarty@gte.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2000 10:30 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Burning CD ROMs

Hi Robert,

Jerry and you are sure giving Nero good reviews...that would normally mandate taking a look at the software; however, my CD ROM burning PC is so stable, I refuse to fiddle with it at all. I use it for archiving my writing, financial documents for the writing and personal records, and anything else we need to keep around a while, which justifies, in my mind, dedicating a PC and leaving it alone.

However, the one feature that comes up on your site is copying across the network on the fly. Do you have a feel for how often this works without the software creating an image before burning the CD?

I'm currently using the Cequadrat software (http://www.cequadrat.com), and it has served me well, except for on the fly burning across the network which it reverts to creating an ISO image before burning.

Keep up the good work on the site.

--ron

P.S. I'm sure glad you've decided to take a look at Linux. Hope you get around to Solaris as well.

Well, the Prime Directive is always "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" so I think you're wise not to change a system that works for you. I only tried burning a CD from source files located on a network drive once. It worked, although at only 1X, on a slow system. I suspect that if I used my 12X Plextor 12/10/32A drive, I'd have 100% success burning at 12X from a network source, but I haven't tried it.


-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2000 10:58 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: Matrox

I see Matrox have just released v1.00.00 Beta drivers for Linux for the G400 cards.

Regards

Chris Ward-Johnson
Chateau Keyboard - Computing at the Eating Edge
http://www.chateaukeyboard.com
Dr Keyboard - Computing Answers You Can Understand
http://www.drkeyboard.com
This e-mail was sent without attachments - if any arrive, please delete them and notify me.

Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Pierce [mailto:dpierce@Synteleos.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2000 11:50 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: That's some nasty email

Robert,

You treacherous person you. ;)

Boy that's some interesting email you get there. Sort of makes a guy glad he doesn't have a popular daynotes site! Seriously, I admire you guys for what you do. It's a ton of work, and it certainly puts you in a glass house in a sense.

I often think it would be fun to share my daily trials, tribulations and lessons with others. But even if I had the energy and courage to do it (and I certainly don't), most of what I work on belongs to my employer and not me, so I don't really have the right to share the intimate details of it.

I don't worry about the weird people who send me email, even though I receive an occasional threat. If one of them ever shows up here intending to do me harm, I figure I'll just shoot him and then throw him to the dogs. Or perhaps throw him to the dogs and then shoot him, depending on how good a mood I'm in.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard H. Brown Jr. [mailto:c_brown@ids.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2000 6:58 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Linux-Win98 P2p networking and Bounced Email

Dear Mr Thompson:

Read the posting that Holton Aust (linuxenthusiat@postmaster.co.uk) set you saying what he sent to me, however, he misaddressed the E-mail address and I never received it. I attempted to e-mail him but got a mail undelieverable return message. Such is the angst of modern technology.

Status of the win-linux peer to peer networking.

Machines:

A. E-Machines 533MHX Win982E ,

B. NEC Versa 2435CD 133MHZ 24megRam dual boot (Win983E & Red Hat Linux 6.1)

Networking cards: A. USB port Linksys Etherfas Adapter. (E-machine desktop) B. PCMCIA Linksys Etherfast 10/100 PC card (Laptop)

1. Win982e to Win982e works under the default information that Win982e creates when you use the network neighborhood auto configuration.

2. Following information on a web page "linux-ethernet.html" by Joshu Go (jgo@local.net). I managed to get the Win98 box to be able to telnet into the linux running laptop and read files, logged in a as a common user account. However, trying to telnet the other way (Linux running laptop to Win98 box) "Connection refused" (the exact error message isn't available for proper quoting.).

3. Installing Quake2 on both machines (Quake 2 for Linux, Maximillian Publishiing Co. ported version from cd-rom) and the standard IBM PC version from Id Games, I can, with the Win Box running as network server and the Laptop as a client; connect into the windows box from the laptop and run a death match. However the sound and speed rate is way down, in fact the sound effects and voices sound like Jimmy Stewart on downers.

The trials contiune, with me "bloddy but unbowed".

Well, it sounds as though you're making progress anyway.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Starr [mailto:talar@coollink.net]
Sent: Sunday, August 20, 2000 6:30 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Comments on seti@home

Robert,

Fascinating response to your latest Seti efforts and thanks for getting me into something interesting.

Wonder if you might give some of us newbies some pointers though. You are getting work units out on a similar machine to mine in roughly 1/3 the time. (a Compaq Presario 650Mhz PIII with 128Meg of RAM). I have the preferences set to allow Seti to run all the time, and at night I shut everything down except Seti and let the machine run. You thoughts?

Well, I'm a newbie at this too. But there are a couple of possibilities. First, the amount of time required to process a given unit apparently sometimes varies according to the particular unit. I've noticed on my main system that units vary from 9 hours odd to perhaps 12 hours. More likely, though, you have a background process running. The SETI client is so polite that it gets out of the way of anything that runs at a higher priority than "low". I don't know what its behavior is when another "low" priority process wants to run, but presumably they share the CPU. That could account for your much longer than normal times. Or so I'd guess. Perhaps someone who knows more than I do about the SETI client will have a better idea.

 


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Tuesday, 22 August 2000

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I started having a toothache over the weekend, so it's off to the dentist for me today. I'm really not looking forward to this...

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2000 2:58 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Ink Cartridges

Mr. Thompson:

Regarding you inkjet cartridge purchase plans:

I believe you will be an occasional ink jet user, using the inkjet when color printing is necessary. Based on that assumption, I would like to recommend you do not stockpile the cartridges more than one spare set. I have had bad experiences with customers purchasing cartridges in bulk and using them as little as a year later. The ink seems to dry up to some degree and you do not get "full" use of the cartridge. My current recommendation to customers is to only purchase a spare set, and replace the spare when it is installed. Unless you're going to go through a cartridge in less than a day or two, you are covered.

I haven't kept abreast of Epson printers for a while now, please keep us informed of your experience. One of the benefits of Epson's design is that the inkjet head is not part of the cartridge, which helps to keep the ink cartridge cost down compared to HP, etc. However, this can also be a pitfall when the head fails or becomes clogged. I had an experience with an Epson Stylus 800+ printer where the head failed. Epson was charging $90.00 or so for the head. Needless to say, we did not fix the unit. The unit was an older model, so I don't know if it's indicative of pricing along the whole line. I do know that the less you use an inkjet, the more likely you'll experience head clogging, etc.

It seems to be a catch-22. The printers where the head is replaced with the cartridge have the benefit of not worrying about the head clogging, but the cost of the cartridge is more. I am aware of the Canon line having both a replaceable ink cartridge and a separate head, however I can't comment on their reliability or quality.

Thank you for your courtesy,

Richard Micko
rmicko@clipperinc.com

Good point. Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Brooks Clark [mailto:brooks-is@home.com]
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2000 8:40 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject:

I am getting very tired of spending a small fortune on ink, too.

I ran across this the other day. I have not ordered, but I probably will in the near future, unless someone can say why I shouldn't. (Hint, hint. Wink, wink.)

http://www.tylermartin.com/home.html

_____

-Brooks <mailto:brooks-is@home.com> , Duck Pond at <http://members.home.com/4clarks>

Interesting. They do have some very cheap cartridges at that site. Too cheap, I'm afraid.

 


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Wednesday, 23 August 2000

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Spent two hours at the dentist having a tooth extracted and then the rest of the day lying around recovering. The dentist asked what I usually used for pain and I told him nothing. I don't much like drugs. So he gave me a half dozen 800 mg Motrin tablets. Per his instructions, I took one an hour after the surgery and then another when the local anesthetic started to wear off around 4:15 p.m. Although I wasn't suffering, I took a third one on general principles just before I went to bed last night. This morning, I seem to be fine, other than some minor soreness, stiffness and swelling so I'm going to knock off the painkillers for now.

I ordered Barbara an Epson Stylus Color 760 inkjet printer from Onvia.com. I tried to order it from Outpost.com, I really did. But their ordering web server has been dead for three days now. You'd think someone would have noticed, but apparently not. The main web server works fine, but as soon as you click on the "Buy Now" button, the web browser just displays "connecting to site shop.outpost.com" and then times out. This has been going on since last Saturday. Oh, well. 

Onvia was cheaper anyway, $90 versus $95, both with free shipping. I was willing to pay the higher price at Outpost.com for two reasons: they ship overnight versus standard UPS for Onvia, and Onvia carries only Epson-branded ink cartridges and third-party cartridges that aren't a lot cheaper than the Epsons. I wanted to order everything--printer, ink cartridges, and paper--from one place. I ended up getting the printer and some 11X17 Kodak photo paper from Onvia. We have a good paper cutter, so the size won't be a problem. I'll wait until Outpost gets their act together and then order some of the AIJ/CompuJet ink cartridges from them. I'm hoping, of course, that the printer comes with at least a starter set of ink cartridges.

Our new SETI@Home group continues to make progress. We now have 35 members and 5,800+ work units completed. If you haven't joined us, please do. Here's how. 

Light day for email. Only two messages, both with questions, and I don't know the answer to either of them.


-----Original Message-----
From: Donna L. Boring [mailto:dlb@cwp.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2000 11:03 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Question

Hi Robert, I am really having a problem trying to burn an audio cd with Adaptec 4.0 Easy CD recorder. I have already screwed up 3 cd's trying to record music. I changed all the music files from Mp3's to Wav. I am using a CD-R 80min, 700MB Cd and putting less music than the time allotted so I know I am not overwriting the CD. Can you please help me. And give me the most idiot proof directions because I am really new to this. I know how to copy another CD but this is ridiculous and I hate to be wasting so many CD's. So please give me help ASAP. Thanks, Kim

Center for Watershed Protection
8391 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043
PHONE: 410/461-8323
FAX: 410/461-8324
EMAIL: dlb@cwp.org
WEBPAGE: www.cwp.org

Sorry, but I don't use Easy CD Creator 4.0 and have never tried to convert MP3's back into audio CDs. It's not clear from your message whether you mean that you are burning coasters or if the burn process is successful, but the resulting CDs won't play in a CD player. If the latter, you should be aware that audio CDs do not store music as .wav files. If you burn a bunch of wav files to a CD-R, you don't end up with an audio CD. You just end up with a data CD with a bunch of wav files stored on it. I'm sure that there's a way to convert your collection of wav files to audio CD (CD-DA) format, but I don't know specifically how to do that with Easy CD.


-----Original Message-----
From: Scott [mailto:kjel@usa.net]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 1:54 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: a question

hello. i noticed that on the list of computers you use, you mentioned that "wotan" had an anigma motherboard. just recently i was able to purchase an 'anigma pentium II/celeron motherboad' with various extras (ie. dvd) on ebay for a good price. but there was no specification as to whether an anigma motherboard was compatible with a tower pc or not. i have an ibm aptiva 2136 tower pc that needs a processor upgrade (hence a new motherboard). do you think that the anigma motherboard will work, or will i need to buy a desktop case and go through all that mess? i appreciate any feedback you can give me. thanks --

scott loper

That machine is long gone, and I hadn't thought about Anigma motherboards in a long time. As best I recall, the Anigma motherboards were used only in Gateway 486 low-profile systems, and it was never entirely clear who actually made the motherboards. I recall hearing rumors that Anigma motherboards were made by Texas Instruments, Intel, and several other companies, but as far as I know it was never proven who made them. I'm surprised that a system as recent as you describe would have an Anigma motherboard in it. As far as upgrading the IBM Aptiva tower system, I have no idea. If that system uses a standard ATX motherboard and power supply, you should be able to install any standard ATX motherboard. But IBM has made many systems that use proprietary components, so it may not be possible to upgrade your IBM with standard aftermarket components.

 


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Thursday, 24 August 2000

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As I've mentioned before, I work surrounded by nine computers, four of them on or under my main desk and five more on or under the credenza behind me. I have a couple of manual 4-port KVM switches, but those have never been entirely satisfactory. The main problem is with video. Those $50 manual KVM switches simply don't have the video bandwidth or connection quality to allow running video much over 800X600. Attempting to run 1024X768X24BPP simply overwhelms the available bandwidth of the box and results in ghosting and other video artifacts. Also, both of my switches are AT/Serial switches, which means that I've been using them only to share video. That in turn means that I have a large assembly of keyboards and mice--four of each on my main desk, and more on the credenza.

That's the manual KVM switch underneath the speakers between the 17" Dell monitor on the left and the 19" Hitachi monitor on the right. The yellow can is butane fuel for my pipe lighter. The spray bottle contains the solution I use for cleaning my glasses and monitors (one teaspoon dish washing liquid to a pint of water. Works great and doesn't harm special coatings as glass cleaners that contain ammonia or alcohol may do). My Roadrunner box, meepmeep, is just visible at bottom left with the cable modem sitting on top of it.

At any rate, I decided it was about time to do things right, which is to say convert to using high-quality electronic KVM switches and cable sets that will allow me to share one keyboard, mouse, and monitor among four machines. Not only will that clear up a lot of desk space, it'll eliminate the problem of grabbing the wrong mouse or starting to type on the wrong keyboard.

In the past, KVM switches have been used mostly in computer rooms and equipment closets, where it's useful to be able to control multiple servers from one keyboard, mouse, and monitor. But that's changing fast as more and more people have multiple computers on their desks. Two monitors, keyboards, and mice are just about doable, although it's an expensive way to solve the problem. Anything beyond that starts to get ridiculous, as in the photo above. I'd had some experience with good KVM switches back in a former life, but no recent experience. So I asked some of the people I know who have day jobs as LAN managers what they use. The same answer kept coming back. "If you want a good KVM switch, get Belkin." That was in accord with my own prior experience, so it appears things haven't changed much.

So I got Belkin. I now have two Belkin 4-port KVM switches. One is their entry-level F1D094 OmniCube, which sells for about $115 on the street. The other is the F1D104-OSD OmniView Pro, which adds on-screen display and some other bells and whistles, and sells for about twice the price of the OmniCube. Because cable quality is crucial for KVM switches, I also have eight sets of the best Belkin cables, the F3X1835-10-GLD Gold Series OmniView All-In-One KVM Cable Kit. And here they all sit, unpacked (as usual) on Barbara's kitchen table. Fortunately, she has a sense of humor.

belkin-kvm-1.jpg (72329 bytes)

Although I haven't had time to install them yet, I have opened the boxes and examined the products, which appear to be of the usual high quality I've come to expect from Belkin components. Even the "SOHO" unit appears to use industrial-quality construction--steel case, high-grade connectors, and so on. I'll be installing them over the next several days. Much more about them later.

Barbara is off to play golf with her father this morning. Then, at 1:00 p.m., I'm supposed to meet her at Forsyth Medical Supplies to pick up a new lift chair for my mother. She pretty much lives in her lift chair, and the old one is beginning to show signs of age. I wanted to go with the ejector seat option in the new one, but Barbara and my mother didn't think that was a good idea.

This seemed a good time to move my mother back upstairs so that we can get her area cleaned in preparation for putting the house on the market. We cleaned out the guest room yesterday and will move her new lift chair into that room when we get back. The only problem with that room is that it has no telephone jack and no cable TV jack. I tried to convince my mother that TV and telephone were modern annoyances that were more trouble than they were worth, but she was not amused.

I suppose I could start cutting holes in the wall and running cable, but we're going to take the easy way out for now. We'll give my mother Barbara's 900 MHz cordless phone, which solves that problem, and we'll probably just run a quick-and-dirty cable from our bedroom to the guestroom to give her TV for now. That means I need to make a TV cable that's 50 feet or so long. Fortunately, I have a thousand foot box of RG-6U cable in the basement and a bunch of crimp-on connectors.

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Donna L. Boring [mailto:dlb@cwp.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 9:48 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: RE: Question

Thank you for responding back so quickly to me. If you want to put this on your website you may because I did figure out how to do it. I did burn the wav files onto a CD-R. The trick is you have to close the session, you can do this by going to CD information and waiting for about 3 minutes and it is done. The CD can play on your stereo or car CD player. The sound is pretty decent too.

Glad you got it worked out.


-----Original Message-----
From: webbr2@nationwide.com [mailto:webbr2@nationwide.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 10:42 AM
To: dlb@cwp.orgINTERNET
Cc: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Music CD Question

Read your question on Robert Thompson's web site, thought I would try to help. 1st, you are correct to convert the mp3's back into wav's. Easy CD will handle the rest. But I think your problem is with the 80min blanks. I have never been able to make them work with Easy CD. Try using the 74min blanks. I have made dozens of music disks whit the combination of wav files, 74min disks and Easy CD Creator. Good luck.

PS If you wish to use the 80min blanks try Burning Nero.


-----Original Message-----
From: Harry Nobel [mailto:HarryNobel@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 11:28 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Home UTP wiring

Robert,

I found you pages during a search for jacks and faceplates. I'm having a hard time finding such for my home. Can you recommend an online retail catalog?

I've seen the leviton modular jack system on their home page. It looks good BUT it requires use of a 110 punchdown tool for connection.

$70 for a tool to hook up 4 connectors is a bit steep. Are there any other options?

Secondly, I'm confused about stranded UTP vs solit UTP. I've read that modular connectors for stranded vs solid wire are different, (2 leafs vs 3 leafs on the conductor spades) yet rarely if ever does the description of a modular jack specify if it is for solid or stranded wire. How can I be sure I'm making good connections with the correct hardware. Likewise, if I do shell out for the modular 110 type jacks are they designed for solid, stranded or don't care wire?

TIA

Your page is the first that I've seed suggesting the use of the 'batleship' flanges. I figured that out on my own too.

Regards, Harry Nobel
LaGrangeville, NY

Leviton makes good stuff, but it is expensive. I've been using ICC components for years. They're cheap, well-built, and I've never had a problem with them. You can probably find what you want here. You'll need a faceplate for each box, one or more snap-in modules of the appropriate type, and some blank cover plates to cover any unused holes in the faceplates. Although you can use a 110 tool to terminate the ICC modules, you don't have to. Each module comes with a plastic termination cap. To use it, you simply lay the wires across the prongs and press the termination cap into place. That presses the wire down between the prongs of the connector, cuts through the insulation, and makes contact. The ICC web site has a search function for distributors, so you can probably find one reasonably local to you that's willing to sell in small quantities. The stuff is cheap. Faceplates are usually a buck or two, depending on size and style, and modules run from a couple bucks (for 6P6C "RJ11" phone modules) up to perhaps $8 for the high-end data modules. The snap-in covers are about $0.10 each, although you may have to buy a bag of 25 or 50.

As far as wire, solid and stranded are used for different things. The reason the jacks don't specify which type is that all standard station wire (the kind you connect to the modules) is solid. You use stranded only where flexibility is an issue, such as for patch cords and telephone base cords. Although some connectors will accept either solid or stranded cable, most accept only one or the other. I'd suggest you avoid working with stranded at all. Buy your telephone base cords and network drop cables pre-made. Use solid UTP for the so-called horizontal runs that link your jacks back to your hub.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 11:35 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Western Digital Hard Disk Drive Warning

Mr. Thompson:

FYI to you and readers:

I just got off the phone with Western Digital Customer Support. I needed to RMA a drive for a customer system, specifically the hard drive was from a PowerSpec PC made by MicroCenter. After running through the rigmarole I was informed that the hard drive was an OEM unit from Dell and I had to go back to Dell for service. Huh? I was then informed I should go back to MicroCenter. Huh? I RMA'd a drive from another system like this just a few months ago? This is a new policy that was put in place two weeks ago. Of course, MicroCenter wants the whole system unit sent back for repair. I informed the WD rep that this was reason for me to stop recommending WesternDigital Drive's altogether; he informed me that Western Digital made this change to align itself with the warranty policies of the other major hard disk manufacturers. Huh? Another example of customer service falling apart.

Everyone knows that if you put enough red tape into the process the customer will give up. The hard drive in question is a 4GB hard drive; I'm not going to waste the time and energy on it. However, I am going to invest the time and energy into finding alternatives. I am so frustrated with this trend in the industry. My formula for long term business success is to do good work and back it up (no I don't think I'm all that original here). While WesternDigital may realize a temporary gain from this policy, long term it will only hurt them. No matter what, sooner or later their practices will become an opportunity for another player to come into the market and fill the void. I see the exact same scenario with your adventures in Linux due to dissatisfaction with Microsoft. AARGH!

-----

Speaking of Linux. May I suggest that you remove the Linux link from you daynote header. I keep checking it and become despondent when there is no update. I would like to recommend a link within the day's daynote when there's an update. I am eagerly following your linux experience. If I can find the time I would like jump into the foray also. I also noticed that Sun offer's a personal non-commercial license for Solaris that I would like to work with. If only the time...

Thank you for your courtesy,

Richard Micko
rmicko@clipperinc.com

That's surprising. In my experience, very few manufacturers warrant white box products that were originally supplied with a PC. They leave it up to the PC maker to handle warranty claims. If WD just started doing that, they are indeed late to the party, but I think you were misinformed. WD has been doing that for years, as have the other OEMs. And I can't really blame the OEMs for not handling warranty claims directly. That's part of the deal. They sell in bulk to Gateway, Dell, and other PC manufacturers, and those PC manufacturers get cheaper product in return for handling warranty returns. I remember dealing with just this issue years ago. A Gateway system had a one year warranty, which had just expired when the hard drive died. When I called Gateway, they wanted to sell me a new drive. Knowing that the drive was a Western Digital, which at the time had a 3-year warranty on drives sold at retail, I called Western Digital directly. From the serial number, they could tell that it was an OEM drive supplied to Gateway, and they explained to me that their warranty covered only drives sold at retail, not those purchased by Gateway. I suspect the drive you returned successfully directly to WD might have been a retail rather than an OEM unit. Many smaller system makers use retail components, which then do carry the full retail warranty.

As far as Linux, I think I'll keep the link, but you can assume that the page won't be updated for a while. I've just got too much else going on at the moment. I'll probably mention on this page when I do get around to updating the Linux page. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 1:50 PM
To: 'Robert Bruce Thompson'
Subject: RE: Western Digital Hard Disk Drive Warning

Mr. Thompson:

I can see your point regarding white box components being purchased by an integrator and a discount being applied due to warranty arrangements. This seems reasonable. What is frustrating is all the convoluted ways parts enter the channel. I have no doubt that the WD drive in question is a "dell" component. But at some point Dell sold it into the channel, and now it's in my hands. I've purchased white box components before and haven't ever had a problem with warranty replacement from the manufacturer. I've used and recommended WesternDigital drives for a while based on what used to be a no hassle support department. WD's used to only want to know if the drive was in warranty or not. This is the first time I've run into this scenario.

Thank you for your courtesy,

Richard Micko
rmicko@clipperinc.com

I can understand your frustration, but OEM versus retail components is a distinction that's not likely to go away. And it doesn't apply merely to hard drives. If you go out and buy a "white box" video card or processor or motherboard or whatever, you're likely to find the same thing. The retail-boxed component may have a 3-year warranty, and the white box component only 30 or 90 days. And, as I said, that's reasonable enough. Manufacturers sell "in bulk" and at a discount to systems integrators like Dell on the assumption that those components will be integrated into a PC that's covered by the integrator's warranty, so in theory warranty coverage shouldn't be an issue. But, as you say, it sometimes does become an issue.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Shorty [mailto:dshorty@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 4:27 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Information regarding the question asked on your site concerning the problem burning audio CDs

This concerns Donna L. Boring's "Question" regarding burning audio CDs. First, if she is burning audio CDs, then i would repeat your recomendation not to use 80 minute CD-Rs. Next, does she have her power management turned off (not the screensaver, as Easy CD Creator turns that off automatically) for the duration of time it takes to burn the cd?

FYI, MusicMatch Jukebox 5.10 can burn CD-Rs directly from within the MusicMatch Jukebox program and also directly from MP3s to audio CDs (no need to convert to wav files), although i haven't tried the cd burner yet, as i haven't had the need.

Cheers,
Dan Shorty
dShorty@hotmail.com

Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Harry Nobel [mailto:HarryNobel@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 5:42 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Re: Home UTP wiring

Thanks Robert. I was able to find what I need at http://www.eltas.com/ they carry ICC components. The prices look good! Thanks for suggesting a connector line that does not require a $70 110 tool. I'm also going to take you suggestion and buy an assortment of cat5 patch cords. Nice molded connectors for better strain relief, no work for me, colors, only a few cents per cable more than making it yourself, surely better reliability, an no need to buy a $50 crimping tool (or a $20 plastic one that will surely break).

Thanks, Harry

Glad it worked out for you. I buy from a distributor who won't sell to individuals, so it's good to know that there are alternative sources of ICC components available.


-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Tucker [mailto:steve@wakeolda.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 8:43 PM
To: dlb@cep.org
Cc: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Making audio CD's from MP3's

Donna:

I saw your message on Bob Thompson's page this AM and believe it or not, I mentioned a shareware program in my DayNotes page last week that will allow you to accomplish what I think it is you're after.

You have some music MP3's on your hard drive and you want to burn an audio CD that you can play in your car or wherever. Right?

Here's the note I had on my page last week [here]:

When you save audio files as .wav files on your hard drive, a four minute song can eat up about 40 megs of hard disk space. Conversely, if you compress the same song with mpeg3, it only takes up about 10 percent of that space. And then if you want to record the mp3 file to a CD in audio format you have to uncompress to a wav file, or at least I think you do, and then use a burner program like Nero to burn the CD.

I ran across an inexpensive piece of shareware today that can serve as your jukebox as well as recorder interface. With Sonic Burner you can listen to CDs and MP3 files stored on drive on your computer, convert an audio track on a CD into an MP3 or WAV file and store it on your hard drive, create custom CDs by recording MP3 or WAV selections as audio to a CD or MP3 player such as RIO. Alta Vista's Sonic Burner will also serve as the interface to your CD burner. The interface also includes links to the CCDB and has a built in graphic equalizer, not that I know what all those buttons on an equalizer mean.

I have only tried making one CD with Sonic Burner. In my test I picked about 10 songs saved as MP3 and recorded the songs as an audio CD. I then put the CD in another computer and it played away without a hitch. My next step in this process is to try the CD in the household variety CD player.    You can download Sonic Burner here

Here is a link directly to the Sonic Burner tools page: 

Good luck.

Steve Tucker
steve@wakeolda.com
http://www.wakeolda.com
Fax: (336) 723-2027

 


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Friday, 25 August 2000

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Our new SETI@Home group continues to do well. Congratulations to team members Greg Lincoln and BFMersion, who recently passed the 50 work unit milestone, and to Alberto S. Lopez, who recently completed his 100th work unit. If you haven't joined our SETI effort, please do. Here's how. 

We picked up a new lift chair for my mother yesterday. That seemed like a good time to move her upstairs so that we can get the basement area cleaned up in preparation for selling the house. So we moved everything out of the guestroom and moved her new chair and other stuff in. She's surrounded by clutter, but that's her preference. She has her books, television, stereo, and telephone, which are the essentials.

mom-guest-room.jpg (44624 bytes)

We'd considered a jury-rigged (jerry-rigged?) setup to run cable TV from our bedroom to the guestroom. But that would have looked tacky, and Malcolm would probably have ended up eating the cable. So I ran a proper cable for her television. I didn't want to cut into the wall against which her television sits, because the hall bathroom is on the other side of that wall. The last thing I needed was to hit plumbing or electrical wiring. The exterior wall was also a non-starter, because it's full of insulation and has all the other problems of any exterior wall as far as running cable is concerned. 

So we took the easy approach, drilling a 7/16" (11 mm) hole in the corner, through the hardwood floor straight down to the basement. We then ran some RG-6U cable over to the amplifier/splitter in the basement, leaving ten feet (3 m) or so of loose cable in the room above. I then crimped F connectors onto both ends of the cable. That was a thrill, because the connectors didn't quite fit the cable. I'm deeply ashamed of those connections, particularly the one on the basement end, which is almost literally hanging by a thread. But it works, and that's all that counts.

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Shorty [mailto:dshorty@hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2000 3:50 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Making audio CD's from MP3's

Hi Robert,

Here is some follow up information. I mentioned MusicMatch Jukebox 5.10 previously and will add that it provides all the features of Sonic Burner that Steve Tucker wrote about plus it is completely free (no hidden costs--after some time period or otherwise). Also MusicMatch is as far as i can tell, much more likely to be updated and supported when new developments occur (as they will). Check out its abilities to automatically organize your music collection--it's sophistocated, flexible and easy. Various aspects of these products are becoming more and more mature and useful. Recommended, as some say <grin>.

Cheers,
Dan Shorty
dShorty@hotmail.com

Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2000 5:46 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: 19" Monitor Recommendations

Mr. Thompson:

I need to purchase a 19" monitor for a customer (and then probably one for myself...). Any recommendations? The customer wants to have something easier on the eyes. He uses the PC for office duty; no graphics, CAD, etc. I have done a cursory search and found the Mag Innovision 800V to seem like a good model on the economical side. I remember you being fond of your Hitachi unit. Do you still recommend it?

I appreciate your time. If requests like these are unwelcome, please let me know.

Thank you for your courtesy,

Richard Micko
rmicko@clipperinc.com

Yes, I can strongly recommend the Hitachi monitors. My experience over the years with Mag Innovision monitors has not been good, and I do not recommend them or indeed any other inexpensive brand. I have two Mags on my workbench right now. Both of them began to degrade noticeably soon after their warranties expired, and that is fairly typical of cheap monitors. With monitors, you get what you pay for, or perhaps I should say you get no more than you pay for. Stick with monitors made by one of the Big Four--Hitachi, Mitsubishi, NEC, and Sony. They cost more (particularly the Sonys) but they are worth it, both in terms of display quality and in terms of expected longevity.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ray Thompson [mailto:rayt435@ispchannel.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2000 10:34 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Jacks and FacePlates

You mentioned the Leviton jacks and plates and it was indicated in a letter that a punch down tool was needed. This is true. You need to look at Panduit products. I have installed several CAT5 plates and jacks and all that they require is a simple tool that terminates all 8 wires at once. The tool is free (at least where I buy my stuff) and is just a plastic tab. You can also terminate with nothing more pliers. Good quality stuff and simple to install. The guide for the wires allows you to pull all the wires through, clamp it down, and then trim the wires.

Also there was the mention of 80 minute blanks not working. I use 80 minute blanks for most of my music. I have a 11 year old CD player that will not play them, but all the other players do, including the one in my Ford truck. What I have had problems with is that many CD-ROMs that are not multi-read capable will not read the disks at all, even closed disks. I have also had problems with silver blanks (74 min) not being read by other computers. So I generally use 80 minute CD blanks for music, and 74 minute GOLD for data disks. This combination has produced the fewest problems.

By the way I am using Adaptec Easy CD Creator under WIN98 with no problems. I have an HP CDR/W and a DVD on the same IDE channel. I have a superdisk and ZIP disk on the other IDE channel. I run two disk drives on a promise ultra-66 controller. Coasters are almost non-existent. I am able to copy CDs from the DVD to the CDR or from image files. Music files are created easily. I use CDTEXT info as my music CD supports the information.

I've used Leviton and ICC products extensively, but I'm not familiar with Panduit products other than by name. As you say, it's possible to terminate a 110 connection with pliers (or a small flat-blade screwdriver). I've done that myself in an emergency. But the problem is that Cat 5 cable is no longer Cat 5 if you don't terminate according to specifications, and that includes stripping a maximum of (I think) 3/8" of sheath from the cable. Any more than that and the cable is no longer Cat 5. And 3/8" doesn't leave you much room to work when you're trying to connect eight separate wires to the connector. A 110 punchdown tool works well, as do the plastic terminator caps included with the ICC jacks and some competing brands. Doing the job correctly with pliers or a screwdriver is possible, just barely, but extremely difficult.

As far as 80-minute blanks, you've been lucky. I'm not a big fan of 80-minute blanks. They have tighter tolerances than standard, and are incompatible with some CD burners, many older CD-ROM drives, and most CD players. Given the choice, I'll always use 74-minute blanks. Actually, given the choice I'd use 63-minute blanks whenever possible, but those have about disappeared from the market. As far as Easy CD Creator, I've had far fewer problems with it under Windows 98 and NT than under Windows 2000. If it works for you, great. It works for a lot of people. But Nero seems to work in all situations I've encountered, including ones where Easy CD Creator is hopeless.


-----Original Message-----
From: Shawn Wallbridge [mailto:swallbridge@home.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2000 10:45 PM
To: Robert Thompson
Subject: Your book

Any idea when your book will be out? A friend is looking for a hardware book and I recommended yours, but he doesn't want to wait too long. He was looking at Scott Mueller's (sp?) and I had to show him the 'filler' in it to convince him not to get it.

It's supposed to hit the bookstores in about 30 days. I was hoping for the first week of September, but now it looks like it's going to be about 9/21. Actually, your friend probably doesn't want to buy the current edition of Mueller's book anyway. There's a new edition of it due out Real Soon Now. Amazon currently shows the ship date at 8/31, but it was originally 9/8 and then 9/14. Thanks for recommending our book.


-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Werth [mailto:twerth@kcnet.com]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2000 12:16 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: KVM switches & Intel 815EEA

Bob,

As far as the Belkin KVM switches go I highly recommend the one I have, an OmniCube 2-Port version (F1D092). It supports 1280 x 1024 x 24BPP @ 85 Hz w/no problems. I believe it is the 2 port version of the OmniCube you have.

On another subject, I'm looking for the Intel D815EEA m/board or a comparable board w/the 815 chipset. ASUS has the CUSL2 board which looks good but doesn't seem to come w/the SoundBlaster audio option. EPOX doesn't have any 815 chipset boards listed on their website yet. So, where do shop for Intel m/boards when you don't go thru Intel directly? Or do you know of any plans EPOX has to come out w/815 based boards? Thanks

As far as the D815EEA, I just did a quick check on Pricescan.com, which shows the D815EEA as available from numerous vendors. Of those, I'd probably go with Onvia.com myself. They're within a couple bucks of the lowest price shown for the board, and I've had good experience with them on past orders. I haven't seen the ASUS board, although I've heard good things about it. As far as EPoX, I don't know their plans, but I'd expect them to ship 815/815E boards before long. If you're looking for a rock-solid system and don't care about overclocking, I'd go with the Intel board.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Swijsen [mailto:qjsw@oce.nl]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2000 6:35 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: KVM

Robert,

While you are looking/testing switches,....

I am using manual switches (absolutely no-name, not even on the packaging) and both (an AT and a PS/2) perform well up to 1024x768. They work at higher resolutions but none of the monitors I have is really up to it. More important for good quality are the cables. It is worth paying extra for them.

The warlock (JHR) did send me a lead to : http://www.aten-usa.com/ some time ago (he uses the model CS182). And they look like good value. They have switches including sound (like the CS428) which I don't think Belkin has that. Maybe you could ask an evaluation unit from them

--
Svenson.

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

Thanks. I may do that if I have a spare moment. You're correct about cable quality, particularly the video cable. I'm running very high-quality video cables on my existing manual KVM switches, so that's not the problem.


-----Original Message-----
From: gary [mailto:gmadgwick@jri.co.uk]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2000 6:43 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Vandal Proof Mouse/trackball

Hi Robert,

I have been trying to find a vandal proof (or as close as you can get) mouse/trackball for an application in a bank. This would take the form of something like an ATM with mouse input. Do you have any suggestions?

No idea, but perhaps one of my readers will know.

 


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Saturday, 26 August 2000

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Our SETI@Home group continues to rack up work units. Congratulations to team members Paul Robichaux and sparky, who recently passed the 50 work unit milestone. If you haven't joined our SETI effort, please do. Here's how. 

Two guys got arrested in Winston-Salem yesterday. The first one, fleeing the police, stole a highway department truck, and led the police on a 100 MPH chase driving against traffic on Interstate 40, with cars desperately dodging him. He rammed four police cars but was eventually caught trying to escape on foot. He's in jail today, with bond set at $50,000. The second was charged with statutory rape. He's also in jail, but with bond set at $1,000,000. Something is seriously wrong when a non-violent offender charged under an arbitrary law has bond set at twenty times the level of the guy who attempted to kill the cops pursuing him and might also easily have killed a bunch of innocent people by his actions.

If you're serious about photography and have been avoiding digital cameras because they don't provide the resolution, image quality and features you need, now may be the time to look again. Olympus has announced the 4 megapixel (2240 x 1680 pixel) E-10, an SLR digital camera for the "prosumer" market, due to ship in October. At $2,000 or so estimated selling price, it's not cheap, but it's a lot less expensive than previously available digital cameras with similar specs. The E-10 is not quite a replacement for a Nikon and Kodachrome, but it's within striking distance for many applications. At the rate progress is being made in digital cameras, I expect Olympus will introduce an SLR with a fully interchangeable lens system and 15 to 25 megapixel resolution within two years. Once that happens, the traditional Nikon/Kodachrome combo will become obsolete for all but specialized applications.

Well, it's more power washing and painting for me today, so I'd better get to it.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko [mailto:rmicko@clipperinc.com]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2000 10:34 AM
To: 'Robert Bruce Thompson'
Subject: RE: 19" Monitor Recommendations

Mr. Thompson:

Thank you for the advice. I'm placing an order for the Hitachi CM715. I'll follow up on my customer's experience.

If you would care to comment, I would like your opinion on magazine hardware reviews. I usually try to check out PCWorld and PCMag and see if there is some concensus. The PCMag review is where I looked up the Mag Innovision: 

I much prefer user testimonies, which I thank you for the Hitachi recommendation. But eventually one finds himself in new territory. Do you have any ideas, sources, etc. that you'd like to pass along?

-----

I'm looking forward to your hardware book. I still purchase the Mueller book, but for reference only. His book has become so full of filler that it is unreadable in many ways. Winn Rosch's hardware Bible has been a personal favourite, however I don't feel it has been kept up to date. I look forward to your effort. Since it seems the book will be an ongoing work, perhaps you should offer a subscription? Sign me up.

Thank your for your courtesy,

Richard Micko
rmicko@clipperinc.com

I don't pay much attention to magazine reviews. The first problem with them, of course, is that their credibility is questionable, to say the least. How impartial can they be when they're reviewing products made by the companies whose advertising pays their salaries? The days when the editorial and advertising departments were firewalled are long gone. Nowadays, you'll usually find full page ads for the products being reviewed mixed in with the reviews themselves. The second problem is the nature of the reviews themselves. PC Magazine and others typically do superficial side-by-side comparative reviews, because they're easy to do and that's what readers seem to want. So PC Magazine contacts a bunch of monitor makers, who send them examples of their monitors. PC Magazine then sets up the monitors, does some quick tests, and sends the monitors back. I don't regard such short-term reviews as being worth much. I was quite pleased with my Mag Innovision monitors when I bought them, for example, but within a year their display quality started to degrade significantly. That's the kind of thing that short-term reviews miss. When I recommend a product, it's because I've used it day-in-day-out for weeks or months.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ken Scott [mailto:kscott@pcisys.net]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2000 11:16 AM
To: gmadgwick@jri.co.uk
Cc: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Vandal-Proof mouse/trackball

Saw the question about a vandal-proof mouse or trackball for a bank application. I would think that one of the new optical mice (from MS or Logitech, probably lots of others now) would be a good fit. From my experience, it's always the mouseball that gets stolen, so the optics remove that risk.

Thanks. I was assuming that he was looking for something truly vandal-proof, though. Any standard mouse or trackball is going to last about five minutes on a public ATM before someone cuts the cord and makes off with the whole thing.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ray Thompson [mailto:rayt@qsystems.net]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2000 12:05 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Panduit Jacks

Robert:

The Panduit jacks will properly terminate CAT5 cable using only the simple plastic tool. You strip the outer sheath, thread the wires through the color coded plastic top piece, pull the wires as far in as possible (this leave about 1/8" from the termination to the sheath or more importantly the twist), place the top piece on the connector, insert the plastic tool, and press with your fingers. That is all that there is to using Panduit.

As for the connections being CAT5 certified, they are. I used to use a Fluke tester that would certify the cable within CAT5 specs. The tester would also tell you within about 6 inches where a cable was broken. Using the Panduit jacks on both ends and a standard CAT5 patch cable to the tester, long runs (in excess of 80 meters) and short runs (about 1 meter) were always well within the CAT5 specifications. I never had a failed connection with Panduit.

Ray Thompson
Q Systems
865-481-6832

I don't doubt it. But, like most people, I tend to stick with what I know and has worked for me in the past. Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Garvey [mailto:mgarvey@pcmac.com]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2000 2:21 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Making excellent AV cables

Mr. Thompson,

I saw the following on your Daynotes page:

[...]

"So we took the easy approach, drilling a 7/16" (11 mm) hole in the corner, through the hardwood floor straight down to the basement. We then ran some RG-6U cable over to the amplifier/splitter in the basement, leaving ten feet (3 m) or so of loose cable in the room above. I then crimped F connectors onto both ends of the cable. That was a thrill, because the connectors didn't quite fit the cable. I'm deeply ashamed of those connections, particularly the one on the basement end, which is almost literally hanging by a thread. But it works, and that's all that counts."

If you are really ashamed and want better cabling in your new house, consider using good-quality RG6 cable and F/RCA crimp connectors. I and others have had excellent results with Canare products. See the following: [here]

Oh, the RG-6U cable I used was good enough. It's either AT&T or Belden, I can't remember which. The problem was the F-connectors. I remember now. The last time I was making cables I ran out of good connectors. It was a weekend, and I needed something fast, so I ran over to Radio Shack and bought a plastic bag of their RG-6U connectors. Like most of what Radio Shack carries, they were overpriced and of indifferent quality. I'm not familiar with Canare products, although they seem a bit expensive. I'll probably just order some good RG-6U crimp-ons from my regular distributor.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 1:51 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Monitor recommendations

You wrote:

"Yes, I can strongly recommend the Hitachi monitors. My experience over the years with Mag Innovision monitors has not been good, and I do not recommend them or indeed any other inexpensive brand. I have two Mags on my workbench right now. Both of them began to degrade noticeably soon after their warranties expired, and that is fairly typical of cheap monitors. With monitors, you get what you pay for, or perhaps I should say you get no more than you pay for. Stick with monitors made by one of the Big Four--Hitachi, Mitsubishi, NEC, and Sony. They cost more (particularly the Sonys) but they are worth it, both in terms of display quality and in terms of expected longevity."

Mostly I can't disagree with this except I would add 2 brands, Philips and Samsung. I would also remove NEC. When specifying for business use, I always recommend Samsung as an excellent compromise between quality and price. Four or five years ago, I specified 14 new machines at a company I was working for. My supplier could only provide 8 Samsungs due to a stock shortage and offered NEC at the same (lower) price as the Samsungs would have cost. There was no perceptible quality difference between them at the time. I recently asked the new manager how the machines had fared and he replied that none of the Samsungs has ever exhibited a problem, but all six of the NECs had needed repair, several more than once. The only problem I have ever had with Samsung has been the occasional need to replace a worn out power switch.

I have kept my 4 year old 15" Samsung as a hot spare/loaner and and often the client comments on how much better it is than they are used to. I have a Philips 17b that my son uses and my new monitor is a Sony G400. The latter sells for a much more reasonable price in the US than here, but I do not regret for an instant paying the 100% premium for quality over the cheapest 19" I could get.

Thanks, but I'll stick with my original recommendations. The point is that, when it comes to monitors, there is no compromise between quality and price. Margins are so low in the monitor business that when you get a lower price you're giving something up. That might be construction quality, component quality, durability, warranty terms, or whatever, but you are giving something up. When I was researching monitors for the book, I spoke with people in the industry. I asked each of them to answer a simple question as deep background: "If you were buying a monitor right now and had to buy something other than your own brand, what would you buy?" The responses almost universally mentioned the four brands that I've recommended, which also corresponds with my own experience. I'd consider the brands you mention to be a step behind products like Nanao/Eizo and Nokia, which in turn are a step behind the Big Four. That's not to say that any of those are bad monitors--any of them is certainly better than many competing products--but I prefer to pay a bit more and get a monitor which is more likely to provide good service for years to come.

 


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Sunday, 27 August 2000

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Our SETI@Home group continues to rack up work units, with nearly 6,500 completed. Congratulations to team member Joe Hartman, who recently passed the 50 work unit milestone. If you haven't joined our SETI effort, please do. Here's how. 

We finally finished power washing the deck yesterday. We were working on the bottom part, so we got to stand underneath with the pressure washer nozzle pointing up. That meant we were constantly being deluged by filthy water full of grit and other nastiness. But the deck is now clean and ready to have the sealer/stain applied. We'll probably do that next weekend. Rain today, so we'll spend the day cleaning, doing laundry, and other indoor work. 

The main thing I want to do is get started on cleaning up my office. I'll begin with my desk area, so now is a good time to install one of the Belkin KVM switches. As much as I'd like to install the OmniView Pro Administrator model, I'll probably use the OmniCube instead, because that's the model that most of my readers will be interested in.

So I'd better get to work.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Sherburne Jr [mailto:ryszards@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 10:01 AM
To: 'webmaster@ttgnet.com'
Subject: bail levels

The problem is we cannot tell from the column whether the rapist is 36 and had been engaged in the every other day for three years with a four year old, or is 19 and engaged in a single act with his 16 yoa girlfriend. The other problem presented by the column is that it assumes guilt, bail is supposed to be about assuring presence at trial and the risk of re-offense while on bail. Given the relatively high penalties for rape, the risk of running is also rather high (see the rather celebrated case recently in New England, a high school athlete accused of rape ran to Europe and years of work were required to bring him back). Lastly, the bail setting, as in many legal issues is about the particul;ar judge as much as anything. Some judges set rape bails high no matter what, some set low, no matter what. Unfortunately but truthfully, if you follow the speed demon thru the courts he will walk away with a relatively minor conviction. Almost never does a driver who attempts to run over police officers but fails end up where he should, in jail for a long time. BTW radical feminists would tell you that the bond levels are really almost high enough for the accused rapist!

The age of the accused is 40. The age of his victim is unstated other than "minor". There is, as you know, a major difference between forcible rape, a crime of violence, and statutory rape, an arbitrarily defined crime. The age of consent differs dramatically, and what is a crime in one state is completely legal just across the state line. I recall that one state, Delaware I believe, until relatively recently set the age of consent at seven, which seemed a bit low to me. 

But there is no need for a legislative definition of age of consent, because nature supplies a natural definition called menarche. I cannot see that the relative ages of the man and girl make any difference at all. If she's presumed capable of deciding, the choice should be hers no matter what the age of the man. And I say that if she's reached menarche, she should legally be presumed capable of deciding. Historically, boys and girls were assumed to reach that point at about 12 years of age. See the bases for the Jewish "Today I am a man" and similar rites of passage.

We've had a similar case here recently where a woman in her late twenties or thirties has been accused of having sex with a boy in his middle teens. I can't see that he's any kind of victim, either. When I was fifteen, I certainly would not have considered this woman to be victimizing me if she had offered me sex, nor can I believe that any fifteen year old boy on the planet would feel differently. The parents feel differently, I'm sure, but that's not the issue.

As far as forcible rape, I have argued for twenty years or more that the laws against it should be repealed. The laws against rape have their basis in common law as penalizing a crime against property rather than a crime against a person. The original basis for criminalizing rape was that the woman who was raped was then worth less to her family, literally in dollars and cents. Looked at as penalizing a crime against property, rape laws are clearly obsolete. We have perfectly good laws against assault and battery, and those are the laws that should pertain when a woman is raped. 

Also, rape is the one crime in which a presumption of innocence does not exist in any real terms. In cases where it is the word of one person against another, the accused should clearly be acquitted and yet that often does not happen in rape trials. My assumption is that if the man and woman had a previous relationship of any sort, then reasonable doubt exists prima facie. I would sooner free ten men who actually did rape a woman with whom they had a previous relationship than wrongly imprison one who was falsely accused. All of that said, if I were sitting on a jury in a trial of a man accused of raping a woman who was a stranger to him, and if I were convinced that that man was in fact guilty of the crime, I'd vote to hang the bastard, or at least put him in prison for life.

Returning to the matter at hand, we have two accused men. One engaged in multiple crimes of violence in full view of numerous witnesses. There is clearly no question of his guilt, nor of the fact that he is a danger to others, as he has proven by his own actions. His bond is set at $50,000. We have a second man who, even if he is guilty of the crime with which he is charged (which is by no means certain) has not engaged in any violent act. His bond is set at $1,000,000.

Of course, I don't grant the state the right to arrest or set bond anyway, so the point is probably moot.


-----Original Message-----
From: Luis Bazdresch [mailto:mbazdresch@excite.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 12:24 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Digital Photography

Bob,

Regarding the advances in digital photography, you said that, within two years, digital cameras will be so good that optical cameras will be obsolete.

I would like to add that, for that to be true, we need a similar advance in printing technology. At least I, as a serious amateur who loves photography, need to see my images in print, not just on the monitor. I'll abandon my optical equipment not only when the digital cameras are good enough, but also when I can get digital prints of equal quality for the same price and convenience as today.

Also, don't neglect negative/slide scanners. If high-quality slide scanners become as cheap as a good digital camera, I would still consider getting one of those instead of the camera.

You are right, of course, that the switch to digital photography is a matter of time in 99% of the applications.

-- 
Miguel Bazdresch

I thought that day was already here, but perhaps not. I just ordered an Epson Stylus Color 760 inket printer, which does 720X720 and 1440X720 resolution with (I think) 4 picolitre droplets. That should be good enough to provide printed output that's indistinguishable from a C-print, or so I'd think. I'll know once the printer arrives and I have a chance to work with it. The paper is already here. It's Kodak inkjet photo paper with a glossy surface, and appears identical to standard F finish resin coated photographic paper. We'll see.


-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Mugford [mailto:mugford@aztec-net.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 1:31 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Why we read you ... At least one reason

Robert,

"PC Magazine and others typically do superficial side-by-side comparative reviews, because they're easy to do and that's what readers seem to want. So PC Magazine contacts a bunch of monitor makers, who send them examples of their monitors. PC Magazine then sets up the monitors, does some quick tests, and sends the monitors back. I don't regard such short-term reviews as being worth much. I was quite pleased with my Mag Innovision monitors when I bought them, for example, but within a year their display quality started to degrade significantly. That's the kind of thing that short-term reviews miss. When I recommend a product, it's because I've used it day-in-day-out for weeks or months."

That's why reading (amongst many reasons) the Daynoters gang is so worthwhile. I want the reviews, the warts and the gotchas. Then I want the answers. And the best part about wanting? Sometimes you get it.

Thanks.

GM

Gary Mugford
Idea Mechanic
Bramalea ON Canada

Thanks for the kind words.


-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Mugford [mailto:mugford@aztec-net.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 1:40 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: MP3s to CD

Robert,

On the subject of turning MP3s into CDs, a friend of mine has lent me CDs made with a program called MP3CD Maker. It's available at http://www.zy2000.com. Not free, but doesn't cost too much.

The two main reasons for looking at the program is that it just focuses in on copying MP3's to audio CDs. The only 'tech' touch is that it has a checkbox to level the audio, which comes in REAL handy when you get the files from disperate sources, rather than make your own from your own audio CDs. My pal uses the program every time he forgets some important date his wife thinks is REAL important (birthday, anniversary, first meeting, etc....). Gets away with forgetting more often then he should [G].

Thanks. I confess that I'm not sure why I'd want to convert MP3's back to audio CD format, unless the MP3s were pirated in the first place. I've converted a lot of our CDs to MP3s so that I can play them on my computer, but if I wanted to do an audio CD compilation or whatever, I'd do it from the original audio CDs. Why sacrifice audio quality by converting the MP3s back to CD-DA?


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Sherburne Jr [mailto:ryszards@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 4:03 PM
To: 'Robert Bruce Thompson'
Subject: RE: bail levels

Ah so that is the problem, arrest by the state is inherently wrong. So should there be only Federal crimes? :) I take liberty with a uniquely American view of the word "state". Seriously, isn't that much more of an anarchist position? Perhaps I misunderstand but I thought even pure libertarians (note small "l") admit the state has a control role in preventing violence among persons, otherwise such controls are merely applied by the group or mob able to impose its will at a particular point in time over a particular behavior by a particular group. Do I misapprehend the structure somehow? Or are we simply quibbling over the depth and breadth of the concept of "state"?

No, I was using the word "state" in the original sense, as in "church and state". And, yes, it is an anarchist position, which is not surprising since I am an anarchist (as well as a libertarian in both the large-l and small-l senses). Pure libertarians are anarchists, or so close as not to matter. As far as my comment, what I said was, "I don't grant the state the right to arrest or set bond anyway, so the point is probably moot." I said that because, as you pointed out, an arrested person is presumed innocent until he is tried and convicted. So what right does the state have to arrest and confine an innocent person, and charge a ransom for granting him his freedom? If the state wants to try a man, they should notify him when his trial will be held, and suggest that he attend or send a representative to guard his interests. If he is convicted, they should notify him that he must surrender himself to the authorities for whatever punishment has been decided. If he does not surrender himself, he should be outlawed, in the original sense, whereby he loses all protection of the law and may be captured or killed by anyone who encounters him, without that person risking any legal penalties. But the state has no right to arrest or restrain an innocent man under any circumstances.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000 10:13 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: RE: Monitor recommendations

While you or I may not wish to compromise quality and price, manufacturers certainly do. Perhaps I hadn't made my point as well as I might have. There is no doubt that NEC's compromises to build that business class, as distinct from graphics workstation class monitor resulted in a monitor inferior to the Samsungs at a higher price.

The demands a graphics professional places on a monitor are much higher than a business user. There is little point in spending significant amounts of money for colour temperature control, extremely high bandwidth etc for word processing and spreadsheeting. Particularly if this were to be at the expense of RAM or quality of video card etc.

So, I agree that for high end graphics, the number of manufacturers is small, when you include business class, there is a small but significant number of extra manufacturers to choose from.

No, you're confusing features and specifications with quality. If you compare a low-end or mid-range Hitachi (or Sony or Mitsubishi or NEC) with a monitor from one of the manufacturers you mention, they may have similar or identical features and specifications. But the Hitachi is a better monitor.

 


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