27 September 2000
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Today will probably be my last post until we return from New Hampshire
on or about Sunday, October 8th. If you're looking for something new to
read while we're gone, check out the list of daily journal keepers at the Daynotes
group now has 63 members and 13,127 work units complete.
Congratulations to team members Greg
Lincoln, who recently passed the 250 work unit milestone, and Robert
Esguerra, who recently passed the 100 work unit milestone. If you haven't
joined our SETI effort, please do. Here's
I called Robert Denn, my O'Reilly editor, yesterday to see if
he'd be able to meet with us while were in New England. Robert works at
O'Reilly's Cambridge (Boston) office. Unfortunately, we're going to cross
paths. We'll be arriving in New England just as he's leaving for a
week-long trip to O'Reilly's California offices for the annual editors'
meeting. Oh, well, we can still visit the O'Reilly offices, and Frank
Willison, editor-in-chief and Robert's boss, will be there holding down
the fort. I asked Robert how the book was going, and was surprised to hear
that they're apparently going to beat the announced 10/10 date. Robert
said the book was at the printers and he expected it to hit the warehouses
this week. So, if you want a copy and haven't ordered it yet, now is the
time. Click here
to order a copy from Fatbrain.
I got mail last night from the O'Reilly webmaster. Our article
was originally scheduled to go up on the O'Reilly
web site last Friday, but they said the schedule might slip until this
Monday instead. Apparently it slipped more than they thought. They're
shooting to have Part 1 up tomorrow and the remaining parts up next week.
While we're gone, of course. I expect to have an overflowing inbox when we
Some excitement yesterday. We called the place we were to be
staying in New Hampshire, and they'd never heard of us. Barbara had booked
a cabin back in June, and had spoken to the lady last week, who assured
Barbara that everything was on track. Yesterday, I called the place to see
if it would be possible to change our reservation from Sunday night
through Saturday night to Saturday night through Friday night. I'm very
glad I called, because the guy couldn't find any record of our
reservation, despite the fact that we'd confirmed it with a credit card.
He finally found it, but for their motel rather than a cabin. He claims
that they didn't make any mistake and that we'd had a motel room rather
than a cabin reserved all along.
He did, however, have the total charges written down for the credit
card reservation, and he couldn't figure out why they were higher than
they should have been for the motel room. "Well," I asked,
"how much would they have been for the cabin?" By the purest
coincidence, the amount they'd put on the credit card reservation form
corresponded exactly to the penny with what the charge would have been for
a cabin. But that's not what we reserved, or so he claimed.
It is, of course, leaf season up there, so we figured the chances of
getting another place to stay were slim to none. As it turned out, though,
Barbara called around and was finally able to find us a
"cottage" for the week from Saturday night through the following
Friday night. Someone had cancelled, so we ended up grabbing the cottage
that they were to have had. It ended up costing us $150 more for the week,
but beggars can't be choosers. At least we have somewhere to stay.
And Barbara is going to report the original place to the New Hampshire
Hotel & Motel Association, the Better Business Bureau, and probably
the IRS for all I know.
Well, I'd best get to work. RoadRunner connectivity is still
sucking small dead mammals through a tubular drinking device, so getting
things posted is likely to be a hassle. I need to get the HardwareGuys.com
web site in at least presentable form before we leave.
From: Rick Hellewell [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 12:31 PM
Subject: Fried Motherboard
Had a DFI (Diamond Flower International, PC clone mfg (big company),
we've use a lot of their products around here without problems) dual
processor motherboard get fried after getting it from the vendor. Worked
fine here a couple of times, then failed. Vendor says that the MB got
fried: Pentium chips (both) failed, memory chips are melted (physically),
power supply dead.
I suspect that the power supply failed, putting a surge of voltage on
the MB, which fried components therein. Possible/probable?
Yep, very possible. Decent power supplies are designed
"fail-safe" so as to make it nearly impossible for mains voltage
to be shorted to the low-voltage rails inside the supply. But over the
years we've seen an occasional power supply that did just that, and the
results are as you describe. When that happens, though, it's usually the
result of a catastrophic lightning strike. We've seen such damage
literally explode the large capacitors in a power supply, and melt an
internal support bracket.
From: James Chamier [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 2:39 PM
Subject: Cable speed...
I've been reading your pages for the last few months, since you steped
in at Jerry's page, and noticed your problems with RoadRunner.
Here in the UK I am lucky enough to have had a cable modem for the last
9 months. However the rollout is very slow nationwide, not helped by the
cost. However you state:
"644.8 Kbps or 79 K bytes/sec, which, if lower than the normal 100
to 150 KB/s for this time of day"
Wow! Here in the UK our cable modems are rate limited at 512Kbps,
around 50k/sec in IE 5.5's download window.
My cable company has also had problems recently with their network, but
they've just installed a major new "core" and claim to have
things working well shortly... of course shortly is a random time!
As far as I know, no US cable company restricts maximum download
speed, although many restrict maximum upload speed to something in the 128
Kb/s range, presumably to prevent people from running serious servers at
home. According to the RoadRunner support page, they're having several
bandwidth problems at the moment. My throughput varies greatly by time of
day. When the network is working properly throughput is typically in the
75 to 150 KB/s range for fast sites, and sometimes gets into the 250+ KB/s
range. That's from early morning through perhaps 4:00 p.m. In the late
afternoon and evening, kids get home from school and start sucking down
MP3s. At that point, throughput drops noticeably, sometimes into the
sub-20 KB/s range.
From: Wallbridge, Shawn [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 4:53 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
My cubicle is only 6x6 and I have two machines and a flatbed scanner on
my desk. I have so much stuff under my desk that in some places I can't
put my feet under it. The other day I was moving a box out of the way and
I realized it was my spare RAID controller ($2500).
Yes, I've always found it ironic that most organizations put the
people who are actually doing something useful in tiny little cubicles but
provide large offices for managers, many of whom do nothing that
discernably benefits the organization.
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 10:12 PM
Subject: Global warming sceptics site
Found this through JEP. Funny thing is the guy who maintains this page
lives quite close to me here in Tasmania.
Yes, I remember looking at that page when he first posted the
link. But it's worth looking at again for anyone who has any interest in
From: Chuck Waggoner [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 9:24 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: H-P Cubicles
If you haven't seen the movie "Office Space" then you'd
better rent it.
I know the title doesn't sound like much, but two people to whom we've
recommended it, went out and bought a DVD copy after seeing it.
There's something for everyone in it--especially management.