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Daynotes Journal

Week of 25 September 2000

Friday, 05 July 2002 08:09

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, 25 September 2000

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I've put a link at the top of the page for anyone who wants to order PC Hardware in a Nutshell, which should be shipping October 10th, although it may take a couple days after that to hit the bookstores. Thanks to everyone who's already ordered a copy. If you haven't ordered your copy yet, why not do so now? Thanks.


Our SETI@Home group now has 61 members and more than 12,700 work units complete. Congratulations to team members Jon Barrett, who recently passed the 100 work unit milestone, and David L Griffin, who recently passed the 50 work unit milestone. If you haven't joined our SETI effort, please do. Here's how. 

Roadrunner has been having problems on and off for the last couple of weeks. Yesterday, they got so bad that I couldn't update my web site other than by posting pages individually with FTP Voyager, my standalone FTP client. The built-in FrontPage FTP client is, to put it charitably, not very robust. Under normal network conditions, it posts updates successfully, albeit taking a long time to do so. Under degraded network conditions, though, it simply times out. I ran a bunch of traceroutes to my site yesterday, and the RoadRunner network was in bad shape. I got sub-10 ms. times for the first several hops, but by the time traffic got to the ALTER.NET backbone, the times were in the nearly 1,000 ms. range. Worse still, there was a lot of packet loss. 

Things are looking better this morning, at least from a traceroute point of view. All times are in the sub-60 ms. range, which is quite good. I hit the Computing Central speedtest site and it tells me that my cable modem is now yielding 644.8 Kbps or 79 K bytes/sec, which, if lower than the normal 100 to 150 KB/s for this time of day, is still well up from the sub-10 KB/s performance I was getting yesterday. We'll see what happens when I try to publish this site, though.

This week will be largely consumed by work on the HardwareGuys.com site (which I can't publish either) and getting ready for our trip to New Hampshire. Updates are likely to be short, and I won't have much time to respond to mail.


-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Thomas [mailto:thomaspj@home.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2000 10:30 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Echo / OnStream

Just curious if you in your ample spare time (heavy amounts of sarcasm there) have looked at all at the new version of the OnStream software 3.2 which appears to have added support for Win/2K Professional (and removed support for OnStream on ANY Windows/NT Server and/or Windows/2000 Server).

I've downloaded the latest Echo, but I haven't had time to install it yet. Perhaps I'll get around to it. The problem at this point is that the OnStream DI-30 is installed in a system that's not running Windows 2000. As far as them removing support for Server, that's unfortunate. But I suppose they want people to buy their tape drives targeted at servers for that purpose.

 


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Tuesday, 26 September 2000

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Our SETI@Home group continues to crank out work units. Congratulations to team member johnny5, who recently passed the 100 work unit milestone. If you haven't joined our SETI effort, please do. Here's how. 

RoadRunner still has pathetic throughput. Yesterday, on numerous file transfers to and from sites which have been fast in the past, I was getting throughput ranging from less than 20 KB/s all the way down to 4 KB/s, which is dial-up speed. Normal throughput is more like 75 to 150 KB/s. Also, latency and packet loss was terrible, making it nearly impossible to publish my web site. I finally ended up "publishing" it by using my general-purpose FTP client to transfer the files one-by-one. This morning, the Computing Central speedtest page is showing my line speed as 638.4 Kb/s (78.2 KB/s), so perhaps I'll be able to publish normally. I can always hope.

We have an Excel spreadsheet that lists features we'll be looking for when we go house hunting in New Hampshire. One of the items is Internet connectivity. Under the "Mandatory" column, we have "cable modem OR xDSL". Under the "Highly Desirable" column, we have "cable modem AND xDSL". If both are available, I'm seriously considering signing up for both and installing a real router with both interfaces connected to it and configured as alternate routes. If I don't get both, I'll definitely have a dial-up account as a fall-back.

Carly Fiorina seems determined to destroy Hewlett-Packard single-handedly. Her latest decree, according to a report in The Register, is to reduce cubicle sizes from 8X10 feet (~2.4X3 metres) to 8X8 feet. Now, granted, office space is not cheap, but this seems a particularly small-minded action to take. Surely the minor space savings this action will accomplish are much more than offset by the direct and indirect costs required to do it, not to mention the negative effect on employee morale. The reason Dilbert is so funny is that it's so true.

Speaking of small-minded, the morning newspaper reports that the IRS has reversed their position on deductions for kidnapped children. Yes, as incredible as it may seem, the IRS had been disallowing the standard deduction for children who had been kidnapped. "Hey, it's not our fault you let your kid get stolen, and you can't expect us to allow a deduction for a kid you don't actually have." What were these people thinking?


-----Original Message-----
From: tlslater [mailto:tlslater@computron.net]
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2000 12:38 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: global warming

Hi Robert,

A short report in the Sunday Times(UK) reports that new evidence shows that global warming is caused mainly by the sun . The rise in temperatures that was blamed on burning fossil fuels is really the result of increased solar radiation. The research is from the European Space Agency. The study says the main reason is a solar energy surge and a particularly big increase in ultraviolet light.

Tom Slater

Please don't get me started on this. As Pournelle has said repeatedly, we're spending billions and trillions of dollars, directly and indirectly, to "solve" a problem that may not even be a problem.

 


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Wednesday, 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 site.

Our SETI@Home 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 how. 

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 return.

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.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Hellewell [mailto:rhellewell@cityofsacramento.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 12:31 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Fried Motherboard

Robert:

Greetings!

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.


-----Original Message-----
From: James Chamier [mailto:james@chamier.co.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 2:39 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Cable speed...

Hi Robert,

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.


-----Original Message-----
From: Wallbridge, Shawn [mailto:shawnw@elections.mb.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 4:53 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson (E-mail)
Subject: Cubicles

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.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm [mailto:jpsturm@dingoblue.net.au]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 10:12 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Global warming sceptics site

http://www.vision.net.au/~daly/

Found this through JEP. Funny thing is the guy who maintains this page lives quite close to me here in Tasmania.

Jonathan
http://www.sturmsoft.com

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 the subject.


-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [mailto:waggoner@gis.net]
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.

--Chuck

Thanks.

 


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Thursday, 28 September 2000

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Preparing for New Hampshire trip.


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Friday, 29 September 2000

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Depart for New Hampshire. We're staying overnight in Princeton, New Jersey, where we'll meet with Caroline Llewellyn, one of my favorite mystery authors.


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Saturday, 30 September 2000

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Depart Princeton for New Hampshire. Arrive in New Hampshire in the evening.


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Sunday, 1 October 2000

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Scouting about in New Hampshire.

I'll posting the weekly page for the week of October 2nd when we return on Sunday the 8th (or perhaps Monday the 9th). Please check back then.

 

 

 

 


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