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Daynotes Journal

Week of 13 November 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, 13 November 2000

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Thanks to everyone who's already bought a copy of our latest book, PC Hardware in a Nutshell. If you haven't ordered a copy yet, why not click the link and do so now? Thanks.

Here's an interesting development. My friend Tom Syroid has announced that he plans to begin offering web hosting services on an informal basis. As of now, he is considering charging a flat rate of US$100 per year for hosting a web site with unlimited (reasonably) storage space. Hosting a web site at Syroid Manor could be a very good idea or a very bad one, depending on your needs and priorities. Off the top of my head, I came up with the following disadvantages and advantages:


Availability - this will be a home-based business. Tom does not have the infrastructure and redundancy that a typical commercial hosting service provides as a matter of course. Things like UPSs, backup generator, multiple redundant backbone links, failover servers, and so on. My guess is that that means Tom's service will have something like 99% to 99.5% availability, compared with 99.9% for a good commercial host, and 99.99% for the best commercial hosts. Availability of 99% to 99.5% translates to expected downtime of maybe three to eight hours a month. Probably not good enough for a mission-critical line-of-business application, but probably good enough for nearly any other application. On the other hand, Tom is running a mid-range IBM minicomputer with multiple processors, a huge RAID array, and other high-availability features.

Limited throughput - Tom plans to run the service on his existing DSL line, which means it's an inappropriate host for a high-volume web site. Without getting into queuing theory or running any numbers, my gut reaction is that Tom could probably host many sites without running into any real datacomm problems. Assuming that his DSL provides 256 Kbit/s of upstream bandwidth, that translates into about 3,000 MB per day throughput. Assuming 1/3 loading for reasonable responsiveness, that means that Tom could host sites with cumulative throughput of about 1 GB/day. That translates to something like 50 to 100 low-volume sites, or about five or ten moderate-volume sites (like this one). So Tom will have to be careful about what type of sites and how many of them he agrees to host.


Price - there are many web hosts who have accounts that cost in the $100/year range, but those accounts are typically very limited in terms of features (no FrontPage extensions, for example) and in terms of how much disk storage they provide (usually something like 20 MB or so). Syroid is offering what most web hosting companies would call a mid-range account (and charge $25 or more per month for) and is doing it for US$100 per year.

Support - Tom Syroid has just finished a book about Linux and is currently working on a book for O'Reilly about FrontPage. So there's no doubt that he knows his stuff. By using Tom's service, you end up with a very knowledgeable guy working behind the scenes. You don't get the toll-free 24X7 support that MegaCorp web hosts provide, but then with them you're not talking to the guy who actually configures and supports the system, either. It's the difference between dealing with a Mom & Pop operation and dealing with a faceless bureaucracy.

On balance, if you want to run a small web site, Tom Syroid's service is probably worth a close look. So am I going to host my sites with Tom? No, but that's not from any lack of confidence in his service. My sites right now are generating about 3,000 page reads per day, and it would not be fair to Tom to put that much volume on his servers for a flat rate of US$100/year. Especially since we're in the process of doing some things that are likely to double or quadruple that level of traffic in the near future. So I'll stick with pair Networks, for now anyway. But if you need to run a smaller site, do give Tom Syroid's service serious consideration.

The Register reports that AMD has killed the Mustang. Apparently, there are problems getting it to support a large enough L2 cache to make it a viable server processor. But AMD says that the 760MP running dual Thunderbirds will be a fine server solution. And they may be right. In other processor news, The Register reports that Intel is shipping its Celeron/733 and /766 processors today. These will likely be the last Celeron processors that use the 66 MHz FSB, with 100 MHz FSB Celerons on tap for early next year. With the shift to 100 MHz FSB, the Celeron will still not match the performance of a similarly-clocked AMD Duron, but it will be close enough to level the playing field between the Celeron and Duron.

Short shrift time on mail...

-----Original Message-----
From: John Dominik []
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2000 11:51 AM
Subject: Free hosts, FWIW

Alan (and Bob)

At the risk of adding to your deluge, I thought I'd weigh in. . . Regarding free web hosts, I've got some experience with them (which I guess qualifies me to speak, though I don't know I'd call myself "expert"); I've got close experience with three, again, FWIW...

GEOCITIES : My experience is that it is both stable and fairly easy to use. I don't because of the restrictive licensing issues which popped up at one point, were "clarified" and at present, I've avoided them on the principle that "if they did it once, they might try again."

TRIPOD : Well, OK. Tripod is really good if you are looking for multiple locations to be able to edit on. I was able to edit in their on-line tools (fairly good, actually), and was also able to use FrontPage to edit and upload. Tripod, however, is VERY unstable - sometime can, and sometimes can't, edit the pages.

SPACEPORTS.COM : The one I use now. They say "unlimited size" (though you're limited to 20 megs up front). I've been using FP2K to edit and post, which works well. I've FTP'd, which also works. Pretty stable (had one problem, likely to be my own fault) at least for the five weeks I've been using it.

Otherwise, there's - which seems to have a pretty good handle on what's out there. Good luck!

--- --- --- --- --- --- ---
John Dominik
Personal Page :
Daynotes Page :
Member of the Daynotes Gang :


-----Original Message-----
From: Jeffrey Bruss []
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2000 11:53 AM
Subject: A free website hosting service


Yesterday, you received this letter:

"Bob, A question for you (or perhaps your readers) - I'm looking for recommendations on a free web hosting service (ie, Geocities, Tripod, etc.) to set up an informational-type web site for a local library group. I would like to be able to code locally in HTML and then upload pages to the site. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks."

I suggest trying This is a free hosting service, but even better, you don't have to put ANY ads of any sort on your web pages. You can easily ftp: pages, even from within Frontpage. They've recently upgraded their servers, and their response times are much improved. The only caveat - and it's to be expected - is that your URL will be something like: The sole reason I don't use them any more is because my employer gives me all the free web space I need now.


-----Original Message-----
From: boatright []
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2000 2:51 PM
Subject: July 2, the lee resolution & etc.

Ok, Mark Huth wrote

"As to when independence was declared (this I had to look up): Again the correct answer is July 4th, 1776. If your correspondent is suggesting the Lee resolution presented on June 7, 1776 and passed on July 1st, that wasn't a declaration."

I have to ask, if it wasn't a declaration, what was it? A "finding" or a "resolution" of independence?

HIS SOURCE: ) says:

The clearest call for independence up to the summer of 1776 came in Philadelphia on June 7. On that date in session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), the Continental Congress heard Richard Henry Lee of Virginia read his resolution beginning: "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.".........(snip)........

On July 1, 1776, Congress reconvened. The following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Immediately afterward, the Congress began to consider the Declaration. Adams and Franklin had made only a few changes before the committee submitted the document. The discussion in Congress resulted in some alterations and deletions, but the basic document remained Jefferson's. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4. Then, at last, church bells rang out over Philadelphia; the Declaration had been officially adopted.

The Lee resolution resulted in independence. The _formal declaration_ was passed on the fourth. So, wording matters. "When was the Declaration of Independence passed? " On July 4, 1776.

"When did Congress vote on independence from Great Britain ?" July 2, 1776.

What happened after July 2, we debate on the wording of the formal declaration. Independence had already been established. The question was now HOW we were going to say it. Not that the declaraction itself isn't a great and wonderful thing. And it's easy to see then, why the 4th is celebrated.


-----Original Message-----
From: boatright []
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2000 3:15 PM
Subject: John Hanson one more time.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but

The Great Seal of the United States was first used on September 16, 1782, by President Hanson when he signed the orders for an exchange of military prisoners. In 1803, the U.S. Supreme Court discussed the legality of the Great Seal, ruling that it was created by the first President of the United States and has been used ever since. The Supreme Court ruled that the signature of the President and the stamp of the Great Seal are necessary to consummate law. There have been no changes in it since it was created under the Hanson Administration. President Bill Clinton is required to use that very same seal created by President Hanson in 1782.

On July 24, 1789, President Washington requested the delivery of the Great Seal, recognizing that he was not technically President of the United States without it. In fact, the absence of the Great Seal created a need to call an emergency session of Congress. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson introduced a resolution that stated that "Washington accepts every condition, law, rule and authority, under the Great Seal and the first President of the United States John Hanson". Foreign governments recognized Hanson as the President of the United States and two nations recognized the new nation in 1782 when Hanson was President, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The fact that the federalists got to write the History doesn't make the facts as established by the Supreme Court of the United States any different.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2000 9:57 PM
Subject: voting difficulties

Ref: " In order to vote, you must be capable of .... voting!"

<rhetorical question mode>
Why is it that only the Democrats had problems voting??
</rhetorical question mode>

I'm not touching that one, but only because I don't have time to respond to all the mail it would generate.

-----Original Message-----
From: AP []
Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 6:33 AM
Subject: .357 Magnum revolver

Mr. Thompson,

On Sunday, 12 November 2000, you wrote: "Before anyone asks, that's a .357 Magnum revolver beside the case...That revolver happens to be the one that sits on the floor next to my place on the sofa. I keep it in a case to protect it from dust, but the case is unzipped for easy access. One never knows when Men in Black will kick down the door."

I would feel well armed with one, but it's surprising to find that you are apparently relying on a .357 Magnum revolver for defensive purposes, though, for you once described the .357 Magnum as a minor caliber. On Thursday, 15 July 1999 you wrote, "Hitting someone two or three times (or even twenty times) with a minor caliber like a 9 mm or a .357 has very little more likelihood of stopping him than does hitting him once (unless, of course, subsequent rounds hit a nerve center or other critical area)." You also said, "...the best you can realistically do is a .45 ACP Colt 1911 pistol." If you have decided to replace your 1911 (or supplement it) with a revolver, shouldn't it be one in .45 ACP, or possibly .45 Colt?

Allan Pineo

Heh. I'd exchanged private mail with Brian Bilbrey yesterday, wondering how long it would be before one of my alert readers pointed that out. I won't answer it directly, but I will make three unrelated observations: (1) my preferred defensive calibers, .45 Auto and .44 Special, will not reliably penetrate body armor in any loading; (2) the .357 Magnum loaded with KTW Teflon-coated armor piercing rounds fired from a 6" or longer barrel defeats any known body armor, penetrating both front and back and whatever is in between; and (3) despite Dirty Harry, no person can control a .44 Magnum in aimed rapid fire.

All of that said, it wasn't just that I described the .357 Magnum as a minor caliber. It *is* a minor caliber under the rules of every combat pistol shooting organization in whose events I would consider participating. It's a minor caliber for the very good reason that it possesses inadequate stopping power to be considered a useful defensive round. Even if you look at the data accumulated by Marshall and Sanow, who are True Believers in high-velocity rounds, the .357 Magnum in real-world situations stops an assailant with a single shot at best 50% of the time, whereas the .45 Auto and .44 Special are up in the 90%+ range. High velocity simply does not make up for small bullet diameter and low bullet mass. And all the expanding bullets or frangible loads in the world don't change that.

But if you're dealing with an assailant who is wearing body armor, the rules change.






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Tuesday, 14 November 2000

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Our morning paper (a liberal/left rag if ever there was one) reports the results of a statewide poll done in Florida. Basically, the citizens of Florida are sick and tired of this mess, as are we all. The poll results show that Floridians overwhelmingly believe Bush has won and that Gore is simply trying to steal the election. In a blow to those who hope that the people will accept whoever is eventually declared the winner, the poll reports that a large majority will accept Bush as the legitimate winner, but only a small minority would accept Gore as the legitimate winner if the election were declared in his favor. 

Bush won the vote. Bush won the recount. But Gore's efforts to win in court what he lost at the ballot box continue. As do his sanctimonious efforts to justify his inexcusable behavior. In the words of Oliver Cromwell, "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

-----Original Message-----
From: Belleville, Brian []
Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 1:54 PM
To: ''
Subject: Politics

If nothing else we're getting a real civics lesson out of this election.

It had been years since I ran into the discussion of President Hanson. As noted regarding the correct date of the Declaration of Independence, wording is anything. I had to go back and check the Articles to confirm my memories. They clearly granted primary power to a Congress of the States (each state having a single vote). When that Congress was in recess, they recognized the need to maintain a government in standing. Thus was created "A Committee of States", consisting of one of the delegates from each state, authorized to act in the stead of Congress. One member of that committee was to be elected as its "president". The closest current parallel would, I think, be the chair of one of the congressional committees.

The argument of course is that this was merely an administrative positon within the legislature, rather than a true head of an executive branch. Thus, a rose is not always a rose . . . .

But didn't both Washington and the later Supreme Court refer to him as President? Perhaps, but what else would they have called him? Remember too that the Constitutional Convention far exceeded its original commission to amend the original Articles of Confederation, choosing to establish instead an 'entirely' new and different form of government. This was not something that was emphasized at the time, the "spin" being on continuity (re: Washington) and formal acknowledgment of the acts and obligations "inherited" from the Confederation (Constitution, Article 6). Such was the concern for executive power in those days that this made sense. If memory serves, didn't John Adams insist on being addressed as Sovereign and lobby that the title be changed to king? I remember reading a really excellent treatment of the election of 1800 and the pivitol role it played.

So you appear to have two very different offices sharing a common title. Sounds to me like the question is too ambiguous and should be thrown out. Or perhaps a recount is in order . . . ?

Well, as I've said, Hanson's contemporaries referred to him as "President of the United States" because that was his title. Those who argue in favor of Washington as the first President of the US appear to be arguing that the United States was one nation which disappeared and was replaced by a new nation named the United States. For anyone interested in this period, I'll commend them to read what went on with Jefferson and the Federalists. The Good Guys lost, more or less.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Sturm []
Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 2:16 PM
Subject: Tom Syroid web hosting

Hi Robert

Don't know if you've shopped around lately, but I'm paying $US9.95/mth to American Web Hosting for 50 MB disk space, 5 POP e-mail accounts, unlimited e-mail forwarding, 6 GB monthly data transfer, FrontPage extensions & shopping cart software.

Your point about a "Mom & Pop" operations is well taken. AmHosting is a small (8 person) business and it's a pleasure to deal with them. And I'm sure Tom will be too.

Jonathan Sturm

Member of The Daynotes Gang

Yes, I'm sure there are good deals out there. I chose pair Networks fully aware that there were less expensive alternatives available but I was willing to pay more for what pair offers. And I've been reasonably happy with their service. A lot of folks wouldn't be comfortable at pair for various reasons, not least of which is that they not only don't offer toll-free tech support, they don't even have a public phone number. All support is via email and web. But I'm happy with them for all of that.

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott at Help Desk []
Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 5:56 PM
Subject: M&S: You knew this was coming

Marshall and Sanow don't know it all, and the criteria that limit their data do not include all the variations of the real world. But...

I believe you are misreading or misremembering M&S's conclusions regarding the .357 Magnum. The most effective stopper has been the 125 grain .357 Magnum at about 1450 fps. It is rated at 96% according to M&S. The only thing that matches it is the (light and fast) 135 grain .40 S&W.

However, they have never claimed to worship velocity. I have read both their books, and many articles by Sanow, and their 'best' loads are not always the lightest and fastest. The .45 ACP is the perfect example of this, as the 'best' loads are 230 grain (heavier and slower). Similarly, the .38 Special in a 2" snub ranks highest when loaded with the heavy 158 grain LHP.

To see more of M&S:

And please, don't give more life to the old 'teflon coated' armor piercing bullet misinformation. The same bullet without the teflon penetrates just the same. The only thing worse is adding the 'cop killer' moniker, and (unless something has changed) no police officer has ever been killed with a 'armor piercing' bullet after being shot through body armor.

Finally, nice choice of bullet given your reasoning. My abilities are such (realistically speaking) that if the black suited gentlemen(?) arrive for a surprise party, it wouldn't help me a bit. Good luck, and reload fast.

Marshall and Sanow's data is useless because of the way they chose to present it. That .357 that M&S rate at 96% actually turns out to be 37% effective by their own data. The problem is that M&S have a truly strange (and utterly wrong) way of defining a one-shot stop. For example, in the M&S ratings that famous case where the police shot a miscreant something like 27 times with 9mm rounds and still didn't stop him wouldn't count against the one-shot stopping rating of that 9mm round. Why? Because they shot him more than once. Duh.

I'll quote in part from this page, which accurately describes the deficiencies in M&S's reporting methodology:

Marshall and Sanow claim to base their figures on a massive database of actual shootings. There is one major problem with their formula: they exclude multiple hits! In other words, when a specific round stops someone with one shot it is counted as a success; however when the same round fails to stop someone with several hits they exclude the shooting from their study!

For example: the one shot stop statistics for the .357 Magnum Federal 125 grain JHP from their book Street Stoppers:

357 magnum:      Shootings  Stops  Percentage 
Fed 125-gr JHP      523      501   96 (1-hit)

2-shot stops
Fed 125-gr JHP      829      804   97 (2-hits)

The problem with this is they list a total of 1352 shootings with this cartridge (523+829=1352). 501 one-shot stops out of 1352 shootings does not equal 96% one-shot stops, but 37%.

The Teflon-coated armor-piercing bullet is in no way "misinformation". As it happens, I was living in Cleveland during the period when KTW were developing their round there. I met Dr. Kopsch (sp?) and the two other guys who helped develop that round. I can't recall their names, except that they were the "T" and "W" in the product name. Both, as I recall, were cops. The KTW rounds were in fact Teflon-coated, which greatly improved their ability to penetrate hard surfaces like car doors and windshields. Interestingly, as I recall, Dr. Kopsch mentioned that the Teflon-coating actually reduced the ability of the bullet to penetrate Kevlar and similar soft materials used in body armor. But, one way or the other, the Teflon definitely was a factor in their ability to penetrate. I got some pre-production rounds in various calibers, and I'm sure I still have all of them around somewhere. As I recall, they used a tungsten penetrator and had an olive green Teflon coating. 

The KTWs are probably stored with my Velex and Velet rounds, which actually have small warheads in them. We tested some of those in .45 ACP on a block of ballistic gelatin one time, and the results were very impressive. The standard .45 ACP hardball and hollow-point rounds produced massive channels in the gelatin. The .44 Magnum, as you might expect, produced an even bigger channel, and in fact exited the back of the block. The Velex rounds penetrated 4" to 6" and then detonated, shredding the entire rear half of the gelatin block. I wouldn't load a defensive pistol with them nowadays even if I could find them, because all of those I have (or had) would be 20 to 25 years old. But they sure were impressive.

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Swickard []
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 4:10 AM
Subject: mouse guns!!

Hi Robert,

Just finished reading your latest journal entry. As usual very good and informative reading. I have always said that "friends don't let friends shoot mouse guns". A 357 Magnum is still only a .36 caliber defensive weapon. if you still have some of those KTW rounds they may be worth something. Most people wearing protective body Armour, wear the type that nominally stops only handgun rounds. Rich Davis of Second Chance body Armor even use to shoot himself in the chest with a 44Magnum to demonstrate his body Armor. My point is that about any ordinary rifle round including those from your 30-30 lever action will penetrate this body Armor. The moral, real warriors bring rifles to a gun battle. If you are only packing your .45ACP of course and notice that rounds going to center of mass in the chest area are not effective then you of course move up and shoot the bad guy in the head, game over. Now if only I could figure how to network my server to my Dillon reloader and automate that!!! Thank you and have a nice day.

Steve Swickard
(In Colorado, god's country)

Heh. Mouse gun. I like that.






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Wednesday, 15 November 2000

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Well Gore has lost again. He lost the election, he lost the recount, he lost the re-recount. He lost yesterday in front of a judge who is a registered Democrat. Gore has lost, lost, lost, and yet refuses to give up his attempt to steal the election and the Presidency. Any reasonable person can have nothing but contempt for this poor excuse for a human being. At this point, I wish he'd do everyone a favor and concede by cutting his own throat.

Here's an incredible irony. I visited the official web site of the Florida Attorney General. The top article on the front page is entitled "Legal Opinion Requested by Canvassing Board", the descriptive text for which reads, "The Palm Beach County Canvassing Board has requested a legal opinion. The opinion is available here." And if you follow that link, you find that the Attorney General has in fact issued an opinion, numbered AGO 2000-65, and with the subject "Manual recount of ballots, error in voter tabulatiton" (sic)

But on that site I also found a FAQ that lists the conditions under which that office will or will not issue an opinion. In Section IV of that FAQ, titled, "When Opinions Will Not Be Issued", the FAQ states, "... when an opinion request is received on a question falling within statutory jurisdiction of some other state agency, the request will either be transferred to that agency or the requesting party will be advised to contact the other agency. For example, questions concerning the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees are answered by the Florida Commission on Ethics; questions arising under the Florida Election Code should be directed to the Division of Elections in the Department of State." [italics mine]

So the Florida Attorney General has violated his own written policies by issuing an opinion in a situation under which he has explicitly stated he will not issue an opinion. Could the fact that he's a Democrat have something to do with that decision?

From a reader:


"I'm sorry I ever invented the Electoral College."
                                                 --Al Gore 11/08/00

Lots of mail, but I'm out of time.






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Thursday, 16 November 2000

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I've been having a bad time over the last couple of days. I'm still having problems with kiwi, my main workstation, and I'm not sure what else to do to fix them. This started several days ago when I was working on a chapter. When I called the chapter up, all appeared normal, but in editing it I noticed that my computer was acting like someone had poured glue into it. Jumping up or down one screen in the Word document was literally taking 30 seconds.

My first thought, of course, was simply to restart the machine, which I did. No joy. I called the document back up and it was behaving just as before. I called up an earlier version of that document (I save an archive copy at least once a day under a different filename in the form "PCD Processors 01-20001116.doc". The earlier version was behaving the same way, and I know that it was fine the last time I edited it.

I restarted the computer once or twice more, just in case. (That's sometimes effective, just like pushing a call button for an elevator that someone else has already pushed often makes the elevator arrive sooner than it otherwise would have.) Still no joy. I called up a couple of other Word documents, and they scrolled with no problems. But those were small documents. When I called up other large Word documents, the slow scrolling also manifested with them. By then I'd noticed that the slow scrolling was also occurring on web pages under IE5. Actually, I suspect it's IE5 causing the problem. It's usually at the root of any Office-related problems, or so it seems to me.

I used Task Manager to check the stats for memory in use and CPU utilization, and everything appeared normal. So I disabled all unnecessary background processes and restarted again. Still no joy. By this time, the problem was getting worse. I have my IE home page set to the local copy of my links page. I'd visit a web site linked to from that page. When I hit the back button in IE, there'd be a two or three second pause before IE would start re-displaying my links page. Even once it started to re-display the page, it'd take perhaps two seconds to refresh the screen from top to bottom. Same thing in Outlook. When I deleted a message or moved it to another folder, Outlook would just "go away" for anything from five to 30 seconds.

Around that time yesterday morning, I called up FrontPage to do my daily update. Up until then FrontPage had been scrolling this document normally. When I tried to do the update, FrontPage started acting like Word had been acting before. It took forever to jump up or down one screen, and even once the jump was completed, the video wasn't always displayed properly. There might be a part of the old screen overlaying a part of the new screen, and so on. I tried another reboot without effect.

This system has done similar things before and I'd never figured out what was causing the problem. Eventually, it seemed, the problem would go away on its own. But I had in the back of my mind that the problems in the past might have been eliminated or at least reduced by clearing the IE5 cache. So I decided that was worth a try. Back when I had a dialup link, I kept my IE5 cache size set to 2 GB. Now, with the cable modem in place, I've cut it down to 512 MB. I cleared that cache, but it didn't seem to improve the problem. Just to be safe, I defragged the hard drive. Still no improvement. So I cut the cache size from 512 MB down to around 25 MB. Still no improvement.

At that point, I began wondering if I was being unfair to IE5 and the video driver might somehow be the problem. All of the problems, after all, were video related. In terms of processing speed, the system just keeps chugging along even when the video is running at a snail's pace. So I tried using different settings for resolution and color-depth, but the problem persisted. I tried re-installing the driver. No joy. So I decided to try installing an updated driver. I downloaded the latest Matrox G400 driver (4.54) to replace the 4.21 version I had been using. Not only no joy, but the new driver blew my system up entirely. After the restart, I ended up at the NT 4 logon screen, but instead of the usual "Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to Log On" prompt, all I had was blocky set of green and purple horizontal lines. I restarted in VGA Only mode, which allowed me to reinstall the 4.21 driver. That cleared up the obvious video problems, but didn't solve the glue-in-the-machine problems.

Symantec had sent me a copy of Norton SystemWorks 2001, which was still lying on my "to be tested" pile, so I decided to install it and see if it could find and eliminate the problems I was having. It installed normally, and I fired it up. After logging on to LiveUpdate to download the latest program files and virus updates, I ran its Full Monty diagnostics. The first sign that all way not well was that it reported numerous problems in finding program files that should have been there, including some of its own files. It also reported that several files were missing and couldn't be loaded, including the mouse driver for my IntelliMouse with IntelliEye. That was strange, considering that Task Manager showed that program as loaded and running, and the program itself was just where it was supposed to be. I then ran the defragging program, which finished normally. But when I attempted to run the Windows diagnostic suite, SystemWorks 2001 GPF'd on me. Not an impressive performance.

After cleaning up and restarting, I decided to re-install IE5.01. The installer told me that I was updating to the same version of the files already installed, but I told it to go ahead anyway. After I completed the re-install and rebooted, I ran Task Manager to check which processes were running. There's a new one, called esserver.exe. I know it wasn't there before, and I'm not sure exactly what it does except that it has something to do with COM. As to why it wasn't installed originally but was installed when I re-installed, I have no idea. I guess that's a comment on something or other--that I'd immediately recognize a program on the Processes page in Task Manager as not having been there before.

My gut reaction has been that this is not a hardware problem, although I am beginning to wonder if the Matrox G400 video card is defective. I have several spare ATI video cards on the shelf, so perhaps I should pull the Matrox and install an ATI. I've always been a big proponent of Matrox video cards, primarily because of their exquisite display quality and solid drivers. But I've had many problems with drivers on this card, whereas the ATI cards I've installed recently have all worked fine under Windows 98SE, Windows NT 4, and Windows 2000 Professional. Not that I think there's a general problem with Matrox video cards. But this one card may have problems.

Before I do that, though, I'll build myself a temporary spare main system. I have a test-bed system here that runs a Pentium III/800 in an SE440BX2-V motherboard with ATI video. I just stripped the Seagate Barracuda ATA II hard drive on that system down to bare metal and installed Windows 2000 Professional yesterday. I think I'll install Office 2000 and the other programs I use regularly on it and get it to the point where I can use it as my main system. Then I'll be able to experiment with kiwi to find out what's going on. 

I know, I know. I said I'd never run Windows 2000 Professional on one of my production systems, but as it happens I had a Windows 2000 Professional license available, and I'm fresh out of Windows NT 4 Workstation licenses. Not that Microsoft would care. When they send a review copy out, they expect (and hope) that the reviewer will run it on multiple systems. But I still like to have licenses for all copies I'm running. And who knows? Perhaps I'll decide I really like W2KP. But I draw the line at Whistler. I regard installing W2KP as taking a step onto a slippery slope, and I don't plan to allow myself to be incrementally inched toward renting software. So Whistler is out, definitely. As is Office 10. Really.

Interestingly, this morning kiwi appears to be running normally. It can't be anything I did, because it was running very slowly last night and I haven't changed anything between then and now. And Barbara tells me that her system is taking forever to delete or move a mail message in Outlook. It's not a virus. I've scanned everything. Who knows? Perhaps it's Microsoft's gentle way of encouraging me to upgrade to Windows 2000.

Barbara polled her readers yesterday, and the results are interesting. This all started when we went out to dinner the other night. When we entered the restaurant, Barbara headed for the restroom and I sat down. The waitress came over and asked what I'd like to drink. I said, "Coke, but my wife is in the restroom so let's wait until she gets back." Barbara arrived back from the restroom just as the waitress delivered the Coke that I hadn't yet ordered. So Barbara started teasing me about not ordering a drink for her. 

She claims that because we've been married for 17 years, I should have known that she wanted iced tea. She also says that she'd know what to order for me had the situation been reversed. But that's not fair. When it comes to restaurants, I'm predictable. I always order the same thing at any given restaurant. At restaurants we visit frequently, the waitresses don't even bother to ask. When they see me come in the door they put in my order for me. That's the main reason I don't like going to new restaurants. I'll have to look at the menu and figure out what to order. So in any restaurant we've been to before, it's easy for Barbara to order for me. 

But Barbara is less predictable. Just the preceding evening, she'd made popcorn. I made the drinks and carried them out to the den. I got a glass of water for Barbara. After all, water is what she usually drinks in the evening. But it didn't work out that way. When she came into the den with the popcorn, she looked at her drink and asked, "Why did you get me water? I want iced tea."

And I did suspect that she wanted iced tea at the restaurant. But I didn't order it for her because I didn't want her to arrive at the table and announce that she wanted water.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 2:57 PM
Subject: Algor Mortis

Even better today than when originally written:

The site "" is where my Usenet archives have moved to. I've also made a few changes in my essay on Social Security, to clarify some points, and to make the introduction a better reflection of what follows -- which is an attempt to defuse almost every explosive political issue that exists today, by explaining the decline of civilization as a consequence of Social Security. (The core of the argument is that parents used to have to take good care of their children, so that they could rely on them in old age; Social Security has removed that reason, letting standards slowly decay.) The full argument is at:

Norman Yarvin

AlGore Mortis. I like that. As far as Social Security, I agree with you. In fact, that's one of the points we made in a white paper I helped write for the Libertarian Party back in 1980.

-----Original Message-----
From: Holden Aust []
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 6:35 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth


Here is a link to the Wired article about the Microsoft anti-trust trial. It is long, but I found it a real "page-turner" and full of interesting details:

Thanks. As you know, my position is that Microsoft is not a monopoly and has done nothing wrong. I started to read the article, but ran out of time.

-----Original Message-----
From: W Moore []
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 10:12 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: question

I know you and Dr. Pournelle have both mentioned enjoying Buffy the Vampire Slayer before, and lately it ocurred to me to wonder if you are also keeping up with the series that follows it on Tuesday nights (Angel)? If not, may I suggest you might enjoy Angel for much the same reasons you like Buffy? Good vs. Evil, Moral Consequences, hard choices, etc. Just a suggestion.

Wesley Moore

I don't know about Pournelle, but Barbara and I also watch Angel. I confess, though, that I don't watch it as closely as I do Buffy. But then Buffy has something that Angel doesn't--Allison Hannigan (Willow).

-----Original Message-----
From: Kerry Liles []
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 10:18 AM
To: ''
Subject: Oh my Gored

As a Canadian, I can only howl with laughter at the U.S. Election antics... the notion that the U.S. is the most litigious nation on the planet (and tied with itself for second and third place) has finally been shown to be true enough.

But I am curious: how can anyone declare the election over? Aren't there a bunch of absentee votes still up for counting in Florida? How can anyone presume to know what they contain?? And for that matter, what if the absentee votes are not punched all the way through? Thanks to this election, I now know what a "chad" is.... ;-)

Another question: is it not true that some states (don't know about Florida) do NOT necessarily have to apportion all their electoral college votes in a block? Wouldn't this mean that the final tally of the electoral college would have to wait officially until all the states have formally cast their electoral votes? Can someone (Bob?) clarify that for us aliens....?

You Americans have all the fun... for serious insomnia problems, check out the Canadian election scene (bet you didn't even know there was one happening!) Stockwell Day (the pretender to the Canadian Crown) has announced that his party would put to a national referendum any issue that managed to garner more than 350,000 signatures on a petition. Well, head over to and fill out *that* petition.....

I don't think that anyone wants to declare the election over until the absentee ballots are in and counted. I think many people (including me) want to declare the counting over. Bush won the local balloting in Florida. He won the recount. What Gore is attempting to do is steal the election in Florida by insisting on repeated recounts under differing rules until he gets a result he likes. Fortunately, Katherine Harris has now put an end to that nonsense. When the absentee ballots are counted, assuming that Bush is still leading, I suspect that Harris will certify Bush as the winner very quickly. Once that happens, Gore's attempt to steal the election becomes much less likely to succeed. Most courts hesitate to interfere with the counting process. They'll be even less likely to interfere with the certified results of an election.

IANAL, but I believe there is no constitutional requirement for states to vote en bloc in the Electoral College, or to elect all electors from the party that won the state overall. A state could, for example, allocate electors based on which candidate won the popular vote in each congressional district. Nor are the electors, once elected, obligated to vote for their party's candidate. In 1972, for example, Tory Nathan was a Nixon elector in Virginia. Rather than casting her ballot for Nixon, she voted for John Hospers, the Libertarian candidate. Other electors are free to do the same, although in practical terms it's unlikely to happen because only party loyalists are chosen as electors.

I did actually know that there was an election going on in Canada, although I wouldn't have known if I'd depended on the US network news programs. Tom Syroid mentioned it. Tom and I have often discussed the possibility of the Canadian provinces joining the US as states. All except Quebec, of course, which would join France. I've also discussed the same thing in regard to Great Britain with Chris Ward-Johnson and Bob Walder. The US could offer statehood to Great Britain. England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales could join the US as four new states. We would then relocate the British Royal Family to Disneyland, where they'd no doubt be a popular attraction. There's no doubt in my mind that Great Britain would be better off as part of the US rather than as part of the European Union. And there is historical precedent for independent countries joining the US as states. We have Texas, California, and Hawaii, all of which were independent at one time. Not to mention all the states of the Confederacy. Of course, that wasn't exactly voluntary.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Micko []
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 5:26 PM
Subject: ISP References

Mr. Thompson:

The ISP I use has merged one too many times, and service is not what it used to be. I am in the process of looking for a new ISP. I know you have written highly of pair networks. You have also mentioned Burlee this week. Any other ISPs you would care to recommend? I manage ~ 10 low- medium volume sites. I am looking for an ISP who understands and works with VARs/Resellers.

Based on your recomendation, I have looked at already. If you would be willing to volunteer the information, what type of accounts or service plans do you use with Pair for your various sites. For example, is hardwareguys a sub-domain of ttgnet, or a seperate account? Any information you have is appreciated.

Thank you for your courtesy,

I can't comment on pair Networks from the point of view of reselling services, because I've not done that. As far as Burlee Networks, I mentioned them as one I'd considered, but I hasten to emphasize that I've never used them, so I can't recommend them from direct experience. I have one account at pair Networks, which is at the Advanced level. The account is a sub-account of the main account.

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul S R Chisholm
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 7:02 PM
To: Jerry Pournelle; Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: what is going on with VirusScan?

(Please do not publish my e-mail address.)

There appear to have been problems with VirusScan updates in the past two weeks or so. From local and Netnews discussions, the 4102 and 4104 updates are bad: at least under NT 4.0, they can suck up 100% of the CPU. The latest, 4105, can be found (as always) [here].

4105 had a date of 15 November 2000, even when I downloaded it yesterday; scary stuff. I don't know if it's better. Updating via this URL may be better than the "Automatic Update" tool in VirusScan; I think it needs to update the engine, and that's better done externally.

If an NT machine seems to hung, the following is said to disable VirusScan:

net stop mcshield

In NT, control-alt-delete to start the Task Manager; under the Applications Tab, click New Task; enter the command line you want to run.

Either of you heard anything about this? A bunch of us here at work have been hit. --PSRC

It's news to me, but then I've always been leery of virus scanning programs, which often seem to cause more problems than they solve. In particular, I dislike the trend to installing these programs as background processes. All I want from a virus scanning program is something that I can run manually whenever I decide to do so, and that won't clutter up my memory when I haven't told it to run.

Come to think of it, I do remember something similar to what you're talking about, although I don't know for sure which product the article I read was referring to. It had something to do with an earlier engine causing problems with later updates, and the later engine not being installed automatically as it should have been. Or something like that. It may have been in InfoWorld. I didn't pay much attention to it, because it wasn't a product I used. But it probably wouldn't hurt to download the latest engine and install it manually.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ray Thompson []
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2000 9:11 AM
Subject: Presidental Vote

If the democrats had really wanted Al Gore for president this badly, they should have voted for impeachment when they had the chance.

Good point. Of course, Clinton was impeached anyway. But it certainly would have been nice for him to be convicted. And then there's the small matter that Gore himself appears to be guilty of impeachable offenses, from actions that could reasonably be interpreted as taking bribes to (arguably) treason. I don't think anyone could argue that aiding and abetting the Red Chinese was in the best interests of the US. Peking would no doubt love to see Gore elected, which should be reason enough for us to make sure that doesn't happen. 






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Friday, 17 November 2000

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We now have a messageboard. Long-time reader Greg Lincoln contacted me last week and offered to install and maintain a messageboard for this site on his server. After spending some time over the last few days researching the alternatives available for running a board on my own server at pair Networks, I concluded that accepting Greg's kind offer was by far the best way (and probably the only realistic way) to get a board up and running in a reasonable time. Thanks, Greg. Without your efforts, we probably wouldn't have had a messageboard for a long time, if ever.

The messageboard runs on Ikonboard software, a freeware product that seems to incorporate all of the best features of such commercial products as UBB. I've spent some time looking over the feature set of Ikonboard, and it appears to be a solid product that can do everything we'll need to do. 

One of those features is required registration. You can read the messageboard without registering, but if you want to post you need to register first. We decided to implement required registration as an anti-spam measure. The information you provide to register (only name and email address are required, and you can choose to conceal your email address) is closely-held by us, so you needn't be concerned about getting more spam as a result of registering. The board sets cookies, but they're "good cookies" that only do things like automate your logon, keep track of the last message you read, and so on.

For now, we've created a bunch of computer-related forums on this messageboard. This board is a pilot project, and we eventually intend to bring up a similar messageboard for the site. When we do that, we'll migrate the computer-related forums to that board, leaving this board focused only on discussions that originate on this site.

With the messageboard in place, I'll no longer be posting reader mail on this site other than under extraordinary circumstances. I will, needless to say, be an active participant on the board, so you can count on me jumping in to respond to stuff. If you have something to say, post it to the board. Doing things this way has many advantages, both for me and for my readers: 

  • I'll no longer have to spend the time to format and post reader mail on this page.
  • This page will be shorter and will load faster.
  • I'll be able to spend my available time updating this page instead of managing reader mail.
  • I will no longer be "filtering" messages--deciding which ones I post and which would receive only private replies (or no reply at all). I haven't been doing that from any desire to censor content, of course, but merely because the time I can devote to mail is limited. 
  • The real-time nature of the board means that ongoing dialogs can progress at their own speed rather than depending on when I have time to post and publish responses. 
  • Messages will be categorized and easy to find. Although we have a search function on this site, locating a thread on a particular topic can be difficult. With the messageboard, everything will be organized for fast retrieval.

So let's get this thing rolling. Visit the messageboard and register now. Although only Administrators can create top-level Forums, any registered user can create new Topics within a forum. So please do. This is most definitely a work in progress, so your comments and suggestions are welcome. For now, post them to the General forum. I'll probably create an administrative forum before long, though.

And, once again, my heartfelt thanks to Greg Lincoln for making all of this possible.






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Saturday, 18 November 2000

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The messageboard is off and running. We're nearing 100 registered users, and people are actually starting to post. If you haven't joined yet, now would be a good time to do so. See yesterday for full details. As of next week, I'm going to change the layout of this page to remove the links for emailing me. Well, not entirely. You'll still be able to send me private mail when it's appropriate, but anything intended for publication should be posted to the messageboard.

I ran web stats this morning for my own sites and Pournelle's, as I do every Saturday morning. I used to keep track of which web browsers people used, but that's become boring. Internet Explorer is the overwhelming favorite at 80% or so, with Navigator coming in at about 15%, and the remaining 5% split among various search engine spiders, Opera (0.5%) and numerous other browsers. Netscape will probably demand a hand recount.

The OS breakdown is a bit more interesting:

Windows - 85.7%
OS Unknown - 9.0%
UNIX - 3.6% 
Macintosh - 1.5%
Other - 0.2%

The Windows breakdown is: Windows 98 (47.6%); Windows NT 4 (19.8%); Windows 2000 (16.2%); Windows 95 (15.0%); Other (1.4%). Windows 2000 has overtaken Windows 95, and is nipping at the heels of Windows NT 4, but Windows 98 remains dominant, even among users of this site. UNIX claims a surprisingly small percentage of the whole. That's a good indication that relatively few people are using UNIX as a client OS, even among my technically competent readers. The breakdown within UNIX shows that Linux dominates, with about 80%. SunOS claims about 15%, and other UNIX variants--including AIX, BSD, IRIX, HP-UX, and others--about 5%. The "Other" category, at 0.2%, is a motley assortment, including OS/2, WebTV, Amiga, VAX/VMS, etc.






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Sunday, 19 November 2000

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House cleaning, laundry and other chores this morning. Barbara is off this afternoon with her parents to visit the Festival of Trees. I must say that sounds more in keeping with my celebration of Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice than her celebration of Christmas.

The messageboard continues to develop. We have about 120 registered users now, which is fine as far as it goes, but that's still only perhaps 5% of the people who regularly visit this site. Or so I assume based on my web reports, which list the number of unique visitors by IP address each week. That number is typically in the 5,000 to 8,000 range. Taking into account dial-up users (who get a new IP address every time they connect) and broadband users (who typically have the same IP address for weeks or months on end), I figure that translates to perhaps 3,000 regular visitors.

As of tomorrow, I'm changing the layout of this page to emphasize interaction via the messageboard. That's simply a matter of efficiency. An hour of my time spent replying to messages on that board will reach many more readers than that same hour spent replying privately to email, or indeed that same hour spent posting and replying to individual messages here on this page. I'll still read and reply to private email, time allowing, but my emphasis is definitely shifting to the messageboard. That will be even more true once we get the messageboard up and running.

For any messageboard, there's a critical mass factor. In order for it to be worthwhile visiting regularly, there have to be many users and many posts. In order for there to be many users and many posts, the board has to be worth visiting regularly. So it's a circular problem, and the way to achieve critical mass is to encourage readers to visit the board, register, and post. So please visit the messageboard, register, and post.

And I'd better get to work on the laundry.

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