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Week of 7 April 2003

Latest Update : Friday, 11 April 2003 09:02 -0400


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Monday, 7 April 2003

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9:10 - I wish the weather would decide to do one thing or another. The other day, we had sunny skies and 82 F (28 C). Today, it's pouring rain and 42 F (6 C). My idea of a perfect climate would be 72 F year-round, with clear skies every night (for astronomy) and any rain we needed occurring from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. week days. I don't guess that's going to happen.

If you are running the SETI@Home client you might want to download the updated Version 3.08 client. Earlier clients are subject to a remotely-exploitable buffer overrun exploit, although SETI says that no users have been affected. Full details here.

The chapters are progressing. I have now submitted to my editor all chapters except Chapter 3 (Motherboards) and Chapter 4 (Processors). Obviously, those are the two hardest ones. Ordinarily, I'd have done them first rather than last, because I like to get the hard stuff out of the way first and then coast, but in this case it made more sense to do them last because processors and motherboards/chipsets are the fastest-changing PC hardware components. (Incidentally, the rough drafts of the chapters are posted on the Subscribers' page.)

So now I'm working hard on the motherboards chapter, which I hope to have done by Thursday or Friday. AMD hasn't sent me any Hammer stuff, so I won't be covering it in the book. I could take a pretty good guess at a lot of the Hammer processor and chipset stuff, but it'd be just that. A guess. Inevitably, errors creep in to any book like PC Hardware in a Nutshell. The scope is simply too broad and the subject matter too changeable for me to produce a perfect book, no matter how hard I try.

Fortunately, I have some help. Francisco Garcia Maceda, whom many of my readers are familiar with from his informative posts on the HardwareGuys.com messageboard, is the sole technical reviewer for this edition. Francisco knows so much about PC hardware that it's scary. I feel very fortunate to have him backstopping me.

13:57 - I wonder if France, Germany, and Russia will apologize if this report is verified. I've never had any doubt that Iraq had chemical weapons. No one I know who has any knowledge at all of the subject has ever doubted that Iraq had chemical weapons. No government, including those of France, Germany, and Russia, could possibly have doubted that Iraq had chemical weapons. Their reasons for opposing the US invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with chemical weapons or inspectors, and everything to do with their knee-jerk desire to oppose the US. I wonder if France, Germany, and Russia will now have the decency at least to pretend to be embarrassed. Probably not.

Barbara should be home soon. My mother's elderly TV is failing, so we decided to pick up a combination TV/VCR for her. I checked out Best Buy's web site, and saw they had 19" and 20" Panasonic and Toshiba units for about $200. A 20" TV is about the largest that will fit, so I gave Barbara a list of acceptable models, and she's going to stop and pick one up on her way home. We'll both head over to visit Mom this afternoon to get everything connected and working. I told my mother I'd bring her the complete set of six season's worth of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Heh.

 

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Tuesday, 8 April 2003

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8:55 - Crunch time. I have only a few days left to finish the manuscript draft, and the two chapters remaining are the hardest to revise. I'm working on Motherboards now, with Processors to follow. My absolute deadline for 100% completion is next Monday, but I actually have to finish the chapters before then to give Francisco some time to tech review the chapters and my editor some time to edit them. We go to production on Monday. It's not over then, because I'll have final edits to the QC copy and other work remaining to be done, but at least the major crunch is over by then. Of course, then I start a new crunch, with tax returns due Tuesday. I'm already planning to take Wednesday off completely to collapse. Then it'll be back to it.

My apologies for being unresponsive, but until this crunch is past I'm going to have zero time to update my journal, answer mail, cruise the message boards, and so on. I'm not even visiting my mother.

 

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Wednesday, 9 April 2003

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No post.

 

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Thursday, 10 April 2003

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9:21 - I'm still chugging away on the Motherboards chapter, but it seems the tech industry is out to get me. Yesterday, for example, I finished updating the section on Athlon chipsets. Last night, I was checking The Inquirer for news when I came across this article. I knew nVIDIA was about to do a refresh on the nForce2 chipset, so it really didn't come as a surprise, but still it means that something I thought was finished now needs to be updated. As I was working on that this morning, I made the mistake of checking The Inquirer again, where I found this article. Once again, back to the drawing board.

I told Barbara last night that I feel as though I'm playing tennis against twenty opponents simultaneously, with twenty balls in play.

 

 

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Friday, 11 April 2003

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9:02 - I'm just about to finish up the Motherboards chapter, finally. I've been posting the other chapters on the Subscribers' Page, but I won't be able to post the Motherboards chapter or the Processors chapter because of NDA issues. I'll get to work on the Processors chapter today as soon as I've finished Motherboards and sent off copies to my editor and tech reviewer. I hope to have that chapter done by Monday, at which point I'll have to take a day or two off to get my taxes done and to relax a bit. I've been pushing myself very hard. Barbara has been taking up the slack, but that's not fair on her.

I'm beginning to be concerned about Mozilla 1.3. It's been doing some strange things recently. Wednesday morning, I wasn't able to access any web sites. At first I thought there was a connectivity problem, but email worked fine. I fired up Internet Explorer, which I use very rarely these days, and it was able to get to the web just fine. I finally closed all the instances of Mozilla browser and then re-opened it. I still wasn't able to get to the web. I checked Task Manager and found that MOZILLA.EXE was using something like 63 MB of RAM, which seemed a bit excessive. I killed it and then restarted Mozilla, which solved the problem.

Worse still, Mozilla Mail has begun behaving strangely. I'm set up to filter mail into folders automatically. Normally, Mozilla bolds foldernames that have new mail in them and lists the number of new messages. Recently, Mozilla has started failing to bold folders with new messages. If I click on the folder, its name becomes bold instantly and the number of new messages is displayed, but that doesn't happen until I click on that folder manually. That makes it very easy to miss new messages. That problem has occurred sporadically with Mozilla Mail since I've been using it, but it has taken a distinct turn for the worse.

What was really annoying, though, was that as I clicked on each folder manually to see if there were new messages in it, all of the folders bolded as I clicked them, and most of them showed a lot of new messages. As I investigated, I determined that for some reason, Mozilla had marked all read messages dated before 9/24/02 as unread. So, for example, when I clicked on the O'Reilly folder, it would turn bold and tell me that I had 68 new messages. When I opened the folder, I found that I in fact had 2 real new messages and 66 old messages, dated 9/24/02 or prior, that Mozilla had marked as unread. Geez.

I see that Mozilla is changing course, and plans to have separate browser and mail components. I'll change to those once they're released, but for now I'll stick with Mozilla Mail. I just don't much like what it's doing to my messages.

 

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Saturday, 12 April 2003

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Sunday, 13 April 2003

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