Monday, 14 April 2003
8:00 - If you've wondered about that deck of playing cards...
I finished up the Motherboards chapter on Friday and the Processors chapter yesterday evening. Both are off to my editor and tech reviewer. I have to switch out of writing mode today to get our taxes done. After I finish those and send them off, I'll jump right back into writing. The only chapters that remain to be updated are the final one, Building a PC, and the Introduction/Preface. After I do quick passes on those, I'll start incorporating the comments and suggestions that my editor and tech reviewer are making. By the end of the month, the third edition should be put to bed. But it's going to be a long month.
Intel announces their 875P "Canterwood" chipset today, which introduces the 800 MHz FSB Pentium 4 and brings dual-channel PC3200 DDR-SDRAM and Serial ATA to the mainstream. I have an Intel D875PBZ "Bonanza" motherboard and processor, and will be wringing them out over the coming weeks. First impression: this is a killer chipset. The 875P and the follow-on 865-series Springdale variants should kill the 845-series chipsets pretty quickly. Although the Athlon running on an nForce2-series chipset is a competent combination, these new Intel chipsets and processors are in a whole other class. AMD has some serious catching-up to do. If they don't get their Hammer-series desktop processors out the door pretty soon, it may be too late.
Tuesday, 15 April 2003
8:12 - Intel suffered an embarrassing miscue yesterday with their aborted product launch. An Intel spokesman said:
Surfacing briefly, erstwhile Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, commenting on a c|net news article that reported the problem, had this to say:
Not that Intel in any way resembles the Iraqi army. The coalition forces, more like. There's been a lot of speculation about the possible reasons for this abrupt withdrawal of the 800 MHz Pentium 4/3.0 processor, from a shortage of chipsets or processors, to shortage of PC3200 memory, to claims that Intel never intended this to be anything other than a paper launch.
I don't buy any of those speculations. I think the problem is exactly what Intel says it is. They discovered a minor problem with a very limited number of processors and decided to play things safe. Intel learned a big lesson with the Pentium floating-point divide debacle. Ever since, they've never attempted to cover up or stonewall a problem. When they ran into the MTH problem with the 820 chipset, they immediately moved to withdraw it. Same thing when they ran into problems with the Pentium III/1.13. You won't find a corporation that is more straightforward about problems. If you look at any of their Specification Updates, you'll find that every problem they know about is documented in complete detail.
My guess is that we'll see the re-launch of the Pentium 4/3.0G in a few weeks. We may never learn what the problem was.
Wednesday, 16 April 2003
9:12 - The taxes are filed and I'm back into writing mode. Well, editing mode, actually. I'm now in heads-down-get-the-book-finished mode until the last chapter is finalized and out the door.
During this final pass, I'll try to update everything to reflect the current status of everything. That's not easy, as things keep changing even as I write about them. For example, this morning I heard about this fascinating technology. I'd thought that the standard 48X or 52X CD burners were the final representatives of the technology, but Plextor has proven me wrong. I don't have time to get a sample in and work with it before deadline, so I'll just drop in a Note about it in the CD-writer chapter. Every time I worry about my inability to keep up with the rapidly-changing technology, I just tell myself that it's thousands of cunning technology engineers versus "there's only one of me." There's no way I'll be able to keep up with everything, so I just do the best I can.
Now it's time to start cranking out final versions of chapters, so you may not hear much from me until I'm finished doing that...
15:31 - Here's an interesting article about a man who claims he is being falsely prosecuted for insider trading. According to him, he's a time traveler from the year 2256. According to authorities, he's managed to parlay an initial $800 investment into a portfolio now worth $350 million. In two weeks. The authorities claim that the only possible explanation is insider trading, but that seems a bit thin to me. After all, the man is accused of making 126 high-risk trades in two weeks, all of which turned out to be extremely profitable. How could anyone have inside information on that number of trades in that short a time? He would have to be better informed than the CIA, MI5, and Mossad combined.
It seems to me that applying Occam's Razor indicates that the most likely explanation is that the guy is telling the truth. He really is a time traveler from the year 2256, although I do wonder that someone from 253 years in the future is so well-informed about the minutiae of life in 2003. Of course, he could have looked up the information he needed, I suppose. He won't lead authorities to the location where his time machine is hidden, but you can't blame him. I won't lead authorities to the location where my time machine is hidden, either.
Oh, yeah. There's no record of the guy existing prior to last December. Hmmm.
8:02 - Thanks to everyone who emailed me to say that the story I posted yesterday was Snopes-bait. I realized that when I read it, which I thought I'd made clear. Apparently not.
Work on the final pass on the book chapters continues. I got four more chapters back from my tech editor last night, and two more from my O'Reilly editor. I'll try to get those comments processed today and get the "final" versions off to O'Reilly. I say final-in-quotes because I'll have yet another pass, which O'Reilly calls the QC pass. At that point, the layout will be complete, and I'll look at the chapters as PDFs. Changes are possible at that point, but O'Reilly will be very upset if I need to make any changes that effect the layout, page breaks, and so on. That means I need to get it as right as possible during this pass.
As I mentioned the other day, things change on me as I'm working. Monday, Plextor announced the PlexWriter Premium CD writer. It's a 52X drive, but that's the least of it. Plextor has somehow come up with a way (they call it "GigaRec") to write about a gigabyte of data on a 700 MB CD blank, while maintaining backward compatibility with most standard CD drives and players. Also, the new drive allows you to produce encrypted discs, which should be of interested to those concerned about securing their data.
The PlexWriter Premium drives aren't scheduled for general availability until the end of this month, but there's supposed to be one on the way to me. Suggested retail price is $129, so I suspect Plextor will sell a ton of these drives. Writable DVD is rapidly becoming a mainstream technology, but there's a lot of life left in writable CD, and will be until DVD blanks drop to under a buck.
10:40 - I am temporarily caught up with all the chapter comments I've gotten from Brian and Francisco. Barbara is off to the gym and a mom visit, and I'm debating what to do today. I haven't done the re-write on Chapter 28, Building a PC, because I wasn't sure I was going to have time to revise it (as opposed to just doing a quick pass). If I do a full revision, that means I'll need to build at least one new PC, shoot images, and so on.
I'd like to get a new PC built for Barbara. I've been intending to do that for quite some time. Unfortunately, I don't have the 865G motherboard in yet, and I want to build her something with integrated video. I do have an 845G motherboard sitting here, though, and it may be a good choice. I don't want to tear down her existing PC until the new one is verified to be working properly, if then, so I have to come up with a case. I have an Antec 10-series sitting in my workroom, which is probably what I'll use.
Barbara is still using a Pentium III/1.0G system as her main desktop, so I want to give her something that is significantly faster. I'm thinking the 845G motherboard with a Pentium 4/2.53G or 2.8G, 512 MB of Crucial PC2700 RAM, and a large Seagate Barracuda ATA V hard drive. She doesn't do much CD burning, so I think I may install a Plextor DVD/CD-RW drive.
I need to build another system for myself, but I'm also short of video cards. I requested samples, but everyone's right in the middle of model changes. Nobody has any new models left to send out, and nobody wants to send old models for review. Oh, well. I don't play 3D games on my systems, so I don't need much. I see that Crucial sells an ATI RADEON 7500 for $50, which may be the best way to go. I have an elderly RADEON 7200 in my current main desktop system, and I'm quite satisfied with it. In fact, a $30 RADEON 7000 would probably be sufficient. I have a PC Power & Cooling full tower case sitting over in the corner that would probably be a good choice for this system. Building this one will have to wait until I have some more time, though.
8:54 - A lot of people seem to be in a hurry to convict Scott Peterson of murdering his wife. From the comments I've seen on the news and heard walking around the nursing home yesterday, it appears that I'm one of the few people who think he may not have done it. Oh, I think he probably did it, but that's a far cry from being sure enough to bring the man to trial, let alone convict him.
From what we've been told so far, there appear to be some serious questions about his guilt. Much though radical feminists would like us to believe otherwise, men don't usually kill their wives, particularly when those wives are pregnant. When men do kill their wives (or wives their husbands) it's normally not premeditated. And when a man does kill his wife, there's normally some indication well before-hand that things are not right. By all accounts I've read, the Peterson's marriage was to all appearances as perfect as a marriage can be. Friends and family told of a young couple that was obviously in love. No fights. No arguments. No money problems. No indication whatsoever that anything was wrong. Scott Peterson spent most of his spare time readying the baby's room, and was by all accounts from friends and co-workers very excited about the arrival of his first child. No one, his family, her family, or their friends, believed that Scott Peterson might have killed his wife.
The first indication that all was not perfect was the revelation that Scott Peterson might have had a girlfriend. That turned Laci's family against him, but the truth is that a lot of married guys have girlfriends, and most of them don't kill their wives. In particular, the fact that Laci was eight months pregnant might have led Scott to look elsewhere temporarily. Hey, it's not admirable, but it does happen. And I don't see it as any indication that Scott was any more likely to kill his wife.
I see a couple of alternatives here to first-degree murder. First, Scott may have taken Laci along on his fishing trip. There may have been an accident. She fell out of the boat and drowned, or whatever. Scott, fearing that he would be charged with killing her, decided to cover up the problem. Stupid, but understandable. An accidentally-dead wife is kind of hard to explain. Second, Scott may be telling the absolute truth. A latter-day Ted Bundy may have snatched Laci and killed her. Scott may in fact be an innocent victim in all this.
As to his changing his hair color, growing a beard, and being found near the Mexican border, well I can understand that. The police made pretty clear all this time that Scott Peterson was their only suspect. Whether he did it or not, it's understandable that he feared he would be arrested, charged, and convicted. He may have thought his only alternative was to run for it. Running doesn't necessarily indicate guilt.
I can't figure out what the police are doing. It's pretty obvious that they don't have a witness or any physical evidence. If they did, they'd have arrested Scott long ago. My guess is that they have nothing except a strong suspicion that Scott Peterson killed his wife. If that's all they have, they might make an emotionally compelling case in court, but they can't make a case against him that meets the prosecution's burden of reasonable doubt. I dislike the fact that the police have repeatedly said that Scott Peterson is not a suspect. They did that, of course, because once he becomes a suspect he has legal protections that he does not enjoy as a non-suspect. If in fact Scott Peterson has been their suspect, their only suspect, all this time, then the police have been behaving improperly all this time.
If Scott Peterson killed his wife I want to see him hang for it. But there are more important questions at issue here. If in fact the police have no evidence and know that they have no evidence, what they have been doing constitutes harassment of a legally innocent person.
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