Home » Daynotes Home » Week of 19 January 2004

Photograph of Robert Bruce Thompson Daynotes Journal

Week of 19 January 2004

Latest Update : Friday, 23 January 2004 16:01 -0500

Click Here to Subscribe Buy PC Hardware in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition: [Amazon] [Barnes & Noble] [Bookpool] Visit Barbara's Journal Page

Monday, 19 January 2004

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]
[Daynotes Journal Forums] [HardwareGuys.com Forums] [TechnoMayhem.com Forums]
{Five Years Ago Today]

10:51 - Barbara has today off for MLK day, the first Politically Correct federal holiday. I have to say that Mr. King wouldn't have been in the top 100,000,000 people I'd have considered honoring if I were choosing a new federal holiday. I can off the top of my head name a thousand people who are deserving of honor, and a bit of research would reveal many thousands more. Mr. King is not among them.

What of the doctors and scientists who have, often at no little personal risk, developed vaccines that saved millions of lives or devised advances in agriculture that saved billions from starving? What of the industrialists who have given us the highest standard of living the world has ever known? What of the police and fire fighters who risk their lives daily? What of our soldiers, who have risked their lives to keep us free? It seems strange that they must share one day among them while Mr. King is given a day of his own. Honoring Mr. King is an insult to all of those who are deserving of honor.

More heads-down writing this week, so updates will be sporadic and short.

11:36 - I just sent the following to subscribers:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [RBT] Worm warning
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:25:50 -0500
From: Robert Bruce Thompson
To: Subscribers

A new worm began spreading yesterday. It's variously known as
W32.Beagle.A@mm, WORM_BAGLE.A, I-Worm/Bagle and probably other names.

I knew something was going on when I downloaded my mail this morning and
found a couple dozen messages, all with the subject line of "Hi", and
all with an apparent sender in the ttgnet.com domain. Neither
SpamAssassin nor Mozilla Mail's Junk Mail controls flagged these
messages as spam, which may be due to the apparent sender being in my
own domain or because the message body didn't look spammish to either of
them. The message body is:

Test =)
<Random characters>
Test, yep.

The payload is a 16 KB executable with the name <random>.exe. If
exectuted, it fires off calc.exe, makes several new registry entries,
searches your hard drive for email address, and sends itself to those

For more information, see


All of the major AV vendors have released updated sig files dated
yesterday or this morning.

16:27 - Winston-Salem makes the national news again as a result of the antics of Vernon Robinson. Vernon is that most unusual of men, an honest politician. I first met Vernon 15 years or more ago. His wife, Helene, worked for the same library system as Barbara. I knew then that Vernon was going places. Vernon is a traditional conservative, so I disagree with many of his positions, but I have never doubted that he holds those positions as a matter of philosophy and conscience rather than as a political expedient. Vernon is honest in the same way that Jesse Helms was honest. You might disagree with him, but you don't doubt that he believes what he says.

Vernon also has a flair for the dramatic, obviously. That's likely to stand him in good stead during his run for Congress. Obviously, I'd prefer a Libertarian be elected to represent us in Congress. Failing that, we could do a lot worse than to elect a man of conscience like Vernon Robinson.



Tuesday, 20 January 2004

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]
[Daynotes Journal Forums] [HardwareGuys.com Forums] [TechnoMayhem.com Forums]
{Five Years Ago Today]

9:19 - Alyson Hannigan is "working on her orgasms".

The more I use Mozilla, the more I like it. Its extensible architecture makes possible things you'll never see in IE. For example, I've never used the Flash plug-in in any of my browsers. At first, that was because I wanted to avoid the obnoxious animations that many web pages used. Later, it was because some web sites use Flash ads to get around ad-blockers. If normal banner ads are bad enough, Flash ads are truly hideous.

A problem arose when some sites started presenting content using Flash in order to prevent people from blocking Flash ads by not installing the Flash plug-in. AnandTech.com is one example, or so I assume. I don't know for sure, because I didn't have Flash loaded. What I do know is that a year or so ago, AnandTech changed from using regular .gif or .jpg images for benchmark results to using Flash images. I can't imagine any reason for doing that other than to make sure that readers have the Flash plug-in installed and will therefore have no choice but to view Flash ads.

Given the choice between having to see Flash ads in order to see the content versus not seeing either, I came down firmly in the not-seeing-either camp. Until yesterday, that is. I found a Mozilla extension called Flash click to play, which intercepts Flash and provides a button one can push to view the Flash content. I just installed the Flash plug-in and tried Flash click to play on AnandTech.com. It works fine. I can view the benchmark graphics without being forced to view the ads. I hope Mozilla will incorporate this functionality in the next release of their browser.

Speaking of adding functionality to a browser, I see that the next release of IE will include popup blocking, although it will be disabled by default. That's the story of IE. Years behind in functionality, and when a feature users want is added, it's disabled by default. I find it very hard to understand why any intelligent person still runs IE as his default browser when a product so much better is available for free download.

Not that Mozilla is perfect. I can think of a dozen major features off the top of my head that would greatly improve Mozilla. One would be to enable site profiles. By that I mean that Mozilla should be able to store preferences on a per-site basis. Most of us spend most of our browsing time on a specific group of sites rather than randomly surfing the web. Being able to configure Mozilla specifically for each of our regular sites would be wonderful. For example, I'd like to be able to set font size on a per-site basis, so that those sites like CNN and FoxNews that use tiny default fonts would be readable without me having to increase the font size each time I visit them. Same thing for permissions to run scripts, store cookies, and do similar things.

This could be implemented as simply as adding a button that could be clicked to store or update preferences for the site currently being displayed. There would be a default profile used for all sites that didn't have individual profiles. That default profile would obviously be locked up pretty tight. When you visited a new site that was to become a regular site, you could modify preferences accordingly and click the button to store a profile for that site.

There are at least a dozen similar major improvements I can think of that would benefit Mozilla. Perhaps I'll come up with a list of them and submit them to the Mozilla project. Some are pretty obvious because they already exist in IE and/or Opera. For example, I really like IE's support for off-line browsing, which allows you to download and store a local copy of a site. IE's implementation is pretty pathetic, limiting the number of levels to 3 and so on, but the fundamentals are right. Another IE feature that Mozilla desperately needs is the Save-As->MHT function. I should be able to display a page in Mozilla and click a button to save that entire page, text and graphics, as a compressed local copy. Finally, Mozilla should add the Security Zones concept from IE, but should expand it to "Profile Zones". That way, instead of having to configure a detailed profile for each new site, I could simply choose to add it to a Profile Zone that had default settings appropriate for that type of site.

15:45 - What a bunch of contemptible wimps. The granite marker that Vernon Robinson placed at Winston-Salem City Hall yesterday morning has now been removed, allegedly because it was a safety hazard. Our so-called leaders didn't even have the courage to state the real reason for removing it.

Let me be clear here. I don't agree with Mr. Robinson's positions on many issues. I'm completely in favor of separation of church and state. I am an atheist. But I see nothing wrong with having the Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights engraved on a granite marker outside City Hall, or, for that matter, with having a Nativity scene displayed at Christmas. Like it or not, the vast majority of Americans who identify themselves as members of a church are Christians. Although I wouldn't go as far as saying that the US is or ever has been a "Christian nation"--many of the Founding Fathers were Deist, which is a nice way of saying atheist--the fact remains that our culture has been influenced heavily by the teachings of Christianity.

If Christians want to display a Ten Commandments marker or a crèche on city property, I have no problem with that. To those who object that Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and other religions are thereby excluded, I say get over it. There are much more important battles to fight, and the presence of a marker or crèche isn't worth getting excited about.



Wednesday, 21 January 2004

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]
[Daynotes Journal Forums] [HardwareGuys.com Forums] [TechnoMayhem.com Forums]
{Five Years Ago Today]

9:41 - Barbara's father is having knee-replacement surgery this morning, so she's down at the hospital and I'm holding the fort here at home. He's expected to be in the hospital through the weekend, and will then have a long recovery at home. Barbara's mother doesn't drive, so Barbara and her sister will be doing errands for their parents until their dad is recovered.

SCO is at it again, this time suing Novell. Which reminds me of an obnoxious child I knew back in about 1957 when I attended preschool/kindergarten. That little punk would grab everyone's toys and sit there shouting, "Mine!" If any of us tried to take our toys back, he'd hit us with them and shout, "Mine! MINE! MINE!". When the teacher arrived, she'd smack the punk, take the toys away from him, and give them back to the rightful owners. I wish someone would do that to SCO. I suspect that punk came to a bad end, and I hope the same will be true for SCO.

As much as I'd like to see someone smack Darl, a long prison sentence would be more appropriate.

Heads-down work on the SOHO server chapter all this week.

11:16 - This from Gary Mugford regarding Mozilla extensions.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Mozilla additions
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 11:13:59 -0500
From: Gary Mugford
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com


Thanks for pointing out the Flash plugin.

In your list of submissions, I'd like to mention two that used to make Opera a contender. In the Sidebar, I'd like to optionally see a column that lists date of last visit. Opera 6 had that, later versions didn't. It came in handy when I was running through a bookmark folder that I didn't visit regularly. I could compare new dates on the web-site to the date in my bookmarks and see if something new was there.

The other Opera feature was a right-click add-in where you could store a half-dozen bits of information (your email address, alternate email address, phone number, etc) and quickly select that for input into a field on a web form. I've written my own which I can attach to the title bar of the Mozilla window, but it's a much-cruder implementation as I have to go to the bar, click the PastePot button, click the text and then paste it into the field. Four clicks and a couple of mouse movements. Not nearly as good as right-click and select.

Have you tried Multizilla? It allows you to do group loading/unloading of tabs. It's a bit of a bear to configure just the way you want, cuz it loves confirmation boxes, but it's quickly become something that I like. http://multizilla.mozdev.org/

Another plugin that I like is Diggler. http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/list.php/Mozilla/nav. This one adds a small button right beside the address field that allows you to go to any point in the web-site tree backwards from where you are. i.e. Going to any higher level at www.site.com/1/2/3/4/5/6 is as simple as clicking and selecting. Yes, you could highlight, hit delete and enter, but some URLs are lone enough to make that trip a little arduous.

The Calendar plugin can be found at http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/list.php/Mozilla/misc. Tough to depend on, because each Mozilla update gets rid of the plugin forcing a re-install. Certainly, prompting the Mozilla people to make this integral from release to release is important.

I'm also going to try HomeButton http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/list.php/Mozilla/updated to get back the admittedly little space Home Button takes up on my personal bar.

Enjoy, GM

Gary Mugford
Idea Mechanic
Bramalea ON Canada

11:57 - Some more interesting mail that I came across as I attempted to clean the Augean Stable that is my inbox. I have a bad habit of using my inbox as a kind of holding area for stuff I want to think about. As the flood of email continues arriving, sometimes earlier stuff gets overlooked. Periodically, I have to clean my inbox down to zero messages to make sure I'm up to date. Here are some of those messages.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 1 TERABYTE Hard Drive
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 15:51:25 -0800
From: Alberto Serafin Lopez
Organization: Oasis Computer Consulting
To: <webmaster@ttgnet.com>


Did you see this: http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?id=10118

It’s a link to a story on Slashdot mentioning an EXTERNAL HUGE Hard Disk. I thought you might find it interesting. BTW, I emailed you at this address because you don’t have your regular email address posted anywhere on your Blog – As I’m sure you’re doing that to avoid SPAM Spiders, etc.

I'd actually heard about that some time before the /. article hit. Frankly, I'm not comfortable with the idea of spanning four ATA drives to make a single huge volume. ATA drives are pretty reliable, but that's an awful lot of data to put on a drive that is destined to fail four times more frequently than a single ATA drive.

You're right about the absence of my email address. I took that action a couple or three years ago in the hope of minimizing spam. Of course, most of my addresses are so well known and have been in use for so long that they're on every spammer's list anyhow.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Linux server appliance
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 10:15:41 -0500
From: Dave Markowitz
To: Robert Bruce Thompson


I saw your entry about possibly replacing theodore with a Linux network appliance. You might be interested in this article I had published on Linux.com a few years ago:


I built such a box using Trustix Secure Linux and Webmin (http://www.webmin.com). It's a little dated but maybe it'll give you some ideas. If you've never tried out Webmin I think you'll like it. It allows you to do pretty much all your system administration stuff through a browser.

Thanks. I'll check it out.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Server
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 13:21:12 -0600
From: Christensen, Chris (Aspen Research)
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

My nickel: If it's a file/print/mail server, a p3 will suffer no strain at all. Throughput is gated by the network (100 Mbit ~ 10 Mbytes/sec peak maximum) so a fast processor isn't necessary (but the disc channel has to be fast enough to keep up). Likewise, not much memory is required, although with modern distributions and X, your initial setup will be easier with, say, 128 MB. Absolutely no need for dual cpus.

Intel processor for the over temperature protection: don't need to have your server croak because you've incinerated the cpu due to a fan failure. The i815 chip set has a good disk controller (IDE). If it weren't for the vow I've taken ("I swear to God, I will never use another Via chipset motherboard for as long as I live!") I'd consider one of the low power via mini-itx motherboard/cpu combinations.

Once it's setup, run it headless. (BTW, being setup means that when you reboot the machine, all appropriate services are running - no user intervention is required) Use ssh (cygwin under windows) for administrative tasks. You may wish to take a look at gkrellm (system monitor) which can be run over ssh, or can be set up client server. It is in your distribution.

Make it a habit to check the logs once a week or so, so you remember the password.

Thanks. I'm now thinking I'll build a standard mini-tower server with a bit in reserve. It'll initially be just a file/print server, but given that it'll be running Linux I'd like to have enough horsepower to add other stuff on later.

17:00 - I know I've compared Darl McBride to Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, AKA Baghdad Bob in the past, but now Darl is really starting to sound like Bob. Here are some choice McBride quotes from a Salt Lake City Weekly article.

McBride says SCO has shown plenty. “They’re disingenuous on that or they would be ripping out the million lines of code we’ve already pointed to,” he said, adding that the violations are too far-reaching to simply rip out anyway. One million lines amounts to roughly 20 percent of the entire Linux kernel. McBride says SCO revealed the offending code last August at its Las Vegas SCOForum. “Truly, and then they just ignored it,” he said.

I think it was the "truly" that got me. Sounds just like Bob. Of course, it would have been more accurate to say "falsely", but then Darl isn't renowned for his truthfulness. Darl makes Joe Isuzu look trustworthy. Then there's this one.

Make no mistake about it, says Darl McBride, SCO isn’t bluffing. “And anybody that says we don’t have any claims there, yes, I guess they will be going home with a sock in their mouth,” he said.

A sock in their mouth? Here's one from the real Baghdad Bob for comparison.

No one received them with roses. They were received with bombs, shoes and bullets.

So I guess between Darl and Bob you'd have all the foot coverings you need.


Thursday, 22 January 2004

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]
[Daynotes Journal Forums] [HardwareGuys.com Forums] [TechnoMayhem.com Forums]
{Five Years Ago Today]

8:19 - Barbara's father is doing fine. He was scheduled to have knee-replacement surgery at 9:30 yesterday morning. As it turned out, he didn't go into surgery until about 10:00. Barbara called me about 1:00 to say he was still in surgery and they didn't have any news yet, nor any idea how long it'd last. By 4:00 I was getting a bit concerned, when Barbara called to say he'd gotten out of surgery around 2:45 or 3:00 and they'd been in the recovery room. At 4:00, they'd just moved him up to a regular room and he was sitting up and talking.

Barbara was immensely relieved, of course. Although knee-replacement surgery isn't as risky as abdominal surgery, there's always a risk, and her dad is 81 years old. I was pretty certain he'd come through it fine. He's 81, but he's tough. He still plays golf regularly and does much of his own yard work. He's also a Marine, and they're tough to kill. Just ask the Iraqis.

I'd been debating whether to go to the Forsyth Astronomical Society meeting yesterday evening. The program was a Mars presentation in the planetarium that I wanted to see. Barbara told me to go to the meeting because everything was fine at the hospital. Paul Jones picked me up around 6:00 and we went to dinner before attending the FAS meeting.

I'm still hard at work on the SOHO Server chapter. I decided to build a traditional mini-tower server, mainly for configuration flexibility.


Friday, 23 January 2004

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]
[Daynotes Journal Forums] [HardwareGuys.com Forums] [TechnoMayhem.com Forums]
{Five Years Ago Today]

8:23 - Barbara is a bit concerned about her dad. She said his blood pressure has been very low and he wasn't looking as good yesterday as he did the day before. Surgery is never trivial, and her dad is 81 years old, so I understand her concern. But I'm pretty confident her dad will be up and about shortly. He's very tough. He'll have several tough weeks going through therapy and getting used to his new artificial knee, but I suspect he'll surprise everyone with how quickly he bounces back.

Barbara got home yesterday evening after an exhausting day. Up at 6:00 a.m., put in a full work day, and then head for the hospital. That's enough to wear anyone out. Just being at the hospital is exhausting. Barbara is going to head over to the hospital when she gets off work today, visit for an hour or two, and then come home for dinner. Her sister Frances is going to go over to the hospital this evening, so Barbara will be able to take a bit of a break.

I'm still hard at work on the SOHO Server chapter. This one is a bit more involved than most, because a SOHO Server isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. It can be anything from a microATX "appliance" box to a serious $15,000 box with stacked SCSI RAID and so on. In my opinion, it's a mistake to roll your own for the latter type of server, unless you have a bunch of them. Otherwise, the spares costs will eat you alive. So I'm concentrating on the lower-end boxes. It'll be interesting to see how this chapter comes out.

16:01 - Captain Kangaroo is dead at 76. He's one of my earliest real memories. When my parents were first married, they lived with my mother's mother briefly. I have wispy memories of that time. I do remember sitting on my grandmother's front porch watching the stripes of sunlight and shadow made by the porch railing move across the porch. Years later, my mother told me that I did that so often and so intently and for so long that at first they were concerned that I might be retarded.

It didn't help matters that I didn't start talking until I was three years old, other than the usual "mommy" and "daddy" stuff. My first words were, "Oh, grandma, I forgot to tell you..." The rest is lost to history, as everyone was so shocked they almost fell out of their chairs. Bizarrely, I had actually started to read before I started to talk. I've been like that ever since. I read a lot about a subject before I talk about it.

At any rate, my mom and dad bought a house just before my brother was born. I was just about to turn two. I remember moving to the new house, and one of the first things I remember about the new house was sitting in front of the TV watching Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo. He seemed old to me then, I remember, although he was only in his late 20's. I think he must have used makeup and hair dye to look older, because I remember thinking he was closer in age to my grandmother, who was 70, than to my parents, who were in their mid-30's.

I suppose if I'd thought about it I would have assumed that Mr. Keeshan had died long ago. Looking back, he must have been proud of his life's work. To be loved by millions of little children is no small accomplishment.



Saturday, 24 January 2004

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]
[Daynotes Journal Forums] [HardwareGuys.com Forums] [TechnoMayhem.com Forums]
{Five Years Ago Today]




Sunday, 25 January 2004

[Last Week] [Monday] [Tuesday] [Wednesday] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday] [Next Week]
[Daynotes Journal Forums] [HardwareGuys.com Forums] [TechnoMayhem.com Forums]
{Five Years Ago Today]




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