Home Daynotes Home Week of 26 July 2004

Photograph of Robert Bruce Thompson Daynotes Journal

Week of 26 July 2004

Latest Update: Sat, 21 May 2011 11:09 -0400


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

Monday, 26 July 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 - I sent the following message to subscribers on Saturday.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [RBT] Xandros Open Circulation Edition free download site
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 13:05:34 -0400
From: Robert Bruce Thompson
To: Subscribers

Several of you have expressed an interest in looking at the Xandros Open Circulation Edition (OCE), which is freely distributable.

Unfortunately, when Xandros released this version, they didn't offer a free ftp download site. Instead, they offered OCE free via BitTorrent or as a $10 ftp download. Many of you neither wanted to install BitTorrent nor pay $10 to take a look at Xandros.

I've been keeping my eye out for a free download site that offered OCE via ftp or http, and I've finally located one in the Netherlands.

<http://pub.datux.nl/iso/xandros-201-ocd-installation.iso>

This site is very fast. I'm downloading the OCE ISO as I write this, and getting 322 KB/s over my cable modem. If you want to take a look at Xandros, this is the way to do it. I'm surprised that Xandros OCE hasn't already shown up on Sunsite or one of the other high-volume download sites. Until it does, this Dutch site is the best place I know to get Xandros OCE.

Once you get the ISO, just burn it as an image file to a CD, stick it in the drive of a system you want to use as a test bed, and boot to the CD. If you already have Windows installed on the system, Xandros will offer to take over the entire hard drive or to repartition the drive and install itself in dual-boot mode. I haven't tried this, so the usual cautions apply.

The Xandros OCE has the limitations you'd expect from a free download. No manual and no support. The only way it's "crippled" is that the integrated CD burning is limited to the slowest speed supported by your optical writer. (I'm not sure why Xandros did this. It seems stupid to me, especially since it's easy enough to get around by installing K3B or one of the other standard Linux CD burning apps.)

Also, OCE does not include Crossover Office (which allows running Office 2000 and other popular Windows apps) or StarOffice. That's understandable, because Xandros has to pay Codeweavers or Sun for each copy of Crossover Office or StarOffice they distribute.

Also, for some reason, OCE comes with the free (ad-supported) version of Opera installed. Once again, it's easy enough to remove that and install Mozilla, which is what you should be using.

I'm impressed enough with Xandros that I'm converting from Windows 2000 to Xandros Desktop 2.0 Business Edition as our standard desktop OS. I'll still keep a Windows box or two around to do screen shots and run apps that only run under Windows, but Windows is definitely on its way out. In fact, I'm just now setting up a new system that'll run Xandros 2.0 and be my main office desktop system.

In Xandros, Jerry Pournelle says he's finally found a Linux distro that's good enough for Aunt Minnie. I agree. It's good enough for anyone.

If you do download the Xandros OCE, please post on the messageboard to let us all know your experiences with it. Also, because Xandros OCE is freely distributable, you can make as many CD-R copies as you want and pass them out to your friends and family.

Alas, the site was unreachable when I tried it a moment ago, but perhaps the problem will be solved shortly.

Also in Xandros news, apparently Xandros Desktop 2.5 will be shipping shortly. I don't have any details on what changes Xandros Desktop 2.5 will make from 2.01, but I'm guessing it's a point release. They may upgrade to the 2.6 kernel, but I don't expect any major changes in functionality. They're still discussing stuff like adding DVD burning support as a 3.0 issue over on the Xandros Forums.

This guy learned the hard way not to question a soccer ref's call. The ref pulled out a pistol and shot him to death. Of course, this happened in South Africa, which used to be a civilized country but since the advent of majority rule has become a third-world hellhole.

The article mentions the murder rate in South Africa is 47.4 per 100,000, or about eight times the US rate. Of course, the US rate is deceptive. The great majority of US murders occur in the center city, with gang members killing other gang members or innocent bystanders. In the suburbs, murder is very rare, and in the rural areas it's almost unheard of.

Interestingly, there's an inverse correlation with gun ownership. Although it seems counterintuitive, the gun ownership rate is smallest in the central cities, much higher in the suburbs, and higher still in rural areas. Skill with firearms runs along the same lines. The central city goblins are inept. They spray and pray. Typical suburban gun owners are competent with firearms, and rural gun owners tend to be quite skilled.

The upshot is that US suburban dwellers are quite safe, much safer than the unarmed suburban dwellers in European countries. (Check the figures if you don't believe me; the myth of safe European cities and suburbs is persistent, but not supported by the facts.) Rural dwellers are safer still. It shouldn't surprise anyone that people who are equipped and prepared to defend themselves are seldom victims of violent crime.

10:22 - Here's an excellent commentary on the myths of Open Source Software. Of course, I would think it's excellent because Mr. Gunton makes several of the arguments that I've been making all along.

It's true that, all other things being equal, I prefer OSS to closed-source software, but I think Stallman's brigade of "free software" zealots are missing the point entirely. Software is just a tool to do a job. Treating software as a religious issue is as silly as having ideological issues about a hammer or screwdriver. Like most of the world's computer users, I want the best tool for the job, whether that tool is GPL'd free software, OSS, commercial software, or some blend.

Free-as-in-beer is nice, of course, but it's not the deciding issue for me or for most people I know. Free-as-in-speech isn't even a consideration. I don't care if the source code is available, except to the extent that the security-by-obscurity scheme used by closed-source software doesn't work. What I do care about is that the software be secure, do the job I need to do, and store its data in an open, industry-standard format. I also want software that provides the features users want rather than features that the MPAA, RIAA, and other copyright-pigs want. In practical terms, that means I usually choose OSS rather than DRM-laden commercial software. But I'm making that choice based on features and functionality (or, in the case of DRM, lack of functionality). I'm not making the choice on ideological or religious grounds.

It's a continuum, which is why I understand why many of my readers continue to use Windows and even (gasp) Internet Explorer. For them, the advantages of Microsoft operating systems and applications outweigh the drawbacks. I've reached the tipping point on that continuum, and so have chosen to migrate to Xandros Desktop Linux, Mozilla, and other OSS software. For me, the advantages outweigh the drawbacks (and, yes, there are drawbacks). I suspect that over the next year or two, many other people will reach the tipping point, and Microsoft software will begin losing market share. What we've seen happening in server space will begin happening on the desktop. Five years from now, I suspect Microsoft will be just another player in the market for desktop and server OS's, as well as apps. That's good for all of us.

Some mail from over the weekend about tapes, scanners, and such.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: format
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 01:44:39 +0200
From: Bo Leuf
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

While on the subject of magnetic zone degradation, I also reacted to some of the promised lifetimes for DAT.

Some vendors of the newer LTO-format backup drives are claiming upwards of 30 year lifetime for their half-inch 100 and 200 GB tape cassettes, alternatively 20,000 passes over the heads. Eh?

DDS-4 tape is routinely claimed to be good for 10 to 30 years, depending on maker, which already seems dubious to me.

Oh, I don't doubt that the tapes are good for 30 years, in the sense that I could pull out an old tape and write data to it that could then be read reliably. But saying a tape will be good for 30 years is a very different thing from saying that data written to a tape will still be readable after 30 years.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [RBT] Xandros Open Circulation Edition free download site
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 15:20:43 -0700
From: Bob Olsen
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

Robert, I have never had problems getting drivers from HP. Just for fun I tried downloading the HP 6200C drivers, I had no problems. I have had good luck with HP.

That's interesting. I just went over to the HP download site and found the same thing I'd found before. There were a few utilities for the 6200C available for download, but the drivers themselves were available only by ordering a CD. At least they're charging only $10 for the CD now. Originally, I think they wanted $50 for the driver CD.

Of course, I'm migrating away from Windows, so it really doesn't matter to me now. I expect the Xandros Linux box will support the HP 6200C scanner just fine without any drivers from HP.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: scanners
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 13:39:57 -0500
From: Chris Christensen
To: Thompson Bob

Here's a link to the volunteer efforts responsible for scanners working in Linux (along with the USB guys), your 6200c should work fine.

http://www.sane-project.org/
http://www.buzzard.org.uk/jonathan/scanners-usb.html

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: scanning
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 14:17:00 -0500
From: Chris Christensen
To: Thompson Bob

I forgot to mention in my previous post this resource from Wayne Fulton:

http://www.scantips.com/

which is a good resource on scanning, slightly dated, and heavily biased towards film (negative) scanning.

One of the software packages Mr. Fulton seems to like is VueScan:

http://www.hamrick.com/vsm.html

which is available for Linux, as well as Windows and Apple OS X. I haven't used it, but I like the idea of multiplatform software.

I don't use a scanner at home, or at work under linux. I do use an Epson 1660 for technical work (particle size analysis, and oddball dimensional analysis) under W2K. I've been very happy with the Epson scanner compared to previous HP and Microtek scanners for the same application.

Thanks. My scanning requirements are pretty minimal, but I probably will try to get the HP 6200C running under Linux just to see if it'll work. The Linux scanning app I used (Kooka?) seems quite capable, and probably is more than I need. If not, I'll check out VueScan.

 

[Top]


Tuesday, 27 July 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]


15:40 - Sorry for the late post. I've been been overrun by lemmings with fangs, and it's only going to get worse. As I write this, I'm downloading the QC2 PDF galleys of Building the Perfect PC. I have a couple days to make a quick pass through them, which isn't long.

Several interesting mail messages. First, in response to some comments I'd made about the problems I had installing Xandros Desktop Linux with Hyper Threading Technology enabled.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Interesting find
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 22:27:46 +0200 (CEST)
From: David Thorarinsson
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

Interesting. HyperThreading in my opinion seems to be mostly hot air blown by Intel's marketing department in order to justify high prices.

I have seen applications doing heavy calculations go seriously wrong on HT enabled machines probably because you only got one ALU (not two like on dual CPU machines or dual-core machines). I have also noticed Dell and HP deliver new hardware with HT disabled as default.

I have also seen cases where HT has provided benefit but nothing close to what Intel wants consumers to believe.

That's not been my experience. It's certainly true that OEMs commonly delivered HTT-capable systems with HTT disabled to avoid possible conflicts with software the users might run, and they may still do that. But that's not a condemnation of HTT.

When HTT works, which is to say when it's used with apps that were coded properly, it's pretty amazing. We routinely see 20% improvements in benchmarks, and have seen improvements of 50% or so with some apps. Certainly there are situations where HTT provides little or no benefit, or even degrades performance. But then I can prove anything if you let me choose the benchmark.

But increased performance in single tasks is not the major attraction of HTT, at least for me. One of the reasons I like dual-processor systems is that they don't bog down under load. An HTT system provides much of that benefit if you run a lot of apps simultaneously. An HTT system "feels" more like a dual-processor system than a uni-processor system under those conditions.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Xandros
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 16:39:46 -0400
From: Dave Markowitz
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

Robert,

I've been following your reports of Xandros Desktop Linux with interest. Although i've been a Linux user for several years and my main PC runs on SuSE 9.0 I'm always interested in new developments.

Anyway, I thought I'd mention another way for your readers to obtain Xandros OCE. Linuxcentral.com sells Xandros 2.01 OCE on CD-R for $2.95. The direct link is:

<http://linuxcentral.com/catalog/?prod_code=L000-241&id=C1CBxuYMzcNCP>

I figure this would be of use to readers still stuck on dialup.

Thanks! Excellent suggestion.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: vuescan
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 22:11:52 -0000 (UTC)
From: Bo Leuf
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

Chris Christensen mentioned Vuescan apropos your musings about HP6200C scanner drivers for Linux. I'll second that recommendation, backed with experience using Vuescan Professional with my own HP Scanjet 5300C. It's well worth the license cost and is extremely quick to use for multiple scans, of say prints or negatives/slides.

I made a few comments about it on my site: LinuxAndPhotoAlbumWork, noting in particular that "The Linux setup outperformed the Windows HP one."

Thanks. I'll have a look at it if I ever get a spare moment.

 

[Top]


Wednesday, 28 July 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]


9:08 - Still slaving away in the salt mines, reviewing the QC2 (final) galleys. I've caught a few errors already, and over the next couple of days I'll be doing a detailed read-through, trying to stamp out any errors that remain. We'll never get them all, of course. We never do. But this double-pass through the galleys means we'll at least get the vast majority of them fixed.

Dave Farquhar posted some interesting Thoughts on backups. Dave makes one error, though. He says,

"Since Gigabit's theoretical bandwidth is about 3 time that of Ultra320 SCSI's theoretical bandwidth, you can back up three servers at once at full speed."

Of course, gigabit Ethernet has nominal throughput of 1,000 megabits/sec, while Ultra320 SCSI has nominal throughput of 320 megabytes/sec. So, in fact, Ultra320 SCSI is about three times faster than gigabit Ethernet, rather than one third as fast. Of course, that makes little practical difference because very few server disk subsystems can deliver anything close to sustained throughput of 320 MB/s.

I'll second Dave's endorsement of TDK optical discs, which he started using when Kodak left the blank CD-R market. Kodak Gold Ultima were the best CD-R discs I'd ever used, but they were forced out of the market because few people understood the benefit of paying a bit more for much better discs. TDK discs are excellent, as are Taiyo-Yuden, Ricoh, and Verbatim. In fact, if you want to learn the best types of disc to use, all you need do is visit the Plextor site and look at the brands they list as "recommended" (as opposed to "compatible").

 

[Top]


Thursday, 29 July 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]


9:58 - John Dominik has posted a long and unjustified rant against GoDaddy.com, whom he claims has stolen his domains. I've been using GoDaddy.com for years, as have most of the people I know. Between us, we have scores of domains registered there, and none of us have ever had a problem with GoDaddy.com.

John's problems, as I pointed out to him in an email some months ago, stem from one simple problem. He doesn't own the domains in question, nor is he listed as a person who is authorized to make changes to the domain name record. Here's a listing from whois for one of the domains:

Registrant:
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N Hayden Rd., Suite 160
PMB353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com
Domain Name: CLANDOMINIK.COM
Created on: 25-Sep-02
Expires on: 25-Sep-04
Last Updated on: 27-Jul-04

Administrative Contact:
Private, Registration CLANDOMINIK.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N Hayden Rd., Suite 160
PMB353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
(480) 624-2599 Fax --
Technical Contact:
Private, Registration CLANDOMINIK.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N Hayden Rd., Suite 160
PMB353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
(480) 624-2599 Fax --

Legally, John has no standing with regard to this domain. John is upset because GoDaddy won't allow him to make direct changes to the domain name record. Legally, the only people allowed to make changes to a domain name record are the Registrant (Domains by Proxy, Inc.), the Administrative Contact (Domains by Proxy, Inc.), and the Technical Contact (Domains by Proxy, Inc.). GoDaddy.com is absolutely correct in refusing to allow John to make changes to the domain name record. He is not the owner of the domain, nor is he the Admin or Tech contact. GoDaddy.com would be just as wrong if they allowed John to make changes to that domain as if they allowed me to.

Domains by Proxy, Inc. is the only entity currently permitted to make changes to the domain, either directly or by serving as an intermediary between John and GoDaddy.com, so if John is going to be upset he should be upset with Domains by Proxy, Inc., not with GoDaddy.com. The only way John can administer "his" domains is if Domains by Proxy, Inc. delegates authority to him to do so. In theory, email addressed to clandominik at domainsbyproxy dawt com should be forwarded to John's real email account. If John is not getting those emails, the fault is almost certainly with domainsbyproxy or with his own email account, not with GoDaddy.com. I get email frequently from GoDaddy with respect to my own domains and others that I manage for various people, and I've never had a problem with them.

Domains by Proxy, Inc. could solve John's problem by making John  the Admin and/or Tech contact in the domain name record. If John wants to own the domains in the sense of being the registrant, the only option is for Domains by Proxy, Inc. to transfer the domain to John, an action that must be initiated by Domains by Proxy, Inc., either directly or by delegating authority to John to do the transfer. Being upset with GoDaddy is pointless. They're just doing what they're supposed to do to protect the domain owner from having his domain stolen.

If you're registering a domain, I suggest you ignore John's advice. I recommend GoDaddy.com strongly as the best registrar out there.

 

[Top]


Friday, 30 July 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]


11:55 - I have so many balls in the air that I'm starting to drop some of them. This is the second time this week that I've almost forgotten to post here. Fortunately, I'm completely finished with Building the Perfect PC, barring last-second queries.

Speaking of which, those of my subscribers who signed up for a review copy should be getting those shortly after the book is printed. O'Reilly also plans to send a t-shirt, I believe. As it turns out, they had t-shirts only in L and XL sizes, mostly the latter. So, if you requested an XL, you should get one. If you requested a L or smaller size, you should get a L, or perhaps an XL. Sorry about that. I think O'Reilly gets mostly XLs simply to keep the inventory people sane. They have many different t-shirt styles (I have no idea which they'll be sending out; probably a mix of several types), so trying to keep many styles in several sizes is more than they want to deal with.

I'm now working on an outline/proposal/TOC for Building the Perfect PC: A Pocket Guide to Choosing and Buying Components. Big name for a small book. It's basically chapter two from BPP, expanded to more than twice the size of that chapter in the book. Even though we're going to do the book, my editor needs a proposal for O'Reilly's internal approval process. Then I suppose I'll need to do that book in August. Also in August, I have to finish two chapters, one updated and one new, for the fourth edition of PC Hardware in a Nutshell. And, oh yeah, I have to completely update and revise the hardwareguys.com web site before BPP ships on 15 August.

I will be a busy boy, which is why updates around here are likely to be sparse and infrequent for quite a while.

 

[Top]


Saturday, 31 July 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]


12:03 - I posted the following message to subscribers a short time ago.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [RBT] Critical Microsoft updates
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 11:52:04 -0400
From: Robert Bruce Thompson
To: Subscribers

Yesterday afternoon, Microsoft posted three critical patches. They considered these patches important enough that they posted them outside their normal monthly patch cycle. For more details, see:

<http://www.microsoft.com/security/bulletins/200407_windows.mspx>

If you run Windows and Internet Explorer, you should apply these patches immediately.

Note that these IE patches are *not* the comprehensive IE fix that is to be released with Windows XP SP2. That IE fix will be available only for XP. Those of us who continue to use Windows 2000 and earlier versions will be left out in the cold with respect to that fix.

Still, the patches Microsoft released yesterday are important and are definitely worth applying.

Best regards.

RBT

Today, one more of our Windows systems is going to be shut down. I'm in the process of (a) migrating my personal data and settings from messier, my current Windows 2000 primary desktop in my office to leibniz, a new primary desktop running Xandros Desktop 2.0 Linux, and (b) replicating the directory structure from our current primary file server, theodore, which runs Windows NT 4 Server, to messier.

Once that's done, I'll shut down theodore for good and reconfigure our desktop clients to point to messier. This will be the first time in nearly a decade that I haven't been running at least one Windows NT domain at home, so I expect a few glitches as I make the move. Messier won't last long as the server, at least as a Windows 2000 box. I want to keep it running long enough that I can make sure I have everything off it I need, and I may leave it up as a secondary Windows 2000 box for a while, but eventually it'll be replaced by a Linux server.

 

[Top]


Sunday, 1 August 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]


 

 

[Top]