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Week of 20 February 2006

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Monday, 20 February 2006
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08:21 - I am flabbergasted. The Bush administration is apparently willing to allow our major ports to be taken over by Al Queda.

Condoleeza Rice refers to "our friends in the UAE". Hint to Secretary Rice: we don't have any friends in the UAE. This is the same UAE that sponsors and funds terrorism against the United States.

10:44 - For anyone who doubts that Netflix gets special service (and special rates) from the US Postal Service, here's a snapshot of my Netflix queue this morning:

Although today, Presidents' Day, is a postal holiday, I don't doubt that Netflix is receiving service from the USPS today.


Tuesday, 21 February 2006
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08:28 - This from John Bartley.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:     WSJ.com - A Dire Continental Drift
Date:     Mon, 20 Feb 2006 22:54:00 -0800 (PST)
From:     John Bartley
To:     Robert Bruce Thompson, Jerry Pournelle

Muslim freeloaders in Yurp revealed in this book. Yes, I know you are shocked, simply shocked.

WSJ.com - A Dire Continental Drift

That link dies after seven days. For those who haven't read the article by then, it's a book review of While Europe Slept : How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within by Bruce Bawer. The book makes the point that I've been making for years: that Islam is poison, that it is incompatible with civilization, and that the countries of western Europe are being occupied by Islamic invaders that will destroy those countries unless they soon take radical steps to prevent it. From the article:

"In Denmark, Muslims make up 5% of the population but receive 40% of social-welfare outlays. Their preachers have told them, Mr. Bawer reports, that only a fool would not take maximum advantage of the bounty that Western Europe offers and that it is perfectly legitimate to cheat and lie. The benefits they receive are a kind of jizya, the tribute that infidels in Muslim-occupied countries have to pay to preserve their lives. (The subsidized-radical situation in Britain and Germany is not much different: The four suicide bombers in London last year had raked in close to a million dollars in social benefits before going on their murderous mission.)

With even radical Muslims entrenched in the Scandanavian countries, it's no wonder that their fellow immigrants are feeling rather confident about the future: In Stockholm, Islamic residents have been known to wear T-shirts that say simply: "2030 -- then we take over." These expectations might be a little overstated, but Muslims in Sweden have indeed already taken over much of the city of Malmo and parts of Stockholm, which are becoming no-go zones for everyone else."

I think the Islamic invasion of Europe will eventually succeed. And, although I will regret the descent of Europe into barbarism, that fall will constitute no real threat to the United States. Islam is parasitic, incapable even of feeding itself. Many have observed that all of Islam was incapable of building the airliners that Islamics used in the 2001 attack on the United States, nor indeed even of learning to fly them without Western assistance. A nation that descends into Islam will re-enter the Dark Ages, rapidly losing all of its industrial, educational, and military base, with its population inevitably falling into ignorance and squalor. Islam doesn't produce engineers or scientists or entrepreneurs. Islam produces mullahs.


Wednesday, 22 February 2006
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08:52 - I had a couple of interesting business ideas last night. I think they're viable, but I don't have time to pursue them, so I offer them freely to my readers.

1. Prophet toilet paper: Just imagine rolls of soft, absorbent toilet paper, with each square block-printed with an image of the turban-bomb prophet.

2. Prophet dog-shit bags: Barbara and I use plastic grocery bags, but with two dogs we sometimes run short. Imagine a convenient roll of plastic dog-shit bags, block-printed with an image of the turban-bomb prophet.

Both of these would be great gift ideas, certainly, but they could be more than that. If they were priced reasonably, I'd actually buy and use these products routinely, as would millions of other Americans.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: hoorah
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 17:18:07 -0500
From: <redacted>
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

Makes you want to ride a bike:


Of course, it would save everyone a lot of trouble if Mr. Phelps and his offspring were to have an unfortunate accident.

PS Best not attach my name to this one if you post it.

Yeah, it's always interesting to come across an example of pure evil. Someone should send Mr. Phelps and his daughter to Allah.

12:27 - Here's something I'd never thought about:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Domain expiration policies
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 12:11:07 -0500
From: Rod Montgomery
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

No personal reply expected -- I'm sending this because I think it might inspire you to say something about it in your Daynotes Journal. If it doesn't, please forgive me for wasting your time.

Today's _Wall Street Journal_ includes an article about "drop catchers" who grab expiring domain names and offer to sell them back to the original registrants at exorbitant prices.

If I remember correctly, you use GoDaddy as your registrar.

Here's GoDaddy's policy:

My reading is that GoDaddy relies on EMail notification to the registrant of an impending expiration. If the registrant does not renew on time, GoDaddy (a) charges extra for renewal during the "redemption grace period" and (b) auctions off the expiring domain name *before dropping the name from DNS*.

The WSJ article points out that EMail notification can fail if the registrant changes EMail addresses without notifying the registrar.

It seems to me that it would be trivial, technically, to drop an expiring name from DNS *before* auctioning the name off. *That* ought to get the registrant's attention, if the name is still active, even if the registrant has botched his responsibility to make sure the registrar has a current EMail address.

My questions:

Q1: Is GoDaddy's policy unjust or unfair?

Q2: Is there any registrar who drops from DNS before auctioning?

Q3: If there is such a registrar, how would I find it, short of carefully examining the policies of each registrar in turn until I found one?

Personally, I think GoDaddy's policy is unfair, but neither do I think it's the best possible policy from the customer's viewpoint. I don't *think* I'd reject GoDaddy as a registrar for *myself*, solely on the basis of that policy. But I might be inclined to search for a registrar who dropped before auctioning if I was helping Aunt Tilly register a domain for herself.

A1: I don't know if GoDaddy's policy is unfair, although I certainly agree that it would make more sense to drop the domain from DNS immediately rather than waiting until it will cost $80 to reclaim it. I have all my domains set up to autorenew annually, although perhaps I should take advantage of GoDaddy's offer to renew them for an extended period. I believe it's possible to renew them for as much as ten years at a time.

A2: I have no idea. This may be something GoDaddy has come up with itself, or it may be required by ICANN.

A3: I think you'll have to compare the policies. There used to be some web sites that compared the policies and prices of various registrars, but I think they've all disappeared. Most of them were just transparent efforts to sell domains anyway.


Thursday, 23 February 2006
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08:20 - Stephanie, our next-door neighbor, has a bunch of digital camera images that she'd like to have printed. I discouraged her from buying an inkjet photo printer because there's no point in buying expensive cows when milk is so cheap. I told her she'd be much better off paying a local or on-line service to print the images for her. That brings up a couple of questions:

1. Stephanie runs Windows. I can install IrfanView for her and teach her how to crop, adjust colors, and so on, but is there a better free or inexpensive photo editing utility available? I was surprised when she told me that no software had come with their Sony digital camera, which is a fairly recent mid/high-end point-and-shoot model. I'd have expected it to come with at least simple editing software that would automate stuff like red-eye reduction. But she has no software. Suggestions appreciated.

2. Where should she have her images printed? Either a local source like Wal*Mart or an on-line source is fine. She's interested, obviously, in not paying more than she has to, but she wants high quality images printed with archivally stable paper and inks. Any suggestions for places to look at (or stay away from) would be appreciated.

I am assuming that images can be uploaded at full resolution to the on-line printers, with any cropping, gamma, or other adjustments done before uploading. I am assuming that aspect ratio could be handled in the preliminary cropping, e.g. if she wanted 4X6 images she could crop the original image to a 3:2 ratio, and if she wanted 8X10 images she could crop them to a 5:4 ratio.

Ideally, I think Stephanie would like a source to which she can simply upload the image files, give them her credit card, and have the printed images show up in the mail a few days later. Come to think of it, Barbara would also be interested in such a service. All suggestions are welcome. Post them on the messageboard.

The copyright pigs are at it again. Now they're trying to claim copyright-like protection over material to which they have no copyright claim, including public domain material and copyrighted material for which the copyright is held by others. And, if anything, the EFF article minimizes the problem. This Ars Technica article makes things clearer.


Friday, 24 February 2006
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08:47 - Thanks to everyone who responded to my question about printing digital camera images. I summarized what everyone has said to Stephanie. I think she's going to check out the Walgreen's service. There's a Walgreens drugstore near us, and they have a free trial of 20 prints. They also provide various tools for manipulating the images, including red-eye reduction.

Barbara may also try the Walgreens service. She still shoots 35mm when she wants prints, but I suspect the convenience and cost advantages of digital imaging will eventually lure her away from her beloved 35mm SLRs.

Over the weekend, we finished building the Budget System and shooting images for the new edition of Building the Perfect PC. It'll all be in the book, including a significant mistake I made while ordering components, and what we had to do to deal with that mistake.

Instead of ordering a retail-boxed Sempron processor, which comes with a CPU cooler, I decided to use an OEM processor with a third-party CPU cooler. The OEM processor cost $9 less than the retail-boxed version, and the Arctic Cooling Silencer 64 Ultra CPU cooler I chose cost $13. I figured it was worth the extra $4 for superior cooling and less noise.

One thing I didn't count on was the different mounting method used by the Arctic Cooling CPU cooler and the placement of the northbridge heatsink on the ASRock motherboard. To make a long story short, there's very little clearance between the CPU cooler mounting bracket and the northbridge heatsink. Too little, in fact, to allow the Arctic Cooling CPU cooler to fit, because it has a cammed locking lever on each side of the heatsink.

So we ended up removing the northbridge heatsink and bending one row of its fins to allow the Arctic Cooling CPU cooler to fit. Here's the northbridge heatsink as modified.

All turned out well, however. The modified northbridge heatsink is comfortably warm while the system is running, so it's doing its job. And the Arctic Cooling CPU cooler is doing its job as well. At idle, the Sempron 3100+ is running at 29° C, and the CPU cooler is nearly inaudible when the case panels are in place.

My original inclination was to scrap what we'd done and rebuild/reshoot the project from the beginning. But I decided that our readers might enjoy seeing what really happens, so I decided to leave our mistake in and show them images of what we'd done to fix it. We'll recommend a different CPU cooler for their actual build, of course.

I set up the new system on my credenza and installed Windows XP on it. I need a Windows box to run some astronomy software I'm using for the new astronomy book, and it's convenient to have it close at hand. I also moved the laser printer from Barbara's office to my credenza, because I'll be producing a lot of hard-copy charts for the book. And the new Epson 3490 scanner will also connect to the Windows box. So I now have a little Windows ghetto on my credenza, where it's at least isolated from the rest of our Linux household.

Pournelle has reconsidered his opinion that the UAE port deal is a bad idea. I sent him this in response:

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Bruce Thompson
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 1:59 PM
To: Jerry Pournelle
Subject: towel heads

 >> it's a pretty terrible message to send to the Middle East: even if you cooperate with the United States, the US considers you a bunch of towel-headed enemies, not allies like the British, and you will never win the US approval.<<

Which is, I think, exactly the message we should be sending. Well, that and warheads.

Islam is the enemy of western civilization. It has been for a thousand years and will continue to be for as long as it exists. What we should be doing and should have been doing all along is destroying the ability of Islam to harm us. That wouldn't require much, because Islam is inherently incompetent.

Screw democracy for the middle east. Cut off Islam from western technology and allow them to stew in their pathetic filthy villages, from which they will never emerge as long as they remain Islamic. Destroy the entire infrastructure of Islamic countries, none of which would exist unless the west had built it for them. Cut off their oil revenue and allow them to sink back into poverty. Occupy the Saudi oilfields, pipelines, and terminals, and run them with western workers. Draw a deadline 50 miles on either side of every pipeline and kill anything that moves in the dead zone.

Proclaim that Islam is no religion, but a totalitarian, expansionist political system masquerading as a religion. Expel all Islamics from US soil. Return to the Islamic countries every 50 years (or every 10, whatever it takes) and wipe out their infrastructure again.

Welcome anyone who repudiates Islam to the civilized world, requiring only that they eat a ham sandwich and piss on a copy of the Koran to prove their sincerity.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: towel heads
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 14:28:34 -0800
From: Jerry Pournelle
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

My friend you are not politically correct.

But I'm glad I know you.

And here's a puzzle presented as straight news. The U.S. refused, or at least delayed issuing, a visa to an Indian chemist who wanted to attend a conference in the U.S. From the article:

"I did my Ph.D 40 years ago," he told the Deccan Herald in Bangalore, the southern Indian high-tech center where he lives. "I told them I did not remember the topic. Science has progressed and changed completely since then."

Yeah, right. I'm sure there are many Ph.D.'s in organic chemistry who can't remember the topics of their doctoral theses. Getting a hard science Ph.D. is such a minor thing, after all. So, this guy is either lying or has Alzheimers. In either case, I don't think we want him here.

12:15 - From a scientist:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: mehta
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 10:14:16 -0500
From: <redacted>
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

That is a stupid thing for him to have said (that he doesn't recall what his PhD thesis is), but Mehta is a real, live and very talented organic chemist.  As you point out, the port deal with UAE is a silly thing to do.  But we are keeping lots of folks who wish us well out of the country and, in turn, pissing them off.  So, we aren't tough with those who either wish us ill or are ambivalent, but we're tough as nails on friends.  It makes no sense.  We have, for decades, benefited mightily by bringing the best and brightest from other countries to our soil.  We gain and our enemies lose in the deal.  We are now turning those folks away and enraging them in the process.

FWIW, lots of PhD scientists blow off questions of what they work on by family, friends, and acquaintances.  It is both arrogance (quite common amongst PhDs) and a desire not to have to water down the explanation too much.

I'm sure he is, and the truth is I'd have no problem with him visiting the US or even moving here to work. But keep in mind that his lie about his thesis was made in response to an official question from the US visa examiner, and that that visa was not denied but delayed. It's one thing to blow off a question from an ordinary civilian, but quite another to answer an official question in such a manner, particularly these days.

As I think I've made quite clear in the past, I'm in favor of granting permanent residency to any non-Islamic scientists, engineers, and so on who wish to live and work in the US. Scientists and engineers are the sparkplugs that drive everything.

O'Reilly just FedEx'd me two hot-off-the-press copies of Repairing and Upgrading Your PC. It's gorgeous. O'Reilly's production folks did their usual excellent job of turning the manuscript into a finished book. This means the book is back from the printers and going to the distribution centers, so it should appear in bookstores sometime next week.

Those of you who requested a review copy should receive it shortly. I'll follow up with O'Reilly to make sure everything is on track for that and post whatever I learn here.


Saturday, 25 February 2006
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00:00 - People keep saying it's impossible to buy a Linux desktop from a tier-one vendor. But here's a Dell system with RHEL WS installed. Now, granted, Dell calls it a workstation instead of a desktop, but it sells for $759 in its base configuration, which is similar to the price of a comparable Dell Windows desktop. If it quacks like a penguin, I call it a penguin.


Sunday, 26 February 2006
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00:00 -


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