Today is the first work day of the second half of the year. I have a
lot to get done the rest of the year, including two books that are
under contract and in progress and a third book that is not yet under
contract or started. It'll be a busy next six months, but that's the
way I like it.
Barbara has taken the week off from work. She's out front painting the
shutters right now, with the windows to follow. I'll do the
shutters and windows on the sides and rear of the house, because they
require working up a ladder.
Barbara is leaving Friday for a short bus tour with her parents, but
that gives us the rest of this week to build and photograph a couple of
systems for the new book. We'll do the Mainstream PC and the SOHO
Server, because we have all the parts for them. We're still waiting on
components for three of the other systems.
Look for a major announcement from Jerry Pournelle later this week.
10:30 - Better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone suspect you're an idiot than to open it and confirm your idiocy beyond all doubt.
Happy Birthday USA!
As you celebrate Independence Day today, please take a moment to think
about the men and women of our armed forces, past and present, who
have willingly risked, and all too often lost, everything to defend our
freedom. I sometimes worry about where America is heading, but
there can be nothing very wrong with a country that continues to
produce men and women like them.
- Jerry Pournelle's new site, Chaos Manor Reviews, is now up and running. If you want to read Jerry's latest Chaos Manor column, that's where you'll find it.
Today is Independence Day for me in more ways than one. It was two
years ago today that I made the jump to using Linux exclusively, and I
haven't looked back. After two years of living with Xandros Linux and
now Ubuntu Linux, Windows looks very primitive to me. Primitive and
Ron Morse has this to say on the messageboard about his own migration to Linux:
At the urging of a good
client I've just purchased VMWare workstation for Linux and this week
will be evaluating it as a means to erase the last vestiges of Windows
from my life. It has been some years since I last tried
VMware...reliable reports they have come a long way with version 5 and
I am hopeful, but there is an awful lot of material to digest in just
the user documentation.
I can see a situation where people get locked into VMware simply because of the investment it takes to get going.
I'll be putting it on top of Kubuntu Dapper Drake, we'll see what happens.
silliness that emerged last week about WGA having a "kill switch," even
though it remains unsubstantiated (and Berlind hardly qualifies as a
reliable source) just put me over the edge.
Even if this story
isn't completely accurate, I am convinced it is just a matter of time
before Microsoft's failing business model and inability to see the
market for what it is will push them to adopt ever more draconian
stunts to keep their foot firmly on the necks of their users. They
have simply been over promising and under performing for too long.
is growing up rapidly. Even if we haven't reached the "tipping point"
with Xandros 4, (K)Ubuntu 6 and SuSE 10.1, et.al., they show that Linux
developers have finally started making meaningful progress in moving
away from the ubergeek model and toward the mainstream.
the first time in my memory Linux development is converging rather than
diverging, even though there are two loci at present...one led by
Canonical (the (K)Ubuntu people) and the other around the Linux
Standard Base (LSB) in which Xandros has the technical lead.
Canonical and it's allies are pushing feature development and
application integration, the LSB effort is promoting a stable, uniform
base platform that promises enterprise-quality, reliability and
consistency. The LSB effort should spur hardware manufacturers to
develop device drivers for Linux too, since they will only have to
develop one driver/installer package instead of several variations.
Also, developers are beginning to see the FSF's Stalinist philosophy
for what it is and having soundly rejected GPL3 are working to develop
a more business friendly open-source licensing framework.
looks to be preparing, in the typical Jobs model of doing things, a
really vicious and subversive attack on Microsoft from the hardware
side, and gotten Intel to pay for it.
All this is going to
make for interesting developments but you don't want to be stuck on
Microsoft if being able to claim your data as your own is important to
you. Your access to your data on their platform is the only lever they
have left and you had better believe they will pull it hard as the
market continues to shift away.
As Ron points out, as important as Open Source Software is, open
formats are even more important. Speaking of formats, here's a message
from another Ron that points out another open-format issue I hadn't
From: Ronald McCarty
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Open Formats
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 08:45:08 -0500 (09:45 EDT)
Good point on the open formats. We all need to be reminded of this on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, photographers recognized this early on with the RAW format. Luckily for the consumer (although we didn't see it that way), the vendor tools for using their proprietary RAW formats sucked, so it slowed down the adoption enough for us to get our senses back. I keep putting off my conversion to raw until the next new year, but maybe 2007 will be the year all the reasons for converting are there (open format, good work flow, good tools). I do feel for the early adopters...I assume the conversion to an open format will be possible with pros and cons on what features can be converted and what assumptions are made during the conversion and what cannot be converted...
Barbara is painting windows and shutters this morning. This afternoon,
we build the Mainstream PC project system for the new edition of Building the Perfect PC. This will be our first BTX build, so I'm looking forward to it.
Netflix claims something like 60,000 titles, so I've been surprised to
find quite a few things missing. For example, some months ago, I wanted
to add Carl Sagan's Cosmos to our queue. Netflix doesn't carry it. Blockbuster does. Then, the other night, Barbara and I were watching a Monarch of the Glen DVD. The promo material at the beginning of the disc featured four BBC series: Wives & Daughters, Daniel Deronda, The Way We Live Now, and He Knew He Was Right. Barbara asked me to add all of those to our queue. Netflix had all of them except Wives & Daughters. Blockbuster has Wives & Daughters.
I'm sure there are a lot of titles that Netflix carries and Blockbuster
doesn't, but I'm starting to run into gaps in the Netflix selection
often enough that it may be time to drop our Netflix subscription and
sign up with Blockbuster. At the end of this month, we'll have been
with Netflix for a year. Maybe it's time for a change. Or perhaps I
should just keep our Netflix subscription and sign up with Blockbuster
for a couple months to get some of the stuff that Netflix doesn't carry.
I see that North Korea claims that it has the sovereign right to fire
as many missiles as it pleases. Iran also claims the sovereign right to
enrich Uranium. Obviously, they're both right. Just as obviously, these
actions are unacceptable to the United States, and the United States is
fully within its rights to protects its own interests. When two rights
are in conflict, it's time to examine the assumptions upon which
they're based. Clearly, the concept of sovereignty is the basis of that
Perhaps it is time for the United States to declare an end to
sovereignty and the birth of the American Empire. As a libertarian, I
don't much like that idea, but it may be the only logical course. All
current nation-states would become either Friends and Allies of America
client states or Enemies of America. Friends and Allies of America will
remain pretty much free to do as they please internally, as long as
they pay their taxes to America (perhaps 10% of GNP). Enemies of
America would be destroyed, with hostile regimes replaced by puppet
regimes friendly to America. American citizenship, like Roman
citizenship, would be limited to a small percentage of the
American population. A tiny percentage of non-Americans might become
Citizens of America, based on extraordinary contributions to American
I don't much like it, but neither do I see any alternatives.
- If you run Ubuntu, go buy a copy of Ubuntu Hacks
right now. O'Reilly sent me a review copy yesterday. I didn't have time
to get to it until just before bedtime, but I decided to spend a few
minutes flipping through it. In ten minutes, I learned at least
ten new things, including how to fix several problems that had been
bugging me since I started using Ubuntu. This is one book I plan to
10:02 - Speaking of Ubuntu, Tim O'Reilly posted an interesting article, Canaries in the Mac OS X and Red Hat Coal Mines?, that examines the recent defections of some high-profile Mac users to Ubuntu. Mark Pilgrim is about the last person most people would have expected to jump from OS X to Linux. Cory Doctorow
is a Mac fan from way back. He even has a Mac tattooed on his arm,
literally. And yet both have announced their switch from OS X to
Losing two high-profile advocates doesn't bode well for Apple and OS X.
That's nearly as bad as Bill Gates announcing he's abandoning
Windows, or the chairman of Pepsi announcing that he actually prefers
Coke. Pilgrim's comments in particular are telling. Doctorow states his
reasons in purely economic terms. Why pay so much more for Apple when
he can have essentially the same thing for a lot less by running Ubuntu
on an IBM notebook? But Pilgrim blasts Apple and OS X in much more
damning terms. He berates Apple for its DRM and thinks GPL software is
superior to what Apple sells.
People sometimes ask me why I don't use OS X, and the reasons Pilgrim
cites are also my own. I consider Apple to be a mini-Microsoft, no
better in terms of lockin and in many respects worse. I wouldn't own an
iPod on a bet, and I'd consider buying a Mac only if I absolutely
needed to run some software that wouldn't run on anything else.
Barbara left at oh-dark-thirty this morning for a bus tour with her
parents. We finished building and photographing the Mainstream PC
project system for the new edition of Building the Perfect PC
around dinnertime yesterday, just in time for Barbara to leave on her
trip this morning. Now I have to winnow down the several hundred
photographs I shot into the 40 or 50 that we'll use in the chapter. I
hope to get the chapter roughed out before Barbara returns late Sunday
My inbox is again looking like the Augean Stables. I haven't had time
to wade through it, and I probably won't have time until late this
weekend or early next week. If you've sent me email in the last few
days, please be patient. As Pournelle says, there's only one of me.
13:03 - ABC President of Advertising Sales Mike Shaw is in discussions with cable TV companies, trying to convince them to disable the fast-forward buttons on their DVRs. Mr. Shaw, as Buffy would say, does not use Earth Logic. FTA:
not so sure that the whole issue really is one of commercial
avoidance," Shaw said. "It really is a matter of convenience--so you
don't miss your favorite show. And quite frankly, we're just training a
new generation of viewers to skip commercials because they can. I'm not
sure that the driving reason to get a DVR in the first place is just to
skip commercials. I don't fundamentally believe that. People can
understand in order to have convenience and on-demand (options), that
you can't skip commercials."
Television networks, particularly ABC, are in major denial. Their
business model has disappeared, but they won't admit that, even to
themselves. The entire concept of broadcast networks is obsolete, and
the days when advertising could support "free" programming are nearly
at an end. Technology has trumped their obsolete business model, and
there's no getting the genie back in the bottle.
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Robert Bruce