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Week of 25 July 2005

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Monday, 25 July 2005
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08:40 - It's going to be beastly hot for the next few days. Today, the high is forecast to be 99°F and tomorrow 100°F, with heat indices of 110+. The dogs and I won't be spending much time outdoors.

Heads-down writing all week this week. I want to reach a couple of milestones by month-end, so I won't have time to write much here.

15:00 - Found on the Internet...
Hell - An explanation!

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet.

This is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.

Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you", and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct. leaving only Heaven and thereby proving the existence of a divine being

- which explains why last night Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."


Tuesday, 26 July 2005
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10:00 - Yes, I knew before I posted it that that story was on Snopes. That's why I credited it to "Found on the Internet..." But just because a story isn't true doesn't mean it can't be funny.

And Svenson comments:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: daynote
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 02:39:37 -0800
From: Jan Swijsen
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

Hell ...

Of course with Hell out of the loop all soul go to heaven. Which, following the same reasoning will get hot as hell.

Kind regards,
Sjon Svenson

Here's one that slipped past me, because I avoid motherboards with VIA chipsets. Current VIA chipsets do not support the new generation S-ATA II hard drives, which Samsung and Western Digital are currently shipping and Maxtor and Seagate will begin shipping very soon. There's no fix. If you have a current VIA-based motherboard, your only option is to use the older technology S-ATA drives (or a P-ATA model). The motherboard simply won't recognize the new S-ATA II models.

Yesterday, I emailed Microsoft with some possible slogans and tag lines for Hasta la Vista Windows. Herewith a few of them:
I haven't heard back, so far.

And, incidentally, Microsoft denies reports that VISTA is an acronym for Viruses, Infections, Spam, Trojans, and Adware.


Wednesday, 27 July 2005
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08:55 - So, last evening while Barbara was at the gym, I decided to replace the DVD writer in my primary office desktop. Checking inventory, I found a bare Plextor PX-712SA S-ATA DVD writer on the top of the pile. It wasn't even in a box, which made me think this was probably the drive I used some time ago in building a project system and found that it wouldn't boot a CD with the motherboard I was using.

I decided to take a chance and try the S-ATA DVD writer, since this system has a more recent motherboard. I installed the drive, booted the system, and everything came up normally in BIOS Setup. That's a good sign. The PX-712SA was already set as the first boot device, so I pulled a random Linux CD off the shelf, stuck it in the drive, and let the boot complete. Sure enough, Ubuntu came up without a problem, proving that the system boots properly from the S-ATA DVD writer. I figured it'd all be downhill from there.

I figured wrong. When I booted Xandros 3 Deluxe, Xandros File Manager didn't see the drive. I fired up K3b, hoping it would see the drive. I'm running K3b 0.12.2, so it should recognize S-ATA optical drives. Unfortunately, K3b didn't see the drive either. So I went out to a console and started checking the hardware detection logs and so on. Xandros 3.0 Deluxe flat out doesn't detect the drive. Nada. It just doesn't see it at all. Rats.

It's possible that the updated Xandros 3.02 would see the drive, but I've had so many problems with later releases of Xandros 3 that I didn't want to take the chance of installing it. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, hoping for a different outcome. I've been burned often enough by Xandros 3.01/3.02, SP2, and the 2.6.11 kernel that I want no part of them. That means I need to install a P-ATA burner.

Looking around, the only P-ATA burner I saw was a Plextor PX716A. I need that one for photo shoots and so on, so I didn't want to install it in a production system. I think I'll just order another NEC ND3540A DVD burner. It'll be interesting to see how the NEC stands up to heavy daily use. The Plextors take a licking and keep on ticking. The only Plextor I've ever had fail was the one I killed the other day by ramming my need into its extended tray. I do have Plextor PX-740A and PX-740AL models on the way in already, so I may just use one of those.


Thursday, 28 July 2005
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10:45 - Things haven't changed much in more than 100 years. I'd read the following quote years ago, but forgotten about it. Thanks to one of Jerry Pournelle's readers, who sent it to him, and thanks to Jerry for posting it.

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."

-Sir Winston Churchill (The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).

I checked the Project Gutenberg edition of River War, and found that this quote did not appear in it. I think that's probably because the Gutenberg version is a later edition. I do recall reading this many, many years ago, back before there was an Internet and probably before the term "urban legend" was coined, so I'm reasonably certain it's accurate.

Churchill realized that Islam is at war with Western civilization. If only our current leaders were as wise.

14:45 - If Barbara is tired when she writes her journal page, she sometimes asks me to check for typos, which she calls doing a "poop check". That phrase originated one day when Barbara came home absolutely beat and wrote and posted her journal entry without checking it. I happened to read it shortly after she posted it, and noticed something I thought was probably a typo. What she'd meant to write was:

I came home pooped.

What she actually wrote was:

I came home and pooped.

Which may or may not have been true, but was probably more information than her readers wanted. So it's only fair that I point out an error caught by reader Andrew Colbeck. He posted it over on the messageboard and I replied to it there, but I'll include our exchange here as well:

Is that what it takes to break a Plextor:

"... by ramming my need into its extended tray ..."

Good gravy, Robert.  I've never been intimidated in the locker room, but if you can do THAT, I'm shocked!  It takes your manliness to a whole new level.

As for myself, I discombobulated my Plextor when I rammed my knee into the open tray.  I'm not handy with small components but I was able to power down and disassemble the burner and get the tray seated correctly again.  I was surprised and pleased that it worked afterwards.

Andrew 8)

Sorry. I also write bodice rippers under a pen name, and sometimes I get confused.

And, alas, I didn't merely rip the tray out of the drive. I actually broke the tray. Oh, well. After diddling around with a Serial ATA PX-712SA, I finally installed a P-ATA PX-716A today. As it turned out, I had two PX-716A drives in the stock room, so I'll still have one available for shooting images and so on.

16:25 - Geez. Microsoft's Genuine Advantage program was cracked in less than a day. Mandatory validation is now optional. Before you press the "Custom" or "Express" button, all you need do is copy the following line to the address bar and press Enter:


I can't verify that this works, since I have only one Windows XP system running here, and it's been properly validated already.


Friday, 29 July 2005
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10:21 - We had dinner at the Chinese place last night with our friends Mary Chervenak and Paul Jones. Mary is very busy, flying here, there, and everywhere as a part of her job with Dow Chemical. I don't envy her having to deal with the TSA nearly every week. Paul is also busy, putting together the "package" that he has to submit to become a tenured professor at Wake Forest University. Tenure is never guaranteed, so this is a nail-biting time for Paul, but, knowing Paul, I suspect his chances of being granted tenure are at least as good as anyone's and better than most.

I'd been meaning to take along my kamikaze headband (there's an image of Mary wearing it here) to ask Alan, the owner of the Chinese restaurant, if he knew what the ideograms or pictograms said, if anything, or even what language they were in. They should be Japanese, given the rising sun graphic on the headband, but they didn't look Japanese to me.

Alan said the words were in fact Chinese and conveyed the concept of "long life". Those particular two symbols are apparently a traditional exhortation to the emperor, much like the British "Long live the king!", and convey the wish that the emperor, as Alan said, "Live long! Thousands of years!"

I was relieved to learn that. Thinking about it, I was afraid I'd posted an image of Mary wearing a headband that said, "I am a blithering idiot" or something similar but even less polite.


Saturday, 30 July 2005
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Sunday, 31 July 2005
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