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Week of 10 October 2005

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Monday, 10 October 2005
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08:20 - One week to go until the book has to be ready to go to production, so the next seven days will be very busy. The first draft is complete, and now I'm making an editing pass, incorporating comments from my editor, tech reviewers, and subscribers. One way or another, it'll all be done before the 17th.

Last weekend, the hard drive in old ripper failed. I didn't have another PATA hard drive handy, and ripper doesn't have SATA ports, so I just swapped in another system, which happened to be the Antec Aria-based system that had been my den system. Unfortunately, new ripper runs seriously hot under heavy load. I tried pulling the top and side panels, which helped some but not enough. So I put an old room fan right next to the case, running full speed and blowing directly on the processor.

With the cover off but without the external fan running, the CPU temperature is about 44° C at idle and exceeds 70° C under heavy load. With the external fan running, the CPU temperature is about 34° C at idle and reaches 65° C under heavy load. Both of these are with ambient temperature at 22° C. I'd simply pulled this system from the den and put it into service in my office without cleaning it, so there's some dust on the heatsink and elsewhere. But that's a pretty minor factor. Short of replacing the heatsink with a more efficient model or reducing ambient temperature, I don't think there's anything more to be done about reducing the running temperatures. The Northwood-core Pentium 4/3.2 simply runs that hot under heavy load. I shudder to think what temperature a Prescott-core Pentium 4 would reach under these circumstances.


Tuesday, 11 October 2005
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Wednesday, 12 October 2005
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08:45 - I was too busy yesterday to get a post up. I managed to crank out five updated chapters, 8 through 12. That leaves me with 13 through 16, along with the Preface and Chapter 1 remaining. All of those should be posted on the subscribers' page by Friday. Then I have a few images left to shoot and a bit more clean-up work and things will be ready to go to production on Monday 17 October, as scheduled. At that point, I'll take a day or two off and then jump into the next two books, both of which are on fairly short deadlines.

The only thing worse for an author than being too busy is not being busy enough, and it looks as if that won't be a problem.

15:49 - The revised versions of all chapters are now posted on the subscriber page. These versions incorporate comments from everyone except my O'Reilly editor, Brian Jepson, whose comments I haven't yet incorporated for chapters 0, 1, and 10 through 16. I'll have that done in the next day or so, and update the files on the server to the -03 versions for those chapters.

But it's really pretty much all over but the shouting now. I'm in clean-up mode. There are still a bunch of little things remaining to be done before the book goes to production early next week, but it looks as though I may actually be able to take a day off this weekend.

I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. You *are* storing water, aren't you? Having just finished off yet another 2-liter soft drink bottle, I've rinsed it, refilled it with tap water, and put it at the top of the basement stairs with several others. I figure that six two-liter bottles is a one-day supply for Barbara, Duncan, Malcolm, and me. I want to keep at least a one month's supply of bottled water on hand, which means we need about 1,000 2-liter bottles.

If you're wondering about my math, well, it's not as simple as it seems at first glance. Sure, something around 180 2-liter bottles would be a month's supply for us, but what about our friends and neighbors? We're certainly not going to sit here drinking our water--and giving it to our dogs--when Gerald and Stephanie next door, not to mention their two darling little girls, have nothing to drink. Or Jim and Naomi, or Mimi and Steve, or Paula, or Mary, Kim, and Jasmine. Ideally, of course, they'd be storing their own water, and I'll mention that to them. But when it comes to storing emergency supplies, my rule has always been to store more than I think we might need and hope that everyone else has done the same.

If a month's supply seems excessive, well just think for a moment what a terrorist might do to a municipal water system. I can think of half a dozen things that are lethal in microgram quantities and easy to produce in ton quantities. Sure, in an emergency, you could probably store 100 gallons or more in your hot water tank, toilet tanks, bathtubs, sinks, and so on, but what if you hear a bulletin that warns you that you can no longer trust the water coming out of your faucets? How long do you think it might take to get the entire system cleaned up and flushed out? What if yours is not the only municipal water system that's been sabotaged?

Remember the rule of threes. You can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter (in very cold weather), three days without water, and three weeks without food. It's important to take all of those into account in your emergency planning, but for some reason water seems to be the one that people forget about. I know people who have literally a year's supply of food stored, but no water. They'd die fat and thirsty.

Ordinary tap water stored in soft drink bottles stays good forever. Don't worry about the slight remaining odor of the soft drink. Just rinse the bottle thoroughly and refill it with tap water. You don't need to add bleach or take other steps to sterilize it. It is, of course, a good idea to have bleach on hand. We have gallons of the stuff. It's cheap, and in an emergency it's very useful for sterilizing water from a stream, pond, or lake, or even rainwater from your downspouts. Filter the stuff first through paper towels, coffee filters, or whatever to remove the gross contaminants and then treat it with chlorine bleach to kill whatever microorganisms are present.


Thursday, 13 October 2005
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11:29 - Advice from my friend Paul Robichaux.

Subject:     Water storage
Date:     Thu, 13 Oct 2005 10:52:05 -0400
From:     Paul Robichaux
To:     Bob Thompson

Good points on the water storage issue, Bob. It’s hard to keep a year’s supply of water for a family of 5, but we’re trying to build ours up. Terrorist attack may seem unlikely, but it can happen; more likely, your readers will run into issues with local contamination of their water supplies by cryptosporidium or other pesky microorganisms.

Along those lines, in addition to our stored water we have a Katadyn filtering unit, like the kind you’d take backpacking. It’s small and portable, and it will filter out just about every potentially harmful beastie you’ll encounter in North America. Well worth the $85 or so.

Also, I would point out that, whatever your religious beliefs, the LDS Church has some excellent resources for food and water storage. See http://www.providentliving.org for a good deal of information, or http://www.providentliving.com (note the different TLD) for one of the many emergency-prep businesses run by church members.



Friday, 14 October 2005
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13:55 - All of the final edits on the manuscript are finished and off to our editor at O'Reilly. We still have a few images left to shoot this weekend, but other than that we're finished until the quality-control PDFs arrive. At that point, we'll be very limited in what we can change, mostly just stuff like fixing typos. There'll probably be two QC passes, after which the book goes to the printers. I expect it will arrive in the bookstores soon after the first of the year.

Between edits, I've been struggling with ripper, which runs ripping software and similar stuff under Windows XP. It kept crashing, and heat wasn't the reason. That box had been running Xandros rock-solid, so I suspected the crashes were caused by XP. I finally decided to strip the box down to bare metal, reinstall Xandros, and see if I could get ripping working under Linux. I didn't have much time to play with that, obviously, but I did give it a short try.

No joy, so I decided to reinstall Windows. I just happened across a Windows 2000 installation disc, so I decided to try running it instead of XP. I installed W2K last night. Windows 2000 Setup took many hours to format the hard drive, which should have warned me of what was to come. To make a long story short, although I did get Windows 2000 installed, it didn't recognize the gigabit Ethernet adapter on-board the Intel D865GRH motherboard, not that there was any reason why an OS disc that old should recognize the new Ethernet adapter. I tried installing the Intel drivers for 82547 Ethernet chip, but I never did get it working.

So, finally, I decided to re-install Windows XP. I had to go through the obnoxious reactivation routine--have I ever mentioned how much I hate Microsoft?--but I got XP installed successfully. It also required a driver for the gigabit Ethernet adapter--same driver as Windows 2000, in fact--but this time I got it to install with no problems. I avoided the mistake I made last time, which was to install all the updates, and the system now appears to be running stably.

Speaking of Microsoft problems, with the current book nearly complete, I'm starting two more, and I'm determined not to allow the manuscripts of these books to ever touch a Microsoft format. This time, I think I'm going to use OpenOffice.org 2.0 and save everything in OpenDocument format. Unfortunately, one of the books is a revision, and the original manuscript is in Word format. I've just been trying to open those older documents, and they're giving me fits. Not only does StarOffice 7 choke on some of them, Word itself chokes on some of them. Nothing new there. Word was choking on them as I was writing them originally.

I may actually end up stripping them all down to bare text and reapplying all of the formatting from scratch. That way, I'd end up at a starting point that Microsoft Word had never touched and could not poison. As anyone who works with long, complex documents knows, Word absolutely sucks. I'm determined not to let it poison any of my documents ever again.


Saturday, 15 October 2005
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Sunday, 16 October 2005
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