|CHAOS MANOR MAIL: Week One|
|HOME||June 7 - June 21, 1998
This is the mail I managed to put together and answer.
I read (on the web) your Byte article of Feb 98 about theHP LaserJet 4000. I have three requirements. They are (in order of priority):
1. A good color scanner to send photos (of houses--I'm a realtor) through the Internet to be uploaded onto our corporate web page.
2. A color printer - medium quality, A4 size, to spice up our letters.
3. A plain paper fax.
What are your honest thoughts on the all in one machines, e.g., the HP OfficeJet. Am I better off getting separate components or are they trying to be jack of all trades but master of none. Do the all in ones have good color scanning and printing? Any final recommended machines I should look at?
None of the multifunction devices provide as good results as single-purpose devices. But if you get the results you like out of one, more power to you.
I hope that helps.
Hey, Jerry, I kind of like the new, somewhat unstructured ramblings on your web page better than the old BYTE column. For one thing, I like the "interactivity" of you asking the audience questions, etc.
I useOutlook 97 every day, and while I have IE4 on my machine, many people here at PostLinear use it with Netscape. In fact, I liked Outlook enough that I now use Outlook 98 on my Mac as my email reader. I've tried just about everything else -- Eudora, Claris, etc. But Outlook is the only one that has even a half-way decent address book. For example, it's easy to add addresses -- simply click on a message from someone, and select the "Add Sender to Address Book" menu item. No more typing of email addresses. I don't even bother to enter names into the address book when I send someone a message for the first time -- I figure, if they don't reply, then I probably don't need to have them in my address book, and if they do, then I can use the above-mentioned feature (and it also makes sure that I spell their name the way THEY want it.)
Zip drives: I've said before that Zip is simply the "new floppy", and we should just treat it as such.
Word97: Have you tried the "document map" feature? This is a little icon on the toolbar which looks like a magnifying glass superimposed on a page of text. It opens up a narrow strip along the left-hand side which shows an outline of all of the headings in the document. You can click on the heading to do to that place in the document.
Another issue: Do you remember I told you about my friend Barney Pell fromAmes, who was in charge of the software executive module for the Deep Space 1 mission? The one that does it's own autonomous goal planning? Well, his mission is due to be launched in October.
For those who don't know, David, otherwise known as Talin, is the former head dreamer of the Dreamer's Guild, and was a great help when I first encountered the web.
I haven't tried the Document Map; it looks like something I should know about. Word has many features I don't use and wouldn't want, but that sounds like one I ought to know about. As to Outlook, I think I have The Word, and I'll try it as soon as I get home. Thanks.
From: Jim Jacobus <email@example.com>
Jerry, I was just reading an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that states: "As of April, 2,556 satellites of all kinds -- military, scientific and commercial -- were soaring hundreds of miles above Earth, according to NASA and the Air Force. On average, three new payloads go into orbit each week. More than half of all the objects put into space since 1957 are still up there." I was wondering about this in the context of all the current flack with the Loral Corp using Chinese launch facilities. I read that demand for new satellites forces companies to go to foreign governments because of the lack of capacity stateside.
I don't know what the real story is on technology transfer. However, it seems that if you have to go to foreign governments to launch sophisticated technology, you always have a security risk. Doesn't the real problem lie with Congress? What has the US Gov done to promote or help private sector development of launch vehicles? This country has the technology and the capital to develop such an industry, but I'm unaware of any successful operation. What's your take on this?
Good question. First, what China got: the ability to do stage separation and put objects in more than one orbit with one launch: which is, of course, the same as the ability to hit two different places on the earth's surface with one launcher, which is known as Multiple Independent Target RV's which is MIRV. They didn't have that ability until we let them have it. They also got accuracy improvements.
In my judgment we'd have been a LOT better off developing our own launch capabilities; it would not have taken much. Guaranteed market would have done the job.
I suspect we have not seen the last of the implications of this technology transfer. And we still don't have the launch capability. However, we are getting someprivate launch companies that may change that. Now if we can develop a Strategic Defense Capability we can stop worrying those 13 warheads the CIA says are now aimed at the US (and weren't prior to the technology transfer).
From: "Spencer K. Whetstone" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thought you might find this interesting.
Info-Policy-Notes | News from Consumer Project on Technology
June 3, 1998
David Chun, a student from UCLA, called a dozen PC manufacturers asking if he could buy a PC without buying Microsoft Windows. None would [sell him one]. This is his report.
Exclusive Agreements with PC Manufacturers and Microsoft regarding Operating System software.
Interesting report. Thanks for sending it. Of course, I can understand companies not wanting to maintain equipment with no OS. If you really want to buy such a thing, get motherboard and components. Tech support is tough enough as it is; that at least is what I suspect most companies will say.
Chaos Manor Associate Eric Pobirs offers a blunter view:
I'm amazed by the number of articles I'm seeing along the lines of the one sent to Jerry at this URL:
Companies likeGateway are in the business of commodity sales. Asking them to configure a system outside their narrow range of options is like asking Ford to sell you a single Mustang without a transmission because you have one you'd rather use. In that case you'd go to a specialist in custom cars just as the computer buyer should seek out a specialist in custom computer sales.
In one day I could easily compile a list of over 100 companies this state who would happily configure an Intel box without the purchase of a Windows license. It would cost a bit more for the service but that is typical of the road less traveled. It would be much less expensive than comparable changes to a new car.
This case is continuously being clouded by the conversion of molehills to mountains so that core issues become difficult to see. In this way would-be critics are doing much to aid Microsoft instead of challenging them.
From: JT [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 1998 9:36 PM
To: Jerry Pournelle
Subject: Bay Networks 310TX
Those sneaky dogs at Bay have repackaged there 310Tx to a 310 TXsomethingorother and now charge $49.95 for the card. It's supposed to be specially conducive to Pentium and P-Pro MB's. Well I can't imagine what they did but I'm running the 'regular' 310 TX cards all over my house on Fast Ethernet and they rock; easy to load, drivers for NT and 95(blech). No Warp drivers though, a bit of a bummer - alas c'est la vie.
My point. Without being to bold, please speak out and say stick with the 310TX, why pay $20 more for something that works fine at $29- just for a name?
Buy American sure, save money - yes, but what the hell is the deal with this new marketing crap? By the way, Fry's is selling 10ns SDRam (DIMMS) for $29 each. Stellar!
PS: THere's also a problem I'm hitting consistently with heavy use servers running NT SCSI Adaptec drivers.. HD freezes, no blue screen just STUCK. Heard of it. It's killing both my mail server and Proxy server. Switched NIC cards from 3COM to Bay but it hasn't helped. I think it's NIC/network traffic related but it -IS- tied to the Adaptec card some how. I sense it even if I don;t have proof yet. Too many machine with the same hardware but different HD's and jobs are failing in the same manner. It could bve BIOS,but I haven't investigated that yet.
Thanks. I do know I have had no problems with the $29 10/100 cards, and I have used a bunch of them in systems here; I can't guarantee the same results to everyone of course. As to the HD freezes, I'll have to think on it. Anyone else seen the problem?
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 10:10:48 -0700
From: "William L. Clardy" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Regarding JT's woes with Bay upping the price on their NICs:
D-Link has what is darned close to the same card, still priced at $30 at Fry's. I've got one loaded into my Linux box, and it seems to be working just fine.
Also, regarding Adaptec and NT, Adaptec has updated NT drivers (both 3.51 and 4.0) available for free download from their web site. I put these straight in with all my current NT installs, and have not had any problems with them (other than the Service Pack 3 installation asking if I would like to replace them with the original drivers).
Remember that you must re-install Service Pack 3 after you fiddle with your network settings.
NT 4 Service Pack 4 should be out later this month, which Alex says will fix quite a few annoying bugs, and "finally lets you set up user quotas", by which I take it to mean that you can limit disk usage by different users.
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 1998 16:36:41 +0000
From: Hallvard Paulsen <email@example.com>
I'm sorry to hear about the BYTE fiasco. I didn't know about that before I looked up your WEB page to send you this message.
In Chaos Manor in the June issue of BYTE you write that you think it is silly of major hardware companies to bring out systems with "alternative" OSes like linux and BeOS. The only reason for this seams to be that *you* don't want to give up your applications and games.
Isn't this a bit egotistic? Do you really want to make it difficult for other people to buy hardware from a major company preinstalled with the OS that suits their needs the best? Also, don't you think it is unfair to make people pay for software they are not going to use, just because they "already know about them (the alternative OSes)"? The fact is that you can't buy a computer from a major PC maker without paying for a windows license. (Of course I personally never buy PC's from these.)
Also this article really makes me wonder what type of applications you do run on all your computers. From what I've read in Chaos Manor, you spend most of your time struggling to make windows behave itself. You use a lot of different 3rd party software as your weapons in this fight. I've got news for you! You don't need these applications on a different OS. ;)
Since you write for a living, I guess you use some kind of word- processor. I have only written one book. It contained a lot of cross references, figures and equations (yes, it was what you would call a Ph.D. thesis in engineering). I tried using windows and the most used word-processor to write the book. At 50 pages there was no way I could continue on that platform. I spent 2 weeks learning enough Linux and LaTeX to re-create what was lost in the windows environment, and from that point I on, I never looked back. The greatest thing about LaTeX is that you can use any ASCII editor you want. Even the one built into my HP LX-95 that i got second hand 5 years ago.
I really hate Microsoft software (both OS and applications), simply because I have found that most of the time it doesn't work as advertised. And the rest of the time I could have gotten the same work done using software that would cost only a fraction of what Microsoft charges. And before I forget, I was a DOS/Windows user many years before I ever tried UNIX (not to mention Linux).
The only reason Windows is still such a dominant OS, is because most people don't know about any alternatives. Also PC-users today take it for granted that a computer dies on them at more or less frequent intervals. This represents an enormous loss in productivity world wide, and unless companies do something about it (other than waiting for Microsoft's "next great update", that always brings as many new problems as it solves) they will be out of business quite soon.
(My job is to be an IT-engineer with the responsibility for my companies UNIX-en, however, since that doesn't take much time I also help my colleagues out on the Windows side, an I must say I've seen things that would be unheared of on "my" platforms.)
I said that it was silly to ask major computer hardware companies to bring out systems with alternative operating systems because they were not going to do it. There won't be enough market, because those who want alternative operating systems are unlikely to buy from the major hardware companies, a point you yourself make in your own letter. Why it is "egotistic" of me to believe that, or to want tools that do the job I do as opposed to writing the book you did, is not clear to me, nor is it clear how my holding that view is so harmful to everyone else. Were I to attempt a complex book with many mathematical formulae I might well choose different tools from the ones I'm accustomed to.
It's great that you have found the secret of getting the same work done using software costing a fraction of what Microsoft charges, but alas, this option isn't available to me. I have to muddle along with Office, if for no other reason than I haven't time to relearn everything. But your guess that I use a word processing program is accurate, if perhaps not astonishing.
Now I have been known to express unhappiness with Windows and other Microsoft products, but surely they did something right? I was also one of the very earliest voices in this field trying to get AT&;T, IBM, DEC, and the other then-giants to understand that unless they got easy to use applications running on UNIX and developed tools that ordinary users could understand, UNIX was going to remain a specialized guru-friendly system while someone else developed an operating system for the rest of us. My prediction was, I think, accurate, and it's just a bit painful to now be accused of creating the problem. But then shooting the messenger is a long tradition in American business.
As for UNIX in the main: UNIX continues to flourish in large systems where reliability is a higher priority than the talent pool to run the systems. No one can realistically say Windows of any stripe is even in the same class, when reliability is on the line. However, Microsoft isn't giving up on that fight, and they have the market on their side.
From:&;#9;"Laiacona, George Web Graphics" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date:&;#9;Tue, 16 Jun 1998 08:10:34 -0500
Mr. P., and Associates,
&;#9;On the subject of computers without OS's.
&;#9;I find the easiest way to buy a system with no OS, and I like IBM and Compaq hardware; it is all tested and well engineered, and a very quality product, is to order the system without a Hard disk, and buy the brand disk I want later. No OS is included in the PC if there is no disk to install it to, and I prefer SCSI disks anyway, so this is the
Ideal solution. The only problem is any special device drivers I may need, but these manufacturers usually OEM common brand hardware, so Linux drivers are available. I haven't checked in a while, but I am sure one could order an IBM with OS/2 installed if he chose.
&;#9;Brand X computers are just too hard to support, but I build them for myself at home anyway. (Masochistic, yes, I know. Chaos theory is alive and well within my manor as well, and I have two six-year-olds to assist.)
Programmer/ Network Engineer
Web Graphics, New York
Good idea. I tend to build the whole system from scratch, or did; we'll see how much of that I can do now. But I do have enough components to build a couple of systems, and I may as well use them. Thanks, Jerry
From: Keith Lofstrom <email@example.com>
Subject: NEWCHAOS: Leave the computers behind!
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 16:56:24 -0700 (PDT)
Dr. Pournelle (out of respect, a grinning "Jerry" is implied ):
Sorry about Byte. Maybe the wave crashed your surfboard before you reached the rocks on shore. The computer industry looks none too healthy right now. Me, I'm tired of the damned things. An excellent time to move on.
You, of all people, will find the next wave. I look forward to being pleasantly surprised at the next nifty writing job you design for yourself. In fact, I DEMAND IT :-), since clever, adaptable people aren't too thick on the ground, and I need to watch 'em for clues.
Scuba Diving? Cooking? A "conservative" Whole Earth Catalog? What was great about your column was *not* that you were an "expert", but that you learned *with* us. What should we learn together next?
Until then, perhaps you can do something really outlandish and against current SF trends, like a self-contained, ripping good novel that ends at page 250, instead of the multi-volume pods of bloated whales that busy people haven't time to read. Won't pay the rent, but might recharge the batteries.
Thanks for years of informative amusement,
P.S. Just bought Starswarm (from Borders, so it gets noticed). Looks like you have already done the outlandish thing :-), 350 pages, but that is only 1.5 decibels beyond optimal. Good show.
Keith Lofstrom firstname.lastname@example.org
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon" Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Power ICs
Thanks on all counts. I haven't been SCUBA diving in years; maybe it's time. Alas, the trend in publishing is to longer books, not shorter! The publishers thought STARSWARM too short. Glad you liked it.
From: Peter Taffs [email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 1998 10:13 AM
You must know they have modified the link at the bottom of your column on the Byte Site to point to a message "We're sorry. The page that was requested does not exist."
You are right, there is nothing like Byte, except Wired which is equally diverse but not technical. The two magazines have been my reading staple for many years.
Please accept some positive karma, best wishes and a speedy return to technical print (the last is my selfish wish!).
Peter Taffs. London, England.
Thanks. CMP told me a week ago that was a 'technical glitch' that would be fixed 'soon.' After a week, am I entitled to wonder? In any event, they don't seem to be able to link to my page from their site, but the story is that they will get that fixed Real Soon Now.
Thanks, and stay well,
From: Michael Cary [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 1998 6:31 PM
We need you. IF you can afford it! Somehow, stay on the web or in some magazine - your Chaos Manor has shown me the way many times.
I use a Zip Drive because of your columns.
I use Partition Magic because of your columns.
I used PC Tools because of your columns.
I have a scanner because of your columns.
I use Norton Utilities because of your columns.
I have Kai's Photo Soap because of your columns.
I will be buying a digital camera because of your columns.
They, and you, are the GREATEST.
Good luck, stay well, and get richer!
Some mail gets in for obvious reasons. Thanks! Now if someone will just tell potential advertisers.
Stay well, Jerry
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 1998 12:33 AM
Subject: Fast Image Viewers
I download and save lots of astronomy and aerospace images to my hard drive.
For organizing images, (by category in subdirectories with thumbnail files), and for manipulating images, I use Paint Shop Pro. However, as you point out, full featured image editing programs are rather slow to load. When browsing around my hard drive, when I double click on an image file I prefer to see it *fast.* Image viewing programs, as opposed to image editing programs, have a big speed advantage.
Two programs I've discovered that are good for this:
IrfanView32 -- Very fast. Versatile: handles most types of image files. Displays GIF animations, like the compass on your website. Best of all, it's freeware. Written by Irfan Skiljan, (who appears to be a Bosnian student at Vienna University of Technology.)
ACDSee -- Also very fast and versatile. Maybe slightly faster than IrfanView. Shareware. (My default image viewer with Win 3.11, but never upgraded for Win 95, because I'm happy with IrfanView32.)
Thank you. I found Irfanview32, and his web site is worth visiting even if you don't want his excellent freeware program. I didn't look at ACDSee because the other is Good Enough. As you say, I like to see views FAST and this seems to do it. It displays animations as animated, too. And I got this nifty little critter off Irfan's web site:
Stay well, Jerry
June 19, 1998:I discover that trying to download from his site gets me a zip file with 0K in it. Repeated tries by clicking on the download button produce the same results. Eventually I began fooling around on his site to find a download ftp site, and one of them sent me an actual ZIP file with 305K in it. When I extracted that, it worked, and I have made this the default viewer for jpeg, jpg, tiff, and gif files. It opens fast, and animations show properly. It's freeware, it works, and Bob's your uncle.
From: Sherburne, Richard [SherburneR@ag.state.la.us]
keep it up. Okay, that came out a little tacky. Keep this site up, as a regular dose of Pournelle offsets the BS from many other sources about the latest and greates. Glad to hear CMP will meet their obligations. BTW, I've just finished building out a dual pentium pro/ultra wide SCSI NT machine. It flies, I am curious if you have ever seen a comparison of performance of dual PP machines vis a vis PII machines. I have a 233 mhz PII machine at work and it seems to drag next to my dual PP machine. Any ideas?
Thanx and keep it up.
From everything I have seen, a dual Pentium Pro is faster than a single P2. Of course you need NT to make the operating system understand there's more than one processor; no flavor of Windows 9X knows about SMP. In particular, the Dual Pentium Pro 200 with the one megabit cache chips is, in NT, faster than anything else we have. It's not so with Windows 98. I have the release 98 now, and I'll be installing it shortly in that machine; after which I will scrub it off and put Fireball to work as he's supposed to be used, as an NT server. Then I'll build up an ultimate Socket 7 system with a 100 mhz motherboard. By then I may have some P2 motherboards and chips to play with. Thanks for the kind words, and stay well,
From: cachin@MIT.EDU on behalf of Christian Cachin
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 1998 2:47 PM
Subject: spinning compass image is also hidden in Netscape!
a longtime reader of your BYTE column, I just took a look at your website, since I am not sure what happens to BYTE ...
The spinning compass image on http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view.html (June 17) is `secret' in Netscape 3 on Unix, implanted by its designer!
If you go to the homepage of Jamie Zawinsky (main hacker of Mozilla) at
you'll see the dull N image in the upper right corner replaced by the compass, spinning while the page loads. Being a cryptographer, I looked briefly at how he might trigger the hack, but I couldn't figure it out.)
Christian Cachin email: email@example.com
MIT Laboratory for Computer Science tel: +1-617-253-9681
NE43-340, 545 Technology Square fax: +1-617-253-3480
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA url: http://theory.lcs.mit.edu/~cc/
Thanks. That's not the only strange thing about that web site...
Friday, June 19, 1998:I have a special show report from former BYTE Technical Editor Russell Kay. It's long enough and good enough to have its own page. Go see it there.
From: Chris Guertin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, June 19, 1998 2:56 PM
Jerry, I think you'll find that a Dual Pentium Pro 200 will run circles around a Dual PII machine of similar MHz. Not until Xeon will there be a PII that stacks up to the PPro. The PII's of today only really compete with regular pentiums. Of course, you need NT Server or OS/2 Warp Server SMP to really see a PPro in action. We run a couple of 4-way PPro 200 machines with 1 Gb of RAM (IBM PC Server 704's) at the office with OS/2 Warp Server SMP on them and they really fly (unless you compare them to our big AS/400, but that's another story ;).
The PII's are not at all suitable for high-end Intel-based Server usage at this time. Intel is calling the Xeon the upgrade for PPro users.
(Yep, I'm still enjoying this website of your's, keep it up!)
I have certainly found Fireball to be faster than single processor P-2 machines including those rated at 300. Fireball has dual Pentium Pro 200 with one megabit cache; of course you have to run NT to get the benefit of dual processors. Thanks. Stay well, Jerry
From: Tim Loeb [email@example.com]
Would you book a flight if the pilot told you the engines might stop working before the trip was finished? That's how I feel about sending in ten bucks for something that may or may not continue for more than a couple of weeks (tho the end of CHAOS MANOR would be slightly less disturbing than free fall in a 747).
I don't mind the ten, BUT
I want to pay with a credit card (over the Net is fine), and
I want to have reasonable assurance that for my money I'm going to get 365 daily tidbits or 52 bigger bits or 12 truly big bits of the Pournelle wisdom &; insight.
That, I think, defines the difference between "donation" and "subscription," don't you?
So put me down as a wannabe subscriber, and when it gets to the point of being a genuine transaction I'll happily fork over the clams.
Here's a thought, in terms of self promotion. You put stuff up for free for a while. Then you say, if you want to read the new stuff, the latest stuff, it's time to subscribe. Via password only subscribers read the most recent 90 day's worth of goodies, browsers and cheapskates can read older material for free. I bet it would work. Ten bucks a year is okay, but five would be a no-brainer.
Finally, on a totally different front, Carlos Casteneda is reported to have died today. Do you think there was a Don Juan, or were the books fiction?
Thanks. You raise several points.
First, I'm not going to make promises beyond my ability to keep: if there's no revenue from this site, it isn't going to continue to take the time I am putting in it. A number of people offered help: I put up a way they can do it. I don't expect a lot to come of that, but surprises happen. As to sending money by credit card, and exotic ways to make subscriptions happen, Darnell is working on that; one guarantee I will make is that those who sent early money will be at least as well off as those who waited, and I will include some kind of extra goody in their package if this thing takes of. For the rest, all I can say is, if my email is any indication, my mail person will have a pleasant surprise for me in a couple of days.
Second, I keep hoping DEC/COMPAQ will implement MILLICENT, which will solve all problems. They have pretty good software. They do not have a broker yet, but COMPAQ certainly has the financial clout to make that happen if they want to. Millicent would change the web world, and for the better. We'd even get Dvorak in here to revive Discontinuity, a Dvorak/Pournelle weekly debate all in color for a dime. One of these days.
Meanwhile, if you want to help, buy Starswarm, preferably from Amazon using the click through on my web page. Or send money, as described, and I'll try not to see you don't regret it. Try. And if that annoys you, God bless you, I'm not offended.
Clinton is speaking at MIT commencement 5 June 1998. The school keeps sending out email about what roads, buildings, services and so on will be closed.
Subject: Attire for June 5 Commencement - Message for All Students
From: (Thomas H. Adams)
Please post in your respective DLCs as appropriate.
There has been some recent controversy surrounding appropriate attire for Commencement. Normally, the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs would not need to take a position on this issue. However, it seems that a substantial number of female students are considering a suggestive and offensive form of dress.
It therefore is necessary for the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs to declare that the wearing of black berets and kneepads by alumnae-to-be at graduation is hereby forbidden.
This dress code will be strictly enforced for all participants in the commencement procession. No exceptions or exemptions will be made.
Thomas H. Adams, Special Asst to the Dean for Student Affairs
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education
I can't vouch for the authenticity of this beyond the fact that I got it from a usually reliable source, which included the name of the MIT student (female) who sent it. I have removed the name just in case she didn't want the source known.
Sunday, June 21, 1998: More: Russell Kay says it's a hoax, but an elaborate one: it was hacked into the MIT system by persons unknown, so that my informant sent me a message genuinely taken from where it purported to come from, but not inserted by the proper authorities. Which is about what you'd expect.