CHAOS MANOR MAIL
October 26 - November 1, 1998
Fair warning: some of those previous weeks can take a minute plus to download. After Mail 10, though, they're tamed down a bit.
IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor.
PLEASE DO NOT USE DEEP INDENTATION INCLUDING LAYERS OF BLOCK QUOTES IN MAIL!!!!!!!! I spent 20 minutes I don't have finding a "Cheers, XXX" that was indented way over and caused the Linux Page to have to be horizontally scrolled. PLEASE!!! NOTE that TABS will produce this result too.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
If you want to send mail that will be published, you don't have to use the formatting instructions you will find when you click here but it will make my life simpler.
We open with a note from Bob Thompson about the new format.
If you want people to use this new format, why not provide an incentive to them to do so? Youve said that you dont require the new format, but what you havent said is that a given letter is more likely to be published (and replied to publicly) if the sender has made it easier for you to do so by using the new format. True?
Robert Bruce Thompson
I will certainly read mail in this format first, and yes, it's more likely that I'll respond to it first, but that's not something I can promise. After all, some things aren't worth publishing no matter how they're formatted! But that was the idea.
Okay, we'll try this format thing. I work in either MS Office or Corel WP as the schizophrenia strikes---(I also teach; and that plant uses WordPerfect).
As you are working in a multiple computer and soon a multi-OS system (keep on working, I'm waiting until you are finished), here's a little tip/trick that may be of some use to you:
After you configure your Win95 machines to TCP/IP, you can use one of several popular communications packages to literally work on any machine from wherever you'd like. I'd been planning on this, but couldn't find my configuration books, so I used Moshe Bar's excellent instructions last weekend and set up my primary machines with TCP/IP. I loaded LapLink 7.5 (newer version out, not tested) on my server and used my working machine to connect with it. If you are not familiar with remote control software, it essentially allows you to see the distant machine's screen on your local machine and to control that machine with your local keyboard and rodent. I use this method to connect to my job site and control several machines at that location from my home and while I'm on vacation.
Well, all I wanted to do at home was be able to pull IRQ and port information from the server (big plans ahead) without having to get up and physically go to it. Bottom line: TCP/IP delivered the goods. The connection was clean and fast.
I can also recommend Symantec's pcAnywhere (in use for one office configuration) and Artisoft's Cossession Remote (new version enroute for testing) for this type of work. I have not applied this to the NT machine yet as I have to plan lots of time when I deal with that beast (and I have to select a program that supports NT).
While I use KVM switches for most close work, this solution is rather elegant for distant work.
Robert Bruce Thompson comments on my Access suggestion.
>I hope you jest. This guys Access suggestion is a very bad example of re-inventing the wheel.
>Hes apparently more interested in the golly-gee-whiz neatness of the process itself than the
>results. You could invest weeks of work getting a system like this set up, debugged, and tested,
>and still end up with something that requires much more effort to use routinely and is functionally
>inferior to FrontPage. Not to mention that youd end up with dynamically-generated pages that
>search engines cant index. FP98 has its aggravations, but it allows you to accomplish more with
>less effort than any alternative like this. FP2000 will be better still. What youre doing aint broke,
>so why fix it?
If you are at all familiar with Access, I'd be willing to send you the Access file that I store my site in for you to look over. That way you can see for yourself how hard it would be to do for yourself. The problem with dynamic pages isn't true if you design the system properly. In particular, my page exports are any different from the prior one if nothing changed on the back. I.E., the front page changes if I made changes to the site, but the archive files are the same if nothing was added to that particular archive.
>Yes, and thermonuclear devices do a good job of exterminating that pesky
>crabgrass problem, too, so long as you can live with some collateral damage. As
>far as his casual suggestion that you implement sendmail, be aware that most UNIX
>gurus regard someone who can configure sendmail as a gurus guru.
He is very correct that configuring sendmail is extremely hard to configure. However, I found that on Red Hat 5.1, sendmail was configured enough that I didn't have to mess with it directly. I just had to configure the programs that download mail and feed it into sendmail, and the programs that take mail from sendmail and pump it to another smtp server. That article I pointed you to in Linux Journal (Feb 1998 issue at www.linuxjournal.com) explains what the basics in easy terms, and you really should look at that article for yourself if you ever find the time.
PS, some procmail wizards (a mail sorting tool that I haven't yet learned well enough to anything useful with) could probably help you to get procmail to place messages that have tons of indenting at the bottom of your mail file, and other cool tricks. However, procmail doesn't come already configured, and it is only marginally better than learning perl.
PPS, boy I really miss Byte. If it weren't for your web site and slashdot.org I don't know what I would do. Keep up the good work, and I hope you find a way to make money off your web site soon.
So do I, but I haven't found it yet. Maybe at COMDEX someone will have some suggestions. I'm speaking there by the way.
For those of us working in MS Word, should we send this to you as HTML (a little knowledge is dangerous) or does Frontpage obviate that?
I've changed my signature line to a hypertext link: Yes? No? Seems to me that we can help you out by imbedding the links that we are writing about and save you some formatting. Again, your show.
And this time I added the Times Roman lines at the end J (okay, that was interesting: I added the <smiley> emoticon and Word changed it to a smiley face bullet on my screen (gosh, I wish Word had a true "Reveal Codes", ala WP)).
Another thought on remote connectivity for your lifestyle: when you are vacationing/writing and you just simply have-to-have that one file that you didn't put on the laptop because you are simply not working on that project on this trip. Well, it's just a phone call away!
DanBowman@worldnet.att.net (This link isn't going to work: see below.)
Interesting. We'll see how all this formats. Thanks. Frontpage converts things to html when you paste them in, so that's not a problem: standard doc works just fine. I would presume that a Word Perfect document would work also, since Word seems to have no trouble converting. Thanks
And then we heard:
The formatting on my document to you worked all too well. My signatory line does not pop to an email link; it tries to pop to a site link. My error; this one should get us to where we want to be:
which ought to do it.
Bill Grigg [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Your said. "Netscape DOES NOT WORK at the Microsoft download site. I wonder if the Netscape lawyers know this?"
Just thought you should know.
I downloaded the newest Communicator 4.5 from Netscape the other night and it ate my IE 4 Search engine. I wonder if the Microsoft lawyers know that? Trying to cut a one-sided deal is one thing, mucking with another companys code on MY hard drive is another. Besides, I only downloaded the browser to insure that I had the best available browser. I was so infuriated by this hostile and unwanted act that I quickly uninstalled Communicator, thereby eliminating any chance of a Netscape convert from the dark side.
Whether or not Microsoft has done something illegal or not, I dont know, but one thing I do know...every company Ive ever worked for has attempted to drive their competitors under. In Business this is known as "doing" business. If this is what the DOJ case is about then Heaven help businesses everywhere.
Netscape used to "own" the browser market. It took over weaker competitors just as Microsoft is accused (guilty?) of. This is the first rule of the jungle. Eat or be eaten. This applies equally well to corporate jungles as well. Its most common as "leveraged buyout" or "hostile takeover". These ones are used by ego maniacs. Microsoft used "Im BIG" and thats because they are. Perhaps too big for their britches as we shall see.
Well, if General Motors owned gas stations and put something in the gasoline to make Fords not work, we'd all be upset. There are ways to compete and ways to compete. In the present case I suspect it's not malice, just not good thought. This is hardly the time for Microsoft to be even looking like they are being unfair.
Im sending you this in your new suggested format (which I think is a good idea).
While its not really that difficult, it may just be difficult enough to discourage some trivial e-mail, even if it didn't work in this case. ;-)
For those that dont have Microsoft Word, Id like to suggest Cetus CWordpad, a freeware word processor that reads and writes Word .DOCs, and even has a spell checker. It probably does everything needed by 90% of the people that use a word processor. (Its also fast and small I use it on my laptop)
You can get it at http://www.cetussoft.com/cwordpad.htm
Ill let you get back to writing now, as I am currently facing a critical shortage of unread Jerry Pournelle books!
Thanks. For that matter Wordpad that comes with the OS does as good a job as many of the earlier word processors
From: Jim Lawrence [email@example.com]
Regarding the difficulties readers outside the U.S. seem to have in getting payment to you: it is ridiculous in this electronic age that it should cost more than ten dollars to send a ten dollar payment. I don't bother to get traveler's checks when I go abroad; I simply use my ATM debit card to withdraw funds in the local currency from my checking account back in Rhode Island. This has worked for me worldwide: Sydney and Vienna and London just as quickly and easily as in my local supermarket. The exchange rate is much better than in commercial change bureaus and there's no commission charge! So why hasn't the banking world come up with a low cost electronic funds transfer mechanism for the consumer market?
Regarding your UNIX/LINUX comments. As someone who comes from an IBM mainframe background, I used to hear a constant stream of put-downs from UNIX types and, given some of the odd complexities, etc. of things like MVS JCL, I believed them when they went on (and on) about the beauty and ease of UNIX compared with the MVS world. And then a few years ago I got involved with client/server computing and began to study SQL and Sybase, etc. and had to use VI... and I decided then and there that I would never again give credence to claims of UNIX superiority coming from people who thought that VI was an acceptable editor for anyone (other than for someone who did nothing but VI all day, every day).
Hope the format on this works. Ive told WordPro to format and save this as a Word document.
Thanks for sharing the view from Chaos Manor...
Format works fine, and yes, it's silly that international fund transfers take so much trouble. Oh well. UNIX is good for what it's for, but I don't think it is the system for the average end user. You really have to have some devotion to learning it.
I read Dan Bowmans comments with great interest. I have been using remote control software of some flavor for several years now. In addition to the fine products he mentions, there is one other that I recommend: Remote Desktop from Network Associates.
It works with NT very well. Its bulletproof, I have not had a single problem with the software since I started using it. It even works well over a modem connection, although youve got to get used to waiting when you click on things.
A tip for remote control software: Unless you need high color, set your remote desktops to 256 (or if you can stand it, 16) color mode. It will make the sessions go much faster.
Thanks. I ought to have a look at it.
Can you help me find a "shorthand ball" or "typing ball" for computer input? Im sorry to pester you with this. I have done Internet searches and literature searches at the UCLA libraries without success. Is the thing even on the market? I have carpal tunnel syndrome, and it might help.
I am a fan of your fiction; both solo and with Larry Niven. I particularly liked your Janissaries series, and the Mote books.
Can anyone help? If so respond direct to him with copy to me. This letter took about five times as long to set up and insert as the previous ones which came pre-formatted with the return address already in the main body of the letter.
Dear Mr. Maupin (and Dr. Pournelle),
I do not believe a device such as you describe in your post exists.
However, there is a very viable alternative--speech recognition software. The best on the market right now in terms of accuracy is the NaturallySpeaking family of products by Dragon Systems (I use NaturallySpeaking myself due to Cerebral Palsy). With the right hardware you can achieve accuracy rates of 98% or higher as well as dictation rates in excess of 100wpm. The latest versions of NaturallySpeaking allow continuous dictation with full editing by voice into the native NaturallySpeaking word processor, Microsoft Word 97 (be sure you have at least SR-1 installed), and Corel WordPerfect 8 Rev D or higher. Both the Standard and Preferred versions allow the creation of boilerplate text macros. They also have the capability--with limited voice correction ability--to dictate into *almost* any windows 95/98, or NT application.
There is a Professional version which has an extensive macro language to allow for *almost* hands-free computer use. For those situations where total hands-free use is needed DragonDictate for windows is included on the CD-ROM.
I will warn you this software requires powerful hardware. Direct high speed, accurate dictation into Word or WordPerfect requires at *minimum* a P II 266MHz and 128MB of RAM. You may see online some suggesting a P II 400MHz machine. These are people who a) must run DragonDictate at the same time as NaturallySpeaking, b) are being paid to do transcription (the faster the better) c) are using Windows NT. To get the software to work properly a high quality sound card is a *must*.
There are to good e-mail lists about speech recognition from a users standpoint:
the VoiceGroup list to subscribe send a blank e-mail to VoiceGroupfirstname.lastname@example.org
the voice-users list send e-mail to email@example.com with a blank subject and subscribe voice-users in the message body.
You can also ask questions in the comp.speech.users newsgroup.
NaturallySpeaking is not the only product. You also have the choice of the L&;H Voice Express family, or the IBM ViaVoice family. None of these products produce instantaneous results. You must train them to your voice; currently NaturallySpeaking has more in the way of program features to speed this up (such as 'reading' Word or ASCII files to scan for words not in it's dictionary and to update its language model with your word usage patterns).
I would be happy to discuss speech recognition and/or its benefits to those with disabilities at greater length.
If any of you have read the October 20 PC Magazine article on voice software PLEASE IGNORE IT! Besides being riddled with error the results they report for recognition accuracy are FAR below what you can actually expect if the software is properly used. The consensus among experienced users is that PC Magazine expected poor results and consciously or unconsciously designed tests to obtain the desired results. (This happens more often than you might think in many fields of study.)
[Note to Dr. Pournelle I would be happy to write something up with relevant links for your site if you wish.]
T. Patrick Henebry
Subject: Iomega internal IDE Zip drives
I read your problem with internal Iomega Zip drives and have a few observations to make. I have an internal Zip installed as the Master device on the secondary IDE channel. This is installed on an Iwill P55TV Mainboard w/Award BIOS. I havent experienced any of the problems you have had w/the exception that NT likes to assign the Zip drive a higher drive letter than the CD-ROM drive. I dual boot W95b and NT 4.0 and when I lock down the drive letters in 95 they stay put. However, I can assign drive letters all I want in NT and it doesnt seem to make any difference. The best solution seems to be assigning the CD-ROM drive a higher drive letter (which you already know of course). I also tried rebooting w/a zip disk in the drive in both W95b and NT and had no problems. My guess is that it is a problem w/the AMI BIOS on you m/board.
In three years time Ive used just about every type of zip drive (parallel port, internal IDE, SCSI) and have generally had good luck. However, occasionally I have come across machines that just dont work well w/a zip drive or flat out cant tolerate one. I had a Compaq Deskpro 5133 three years ago that didnt work well w/the external parallel port version (did all kinds of flaky things to the system). And last spring I put a machine together for my neighbor using a Topgun m/board that hated the external zip drive. This summer someone gave my neighbor a parallel port zip drive, which I installed for him. I had to force the system to recognize the drive using the Add/Remove Hardware app in W98 but it did install. Then, after a week or so his system blew up and would only boot into safe mode. After I uninstalled the zip drive everything worked great again. I have no idea why some machines dont like the zip drives and others have no problems.
Ive been following your travail w/Linux w/interest. Did you notice that Fred Langa also experimented installing Linux for a couple of his columns for CMP?
Dont know what you think of CMP these days after the whole thing w/Byte. Anyway, enough for now.
Didn't see Fred's columns. He was a good editor. We hired him back in the days when BYTE also did POPULAR and I wrote for both magazines, and I worked with him until he left BYTE. As to my views of CMP, I haven't really got any; I haven't any contact with them. They paid what they owed me, and it's not the corporation's fault (entirely) that they had a lawyer who tried to pay considerably less in hopes I would be tom fool enough to accept it.
My situation regarding that internal ZIP is clearly specific to the BIOS since Eric hasn't had the same problems with another similar machine. The problems all went away when I put the ZIP in as slave rather than master, and if there's any great performance hit I haven't seen it, so it's probably moot. When possible I assign ZIP drives to be "Z:" just to make it easier to remember, and so far I have had no problems with any of them including the external that can be either parallel or SCSI, using them on two different COMPAQ Armada portables. The ARMADA systems are large and heavy but reliable, and their only defect to my thinking is the weight, which, given that I carry a roll around bag, isn't all that important anyway.
"Offhand, Id think that making you use the Microsoft Browser to get a service packie a BUG FIXfor your NT operating system is, if not illegal, a pretty shabby trick."
*sigh* Listen to yourself. Nobody is *making* you do anything. If Netscapes browser supported Active Server Pages (see the .asp in "default.asp"?), youd have no problem seeing those "things on it" with Netscape, either. If you want to blame somebody, blame Netscape for not supporting Microsofts technology.
I dont see any reason, either in logic or in law, whereby Microsoft is somehow obliged, WHEN DEALING WITH ONE OF ITS OWN PRODUCTS, to ignore its own technologies and "dumb down" to what its competitors have decided to support. Thats like complaining about GM when a Ford dealership doesnt carry GM parts.
If IE were a separate product for which you had to pay, you might have a case. But it isnt; it comes free with the operating systemin fact, its damned near impossible to avoid, as you well knowand, from Microsofts perspective, since its part of the operating system, it makes perfect sense to expect people to have it and use it.
If Active Server Pages were a proprietary Microsoft technology, you might have a case. But it isnt; the specifications are public, and anybody who makes browsers and cares to do so can support it. (Indeed, Microsoft would just love to have everybody support its technologies.)
"What all the wise men promised has not happenedand what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass."
Tiomoid M. of Angle firstname.lastname@example.org
You contend that an operating system publisher, having managed to gain something pretty close to a monopoly, can then use that position to dictate the new standards and technologies to be used by everyone: that henceforth it is proper for Microsoft to force Netscape to adopt whatever extensions Microsoft chooses to add to the html standards, on pain of not being able to get the bug fixes required to make Microsoft NT 4 work properly.
I don't think your analogy holds: this isn't requiring Ford to carry GM parts, it's more like GM having been given the exclusive right to certify your capability to drive requiring you to take the driving test in a GM car. That's not a perfect analogy either, of course, since Microsoft doesn't have any government mandated monopoly on operating systems, and in the realm where NT competes, not really a monopoly at all. UNIX and Linux have a pretty good toehold in the server business.
On reflection, I have to concede that you're p/r/o/b/a/b/l/y right, and any government intervention would be a cure worse than the disease. Still, I find myself uneasy here. It can't be good policy on Microsoft's part to so bollix things that you have to use their browser rather than Netscape even though you already use their operating system (and if you aren't using their operating system it makes little sense to download it). If nothing else it's terrible public relations.
So I concede that I've p/r/o/b/a/b/l/y indulged in a fit of pique rather than presented a good argument, and I have reluctantly to thank you for pointing that out. Nevertheless I remain of the opinion that this wasn't very smart action in Microsoft's part. It shows a certain meanness of spirit that may be a portent of what would happen if Microsoft got a real monopoly: "do it our way if you want a fix for our admittedly imperfect products. It's not our responsibility to make it easy for you to overcome our bugs." Or am I reading too much into this? Anyway, thanks for the lesson.
And now a BIG PILE of mail on the download situation, mostly uncommented, as I try to get to something else today! Apparently for some Netscape works and for some it does not. I don't know why. I may be using an old Netscape. But others have the problem too, Anyway, I have the NT 4 Service Pack now, and I'll install when I get a chance, and thanks to all who wrote about this.
Dont have any answers for you but have even experienced the same problem using Netscape Communicator 4.0+ when trying to access a number of sites -- Netscapes own FTP site. Ive found that, instead of waiting and waiting for it to finish doing whatever its doing, I can just click on stop and the page will appear (seemingly) intact. Oddly, this behavior doesnt happen at any of these sites when using MSIE.
Point your Netscape browser at:
which is an alternate site for NT service pack downloads.
Interesting that, although it is an ftp site, WS-FTP cannot access it. I cant even ping the damned site. Seems to be set up to use some sort of rotating port scheme to keep anything but a browser from working.
In the New Web order, you vill use a web browser for everything, und you vill like it!
Clark E. Myers
NT4 SP4 works for me with Netscape 4.5 no problems. I do expect whenever I see DOT asp that the web page will include tricky features to little benefit and that often assorted security permissions must be given (or in IE always trust Microsoft checked). I am more concerned about Microsoft's effort to kill Java by creating custom Windows (Wintel) effects with extensions than by Microsoft's occasional failure to test for all possible browser and plug-in and security configurations. It should never have taken so long as it did for you either (17.6 MB | 2.5 Hours @ 28.8) . Perhaps server loads or backbone issues? I enjoy checking how fast it shows for the connection and how fast the transfer is before I abort. And I do often abort and come back later. Usually on a fast connection and a slow transfer I choose to abort.
The page at:
Includes in the source view:
<a HREF="/ntserver/nts/downloads/recommended/nt4svcpk4/ordercd.asp"> <img SRC="/ntserver/media/btnOrderCD.gif" width="32" height="31" valign="BOTTOM" BORDER="0">Order the Service Pack 4 CD<br></a>
Or in the browser view includes inter alia:
Windows NT Server | Downloads
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4
Microsoft® Windows NT® Service Pack 4 collects the latest fixes for Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0.
Service Pack 4 (SP4) for Microsoft® Windows NT® Server 4.0 is the single source for all Windows NT 4.0 updates. SP4 provides comprehensive enhancements to a broad range of features including management, security, availability, interoperability, web services, Y2K compatability,[SIC] and more.
42 MB storage space for ALPHA; 31 MB for INTEL.
No Service Pack requirements needed.
Windows NT Workstation 4.0, Windows NT Server 4.0 or Windows NT Server 4.0 (Enterprise Edition) installed.
Important Note: Users of earlier versions of Netshow who are upgrading to Service Pack 4 should download the latest version of Netshow --
Download Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4
Order the Service Pack 4 CD
For more introductory information about SP4, see What's New in Service Pack 4 and the Service Pack 4 Market Bulletin.
For timing of course:
Windows NT Server 4.0 Service Pack 4
17.6 MB | 2.5 Hours @ 28.8 | Posted 19 October 98
Curious, I tried the service pack link in Opera, and everything appeared to work fine. Tried it in Netscape - sure enough the page *appears* to be empty. On further investigation, it turns out the content is there after all, but is incorrectly formed HTML. It looks like they have a table defined for the document body that is supposed to be inside a cell in another table, but only the inner table is closed off with the </table> tag, not the outer one. It appears that Netscape does not want to display tables that arent closed off, whereas IE4 and Opera will treat the closing body tag as implicitly closing off the table and display it. I leave it as an exercise for the reader as to which is the "correct" behaviour. How much should the browser accomodate sloppy HTML? Netscape certainly appears to be a better test of whether or not your HTML is correct...
Clark E. Myers
Seems silly, but for a personally owned machine I find it convenient to order with some oem version software loaded and also to buy a duplicate on the street or upgrade an existing street copy when the first service pack comes out. Of course I don't pay list for the street copy. The OEM version allows instant productivity and hardware manufacturer support but in my experience has always been a dated release. Kind of like shooting only factory ammunition in a new gun until satisfied it works then going to handloads, it avoids issues with the computer manufacturer. Once I get into upgrades, even so allegedly routine as Windows 95 to Windows 98 support from the manufacturer for anything but hardware failure goes away anyway.
I do download upgrades in addition to ordering the CD's because I like to have the newest but I like being able to restore my chosen configuration starting from a freshly formatted hard drive.
I presume the computer manufacturers mirror hard drives in quantity in a controlled configuration. The controlled configuration makes it easier for the OEM to know it works and to support common tested configurations. Owning the street version allows me to control my own configuration for re-installs. The savings in hassle pays for the software.
I usually do that also. In this case we didn't, and now I have the problem that my copy of NT 4 Workstation is registered to Compaq, and Microsoft's silly paranoia doesn't seem to be able to comprehend that. Why they want to put controls on a bug fix is a bit beyond me: it's useless unless you have the original, and surely it's not all that hard to find. Oh. Well. Thanks.
Viruses, Money and UNIX
I think you might be taking a risk in asking for mail as Word Attachments. Have you considered the virus factor?
Personally I discourage Word format files and prefer to receive .RTF files. Word can handle them just as easily and they can't carry vuruses or harmful macros.
I agree with other correspondents that banks should create a system where money can be transferred cheaply. On the other hand these are the people who stand to lose from such a system! The only realistic way to be able to send $10 to you is to find an American friend and exchange money with them.
Luckily I did and a banknote will be winging its way across the Atlantic tomorrow. Otherwise I would have needed either an invoice or a valid air ticket plus an extra $6 charge on the transaction.
In other words governments don't make it any easier.
UNIX / LINUX
Mucking around with computers is great fun but it's nice to produce some output occasionally. My impression is that the UNIX bunch have less time available to do the latter. At least with Windows one can get some real work done. (If you publish this, should I bring my affairs up to date?)
David Cefai email@example.com
Yeah, I guess I had better think more about this. I tend to be a trusting soul and that may be a problem. BYTe more than once got bit with the WORD virus. I tend to agree with you about UNIX: if your job is facilitating other people's work, UNIX is often the right tool to do it; if your job is actually doing things on computers, you will spend a lot more time learning the tools than doing the work, or that has been my experience. For all that I am very angry with Microshaft just now over their telling me I need a Y2ksetup.exe file and then making it nearly impossible to find it, I do get a lot done with this NT setup. Sigh.
Y.99K - Everybody worries about what happens in 2000, but nobody seems to remember
the 1999 problem: in the old days banks coded the year field as "99" when they
meant "never." Bet some of those old programs are still running!
Jon Dowell [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The other day I saw a web page which contains the authors notes to The Microsoft File. It lists a few sources (naturally leaving out many names, of course). Apparently the publisher or editor decided not to include this in the first printed version of the book. Unfortunately, I didnt have the wits to bookmark it. Maybe another reader will remember it or find it for you. Later editions of the book are supposed to include the authors notes. BTW, I tried looking at the publishers web page, but no joy.
Well, with some source data that book might be a little less like a National Enquirer article, but some of what she reports cannot possibly HAVE a primary source: that is, when you report what two people said to each other when no one else was present, and neither of them is likely to talk to you about it, then you of needs must rely on what some third party said that one of them said to the other. Which means you have to evaluate very carefully the source of this (by definition) hearsay.
I am very sorry to hear about the collapse of Byte - your column was always the first place I would go to when I bought the magazine. I love the web site - the View From Chaos Manor is a joy to read - I often pick up useful information from there! Keep up the excellant work - it is a great read!!
Regarding Service Pack 2 - I downloaded the 34MB file (NT4SP4I.EXE) on Monday - I got back from the University of Portsmouth (thats the Portsmouth in the UK), where I am studying a degree in Business Information Systems (this is the first year) and grabbed the file. I used CuteFTP, since a Web Browser has a tendancy to crash after a while. Seven hours later, I had the 34MB file sitting on the hard drive of the notebook. It installed fine and like you, notified me to download the Y2K service pack. I spent nearly two days trying to get it from home over the modem. I gave up and booked a couple of hours at the University PC labs and grabbed the file in two hours onto a ZIP disk (another item Ive bought that was recommended by you orginally). Those drives are invaluable! When I got the file home and extracted it, I noticed the \i386 directory contained a copy of Service Pack 4. Does that mean that I can safely delete the NT4SP4I.EXE file and just hold on to the NT4Y2K4I.EXE (the Y2K NT Service Pack 4) file? Any help on this would be much appreciated!
Lastly, I notice you are using a Panasonic CW-7502B CD Writer - youve mentioned it a couple of times. How have you found it? I bought mine in Hong Kong (my parents are still out there and I return there during vacactions, so it is still on my PC out there). When I bought it, I managed to get it for about US$260 - it was cheaper than the 2X Sony IDE I was going to buy and since I had SCSI for the Zip Plus it seemed a good buy. Ive had it since July and it writes at 4X without a problem with Adaptecs EasyCD Creator Deluxe on Kodak discs. The only other discs Ive tried are Philips ones and I wouldnt recommend them for data writing at 2X or 4X speed - Ive had a few coasters. Apart from that, the drive has been invaluable to me!
Well, once again, keep up the great work on the site and good luck with your book that you are writing. The hardware book that you and Robert Thompson have planned sounds good - Ive looked at his Web Site too. Stay well.
I did delete my 32 meg file, but I am not sure I'd advise everyone to do it. But I am making a CD out of the expanded y2K file, 212 megabytes worth, and I think it has all I will ever need. See view for my experiences. Anyone know more?
Short comment about your experience of Netscape and MS sites. I had noticed something similar, but had not realized it was a global problem. About FTP and MS support files, this may be a global problem too, because since about last spring, ftp.microsoft.com has consistently "refused" to accept my connection attempts using WS_FTP. Not that I have tried very often, and I have until now attributed it to user overload at the site.
Y2K... ha! Please dont tell me that all pre-2000 MS software will unravel like cans of of worms on the day... (But it would in one way not surprise me, given the MS trackrecord of known bugs.)
There are very few users on the net who will download 32 Mb worth of
dubious fixes. And getting a CD from MS is proving just about as
great a waste of time. They were supposed to send me an IE4 CD
already in August... :(
It seems not universal but nearly so. Many have problems, few do not.; No understanding why. Mail to you keeps being bounced.
I just found this great article called "Degrees of Freedom". Its one of the best essays Ive ever seen on why a software "monoculture" is bad for American business. You can find it at:
Talin (Talin@ACM.org) -- Systems Engineer, PostLinear Entertainment.
"It has just lost me a bunch of work, about an hours worth. Much about that stupid book which is critical of Microsquish. God I hate Front Page. Full story later, but I have lost HOURS of work.
This is horrible. It is because the update set my default browser to
IE 4, and it has settings that do not allow you to SAVE YOUR WORK in
Front PAGE if it cannot find a connection at port 80 or whatever
that is. I had hung up the damned phone to change things. This is
". OK, what is the alternative to Front page. Things that LOSE WORK FOR YOU are unspeakable. Will not let me save. I tried to EXPORT the file and it said it had done taht, but it wont even EXPORt it. This is so rotten as to be unbelievable. WARNING: USE FRONT PAGE AT THE PERIL OF LOSING YOUR WORK."
I dont mean to be obnoxious, but why exactly are you surprised by this? This sort of program behavior has been Microsofts style since *at least* the release of Word 6 for the Mac in 94, which had the charming trait of being totally waddling, yet also irreversibly reformatting your document from Word 5 to 6 (which got fixed, but only after the entire Mac market went absolutely berzerk).
Also, how many times have you had this experience with MS software in the last few months; how much of your time has it eaten, in aggregate; and how does that compare to the time youve invested so far into learning Linux? For that matter, what would your experience be like if you got an iMac and just worked with MacOS 8.5? Given that 1 MHz on a G3 chip can match ~2 MHz on the non-RISC Pentium chips, youd probably find that you got a reasonable amount of computing power for your $1.3K.
In short, why do you keep working with Microsoft and Windows? What *possible* benefit are you getting? It isnt priceSteve Jobs has pretty much squashed the bad old Apple habit of boutique if-you-have-to-ask-you-cant-afford-it prices. It isnt the incredibly superior power of Intels chips running Win98s sleek code; G3 chips really *are* superior, MacOSs ease of installation and use makes any flavor of Windows look like a sick joke, and Linux can use the same Intel chip at about twice the efficiency of Windows or NT. It isnt the killer apps; even Microsoft sells Office for Macs and you get to have the Office without the were-REALLY-not-a-monopoly-honest sort of easter-egg default commands that have just destroyed your days work. It isnt the patina of coolness. Anybody who thinks that Bill Gates is really more technologically skilled than Linus Torvalds is so clueless that hes beneath refuting, and I have never in my life seen a Wintel box that has the classiness of a G3 PowerBook.
It cant be the dollar worth of Gates and Microsoft, can it? Please tell me that youre not equating stock-market prices with actual technological efficacy. The man who co-wrote _Inferno_, _Lucifers Hammer_, _The Mote in Gods Eye_, and who wrote _A Step Further Out_, *cant* be that confused. Right? Please say yes.
So why not just *move* your stuff off Windows NT/98 to MacOS and Linux, and get out of this codependent relationship with Redmond? Im serious.
But you already said why: botique prices and really funny stuff with the Apple put it way behind. Maybe it can climb back out now, although the best app for the Mac is Office 98, at least as far as the kind of work I do is concerned. And Microsoft will fix this; my big mistake was in being one of the early ones to get the Fixpack for NT and install it. I should have waited until some others had tried it. Still, this is a pretty grim, thing: losing text is about the worst thing I can think of for a program to do.
We'll see what happens.
You write:"... boutique prices and really funny stuff with the Apple put it way behind."
That was then. This is now. At this point, Micro Warehouse routinely sells refurbished Mac hardware for 60% discounts, which is why Im writing this on a G3 despite living on a mere postdocs stipend. The iMac gives the equivalent of 500 MHz on a Pentium for $1.3K and without the eternal hassles of Microsoft OSes that are, somehow, never quite fixed.
As for "funny stuff", yes, Apples had bad management. So have a lot of other American companies, including all of the auto companies, Xerox, and probably IBM. All of them bounced back and were better off for it. What in the last two years has Apple done that was a *bad* decision, and just what MacOS bug is as crippling as the Windows bugs youve been writing about since summer?
"... the best app for the Mac is Office 98, at least as far as the kind of work I do is concerned."
Well, what apps do you need that *arent* available for MacOS 8? And would your Web pages be nearly as much of a nightmare to upgrade if you worked with an OS that didnt have these bogus "upgrade packs" that oh-so-cleverly kill your defaults if theyre not already set to IE?
Given their damned bloated stock prices, their stupid blather to David Korn that he doesnt know the specs of the shell he designed, their "helpful" features that have cost both you and a lot of other people a lot of lost work and time, and their general substitution of attitude for competence, one would indeed hope that they will indeed fix this in the fullness of time. But whether they deserve your fealty is another question entirely.
Well, you may be right. It's still a question of inertia and sunk costs; a whole new networked Apple establishment here would be a major expense, and learning new software would also. But I agree: Mac is getting competitive, and this Front Page Fiasco hasn't made my opinion of the Wintel World a lot better I have found a workaround. The whole story is in VIEW.
Right click on Recycle Bin. Select Properties. Under "Global" tab, check box that says "Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove them immediately on delete." Problem solved.
"What all the wise men promised has not happenedand what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass."
Tiomoid M. of Angle
I fear this is your last posted letter: between removing borders, and removing lines of == that make me have to do horizontal scrolls, it just takes too long to reformat, especially since I didn't notice the long === lines until I was in Front Page Editor, which is VERY hard to work with because it's easy to 'select' into a table border which just makes everything crazy and costs more time. Everyone: please don't do fancy formatting tricks unless you know what they will do in a table. I do all this format junk to accomdate people with small monitors, and it takes a lot more time than I ought to be putting into this.
As to the recycle bin properties:
Oddly enough, I know that. It's always a decision: it certainly makes it easier to recover from operator error if you leave the 'recycle bin' intact, and I am often just careless enough that it is worth doing; which still leaves one feeling like an idiot when, having deleted 100 megabytes worth of files, one finds that there is no disk space. Whatever I decide it's usually the wrong thing, and in this case I prefer to err on the side of caution, which, as I say, still leaves opportunities for grinding one's teeth. At whom I don't have to say.
"My guess is that you have the answer. I probably have an old Netscape. Now I
have forgotten how to go get the upgrade. I used to pay for the service and
they told me. Now that it's free they don't.. Sigh."
You can download Netscape 4.5 athttp://home.netscape.com/computing/download/index.html
If you current version is 4.02 or higher you can just go to the Smart Update page, and it will all be done automatically (http://home.netscape.com/download/su1_40.html ).
Thanks! I knew if I hinted strongly enough someone would make it easy. I had 4.02, so it appears to be entirely automatic, except that I had to reload the page after it came up: first time was an ad and the rest was blank. Reload fixed that. I'll put all this up in mail so it will be easy for others as lazy as me.
You commented " between removing borders, and removing lines of == that make me have to do horizontal scrolls, it just takes too long to reformat, especially since I didnt notice the long === lines(...)."
Even though you have covered this in pieces, could you describe exactly what constitutes a border to Word/Frontpage? Those of us who use who are not using the latest Win9x/NT applications are guessing in the dark on this. think Ive figured out not to put a line of dashes or equal signs under my sig, but thats about all that I can tell you...
Good question. First, your signature block was indented far enough over that if I had left it that way, it would have caused the html converter to make a huge pile of bloc quotes that would have extended the line beyond 640 characters in length, which would have made a horizontal scroll for some. I fixed that with the "move inward" thingy in Windows; it takes about 10 seconds to highlight the indented text then move the indentations. Not long, and I usually don't mention it.
But the letter I commented on had lines of === between the signature and the epigram, and another line under the epigram. I do not always see those. It also had some block quotes, and some other heavy lines that were true borders, and one line in 24 point type. I fixed all that, by highlighting the body of the letter and doing format/borders (none), then pasted into Front Page, and then discovered that I was going to have to horizontal scroll. I looked for what was doing it, and it was the == that was doing it; apparently I hadn't noticed and told Word not to make a border of that. So I had to delete the things in Front Page, and I shouldn't; I should have just gone back to Word and repasted, because Front Page Editor isn't much of an editor; it's VERY slow when you have tables as it recalculates the whole table with each keystroke and that will bring even a dual Pentium system to its knees.
Thanks for asking.
I noticed you are looking for a good utility to convert mail to html.
If you can save your mail as plain text documents (I don't use
outlook, but I assume it is possible), I may have a solution
I've attached a simple perl script by Oscar Nierstrasz (his e-mail
address is included at the bottom of the script) to convert
plain text files to html. I tested it on several of my own mail
files, and it seems to work great... even converting html
references to links. If you know a little about perl, you could
add your own formatting tags and even place properly formatted
e-mail addresses where you want them.
You can get perl for Win95/NT fromhttp://www.zdnet.com/. Search
for 'perl' on their downloads page.
Alternatively, perl should be already installed on your linux
box, so just use the command,
perl txt2html.pl file.txt > file.html
to test it out.
I found this script at the following web site:
Hope it helps,
- Dan Homan
Dan Homan, Graduate Student - Brandeis Astrophysics Group
The problem is that if I merely do ctl-a on the letter, and ctl-c in Front Page it looks like above; I have to paste into WORD first, then into Front Page, or all the carriage returns remain. That takes time I don't have. I don't know if that script will do any better. I can write a WORD VBA script to do it for that matter, but it takes TIME again, and this is, after all, a hobby as far as income is concerned. We need Millicent. Then I hire an assistant to do all this stuff.
Just received the latest issue of LAN Times which also proclaims itself as the LAST issue of LAN Times. It seems that CMP Media has decided to close it down and is offering to subscribe me to Network Computing or Internet Week. While both of those are good publications, I dont think I want to deal with the CMP people. Something isnt right here.
Why buy BYTE, LAN Times, and NTSL only to close the first two? (I dont know what has happened to NTSL, the signs arent good.) Seems to me that CMP was just throwing money away.
As the editor of LAN Times said, "Its Business". I quess that means that it doesnt have to make sense.
"Never ascribe to malice ...."
I don't understand any of it either. NTSL seems also to be gone; we sometimes wonder if we got a result that offended some big advertiser who then subsidized someone to buy us to shut us down. But of course that is pure paranoia and can't be the case. But I sure don't know what DID happen, or why pay $29 million for things you intend to close precipitously. Maybe someone somewhere can tell me. Meanwhile, I still have books to write. And thanks.
linux is improving. youre having difficulties at the moment, but you can solve them in two ways: contribute code or write a book. since linux is, as developing things are, a moving target the latter option isnt so easy.
as far as continuing developments go, there are a huge number of projects that aim to make linux easier and have more applications. gnome and kde are getting all the press, but wine has been plugging away at a tough job for two+ years. see:
if you want to try wine and report on it *do not* bemoan its ease of use. its a pre-alpha product. for one thing youll need to download the source code and compile it (and it is huge). then youll need to edit a rather complex config file. but once you get it youll have an application that can run windows programs with varying success (100% -> 0%). most people bitch about the lack of documentation and poor design of windows apis, these guys live it.
Yes and no. First, I am not likely to ever get good enough to write a Linux book, although I may contribute a chapter, and I will almost certainly do a chapter on "What you need to get started in Linux" in my "Chaos Manor Good Enough Hardare" book that Bob Thompson and I are apparently about to contract. That will be bare bones, just enough to get you going so you can find out more.
Pre-alpha is a bit severe to say about Linux as a whole, although thanks for the warning about wine. I'd say Linux is in beta mode, but early. Before it's going to be on a lot of desktops it has to have some shells that make installing and running enough to do useful work simple and easy. Given that it is the equivalent of a hardware upgrade in speed, many big corporations may find this the right way to go: make their old 486 Dx2 systems live another few years by installing a new OS that spruces them up. It will all depend on the applications, ease of use to casual users, and conversion capabilities to other applications suites. Corel can be relied on to make that happen: Corel has some understanding of big companies. It's one reason I was pleased enough at the Corel announcement of an alliance with Red Hat that I did something I never do and put a press release up on my page.
Things are happening, and I am learning, but I will continue to document what I think. As I try to warn people, A DAYBOOK IS NOT A COLUMN. My columns include my considered judgments after some time is gone by. The Day Book is exactly what happened, when it happened, and how I felt at the time. I know some people can't handle that (see the first letter in Linux Adventures Part Three for a good example) but most seem to understand the difference.
I found out on the Dr. NT Forum on ZDNet that the Y2K Service Pack 4 for NT 4.0 does contain the orignal SP4 as well. Thus, like you I have deleted the other SP4 file and will also burn a CD of the Y2K SP4 contents. The ZDNet NT Forum is a great site where you can ask questions on NT related problems. They are usually resolved within a few hours. Go to:http://community.zdnet.com/cgi-bin/plogin/login.cgi?r=331 and have a look round. I find it very useful myself.
Thanks. I was pretty sure of it. I burned CD's of it already.
Roger G. Smith [email@example.com]
You wrote: " First, your signature block was indented far enough over that if I had left it that way, it would have caused the html converter to make a huge pile of bloc quotes(...)"
Well, no... at least not that my system revealed to me. I use only a block format, meaning I dont indent with tabs or spaces, my sig included. I might set-off a URL with <i>one</i> tab, but generally everything starts at the left margin, typically one CR (blank line) between paragraphs.
FRNCTM(*), this is gererated somewhere in the combination of my WFW3x/IE3.02a and your Outlook/FP/Word. Where or how this happens, I dont know. It;s unthinkable that one MicroSoft product could be subtly incompatible with another.
(*) Your phrase, "For Reasons Not Clear To Me" makes a dandy acronym.
Lack of blank lines in this message intentional as a block-indent foil. Edit as you see fit. One carraige return per paragraph, any others CRs or Tabs come from the aether... your actual bps may vary with changes in the solar weather. Any Trademarks are property of their respective owners. Use only as directed.
Something done it!
I Slamma bin Ladin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I got a good laugh on the net the other day, someones sig line had Angus McIntyre saying that you had achieved your fame as a technologist more or less by not being able to get your PC to work!
How appropos! How you managed to stay on at Byte much past 1987, I have no clue.
And btw, if you set your recycle bin properties to delete immediately
and move the slider bar to zero per cent of your drive you wont have
700 meg of wasted space sitting there
Another good reason to set Outlook to put all mail from hotmail.com into the spam bin. Apparently using it makes you either unwilling or unable to read, while tempted to odd puns and anonymous silliness. By they way, I don't claim fame, but what success I have had comes from finding problems and solving them: my computing stories all have a happy ending.
Enjoyed your comments on Linux, and wanted to welcome you to the wonderful world of linux. Your criticisms are very much to the point, and arguably the biggest obstacle to a wider acceptance of linux. It is the responsibility of the linux community to make it newbie-friendly - something that elitists are generally loath to do. Fortunately, Im not aware of any responsible, mature members of the linux community that I would categorize as elitist, but it is often difficult for those who are technically proficient in a particular area to view things from the perspective of the initiate.
Dont lose hope! There are lots of folks out there willing to help, and youre successfull in your linux endeavors.
Dave Parker/DLP, Inc email@example.com
Oh, I could show you letters from one or two. But mostly not, and thanks for the encouragement.
Saw the missive you recieved re Linux and VW engines. Also, earlier this week I heard something on NPR (All Things Considered, on Thursday, I think) about the lack of tinkering in America today. To wit: That when the first cars were introduced, tinkering was neccessary to keep them running, and tinkering with them continued until the 80's, when they became too complex for it, and now tinkering is done with computers. I, too, had a VW, several, in fact. I bought cars that were destined for the junkyard, and kept them running for 2 more years. With my copy of "How to keep your VW Alive", by Muir, in hand I could do anything neccessary to keep them running. Now I have books like "Inside the Win 95 Registry" and "Running Linux" to keep my PC going. After reading the aforementioned missive, and hearing the NPR story, I wonder how many programmers my age (mid-30's) or older were also car tinkerers. That is, how many know what a carburator jet is, how to change it, why the venturi effect is important, and have rebuilt engines. Remember the days of the "shade tree mechanic"? Now think about the many "shade tree" system administrators we know. The 17 year old down the street that can do anything with a PC, as their fathers' could with a Mustang. I lament the passing of the auto that could be maintained and repaired by its' owner, but welcome the owner maintainable computer.
"How to keep your volkswagen alive: a manual of step by step procedures for the compleat idiot" is a wonderful book. Written by an old (he wasn't at the time) hippie named Muir, It starts off with "How to buy a VW" and "How to change a flat" and continues through "How to rebuild an engine" . Full of work-arounds, trouble shooting advice, and the best illustrations I have seen in a car repair book. Highly recommended for VW owners. When I bought my first VW, I picked up that book and $150 worth of tools, thay paid for themselves in less than a year.
In many ways, the philosophy of the various "For Dummies" books from IDG is the same as "How to keep your VW alive". Don't worry about theory, just get the job done. I got my start in C++ from a For Dummies book. Many computer professionals disdain For Dummies books, but they are important for getting regular people to fully use the capabilities of their PCs. And, they give a starting point to those who like to tinker...
Good points. Thanks.
Dear Mr. Pournelle:
When I was first entering the world of computers some 8 years ago and researching what computer system to buy, a friend told me to check out Byte Magazine. Although most of the info in Byte was way over my head, I became a subscriber primarily to read your articles. I eventually purchased a Mac Powerbook because, at the time, I had to have something to carry on the road and the powerbook was the only one that had everything I needed in one package. In the mean time I have purchased several computers and have become Windows and Dos literate. The Mac remains my platform of choice.
Since Byte put your columns on the web, I have saved, archived and indexed them to have them readily at hand as a source for trouble shooting my systems. And though you havent done a lot of articles about the Mac, I have found yours to be the most fair and unbiased. I really appreciate that because, although you are obviously a Windows fan, few Windows columnists have anything nice to say about the OS I love.
I mourn the loss of Byte but have renewed hope having just this morning found your web-site. I am typing this on my Powerbook while running Norton Utilities on my Mac Desktop. Later today I plan to fire up my Windows machine to do some trouble shooting. I will, no doubt, find the answer to the problem in one of the many excellent articles you have written as you have no doubt run into the same problem somewhere.
Actually, I am not so much a Windows fan as the user of programs that could only be found on Windows, at least until recently. If Office 98 or anything like it had existed for the Mac back when I changed over from DOS/DesqView to Windows 3.11, I would probably have gone with the Mac despite the higher costs. Indeed, right about then, Tom Thompson of BYTE had come close to persuading me; but about then came Windows Video Accelerators, and Microsoft in quick succession brought out APPLICATIONS for Windows that just did not exist on the Mac. Also, Applied Creative Technology came out with their little print server which made it easy to print from Windows to an HP LaserJet; and Macs were in those days notoriously hard to get connected to the net (primitive as the net was in those days, but I have been dependent on email and networking since about 1979 in the old ARPANET days). And not long after that came the falling prices for Windows/PC boxes, while Apple continued to forget that market share matters; and the list of applications for Windows grew, without any corresponding growth of Mac applications. After a while, as I said some years ago, the list of "only on the Mac" got very short (Text to Speech being the last important one) while "Can't do that on the Mac, but you didn't REALLY want to do that, did you? Let me tell you a work around" got more common. Alas.
I am now looking at what one might do with a LINUX web server and a Mac applications box. It looks pretty good. But of course Intel and Microsoft never stand still either. I'll keep looking at the all so long as I can.
Thanks for the kind words.