THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
December 7 - 13, 1998
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 words.
|Previous Weeks of The View:||For an index
of previous pages of view, see VIEWDEX.
See also the New Order page, which tries to make order of chaos. These will be useful.
For the rest, see What is this place? for some details on where you have got to.
For the BYTE story, click here.
The LINUX pages are organized as the log, my queries, and your responses and advice parts one, two, three, and four. There's four pages because I try to keep download times well under a minute. There are new updates to four.
The PICTURES of my desert adventure are up now.
Highlights this week:
December 7, 1998 Mail controversy over Microsoft and the end (so far as here is
concerned) to it.
Leg better, I'm in good shape, but I still get the IV at least until tomorrow. And that column has to be done. Then Roberta's new machine. Then Mamelukes. Then Linux. And the holidays are upon us. It's a great life if you don't weaken...
Young people don't think they need it but they do: the best advice I can give you is to keep an event log. That is, a searchable file that lists all the major things you have done, and their dates. Without that, you may be lost.
In my case I gave a speech to the National Academy of Sciences computer group, and about the same time I put together Pentafluge, a very early Pentium system. Now you would think I should be able to remember when all that happened: but I can't. Not even the year. Since I keep my log books chronologically I can't find the notes I took back then. I suppose I can look for columns with the earliest use of the word Pentium and Pentafluge and go from there, but that will take time. You would think I could remember at least the year these things happen, but I don't. [Thanks to all those who took the trouble to find that it was June of 1994 issue of Byte.]
New mail just in time for the column: how to prevent scandisk from running every time after a crash. I should have known, too.
December 8, 1998
I went out to Kaiser for a bone scan, which turns out to involve pumping lots of radioactive stuff into me which will then settle in the bones and then and then I dont know, because I decided not to do it. The doctor who had said get it done said at the time it was just a precaution, and that was before this started to heal rapidly. I decided the trauma wasnt worth the information, or vice versa. My wife teases me unmercifully: here I am an advocate of nuclear power afraid of some atoms. She may be right, but I am no advocate of the release of radioactivity into the environment (as happens when you burn coal )
Looked hard at the Mercedes M Class. Its nice, but not as impressive as perhaps it ought to be for the price. I also looked at the Land Cruiser. It is impressive, but its also fifty grand and up, which is far more than I intend to spend on a truck. The Mercedes doesnt look like a truck, inside or out, which for some is an asset, but not for me. I dont need a Status Utility Vehicle, I want a truck with a back seat window for my dog. Most of these things are cars with some truck attributes. Actually the truckiest looking thing I have seen is the GMC Jimmy, at least in the price class I had in mind. The Land Cruiser is certainly what I really want, but not fifty grand worth. I have to look at its little brother the 4-Runner I suppose. But I am also going out to Sunrise Ford which is four wheeler country and see what they have. I may yet end up with a Ford pickup with a dog sized back seat
Got the column off to Japan and other overseas BYTES last night. Ill mail it to the subscribers shortly. The NOVEMBER Column is now posted in the usual place.
I keep getting inquiries about when the "new" BYTE will be launched by CMP "this fall." I know nothing. Nothing. CMP has told me nothing, and while they have apparently told some subscribers that I will be writing for their "new" BYTE, they have not told that to me. They havent said I wont. They havent asked. They have no idea of whether I am available. Since I got the check from them for the payments the had to make under contract, they have sent me not one iota of information, nor have they made any contact with me or with any of the other former BYTE editors I know. I cant answer any questions because I have no more information than you do, and no more contact with the CMP executives than you do
December 9, 1998
The NOVEMBER Column is now posted in the usual place.
With luck they remove the shunt and I stop getting IV infusions this morning. Tonight is the Gala opening of the LA Opera, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the day will be devoured by my trips to the hospital and Roberta's preparations including sessions with elves. If I can find my digital camera in this clutter I'll have some pictures. Not of the opera, they don't allow that, but the cast party afterwards. My friend Louis Lebhertz is the base in this, and some of our other friends are in lead roles. This ought to be fun.
Tomorrow I take a serious look at the Dodge Durango. Wanted to yesterday but I guess I got there too early because no one paid any attention to me. Maybe I wasn't dressed well enough? But the Mercedes people did
Opera Pictures from the World Premier of The Fantastic Mr. Fox:
Roberta with bass Louis Lebherz. Louis was one of the villainous farmers. Louis is a professor of music at Chapman College and the "Los Angeles resident bass."
Mary Elizabeth Corrigan, General Office manager; she's been with the LA Opera since it began, and as Roberta says, she makes everything work although she never gets any applause...
Tobias Picker, composer, at the lecture before the performance.
Now back to your regularly scheduled computer column.
Alex has a new essay on why he loves living in Los Angeles.
And it's good news all around: they took out the shunt. No more IV. I take oral antibiotics until I finish all I have, then I am DONE, and unless something horrible happens I don't go back. Now all I have to do is get a new truck...
Looked at Durango, Jimmy/Blazer, and the Dodge and Ford cab trucks. The problem is that in the cab pickups the back seat windows don't open; is there an aftermarket window for the back seat windows that will open enough to keep a Husky satisfied? If he can't stick his head out the window he crawls into the passenger's lap and 75 pounds of sled dog is a bit much for anyone.
Liked the looks and feel of the Durango. The engine specs look good on the V-8 too, but then so do those of the GM V-8's. I still owe it to Sunrise Ford where I bought and maintained my Bronco II to go look out there and see what they have. I was not impressed with the Mercedes another 10 grand worth over the Durango, and I am not sure about the increased cost of the Durango over a Blazer/Jimmy or Silverado. I did like the Land Cruiser but not for fifty grand. Most of these SUV's are status utility vehicles, and wouldn't last long in the kinds of places I routinely took the Bronco; the Land Cruiser looks like it would go anywhere. Anyway now it's pore over the specs.
Durango is built on the truck frame, and looks it. It has a number of neat features and goes on the short list. It's a good bit bigger than the Blazer/Jimmy.
And Robert Bruce Thompson has a report on cookies: what they are and how they might be a problem.
December 10, 1998
Paperwork. Forms. The morning is devoured, and now I must pay bills and do other such stuff. The good news is that there's no return of that infection, and the skin irritation from where the tape and the needle were is going away.
The opera last night was great. I suppose musically it's not anything spectacular, but I liked it. The costumes were astonishingly good. It is a fable and you believed it while it was happening, and it's hard to say better than that.
With luck I'll get all the administrative gubbage out of the way and get back to work. For the subscribers, I am about to mail out the December column; I should have done it earlier, but it has been pretty hectic around here. For everyone else the November column has been posted in the usual place.
It is now time to accept nominations for the annual Chaos Manor User's Choice awards, and for the annual Orchid and Onion Parade. Submit your candidates with the words USER'S CHOICE (case unimportant) in the subject line; it won't hurt to be more specific in the subject line, but be sure those words are there. I don't give User's Choice awards to anything I don't actually use (with rare exceptions for stuff I have confidence in from other people's use, like Quicken, which I don't use because I wrote my own accounting system that works for me). Orchids and Onions can be about anything that deserves them. In all cases the decision of the judge -- me -- is final, all entries become the property of Jerry Pournelle, none will be returned, and the only prize for you is possible mention as a nominator and possible publication of your nominating letter. If you can put the letter in that special format I like, please do.
Thursday Afternoon. Drove out to Sunrise Ford, and discovered that it no longer exists. We wondered why ee hadn't seen any advertising. It used to be the leader in four wheel sales, and the service department, at least for my Bronco, was excellent. I got the Bronco there and I liked the service people, so I thought I owed them a visit before I got anything else. Lamentably Sunrise Ford is gone. Took the freeway over to Valley Dodge, and drove a 4wd V8 Durango up to Mulholland and around. I like it. Good visibility, good response, turns well. Won't turn 180 in the circle Bronco II did, but then very little will. It turns well, handles well, and is comfortable. We found one a 1998 one whose only drawback is the color -- bright red -- but otherwise seems to be equipped as I want it. Needs a LoJac and some brush guards, and actually for the brush guards I can go to after market and may; I am not all that happy with the ones the agency offers. Needs a few more lights, and such, but in general it's very attractive, and it grows on you; in about an hour of toodling around with it we liked it more and more, and kept finding more things to like. We'll see.
I need to get something and get it settled.
December 11, 1998
Lowell Ponti, an old friend from the days when I did television, now has a national late night talk show and I was persuaded to be on it for 2 hours: 2 to 4 AM. It has more than 30 stations on the talk net, so I hope someone listened... It sure kept me up late.
Yesterday was devoured by paper work, but I think I have got most of it done. I still have to pay the bills, but today I intend to hike and to get some fiction done. Then there is finishing Scarlet, Roberta's new machine. And testing 66/300 vs. 100/300. And -- it's a full life, Charlie. I suppose I had best get at it.
Does anyone have similar ideas for organizing MAIL? That doesn't lend itself to the day by day scheme, or I dont think it does.
Randall Chung sends a reference to a page of problems with the Dodge Durango. In particular, persistent reports of air conditioning problems (actually of inadequate air conditioning, a fundamental design flaw) give me serious pause. I really don't want to pay a great deal of money for a vehicle not suited to Southern California and the Mojave. I'm being forced to make new plans. With BYTE gone, I will actually make more money once I concentrate on books, but so far I haven't been: and the cash flow situation without BYTE is very different. I have got to get this settled, though: I can't afford the time this car search is costing me.
I am often asked about keyboards. I have an inedaquate line on that in the Recommended section, which hasn't been revised as often as it ought to be. I am sure I have spoken of Ortek and other keyboards in View, and in my BYTe columns, but I don't know where. If anyone has the links, I'd appreciate them, so that I can update the Recommended list. Things get out of hand here. Of course most of this will be in the book we wil be doing with O'Reilly, and I need to get cracking on getting the other stuff. Meanwhile, though, if you know where I put my keyboard references, I'd be grateful...
December 12, 1998
For those interested in cookies, there are revisions with comments to Robert Bruce Thompson's report on cookies.
I must have taken leave of my senses: that is, I should have looked in VIEWDEX for my keyboard references. Viewdex is done by John Rice, and is extremely useful; and I should use it more myself. Anyway, I have copied that material to the Recommended section. Ortek makes excellent keyboards -- I am typing this on one now -- which have the feel of the old Northgate, but which have function keys in the right places, and also have programmable keys. I love that. And Calvin Dodge found my User's Choice reference on keyboards.
We're spending increasing amounts of time looking at cars. Yesterday I drove a 1998 Ford Ranger pickup. This has a pair of small jump seats in back, but you wouldn't put an adult back there. Not for long, anyway. The rear window doesn't open, but I think there might be a way to make that happen, since it can't be that hard to remove it entirely, and a machine shop ought to be able to make hinges that can be glued on to the glass pane on one side. It's important because the dog has to have a place to ride in back, and that means an open window.
We were looking at that because I find the new Status Utility Vehicles ridiculous in price for the features they offer. Maybe I am not bargaining hard enough. I probably would have bought the Durango by now, high price and all, except for those reports about the air conditioning. I suppose I need to go see for myself. If the air conditioning works, everything else is right on that (except for the price), and it being a 1998, I expect I can get the price down some. The Ranger goes for .9% APR, which is like they are giving me the financing, and that's attractive.
Three problems with the Ranger: the rear window doesn't open and it is going to take some ingenuity to get that to work; the back seat isn't really suitable for humans meaning that this is really a two person car for any distance; and it seemed a bit under powered. I need to check that latter. But I sure like the price.
Saw Enemy Of The State last night. While much of it was fanciful -- I doubt that any agency of the US government could get THAT many rogue agents to break the law in defense of their bureaucratic empire, and there was far too much gunplay in public areas -- there were some frightening elements in it as well. If an agency of the US government really set out to discredit and ruin you, it could be done about as shown, and how would anyone else know? We built a number of structures in response the to the Cold War. Now it's time to dismantle most of them, but that will be very hard to do, particularly if we continue to have vague but vast overseas commitments and seek to be the world's policeman. I suspect the nation is at a decision point: either we start down the road back to a constitutional republic, or we will take the next steps toward a full empire, with an executive above the law -- maiestas is very nearly a crime now -- and many secret agencies which defend themselves against Congress and everyone else by any means necessary, and have just enough importance in the new arrangement that their agents can feel they are motivated by "true patriotism" and not merely turf defense. We already have some of those. Ah well.
Incidentally, I did a search for my name and found a few web sites where my "politics" seem important. Most of those don't seem to have any idea of what my "politics" are. Without cluttering this place up with a lot of that nonsense, let me point out that I was involved with national security from the day I left high school, and I was willing to tolerate a very great deal of nationalized power when we had a large and implacable national enemy; but once that situation changed, I revert to what I think was the premise of the United States as expressed by John Adams: "We believe that each man is the best judge of his own interest." You can compromise on that when there are 24,000 nuclear weapons aimed at the country, even if they are aimed by a "superpower" that is tottering internally. (One might say that the tottering phase is nearly as dangerous as the vigorous expansion stage of the 60's, for that matter.) I also believe with Jefferson that that government governs best which governs least, and I am firmly convinced that republican governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed" which means that if you keep the power of government as local as possible, you'll have more people happy with its laws. None of this used to be particularly controversial, and I find it interesting that we have come to a point where one is thought an extremist for holding such views. Ah well.
I suppose today will be devoured by looking at cars again. Sigh. I want to get back to Linux. Moshe Bar has sent me a whole set of suits that will let me get Linette hooked up to my internal network, and I'm anxious to get started.
Just got the new D400 Zoom Olympus camera. If you want a digital camera and you're not a National Geographic photographer, look no further. More later. See also the review section. Highly recommended.
I have much mail approving of the new VIEW format, so we will keep it. Thanks. For those who sent User's Choice nominations, I am gathering them (with an Outlook rule) to look at them all at once, and thanks.
I am about decided to go make the best deal I can on the Durango. I liked it, and the Ranger cannot get an openable back window. The Ranger was a bit under powered, and was really a two people and one dog vehicle anyway. The Durango is comfortable for 4, holds 5 in a pinch, and has plenty of power. It's also blooming expensive, but I suppose that's not the biggest problem I could have. I'll go see that they are willing to do. I have the advice of a Florida Keys Durango owner that in that humidity and temperature the A/C is adequate, and that sounds OK to me. I'll check it, though, today.
And for a taste of what it was like to write for BYTE in the old days, see what my companion editor at BYTE Ed de Jesus did: Not By Jerry Pournelle. Now you know what I had to put up with.
December 13, 1998
Attempted to add a search engine, but it was premature. We have to update the FP Extensions running on the web server. Shouldn't be long. After that I will experiment with the tools and bots in Front Page.
I have about decided to make do with one car until I finish a novel. Then I will pay cash for what I want. And I'll have a lot of bicycling until I do. Anything is better than endless dithering. And I want to finish Reoberta's machine, and get back to Linux, and write fiction, and STOP LOOKING AT OVERPRICED CARS I DON'T EVEN LIKE MUCH. One day something will grab me.
Sawe the Henry Fonda "Tempest" on TV. Was worth the time to watch it, sort of, but a lot more could have been done with those resources. More interesting was the naked polytheism, which was a complete misstatement of the principles of what whites call "voodoo". There was invocation of gods; but in fact that's not what voodoo is about. Baron Samedi is the commander of the legion of the dead, but is more like a major saint (or demon) than a "god." Voodoo is after all a Catholic heresy, and accepts the Trinity, with the various African origin gods being relegated to the status of saints, demons, and other entities subordinate to God. Whether voodoo actually a dualism of the Manichean variety (ie. holds that evil exists in its own right and is not part of the creation by God) isn't clear to me, and apparantly isn't clear to any of the scholars I have read on the subject. I don't claim heavy knowledge in this subject but I clearly know more than the writers, or at least editors, of that script did.
Tomorow with luck it's back to Linux.