DAILY: Saturday, June 16, 2001
An irregular journal of things computerish.
For the BYTE story, click here.
Week 6: July 6 - 12, 1978
To jump to current entry assuming I remembered to update the bookmark, HERE
If you want to PAY FOR THIS there are problems, but I keep the latest HERE. I'm trying.
This is an experiment: I have made a style template, and we will try more frequently replaced pages to keep the total download times low. It's 18 seconds now.
MONDAY morning: It's time to do a new page, but this is a test. Robert Thompson says he is getting drag in Front Page also, but that it went away when he opened Front Page editor without Front Page Explorer. I've just tried that. I can't open a page in Front Page Editor without FP Explorer opening, but then I closed FP Explorer and I'm doing this. It still drags.
But I have this letter:
From: Harry Draijer [email@example.com]
Sent:Monday, July 06, 1998 5:20 AM
Subject: Frontpage sluggishness
I am truly sorry to hear BYTE was folded recently. For years I have found BYTE to be spending attention to future developments, instead of next weeks program coming out. Subjects like quantum computing and the NUI, are the kind of stuff that made me read BYTE with pleasure. And of course I always saved your column as a sweet desert. Always enjoyed it. All in all I find the Jerry Pournelle website a great idea.
For updating my website I use Frontpage express. It is a small version of Frontpage, and is included in IE4.0. It has the same kind of problem you mention. I have found it to be caused by the tables. Apparently when a column of a table has no fixed size, Frontpage is reformatting the whole table at every insertion of a key stroke. This tends to get more and more sluggish as the page size increases.
Make your web pages smaller. This may sound odd. But why not have a page for each week with links to a single page for every day.
1- frontpage works quicker
2- it makes updating the website easier. Put every week in a seperate subdirectory.
3- link colour coding makes it easier for your site visitors to find which days they have already read.
Of course I agree Microsoft should pay some attention to speeding up Frontpage.
Which I think explains all. Because this certainly drags. I believe it's the tables. I can either keep pages smaller or use my "Use WORD then clip and paste" method, which is actually preferable because I like WORD better for writing. I am a very inaccurate typist although fast, and WORD knows how to correct things like teh to the and the like without my noticing; also the little red wavy underbar in WORD shows where I have made typos and lets me fix them quickly.
Anyway, I have learned more about Front Page arcana than I hoped I would ever have to know. Bad sentence. If it weren't so hard to erase in this Front Page editor I would get rid of it and recast to "My level of knowledge of Front Page arcana far exceeds what I wanted to learn about it" or some such, and then I'd fiddle with that for a while. The whole reason my column was popular was that it was clear. Writing with primitive tools like this encourages sloppy writing, because it's so much work to rewrite. That's a bit like it was in the days of typewriters. Even with a Selectric and correction tape and White Out it was hard work to rewrite, and many writers didn't do enough of it. Now of course computers encourage come people to overwrite, endlessly polishing until the kernal of what they wanted to say has gone away.
I am playing about with fonts to test readability. I realize it's distracting.
One more observation. Last night on the English modern detective drama Somer murders (which depicted some thoroughly nasty writers, alas not unlike some I know personally) the detective sergeant, wanting to question a suspect and not wanting to give away any information, said "We have a witness who says they saw you outside the house", or some such. The point was that he was using 'they' as a genderless pronoun. Is this common in England now? It's very convenient. Damon Knight likes 'yeye' as a genderless pronoun, but that doesn't sound very good. 'Heshe' or 'shehe' is worse, and 'hesheit' sounds as foul as what it suggests. I am hardly the first to note the need for a gender inspecific pronoun in English; is 'they' catching on?
I'll move all this over to the new page for the week when I get a chance. Got writing to do now. But I suspect that the reformatting the whoe table cell every keystroke is what is bringing Princess to her knees, and that's an image I'd do away with if I were editing this in WORD...
Incidentally, when I save this page, Front Page Explorer opens itself. I see no difference in drag speed when it is open and when it is closed.
It's pretty clear I ought to break these up more: it takes 69 seconds to download this page now. Too much. Rethink on that, too. Incidentally, when I click on the 'what's this?" button against the download time estimate I get an error message saying I should contact my vendor for an updated help file. Microsoft strikes again: NT tells me to contact my vendor for an updated Microsoft help file. No suggestion as to how to do that. Feh.
Suggestions on arrangements of this view feature, such as daily new pages (work to create unless I learn templates, but I suppose I can) along with weekly consolidations to archives? What? I don't want thousands of page files. Suggestions click here.
EVENING: In an attempt to make Front Page behave I have decided to experiment with daily pages. It ought to make downloading quicker. There will be a lot on this in MAIL today, which may stop being weekly also. I may have figured out how to control what Professor Irwin has called "The Unbearable Wideness of Being," namely the width control of this stuff, which ought to be no more than your viewer wide. If anyone has complaints now, be specific: browser and hardware. This looks pretty good from all the views I have of it.
The Front Page editor is still far to slow to create in, and I will shortly change over to WORD with my paste it trick, this time being careful to see that all the pasted text is in NORMAL style. With luck we have ended the wideness curse.
We'll begin a GAMES page soon. Over the weekend I printed a paper copy of THE BURNING CITY, and Roberta is reading it. She often finds minor stuff that needs fixing, both in layout and the story telling -- she's very good at finding points of potential confusion. But the editors are back in New York from their vacations, so it's time to get it in.
Later tonight I'll do a BIG mail page; lots of helpful suggestions on web pages and Outlook.
New book received from O'Reilly on PALM PILOT. I'll work with it; looks good. Review if I like it (I seldom talk about books I don't like). Now to dinner.
LATER: Some of the links didn't work... And the problem is that Front Page TEMPLATES put them up in the wrong link directory!! It's horrible. Apparently I have to hand correct every blooming one of them. That means I can't just create a blank page with the table and the standard links in it. There must be a way, of course. Anyone know it? i want a template that has the home and view and mail links already set up when I bring in the blank page.
Afternoon. Niven was over earlier and we went for a hike, even though it's hot as blazes out there. We both feel a lot better for a few miles of walking. Since one book is pretty well done and we have not started the next, it wasn't productive the way our hikes usually are, but then we don't work all the time. Should have carried more ice cubes. Barely enough for us, and of course the dog wanted his share, and got them.
BURNING CITY is going off in an hour. Roberta found several places that needed improvement and I worked on that last night, and Niven went over those today, so it's better than last time. Printed on the HP 4000 and I have to say I LOVE that printer. I mean it's hard to imagine one I'd like better. Whole novel, 405 pages single spaced, printed in considerably less than half an hour. I also have to say that once you get past the stage of screaming at WORD you can in fact make it do a very pretty job of layout for printing. Anyway, in a few minutes this gets to Federal Express. In the old days I'd have to go to a Xerox house before mailing, and when I first got started we used, gaaak, carbon paper. Life is certainly easier for writers now.
Mail is getting a bit out of hand; I have to find a way to batch process some of it. That is, it's good stuff, much of general interest, and I'd love to post it, but I will NOT have time to comment on each letter. I wish we dared have a discussion group here, but I am afraid of spammers and libelers and pranksters in general. Anyone have suggestions on that? Mostly I need a way to grab mail, stuck it into a formatter, and paste it out on a daily page or so called something like "OPEN POST BOX." But the tools have to be easy to use, preferably something I can turn over to someone else when necessary.
I find I really truly miss the auto spell checker of Word. Maybe I can play some paste up games here. I sure hope so.
Now off to Doc at Mail Boxes etc. to get The Burning City off to our agent, who is at the moment visiting Mrs. Heinlein in Florida, where the whole state seems to be burning. Ginny's all right, though.
EVENING. Burning City is off to the agent. There is an indescribable satisfaction in getting a book out the door. I used to walk down to the Post Office to do that, sometimes in the middle of the night to catch the morning mail, back in the days before I could afford Fedex and I needed the money as quickly as possible. It still feels great.
I just did a search in Internet Explorer on Jerry Pournelle BYTE Fiasco. I got nothing but some old BYTE articles vintage 1997. I added CMP to the search list and still got nothing. NOTHING. Is there something wrong with the search engines? In any event none of them seem to have heard of this place, even though one of the early hits on my name was an obscure note about my opinion of the game This Means War, which I liked a lot. The commenter rightly pointed out that I probably had faster machinery for running that game than most people did, and I expect that was true. Mostly for some reason I just plain liked the game. Leave that: it's hardly the most important thing I have ever done, yet it is in the top ten hits on the Microsoft search engine. There's nothing about space, only one reference to Intellectual Capital, and then a bunch of BYTE articles mostly old. Oh, and some list of science fiction writers. If this is an example of the accuracy of the Microsoft search engine, I don't need to try it again.
Out of curiosity let's try the Alta Vista engine. Nothing on Jerry Pournelle BYTE Fiasco CMP. Old BYTE Articles, the Intellectual Capital biography, and some science fiction author lists. Not a clue that this site exists. Ok, how do you get the word out that the way to find out what happened with BYTE and CMP is to come here? I bet there are a lot of BYTE readers who would like to know. Only how to you tell them?
A great deal on web spiders and other stuff in MAIL. I have organized MAIL a little differently yet one more time...
A couple of announcements:
Check this one out. It is the neatest computer clock display I know of. I have liked this since Windows 3.1 days.
Then there is this:
----- Start of forwarded message -----
From: Rolf Sinclair/NSF Physics Division <firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 15:20:45 -0400
Subj: Artificial Life in Los Angeles...
Just in case you hadnt heard of this...
From: Nicholas Gessler <email@example.com
Subject: Artificial Life in Los Angeles...
Yes, I set myself up with that one... And what does Artificial Life have to do with Wizardry and spurious claims? Well it does touch on the possibilities of life instantiated in other media (and other worlds). And Artificial Societies and Artificial Cultures set the groundwork for studying evolutionary aspects of deception. For anyone in Los Angeles, I would recommend the following exhibit and talk which I curated...
The window is June 26 to July 12. The exhibition is the "Art and Aesthetics of Artificial Life." It is a free UCLA exhibition of the visions and visualizations of computational artists and scientists in the media of evolution, co-adaptation, complexity, emergence, multiple agency, algorithms, programs, robots and immersive media. Displays cover the basic foundations of the field and build to the most current research. Further information on the web at:
(lower case AAAL)
"Just a word FABULOUS to say how much I enjoyed the exhibitthe most interesting stuff ever assembled under one roof that I can remember! You did a fantastic jobgood use of space, neat layout, wonderful art works."
It is located at the Center for Digital Arts, above the Wight Art Gallery, Dickson Art Center, North Campus, UCLA. Admission free. Parking (lot 3) $5.
Special speakers event on Saturday, July 11, 1998. Several of the architects and artists who are showcased will be present to explain the rich and life-simulating complexities of their work. The unique aspect of this art is the evolutionary process (quite literally) that underlays it. It is the edge of chaos, between randomness and rational direction, that lends these pieces their immersive power.
I should also add that the exhibit extends the art of autonomous agents to the cooperative robotic exploration of Mars. We also have sketches of the Jet Propulsion Laboratories plans to build worm, centipede and insect-like robots to explore the planet, to say nothing of a rare "piece of mars" in the instance of the Zagami Mars meteorite, which is also on display...
Nicholas Gessler, <firstname.lastname@example.org
Curator, "Art and Aesthetics of Artificial Life."
UCLA Center for Digital Arts - June 26 - July 12, 1998.
11152 Lucerne Avenue, Culver City, California 90230-4244
phone - FAX - 310-559-6661
----- End of forwarded message -----
Up early, determined to get to work on next novel, although Roberta has found a dozen small improvements we can make to The Burning City. She was also in Cheyne Stokes breathing by the end of it, so we probably have a winner. I'll save her notes and we'll work on the ending later.
So of course the first thing I see, by an evil chance, was:
Very sorry to see Byte go down the tubes but glad to see you are still publishing! You asked about getting listed on various serach engines. You can go to each search site and they have forms you fill out to request a listing (like http://www.yahoo.com/info/suggest/ or http://altavista.digital.com/av/content/addurl.htm ). That can be time consuming and there are sights that will let you fill out one form and they submit it to dozens of search sites (see http://www.announceit.com ,
P.S. Im sure you are aware of this but something is very wrong with the width displays in the "View" week 5.
An evil chance because the last thing I needed was to be told that if I spend a lot of money on commercial web site announcements, I can get even more very well meant notes about how this is still awful despite hours of work. I had thought View5 was pretty well DONE. The only thing I can see wrong there is that for a very narrow viewer the "line of balls" line separator may have been a little wide; but in all the preview systems I have, plus looking at it on the web with Netscape, the worst that happens is if I narrow my view window width enough I have to scroll the left side table off. Anyway, I have tried resizing my line of balls, and perhaps that will fix it. But I have to say, there just have to be better ways of spending one's life than finding that no matter what you do, the result is still very wrong.
Darnell says all this will go away in a few weeks when they get the data base engine done, but he isn't going to get that done until David has done a design we all agree to. That may turn out to be harder than it looks. I like the way this looks now if I can just keep the blasted widths under control. I like my parchment look. I am not at all fond of black on stark white as a way to read text. For that matter I am not at all fond of screens as a way to read very much anyway, but there is little to be done about that; and I sure would rather read this than some of those very busy pages that the big outfits have up even if those win all kinds of awards.
But the very fact that most of these notes are about page layouts says volumes. What a way for a grown man to spend his time!
But there are compensations for this. For instance:
PARTITION MAGIC is going to drive me crazy. I am sure it is not their fault. I have been trying to scrub Fireball down for reinstallation. Fireball has SCSI drives: one large C: drive, then a DPT RAID array. Unfortunately the 3 drives in the RAID box are NOT identical, and I suspect that's my problem. I think I am going to have to use the DPT software to make one big RAID 0 (which unless I have got the numbers wrong is a big non-redundant partition) then start over. What is happening is that Alex tried to install Microsoft Backoffice on this complicated monster, and something failed. I am now stuck with a FAT32 (formerly NTFS) partition in the RAID, and NOTHING I can do will simply eliminate it and release all that space to a normal FAT partition. Not that I really want a normal FAT partition. What I WANT is to clean this thing down to the simplest possible configuration. Then I want the smallest possible Windows 95 partition, with that easily removed when I need to; a small FAT partition for the system stuff of NT 4 Server Service Pack 3; and as big an NTFS partition as I can get for the rest of the files.
What I have is a lot of small chops of Windows 95 converted to Windows 98, frequent recoverable errors in explorer, and a huge dual Pentium Pro (100 megabit chip cache) machine designed to be a server turned into a not very good Windows 98 box.
Booting in DOS gets me nowhere: fdisk only sees the C: drive. So that isn't going to do it. Partition Magic at least sees the other stuff. But it will NOT let me simply scrub off that former NTFS now FAT 32 partition and merge it with the others. Every attempt produces another odd result. It's clear I am going to have to invoke the DPT software, eliminate all the RAID fancies, make that 3-drive array into one big drive, install NT, and then re-chop into the proper RAID configuration. What I eventually want is a pair of mirrored drives onto which I will save any current work in progress. At the end of the day that will be backed up onto glass disks -- Fujitsu has yet another iteration of their splendid little Magneto Optical DyanaMO 640 meg disk drives -- but meanwhile it will have been protected by the mirrored drives. IN theory I should never have anything saved at risk, and since all my working machines are on UPS -- either Clary or APC with APC slowly taking over due in large part to their superior server software -- that should mean that it would take something major like a meteor strike to lose me anything at all. As I get older the idea of losing finished text is ever more frightening. ON the other hand, this page layout junk is making what I do less worth while all the time...
I have about determined to continue these on line notes of pretty raw and unedited stream of consciousness -- this is all not only first draft but due to the slowness of the Front Page editor not even very well corrected -- but then at the end of the week or month or when I feel like it, to take all this junk and put it into WORD, and boil it into something more structured and more coherent. The VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR is a good title for the chaotic daily notes; what is a good title for the more polished end-of-month product? Suggestions welcome.
And that should do it for a while. Roberta says today I must spend four hours in the monk's cell getting Mamelukes into shape. CMP has made an honorable settlement, but I don't have the money in hand and when we start running up credit card accounts she starts to worry; understandable. Mr. Heinlein ran scared all his life. "Writers are professional gamblers," he used to tell us, and even after STRANGER pretty well assured he would never again have any financial worries he worried excessively. Have your house, car and typewriter (after I introduced him to computers and he got one he amended that to computer) paid for free and clear so if you have to borrow money it's for eating beans and rice...
While I am on the subject of things that drive me mad, FRONT PAGE strikes again. IF your ISP drops you while you are trying to do a 'publish' operation, Front Page will go insane. I find the only thing to do is kill it, dead, then reopen it. Since Front Page cannot be persuaded to remember your pasword, you must then go look up the silly thing, which in my case is highly complex. Then--
It does the job. Sort of. The way a lot of Microsoft stuff does lately. I do not think I have heard 'elegant' applied to much of their software since Excel first came out. Why is this? I think probably it's hard to get good programmers to work on cleaning thing up, making them work better, making existing products more elegant. People do pretty well what they want to do, and programmers more than most. But I sure wish Gates would find a good cleanup crew. Pay them whatever it takes. The cost would be small compared to the frustration level of the customers.
Robert Bruce Thompson says that the key to making Front Page Editor work is to open it stand alone. That does NOT work for me. I will have to play with it a lot; see mail. It sure would be nice if it did work the way he says.
LATE THURSDAY NIGHT
I also seem to have lost the ability to edit this file in WORD. What I open with this file name in Word is no longer the file I get when I open this in Front Page Editor. I wonder if trying to get it into Editor without opening Front Page Explorer did that? Lord knows I had enough other problems trying that. If I can't open the page in WORD I am doomed. I will try copying it elsewhere; Microsoft has this stupid cache tricks that may be the problem, but you would not suppose they would play them with a word processor. Or would they?
Interview tomorrow with USA Today on how we won the Cold War. As one of the architects of the SDI strategy (well, as chairman of the group that put it together; but I was Chairman as much because I had a loud voice and would yell at generals, and because Larry Niven was host to the meetings, as for any reason of my intellectual abilities) -- anyway, I have a story to tell, and heck, it may help sell books too...
I have been able to open View.html in WORD (Office 97) over here on CYRUS, and the entire file is here, unlike the truncated mess that appears in WORD over on Princess. Understand, I am opening the exact same file name in the exact same folder. I will now try saving that file here on Cyrus, and see if that makes any difference with WORD on Princess.
This is insanity, you know. Sure, it's easier to do all this with these computers than it would be to do it with typewriter and paper, but it is still needlessly hard to do. WHY should WORD decide not to access the proper file? Some flushing buffer somewhere, doubtless. Some TEMP file it is using to guide it. The English have a wonderful expression, "too clever by half." This applies to a lot of Microsoft gubbage.
Fascinating. Now I have managed to get the entire file into WORD on Princess. Here's how:
First, over on CYRUS, I accessed the VIEW file. It converted just fine, and I had it up and wrote a couple of the above paragraphs. Then I saved it as SAVEVIEW.html. Came over here to try to access SAVEVIEW, and found it truncated, but at a different place from before. Opened a blank document. Insert file: saveview.html. And here I am. I will now try to save as, and then reopen. Ain't computing with Microsoft FUN!?!
And it is still disaster! The document saved all right, but closing it and then trying to read in saveview.html produces, once again, a truncated mess. So I am back over here on CYRUS having brought up the document with WORD over the net. At least here I get all of it. Now to save, and come back and open saveview in Front Page editor on Princess, and here I am again. Now I can copy and paste from one Front Page window to another. WORD will NOT open the whole View or Saveview document. I do not know why.
The problem is something to do with tables. WORD over here isn't converting to the end of the document. Over there on Cyrus it is. I predict that if I shut down and restart here on Princess it will work again.
I won't solve this tonight. I'll get saveview into the system, copy and paste into view.html in Front Page editor, and get this up. Then I will worry about why this has happened. I sure wish I could just write instead of this idiocy.
There's some new blather about the works of C. S. Lewis over in the BOOKS page.
Breakfast time. Princess is sluggish and now wonder, with GETRIGHT doing two big downloads in background, and I do have a lot of windows open.
A thought provoking experience: see this morning's mail. And the termite people are here, I have not yet solved the WORD problem, and I think I will stop telling these stories until I know the ending anyway. See MAIL.
And in an hour I have an interview on how I won the Cold War.
That went well, I think. Then a couple of hours in the monk's cell working on Mamelukes. I haven't got as much writing done as I would like, but the story is taking shape, and that's the important thing. If you know what you are going to write, then writing is still hard work, but it's not staring at the paper until beads of blood appear on your forehead. I've done that kind too.
Of course the standard excuses always apply. Writer's Block is, in my experience, a very compelling excuse but that's all it is. Every writer I know has felt it, with the possible exception of Robert Silverberg who once told a group of young writers "I had writer's block once. It was the worst fifteen minutes of my life." That was pretty irritating to some of them who had been 'blocked' for months. Yet he was right: you learn to get past that, or you just aren't cut out to be a writer.
Somerset Maughm, one of the finest writers of this century, used to work with pen and ink. I don't know what technique he used before he got rich, but he tells of what he did in his later years: he lived on the French Riviera, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and he would go out onto his patio on a fine morning and semi-recline with a lap board. Then he would write. If he couldn't think of anything to write, he would write, endlessly, "W. Somerset Maughm. W. Somerset Maughm. W. Somerset Maughm." until he was so bored that he would make up a story.
This is illustrative for two reasons. First, one of the best story tellers of our time found himself "blocked" pretty often; and second, he overcame it by the simple expedient of refusing to BE blocked. Let those who will listen and learn...
WORD recently imported MAIL all right, but it will NOT import VIEW beyond about 1/3 of the length, and trying to do more with it results in all kinds of faults, one of which even brought up Dr. Watson. It's all very curious. What I am doing now is writing in WORD as a document. I intend to paste all this into VIEW in the FP editor. We will see if that does the trick. (And it seems to have. I wonder if I could NOW open this document in WORD and see this stuff? -- NOPE. The last line I can see is "wanted to say has" except that it flashes on and off with some more below that, but not a lot more. Doesn't matter. This write in word and paste in here seems to work just fine, so I can continue doing it this way.
Friday Night. We'll probably go over to Burbank for a movie. I like Burbank: the teenagers at the movie houses are polite, there is good parking, and the city manager is a partner with me in a business venture. That latter isn't really relevant, of course. I have never met him when he was on duty. But the city is well managed, and he's brought a lot of business to beautiful downtown Burbank by making it very convenient to park and shop there.
My son Richard came in last night. He's a product manager for Banta in the Bay area and you can see some of what he does at www.pournelle.com, a domain name he glommed on to some time ago.
I'm playing about with editing methods, mostly stalling because I think I should, just for the experiment, scrub down Princess and reinstall nearly everything. This isn't easy, because there is a LOT of stuff on here. On the other hand, it's a useful experiment to do on a hot Saturday afternoon. I also want to refurbish Fireball into an NT server, and the sane thing is to do that first, get it running, and when I do software reinstalls for Princess put a lot of that stuff over on Fireball. With a 100 base T network connection there's no appreciable delay, it will free up a lot of disk space, and make backups a lot easier to do.
So, I suppose, that's the agenda for the day.
Meanwhile, I backed up the InetPub directory Front Page created as the place to put my local network stuff, moving it over to the Sysquest SyJet 1.5 Gigabyte external SCSI cartridge. These work fine except that I have much frustration getting the cartridge to mount. I insert it and nothing happens. Finally, after several tries, I hold my mouth right and it mounts, after which it works just fine. I have no problem with an internal model of this, so my guess is that it's a matter of a firm place for the external; I think it wiggles just slightly as I am trying to install the disk.
Anyway I did the backup, then copied the chaosmanor subdirectory over to the place where Dreamweaver stores things, then opened View in Dreamweaver, made a couple of margin changes, and stored that in hopes that it would do something magic and let me open this file in Word. No such luck. Still the same problem, the file is truncated in Word early on. It's not EXACTLY truncated: if you try to write at the end, all hell breaks loose, some text flashes on and off, and things go nuts. I suspect there's some HTML entry on a table length that's doing it. I don't really care other than curiosity, but if I find out what is doing it I will send it to one of the Microsoft WORD people (despite my unhappiness with some of the bugs, I do like and use WORD, and I think Office is nearly indispensable to the work I do; my main reason for not going to a UNIX/LINUX based system and having done with it).
What happened was nothing, but then when I tried to open VIEW in Front Page it wouldn't do it. In fact, it wouldn't open the site at all. Some file was corrupted. Since I had not allowed Dreamweaver to write anywhere near that, this gets curiouser and curiouser, said Alice. I fixed things by simply copying my SyQuest backup copy of InetPub back to the C drive and overwriting everything, but this is bothersome. It means that Dreamweaver, somehow, goes looking for the actual web site instead of looking at the copy it's supposed to work on? I don't know. I do know that it was a potential disaster.
Actually not, of course; Front Page will, if told to, import a site directly from the web, and THAT at least hadn't been touched.
Well, it's time for the labors of Hercules. My plan is to make a big server out of Fireball; put him where Larry Niven usually works, including with Larry's Microsoft Humped Ergonomic Keyboard which he likes, and let Larry work there. I'll also keep assets like the TEAC 6 drive CDROM, the Ricoh Media-Master CD-R/W, an internal IDE ZIP, and a good tape backup drive at that station. It's in a convenient location that I don't use much, and surely it's fast enough to be a server and Niven's workstation at the same time.
Then it's reorganize Princess. That sounds fun...
Incidentally, what I do now is open a blank WORD page, write this stuff in it, then paste it into VIEW in the Front Page editor. Gives me my dictionaries, thesaurus, spell checker, and great speed, and the only drawback is I have to have two windows open, a trivial penalty. Looks as if I have The Method now.
For something off the computer subject click here. My thoughts on the Velikovsky Affair...
Late Saturday Nigh, July 11, 1998
So: here we go with Fireball. First thing: if you have both a SCSI and an IDE CDROM on your system, most DOS boot systems won't find either one of them. They certainly won't find it if you've previously had Windows 98 on the system. You must first go into the BIOS and reset it; Windows 98 rewrites all kinds of things in there. Perhaps it shouldn't, but it does.
I have a "magic" disk: it boots almost anything into DOS and has a whole bunch of CDROM drivers on it. It will bring up almost any system. What it won't do is bring up in DOS a system with an IDE CDROM, a SCSI CDROM, and a DPT SCSI RAID array. I forgot that, which wasted most of an hour. Fortunately Fiona Ritchie with her Thistle and Harp show were on the radio, so I got some good Gaelic music while I wasted my time. Then MY WORD from the BBC. Both were over when I figured it out.
To make a system bootable in DOS after it has been used for Windows 98 and an attempt has been made to put Back Office Server on it, you can either format the hard disk, or be sure to remove all those hidden files that get stuck onto the disk early on. Norton Commander for DOS, that wonderful program, will see those files, and delete them. Boot with a floppy; go to C:\NC and invoke Norton Commander; delete all those hidden files; go back to A:, and do SYS C:. Now you have to fool around with the config.sys and autoexec.bat files until you get things right and it sees the CDROM. Easiest way is to disconnect the DPT SCSI RAID array entirely (unplug the SCSI cable; the DPT controller is smart enough to terminate itself if there is nothing attached to it). Unplug the SCSI cable from the SCSI CDROM. Now boot with the proper CDROM drivers, and Bob's your uncle.
Erase all the NT files. All. Erase all the Windows directory. Now create WINDOWS/OPTIONS/CABS and copy the proper Windows 95b files including setups to that directory. And NOW we can install Windows 95b. As to why we are installing that when the goal is NT SERVER, I want to be sure that I have every one of the resource devices -- a SCSI CD-R/W, a tape drive, a TEAC 6 pack changer CDROM, a SyQuest 1.0 Gig internal cartridge drive, and an IDE internal ZIP drive, plus a 100 base T Ethernet card -- working and know all the port numbers. Also the sound card. I want to know the IRQ and port and other resource settings, and the best way is to get it all going is with Windows 95, after which I can write down all that, and install NT 4 Server. This will take a while. Oh, well.
Just at the moment we're listening to My Music from the BBC (on KUSC) and copying all the CAB files over from the CDROM. That ought to be done now.
Nuts. I can't boot from the C drive and have a CDROM. Some kind of driver problem. I need to copy things exactly from the floppy and get this right and be done with it. The problem is that this computer insists on starting from scratch with each reboot, and it takes several minutes to do it. Sigh.
We're back to the problem that W 98 has overwritten the BIOS settings, and I will have to do something drastic.
I am beginning to believe I have unfairly maligned Windows 98. Yes, it certainly did overwrite the BIOS settings to suit itself; but my later problems seem to come from having the TEAC 6 in there. I have bypassed it, plugging its data and power cables into a normal single drive CDROM sitting on top of the case, and lo! I see a CDROM when I boot now. I'll get Windows in there shortly, but perhaps I ought to do a bit more experimenting. Enough for the night. I'll resume this tomorrow.
I KNOW that TEAC 6 will work with W 95, and in fact I once installed W 95 from it; apparently W 98 plays some really odd games? Well, another time. Enough for the night.
Sunday Afternoon, July 12, 1998
The problem is simple. Sometimes when I boot up Fireball it sees a CDROM on DOS. Other times it does not. Same procedure, same boot disk, same CDROM. It's pretty clear there is something terribly wrong with the BIOS.
I desperation I have removed the battery from the mother board. This was no easy task; it's hard to get at. I am leaving the machine sit for an hour, then I will reboot and set up things again in the BIOS Setup program. Meanwhile, over here on Princess, Front Page Editor tells me there is no server on Port 80, so I cannot edit or save anything. Front Page explorer is even more emphatic. Nothing for it but to shut down and reboot.
That did it. I now have access to my web site again. Why this drifted off during the night I don't know. I did get some very mysterious mail, and attempt to answer was not successful; very odd jiggered up thing, and when I try "reply" it shows an empty "to" box. I don't see how that has anything to do with not finding a server on Port 80, but who knows?
At least this works. Now to let Fireball sit there and drain for a good half hour then try that. I'd like in fact to try attaching all the resources and see if it will boot that way into DOS. Probably not.
It has been 20 minutes. Surely enough? Confess impatience to see if this has fixed the problem with Fireball. Note we never had ANY such problems until we installed Windows 98. Then the troubles began in spades with big casino.
Well, first boot worked: went into setup, changed the date and time, told it I had a CDROM on the IDE master, and let fly. Found the CDROM without problems, booting from the C drive. Now to reset and try again.
Well, that works. Now to install W 95 OSR2 and get all the odd assets working, and find all the proper settings for them, and THEN I can do NT 4 server; after which I'll scrub Princess and reinstall. What a way to spend a weekend, especially since I have to do an Intellectual Capital column. It's about the Parable of the Mote and the Beam, and I think it will be pretty good, but it has to be DONE
Sunday Evening, July 12, 1998
Windows 95 OSR2 is now installed on Princess. I confess I never had an easier install. First I disconnected all the exotics, so that I had a single TEAC CDROM drive, no RAID, no ZIP, no SyQuest, no CD R/W. Then I did Win 95 install, standard, accepted all the defaults. Came up in VGA just fine, network at 100base T working just fine. Then I installed the Number Nine Video Card and the Eizo Monitor (gorgeous; just gorgeous). Then I shut down, connected up all the other stuff, and fired her up again. And here we, are, with all that stuff working. Sometimes Plug and Play works. This was one of those times.
Now to use Win 95 to let me do DPT's thing on the RAID, and reformat that. I want a small FAT partition for NT 4 system, and the rest NTFS. Then I'll record all the IRQ's and ports and other information, and then I'll install NT 4 Server with the Service Pack. With luck I'll be done by morning. Then it's time to start in on Princess. I'll take a bunch of stuff off Princess and put it on that server, which will be set up over where Niven works.
Sometimes things go right. Of course I'm still waiting for a disaster. And the Intellectual Capital column is still to be done.