THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
August 23 - 29, 1999
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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 - 7,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this place is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE.
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|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.
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Highlights this week:
August 23, 1999
Hectic week. NASFIC starting Wednesday, and a week later I am off to Japan. Meanwhile the workmen just tore out our kitchen preparatory to installing another. And I am finishing up stuff and the column has to be done early. It's a full life, Charlie...
|This week:||Tuesday, August
My subconscious kept resisting sending in those maps, and last night I figured out why. I had a fundamental error in one of the rivers. So I have to retrace the whole map and redraw that area. But at least I will have it right this time.
Column going slowly. Workmen in the house, no kitchen, things hectic, and tomorrow I go to Anaheim for the Convention. Never a dull moment...
Interesting mail today. And I am way behind on everything. Had some interesting mail on some of my books, causing me to go look at Amazon to get the order information and I find that Amazon now has all my books with Niven listed as by Niven alone. I don't like that much. I wonder if Barnes and Noble do that? I will have to look, since I see no point in my recommending you buy my books through a company that doesn't put my name on the titles. I don't know any way to communicate with Amazon about this. There probably is one.
But if all my Amazon links turn to something else soon, that will be why. I can't complain about money. I get the price of a good dinner a month out of Amazon in recommender's fees, and that's like finding the money in the street. But heckdoodle they could put my name on my books. If you know how to complain to them about that you have my permission....
Now I am searching on my name and I get a blank page. This won't do. This just won't do. Now there's a page, and they list about 3 of my books. Go from there and there is a full list, but you have to work at it. Sigh.
While we are on this, Starswarm is out in paper and if you have not read it or got it for your kids (it's one of those juveniles that some adults like, but it is officially a young adult novel meaning there isn't any sex, the violence is controlled, and there's more science than editors will put up with in adult novels)...
Well, at least I got something done today. The maps for BURNING CITY went off Federal Express. And the bird is learning to fly so I will open the cage door tomorrow. The mother finch seems to have found it, so that should take care of that.
I suppose I am merely petulant. Still, it irks me that Amazon lists The Gripping Hand as by Larry Niven. They have some others that way. True, if you enter with my name, you'll get a good list, so I suppose I shouldn't complain.
Went to the Hollywood Bowl tonight. Didn't realize Peter Sellars was going to present an evening of minimalism and music that sat unperformed for a long time, probably for good reason. Some people liked it, though, particularly the Scriabin. I have to say that all I knew about Scriabin was that there was such a person. Now I know a bit more. I guess I am not enough of a modernist, though; I'd rather have stayed home and worked on the column. That's about the first time I'd rather have worked than gone to a concert at the Bowl, so I guess it's a good average.
August 25, 1999
After things came apart...
Workmen in the kitchen. Hot water heater bursts probably due to other work happening. Water everywhere. Have to throw stuff out to get to the hot water heater. I am supposed to be Guest of Honor at NASFIC shortly. Have to be here to get things fixed. Trip to Japan coming up shortly. Column due. Books overdue. What next?
My annoyance with Amazon is mostly their practice of listing books by Niven and me as by Niven alone. I don't have to like that and I don't. Not that there is much I can do about it.
Anyway, I should be gone the rest of the week.
Late PM. We have hot water. The workmen are out of the house. The housekeeper is settling in for a weekend with nothing to do but watch the place and feed the dog. The neighbors are alerted. We can get out of here. And I find another reason not to switch to Office 2000. Recall I used to complain about that enormous unmanageable outlook.pst file that Outlook 98 made? Well, Outlook 2000 doesn't do that. But that means it's pretty blooking hard to use Outlook when you are on the road unless your portable also has Office 2000 which mine does not. So this may be a lot of fun. We will see.
Realistically I am not likely to pay much attention to mail this weekend anyway. I am off to a science fiction convention where I am Guest of Honor and I don't have to worry about computers for a while. I don't think of any pressing problems that can only be got to me by email. Maybe the smart thing to do would be not to take a computer at all...
I'll be back Monday.
August 26, 1999
Didn't QUITE get away. More workmen due at noon. THEN we can go, the housekeeper can relax, and all will be calm. For a while. Except Roberta may have to pop back up a couple of times. Things FLOW here so...
Amazon seems to be fixing my problems regarding authors. At least they asked and provided a feedback mechanism so I assume they care. Never ascribe to malice...
I have got to solve the mail on the road problem. I have a new Road Warrior Kit which takes care of hardware for all over the world
but I need a software solution: something easily transferred from on the road to what I use at home. Outlook 2000 is too big and cumbersome for travel and anyway I do NOT want to put Office 2000 on a travel system. I will test using Outlook 98 and IMPORTING the new stuff to 2000 when I get back. That may work.
It may not. Watch this space for details. You would think that after 25 years of this I would have the road warrior problem solved, but I don't. That is, between Konexx http://www.konexx.com/ and Road Warrior http://warrior.com/ I have the hardware to take care of the situation, and I can always cobble something up using Netscape with the "leave messages on server" option then let Outlook do its thing when I get home, but it's hardly ideal.
I suppose I should simply set things up so that I can access Princess from outside. I worry about breakins though -- there aren't too many malicious people in my readership but there are one or two, and I know some people I like a lot who would think it a delicious joke even if I don't -- so my security system is to turn the machines off when I am not home. That ALWAYS works. Nothing here answers telephones but a fax machine on another line. One day I suppose I will pay a lot of attention to security and do it right. Very nearly did this a couple of years ago. Now that Mr. Dobbins is back from his rather odd adventures I have an expert to help, and we have got about halfway there already... Atter tag, atter tag.
Another Outlook 2000 major annoyance is that it keeps moving the little actions toolbar for contacts around so I can't find it. I make a new contact fie and I can't figure out what to do with it. Turns out the tool bar is on the lower right side of the Contact sheet. Why? I don't know. But it's darned near invisible there. I may have been mousing about with something and inadvertently moved it but this is stupid! Now I can't get it back where I can find it when I need it.
I hate Office 2000. It was NOT adequately tested or thought ought. O'Reilly will get a heck of an Annoyances book out of this, and when it comes out if you must use Office 2000 get that book...
I have removed all instances of div and /div (with brackets of course) from currentmail, and when I get back I'll let Allaire Homepage do it to very page I have. Apparently they do nothing useful (FrontPage doesn't even have a HELP item telling me what it is SUPPOSED to do) and they can drive Netscape crazy. I am told that SPAN commands can cause problems too. I find that removing SPAN is much harder to do because the strings are not all the same. I'll have to work on a command structure that does it.
So far as I can tell, removing all the div /div from that did nothing at all to the page. FrontPage 2000 is really dismal. Use FrontPage 98 if you want to use FrontPage (and it is convenient). But I think I am going to have to learn Dreamweaver, because I am getting weary of surprises from FrontPage 2000.
Now I need to get cleaned up and get ready to go have fun.
August 29, 1999
I am back. I had a great time. I am pretty well drained, and I have work to do. I've done some more substitutes in MAIL in hopes of removing what is blowing up Netscape, but I can't spend my life that that. Most Netscapes don't die on Mail. Mine doesn't. I am trying to figure things out but there can't be that many people who can't read the mail and who want to. Can there?
Well yes there can. Now currentview crashes MY netscape. I'll work on this when I get back since it does not crash with last week's mail.
I'll figure it out, but it is enough. We convert to a new set of web tools shortly.
Tests: copy and past through Monday. That works fine. Can see with Netscape.
OK, It was the last Tuesday letter that killed it. I hacked out a bunch of stuff that the sender had put in and Outlook had sent on to word which sent it on to FrontPage. The remedy is to get rid of Office 2000 which will not let me control what I paste into FrontPage; it will not carry the fonts I want, but it will send in absolutely ghastly div and span and other type code, change colors, do things I don't want done. They have so mucked up copy and paste in 2000 that I am beginning to agree with Ted Nelson that control-v stands for controlled vomit.
I doubt anyone actually USED Outlook/Word/FrontPage 2000 together to try to build up a page made up of mail. If they had they would have seen the problems. So it is fixed, and my next task will be to rip that stuff out of this machine and go back to something I can actually make use of.
I repeat my warning. Don't "upgrade" to Office 2000. It is not ready for prime time. Too many problems, too much doing what it thinks it wants to do and leaving you no control. In particular, Outlook/Word/FrontPage 2000 do not work very well together. I have more remarks on this along with some of Fred Langa's observations over in mail.
And I can reliably crash FrontPage 2000 simply by doing a text search on a complex page. It locks up and eventually FrontPage has to be shut down (actually shuts itself down as no longer responding). That may be an interaction with Windows 2000. Whatever it is, it's intolerable.
Here ends this week's VIEW. I am left with the problem that I do not know what crashes Netscape since, as several readers remind me, we could read the Tuesday letter until Sunday after which we could not; that something put in Sunday night crashed Netscape until something that was put in Tuesday night was altered. I don't know that I have time to recreate the problem although it might be interesting to try. Fred Langa thinks it is '<div>' tags, and perhaps he is right. In any event it's another reason to look for an alternative to FrontPage.