|A TEST OF VIEW|
Wednesday, June 24, 1998
An irregular journal of things computerish.
For the BYTE story, click here.
To jump to current entry assuming I moved the bookmark, click here.
Feedback question: I have tended to keep page sizes small by using a lot of pages. I read in one of my web design books that many users prefer larger pages with bookmarks and scrolling. I would think that would make for long download times. I'd appreciate your observations.
ALERT: Talin has a suggestion for a way for you to PAY for this place. Click here.
The thought for the week: I'm going to leave this up another week. For what I hope are obvious reasons. I have nearly a thousand pledges of ten dollars or more for continuing this. If every one of those actually sent money, it would be a start. Not a fabulous start, but at least enough to pay the expenses of getting this thing going. Of course the chances for that are slim: in six months of The Strategy of Technology being up as a kind of voluntary shareware book, about fifty dollars have come in. I didn't expect a lot more. When it gets to a hundred or so I'll send it all to Dr. Possony's widow.
This is different: keeping this place up costs mostly time, but there are some real expenses involved too. So: if you want to help out here, send ten bucks cash, check, or money order to:
Dr. Jerry E. Pournelle
12358 Ventura Blvd. Box 372
Studio City, CA, 91604
The only thing I promise for that money is that I'll record your email address (if you include it), and if this thing actually goes anywhere, you'll get first notice and whatever else I think electronically appropriate. I'll keep this experiment going through July. All money sent becomes the property of J.E. Pournelle and Associates, none will be returned, and we promise nothing in return beyond continuation of this web page with reasonable updates at least weekly and daily when possible. I doubt anything will come of this, but it is an interesting way to keep score. Meanwhile, we are looking for a source of revenue that doesn't drive you batty with banner ads. We'd hoped Millicent would do that, but so far it's not implemented.
Week 4: June 22 through 28, 1998
Monday, June 22, 1998: I continue to organize. I have copies of Front Page 98 and Dreamweaver coming, and I'll use those as soon as I can. If you missed yesterdays Mail and View, there's a lot there.
Just at the moment I am finishing my Intellectual Capital column, and deadlines are tight. Later...
Got that done and turned in and pretty good it was if I do say so. Now to try to organize: Front Page 98 has arrived, and I am making enough disk space that I can install it. I can't believe how I have managed to use up several gigabytes of disk space on Princess, the Compaq Professional Workstation I do all this on. It would be amazing if it weren't disgusting. The worst is that I cannot for the life of me see what I can get rid of.
There is also a ton of mail to work on, and a new series on graphics by David Em. He'll need his own page structure of course. With luck Front Page 98 will make some of this a bit more routine than it has been.
Well, I'm editing in Front Page. It took a while, and a frantic call to Darnell, to make it work. The important thing to remember is: you must install personal web server along with Front Page; and you must shut the machine down and restart after these installations. When you install Front Page it will ask if you want to run it. You don't. Finish without running. Make sure that you did a custom install that included Personal Web Server and if you didn't, go back to the CD and start over and this time do install Personal Web Server. It will again ask you if you want to run the program.
I wanted to. Wrong answer. The dialogue ought to be: "Do you want to run Front Page now?"
"You can't, stupid. Restart the machine and ask me again. Sheesh, these users."
Unfortunately it doesn't say that, so you can try until the cows come home but it won't let you start a new web page or import an old one, and not even Darnell realized this so we wasted time on the telephone trying this and that, until he remembered. The good news is that once I did restart, it all works just peachy fine, and I have imported this web site from the folder where I keep it on the C drive, but it would have imported it from the server Darnell keeps it on if I'd just allowed it. Wow. And it's fast, and you can grab a link label to edit it, or do control-click to follow it. That's already better than Word. On the other hand, I seem to be having problems finding the date and time, which don't quite work the same as they do in word. So it goes.
I now have to create a page for David Em. The art and layout will be mine. David's words, though.
We will see if that works. To get there try EM
Observation: in Front Page you MUST close the file before you "publish" which is to say allow Front Page to update the web site.
I'm writing this in WORD by opening the View file. It works. I am still learning this, but I have to say: I am beginning to like Front Page, and I've been using IE4 to look at this stuff and I like it. Eric is sitting here resisting saying I told you so and not managing it. He did tell me I'd like it. But does this mean I am being absorbed by the Borg? Help! Now I have closed WORD and opened Front Page, and I am writing in Front Page, and it's working if a bit slow. I note that to do spell checking I have to explicitly invoke the spelling checker which is the same one as the rest of Office. In Word it does it on the fly. But the integration of these products is very nice. Aargh. Am I being assimilated? No, no...
Tuesday, June 23, 1998
Still working with Front Page. It is integrated wonderfully well with Word: that is, I can forget using their HTML editor unless I really want to, and instead edit in Word. Word is faster, even with on the fly spelling and grammar checking, and frankly has better tools for routing matters like date and time, horizontal lines, and other stuff; use the Front Page editor when that really counts; and use the Publish feature to upload it all. Works good. One minor complain, Front Page has NO provision for saving the very complicated and impossible to remember password for the Chaos Manor web site. As long as Front Page is open the password remains, but if there's a glitch--such as earlier today when apparently Darnell was updating some stuff--then Front Page forgets the password, and out come the log books to look it up. Minor annoyance.
Am I being assimilated? Is resistance futile? The only reason I use Netscape now is to look at the files to be sure that Front Page hasn't done something I didn't know about; IE4 is much faster, and not just for my web site. The other reason I use Netscape still is that I haven't figured out how to transfer the bookmarks, of which I have a lot, from Netscape to Internet Explorer. I didn't start with any preference for IE4, the opposite in fact, because I while I made a living for 20 years writing about trying new things, the fact is that I actually like developing habits for working with my tools. That way I don't have to think about how to do something, I just do it. Now I'll have to learn new habits for web browsing. But IE4 really is faster, and integrates nicely with the rest of Office and Front Page.
I hope it's just the Borg, and not the beast John W. Campbell, Jr., invented for his "Who Goes There". That may have been the most frightening monster in all science fiction, even if they did a ridiculous movie with that title with James Arness in a rubber suit...
Reinstalled Symantec Delrina Winfax 7.5 on Roberta's "Joizy" a few minutes ago. She does nearly all the electronic faxing; when I fax, I tend to print on paper and let the Panasonic fax machine handle the job. It didn't used to be that way, back when I was active in space politics, and I was sending faxes every few minutes. For all its faults, Winfax does the job well. If there's an upgrade I don't know it: the one we have is a couple of years old. Works just fine, though. It does believe that the internal US Robotics modem in Joizy is a 28000 Sporster, when that was long ago upgraded to one of the 56K systems. I notice that Roberta very often gets 40K+ internet connections. I don't usually get better than 28K and often not even that with my external US Robotics. I am not sure why; it may need some kind of firmware upgrade. One more thing to do.
New Feature: Chaos Manor Books. The return of the book of the month...
Well, the Borg nearly had me. But I have escaped. First, I cannot find any way to tell Outlook 98 that I want to change over to Internet Explorer as the default. Consequently, if I have IE4 open, say to look at my web page -- which incidentally has considerable new stuff in David Em's page among other places -- and I double click on a URL in a mail message, up comes Netscape, then up comes Dr. Watson, then IE4 dies. There is a Microsoft web site that purports to tell me how I can run Netscape and IE4 together, but when I tried to get those tips (using IE4, having closed Netscape) I got Active-X Script errors, something about parent/child is not an object, do I want to continue running Active X script on this site? It doesn't matter what answer I give, nothing useful is going to happen. I don't know what that's all in aid of. So until I can find out how to set IE4 as my default browser for Outlook 98-- I have the horrible feeling I am going to be told I have to reinstall either IE4 or Outlook or both--I have evaded the clutches of the Borg. That Microsoft Site seems pretty enough, but there's something seriously wrong there...
My advice is to stay away from Worldbook Encyclopedia done by IBM. I have no idea of whether the encyclopedia is any good: it comes on 2 CD ROMS but before you can use it, you must enter a code number. Since the code number is on a card that you probably threw away (since the CD's are shrink wrapped, and you have them, and the stupid encyclopedia is useless without the CD's) it means you may not be able to use this thing at all, and it's nearly certain that you'll eventually lose that number. IBM and Worldbook deserve the "as near to fraud as you can get" award for charging money for this imbecility. Roberta wanted an encyclopedia, and thought Encarta a bit simple; I fished out a shrink wrapped Worldbook for her. But apparently the key code was in another package long ago thrown away.
They give URL's for IBM and Worldbook but I won't bother to give them here: I mean why would you want them? Sop you can spend money for a product you can't use without having to have a 10 digit number to enter every time you want to look something up? They also give a tech support number, but it's a 716 number; they are taking no chances with that one. Way to go, Worldbook and IBM. Way to go. Feh.
New feature: SPACEMAIL. The topic ought to be obvious enough.
Wednesday, June 24, 1998 Last night I converted from Netscape to Internet Explorer 4. It wasn't that there was anything basically wrong with Netscape, or all that much better about IE4; but now that I am using a combination of Front Page 98 and Word from Office 97 to do this site, and Outlook 98 to keep track of my mail, it all integrates a lot better with IE4 than with Netscape. I had a real problem convincing the system to change default browsers: the answer is in the Internet button on the Control Panel. This is installed when you install IE4. It has a little box with small print that asks if you want IE4 to check and see if it is the default browser. You check that box, close Netscape and launch IE4, and Bob's your uncle. There is a Microsoft Web Site for the newly absorbed -- oops, converted -- that will guide you the rest of the way. Back when Netscape was my default browser I got some Active X script errors on that site. I haven't this morning been able to duplicate them, and I'll probably stop trying.
I am fully convinced that Internet Explorer is faster than Netscape, and by a lot. It seems a bit crisper, and the scrolling seems smoother.
From: Talin [Talin@ACM.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 2:02 PM
Subject: Collecting Payments for Chaos Manor Column
I just read on your your site about the difficulty of people from foreign countries sending you checks. Presumably, Millicent would solve this problem, as well as many others. While you are waiting for Millicent to be implemented, however, I suggest you sign up with "Kagi". Kagi is a shareware payment service. Heres what Kagi does: Instead of customers sending money to individual shareware authors, they can send money to Kagi in _any_ form (this includes foreign currency, credit cards, checks, money orders, invoice, First Virtual, whatever). Kagi then takes a flat six percent of that, and sends the rest to the shareware author, aggregated into a single monthly check. Kagi removes the burden of accounting and payment processing from the shareware author, and lets them concentrate on writing code or doing whatever it is that they do best.
You dont have to be a shareware author to take advantage of Kagi;
Anyone who is collecting payments over the internet can use it. For example, there are various "charity" accoutsthere is a list of charities that you can donate to using the Kagi mechanism. There are also newsletters and organizations which have Kagi accountsyou can pay your membership dues via Kagi.
Kagi works with both shareware and crippleware, i.e. they have a mechanism whereby receipt of payment will automatically send you an email containing an activation code.
Kagi has been in business for about 5 years, and processes $20,000 worth of payments per _day_. They have over 500 authors.
Kagi is convenient for end-usersthey can submit payments via regular mail, email, web or fax. They have a customer support staff to handle end-user problems.
The URL is http://www.kagi.com
Also, I should mention that the founder and owner of Kagi is Kee Nethery, a close personal friend of mine. (In fact, my personal web page is running on a machine located at his offices.) If you ever come to Baycon, Ill introduce him to you.
Talin (Talin@ACM.org) -- Systems Engineer, PostLinear Entertainment.
"The only mind-altering substance I use is breakfast."
In fact I had lunch with the founders of Kagi when Eric and I went up to DEC's Palo Alto Research Center for the Millicent conference. It's a splendid suggestion, and I'll sign up as soon as I've given the rest of you an opportunity to think on it. If there's a reason not to, tell me.
Some frustrations continue. I wanted to draw a little box, blue background with white letters, small, that would say in white on blue "Best viewed with a web browser." Little border around it. I got it fine except that the picture drawing function insists on making the darned thing big in depth so that it takes up too much space. Anyone know what I am doing wrong?
There is surely a simple way to trim the thing to size. I wonder what it is?
And, of course, Voila!
From: Tim Bowser [email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 3:54 PM
Not knowing what you were using to produce the "Blue Button", Id guess it was trying to build a default sized graphic image and rendered the Big Black Box the button was trapped in.
IrfanView32, while being the slickest viewer Ive seen in ages, can also clean up little problems like the Button. Open the file with Irfan, use the mouse to encircle the area you want to save, then click on Edit - Crop. The result is attached as BestBrws.JPG.
Expect a ten-spot in the mail shortly. I was a subscriber to BYTE for years, and the first column Id turn to was Chaos Manor. For the price of a cheese pizza, I can learn along with the Good Doctor for a year and not worry about cholesterol.
Thanks. Worked like a charm, of course. I'll move all this over to mail directly, but we'll leave it here a day or so.
And now for a key question:
From: BEN ATKINSON [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 10:05 PM
The web is not a magazine. Look at CNET or CBSs web news sites to see what type of format is "screen" friendly. I think if you are going to move Chaos Manor to the web and make it a pay site, you should make it easier to read on the screen. You can always allow downloadable, or special printable versions that work better on paper. But if youre gonna be on the web...
The questions here being two. First, if this isn't readable, what would be, that I can manage to do without spending most of my time at it. And behind that of course the implied question, am I going to be 'on the web' other than casually? What formats are readable?