CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 87 February 7 - 13, 2000
REFRESH/RELOAD EARLY AND OFTEN!
CLICK ON THE BLIMP TO SEND MAIL TO ME
The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.
FOR THE CURRENT VIEW PAGE CLICK HERE
If you are not paying for this place, click here...
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. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature.
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.
Search: type in string and press return.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
FOR THE CURRENT VIEW PAGE CLICK HERE
Highlights this week:
February 7, 2000
This is column deadline day. More tonight.
Dear Dr. Pournelle:
Concerning stripping code from Word or other text generators:
While in Word, do a Save As the text using the Text Only or DOS Text options and give the new file a .txt extension. Bring it up in Notepade [or other low-level text processor that doesn't embed code] and then save it as text again.
When you bring up the file again in Word, everything but the ASCII characters should be stripped out.
Sure, and you can get the same result by right clicking the "preview" in OUTLOOK, doing Select ALL, Copy, then over here do right click and Paste Special Normal Paragraphs (the default of formatted paragraphs is not merely useless but perverse). That does pretty well the same thing, and is what I usually do (and did with your letter). The problem is that this removes too much. The letter in question had considerable structure making it more readable; I didn't want to destroy all that, nor did I want to go in and hand format it to put it back the way it was.
There needs to be an intermediate format, what "Paste Special/ Formatted Paragraphs" implies but is not, in FrontPage; something that doesn't add all that silly 'span' tage code. FrontPage 2000 is much improved in not rewriting html, and is usually very useful, but now and again I find difficulties like that. Oh. Well.
|This week:||Tuesday, February
The CIA's broadcast information service has performed a preliminary translation of a new Chinese book about strategy. The authors have deduced the strategy of technology, and have attempted to devise effective counters. Interestingly, the authors are not aware of yours and Possony's book. (I was tempted to titillate them by sending a reference to your book, but since my sons might be fighting them in a land war in Asia, I decided not to.)
Also, their doctrine contains some critical strategic mistakes (I believe) because they think the U.S. executed the strategy accidentally.
The parts discussing U.S. interservice rivalry read like C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters", and the insights on desert storm (they think the victory was by helicopter), both were alone worth the price of admission for me.
It has already been translated to HTML at http://cryptome.org/cuw.htm
Ray Van De Walker
The real problem is that few in Washington are listening: the Seventy Years War was won by a Strategy of Technology -- read by following Possony's advice -- but few today have ever heard of Possony or Schriever, or Kane, , and most of those who know who they are are getting old. Alas.
Thanks for the pointer.
As I dropped into Chaos Manor Mail web page http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/currentmail.html to have my occasional look, I noticed my machine stalling just a bit and happened to then notice "Applet Loading" message on the bottom left corner of IE. Then a flash message of "Enliven is playing". I thought that curious. I searched for "Enliven" on http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/currentmail.html and found some interesting hits...
At http://www.narrative.com/technology/whatise.htm , Eliven is described as an internet engine for online ads.
what's up? what applet are you running on us?
I have no idea of what is going on here. I have not seen this. It is possible that I pasted in a letter that has some kind of linked applet in it. Anyone know better?
I discovered this week the source of nearly all my woes with Linux and I thought I'd share it. It appears that the CURRENT directory is NOT in the path, which explains the frequent "app/file not found" messages I have had. While I had seen ./filename in the documentation, I had never seen this explained. Having found it in a post on a mailing list, I went looking through all my *nix/Linux books (6 with a search engine as they are HTML on CD) I still can't find a reference to this fact that apparently every Linuxen knows, but doesn't bother telling us poor DOS survivors.
Hallelujah! Hosanna etc. Am I angry that it took me 2+ years to make this discovery? No, ecstatic! I declare Phillip Deackes, responsible for this eye-opener, Master (even if it does make him giggle). Bless you Phillip Deakes! Now all I need are for some more apps on Linux.
Happy, happy, joy, joy!
Actually that's one of those UNIX secrets you are not supposed to divulge lest the wizards lose their jobs... (actually there is a reason. See Below.)
And this came and may be useful to some of you:
Mon. 07 Feb. 2000
[NOTE - To addressees: Please feel free to publish, or not to publish, any part(s) or all of WebWanderings, past, present or future, unless otherwise very specifically noted at the time. Feel free to edit or comment as you deem prudent. WebWanderings is NOT copyrighted. - JHR]
Today's take has to do mostly with Linux, with a note on online banking thrown in.
Linux: Up until a couple of weeks ago I had been extremely skeptical of Linux for the average W98-type desktop user. Linux seemed to me targeted toward the Suits &; Servers users. Man have I changed my Attitude! Thanks to encouragement by the Daynotes Mob, and some serendipituous finds in my web wandering, I now can hardly wait to get a third HDD and start my own Linux adventure. What I found: An article in Linux World , http://www.linuxworld.com/linuxworld/lw-2000-02/lw-02-expo-newbie.html was not too encouraging, but pointed me to http://www.linuxnewbie.org/ which is just what its URL implies: a handholding site for the rest of us, composed in understandable English. No LinuxSpeak here. I bookmarked that one. My next stop, at IDGs news site, pointed me to http://www.linux-mandrake.com/en/demos/ , an interactive demo of Mandrake that steps through the whole Mandrake install, with thorough and understandable explanations at every step before you're in the middle of the install and facing a thorough system crash with one wrong keystroke. The demo is absolutely devoid of Linuxspeak. Exactly what is needed to calm the would-be Linux installer's nerves. Bookmarked that one.
But the best is yet to come. Another pointer at IDG led me to http://www.pcworld.com/pcwtoday/article/0,1510,15145,00.html , an interesting commentary on Open Source philosophy &; practice. Back to IDG, and another pointer to LinuxworldParis, http://www.linuxworld.com/linuxworld/lw-2000-02/lw-02-paris.html?IDG.net There I found a mention of DemoLinux, a Linux-on-a-CD app that allows running Linux totally from the CD, with no change to the rest of the system! Just the thing for me: all Linux &; no risk! I tracked DemoLinux down at http://demolinux.org/index.en.html DL info: The ISO9660 image of the Demolinux CD takes up more than 600Mb (or 200 Mb compressed) and is located at ftp://www.demolinux.org/pub/demolinux/ (anonymous FTP server). And, of course, this can be burned onto a CD. Free.
OnLine Banking Later, IDG pointed me to this PC World article http://www.pcworld.com/ontheweb/article/0,1978,14816,00.html on Online banking, a subject very dear to my heart. I abhor banks &; insurance companies. I began investigating online banking in Dec. 97, and began banking with SFNB.COM/ in Feb. 98. They are about as good as banking can get. Free, open 7/24/365 (including their working support staff), and NO charges except for overdrafts (naturally). And it would take a really purposeful effort to overdraw. ATM fees? Not necessary. Get cash from your grocer when you buy your groceries with your ATM card - no fee. If I sound like an evangelist for online banking, I am. For the first time in a long life I no longer have a nagging worry about paying bills on time. As skeptical of banks as I am, I keep monitoring the online banking offerings. None come close to SFNB. I even found one that has 29 (count'em - 29) little Gotcha fees, fines, and charges that they can - and will - hit you with if allowed. Accounting? I can slice &; dice reports a dozen ways from the middle at my SFNB account site. No need for Quicken or Money. The article has a comparison chart for many of the best of online bank offerings. See SFNB's demo at http://www.sfnb.com/demos/bankdemos.html
[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo] firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't know if you're aware of it, but Windows 98 (and I presume Windows 95 and Windows NT) all include a utility called "tracert" that can at least tell how fast packets are getting to a source and what stops it is making along the way. The output looks something like this:
Tracing route to jerrypournelle.com [126.96.36.199] over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 162 ms 152 ms 149 ms sdn-ar-002ohcinc002t.dialsprint.net [188.8.131.52] 2 146 ms 146 ms 159 ms sdn-hr-001ohcinc002t.dialsprint.net [184.108.40.206] 3 168 ms 177 ms 181 ms sdn-pnc1-dc-4-0-T1.dialsprint.net [220.127.116.11] 4 171 ms 163 ms 164 ms sdn-pnc1-dc-12-0.dialsprint.net [18.104.22.168] 5 191 ms 166 ms 164 ms sl-bb12-rly-3-2.sprintlink.net [22.214.171.124] 6 164 ms 174 ms 164 ms sl-bb12-rly-2-3.sprintlink.net [126.96.36.199] 7 180 ms 176 ms 184 ms sl-pairnet-1-0-0.sprintlink.net [188.8.131.52] 8 181 ms 251 ms 172 ms 192.168.1.6 9 202 ms 180 ms 177 ms jerrypournelle.com [184.108.40.206]
which tells me that at present the route from my connection to your Web server is pretty clear. Yesterday, you might have seen things like:
14 * * * Request timed out. 15 * * * Request timed out.
or maybe something like
15 2034 ms 2600 ms 2400 ms 208.241.xxx.xxx
While not being exactly informative as to *why* things were slow, it might have helped you tell where the problems started.
William Harris email@example.com
Actually, I get the Request timed out all the time, and I am not sure why. But that is in fact the tool to try...
FYI. Our President's Cunning Plan.
My reaction to this document is complicated, being influenced by Vernor Vinge's themes in "A Deepness in the Sky" and by the following news story:
Social systems are non-linear and produce unexpected behavior under stress or load. (See HR Erwin, 1997, "The Dynamics of Peer Polities", Chapter 3 of Time, Process, and Structured Transformation in Archaeology, van der Leeuw and McGlade, ed., Routledge; HR Erwin 1996, "Application of Topological Models to Social System Dynamics" in Nonlinear Dynamics in Human Behavior,W Sulis and A Combs, ed.,World Scientific, Studies of Nonlinear Phenomena in Life Sciences; or HR Erwin, 1994, "The Evolution of Emergent Structures" in Advances in Synergetics, Lasker, G. E. and Farre, G. L., ed., International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics, for my arguments for that position.) I suspect this is adaptive--i.e., for a social system to survive, it has to be able to come up with creative responses to novel situations that put it under stress. The only way for that to occur is for the behavior of the system to increase in dimension--technically to bifurcate--to provide the necessary innovative behavior. That implies that social systems under severe stress or load also become (much) less controllable.
What is the response of your typical policy maker to stress or load? Try to control the problem! That works as long as the system responds linearly. Now suppose the stress or load is so high that the system becomes uncontrollable---what happens? The policy maker holds on still harder and tries to force the system to respond. Succinctly, that's my explanation for why complex societies show an interesting pattern of "controlled flight into terrain" when severely stressed.
See Joseph Tainter, 1988, The Collapse of Complex Societies, Cambridge University Press, for further discussion. The collapse of the Soviet Union is a beautiful example.
Now look around you. Everywhere you see committees and leaders holding on tight to their controls. The world seems to be changing too fast for the average leader to understand, and they fall back on ideas like "zero tolerance", getting rid of all wiggle-room. Their linear models of how the world responds get more and more out of synch with reality. The prisons fill up. Schools fail, and the Virginia State Board of Education institutes high stakes testing with passing grades so high that 93% of the schools can't meet the standards--ever. The Supreme Court looks more and more out of touch with reality. Congress and the Executive _are_ out of touch with reality. Wisdom, as usual, is in very short supply. Shouldn't it worry you? It worries me...
I have always thought Zero Tolerance an abomination, but sometimes you have no choice: if judges and administrators will not apply remedies, then you end up with Three Strikes and the like. It's not optimum, but it beats what we had before. What's needed is sanity but that seems in shorter supply than I would have thought.
I followed your link to the University of Washington in the Currentview page regarding the Denial of Service problem and the UW server returned a "URL Not Found" error for the page http://www.washington.edu/people/dad. I did a quick search of the site and found the information at http://www.washington.edu/People/dad . Wasn't the WWW supposed to be case insentive? What are this guys doing to screw things up like that?
Francisco Garcia Maceda firstname.lastname@example.org
And I got this answer:
Just a note re: Francisco Garcia Maceda's comment on the difference between
Machine names ARE case-insensitive (the part between the double slash "//" and the first single slash "/" (ie. ftp://www.someserver.net/). However, everything after that first single slash is almost invariably a Unix-like path name, which IS case sensitive. So, when connecting to any random machine with your browser, it doesn't matter if you type
you will get where you are going. But if the URL is sending you deeper into the directories of the particular machine you want, you are going to have to duplicate the case of the pathname exactly, or get a "404 File Not Found" error.
The Internet--Not Quite Ready for Prime Time
Paul Fieber email@example.com
Thanks. An instructive lesson.
The reason the current directory is not in the path on any *NIX box is for security reasons. There are any number of exploits which can benefit from compromising services running as root, and having the current directory in the path is a great help to those trying said exploits.
The long form:
Most UNIX and Linux systems don't put the current directory in the path by default. This is for security reasons.
If you are a cracker, there are many sneaky tricks you can play if you can get a user to run a program for you. For example, suppose you made a program called "ls" that actually acted like the UNIX ls command, but in addition did something sneaky. Further suppose that you could trick the super-user into running your "ls" program. If you could do this, your sneaky program could do something like create a security hole for you to use later.
If a system administrator wants to make a UNIX or Linux system secure, he or she will usually set up seperate partitions for the system and for users. Access permissions will be set so that users cannot write to the system areas at all, and paths will be set to only execute programs from the system areas.
If you have a single-user system, and you want the convenience of putting the current directory in your path, go ahead and do it; certainly nothing will stop you.
-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.blarg.net/~steveha
One of the group's participants made the valid point that communists have participated in western European governments, and now in Central Europe, without generating the sort of EU-led opposition that followed the entry of Haider's Freedom Party into the Austrian government.
From an ethical point of view it is true that communism is as evil as fascism (the communists killed more people than the Nazis, though to be fair it may just be because there were more Chinese and Russians than western Europeans; if a chap like Hitler had ruled China and decided to wipe out some ethnic groups he could have murdered 50 million, maybe 100 million or more people).
Put there is an important political and sociological difference that justifies treating fascists (or those with roots in fascist ideology) more harshly than communists. Communism opposes private property, the nation, and the church. Therefore, it is impossible for communists to take over rich western European societies because the vast majority of the population owns private property and significant minorities are attached to the nation or the church. Since the Soviet military threat is gone there is thus no way for the reds to win in Europe.
Right-wing xenophobic and racist parties are different. Unlike the communists who target the majority of the population (property owners) they only aim their hatred at minorities, mostly non-white and Moslem residents. Therefore, it is far easier for them to obtain the support, or at least the tacit acquiescence of the majority. This makes them far more dangerous in contemporary Europe than the communists because unlike Marxists they can get the majority of the electorate behind their racist causes.
This does not mean that the EU governments behaved intelligently regarding the Haider issue. By staying silent after the fascists of Fini's AN joined the Italian cabinet they appear inconsistent. Furthermore, their methods may actually help Haider win more support within Austria.
My own observation is that if anything can increase Haider's support inside Austria it is this concerted action of Auslanders...
February 9, 2000
Lots of mail but I was busy with the DoS stuff including a new article that ought to be up at www.byte.com Real Soon Now.
February 10, 2000
Cleaning up after the data storms. This is Short Shrift time...
I had a letter from Jay Ashworth about DoS but since he sent me 12 copies of it, I presume that every editor in the nation got more than enough, and I think I'll let someone else have the privilege.
In the midst of all the news last week, this seems to have been largely overlooked: Ford announced plans to provide all its 350,000 employees (ALL of them, worldwide!) a computer, color printer and internet access -- for the meager sum of $5/month for 3 years. And it's not a trivial computer, either -- HP will reportedly build the 500-MHz Intel processor devices.
The next day, Delta Airlines announced a similar plan for its 72,000 employees.
I'm hoping this will cascade. There's plenty of handwringing about the tech-have-nots, and pressure for the government to do something about it. My political position is that business should be the one to do something, and it's immensely gratifying to see that begin.
Perhaps there IS reason for hope... this might be major history in the making. The fact that Ford's program is international is also very significant.
(Sorry for the USAToday links -- the better ones require registration, which I'm boycotting for spam reasons.)
Another detail: The deals were put together by PeoplePC, Inc. (http://www.peoplepc.com/), a closely-held corporation which has been promoting a similar program (albeit with a lower-power computer) for $25/month for three years. This is economically more reasonable; Ford's buy-in is astonishing, though.
Yes, I heard a bit about that on Jeff Levy's radio show (www.jefflevy.net ) Sunday, but got overwhelmed with other stuff. It is in fact a good trend. Years ago I published in the Xerox corp employee magazine a similar idea to be coupled with reading instruction in daycare centers for employees; it seemed an idea whose time had come. I don't know what's happening on that front today; but big companies that provide childcare for employees get extraordinary loyalty from those employees -- and adding some reading instruction for young children can't hurt. My wife's software package would do that nicely. Ah well.
In the 11 months I've been on the 'net, I've never seen anything quite like the material at this site:
There are dozens of ways (and links to get further info) to map the various aspects of the 'net. All seem to be of a visual nature.
Thanx for the time.
Donald P Drews email@example.com
Jerry, I don't know if this would have done you any good, but it's a site that shows real-time (mostly) reports on internet traffic. Apparently, they maintain a database of ping times for different network segments, and compare the current times against that database. You can select different areas of the world, and even zoom in on individual segments. Hope it helps, Mitch Armistead
If you really want to know where bottle necks occur on the Net, then may I point you to www.visualroute.com/
Anyone can use the built in CMD line utility but Visual Route goes much further and does it visually. You can run a trace from their Website at various locations around the world or you can download a shareware version and run it form your local machine. Very informative. (see graphics) Taken tonight 7:30PM PST. (I've omitted 500 KB of graphic bmp file.)
There were some definite bottle necks with UUNET in Washington, DC.
Will Bierman firstname.lastname@example.org
February 11, 2000
I'll give you the quick up top, then ramble later.
MicroSoft was taken to court for integrating the web browser to the operating system.
But one of the very very few competitors does the same. The <A HREF="http://www.newdealinc.com/estore.new.html" NewDeal Office </A> OS integrates a browser called "Skipper".
So, should DoJ go after the little guy, too?
Now, about New Deal...
They used to be GeoWorks, which used to be Berkeley, and they are somewhat interesting in opposition to MicroSoft from a philosophical standpoint. While MS has always pushed the envelope to "do more with more", (more software features to take advantage of the improvements in hardware) the ND/Geos people have always attempted to "do the same, with less". They duplicated the look and feel of the MAC OS, (originally intended for at LEAST a 128K machine) on the venerable Commodore-64. The original GEOS. Later, they did the Windows-like thing for PCs... but where MS-Windows required even in "real" mode required at least a 286 with 1 Meg memory, the PC-GEOS package ran on 8088's with 640K. (And came with the earliest version of America Online, to boot. After PC-Geos died, PC-AOL for DOS was still running a stripped down version of the OS for die-hard DOS users who wanted the AOL experience.) The latest package, New Deal, continues to offer a near-Win-95 level of performance using hardware no better than 286, 1 30-pin SIMM for a Meg memory, and 10Meg of drive space. Junk from the salvage bin can provide a very near Windows experience.
But it won't play "DOOM" . Or run AOL, anymore. It's hard to find in its own right and impossible to find new applications for.
The "same with less" philosophy would seem to be a poor one in an expanding market.
I feel bad about that.
POUNCER . [email@example.com]
In days of expensive resources bumming code to save memory is a good idea, but it's a waste of programmer talent when memory and disk space is cheap.
February 13, 2000
We had grandparent duties. Skip to Monday morning.