THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 106 June 19 - 25, 2000
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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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June 19, 2000
Still at the beach. Next weekend I head for New York for PC EXPO. For a man whose ambition is never to leave his house, I seem to be getting around a LOT.
|This week:||Tuesday, June
Well, I'm not a big basketball fan, but I got interested in the NBA championships, and watched LA win. Later we saw the riots covered live. It's a bit un-nerving to see The Burning City enacted while you watch from San Diego.
What we saw was mostly black and Latino gangs, not many of them, burn cars including two police cars while the police stood by and watched. Apparently the police strategy was to "contain" things, meaning that they could loot a computer store and burn police cars with impunity.
This morning's LA TIMES shows two white kids, once carrying a camcorder, being chased away from a burnt police care. Since by the time the police got to that car it had long since been put out by the Fire Department and the actual perpetrators, who weren't white, were long since gone, I presume the crime they were being chased for was photographing the police doing nothing, and the picture was selected in the name of racial harmony: the new responsible journalism has little to do with truth, and a lot to do with political correctness.
And before anyone bothers to tell me, I know quite well that most black and Hispanic citizens of LA celebrated the victory without vandalism, that most of the "vandalism" was exuberance and consisted of building unauthorized bonfires in the middle of the street -- rather understandable actually -- and that most of the black and Hispanic citizens of LA were as horrified by the rioting and looting as anyone, perhaps more than most.
The question really is, given that the TV live shots made it quite clear who the rioters were -- heck, some of them were filmed in the act should anyone care to prosecute -- what is the point of running a picture of two white kids not involved in the riot as the illustration in the newspaper the next morning? Does this do any conceivable good, or does it merely confirm existing suspicions and attitudes? When I was in the journalism business -- I still am really -- I thought reporting the truth as best I knew it after reasonable effort was the goal. I must have missed a point.
There's a request from Harry Stine's widow and a short reminiscence about Harry in Mail.
I have been asked for advice on setting up a web server for a large enterprise. I misread the question, or at least didn't think about it hard enough, and recommended Peter Kent's Poor Richard series. But, as Bob Thompson points out, those are good books on setting up a web SITE, but hardly about a SERVER. My best advice to those contemplating committing public web servery is, don't. Roland Dobbins has the bandwidth and the expertise to house this place on my Big Penguin, and we may do that as an experiment fairly soon, but I have the ulterior motive of needing things to write about: -- and I have no intention of letting go my account with pair.com, and my recommendation to the chap who asked me for advice is, go to pair.com and ask them. Providing content is a big enough headache. If you need to ask me where to look, you don't know enough about this to get into it.
As to building a web site, and what tools to use, it depends on your expertise and how hard you want to work. This place is built and maintained with FrontPage without the extensions. I've gone into the reasons for that before; basically, when a site gets enough internal connections, if the Extensions are turned on, you can't publish to your remote site unless you have a much faster connection than my 56K lines. FrontPage takes too long doing listings, and the connection times out. I use FrontPage without extensions, and WS_FTP Pro to send them, every now and then allowing FrontPage to publish through its own rather primitive ftp so that the site and source are synchronized. It works.
But this is a text and content site, and there are far better tools for a more complex web site with more graphics and lots of data base applications.
June 21, 2000
I'm home and all my machines seem to be up and running: I had to turn them all off before we went to the beach since a heat wave was expected, and I wanted to do my share on power saving so I turned off the air conditioning, meaning the machines had to be turned off. One APC UPS now says it wants a new battery; it didn't before I left. But it's also about due to be swapped out.
So all is well and I am here. More later.
Outlook: I now have mail on OUTLOOK on Fergie and on Princess. Not the same. That is, several days' worth of mail on Fergie is not on Princess. I am not sure how to handle this. There must be some kind of export I can use. I'll have to think on it. Consolidating the web site was easy. Now I must synchronize outlook files on two machines. Surely it's easy enough.
And in fact it was easy. Export to a pst on Fergie, import without duplicates here. Piece of cake...
Outlook is doing screwy things, but then one expects it to I guess.
I had a shareware editor called Winhex. I registered it. Paid money. Now I need to use it on another computer. Copied it over. Worked a good ten minutes on a file. Save. "Please register in order to save files larger than 200K." Find the log book where the registration codes are. Fine. Enter. Fine. "Please restart Winhex." So the work is lost no matter what. Oh well.
June 22, 2000
Boy did I learn a lot about networking in the last hour. It goes in the column. It also cost me about an hour's work, but that's not as large a price as I might have paid.
Of course the net had glue poured into it this morning, I have a haircut appointment, and nothing is happening as I try to transfer files. Why not? Critical Need Detector at work.
And my web problems kept me from putting this up earlier:
That's Roberta being grandmotherly with Catherine.
Now I have to do a whole bunch of stuff to get ready for PC EXPO, and write up what I learned about nets...
Hmm. I put up the original picture, which is 511 KB, and it was very nice, but huge. So I tried saving it to about 60 KB, and it's grainy. I'll see if I can't come up with an intermediate range. She's too pretty to have a bad photo on the web...
I am still ready to do mayhem on the persons of spammers. There has GOT to be a way to slow this down. Roberta had 700 messages of which 5 were something she wanted to see, and at least 600 were pure spam. This has got to stop.
June 23, 2000
I leave for PC EXPO tomorrow. I may or may not be able to do some updating of this from New York. If not, I'll try to send a few notes for Mr. Thompson to post for me. It will be a busy day today so little will go up today either. I know I owe the subscribers a report: I'll try to do a special from PC EXPO that will be mailed to subscribers. But that won't happen today.
Today I do have a longish thing that was a reply on a discussion forum and which got away from me in length. It is probably worth posting here:
Regarding punishing Gates for his arrogance to the court:
First, there is a long tradition in the US of not being subservient to government. In this modern day of Empire we have forgotten it, but citizens don't HAVE to kowtow and knock the head to the floor in the presence of royalty, even judicial royalty.
Second, Microsoft may have been guilty of many of the things discussed here, but THAT WAS NOT TRIED, and unless we have got to where you simply assume guilt based on feelings and rumour, then even Microsoft is entitled to the assumption of innocence. Or so I would have thought before the excellent instruction I am getting here.
Microsoft was, if you read the findings, found guilty in regards to the Web Browser, which they gave away; and of having a monopoly and misusing it, but not of business practices that would have been illegal if they had not had a monopoly. The monopoly was artificially defined, and the domain of competition left out Apple and Mac; Playstation; all brands of Unix; Linux; Sun; and indeed everything except, well, except Windows, really. The domain was defined incorrectly and any competent court will so find. It is like the case years ago in which breakfast was defined as cold flake cereals, leaving out every other form of breakfast including hot and instant. If you define the sales domain narrowly enough, ANYONE has a monopoly.
Many of the practices which are considered nasty here may be illegal and may not be: the issues were not tried. They are now being considered in the remedy as if they were tried, so that the remedy is to be applied to wrongs that Microsoft has not been found guilty of.
Microsoft's legal defense was pretty dumb, and Gates might well have been hit with a contempt of court citation and fined a million dollars; but that was not done. His corporation isn't just his, and to harm all the stockholders because Gates flipped the bird to the judge seems to me a bit unfair; perhaps someone here has a good reason why an elderly stockholder's pension fund ought to be devalued because of Gates's supposed arrogance? If he was contemptuous to this court then let him pay, personally; but that shouldn't be a factor in the corporation's guilt or innocence. I am on public record as saying that I with my family lawyer (or Mr. Pleasant, or any competent lawyer who could read up on procedure) could have conducted a better defense than Microsoft put on. But that is in part due to Microsoft's incomprehension of what they were charged with.
I have long been on record as saying Microsoft ought to publish all Windows hooks that any Microsoft application makes use of the day that the call is written into any code at Microsoft; that it ought to be a firing offense not to make that known to the Technet staff when the call is used. I think that would not harm Microsoft and would do the rest of us a little good. But the issue WAS NOT TRIED. There is no finding that Microsoft has used any secret calls. There is merely the assumption that this is a wrong to be righted, but it was not tried or proved.
Penfield Jackson has the feeling that the harm to consumers has come from an artificially high price for Windows. What the price ought to be was the subject of some "expert" testimony from people who haven't been known for having low prices or low profit margins. The laughable part is Apple, which is known to be overpriced, and which as as much of a monopoly in its sales domain as Microsoft does in the one defined for Microsoft; but Apple is considered a competitor when looking at Apple, while Microsoft is considered a monopolist without competition when looking at Microsoft. This seems an odd finding. And as to the "should have been" price of Windows, is there anyone here who would have predicted that you could buy Windows and the entire Office 2000 suite for less than you used to pay for WordStar and Lotus 1-2-3 together? I did, but I think I am the only one who did.
Ralph Nader's people say Microsoft restricted the size of the market. This is laughable: there isn't anyone other than Gates, including me, who had a clue as to how large the computer market would be in 2000 as late as 1990, and damned few who understood how it would grow as late as 1995. This is a silly thing for Nader to say, but then Nader has been saying silly things for two decades.
What Microsoft was found guilty of was pretty narrow and in my contemptuous way I keep bringing up The Channel Bar. Most of this will be about as relevant as dominating the channel bar.
The fact is that it's hard to show on economic grounds that anti-trust actions have done much good. Trusts aided by government are dangerous. I don't like big concentrations of power; but I like even less a big concentration in government with no countervailing power anywhere, and that is what is happening today, with anti-trust being used to destroy any power center that might threaten the Empire.
You may not care much for Gates and Microsoft; but then the Barons at Runnymede were a pretty arrogant lot, and much nastier than Gates. Normans tend to be. When the enemy is Empire, the players don't tend to be sensitive new age men.
The real outcome of this case is already apparent with Gates on TV all the time, the Microsoft lobby busy as hell in the District of Columbia, the Microsoft PAC already the largest high tech donor this year and just getting started (after being insignificant in giving last year). Other big firms will follow suit as they realize they are next on the hit list. Get ready for lobbying like nothing you have ever ever seen.
If this is to be a self-governing Republic then abstract notions of what's right remain that, and are not to be enforced by the Department of Justice, which must be restricted to what is on the Twelve Tables or in this case in the Constitution and Statutes; and that means that a number of arrogant people will get away with a lot of stuff that most of us don't much like. That's the nature of a self governing Republic.
If this is to be the kind of Constitutional Republic that has remnants of Crown Power that we were for 200 years, then a different adjustment must be made, but it is still the case that winning in a competition is not automatically a conviction of using illegal practices; and once again, we must be prepared for some outcomes we don't like, but which must be remedied in law, not in our druthers. The cost of Republic is some concentrations of power outside the District of Columbia to counterbalance the concentrations in what used to be a small southern town until WW II. You will get state and city bosses. They have always been part of our system. And "robber barons" and other concentrations of wealth but at least there will be multiple centers of power.
What we are seeing, though, is Empire: all power to the District, all power through the District, and any power center large enough to challenge the District to be destroyed. That is Empire, and it is alien to my generation of Americans although it seems to be more and more accepted among those who never knew better and who no longer study history. That battle is not yet over; and the longer it goes, the more need we will have of Barons like those at Runnymede, who were not concerned with the rights of "the people" and certainly not with the rights of the Saxon citizenry. Who were nothing like nice people. If you want to see them in their best light (about 100 years before Runnymede, but things didn't change a lot) see the Brother Cadfael mystery series set in the time of King Stephen. (Stephen was succeeded by Henry II, whose sons Richard and John became king in turn; it was John who signed Magna Charta. Mind you, Ellis Peters shows these arrogant old Normans in their BEST light, and indeed some of them were brave and admirable but nice was not in their makeup.)
If Penfield Jackson's decision stands, there may be no way back to the Constitutional Republic, let alone the self-governing Republic that has always been our ideal although almost never achieved in practice. We may be rushing toward a choice: the Barons at Runnymede, or Empire pure and simple. I probably won't live to see the outcome, but then I never thought I would live to see storm troopers with machine guns rushing into a private house to seize a child, trample on reporters, shout obscenities and death threats -- and walk away, not merely unpunished but anonymous. Anonymous. Like the Storm Troopers in Star Wars.
There is more at stake here than Windows. Or so I believe.
Everything happens at once. Today arrives the NEC MobilePro 780, a Windows CE system that looks like they did it all right: the keyboard is large enough to write with, the unit is small enough to fit in a brief case, and it just looks GOOD. We'll see: I'll take it to PC EXPO.
If any of you are or know PR people, PLEASE: fancy press releases with Java motion, attachments, links to web sites that have to be activated (meaning that if you are not on line when you try to read the press release things hang up forever before they time out) and all that stuff SHOULD BE RIGHT OUT. Please. Journalists who would be impressed with that stuff are not people readers trust anyway.
XEROX recently sent one that I have not been able read. I erased it. It came from Xerox [3125-1098@121.INNOVYX.COM] but I can't send them a complaint because mail to that address is returned as undeliverable. This thing was horrible, I don't know what it wanted to tell me, and it cost me time I don't have. I will in future set all mail from Xerox to go into the Spam filter until I get some assurance from their people they won't DO this again. What did they think they were doing?
And either the Netwinder is going South, or Earthlink has done something very odd. My connection is dropped ten times an hour or more now. The Netwinder redials, and eventually it gets connected, but it makes keeping up the site difficult. I'd buy ISDN just to not have dropped lines, only I can't get it, and my execrable Cable Monopoly doesn't offer cable modem. I presume all this will change in a few months. I can hope, anyway. And maybe Earthlink has a bad modem? I changed modems to a US Robotics, but that hasn't done any good. Sigh.
THIS IS DRIVING ME MAD. Earthlink didn't used to do this to me. Now we have to dial every couple of minutes. It makes it sheer hell to get things up on the web. This is driving me nuts, as is the next item:
Does anyone know Windows 2000 Server and Professional well enough to know how to make my server, Imperator, stop sending messages to my work station, Princess, every time a print job is done? The things pop up and take the foreground even when I am writing, so the next thing I hear is bong-bong-bong-bong as I try to type, until I tell the stupid message "OK". Why the HELL Microsoft thinks I want to know this, or that I must respond to it before I can do anything else, is way beyond me. Cursory plumbing around in the Administrator Tools didn't help, so please DO NOT SPECULATE: if you know how to fix this please tell me, and if you don't, wait until we find out. I can't deal with a hundred guesses today.
I just received Norton Personal Firewall UPS express. I'll have to try it, but with the Netwinder I don't really need it. Readers who have used it welcome to comment, and I'll try it when I get home.
Now to wind down for catching an airplane...
Earthlink has decided to drop me every minute now. Constant redialing. Nothing here has changed. There are times when I really hate ISP's. Only, it turns out, this was NOT Earthlink's fault. It was sort of the Rebel Netwinder, and sort of a bad phone line needing a better quality modem. I'll put it all in the column, but the remedy was: 1) change modems, to a US Robotics, to deal with a line gone noisier than it used to be; and 2) go into the Netwinder's scripts, because once it detected a different modem it reverted to dial on demand rather than by hours; change that back from demand to "stay up until I tell you it's OK to drop"; 3) reset the machine. Now I have to do some funny magic regarding the ftp barrier, but that's not so hard. Hurrah. I seem to have managed it. And my problems are ended. Earthlink, you have my apologies, and I hope I can withdraw all those curses I have sent off into the aether...
Well, I spoke too soon. Earthlink keeps dropping me anyway. Sigh. Now at least I am not dropping myself. I changed modems because Earthlink kept throwing me off. So I guess those curses didn't need to be withdrawn...
Changed phone numbers. Let's see if that helps... Well, I can't be sure that it's dialing a different number, unless I reset the NetWinder; not sure how to force it to reinitialize the script. But I am sure getting thrown off Earthlink every couple of minutes. Blast. Double blast. And of course it's today when I need to get things done. Why not?
June 24, 2000
On the road. Adventures as usual. Arrived in NYC
June 25, 2000
In NYC, found B&;H Video which is sort of like 42nd St Photo writ large. Connected with the web. Connected with Alex. Should be good to go for PCEXPO...
I am writing stuff on the NWC MobilePro 780. This uses Windows CE. Transferring files is an experience although instructive -- I have been using a CompactFlash memory card to do that, and it has been simple. Reading a document written in Pocket Word is not so easy: I need some kind of converter for pwd documents. Alas, I can't find one. When I open a pwd document I get:
This is a Microsoft Pocket Word document.
To view this Pocket Word document in Microsoft Word, you will need the
Pocket Word Converter for Microsoft Office. For further details visit
the Microsoft Windows CE web site, at
Times New Roman;}}
So. This is being written on the NEC MobilePro 780. The keyboard is more
or less large enough to use, and in fact I am able to go pretty fast.
There's on online spell checking, which I have been spoiled by, but it is
possible to do useful work with this. If there were nothing else I'd be happy to use it. It reminds me of the Atari Portfolio.\par
Em is supposed to be joining me shortly. Now to see if I can transfer this
file to the Lexmark memory tnhingy, and thence to King Armadillo...\par
That is fine, but what good is it? There must be some way to make that format properly, but the web site shown above doesn't exist, and the one it points me to doesn't seem to tell me anything about formatting pwd documents. Rather, it tells me a lot, but it's all blather; I haven't found anything that says how to DO it.
Hmm. If I go back to the NEC and muck about I find I can save in a different file format. Let's see what that does. This is all compounded by the fact that it has been difficult to see how to get to the Flash memory card -- ah. At least I have figured THAT one out. So if I save to a Word format... Yes. That worked.
So. This is being written on the NEC MobilePro 780. The keyboard is more or less large enough to use, and in fact I am able to go pretty fast. There's on online spell checking, which I have been spoiled by, but it is possible to do useful work with this. If there were nothing else I'd be happy to use it. It reminds me of the Atari Portfolio.
David Em is supposed to be joining me shortly. Now to see if I can transfer this file to the Lexmark memory tnhingy, and thence to King Armadillo...
This is a second document, intended to be saved in a transfer folder that can then be copied to the FlashCard or whatever you call that thing by Lexmark. What I do not seem to be able to do is have two instances of an explorer so that I can copy files from one place to another. There must be a way but I can't figure it out.
Got it. And this is a Lexar 80 megabyte CompactFlash card.
So. I can write on the NEC and get stuff over here. Good.
I'll fool around some off line, but at least this all works. I never have figured out what the pwd format is for or why I would want to use it, since it doesn't automatically convert, but so long as I can save in a Word format things can be moved to the big machine from the NEC. The NEC MobilePro 780 is a really cute thing, with a good keyboard. And those Lexmark CompactFlash cards are very convenient; I have a gixmo that the CompactFlash goes in that will convert it to a PCMCIA card, and King Armadillo reads that without my having to do anything at all.
So. I can transfer files. And the Lexmark CompactFlash cards are extremely useful. I can put one in my Olympus camera for that matter. And they can hold a lot. I think I am going to like this system.
David Em arrived after many adventures, and we went out in search of dinner. Eventually we found a Brazil/Portuguese restaurant on 46th St, and on the way home discovered that that segment of 46th has been labeled "Little Brazil". Given the Brazilian and Portuguese establishments along there this is no surprise.
There's David caught rather wide-eyed due to the flash, as we wait for dinner. It's a nice restaurant and I can recommend it if you like monkfish; they had an excellent monkfish in orange sauce dish. You'll also get black beans...
Coming back to the New Yorker, here's a view:
That's the Chrysler Building on the left and Empire State on the right. The view from the 38th floor suites in the New Yorker is excellent.
Looking downtown you see the Brooklyn Bridge. Warning: this file is pretty big. I left it uncompressed because it's a nice picture, but it may take long minutes to download.
And I am off to bed. It starts early tomorrow.