THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 209 June 10 - 16, 2002
Highlights this week:
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 page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so.
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June 10, 2002
Well that was some game last night.
I have done the column. For those who find it easy to find WCPUID, I am pleased to hear it. We had our problems.
There are a few more additions to the Velikovsky discussion. I am not sure there is much more worth saying in that.
And with that I am OFF. I am headed off to Niven's for a few days to work on Burning Tower, and if you don't see me here, and I don't answer mail, you will know why.
That shouldn't stop you from subscribing. As it happens the bill for continuing the search engine services just came in. Presuming that's worth keeping, it's going to have to be paid.
I'll be back soon enough.
Popping in for a moment. Niven has DSL. It's wonderful. I sure wish I did.
Got a fair amount of work done
|This week:||Tuesday, June
Another day of work on Burning Tower. Progress is being made, and I am coming up for air.
I will see if there is interesting mail.
More progress. We know almost every scene until the book ends. Moving right along...
Please do not tell me how to get WCPUID. They seem to have fixed the web sites that were broken when we tried to find it. Apparently it doesn't tell you much if anything about temperatures. Me I prefer the Intel utility anway, but WCPUID works with non-Intel boards and that's useful.
There is a lot of mail today.
And I am home. And sick of this satellite. Niven has DSL. It works wonderfully well. And here I am with this imbecile Hughes DirecPC satellite, which half the time gets caught up in page errors and I have to close the browser and start over because the satellite is slow and stupid. Bah.
And From Lawrence May, Jr:
This is what your tax-free contribution gets you:
June 13, 2002
Friday the 13th falls on a Thursday this month.
Got a lot of work done at Niven's now I have to dig out from under stuff here. Onward and upward.
Long article in the Times this morning about thousands of Palestinians in Gaza being forced to wait up to 6 hours a day to cross a road that leads to a compound with 15 Israeli settlers. The Israelis contemplate building a $4 million overpass to cut the checkpoint times in half for the Palestinians. The US sends about $2000 a year per Israeli citizen. Good to see our money is being spent making thousands of people really love us, letting them spend hours and hours in taxis so that they can go to hospitals and such. Good use of our money, isn't it?
I well understand Israel's determination to defend their citizens, but this is the kind of nonsense that insures the war will never end. If you are going to conquer a territory and move all the people in it out, do it. If not, why be a constant irritant for the protection of a compound of settlers? And if your domestic political situation is such that you have no choice in that matter, does it make sense for your friends to help you pay for it?
Thanks to Stephen M. St. Onge, the "book of the month" page is up to date again.
If you have not recently determined whether or not you are a professional, you might want to try the quiz.
June 14, 2002
[Stuff below and for Saturday was largely an account of problems. Most of those got fixed. Rather than go through and change what I had written, I have added comments here and there and put them in brackets. These are done Sunday 16 June PM.]
Coming up for air. Big opera party last night, at the home of an orthopedist who had a neon sign saying that he was experiencing a sentence. First time I ever saw Wittgenstein up in neon lights. He also had first editions of all of Wittgenstein's works, and an 16th Century edition of Chaucer, and a remarkable collection of pre-Columbian pottery (copies, of course, but very accurate).
Now it's time to clean up Chaos Manor again. It's a mess. And get back to work on Burning Tower.
[The problem with msn.com had a good cause, and thanks to Roland Dobbins has been fixed. It will be in the column. What's below is pure daybook log stuff...]
Does anyone know why the Microsoft Home Page MSN.COM is displaying 425 errors? And why Windows Update for XP puts you in an endless loop? This latter has been the case for a week or more. The MSN page isn't avalable on any of my machines. Is Microsoft under attack?
Later: OK I can reach Microsoft from all my machines EXCEPT one running Windows XP Home. That one will connect to my own site, or Google, or anyplace else, but never to www.msn.com. Perhaps there is some goofy cache that I don't know how to clear. I have deleted all the cookies and the history. I still get a page cannot be displayed error at www.msn.com and nowhere else. I am also unable to update XP Home. I think I will convert to XP Pro and be done with it. This is nutso.
Windows UPDATE gives me an infinite loop: I need to download the update software, but I need the updated software before I can download it. Thanks, Microsoft. I love wasting time with this. I really like being in an infinite loop. this has gone on for weeks now, with several different machines. I have the feeling that the inability to connect to www.msn.com and to be able to update the software are related.
I am more and more coming to the conclusion that using Windows XP Home is insane. It was deliberately crippled and in the crippling they may not have known what they were doing. As updates come out it is less and less likely to work properly because they have deliberately injured it.
I think I will switch that machine to Windows 2000. I know that works.
Regarding XP Home, there is no way to update including critical security updates: every attempt gets a page cannot be displayed error. So, thought I, I will try to turn on the automatic updates. Heh.
That tells me to go to Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, then click SYSTEM. Of course there is no Performance and Maintenance button in Control Panel. Go to SYSTEM and you can find an Automatic Updates tab. We will see how well that works. I have turned it on, anyway. But if this is .NET in action, I predict a pretty dismal future for it. I am also invited to go back to the Windows UPDATE page where once again I can be in an infinite loop, being told I have to update my update software before I can update my update software. I suspect this may be a good time to go buy an Apple, or look into Linux. Microsoft seems to be losing its grip.
And Dan says he has now seen everything:
The confidential Sun Microsystems COMIC BOOK:
Maybe the problem is the stupid satellite, and maybe not. On my Windows XP Professional systems I can get http://www.msn.com, although the Windows Update page put me in an infinite loop just as it did with Windows XP Home. On the Windows XP Home machine, though, I can't reach msn.com under any circumstances although I can get to this page, and BYTE, and others.
[Turns out there was a reason, cows were out of season... oops. Anyway, there was a reason for all this, and it will be in the column.]
Now I am trying with yet another machine to get the newest ATI drivers, and of course nothing works. The Internet is an experiment designed to see how many people can be induced to stare at screens on which nothing interesting is happening. Or perhaps the DirectPC satellite system is. The only thing worse than this stupid satellite is a long download without it. Part of the problem is the ATI website which calls just tons and tons of little files to build it up to visibility: each of those gets the full latency of the satellite page request. So it goes.
BUT THAT at least works after a bit. And the satellite does make the downloads go fast. But Microsoft continues to evade upgrading Windows XP home. Only it is NOT downloading at any speed: I am given the estimate of 2 hours to download 10 MB. This is undoubtedly due to overloading of the ATI web site. And in fact it now thinks it is "finished" with about 40 K download. I'll try again late at night.
And while I am venting, is there any way short of using Nigeria as a nuclear testing ground to stop the flood of spam from purported friends, relatives, dogs, pets, and acquaintances of their seemingly infinite supply of dictators, former dictators, corrupt officials, and pathetic losers? Surely there is a way simply to cut Nigeria off from the rest of the Internet and leave it to float on its own?
This has not been my day... [but it beat heck out of some people's days. Count your blessings. The Nigerian annoyance hasn't been fixed, and short of nuclear weapons may not be fixable...]
And then there are absurdities aplenty.
I have yet to be able to download the new ATI drivers. I get a few hundred KB and it thinks it is done. It's discouraging.
[Problem fixed: use Getright. It resumes downloads from busy sites.]
Is anyone else in all this world having problems with updating Windows XP and getting to http://www.msn.com? Am I the only one in the world Microsoft has it in for? What is happening? Is it this miserable satellite, or is Microsoft having problems, or am I just in deep yogurt at the bottom of an information well? I can open the page sometimes with XP Pro and Windows 2000. It is simply NEVER going to open with Windows XP home and IE 6. Why? Who knows.
A minute ago on Windows XP Home I saw a tiny icon that said it was downloading some updates and was 8% done. That icon has vanished. If it downloaded anything I can't find it. If it did anything I don't know it. There is no information conveyed. Do I need to reset the machine? Should I put my left elbow in my right ear?
This is a seriously frustrating situation. I don't really need MSN.COM except that it ought to work. I keep wondering if I have done something wrong. Microsoft does that to you, doesn't it?
Well I have been unable to download the ATI drivers. IE attempts to do it, but then flakes out, pronouncing the 10.5 MB job done after at most 2 MB and once after 57KB. I have now got GETRIGHT with the hopes that will do the job. We will see. But clearly the ATI web site is flooded.
But then so apparently is www.msn.com completely swamped. Interesting. How much of this is the fault of the execrable satellite and how much something else is another story, and I don't have any real way to find that out.
Getright has managed more than any other attempt I made. It claims I have 11 minutes left. Why I ever stopped using Getright I don't know: relying on Internet Explorer for downloads unless you have DSL or something similar is insanity.
A sudden burst, then nothing again. The ATI site is trying to share stuff off with everyone, doling out a little stuff here and there. For a glorious moment I was down to 4 minutes, but now I am back up to 7, and now, nothing at all is coming in. Now it is 9 minutes and again nothing. But I am halfway done. Joy. I suppose. I am getting an effective rate of 12.5K/bits per second. That has got to be the ATI server. It does look as if I will get it all tonight though.
And in fact GETRIGHT did it. If you don't have Getright, get it immediately.
Fair warning though: Getright will try to intercept and save everything, so if you are trying merely to list to audio, you'll have to turn it off first; otherwise it will save the file and you'll have to go to that to play it. Getright drives Internext Eplorer nuts sometimes . But it's wonderful. Get it.
Ok. Lots of people report no problems with www.msn.com. I am not one of them. On just about every machine I have, I get 525 http errors. Once in a while I'll get through. Since the same machines connect quickly to Yahoo, and Google, and BYTE.COM and this site, there is no real reason to worry about inability to connect to the Microsoft site.
If there is an Internet explorer setting for timeout the index doesn't show it. I wonder if that is the problem? If so I don't know how to fix it. Anyway I have to pay my bills.
Microsoft is being a real pain today.
June 15, 2002
[Comments in brackets added Sunday 16 June PM]
With too much to do, I am still in a quandary about why I can't connect to www.msn.com. Now why I would want to is a question I can't answer; but I want to know why of all sites in this world, that is the one that doesn't work. It started with a Windows XP Home system, but now many of the machines including a Windows 2000 system get the familiar "Page cannot be displayed" when I try to go there. It will first say that it found the web site. It's not a DNS error, and it's not the "busy looking" error message. This one is a simple Http 425 error page cannot be displayed.
[Again the msn.com problem was a symptom of a more fundamental difficulty that can happen to you as well as me; it will all be in the column.]
Meanwhile Earthlink is bombarding me with bills for services I haven't received or which they won't explain. I think this for a DSL service they don't provide, but it is impossible to talk to them about much of anything. I am pretty well stuck with their "service" until this fall for the satellite.
Nothing is happening about DSL in my neighborhood.
I have changed my access method from satellite to dialup: I can still get Yahoo and Google and my own site, but not www.msn.com. I keep wondering if it is some kind of weird cache problem, or some strange firewall situation. Whatever it is, that's about the only site I can't get to.
Of course I can't update Windows XP Home either. I have tried every route I know of including through the corporate site. Nothing: I get an endless loop, told I need to update the update software before I can update the update software.
And I am under siege from spam. The AMD enthusiasts put me on dozens of porno and spam sites in their effort to make me like AMD more, and I thus have a daily, even hourly, reminder of AMD as I find offers that no sane person would ever accept. I am now fairly well convinced that some spam comes from people trying to build mailing lists: they send a hundred different copies of their offer to refinance your house or fix your credit in hopes that you will eventually succumb and tell them to take you off their list: which gives them a validation of a name which they can now sell for a few cents.
At this point I find myself wondering why one should think of these creatures as human; why they should not be treated as rats and other vermin, to be exterminated for the good of humanity. One does not needlessly torture rats to be rid of them, but you don't spend a lot of time worrying about whether the traps and poisons are painful either.
Well, enough. I have books to write. My temperament is such that I hate unsolved problems, so the business about msn.com gnaws at me, as does the problem of dealing with spammers. Now true, once I get some kind of fixed IP address I will have computer means of dealing with spam rather than having to build ever more complex rules; but the existence of these people who forge other people's names to their return address offends me.
Enough: I have too much to do to keep brooding on all this.
And now some machines can find www.msn.com and some can't even resolve the address, and this is insanity.
OK, Roland Dobbins has been here an hour and that problem is solved. We had some older addresses on one of the servers. Microsoft recently changed some addresses. See the column for full details since this could happen to you.
We still have not solved the problem that Windows Update isn't working properly and it appears to be something wrong with their site. It may be as simple as an incorrect dialog box requiring you to reboot. We'll see.
[The Windows update problem is also generic, but most restricted to people with DirecPC and WinProxy.]
Windows Update no longer works properly with the satellite system, meaning that to update I have to spend hours letting the stuff download. It wasn't all that long ago that it worked fine. Microsoft has fixed it, I guess.
Reminding me just how much at Microsoft's mercy we all are.
It will all be in the column, I hope.
More weirdnesses, but we are solving some. First, Windows UPDATE doesn't work if you connect through Hughes DirecPC satellite. That is not entirely true but it's true enough. In general, if you have Net Address Transfer going, you ain't going to get Windows 2000 software updates. (Well what I really mean is the double NAT that happens with the satellite plus WinProxy; drives all kinds of services crazy. But I don't know any way around that. You get DirecPC and then you have to connect it to everything else.)
The solution was to go to the dialup network, and get all 16 megabytes that way. It did work. But I have that to do for several machines. One at a time. I will probably not bother; I'll get the fixes on CD's. One day PacBell will get DSL here -- it's within a couple of hundred feet now -- and when that happens I'll have it and then I will be able to just upgrade everything.
Downloading Office 2000 SR-2 was possible with the satellite but it won't install. The upgrade program wants the original installation disks. I have the original installation disks and I can even see the files, but the upgrade program won't recognize the disk as the one it wants: I don't know if that has to do with the interaction with DirecPC because I am not about to do an interactive 16 MB upgrade installation on 43K dialup connection.
I believe the SR-2 upgrade is available on CD and I have asked Waggener-Edstrom to see if they can get them for me. I will have the UPDATE STORY in the column.
Regarding bad days, I have a couple of readers with legitimate claims to have had worse. No real disasters, just tons of annoyances, like me.
And Roland is here, so I am pretty sure I haven't done anything wrong in investigating the new Update procedures from Microsoft. One thing: Microsoft has recently changed a lot of its addresses, so be sure to wipe out the cache on your Internet Browser before trying to do any updates. That may work for you. It hasn't done as much for me as it should because of the NAT work of the satellite connection plus WinProxy, but at least I did solve the MSN.COM page problem: we can get to that now. This was worse than a cache problem, and I'll have a report in the column since it's a situation that can happen to you, too.
And if you have an internal network, you really need to know about the command ipconfig...
And just now Roland is on the telephone to Cisco Tech Support which has connected him to Australia since they are up and about at this time of day... Fortunately I am not paying for that call, which is through a Cisco 800 number. Once again, see the column for the whole story.
[That one turned out to be hardware limits: again see the column because it is amusing. This will all be in the July column up about mid-July.]
It's a better day this evening than it was when I got up.
Note that a single NAT is OK, but with the setup I have using WinProxy you can no longer do Windows Update properly; used to be you could. I can do it with landline but not through the satellite. So it goes.
[I find that many others have had problems with Windows Update lately. Microsoft seems to be aware and will have it fixed Real Soon Now. Welcome to the wonderful world of .NET]
June 16, 2002
http://18.104.22.168/bread/121.html is the address for Hunza Bread, and I for one am weary unto death of 25 and more messages sent to me about this stuff by people who work at evading my rules and fake their return addresses. I suppose they can prove they aren't the generators of the spam?
WCPUID is now easily available; apparently when Dan was trying to get it, their web site had a problem.
I have the new ATI drivers. The site was overloaded. I eventually used GETRIGHT, and that's worth your getting if you don't have it, and it will be in the column.
I have the Cisco equipment working. It was fine all the time. Installing on a 3 year old server proved to be a problem: that was built when 256 MB RAM was plenty. Heh. A new server has been set up built on a system with an AMD processor and a VIA chipset. The original one won't take more than 256 megs of memory (a motherboard limitation). The new one doesn't seem to allow more than 512; but neither Sandra nor WCPUID seem to know what the actual motherboard (a VIA) is, and experimenting with a 512 MB chip in place of one of the 256 MB in one of the two (and only two) slots is a disaster: the BIOS sees the memory, but the system won't work with it in place. Fortunately 512 is enough, but clearly I am going to have to build new servers with larger hard drives and more memory.
It's probably a legacy of the AMD enthusiasts, but I get more spam now than ever, even with rules to clear it out before I can see it. I guess I will have to construct an even faster machine that reads the text as well as the header information on all the mail that comes in. So it goes.
I'll try to have a more positive attitude next week.