THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 257 May 12 - 18, 2003
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. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here.
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May 12, 2003
E3 is here and I haven't the heart to go to it. I'm about conventioned out, and the thought of the noise is enough to floor me. Eric and Dan and Alex and perhaps David can cover this one for me...
From Phil Wade: A new message purportedly from Microsoft that attempts to install a virus by getting you to open an email attachment. Even if it looks like it's from Microsoft, don't open email attachments... but you knew that. See it on the security warnings page.
We have two new topics that will span more than a week, so mail on Spam and Spam prevention will go to one of them, and What Do We Want our Computers To Do will go to the other. These will be on-going discussions for a while. And do see last weekend's View, which again had a fair amount of stuff.
One comment: "
A virtue of this piece is that it makes very clear the idiotic technique used to deny the existence of races: redefine "race" to mean something no one means by "race" and then claim that this shows there are no races.
The article defines "race" as meaning that races can't interbreed. Once one accepts this definition (which no one else does because everyone knows that what they call "races" can interbeed), one can conclude that there are no races.
Of course, if one also defines a family (such as the Smith family) as incapable of interbreeding with another family, then there are no "families."
Everyone tells me they love TiVo. In my case so far it is another expense to make my life more miserable. It doesn't seem to know what programs I can get, nor will it learn. Maybe there is a reset I don't know about? Because it cannot find most of my movie channels (it does find a few) and the up and down channel commands send it skipping across many that I can get by entering their numbers. If there is a way to make this thing scan what it is there, I would like to know it.
Just now I really wish I had something else. Everyone tells me I am going to love this. I wonder if attempting to set it up before I had an account is responsible? It now believes I have an account, but it has no information about most of my channels, and the only episode of NYPB Blue it believes in is next Sunday on May 18; surely there is a normal Tuesday night segment on ABC?
|This week:||Tuesday, May
A memorial service for George Morrow was announced at the end of his obituary (5/12 in the SF Chronicle) for 2 PM, Friday, May 16, at the O'Connell Chapel, 1311 El Camino, San Mateo. I'm planning to attend and would like to have lunch with any of the like minded between Noon and 1:30 PM that day.
Anyone interested in joining can contact me directly (email@example.com).
To reminisce about George and the nascent days of the microprocessor...
For some coincidence he and I seemed to haunt Mike Quinn's Surplus Store in the mid-1970's right at 10:30 AM Saturday mornings. George had an enterprise going with Mike in which he'd sort through barrels of unmarked, reject integrated circuits, identify the type and salvage the (marginally) operational units. While the chips were sold by the IC houses, mostly National and Fairchild, for their scrap plastic value, George and Mike were recycling silicon.
The lesser would be sold by Mike. The better ones were sold by mail order by George through a Byte magazine ad. As the industry would go through periodic scarcities this grey market was, at times, used to keep production lines going, mine included. Bill Godbout was also involved and later formed a significant S-100 company.
George and I would often engage is a spirited debate about the relative merits of the 4040 processor versus the 8008. For example, to what degree were the added support chips needed by the 8008 justified by its improved processing power? As I was doing simple industrial controls, when the 6502 came along. The debated ended as I chose it and George graduated to the 8080 camp. IIRC George's first product was a front panel with an octal display and keypad input to serve as a program entry and debugger for S-100 systems.
I won't be in the Bay Area. I expect I know many of the people who will show up. My regards to all.
I haven't checked everything yet, but it looks like the TiVo problem is solved. Dan Spisak and Eric Pobirs came over last night after going to the Microsoft X-Box party, and we reset the system and started over. It seems that Adelphia San Fernando Valley is quite different from Adelphia West Los Angeles -- and Studio City is part of West Los Angeles. Although we put the zip code in, and we are in a monopoly area, TiVo didn't know what our service was; and when Alex set it up last week, he reasonably assumed that since we are in the San Fernando Valley we got our service from Adelphia of San Fernando Valley.
We don't, the channel number are either not the same or some conflict, and in general the poor thing was confused. After telling it West Los Angeles, it did seem to have the channels right; we still couldn't do anything to test it, because it takes 4 to 8 hours to rebuild its data base and do housekeeping and thinking to itself. This seems an excessive amount of time, but apparently that's what it takes. I will go test the system later today, but I am assured that all will be well now, and it will, finally, know.
Dan says TiVo will change the way you watch TV. Since I don't watch a lot of TV anyway, I don't have many set patterns, but one thing, he says, is that you don't have to start on the hour. Wait a while and use the buffer to skip commercials. The implications of this for free TV and advertisers look to be far reaching. On the other hand, who really wants to watch the fifth rendition of a car ad?
TiVo requires a connection to its headquarters, either an Ethernet or a telephone line. I have it connected by telephone at the moment. That's a bit slow, and the wiring routing is awkward, but it does work. And of course it dials a number in Sherman Oaks, which is next door to Studio City. I have no idea if Sherman Oaks is also part of the West Los Angeles satrapy.
I am now looking for a way to get Ethernet into the back part of the house. I'll probably end up stringing a line back there, but we'll see. An early attempt to use the AC power lines doesn't seem to have worked, probably due to the weird wiring configurations -- that part of the house was built a year or two after the basic house, but since then there have been other additions, and every one of them gets a fuse and switch box so the only place they all come together is at the master switch just downstream of the meter. Anyway, the TiVo story continues, but with luck it's pretty well over.
Later: alas not quite. It now has the proper channels, but it does not have the proper program information. Perhaps it needs to make another couple of telephone calls to update itself. I sure hope so...
It's almost working now. But it is as much as your sanity is worth to call their "help" line, at least for me. Their voice recognition doesn't work well, and their choices tree is, uh, well wasn't appropriate for my problem. And there is no way to get a human being.
The TiVo saga continues. Roberta hit the wrong button on one of the three (3!) remotes we need to control the TV. Actually once she learns to use the TiVo remote, she won't need but one. But first the TiVo must actually understand what we are doing, and know as much information about programs as the decoder. Until then we must use the Motorola remote that controls the Decoder box. That changes channels, and gives menus and guides and information and does everything but CONTROL THE VOLUME which it will not do; for that you must use either the TiVo remote or the remote that came with the TV set.
Anyway she managed to hit the wrong button, and so that the set was getting information from somewhere other than the TiVo. The TiVo button on the TiVo remote did nothing, nor did any other button. The remedy there was to go to the TV set remote and reset what input it was getting (line 2 rather than line 1, I believe) after which we were back to having English language broadcasts.
I have not looked this morning to see if the TiVo now understands the programs on the various channels as well as what channels we get. It finally seems to believe in all the channels we get so I can check them off, and now I can go from channel to channel using the up and down control rather than having to enter the channel number. That is, I can, on the TiVo remote, provided that Roberta, or the puppy, or Brownian motion, hasn't managed to hit the input selection button disabling the set's ability to listen to the TiVo. And of course we can't entirely just go to the TiVo because it doesn't know enough about the programs, and we can't get program information from it, so we have to use one of the other two remotes, which gives an opportunity for something to go wrong, so...
I think I had in mind some essays on the real world but the TiVo is using up all my energy. I did manage over 1,000 words on Burning Tower yesterday, moving us closer and close to the end of the book. Niven and I hiked the hills, and solved the last plotting problems. This book has reached the stage where the level of detail is such that we see unexpected problems, but we can solve them without any rewrites, just character ingenuity. I like it when we've built a self-consistent world. Even a magic one.
I see the Democrats in Texas are rewriting the rules of democracy. If you lose an election, you obfuscate and hide and do anything to prevent your opponent from enjoying a victory at the polls. Do that in the Senate as well. I think that is unwise, and potentially fatal to the whole notion of a republic. Convince enough people of a certain temperament that there is no point in abiding by the rules because even if you win you won't be allowed to change anything, and you risk their taking direct action. There are people who will play by rules if they consider them fair, but once you convince them the game is rigged, then they select their own rules: and they never bring a knife to a gunfight.
But of course the Democrats are convinced that they are Good, and the Republicans are Evil, and Bush will appoint Monsters to the Supreme Court, and thus they are justified in using measures they would never forgive if used by Republicans. And the rhetoric of the Democratic National Commitee, even on their web page, makes it clear that the believe this: or at least want you to believe they believe this.
This is a dangerous experiment, made more dangerous by the terrorist threats which encourage everyone to give the police and authorities more power to deal with public dangers. But apparently this isn't perceived by political strategists.
There is really no need for so much of our lives to be in the political arena, and particularly not in the Federal arena. When I grew up, Washington was a small town somewhere to the East, where they did things and proclaimed holidays, but has little impact on our lives. "Don't make a Federal case of it!" was a meaningful expression: in those days, not all that long ago, Federal intervention in local matters was a Big Deal, involving Machine Gun Kelly, or enemy aliens, or a big counterfeiting ring.
Not "minimum wages" and "affirmative action" and OSHA and all the other minutia that make it so very important to control the judiciary...
And here is news:
"NEW YORK (Reuters) - The man known as the "Buffalo Spammer," who has allegedly sent 825 million unwanted e-mails, has been arrested and arraigned, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said on Wednesday."
Henry Stern Dayton, OH
and an Alert:
A Princeton University student has shed light on security flaws in Java and .Net virtual machines using a lamp, some known properties of computer memory and a little luck.
Henry Stern Dayton, OH
Thanks for both messages.
May 15, 2003
They just finished their Subscription Drive at KUSC (the LA public subscription good music station), and I sent in my pledge. that reminds me to remind you. Thanks to those who have renewed subscriptions. Thanks to the new subscribers. And for those who have never subscribed, you might consider it. I run this place the way KUSC does: as long as I get enough money coming in I will keep it open...
We have a lot of mail today, and I managed to reply to some of it.
I am thinking of yet one more reorganization here, to keep the pages I update often in one folder, then move them to their organization folders when the week rolls. This would probably be invisible to most of you, but perhaps not. The problem, and it is not severe, is that I update pages in one folder, then in another, and another, and this requires me to just sit here rather than just send them all at once. And for some reason I don't seem to be able to use PUBLISH with my megapaths iDSL connection although I have no problem at all using it when I connect by satellite. Sigh.
Subject: Score one for common sense!
---------- Roland Dobbins
And then we have:
Subject: Surely there's more to this story?
-------- Roland Dobbins
And I would think there must be more to it, but I don't know.
Contract law vs. freedom; but it is an old established principle that the law does not enforce contracts contrary to public policy. What is happening here may yet be settled in a legislative action. There used to be restrictive covenants against selling property to blacks.
May 16, 2003
This was a busy day, beginning early with a medical appointment (I'm good for another 6 months or 60,000 miles according to Dr. Phelps), then we had lunch.
with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who is this year Mr. Space in the House. Dana is and old friend from the days when I was a professor and he was a student. We talked a bit about the space program and I'll be seeing him again.
Anyway that sort of used up the day, since it's a long drive to Huntington Beach and back.
May 17, 2003
A new "you won the lottery" scam; see mail. Several people have bit on this one. There is other mail over there, most of it worth looking at. I do try to select for interest...
And I am working on some white papers on space policy.
I have some thoughts on war and peace and peanut butter and such like, but I also have about a zillion things to do. I suppose that's just as well. Many of my thoughts such as they are end up as answers to mail, of course.
Thanks to those who have recently subscribed. We do need more subscriptions.
For Lunar Eclipse Photos:http://www.pro-photography.net/gallery/lunar_eclipse
firstname.lastname@example.org - XCOR Aerospace
The BBC television is airing an interesting War Spin story on Sunday.
It makes you wonder how much more Hollywood scenarios the military have come up with.
Regards, Philip Mortimer
Many others have sent references to this. It needs thinking about, and I have no data you don't have. I have not spoken with anyone who was there. I have also put a copy of this in Mail, as that is where the discussions will be.
Apparently they really didn't want to know if anything was wrong. If they knew they'd have had to Do Something or perhaps Be Liable. So they chose to refuse to look, and we then had to have this expensive effort to guess what went wrong. Of course NASA didn't want anything to go wrong, but if it did, the important thing would have been to avoid responsibility.
This is pretty grim. Is there any reason for NASA to continue to be given ANY operational responsibility whatsoever now? Congress is beginning to wonder. I have wondered for some time now.
But then I have wondered at the sanity of another part of the government for some time now.
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