THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 270 August 3 - 9, 2003
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. 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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August 3, 2003
As usual there was a lot of mail posted over the weekend, some of it important and most of it interesting. Go look there if you haven't.
I am sure I know the answer to this, and have forgotten it, but perhaps not.
Short of starting up a VMWARE virtual machine in Windows 98, does anyone know how to get Conquest of the New World (which I think was originally a DOS program) running on a Windows XP system? I can almost do it, but not quite. I believe I have the same problem with Master of Orion (the original MOO which is still a lot better game than any of the two feature-ridden sequels).
It's hot and it's column time. Back to work.
One thing: if you send me recommended links, please indicate in the letter if they are subscription only. It wastes time when I follow one to find I am expected to subscribe to read that. Now I do subscribe to a number of places, so don't hesitate to send such a link: just note (subscription) or something like that when you send that kind of link. Thanks!
|This week:||Tuesday, August
Hard at work on the column. The Gods of the Copybook Headings yesterday reminded a reader that we have here The Old Issue, and it's still very relevant. Any good citizen of the Republic ought to read this every now and then for the health of the soul...
In private mail I have been in a long and perhaps enlightening discussion on tariff and what's wrong with a system that reduces large parts of the population to proletarian status; and discovered that "proletarian" is now used in a strange sense, "working class," and apparently it's all right to have such a class.
Well, "working class" is fine: I'd be very happy to have a large working class, and in fact that's why I favor some kind of protection for manufacturing jobs. We have lost 5 million such in the past decade or so.
Manufacturing jobs are precisely what we need: not only is the output hard goods, things and not paper and the stuff dreams and bubbles are made of, but the work is something that those skilled with their hands but not intellectuals can do. Half the nation is below average in intelligence. Yes, I know, that is a truism, but it is true, and that fact has implications.
It has long been known that real wealth is not possession of things, but the ability to make them. We are busily developing that ability -- in China.
Our free trade system causes us to lose skilled labor jobs because of price, requiring our workers to go into intellectual activities: but then we have set it up so that they compete with the intellectually skilled unemployed overseas. The result is that Earthlink tech support is now conducted from Bombay, which reduces costs, but isn't precisely good news for the experienced tech support people they had in Pasadena.
First we lose the manufacturing jobs. Then we lose the intellectual jobs that were to replace them.
Some of this came home to me when I took the train home from San Diego Friday night: the train takes me to Union Station where the Red Line LA Subway connects to take me to Universal City. At the Universal City station I can get a Metro bus to Studio City: the whole trip from Union Station to my house including a three block walk takes less than an hour. I got to Universal City about 11:30 at night, and there saw an old friend I had not seen for a couple of years. I recalled missing him at Niven's parties.
He's been out of work for three years, and lives in a homeless shelter, and has been, I think, ashamed to come to the Club (and unable to pay dues, I'm sure). He was at one time a systems operator for a hospital computer system: the kind of job that's at the edge of professional, and which is vanishing. He worked hard, but he is not physically capable of manual labor. When budget cuts got him laid off he had work in tech support, but that too got exported. It was about then that he vanished, and I am ashamed to say that once he was out of sight he was out of mind.
Another old friend used to be a furniture maker. There's no work now. Note that being an independent in that business requires not only the skill to make goods, but also to market them; something an individual laid off in his fifties isn't likely to develop.
Both of these men have become proletarians: not working class, but proletarian in the old sense, people who own nothing, and have little or nothing to contribute to the state but their votes and their progeny. Now we have nothing to fear from these people; they worked most of their lives and they are even now looking for work. But now imagine a generation that has grown up without work, without the concept of work: to whom bread and circuses are the norm, a way of life. Who don't even think in terms of being useful, but rather of their entitlements. Add to that a rotten school system which strives to raise the self-esteem of those who have no achievements and little prospect of achievement or even employment: who don't grow up thinking that "a man should support his wife and children, it's the right and proper thing to do" and who aren't even a little ashamed of the notion that with a little bit of luck they, or someone, anyone else, will go out and work and start supporting you...
I think it's a formula for disaster. Telling people it's all right not to work, and it's not their fault that they're citizens but not taxpayers...
Tariff to protect working class jobs may not be the answer, but there darned well has to be some kind of answer. Forcing our citizens to compete with the brightest people in undeveloped countries may get us cheap goods, but it's hard lines on the citizens.
Now I have to work on the column. Go read The Old Issue again and think about this for me.
And here is an important story:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ > Tan meanwhile argues that Lyme disease patients can't afford to
wait for the science to inch its way forward. Her imagination still reels
at the thought she was tested for both syphilis (after 29 years of
marriage) and Lou Gehrig's disease before her doctors considered her for
what the CDC terms "the leading cause of vector-borne infectious
illness in the U.S." > > "I've never met a single person in my lifetime who had ALS,
but they tested me for that before Lyme disease," Tan adds.
"It's not the way the medical community should be dealing with these
very real problems that people are having."
> Tan meanwhile argues that Lyme disease patients can't afford to wait for the science to inch its way forward. Her imagination still reels at the thought she was tested for both syphilis (after 29 years of marriage) and Lou Gehrig's disease before her doctors considered her for what the CDC terms "the leading cause of vector-borne infectious illness in the U.S."
> "I've never met a single person in my lifetime who had ALS, but they tested me for that before Lyme disease," Tan adds. "It's not the way the medical community should be dealing with these very real problems that people are having."
A reader points out that Lyme disease and ALS have similar rates of occurrence, and thus Ms. Tan is being unfair, and I have been unfair by using that cut quote.
I hadn't intended to be: it's still an important story, and thanks for the admonition.
The column is pretty well done. Here's an important announcement:
Would like to solicit your help. As you may remember, I'm chairing a project which has developed tools to be used by physicians and nurses involved in the treatment of heart failure. We've also got tools to be used bypatients with heart failure.
We will need, in fairly short order, a firm that can make these tools into web based tools. The tools are partly paper based and partly based on a database developed in Access.
I'm looking for a firm that can do such things. Usable is most important, but stunning is also an ideal. This is the first time this has been done, to the best of my knowledge, and we'd really like to do it well. I'd hope that such tools would be widely used and that they could be easily modfied. I hope that the tools can be put in the public domain and become open source tools, but the funding agencies for the project may have different ideas.
While I'd be happy to take a chance on someone who doesn't have a track record in most instances, I'm afraid that in this setting, we've got to have someone who can prove they can do such a thing in fairly rapid order. I've got to demonstrate expertise to the funding agencies.
We've a budget, natch.
I don't know of such firms, but suspect that your reader do know of such firms. Could you help by posting this where they can see it?
Adelphia Watch: the failures are more frequent now, and last longer. The "service" continues to deteriorate. If your city council is contemplating awarding Adelphia any kind of cable monopoly, oppose it. This "service" is awful, and far from getting better, it's getting worse.
It doesn't fail for long, but it does fail often. Eventually it fixes itself.
Only today it has failed four times, and it's out now having been out for an hour or more. Maybe tomorrow. But if you have an alternative to Adelphia, take it, and make sure your politicians know. (Of course it may not matter...)
August 7, 2003
A.D. VII ID. AVG MMIII
Hard to believe I am 70 years old today. I don't feel it. When I was young a 70 year old man was old. I'm not old, in that sense. Just walked a mile with my dog this morning.
The Monterrey style house in the background was built by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. They lived in it briefly but have moved back to Malibu. The fire roads above our house run through a Nature Conservation park comparable in size to New York City Central Park, but undeveloped.
I see Arnold is running. He's no Reagan, and not very conservative, but then California isn't conservative, and at least he's pro business. California politics has become a zoo, with the Public Service, Prison Guard, and Teacher Unions being the most powerful forces in the legislature. There's little chance for change there.
Well actually LXX, and Thompson should be ashamed.
Voices from the past. I have email from Paul McQuesten, husband of Pam Clarke my onetime editor at the old McGraw Hill Byte. He noted that I had an error in the page recounting what happened to BYTE. This caused me to read the whole account again. For those who are interested, the story of the Byte Fiasco is given in some detail.
And thanks to all of you who sent birthday greetings. Far more than I could answer...
And I am getting a ton of mail "returns" as undeliverable. Since I didn't send any of it, it's clear that someone is faking my return address. Heaven alone knows what they are sending. DO NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS THAT PURPORT TO BE FROM ME unless you expected them, and don't open any that execute no matter what you expected. I have of course sent some documents and pictures, this being column time, but not only would those be expected by those who get them, but you know the format I use.
August 8, 2003
This is posted by satellite: as of 6:28 this morning neither iDSL nor Adelphia Cable Modem works here. It may be the router, of course, since both those feed through it, but the blinking lights on the modems aren't encouraging for either being connected to the Internet. At 6:28 I got mail through Adelphia; since then nothing.
Connecting through the satellite works, so the entire nation isn't down.
I'd be pleased to have an explanation of all this. The satellite works, but as the laws of physics dictate, latency is bad...
And to make it slower, Mercury, the system that works the satellite connection, is an 866 Pentium III and needed 11 critical updates to Windows; that's how long it has been off. So it is very slow. I have to work on fiction so I suppose it's all right.
But the iDSL and Adelphia systems remain off. Is there something with the network, or has my router died? I haven't time to find out, so this remains by satellite.
5:15 PM It's clearly the router, which may have been reset to its standard configuration. Niven is here, we're working, we just took a hard hike, and we have a dinner later, so I won't be able to work on it until late tonight. Meanwhile the satellite does work.
The Router cannot be located. Nothing on the net can see it. I have disconnected it and have the satellite system working while we go to dinner.
2300: We are back from dinner. I used the reset button on the Hawking Router, then reconfigured it, and all is well; we're back on through both Adelphia and Megapathdsl. I do not know why the router decided to be invisible, but it was: I took it off line and connected it to a testbed machine. It couldn't be found. It's address had vanished. The manual reset button restored it to original condition, and I have reprogrammed it. I hope I don't have to do that often.
But we are back to Adelphia Cable again and it is working splendidly.
Now I wonder how many of my Adelphia problems have been router problems? I'll have to connect with different routers to see.
And Adelphia is only working periodically. It has frequent failures. When it works it works wonderfully, but it's giving me fits again tonight. Could it be the router? Or is is just the egregious Adelphia?
August 9, 2003
I have an awards dinner to go to tonight (I'm presenting, not receiving). I have cleaned up the indexing to mail for the week, and there may be some things you missed in there.
And I need to write a thousand words before I put on my black tie.
Either the Router or Adelphia continue to behave in a most odd way.
And I have:
I think a lot of your problems are caused by that router. I went through three before I found one that could keep up. I have the 3 mbit/sec service from Cox (and actually get that rate) and I was having tons of problems with my router locking up. I tried a D-link and a the other standard whose name escapes me now and I had the same types of problems you are experiencing. Searching on the web yielded little as most cable/DSL links that are likely to use home grade equipment are not that fast. I had a SMC barricade sitting at the office that I couldn't use there, so I decided to try it. No more random disconnects, lockups, etc. It may not be the brand but rather the ability of that particular chip to handle the load - heat, signs of the Zodiac, etc may affect any of these el-cheapo routers and until you find one that works, I think you should keep looking.
Just my two cents worth.
Anyone else have problems like that? And what are the failure symptoms?
What I'd really like is a better two-WAN Router. But I'll configure one of the D-Links and see if that cures the Adelphia problem.
1600: I have set the D-link 604 Router to 192.168.1.1 and connected it to the Adelphia Cable Modem. I then turned off both the router and the cable modem and brought them back up. I am connected this way.
What I need to test now is whether I get the intermediate glitches. The best way to do that is with on-line games which are very sensitive to that. But for the moment it's working with the D-Link. Note that the D-Link has no fail-over to the iDSL.
For the moment at least everything is working wonderfully.
August 10, 2003
The Writers of the Future Awards dinner went well last night and I'll try to get some pictures up. Part of my clowning embarrassed my wife, for which I apologize, and I can't even blame strong drink since I drank only mineral water. The dinner was at the Beverly Hills Hotel (home of the Polo Lounge) and was quite elegant. I took a lot of pictures. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Robert Silverberg, who made a wonderful acceptance speech. The entertainment was an absolutely stunning concert by Chick Corea and his wife. Absolutely amazing.
For my general views on this contest and some past pictures, look here. That's a bit old but the text needs no revision.
I have pulled together some of the REPUBLIC AND EMPIRE theme letters and essays. They are now on two pages (1) and (2) in reports. I'll add to them as time goes on. The discussion will continue of course. There many REPORTS on this web site. There is a sort of summary of what is available here.
Adelphia Report: I do not get as many problems as I had with the Hawking router using the D-Link, but I was just dropped from an on-line game by communication failure. It didn't last long, but it could be a mess in a group situation.
But by and large most of my Adelphia problems went away when I changed routers from the Hawking to the D-Link. More in the September column, but I have learned something here.
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