THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 286 December 1 - 7, 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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December 1, 2003
If you just got here by way of some Mac thread note that most of these problems are LONG SINCE CLEARED UP, and not from the heading of this page:
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.
In other words, in a day book I list things as they happen. Problems are often solved, often by mail from readers, sometimes by my own efforts.
If you don't like reading logs of how people find and address problems for God's sake stop reading now and get on with your life.
Now back to the regular day book
It's column time. For my problems setting up the Mac last night, and some laments, and pictures of the Mac and of a small surprise box, see last night's stuff including the final text. I'll have more and lots of mail later. But it is column time...
The Mac is wonderful, but it is also very good at driving me mad, and I am beginning to think that many of the defects are in Panther and were not there in the original release.
[I am leaving this up as it happened; but there is a happy ending to this, so do not take all the doom and gloom too seriously. Read on, read on...]
Item: I have gone to systems preferences/security and made sure that the box about demanding passwords for nearly any operation is unchecked. It still demands a password for nearly anything I do.
Item: I have gone to the Get Info setting of the Public folder, and tried setting various users to Read And Write, including all others, plus Unknown, Administrators, guests, and such. In no case has that allowed me to write to that folder from the network. The only folder I can write to from the network is the "Drop Box" folder, and I cannot look into that one from outside to confirm whether or not my operation was successful. I can copy stuff from the Mac to the Windows Network, but never from the network to the Mac. This is terribly inconvenient.
Item: Quite often it will not respond to the external keyboard.
Item: often it will give me a colored pinwheel for a cursor at which point I can to NOTHING, not close folders or anything else. The last time it did that, I just held the power button down until it turned off and turned it back on because I didn't have time to wait for it to stop doing whatever it was doing -- and I had no idea what it was doing at all.
Sure. Macs are different. But a multi-tasking machine ought at least to let me close folders while it is doing mysterious things.
Item: I can log in from the external keyboard, but when it demands a password for changing any preference (this is after I have logged in with the administrative user name and password) I must type the password in from the Mac keyboard, not the external. Of course it is the same password I already put in when I logged in. If I try to type in the password from the external keyboard, nothing happens. The passwords are not entered. Only from the laptop's keyboard. Except to log in the first time, when I can do that from the external keyboard.
The Mac plays music nicely, and I will start looking at applications, but setting this thing up to work with a network required a day and an external program. Most of the demo programs I downloaded like the Journal program don't work any more after a day, I do not know why. I don't want to buy and pay for and register for a hundred programs at $20 to $95 each just to try them out, and for reasons not clear to me once I get one working for a while it stops working. That's likely unfamiliarity with the system. Likely.
But I am about to build a 3 GHz Windows system, and my guess is that I will have it built, OS installed, most user software installed, and able to communicate with everything on my network except the Mac in about 4 hours. I wasn't able to get the new OS installed and get the Mac on my network in under 12, and I didn't have to build the Mac in the first place.
There are many good things about this machine, but I haven't found it particularly easy to use, and I very much dislike "Security" that requires me to use a "Drop Box" from which I will then be able to move things around inside the Mac only in the Mac. I cannot add to any data files on the Mac from anywhere but the Mac console, and that is infuriating as well as making it a lot less useful. To update anything I have to drop it into the Drop Box, then go to the Mac and move it or do the update operation. This is excessive security, and make the machine a lot less useful to me.
And now I have reset the Mac and it is no longer available on the Windows network at all. I can see it but I cannot read from it much less write to it.
Over on the Mac I see the network and I think I can connect to it, but it means now that I can't even drop files from here, or move them from here. Every net operation has to be done from the Mac console.
Interesting. Now that I connected to the Windows net from the Mac, the Windows systems can connect to the Mac. Let's see if I can write to the public folder now.
No. Only to the Drop Box.
I am going for a walk to clear my head, but this machine is so secure that it's not really very useful to me. And one problem is that many of those sending me advice tell me what works on the old OS X, but then I find they aren't using the new; and since I am not familiar with either I do not know what ought to work and what used to work but does not work now.
But I steadfastly maintain I am not this stupid. Why is it that things that are supposed to make us smart work hard at making us feel stupid?
Well, I feel a little less stupid.
Thanks to Reader Matt Fulghum, and longtime friend and associate Roland Dobbins, I have the Mac in reliable communication with the Windows Active Directory Network. We are doing it through AdmitMac, a third party program, that makes it considerably easier to get things running. There are still very odd issues about shared directories and who I can give permissions to: the Windows user name doesn't appear in the list of groups to which I can give permissions, so all the elaborate security sort of breaks down when you have to allow "others" full permissions; but that is probably fixable as time goes on.
Slowly we are getting there. Now that the Mac is in communications, I am garnering neat and cool stuff to DO with it, and that will go in the column.
There are quirks. Some are very odd. But slowly we are getting this under control. After all, I do these silly things so you don't have to.
Impressions: the 15" Mac is handsome and tough, it's pretty, and I've seen Glaskowsky get full service out of his older 15" Mac for years so I know it can be very useful. Whether it is as useful as a full Pentium 4 Tablet PC is something to be determined by use and experiment. But the Mac is pretty cool once you get past the odd security (some of which you just learn to live with) and the very complex ways needed to set it up for Windows networking at least with and Active Directory system.
Roland thinks the pinwheel is because 512 megs is too little memory given the networking, and it will go away when I get more memory. I am looking into that now.
AAargh. If you ever get a connection, keep it. I shut it down on the Windows system, then had more mail to transfer in the text file I am appending mail to for use on the Mac, and now I can't get access to the Mac again.
I changed NOTHING. All I did was close the window on the Windows machine. I hate this. Going to the Mac and trying to connect to the Windows systems, I get a pinwheel. This is ridiculous.
OK. After 30 seconds of pinwheel, I can connect from Mac to Windows. After THAT I can reconnect from Windows to Mac. Only problem is that I can no longer write into the public folders over there. I could before. Now I can't. Exactly why this should be I don't know, but it's pretty repeatable, and enough to tell me: if you are using a Mac for a Windows net you may have few problems, but if you are primarily a Windows user and thinking of adding a Mac, understand that unless you are sitting at the Mac console you are probably not going to read and write much to the Mac. FROM the Mac you can get and send stuff. From Windows TO the Mac, it works sometimes (shout for joy!) but then it will stop working.
The Mac is so concerned with security that it much impairs its usefulness, at least to me. Incidentally, when I go set folder security preferences, they don't seem to stick. I have no idea why. If I go to set them again, they seem all right, but if I do set them again, often that will in fact make it possible to read and write there again.
There's probably a simple explanation but I don't know what it is.
And the key question here is over in mail.
December 2, 2003
Most of the Mac glitches have cleared up; some were caused by letting it go to sleep, which isn't needful on a laptop when connected to mains current, and the Mac sleeps a LOT deeper than a Windows system, and has fewer recovery mechanisms. Just something to get used to.
I have to go get dog food. We're out and on our walk this morning Sable was hunting for real. I'll take her to Petco. I also have to pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy. More mail later.
I find that if I can get Roberta's Mac version of her software into this machine somehow and can then burn a CD of it, it ought to run on the PowerBook: all the voices are in place. I will need the runtime SuperCard interpreter, but they are still in business so we will talk to them. But it ought to all Just Work. Let's hope so.
Still looking for compelling reasons to use Mac rather than Windows systems; speech synthesis is one of them, Apple's still being at least as good as any I have heard for Windows systems.
Query: who ought I be talking to about Web Building software for Mac?
The dog food expedition was interesting. I took Sable into the Petco. She found the place fascinating. I doubt she remembers previous trips when she was much smaller.
I still have errands, then I need to build a "sweet spot" Windows machine for the column (it will end up with my #3 son as general purpose system). There's lots of mail in the "To Be Posted" folder but it will be late before I get to it. I've put up a couple of letters, though, including one on Mac Security.
AND MY APOLOGIES to recent subscribers who haven't been enrolled yet. It will happen shortly. Thanks for renewals also, but recording those isn't as critical as getting new subscribers enrolled. I will do that soon. I have been swamped the last few days. Actually for about 3 weeks now. I have lost none of that and I always put the date I recorded as the beginning date...
On the increased security of the Mac, see
http://www.asktog.com/columns/058SecurityD'ohlts.html for what is wrong with doing things in the extreme way. I believe but have not tested yet that the Mac doesn't accept punctuation characters in passwords, meaning that most of the ones on Chaos Manor are not usable in the Mac, and that coupled with silly error messages may be one reason for some of my problems getting connected.
Opera salon tonight with the diva from Orfeo. Dinner. Home by 10 PM...
10:45 Chaos Manor Associate Dan Spisak is over here. We have the iSight camera set up and we've got real time video conferencing with Roland. All goes well and easily. And sometimes the Mac will accept passwords with colons, and sometimes it insists on 8 alphanumeric characters and nothing else. When it is to send a password to an Active Directory site, although the Mac will accept a password with a colon, it inists that any password with a colon in it, or that has more than 8 characters, can't possibly be valid, and won't even submit it.
This authoritarian nature of the Mac was first noted by Phil Lemons back in the 80's. It has its ways, and it has its opinions of you and others, and you will conform to its vision. Phil called it "the fascist operating system." I never quite went that far but watching the Mac reject a password as illegal even though it would have itself have accepted that password was, well, bizarre.
We got a lot done. You can connect a Mac to an Active Directory system if the AD system has passwords with no more than 8 strictly alphanumeric characters; you will be able to send and receive files from the Mac to any system on the Windows AD network that allow sharing; but you will NOT be able to go to a Windows Active Directory system and return the favor. You can see the Mac but you can't get to it.
To get at it you will need Thursby AdmitMac. More in the column, but we're pretty sure of this: at least let me say that with two genuine wizards, one physically present and the other present by videoconferencing, and with others on call by email, we weren't able to do it, and I doubt you will either.
It's 3 AM. Good night.
December 3 2003
A friend recently had to say goodbye to an old dog. I was reminded of
And on an entirely different subject you may find
Macs sure are expensive. Which is all right, but a bit unexpected. Thanks to all who have subscribed or renewed subscriptions, and yes, these sentences are somewhat related.
Long hike with Niven. We have figured out the last scene for Burning Tower (our editor thought the book ended too abruptly) and I'll get at it after the column is done. This was Sable's first trip up the hill since the rattlesnake incident. She pounces on anything that moves, so I have to be careful next year when the snakes are out again.
I see that Bush is talking about America as a Spacefaring nation again. That was the title of the 1986 Council report: American, A Spacefaring Nation Again. From some of the phrasing it's pretty clear that whoever drafted Bush's speech had access to that report (which after all went to the White House, under a different President).
I'd almost given up hope. We'll see if anything comes of this.
But unless we are a spacefaring nation we will survive neither as Republic nor as Empire. Empire without access to, and control of access to space is impossible: without our space assets we aren't all that much a super power. And if we were to pull back and try to restore the Old Republic (which we won't do) we would still need assured access to space. Wealthy Republics do not last long unless they look to their defenses. Just because we don't go looking for trouble doesn't mean we won't be a target if we're weak.
I have said this many times: 90% of the resources easily available to humanity are not on the Earth. They're plentiful in space. It's raining soup and we haven't built any soup bowls.
December 4, 2003
Deadlines are upon me. Some interesting mail last night and today. I have more mail but no time.
December 5, 2003
Send me email with the word ORCHIDS or the word ONIONS in the subject, and nominate candidates for same. The purpose of these should be self-explanatory.
It is also time for me to choose my annual Chaos Manor User's Choice Awards for the best products of the year. I don't have fixed categories: I make those up sort of as I go along, but most outfits that get such an award seem to like them, and many have displayed them in advertisements and even on their boxes.
What stood out this year? The Awards are mostly confined to things I have used, as opposed to the Orchids, and the Onions, which can go to anyone; and I am much more influenced by reader arguments on Orchids and Onions.
Anyway it is time!
Have got the new Mac working, with added memory (Shame on Apple: they put 2 256 meg SIMMS in my PowerBook and both will be useless when I upgrade to 1 gig. Shame!)
Office has been installed, and the networking ought to be good enough to let me do some editing using the PowerBook. Next week I intend to take a couple of days in the beach house finishing up BURNING TOWER. I'll take the Tablet PC but I'll also take the PowerBook and see how editing goes on that.
I am collecting information on the Microsoft FAT tax, which seems a bit outrageous: wasn't IBM involved in that as well?
"Howard Dean wants the white trash vote. That's clearly what he meant when he said he wanted the votes of the 'guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.'" Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post.
Well at least we know what the neo-conservatives think about some people. People they never met, of course. Interesting.
The fun new bloodsport. Thanks to Rod
Now, if we could just figure out a way to do the same thing to spammers....
December 7, 2003
Pearl Harbor Day
Also Column Deadline Day
http://panoramas.dk/fullscreen2/full22.html will give you something to look at.
Crime south of the Rio Bravo: Reflections On The
Virtue Of Lawlessness
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