THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 296 February 9 - 15, 2004
Highlights this week:
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February 9, 2004
Long weekend: the column ended up at 11,700 words! The new Intel Prescott system (3.2 GHz), sound cards and video, lots of thoughts on the future of 64-bitness, words about the Mac, and the usual: I am astonished that it got so long, but I find nothing I should leave out. This will start next Monday at www.byte.com.
I haven't yet been out with the dog, and we have to talk to the detectives: our ancient sort of retired housekeeper was mugged last week by two bravoes who knocked her down and stole her purse. LAPD assigned a detective to the case because this was worse than an ordinary purse snatching. Over the weekend a nice lady about 4 miles from here found the purse with papers intact in her trash and the detectives will want to look at it although I doubt they will find anything. Of course we changed all the locks she had keys to, and alerted the dog. Sable is unusual for a Husky, she barks at strangers. We like Huskies because they don't bark a lot, but I am grateful that this one does: she has done more barking in her one year than Sasha did in 16.
So there will be more here and in mail later, but I have these and other errands and it's Noon already, and I am dancing as fast as I can. And if we don't walk Sable she will drive us insane: that's her job. to see that these humans walk a couple of miles every day, and she's good at it.
|This week:||Tuesday, February
Mail last night and this morning, and a long screed on the upcoming election with some history, all over in mail.
More later. It's late and I am just getting going.
Good analysis of decision making under uncertainty: the Iraq War.
And we have the Joint Chiefs on transformation and readiness.
And we can all feel safer:
February 11, 2004
Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month.
THESE ARE CRITICAL ITEMS.
Microsoft yesterday announced what may be the worst security flaw ever discovered in Windows. This flaw affects all NT-based Windows versions from Windows NT 4.0 through Windows Server 2003 64-bit Edition. The problem was reported to Microsoft in July 2003, but it has taken Microsoft more than 200 days to issue a patch for the affected DLL!
Microsoft rates this problem as "critical", and says:
"An attacker who successfully exploited this buffer overflow vulnerability could execute code with system privileges on an affected system. The attacker could then take any action on the system, including installing programs, viewing data, changing data, deleting data, or creating new accounts with full privileges."
This flaw is particularly critical because ASN.1 is so deeply embedded in Windows. The ubiquity of ASN.1 allows this flaw to be exploited via numerous attack vectors, rather than the single vector typically exposed by buffer overrun flaws. This flaw potentially exposes Windows to an attack at least as serious as MS-Blaster. Microsoft recommends, and we agree, that all system administrators should immediately download and apply the patch.
For more information, see:
I sent a warning mailing on this to Chaos Manor subscribers and I have this reply:
Just FYI: I applied the fix and looked at the date on
the replaced file (msasn1.dll). The new file is dated 9/19/2003 12:05 PM
replacing one from a different update dated 7/22/2002 2:05 PM.
Which is astonishing.
2:10 PM Adelphia Cable modem just died. Going over to satellite.
You don't know how much you depend on high speed Internet connections until you lose them. Falling back to satellite is painful. The throughput is just as fast, but the latency is horrible, and far too many web sites use designs that require downloading dozens of little files. Each of those files requires a request that goes to orbit and comes back, and the delays can drive you nuts.
Looking up something can take forever. I'll sure be glad when the cable modem works again.
Does anyone know how to get the ORIGINAL (DOS) Railroad Tycoon running on a modern machine? Preferably on a Windows XP system, but even on a Windows 98 system would do. I have the game, but I sure can't manage to get it to open. Even with no sound.
I am hardly an expert on getting DOS games to run on XP systems, but I thought it wouldn't be a problem on a Windows 98; but it was.
Help? I would be willing to buy a Windows version of the old game. The new ones, Tycoon II and III, are horrible; but the old game was neat, and I would like to have it back.
You might want to try http://dosbox.sf.net/
DosBox is "a PC emulator with builtin DOS for running DOS Games primarily". I've recently used it to replay Gateway, Gateway II, and Alone in the Dark on Linux, and a friend of mine has run the Windows XP port successfully. It sucks CPU cycles, but odds are if you've got a DOS-only game it didn't need many CPU cycles anyway. --- Roy Stogner
And in fact that works. It is harder to set up than you might expect in that the instructions aren't entirely clear, but RR Tycoon is now running on a Pentium 4 machine at reasonable speed, complete with sound!
Man, this satellite system is misery. Adelphia, please come back...
February 12, 2004
Adelphia is back, and all is well in that department now. Hurrah!
Madam Butterfly opening tonight. I fear this production: minimalist, which means no sets and not much in the way of costumes: which makes you wonder, why perform it? Just do it in concert. Costs less.
But perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised. I doubt it.
DOSBOX works, and I have RR Tycoon running, but I can't get the mouse to work. I even tried substituting a regular trackball mouse but that isn't doing it either. Without a mouse I can't select trains -- even on the train report I don't seem to be able to select a train, there must be some trick to the keyboard that I don't know -- so this has become an exercise in frustration without a lot of reward. Oh well. At some point perhaps I will figure it out.
DOSBOX does a lot of things very well. The mouse software seems to have it buffaloed, though.
On the other hand, running in W95 compatibility mode works, the mouse works fine, but there is no sound. Why can DOSBOX do sound but not mouse, while W95 compatibility does mouse but not sound? I suppose at some point I will figure this out.
February 13, 2004
Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month
The Cherokees is escaped from Fort Mudge!
Don't worry, I haven't gone mad. Some of you will recognize that. For the rest, well, I'm sorry you missed it.
On a sadder note,
He was 88, and I have known him since about 1970. Of course he was a legend before I ever met him, having been Ray Bradbury's agent for Ray's first story. And editor of Superman. I have a Superman pin from Big Julie. You won't have any problems finding obituaries on line or in your newspaper, and they'll have the details right, so I won't try. I'll just say he was one great character, and I'll miss him. Goodbye, you old goat.
Meanwhile, tell your kids to be careful out there: http://www.wnbc.com/education/2821097/detail.html
SO what I need, maybe, is better drivers for the mouse? I have been using mouse.com which works with all DOS programs I know of. The optical mouse works fine in DOS Commanders under DOSBOX, but when I go to RR Tycoon the mouse doesn't work. Doing control-F10 will make the mouse cursor appear, but when you click it in the game nothing happens, and the cursor vanishes as well.
So for now: Windows 98 run in DOS mode on the one Windows 98 machine I have left will play the game just fine, but no sound. DOSBOX on a Windows XP machine has sound but no mouse. Windows 95 compatibility on a Windows XP machine has mouse but no sound. Sigh.
So I go to look for one of the CD's that came with the Intellipoint Mouse -- I must have ten of the mice -- and of course I have thrown them all away thinking I had one in the systems folder.
Why not? So I go looking on line and I can't really find the darned thing, or perhaps I am just dense this morning.
What I need is to be sure I have the latest mouse.com for DOS I guess. One that works with a PS/2 mouse (not serial) on DOS, with luck in DOSBOX.
I am told that VDM Sound will do the job. Alas, I can't install vdm sound 2.04: when I try I am asked i I agree to a license, I say yes, and the program stops responding. What I am doing wrong here I don't know. Hah. Actually, it is working but you have to wait quite a while before anything happens.
Alas, I still don't have sound: I have a "run with VDM" option in the rails.bat menu when I right click on it, and that opens the game, but there still isn't any sound. Sigh.
I get the sound just fine if I run in dosbox but have no mouse. I fear VDM isn't doing it and I wonder what I have done wrong.
Then this message from Don Farquahar:
I finally noticed a forum link on the DOSBox site. I
did a search there and two people reported having the same mouse problem
you're having. Looks like Railroad Tycoon Deluxe (the version copyrighted
1996) works properly. The very earliest, buggiest version of Railroad Tycoon
(ver. 455.0) works properly. The more common version 455.03 has the mouse
problem. Looks like a problem with DOSBox, especially seeing as Norton
Commander works right.
I used to have both the very earliest, and the Deluxe versions. But all I have now is the one I've got. Which of course is the one that doesn't work...
February 14, 2004
If your wife or girl friend has told you it's all right to ignore Valentine's Day and you believed her, please make contact with me. I have a very good bridge deal for you.
Tony Blankley was one of the brains associated with Newt Gingrich when Newt was in the opposition, and remained with him for a while when Newt was Speaker. He has just done a book review that says a lot about how Blankley thinks.
It's well worth your attention. More comments when you have had a chance to read it.
I must be doing something very wrong, and I can't figure out what it is. I have yet to have VDMS do anything right. Attempting to run it for Windows 95 Conquest of the New World: make a copy of the program.exe file; set properties so that it runs under Windows 95; right click; tell it to run with VDMS; I am told that there is no pif file for VDM. I say go open the VDM file manually. I get the message that it opened but failed to initialize.
Try to delete the copy of the program.exe file on my desktop. I am told that I can't delete it, it is in use by another program. There are no other programs running. Reset.
Try again. Try run with VDMS. This time no demand for pif file. Block opens up to say VDM sound loaded and initialized properly but
stub exec failed
After which any key closes that down. And I can't delete the file. I close all processes that look expendable. Still can't delete that file.
Clearly I no longer understand DOS and windows 95 emulations. But it's worse than that. Now I have these undeletable icons on my desktop.
Clearly I am going to have to learn more about all this.
I have now deleted VDM Sound (which never did me any good anyway, and it's easy enough to reinstall) and I have also deleted the entire directory containing Conquest of the New World. At this point the thing on the desktop is a copy of something that doesn't exist. And it still will not delete.
Of this is a feature it's appalling. I suspect it's a bug in Windows XP.
When we had this kind of problem with older versions of Windows, I could open a DOS window and run NUKE.COM which always managed to delete a program; but nuke is a DOS program and doesn't run properly with Windows XP. I need to dig into this more. I am sure I once understood these things, but that was long ago.
At this point I will be glad just to get this silly icon off my desktop. I cannot imagine what is using it, or why anything thinks it can be used.
There is something else wrong on this system since there are other unremovable icons on the desktop. I have now removed POWER DESK 5.0 which may have something to do with the problems. Let's see what that does. I can always reinstall it.
Except that the removal program won't close and now I can't shut down. Hardware reset. System comes up with garbled video. Power off.
Restart from powered off. Comes up properly.
But I still can't remove that stupid program.
Log off as me. Log on as Administrator for the machine only. Now try to go into Jerryp's account and delete things off the desktop. Still can't do it. Still says this stuff is used by another program. If so, what other program?
Startup Manager doesn't show anything initializing that ought not. This is insane.
OK I have closed off just about anything that could be doing this.
My computer squeeks when I press control sometimes. Clearly this thing is trying to use the sound card. I can't close it and I can't delete it and I can't prevent it from starting on startup.
I need help.
It's worse than I thought. I have now started in SAFE MODE, and I STILL cannot remove CNWMAIN.EXE from the desktop. It claims that it is being run by something else. What I can't tell, and worse, there is no way to see what might be calling it. Nothing in startup that I can figure, and I have closed all processes that will close down.
I will now run a defrag program on this. I doubt it will do any good, but I recall that once before I had an unremovable file that was "fixed" by defragging the disk. I must confess this is all baffling. I am using Golden Bow VOPT which works very nicely and is quite fast, and I am confident that it is safe. I had some 15,000 gaps and 9000 fragmented sectors, which isn't all that much on a big disk; this will get rid of all fragments and all but a very few gaps. Packing the programs so that they have no gaps in them will improve performance a little. Data files will get fragmented again fairly soon. Anyway, once that is done we'll see...
CNWMAIN.EXE cannot be deleted, and the registry editor says there is no such thing as CNWMAIN in the entire registry. Now what?
OK, but after doing VOPT I was able to MOVE CNWMAIN.EXE into a folder; prior to VOPT it was unmovable. Then I was able to delete the folder, and that deleted the thing entirely. It is gone.
Can anyone explain any of this?
Now what? The DNS servers are down: I can connect to any internet address if I know the IP Address, but not by name. I presume that will be fixed by morning. This is getting ridiculous. But there is mail on this.
Using DOSBOX I am attempting to install Conquest of the New World. It is installing, but the "building" phase of installation has taken half an hour and it is not finished yet. But it does look as if progress is being made. Still, a 3 GHz machine ought to be able to simulate and old DOS box?
Trying to run Conquest of the New World in DOSBOX. Ye gods! It takes minutes to initialize. It may get there, but few will care if it takes this long. The sound and mouse did initialize and appear to work, but the game just isn't coming up: we're stuck at players init ... OK, which is something one doesn't actually see when running the game in W 95 or DOS. And it's stuck there: several minutes have gone by and nothing. Sigh.
Eventually it does come up, but it is impossibly slow. It's not just this machine: I have the same situation with another Pentium 4 system built on a D845 motherboard.
Conquest of the New World will not run in Windows 95 mode because there is a command that creates an exception. Running in DOSBOX doesn't work because it is impossibly slow.
On a Windows 98 machine I can reboot that in DOS mode and then RR Tycoon will run, but I can't figure out the sound card. Most of these things will run in that DOS mode, if you can figure out the sound cards properly. There isn't any such mode in Windows XP systems.
Conquest of the New World runs just fine, complete with sound, in a Windows 98 system, under Windows 98, without much fussing with the configurations. It just runs on the 98 machine, and unlike on a much faster system with DOSBOX it is not jerky or anything. It just works.
Railroad TYCOON runs with mouse but not sound in Windows 95 mode, and with sound but no mouse in DOSBOX. This is also the case on two different machines.
And that's the way it is. If there are tricks to this I haven't figured out, I'd like to know: I need a happy ending before any of this goes in the column.
I suppose I ought to look into a good DOS boot disk, but in most cases the sound card hardware is such that things don't work too well with new systems and old games. And there is the whole memory management situation: I long ago got rid of QEMM and some of the other third party memory management programs that worked so well.
The bottom line is that neither VDM Sound nor DOSBOX seem able to cope with a lot of modern hardware. I suppose I ought not be astonished. The wonder is that any of them work at all.
February 15, 2004
DNS servers are working again, and I can cruise the web. Amazing how one gets used to having that ability and how much one misses it when it's gone.
Considerable material on Iraq over in mail, starting with Greg Cochran's ascorbic views. Cochran must always be taken seriously if only to make one understand why one holds views contrary to his. Physicists have that characteristic. I didn't always agree with my old mentor Herman Kahn, but you had to work hard to understand: which was what he was trying to do, get you to understand why you thought as you did, and to know on what you based your conclusions.
There's a lot more mail which I will get to after I so a gardening stint.
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