THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 319 July 19 - 25, 2004
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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July 19, 2004
We're here at the beach house. Saturday morning the old Armada laptop, now Roberta's machine used mainly for email and some on-line browsing at the beach, made a slight "pop" and died. It's pretty clear it was the power supply, and when I get home I suppose I'll see if there's any reliable repair service for a Compaq Armada near Studio City, since replacing that power supply may be all that is needed.
I never had to repair a laptop before., so I have no idea where to start. I am pretty sure I am not up to replacing the power supply...
I can hardly complain, since that laptop has been around since its predecessor was cracked up in Death Valley. The old Armada continued to work, but the screen was broken, so it made it hard to see anything. Still, I knew precisely where I was, 23 miles form the nearest road, because I could read the GPS position on the map that was still showing on the old machine. Armada's are rugged. Anyway, it's probably time to get Roberta a new laptop. It need not be fancy. She only does email and some dialup web browsing with it. I'll look to see if a new Armada is the right way to go.
July 20, 2004
Going home, leaving shortly. Mail when I get home. In case you are wondering, BYTE.COM has been the victim of a cat: the managing editor's cat knocked over a glass of water into her laptop and that fried up the copy edited issue just before it was sent in, and the usual happened. There are backups and all will be well shortly. And if you are thinking "She ought to have been making backups at every stage," we all know that, and we never ever wait to get the job finished before making backups do we?
Didn't bring the Mac this time, but I will try that newest Macromedia FrontPage substitute and see how that works; the Mac is a good laptop. Down here I have a good keyboard and monitor and mouse so any laptop has good peripherals. I don't keep a computer down here. I carry the TabletPC on walks and it does work for taking notes and such like.
I suppose I could train the Mac to be Roberta's laptop. She has used Macs for a long time. But we need to get her a machine of her own, even though all it's really used for is mail and web browsing. Since I use the Mac sometimes when she's down here and I am not, I'd have to get her another one, and the 15" is pretty expensive for a simple mail/web machine. Besides, I don't think it plays FreeCell...
Home I am. Tons of stuff to catch up with.
Resurrection: There is nothing wrong with King Armadillo, the somewhat ancient Armada laptop, and thus no reason to buy a new one. When I got home I put the machine into the docking station. A charging light went on, so I turned him on and he came up immediately. The Windows power meter said the internal battery was at 0% charge, but it was happily running on mains power.
Inspection followed. Nothing I could see about the computer was unusual. However, I did find that the line on the low voltage side of the power supply is frayed, and may even have been shorted. I have done a repair on that line and taped everything and my voltage meters tell me that the power supply is delivering power, but I suspect I need to buy a new power supply, and while I am at it, a spare battery. Both will be a lot cheaper than a new laptop.
The computer is fine. It was entirely discharged, yet it didn't warn us about impending shutdown: my guess is that just enough power was getting through to make the machine believe it was running on mains power, but not enough actually to charge the battery or run the machine: the result was that it got down to the last of the power and "Pop!" turned itself off; and since the power supply was not delivering power that was that.
It's a guess. In any event I'll do a more thorough repair on the power supply deliver line and see if that fixes things, but it won't hurt to order a new power supply as well. I used to recommend the Compaq Armada laptops as the kind of machine I liked to set up in the hotel room and use to write on: a bit heavy to carry about to meetings, but a solid keyboard, good screen, and while the graphics weren't fast enough for Everquest it would do almost anything else you wanted on line. It's still good enough for Roberta's needs, so I guess she doesn't get a new laptop after all...
Hollywood Bowl tonight. The new structure is I am sure better, but I miss the old kludgey one with the spheres and such. I also miss having the orchestra on risers at the back so that we can see some of the woodwind and horn players.
And there are now enormous TV screens on each side of the stage with a demented director changing views every five seconds in an effort to see just how much distraction he can add. Why?
July 21, 2004
Subject: Byte down, column available
Just in case you have readers who are suffering from Chaos Manor deprivation...
As of a few minutes ago the front page of BYTE.com is still a week behind, but I was able to read your column on Tuesday morning. Just go to the old column linked on the front page, then click on 2004 at the top, then pick the latest column from the top of the list. Almost every week on Monday the same approach lets me read the column up to a couple of hours before the front page lists it.
Of course by the time you read this the entire site will probably be up to date.
Roy Harvey Beacon Falls, CT
And in fact that works: the current column is now available although the front page still looks like a week ago.
And now all is normal there.
Fumento on AIDS: http://www.techcentralstation.com/071504E.html
AIDS eats up a lot of medical funding; going into AIDS research is a career choice, and once there are a lot of people in that business, cutting back gets painful for them, even if their efforts would be better spent on other kinds of research. And so it goes, with alarm statements.
July 22, 2004
On an airplane. Writing by hand as people jog
my elbow and we hit air pockets. OK Maybe not That bad but still a bit difficult.
there should be connectivity in Dallas.
There is, but it's Tmobile, which has the worst signup experience I ever had. But I did manage, and it is working now. Not secure of course.
I was tempted to ride on someone else's open account since I could, not because of the money but just the difficulty of getting Tmobile to accept my credit card. But it finally did.
Does anyone know how I can KILL KILL KILL Windows Messenger so that it never again asks me about signing in? Actually don't bother sending me mail on this.
It seems to start on startup and I do not seem to have startup manager on this machine, a mistake I will rectify when I get home.
On former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger:
I have mail asking why he isn't in jail, perhaps at Guantanamo or in the Navy Brig in Charleston? To which I have no real answer other than such things don't really happen. Yet. And when they do, the Republic is probably headed for real trouble.
Yet there are parts of that story that are very disturbing. What was he doing there, and why was he fussing with Clarke's memo as well as his own stuff? Was it that they didn't see anything coming? But we know that because they did nothing. Did they see something coming and Clinton did nothing about it? That might be a larger problem, but it's also less believable.
When I first heard this story I though it meant it happened last week or something, and we were talking about a paper or two. No. It happened last year, and there were a number of papers involved. And so far as I know, all classified documents have numbers, and files, and have to be signed in and out; they always did when I was in that business, and I don't know anyone to whom it didn't apply.
We had inspections, and if you ever left your safe unlocked -- I never did but I knew plenty of people it happened to -- you had to do inventory and account for every document you ever signed for. Even destroyed documents were signed for before they went into the burn bag, and that was witnessed. It was a procedure we had little love for, but it was thorough. So how did Berger get around that? And WHY?
I didn't think this was much of a story when it broke, but I am beginning to wonder now.
July 23, 2004
In Cleveland, Tennessee for Libertycon. Niven is here, but his luggage is not. He took Delta and got here through Atlanta on time. I took American, got here 40 minutes late total after adventures in Dallas and a rush through the Chicago airport, but my suitcase followed me all through the trip. So it goes.
This is a 38K connection...
July 24, 2004
July 25, 2004
In Chattanooga, much to do. Heed this:
Subject: Bin Laden virus
SEATTLE (July 23) - A virus purporting to show images of Osama bin Laden's suicide popped up on the Internet on Friday, designed to entice recipients to open a file that unleashes malicious software code, security experts said.
The virus was attached to a message that was posted on over 30,000 usenet newsgroups and is not being spread via e-mail, said Web security vendor Sophos.
Headed for home. Site updated in the evening.
Chicago Airport, T Mobile wireless. Seems to be working just fine. I can do mail on the next leg of the trip and roll the pages when I get home.
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