THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 331 October 11 - 16, 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, 8,000 - 12,000 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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October 11, 2004
The column is off to BYTE and to Tokyo.
There were a couple of items of interest over the weekend, both on Saturday.
At the end of this week I leave for Japan where I will be keynote speaker at the 20th Anniversary of Nikkei BYTE. My column has appeared (in translation) in every issue. This will be at the World PC Expo.
|This week:||Tuesday, October
Just back from the Shrine Auditorium where Bill Gates launched Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and many companies chief among them HP showed their set top box replacements for Tivo. Bottom line: it's cool, you can now have two tuner inputs meaning that you can take the input from two digital decoders on your cable TV and input both of them: meaning that you can record one program and watch another even if you are on digital cable.
You can also distribute what you are watching wirelessly through the house, so for instance, I can take the digital decoder from another room and put that with the one in my TV room and be able to do all this stuff from either location by putting an extender in the room where I removed the direct input. That's cool, and I will probably be doing something with this. The current HP box will handle two input tuners, but it doesn't do Hi Definition; if you want Hi Def you will have to wait until next year sometime.
This is clearly the HP consumer product push, and it did work well not only in the demo but out on the show floor.
It's the 2nd Tuesday of the month; time for the monthly Microsoft Updates. Several important issues, including some additional problems with the handling of graphics images in Excel and Visio. An overview of the updates are here http://isc.sans.org/diary.php?date=2004-10-12 ; with links to the Microsoft site.
Of course, since all of your readers with Windows have enabled Automatic Updates, they will be protected forthwith.
And a note to any Linux users prone to exclaim (with glee, usually) about the non-vulnerability of Linux programs...you've also have some updating to do. My mailings from email@example.com indicate many Linux updates in the past month. You should also go to your operating system update site and get your updates packages.
Regards, Rick Hellewell
October 13, 2004
Friday the 13th falls on Wednesday this month
Spent the day yesterday on Windows XP Media launch and such stuff, and since I am headed to Japan this weekend to be keynote speaker at the 2oth Anniversary of Nikkei Byte at the World PC Expo, I have a lot of cleanup stuff like paying the bills and getting things running here at the house that I have to do.
This is the tenth anniversary of The Bell Curve, and I had intended to write something on it, but Steve Sailer has done that very well at http://www.vdare.com/pb/bell_curve_10yrs.htm in an essay entitled "You Have To Tell The Truth". It's worth your reading. While over in Mail we have Steve Goldberg on something similar. Some people do tell the truth. Others seem to have another agenda. Re The Bell Curve: I was present at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in a hastily organized session about the book; and heard distinguished social "scientists" denounce the book while proclaiming proudly that they had never read it, nor ever would, nor did they need to. Sailer tells much of that story in his essay, and nothing he says is exaggerated; I witnessed much of what he describes.
We have yet to face the facts in the US: if we are to remain competitive, we will have to abandon the notion of equality in education. That's hard, and perhaps it is the wrong thing to do; but it is surely a matter for the states, not the federal government. If we are going to set the standard for all kids to be "normal" and mainstream them all and treat them all alike then we have to expect that the top half will not do as well as those in places like Japan where the top half receives a different and higher level of education than the lower half. Perhaps the Japanese carry this segregation by ability too far and put too much pressure on kids to achieve too early. I would think that a matter for experiment.
What I do know is that a national policy that insists that this is Lake Woebegone where all the children are above average, and thus says we can keep them all on the same track in the same schools and expect that the smart ones will do well although the teachers have to spend most of their time explaining the obvious to the less gifted -- and fines the schools if all the children in the school don't achieve -- is not likely to keep us competitive. The fact is that if you pay by average test scores and fine schools for "leaving behind" anyone, it is inevitable that most of the effort will be put into trying to get minimum performance from the lowest in the school. The results are predictable.
Schools turn out those with credentials rather than educate children.
Finally: what evidence do we have that the experts in the Department of Education know anything about educating children? The Constitution makes the Congress responsible for the District of Columbia. When the DC schools are so good that everyone wants to copy them, we will know that Washington has learned some arcana that the rest of us need to know; but the last time I looked, the DC schools spent more per pupil than any other school district, and achieved less than stellar results. At least they are proving what was learned long ago, that the amount of money spent on education has very little correlation with results. You don't get better schools by throwing money at the problem no matter how neat that sounds, or how much logic there is in the notion that if you pay more you will attract better people as teachers. The facts on the ground are that more money does not equal better schools, and this has been demonstrated again and again and again. But social "scientists" never pay much attention to data. Professors of Education are generally those who could not be a success in the "social sciences." See my essays on The Voodoo Sciences for more on that subject.
(That essay was written in 1988 or so, but it's still very relevant. I just discovered that it's not available elsewhere so I have put it up here. It will be in Two Steps Farther Out if I ever get that book in print...)
October 14, 2004
A new T-Mobile phone store has opened in the neighborhood. I dropped in yesterday just long enough to pick up some literature. Has anyone experience with this? Should I go get a T Mobile phone? Is their PDA the same as my HP 5144 only it has a phone in it? Does the Pocket Computer phone include Blackberry or is Blackberry separate and different?
I am tempted : they say it will work in Japan. I'd have to get it tomorrow, and I presume I can transfer the numbers and stuff from my Cingular to it?
I already pay about $29 a month to T Mobile so I can use my Tablet PC in airports and coffee shops and places that have T Mobile; it seems a bit expensive for the amount I use it, but not excessive, and it does make life easier. I found a TMobile spot out in Mojave even! I presume my 5144 can also be used with TMobile on the account I already have. Which means I should be able to do email with the TabletPC in Japan?
I am not very well informed about this stuff so if someone who KNOWS can send me a few tips fairly soon it would be much appreciated.
I am getting ready for my trip. That means acquiring some books and getting all my working stuff moved over to the TabletPC; and to the Apple although Mrs. Pournelle is using it just at the moment to work on her software and she may just hang onto it. It's a bit large to add to pile of stuff I carry on to an airplane. In checked luggage I put other electronics, but maybe not this time. I suppose I can live without all the electronics for a week, but on the other hand, this is a good opportunity for field tests.
But travel tips appreciated.
There is a lot of mail on a lot of stuff.
Read all about it...
A dozen and more readers have sent me this:
On investigation, the item that appeared here ( a link to another site) was much ado about nothing. When I put it up it was as I said, I knew nothing about it.
I hadn't heard of that site before. On reflection I see no reason to mention it again.
October 15, 2004
The mysterious stuff at the end of last night's posts refers to a web site someone pointed me to that had some questions relating to the election. It turned out to be less than nothing, possibly an honest mistake and possibly a slam by innuendo; either way it does no good to discuss it (see Deconstruction thread which actually applies here: why raise a question if there is no need to?) and I have pulled the whole mess. I didn't just delete it because someone may have seen it although it wasn't up all that long. Apologies. I won't steer you to that source again. (And again I don't name the source because this may have been inadvertent, or something else, and I haven't time to look into it.)
Well you have convinced me that a phone bought here is unlikely to work in Japan. And that taking new hardware on trips is a good way to make your head explode, although I have done that sometimes. So. Since they have me in a hotel with broadband I ought to be able to send in some pictures and keep things current here, if they let me have the time.
Thanks for all the advice.
I am trying to get Princess, the oldest machine in the house, working again. When last turned off (nothing has been done to her since then other than that she has sat there forlornly) she was feeding a KVM to a 21" bottle monitor. Now she feeds a KVM to a LaCIE Photon 20 flat screen.
When I turn her on, I get one long and 2 short beeps and nothing. That is supposed to be something with the video system. Can anyone help explain? Will she work if I put her back on a bottle?
Pournelle's Law in action. Take the cover off. Wiggle all the connections. It's a cable. Princess is back in action.
"I kissed thee ere I killed thee." Actually I said good night. I don't know why I am so sentimental about that machine. Anyway she's working again. I'll vacuum her out. Tony Pietsch told me a long time ago that computers don't like to be moved. I am sure Princess, asleep or not, didn't like being put off out of the way for a while...
Anyway she is back in action. It was a loose cable inside, apparently. Taking the cover off and reseating the boards did it.
And here is the answer
And I am getting ready for my trip. It takes a while to get all the stuff together.
I seem to be coming down with something. I wasn't able to get a flu shot. I may not need one. I do not think I will be on any airplane tomorrow.
And Kerry seems determined to scare people with the notion of a draft. Is this unconscionable? He can't possibly believe it.
October 16, 2004
I am not on the airplane to Japan, nor will I be. My sincere apologies to anyone who is inconvenienced by this. There wasn't any way I could manage this trip at this time. I will be home all week.
October 17, 2004
Recovering. I am glad I was not on an airplane last night. I'll be well enough soon, but there is no way I could have made that flight.
Thanks to all who have sent me well wishes...
and then we had
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