THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 355 March 28 - April 3, 2005
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March 28, 2005
Today's Wall Street Journal has an article about Bill Gates and his semiannual retreat to rethink Microsoft strategy. It is worth reading. http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111196625830690477,00.html
Despite having a TabletPC and wireless through the house, I find my morning routine with newspapers on paper a bit more congenial. Of course that means I get news that is several hours old, but I can live with that; and newspapers have other uses. They can be folded to threaten a wolf-dog who is becoming insistent that it is time for the morning walk, why haven't we left yet. Of course the threats seldom work, but at least you can do that with a newspaper. Threatening Sable with the TabletPC would be absurd...
I presume that one day we will all read our morning papers on screens. The other day when waiting for my dermatologist to make holes in my face I found a wireless connection and was able to do some work in the waiting room, and for a lark I brought in the latest news as well; but the experience isn't the same as reading the Wall Street Journal on paper. I wonder how many more generations will know the difference? How long will newspapers on paper last?
I do know that the TabletPC has become the one tool I like having with me when I am away from my desk. My HP Compaq 1100 TabletPC is a tad heavy; but not more so than a large hardbound book is heavy, and LisaBetta can hold a thousand books plus all my work plus connect to the rest of the world. When TabletPC's become ubiquitous -- and another iteration or so in technology will make them a lot more attractive although they are already worth the cost and trouble now in my judgment -- when they become ubiquitous I suspect we will get novels written just for that medium: perhaps not cut scenes (at least at first) but digital photos of settings, maps, bridges, etc. as part of the experience. We'll see.
"The weight of a laptop does not approach that of the books the average student backpacks today. What we need is a laptop that will not work for any purpose but school, to make it les subject to theft. Perhaps a DNA sensor, or an implanted rfid? Or perhaps a circuit that must be reset by the school master computer periodically. In such a market, I suspect these could be made for less than the yearly book budget.
"Walter E. Wallis"
An interesting concept. I wonder if Bill Gates still reads this page? It's a good idea...
|This week:||Tuesday, March
I have enough mail now to conclude that most of you don't want me to drop the political discussions, but for my own sanity I intend to tone them back a bit; once a point is made it is made, and while I do like to present arguments opposed to mine, sometimes they are merely an excuse for me to hammer my own points home again; something we all enjoy doing, but which for this readership is hardly instructive.
As an old OR man I tend to react to what's going on and observe how things actually are working rather than work from pure theory.
I have been asked to participate in a pretty snazzy conference on the future of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and I'm now open to suggestions, power point graphs, thoughts, snatches of ideas, and anything else that makes sense on the subject. Fair warning, anything you send me may appear later as my own with or without attribution and/or acknowledgement.
March 30, 2005
Yesterday Sable the Siberian Husky got her 2 year shots including Lyme Disease, and last night her face was all swollen up and she was pretty miserable. It was asymmetric and the conclusion of the Animal Emergency Hospital (we are fortunate to have a night emergency clinic for dogs in Studio City) was that she had probably got hold of a bee. Benadryl and some other anti-histamine seems to have done the trick. It wasn't cheap, but peace of mind is worth a hundred bucks. Our only problem now is that unlike our previous Huskies, Sable is particular about what she swallows, and she's not all that fond of meat and cheese. She can catch something in the air and swallow it in one gulp, but she generally doesn't, so out come the capsules when put into the throat. And stuffing something down a wolf's throat is a bit of an adventure anyway. She doesn't growl at me, but she's not at all happy with this procedure.
Ah well. It made for a long night as she kept coming in to the bedroom to make sure we were still here, and she has trouble with the doggy door while her face is swollen.
To top it off she needs to lose about 5 pounds, despite the exercise she gets.
Having raised four boys and half a dozen male dogs I can say that raising daughters is different...
Sable, having been induced to swallow Benadryl mostly by sheer intimidation -- she tried to intimidate me, and I did the same with her, and the result was that I stuffed the pills way down her throat and held the muzzle closed until she swallowed them, following with a PetTab treat she likes -- looks normal again but a bit subdued on our walk and run this morning. Ran when I did, but wasn't trying to pull me around the block, which is her usual response when I try to jog. Neighbors couldn't believe it, me running with Sable running alongside like a normal dog.
Thanks to all for the suggestions, but neither peanut butter nor cheese nor Velveeta, all of which worked with Sasha our previous Husky, had any effect on getting Sable to swallow pills. As Dr. Huth remarked about his Lab, "You think I can't smell your stupid pills? Do you really think you are smarter than me?" was the response to various tricks of that sort. So, eventually, it was "I'm the alpha and you will let me stick my hand down your throat, and that's the way it is." Which works, and once it's over we're all friends again. There may be a lesson in there somewhere.
I have bought, for more than I really wanted to spend, an HP 90W Air/Auto?AC Combo Adaptor which presumably allows me to use LisaBetta, my HP TabletPC, on an airplane, assuming the airplane provides electricity for laptops.
Fine. Dandy. Wonderful. But I have no idea how to do that. HP has sent me several pieces of paper, with diagrams, each covered with warning messages in a dozen languages. I now know, in many languages, how not to kill myself with that, and that the power cord isn't intended to be used to commit suicide. Every message is given in all these languages, and at no place is all the English collected together. English sentences are interspersed with all the other languages. There is page after page of warranty information in tiny print in every conceivable language.
What there is not is one single word showing me which of the various cords I will need to plug into an airplane. I have no idea what kind of socket the airplanes provide, never having done this before. I suppose that somewhere out on the Internet there is some information, but I would have thought, having paid over a hundred dollars to get this, I might have and ONE DARNED DIAGRAM OF INSTRUCTION IN ENGLISH on how to use it. All the various cords have little numbers, and 2 -- only 2 -- of them are actually mentioned by number in an unbelievably banal instruction in 11 languages, but none of the other cords are given a name at all. Just that unexplained number.
Oh. And another note, in 12 languages, tells me "WARNING Do Not Charge the notebook battery onboard aircraft. Charging the battery may damage aircraft electronic systems." Now that's fascinating since I bought this overpriced battery charger precisely because the web site said that this was for Air/Auto/AC use and that with this kit I would be able to use my TabletPC anywhere. I am presuming that this warning, which takes up much of the room that ought to be used to give me instructions because it is given in so many languages, applies to an external battery, not to running my TabletPC? But I don't know. And I am guessing that the diagram that comes with this shows that I plug one cord into the socket provided by the airplane (there's an entirely unlabelled socket in the stupid diagram), thence to the linelump, thence to the PC. I am assuming that, but of course HP can't have been bothered to TELL me. Instead it uses up all the instruction room for warnings.
If there is an HP executive out there, first: go fire the entire staff that produced these instructions. They may or may not be saving you from lawsuits, but they are certainly infuriating your customers, or, in my case, ex-customers because I don't want to buy from people as contemptuous of me as the people who sold me this thing have been. Fire them. All of them. With prejudice. Or give them references in hopes that your rivals will hire them.
And if one of you out there knows which of these cords I use to connect my TabletPC to whatever power is furnished in American and Delta Business Class, can you drop me a note?
For most of you: you will see this for a short time and I am taking it off. It goes in the column. This imbecility has to be seen to be believed. Of course by the time it gets in the column it will be considerably softened. But not, I hope, too much so.
April 1, 2005
The conscience of a nation. Farewell.
Off for our morning walk.
While walking for some reason -- probably the honeysuckle -- I thought of this: http://www.rienzihills.com/SING/imgoinback.htm . Actually I wondered if I could ever find the lyrics to this silly song. I probably first heard it when Poul Anderson and I were sailing down the coast, and we had no wind, and were sitting becalmed and thinking of ways to pass the time... But Google found it on about the third try. Amazing.
Which leads me to
Subject: Your Site
A real issue I've got with your site, Dr. Pournelle, is the time I spend on the internet because of it.
Not the time spent ON your site, mind you, but the time I spend on sites pointed to by sites pointed to etc. . . . pointed to by your site.
But I can hardly apologize for that...
April 2, 2005
His bags have been packed for weeks. Farewell. It is not likely that we will see his like again in our lifetimes.
Non habemus Papem
The Republic is safe. Martha Stewart is still on probation and has served prison time for telling investigators she did not do an act that turned out not to be criminal if she had done it. Sandy Berger will pay a fine for removal of national security documents and for destroying some of them; and will not be charged with lying to federal officers when he said he hadn't done it, then said it was inadvertent. We will not be safer for jailing Sandy Berger.
It's column time. We have a new MEDIA PC, and a new AMD SLI system.
April 3, 2005
Column Time. We have been building a new system and installing everything. It all works. Finally. The new machine is named Satine; I will let you figure out why.
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. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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