THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 411 April 24 - 30, 2006
Highlights this week:
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April 24, 2008
I am home from Phoenix, and getting down to work. This morning the housekeeper brought in a fallen sparrow. Well, it's probably a linnet. In any event this is a fledgling that can almost fly, and in a day or so the wings will be strong enough, so I have it in a cage outside. The parents are feeding it. Sable finds all this incomprehensible, but she can't get at the bird or the parents. I have been being sure the little bird gets enough water. I'll release it in the morning. It can gain altitude, and while it can't fly far, it can get across the room. I give it flying lessons. All this has eaten a bit of my time...
There's a lot of mail, including opening some new topics for debate. And I'll have a new essay before the week is up.
Niven and I got a lot of plotting down driving back. Trip was worth it just for that.
|This week:||Tuesday, April
There seems to have been an administrative glitch that prevented my BYTE column from being updated yesterday. It should be up today, I'm told.
The little linnet learned to fly quite well with a few lessons in the kitchen where bad landings weren't fatal (Sable being confined outside, and all kitchen fires out). After I was sure it could take off from the ground and gain altitude -- it couldn't when we caught it in the morning -- I gave it a few more lessons, a half teaspoon full of water, locked Sable inside, and took it out in the evening where the parents were waiting. When I let it go it flew to a tree and when last seen was being cared for, so that's about all I could do for the bird.
I only met her once, many years ago at a AAAS meeting, and that only to be introduced, but she has had a large effect on my thinking. Her books on Cities, and on the impending Dark Age, are required reading for anyone trying to make sense of the mess Western Civilization has got itself into.
April 26, 2006
- Roland Dobbins
A good obituary. She demonstrated that "social science" is mostly the bunk, with little regard for data and facts; and that a degree in "urban planning" is likely to be a guarantee that the holder knows little to nothing of how people actually live, and is also likely to be a guarantee of terrible advice.
She was feisty, but she actually observed what people do, and thought about that. A rare trait among social scientists...
One more reason Linux hasn't caught on with OEM's. Comments appreciated.
April 27, 2005
I am designing a new web page, ChaosManorReviews. The administrative details are finished, and now it remains to design the page and get it up. The notion is to put up reviews of all kinds of stuff, mostly high tech. Some of it will be drawn from BYTE columns. Due to contracts these will have to be several months old. I'll also include reviews of what's currently in use at Chaos Manor with updates as appropriate, and reviews of high tech stuff that may not be appropriate for the column.
There are several questions remaining open. First, is it appropriate to put in Google advertisement space? Google ads pay on how many click through; the web site owner has no say in what advertisements are put in, but does have control over how much space is devoted to those ads. There's no payment for page requests, only for follow through. I have no idea how much revenue that generates, and one reason for including them on the ChaosManorReviews page would be to get more information.
Second, is it appropriate to accept advertisements from companies whose stuff I have already recommended? That might seem to pose a problem. Reviewers who get paid from ad revenue have an automatic conflict of interest, slightly minimized if you only take ads from people who make stuff you have already approved of. Note that most reviewers get free stuff, and that also creates a conflict of interest, although less so than advertising revenue. It depends on the reviewer: I can generally get most anything I ask for, and I'm pretty careful what I let them send me; I don't write about things I won't use, which means that I ignore stuff that I don't like. In general I don't write negative reviews, but then I almost never have, because readers like clever put downs, but they prefer reviews of stuff the reviewer likes and can recommend. My solution to this is not to write about things I can't recommend, and generally I don't recommend things I don't use.
I have neither control over or even consultation about ads that appear in BYTE or Dobbs or Nikkei Business Publications or BYTE Turkey or any of the other places my column (or extracts from it) appear. That was the case when McGraw Hill owned BYTE (it was a firing offense for an ad salesperson to make editorial suggestions to columnists and editors) and continued when CMP bought BYTE, so I have always had complete editorial independence. That's pretty well the way it is with Google Ads.
Third, what should the reviews page (pages, actually; it will be a new domain) look like? I stubbornly continue with my ancient and outmoded format here, partly due to sloth, but most because I like it. I like the background color, and it's designed to load fast since mostly it's text. Reviews have pictures, and there needs to be a good design to accommodate ads, both Google style and banner ads.
I'm in no hurry to do all this, but suggestions are welcome.
but I try to keep them unobtrusive, and I have yet to have anyone complain. We're not going to change things here.
As to why ChaosManorReviews: First, many have asked about what I recommend, and that makes it easy to do; second, a number of companies whose stuff has been reviewed want a place to point inquiries to and while the BYTE archives work, there's a lot more there than just my stuff, and it can get confusing.
Anyway, we're open to suggestions.
Subject: Ms. Noonan's Three Big Issues for President Bush
"Issue 1: Iraq, Afghanistan and the age of terror."
"Issue 2: the economy."
"Issue 3: the integrity of America's borders."
As Ms. Noonan points out, these are quite enough to keep the President busy during the remaining 999 days of his administration -- especially when combined with the myriad crises which will pop up during that time.
I have always found Peggy Noonan worth attention.
I would change the order, putting 3 at the top, 1 next, and the economy third; but I wouldn't neglect the economy, particularly cutting back the amount the Fed spends.
Abolish FEMA! Indeed. Abolish FEMA, bring in volunteers -- sounds like what we have been saying here for some time.
And call it Civil Defense. Bring back commissions for volunteer leaders. Bring back the local Majors and Colonels, and civil defense organizations that actually hold drills. Preparedness. Why is that so difficult? Jimmy Carter abolished Civil Defense because he was a Democrat Jimmy Carter. Why Reagan and the Bushes continued with Carter's damned foolishness isn't clear. But it's clear enough that FEMA has to go. It's also clear that we need Civil Defense. Duh!
More on global warming and alarms...
Dr. Hansen's advice might be too late. With upcoming movies, books, and the inevitable continuing stream of news stories about global warming science being settled, the tone of the debate does not appear to be ready to moderate any time soon. Despite the recent Gallup Poll results which indicated that, even though Americans believe that global warming will probably be worse than the media coverage suggests, on the environmental worries scale, global warming still only rates a 2.
Still, I'm left wondering...why does the global warming issue seem so much more important to the media than to the public -- to the point where they have do demonize skeptics with ad hominem attacks? Do they know something we don't know? I suspect it is more the reverse.
And how, exactly, do the media make the jump from "global warming being real", to the warming being entirely manmade, to the warming being catastrophic, to the faulting of the U.S. government for not implementing policy changes (Kyoto, Domenici-Bingaman) that won't help the problem anyway? That wasn't a rhetorical question...I really do want to know the answer. Send me an e-mail if you happen to know.
Dr. Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA's Aqua satellite. He's also a member of the TCS Science Roundtable.
April 28, 2006
Yes, I REALLY DO have too much time on my hands, sometimes! But dammit, if the toga fits... Ave Caesar!
Petronius The Arbiter Of Taste
We are off for the day. Updates to View tonight. There is mail.
Down at the beach. We'll be here for the weekend. Only dialup here, because Time Warner doesn't have a self installation kit, and we never seem to be able to be here for an appointment to install. Some day...
April 29, 2006
Eventful day. We're down at the beach. Lisabetta, my really neat TabletPC, has died: blue screen, no operating system found, and so forth. I may be able to rehabilitate her when I get home, with a new OS installation. I may not. I don't recall if she's under warranty, and I won't be able to find that out until I get home.
Meanwhile, I have the IBM Thinkpad. Setting that up to take over was more adventure than it should have been, and there are morals to the story, so all that will get into the column.
No Firefox on this machine. I should have switched to that long ago, but I don't usually use this one for web browsing when I am on the road. It's mostly the work machine for writing and the like. And down here I don't have high speed connection so I'm not going to download Firefox here.
If any of you have experience reviving a TabletPC (I suspect the hard drive has gone since it attempts to boot but can't find an OS, and I hear some odd noises in there) I'd appreciate the benefit of your experience. This is the HP Compaq TabletPC 1100 with Centrino chip, and she's probably more than three years old so probably not under warranty, but I'll have to look that up when we get back to Chaos Manor.
Everyone here in San Diego is holding their breath wondering what will happen Monday. Will anyone be at work? And so forth.
One thing. Any mail sent to me between Friday at 10 AM and 4 PM Saturday is lost. I saw all of it, or almost all of it, but it's pretty well gone. If you sent me anything important in that period, send it again. Even if I answered it I won't have it now. That includes several mail posting recommendation from Roland and others that I didn't get posted.
April 30, 2006
More in the saga of Lisabetta. This is mostly to record what's happened; this will become the lead in the column when I manage to get a happy ending, which I think I will have.
Last night before I went to bed I disconnected the power supply. Lisabetta was completely charged. This morning, just for luck, I started her up.
First was the Microsoft Blue Screen. I used to jog wheel clicker to get into the HP utilities. This offered me the chance to start up in safe mode. I had no keyboard -- she was folded up with the keyboard under, and I sure didn't want to change configurations. -- so I used the jog wheel, which supposedly shifted to start in Safe Mode, but perhaps did not; the time was running down for start normally. Indeed, she started normally.
In fact, she came right up, Windows loaded, all was well -- except that we were headed for church and there was no time. So at 8:45 I plugged the power supply back in on the theory that it was better for the machine to keep running than to shut down.
That turned out not to be the case. Roberta was singing in the choir so we had to be an hour early, and she wanted breakfast so we didn't get back until about 12:45. Lisabetta was showing the black screen with "Operating System Not Found" message. Of course she was fully charged. She was also warm.
I unplugged the power supply and turned her off with the hardware switch. Waited an hour for coolth. Started her up. She started up just fine. I did not plug in the power supply.
Now to use the Belkin USB hub with its independent power supply. I plugged that in, plugged a Seagate 100GB External USB drive into that -- it draws power from the USB hub, but the Belkin Hub was powered with its own independent wall brick -- and copied OUTLOOK.PST over to the Seagate. For good measure I copied all the other files I could think of, even though they were probably already backed up.
When Lisabetta was trying to start in Safe Mode, the last file she tried to load was an agp driver in System32. Now I used Norton Windows Commander to copy that file to a new folder named FOO, renamed the original file to file.foo, and copied the file back into System32. Then I used DiskMapper to see how much room I had on Lisabetta's hard drive and what those files were. We were down to under 10%, so I copied the Chaosmanor directory -- that's this page and all its components -- to the Seagate, and deleted it from Lisabetta. Emptied the recycle bin. Now I am running VOPT, which is a disk optimizing program. It's a race whether VOPT will finish before the batteries run out -- I have got more than 4 hours use out of that battery charge -- and I am a bit afraid I will not be able to finish. The thing to do I think is to wait until there's not much power left, stop VOPT, then power her up and see if she'll just sit there charging.
I am going to have to get a copy of GHOST and install that, and ghost the entire drive off to an external; replace the hard drive; and bring the new stuff back in. I am pretty sure it's the hard drive that is the problem. I'll check to see if there's still warranty, and if not I'll just buy one.
I may also try Gibson's SPINRITE, but we'll see.
Well, I am getting the "external power or lose your work" message, so I have stopped VOPT, and plugged in the power. We will now see if she'll just sit there doing nothing but under power.
I am pretty sure the problem was heat.
I need to look into what disk replacements are available. I never went that deep inside Lisabetta before...
Anyone expert in using Ghost to replace the hard drive of a laptop is invited to let me know how this is done.
Asserting the Principate.
---- Roland Dobbins
George Washington asserted the same rights, as did most early Presidents. The notion that the Supreme Court is the only arbiter of what is constitutional is a relatively recent theory. Hamilton would have had none of it, and Madison certainly ignored Marshal's ruling in Marbury vs. Madison. Jackson waxed obscene over some Supreme Court assertions of superiority.
The Courts are probably a bigger danger to the Republic than the Presidency, now that the Supreme Court routinely issues legislation and administrative decrees as if it were the House of Lords, not a court. In Kansas City the courts ran the school systems and levied taxes without a shadow of legislative authority, and Massachusetts courts presume to dictate to the legislature. Presidents can still be turned out. Judges in general cannot be, since there will generally be a minority in the legislature that, while unable to pass as law the decrees of the courts, will still be in favor of the decrees and thus be able to prevent impeachments.
Hamilton thought the Courts would be the weakest branch of the government. He turned out to be wrong. Bush may be acting to even some of the balance, and perhaps restore some judicial restraint.
And having said all that, this remains a matter of concern, and one wonders why Bush did not simply veto legislation he thought unconstitutional.
Another comment on the same article:
Subject: Ave Imperator: Smithy for a Crown
Let the Senate pass laws, and the judges deliberate. If the Emperor's servants don't listen to them, what do they matter?
At least we still have this: that they believe that the Emperor must be elected...
--Catfish N. Cod
But elected by whom? In Rome the Emperors (after Julius Caesar) held ordinary offices, and there continued to be elections for Consul and the other magistracies. Emperors sometimes stood for such offices, then stood down and allowed someone else to hold the office for the term; and sometimes just nominated Consuls and Praetors and Aediles and the like. Earlier, when the Republic existed in theory but was falling, Bibulus was co-consul to Julius Caesar; he claimed it to be the Consulate, not of Bibulus and Caesar, but of Julius and Caesar, and retired to his house to "watch the skies" for omens.
After Augustus, the army proclaimed an Emperor and the Senate hastened to ratify their decision. Sometimes parts of the army proclaimed Caesars. Then came civil wars. And Claudius was carried off to the Army camp shouting his loyalty to the Republic. Fat lot of good it did him. He turned out to be the key to setting up the infrastructure to make the Empire workable in the aftermath of Caligula, and it held even on the proclamation of Nero.
Regarding Lisabeta the laptop: she's been working reliably for hours now. I have used Golden Bow VOPT to optimize the disk drive. I have shut down and restarted. All seems well.
Of course I intend to replace the hard drive, and I'll need to figure out how to do that, preferably without reinstalling everything. Ghost is I think what I need.
We'll be going home tomorrow so this won't be updated until Monday evening. Next week is column week, of course. There are also some E3 events but I won't be going to E3 itself. They show Press people want me to jump through too many hoops. I'll try to get to some of the evening shows, but I just don't feel like doing all the things they want me to do to prove I'm a real press person.
I understand that there are lots of people with personal blogs who want to be press, and who insist on press credentials, so that these events have to put some obstacles up; but they have gone farther than I care to go in doing it.
If anyone has experience with replacing a laptop drive, I'd like to hear about it.
Monday Morning: Packing to get out of here. Much gubbage on TV about immigration. Apparently no one reads history.
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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