Another Step Farther Out; Priorities; Moore’s Law Continues; and other matters.


Chaos Manor View Monday, March 30, 2015


Eric has got a publishable manuscript of Another Step Farther Out, a compendium of Galaxy, InfoWorld, New Destinies, scientific magazines, and other places where I published in the old days. You’d think it ought to be dull, but it isn’t, and I’m working on because I got a lot of it right—we just haven’t done some of that stuff yet. The difference is that when I wrote it we couldn’t quite do it yet; now we can, we just don’t,

One column shows the confusion of climate scientists, divided into “We’re warming!” and “The Ice is coming back!” groups. No Believers and Deniers. Just science. Nut that was before all that money went into building the Warming consensus…

I’ll have to write some comments one where I got it wrong, but the horror is that I got a lot right, and we still aren’t doing it.


I’m still experimenting with the Surface, and I still have to update a lot of the Apple equipment; stand by; but Another Step is still important, more than I thought, so it gets moved up a few notches. I’m also moving 2020 Visions up a bit in importance. That’s a lot to do, and I don’t work as fast as I used to, but we keep going, thanks to Eric and Peter and Rick and Brian and Alex and Dan and my other hard working advisors. And the readers: I still say I have the most interesting mail of anyone I know.

From Another Step Farther Out:


Voices: A peek into the future of tech (USA Today)

Rick Jervis, USA TODAY 9:05 a.m. EDT March 29, 2015

MIAMI — Anyone interested in what the future may hold would have done well by strolling through the second floor of the InterContinental Hotel here recently.

There, mingling between the Disney World display and the CNN en Español booth, they would have found an intriguing mix of media titans, marketing gurus, start-up entrepreneurs and YouTube careerists — all part of and aimed at the country’s burgeoning Latino population.

They were there as part of Hispanicize 2015, an annual gathering of the nation’s top Latino media execs, journalists and new-media entrepreneurs for a week of workshops, networking and parties. I was invited to the conference to speak on a panel on race and media.

A few days prior, I had covered the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin. It was interesting traveling from SXSW, one of the premier tech gatherings in the country but one still struggling to be more diverse, to a similar, albeit smaller, gathering of techies flush with diversity. Hispanicize, in fact, is often referred to as the “Latino SXSW.”

In Austin, panel discussions explored the myriad reasons Silicon Valley firms — especially at the managerial level — aren’t more black, brown and female. In Miami, those very diverse faces that have eluded the upper echelons of Yahoo and Facebook shared ideas and unfurled their cyber strategies.

Hispanics make up just 4% of managerial positions at Yahoo and even fewer at Facebook and Google. That number drops even further for African Americans. Black and Hispanic professionals — such as lawyers, accountants and computer scientists — make up 5% of all professionals at Facebook, Google and Yahoo but 13% of similar professionals nationwide.

Meanwhile, Latinos are the nation’s largest minority, numbering 53 million in the USA, and its fastest growing. By 2060, they’re expected to make up one-third of the total population, with more than $1 trillion in spending power.

Attendees at Hispanicize didn’t seem overly concerned with those disparate stats. They appeared less anxious about climbing corporate ladders at Silicon Valley and more focused on starting their own empires.

Hispanicize is the brainchild of Manny Ruiz, whom I knew from our days working at the campus newspaper at Miami-Dade Community College two decades ago. Ruiz left journalism to start a Hispanic-focused public relations firm, sold that and used the proceeds to launch Hispanicize. The gathering has grown from 260 attendees at its inaugural event five years ago to more than 2,000 today.

“We’re in a new era where there’s so much opportunity for everyone,” Ruiz told me. “You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley anymore to succeed.”

It was a mantra repeated throughout the conference. Entrepreneurs shared stores of how they’ve cobbled careers out of blogs and YouTube channels with names like Rocking Mama and Crafty Chica, drawing hundreds of thousands of loyal online followers and the attention of major brands willing to pay handsomely for that coveted audience. There was very little talk of trying to break into Google.

Alejandra Ayala, 29, started her fashion/beauty blog and YouTube channel, known as Chulavision, two years ago. She began in English, with just 1,200 subscribers. But when Ayala, who’s Mexican-American, started posting videos in Spanish, her channel quickly swelled to 123,000 subscribers. Her YouTube channel has since captured 5 million views.

Ayala said she doesn’t know how far she’ll take her project. But the fact that brands are reaching out to her tells her something about the direction of online enterprises.

“Slowly, they’re starting to notice us,” Ayala said about both her loyal following and corporations willing to pay for a few seconds of their time. “They’re starting to realize the impact we can have.”

Asked about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley, Ayala smiled.

“If someone doesn’t want to give it to us,” she said, “we’re going to find a way to get it.”

An interesting attitude…


Windows 10 Or OS X: Can Hardware Make The Difference? (Forbes)

clip_image002The Surface Pro 3 is a design you won’t get from Apple.

Would you switch from Mac to Windows to get access to “better” hardware?

I resolved that dilemma long ago by becoming, more or less, operating system agnostic.

There is one stubborn, undeniable fact in favor of being agnostic: One side offers more choice. That would be Windows, of course. And that means that there are sometimes better hardware options. And with Windows 10 on the horizon, that becomes even more enticing.

Lots of businesses are already agnostic, i.e., either Macs or PCs are allowed.  Though that doesn’t necessarily favor Windows PCs (BYOD — Bring Your Own Device — policies are trending to non-Windows platforms), I’ve been moving in the other direction.

Barring job-specific platform requirements, the experience on Macs and PCs is increasingly the same for me.  Particularly, if you spend much of your time inside Google’s GOOGL+0.2% Chrome browser, which I do.

(And the virus or malware argument against Windows isn’t that convincing anymore after both my MacBook and a friend’s recently got slammed with nasty malware.)

Let’s look briefly at laptops: On the Mac side, you’ve essentially got the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and the new 2-pound MacBook. Good choices but limited. While on Windows it’s almost limitless, if you throw in third-tier suppliers and the white box crowd.

But that’s stating a well-known fact, which is not my point.  What I’m getting at are unique products from top-tier suppliers that, because of the design, pull you off the Mac and over to Windows.

There’s a good bit to discuss in that.


How Will Deep Learning Change SoCs? (EE Times)

Junko Yoshida

3/30/2015 00:00 AM EDT

MADISON, Wis. – Deep Learning is already changing the way computers see, hear and identify objects in the real world.

However, the bigger — and perhaps more pertinent — issues for the semiconductor industry are: Will “deep learning” ever migrate into smartphones, wearable devices, or the tiny computer vision SoCs used in highly automated cars? Has anybody come up with SoC architecture optimized for neural networks? If so, what does it look like?

“There is no question that deep learning is a game-changer,” said Jeff Bier, a founder of the Embedded Vision Alliance. In computer vision, for example, deep learning is very powerful. “The caveat is that it’s still an empirical field. People are trying different things,” he said.

There’s ample evidence to support chip vendors’ growing enthusiasm for deep learning, and more specifically, convolutional neural networks (CNN). CNN are widely used models for image and video recognition.

Earlier this month, Qualcomm introduced its “Zeroth platform,” a cognitive-capable platform that’s said to “mimic the brain.” It will be used for future mobile chips, including its forthcoming Snapdragon 820, according to Qualcomm.

Cognivue is another company vocal about deep learning. The company claims that its new embedded vision SoC architecture, called Opus, will take advantage of deep learning advancements to increase detection rates dramatically. Cognivue is collaborating with the University of Ottawa.

If presentations at Nvidia’s recent GPU Technology Conference (GTC) were any indication, you get the picture that Nvidia is banking on the all aspects of deep learning in which GPU holds the key.

China’s Baidu, a giant in search technology, has been training deep neural network models to recognize general classes of objects at data centers. It plans to move such models into embedded systems.

Zeroing in on this topic during a recent interview with EE Times, Ren Wu, a distinguished scientist at Baidu’s Institute of Deep Learning, said, “Consider the dramatic increase of smartphones’ processing power. Super intelligent models—extracted from the deep learning at data centers – can be running inside our handset.”  A handset so equipped can run models in place without having to send and retrieve data from the cloud. Wu, however, added, “The biggest challenge is if we can do it at very low power.

AI to Deep learning

One thing is clear. Gone are the frustration and disillusion over artificial intelligence (AI) that marked the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s. In the new “big data” era, larger sets of massive data and powerful computing have combined to train neural networks to distinguish objects. Deep learning is now considered a new field moving toward AI.

There’s a lot more, worth your attention. AI is coming; as Minsky says, when you get it, they say, well that wasn’t Artificial Intelligence at all…

New 3D NAND flash memory from Intel, Micron could result in 10-terabyte SSDs (ZD)

Summary:The two companies claim their new technology offers up to three times the density of other 3D NAND competitors, with full production ramping up later this year.

By Sean Portnoy for Laptops & Desktops | March 30, 2015 — 13:07 GMT (06:07 PDT)

NAND flash memory isn’t the type of technology that might get your heart racing, but breakthroughs in making solid-state storage denser means more storage can be squeezed into ever-smaller spaces. While Samsung has been the company most associated with making 3D NAND technology the latest trend in flash memory, longtime partners Intel and Micron have just announced the results of their collaboration that could yield equally impressive results.

As the term suggests, 3D NAND adds a new dimension to producing flash modules. By stacking cells vertically, density is improved, which allows for more capacity in the same dimensions. Intel and Micron have further refined this process by using a floating gate cell for the first time in 3D NAND production.

Moore’s Law isn’t dead yet…

Researchers Claim 44x Power Cuts (EE Times)

New on/off transceivers reduce power 80%

R. Colin Johnson

3/30/2015 00:01 AM EDT

PORTLAND, Ore.– Researchers sponsored by the Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC, Research Triangle Park, N.C.) claim they have extended Moore’s Law by finding a way to cut serial link power by as much as 80 percent. The innovation at the University of Illinois (Urbana) is a new on/off transceiver to be used on chips, between chips, between boards and between servers at data centers.

The team estimates the technique can reduce power up to whopping 44 times for communications, extending Moore’s Law by increasing computational capacity without increasing power. “While this technique isn’t designed to push processors to go faster, it does, in the context of a datacenter, allow for power saved in the link budget to be used elsewhere,” David Yeh, SRC director of Integrated Circuits and Systems Sciences told EETimes.

Today on-chip serial links consume about 20 percent of a microprocessor’s power and about seven percent of the total power budget of a data center. By using transceivers that only consume power when being used, a vast amount can be saved from their standby consumption.

The reason the links are always on today is to maximize speed. The new architecture reduces their power-up time enough to make it worth turning them off when not it use. The team estimates that data centers alone would save $870 million per year by switching to their transceiver architecture.


Surface Pro 3 and Hyper-V

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I have been following your Surface Pro 3 observations with interest, as my Precious arrived last September. It’s the Core i7 model with the 512GB SSD. At the moment I am running Windows 8.1. I love it to bits but I have some observations that may be relevant to the ongoing discussion about waking up from sleep:

I installed Visual Studio 2013 on my Surface Pro 3 and it promptly switched on Hyper-V for Windows Mobile app development. Hyper-V is fantastic on a decently fast desktop PC but it really messes things up on an SP3. Mine really really did not like waking up from sleep and there were many incidents of having to hold the power button and reboot. Eventually I switched off Hyper-V again as I really didn’t need it.

WiFi does my head in. My home network uses an Apple AirPort and a Linksys WRT54GL as access points. The SP3 is unable to reconnect to them from sleep without some encouragement or sitting back and waiting for a few minutes. Newer access points or routers seem fine though, including a NetGear AirCard 762S that I use for 4G internet access on the go. It works a treat for everything I can throw at it, including live video streaming using UStream.

Finally, for those of you who haven’t bought one yet, go for one of the base models. The one I have is super fast but it runs hot and battery life is compromised. On the plus side, it easily replaces a full desktop PC, unless you are a gamer. I use mine for development work, which includes running Android emulators and Ubuntu VMs, all without performance problems.

Best wishes,

Simon Woodworth BSc MSc PhD.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




The Surface Saga Continues, and other discussions.

Chaos Manor View Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday


Book recommendation: Have been reading Tom Perry’s Butcher’s Boy (note the ‘ in there) series on Kindle. Quite good, actually. The first happens in the 60’s, the next ten years later, the third which I am reading now ten years after that. A hit man tries to retire, a bright lady bureaucrat tries to catch him, and the mob wants to kill him, but drastically lacks the skills needed to do it. Well worked out. Tom Perry has been a neighbor for years, having married the daughter of Bob Hopes’ chief gag writer who lived across the street from me. JoAnne inherited the house she’ grown up in.

Palm Sunday. We didn’t do much today. Physical therapy next week. Recovering, but it takes time.


Sage of the Surface Pro with Win 10 Beta Continues

2230 Saturday Night: Changed all relevant Surface Pro settings to tell it to sleep never when under power. I set a 4-digit passcode as an alternative login, tried it: note that it still takes a mouse or pen operation to use it, because I must tell it that I am going to use an alternate form of login, then which form of alternate login; there is no single button to say passcode, and the tiny command lines and menu items are not usable by my fingers, although probably OK for younger and more agile users. The result is a quicker login but still takes too long if I am in a hurry. Perhaps they will pay more attention to handicaps when they are finishing this.

Also told it never to ask for login when under power – same as my Windows 7 machines; which is “do not go to sleep, have a screen saver, and come on when I move the mouse or press a key.” They don’t demand a password. If someone physically accesses one of them there ain’t nothing stopping him; not the best security, but we have various measures to keep unwanted people out of the house, and that will have to do.

0845 Sunday Morning: was in the office to swap glasses and inadvertently disturbed the external Mouse connected to the serial port of the Surface docking station. The Surface immediately came on with the screen demanding I hold down the Windows key and press – it doesn’t say while pressing, but I have tried press and release – the power button. Alternatively, it says, I can press ctrl-alt-delete. Pressed and held the Windows button, pressed the power key. System trundled, came up with same screen demanding press and hold Windows button and press power key, or alternatively use ctrl-alt-delete. Did nothing else.

1345 Sunday after brunch: moved the external Mouse key; was confronted with the usual screen it shows when awakened from sleep. Pressed return and was asked for user name and login. Used mouse to select alternative login, was shown icons (too small for fingers but OK for mouse) and was shown the usual screen for waking up Surface, pressed return and was shown normal login screen demanding user name and password, but also a tiny line say use alternative login. Line far too small to use with fingers. Could use stylus, only my hand control is not what it was before the stroke, so had to use mouse. Was shown a screen with tiny icons not useable with fingers for me although probably OK for younger and steadier users. Used mouse to select the tiny icon which looks vaguely like a numeric keypad, poked in 4 digit passcode, was told that didn’t work; entered 4-digit passcode again being more careful not to hit two keys at once. And was welcomed to Surface.

I will now try to find out how to keep it from asking for password when it was NOT asleep but in the dock. Windows 7 knows how, so someone at Microsoft must know where the setting is.

1415 Sunday: Had to write the above paragraph again because Word 10 lost it; I must have pressed wrong keys, probably alt-something, which put Word in a mode I could not recover from. With luck that will never happen again. I got out of it by closing down word telling it to save, and it saved all but the last paragraph. I am sure it is operator error, compounded by my trying to use the little undo arrow to get rid of a demand for headers and footers that my clumsiness turned on and I was not clever enough to get out of. First time I have lost text in Word in years. Not likely to happen again. I sincerely hope.

1730 Sunday: Many of the minor problems sorted out. Systematically went through looking for password and sleep settings. Now it just wakes up, at least so far. We’ll see about overnight. There are several places you need to make the same settings, but I expect they will consolidate.

Eric Pobirs says:

    I don’t know about the Surface but on my mother’s laptop we set up the PIN login and it just worked. You could type the 4-digit code or her full password.

    The picture password may be much easier. You can do it with your finger and don’t have to be terribly accurate. I couldn’t draw a good freehand circle with the mouse to save my life but I’m able to do the picture password I set up without a failed attempt yet. Until the facial recognition is in there, it is likely the most usable for you.

I haven’t been asked for a password in a while; next time I will just type the passcode and see what happens. And I do need to set up the picture code thing. Another time.



I never have any of the problems you describe with the Surface Pro, sir.

That’s because I use the iPad Mini, which Just Works.

I strongly suggest you get an iPad Mini 3 with 128GB of storage, the 3G/4G option, and one of these two styles of keyboard cases:



You can use OneNote on it just fine, and you can also use a stylus, if you like:


OneNote will sync with your Macs/PCs via Microsoft’s cloud. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all work very well on the iPad.


The iPad never has any issues waking from sleep, nor does it have problems when plugged into an external monitor via VGA or HDMI:



It Just Works.

Roland Dobbins

Roland has long tried to convert me from Microsoft to Apple. I have resisted in large part because the vast majority of my readers are Windows users, the next largest group use Linux, with Apple being a close third if the Apple Users have not become a larger group than the Linux users; actually I am sure they already have.

The last time I thought of complete conversion Microsoft saved itself with XP followed by Windows 7. Then came the ghastly 8, which is to be abandoned for Windows 10, or at least we hope so. I tried 8 on Swan, a powerful machine but no touchscreen, and it was hard to learn; got the Surface Pro and was trying to learn that, when my stroke upset all plans, just as the brain cancer and radiation treatment in 2008 had an enormous effect on my computer plans.

I have never forgotten the Compaq-HP Tablet/Laptop, which, had it had available a faster CPU, could easily have dominated computing way back when, and I keep hoping for something like it. I took it to Las Vegas COMDEX several times, eventually as my only machine – daring in those days – and I loved it; but it was slow, and began to be memory limited as software bloated up using cheap memory; I’ve looked for something like it with new hardware ever since. Hoped the Surface would be it.

The Compaq with OneNote was the best research machine I had ever had; I keep hoping the Surface, with Dragon Naturally Speaking and a good headset will do better. So far the Surface is a disappointment, but understand that I am using Beta Win 10 on it, and that’s still in development.

I am still hoping for a real tablet/laptop.


Windows 8 to 10

In prior posts I have let you know that I am a professional software developer. Right now, I rely heavily on Windows 7 Professional for my development and administrative machines. I skipped Windows Vista all together as its UI was not suitable for my work. I had high hopes that Microsoft had learned from its mistakes with Windows Vista, but Windows 8 proved that they have not.
Windows 8 believes that all machines are touch based mobile platforms with small form factor displays. I have a Windows 8 laptop hooked up to my family television, a plasma screen that is not itself “smart” so that no one can eavesdrop on my family’s viewing preferences. There is nothing insidious about our viewing, mostly educational and science fiction with a heavy dollop of children’s programming for the grandchildren, but I prefer to be asked and allowed to voluntarily tell, as opposed to implicitly signing an agreement to allow random peeking when I connect an Ethernet cable, but I digress.
As I said, Windows 8 believes that all computers are tablets. I configure my Windows 8 laptop to use my home network, to use the plasma screen as its main screen, to run when the lid is closed so that I can control it with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard (a rather fun little thing the size of a remote control). And then Microsoft downloads an update to Windows 8 and it totally forgets EVERYTHING I configured — it runs back to thinking it’s operating on a tablet. It can’t even access the network any more as it wants to use the wireless network, which I did not allow in favor of the wired network, which it does not like. I then go through an hour of browbeating the OS into giving me access to all the configuration settings I have to restore to let the machine work the way I wanted it to, as a stationary, wirelessly controlled device with an HD TV for its main screen.
Once it gets access to the network again, it repeats the cycle for the next update.
Putting Windows 8 on my development and administrative machines would put me out of business. I do not have the hours in the day to keep restoring settings, especially given how deeply Microsoft buried most of the ones I need to change.
I am in the process of making an exit from Windows. Microsoft once made my job possible. Now they are working to make it impossible.


I would never take the Surface Pro as the only machine on the road with its present OS; but hope springs eternal. And having said that, it’s time to get some new Mac equipment. Mine is years old.

Alex notes that Kevin is a bit unduly harsh; after all, Microsoft is working hard to bring out Win 10 quickly.



One of my granddaughters had to read Tale of Two Cities in school and hated it. I recall similar emotions when I encountered it, and did not read another Dickens until after I was out of the Army. That’s actually a pity because Dickens is an enjoyable writer. Of course there long descriptions, as there were in all novels in the old days. One reason Dickens stories become good movies. Even Tale of Two Cities, but the movie’s not shown much.

When I was a lad I had to read Silas Marner, and that pretty well turned me against female novelists for years…


Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




Surface Pro Antics; Another Reason to Avoid Breaking News; Putin’s Patriotism

Chaos Manor View, Saturday, March 28, 2015


Warning: this a day book, and I no longer type fast.  These are more notes toward learning the new system than anything like a finished product.  When I am done with Precious, the Surface 3 Pro running beta Win 10, I’ll put it all together into a column for Chaos Manor Reviews, which I hope to revive. Meanwhile, day book notes.

1615: the Time Warner cable connection to the Internet just died. meaning that I cannot update this until it is restored. One grows accustomed to being able to fix errors, but unreliable high speed negates that. This Time Warner failure is nearly always about this time of day and lasts about an hour.  Perhaps someone comes home and downloads – or uploads – stuff? Pure speculation, of course.

1622: seems to be restored. Short interruption today.

Begin day book:

I think Microsoft has some secret plot to drive Surface Pro users mad – at least those who keep their Surface Pro in a docking station, under power at all times. I have tried to find every power setting—and there are several, some hard to find – and tell it that when the system is under mains power, it should go to sleep NEVER. You’d think that wouldn’t be hard to understand. Never is not a complex word.

Can’t do it. After a few hours it goes to sleep. Eventually I get the screen to turn on – sometimes the return key does it. Other times the power button is needed – and I get the instruction that I need to press and hold the Windows key, then press the power button. Alternatively I can press control-alt-delete. So I hold down the Windows key and press the power button. The screen goes dark, and up comes the message that I can hold down the Windows key, then press the power button. Alternatively I can press control-alt-delete. Now doing the same thing several times hoping to get a different outcome is not usually productive, but with Microsoft you never know, so I try it again. The screen goes dark for a moment, then up comes the same screen. I figure five tries is enough, that’s what it it going to do.

Control-alt-delete causes the screen to go dark, then up comes a demand for a password, and lo! I have the use of my Surface Pro. Why it tells me to do the Windows key-power button thing is not known to me; some Microsoft in-joke I suppose. Or maybe they really do use customers as a quality control department and eventually someone will tell them and they will try this themselves? This only started after the massive updates from Tuesday.  Bet they’ll have another update pretty soon…

Obviously if you use the Surface Pro as a portable you cannot leave the thing awake all the time, so the power settings for when it is on battery must be different. I tell it to sleep after several minutes. When I go to wake it I get the same routine, and after futilely trying the Windows key-power button thing I do control-alt-delete, enter the password, and I can use the machine again, but of course things have gone past what I wanted to make a note of, and I have missed part of the lecture or demonstration trying to get my tablet working.

After a couple of iterations of that I get out my paper log book and make notes the way I have for decades. The bound, page-numbered, lined, hard-bound log books cost a couple of dollars and no matter how many I use a year it won’t add up to the cost of the tablet.

When Microsoft shows adds of people doing things with the Surface they don’t show all the security monkey motion so I suspect this is peculiar to the beta testing of Windows 10 and at some point of the developers will listen to someone who is trying to USE this thing to get useful work done. Hope springs eternal.

On passwords: sure, tablets need some kind of security, but Microsoft wants a complex password so that when you log on you are also logged on to the Microsoft account also. That means a long and complex password. That means to get to your tablet, which has gone to sleep during the jokes and introduction, so that you can take notes when the presenter finally gets past the friendliness and comes to some point you need to make note of, you must type in that long and complex password, and of course you missed what you wanted to remember. More points for carrying a good paper log book.

Maybe tablets need a quick and easy password – like a four digit number – to get into them when they go to sleep. Hit any key, type in the passcode, and make your notes. But to think of that you’d have to be a user, and developers can’t be bothered to USE they stuff they want us users to pay for. Ah well.


And I have today:

Hi Jerry,

I also have a Surface Pro 3, and it is a little quirky. The wake up function doesn’t always work, and it appears to be unresponsive to taps or holds on the power button. In that situation, mine will often respond to holding down one of the volume keys (I don’t remember which one) along with the power button for a few seconds. Microsoft says that will wipe everything and restore the original windows, I’ve not had that happen, so I can’t guarantee what I do is safe, though I’ve not had problems with it.

I think the Surface Pro 3 has had chronic Wi-Fi problems, though it has gotten better with recent system upgrades. But the form factor, the pen, the travel keyboard are all excellent. I use a Logitech blue tooth keyboard at home, as I don’t like touchpads

Thanks for your site.

Live long and prosper

Jack Jacobson

All true, and why I keep using it although Microsoft keeps trying to drive me mad. I thought tablets would be the wave of the future the first time I saw Bill Gates using one, and they got better so long as he was a user. But he moved on to being a philanthropist, and has equerries to take his notes, which I do not begrudge him, but the driving force to make tablets useful sort of went away then, and Microsoft is stumbling in its revival. If the Surface Pro would stop[ changing its settings to revert back to teeny tiny print, I could live telling it to sleep never when the cover is open, battery or not, and maybe we can all get along. I just hope that they ARE using customers as quality control; at least they are listening. The Surface Pro has enormous potential; I just hope they get some user in the development cycle.

Eric Pobirs tells me “ Up Volume and Power held down together is how you get into the UEFI (BIOS) of the Surface.” You probably don’t want to go there—I certainly don’t.


Peter Glaskowsky tells me I am being a bit unfair to Microsoft Developers, but he uses his Surface with Windows 8;  that’s probably true, but I got no user manual with the Surface with 8 either.  Perhaps there’s an O’Reilly I should get.

I remain convinced that they’ll get it eventually, which is why I don’t just get an iPad and be done with it, but it takes patience when my Surface likes to change the setting I so painfully put in.  Why must it sleep at all when in its dock? But it does even though I have tried to make it sleep NEVER WHEN UNDER MAINS POWER.

I used to do this enough that I could figure things out, but now I just want them to work.  Probably old age.

Peter also tells me there are some settings that allow the equivalent of a pin code; they are in the Windows 8 edition anyway,  I’ll investigate. I remain hopeful that they’ll get this right, because the Surface Pro has enormous potential.  We’ll see.

Eric Pobirs says:

    Also, you can use a short password, similar to a PIN, with Windows 8.x and presumably Windows 10. In Windows 10, open the Start menu, select Settings, Select Accounts, select Sign-in Options. You can create a short PIN. You can also create a visual login where you select a picture and then overlay a gesture. For example, you could use a group photo and circle a particular person’s face for the gesture.

    Requiring a password on return from standby is a setting that’s goes back to 90s with Windows. It was usually found on the same tab of the Display control panel used to set the screen saver. On more recent Windows generations: right-click on the desktop, select Personalize, select Screen Saver (lower right corner), on the control panel will be a check box for “On Resume, show Login Screen.”

He also reminds me that we chose the long and complex password so that I would be logged in to the Microsoft Cloud account when I logged in on the Surface; it wasn’t Microsoft that imposed that, but you do pretty well have to log onto the cloud when you’re away from home with the Surface Pro.  I have just created the pin number login on the Surface; works in Win 10 beta too.  So that relieves some of the complaints I had, leaving the question of why I didn’t know about them. But I was just learning that stuff when I had the stroke and forgot a lot, so it’s not a fair experiment. Today Precious has behaved nicely in the dock; hasn’t gone to sleep yet.  So perhaps much of this simply should have been notes toward a column.  On the other hand, this is a day book, and you’ve been warned of that.

Peter Glaskowsky points out that they had the pin login all along, probably for the same reason I thought it needed; so I can hardly fault Microsoft for that, except my general complaint that expensive systems are shipped without manuals. Second complaint: lack of redundancy. Maybe the new terminology is better, but there have to be ways to make it easier to go from, say, Windows XP – saw a lot of that in use at JPL –to the new Windows.  But that is a very old problem.



Snopes is skeptical of claims the Germanwings co-pilot was a convert to Islam:
Given that ISIS thrives on attention I suspect they would claim involvement whether he was a convert or not.
The Caliphate is our enemy – it does not help to believe and spread their propaganda.


As noted I have no great faith in the sources of that story. Alas I have little in Snopes, which also has an agenda. I seldom post breaking news, and this is an example of why. We don’t know. And most media are so terrified of appearing discriminatory that they won’t publish facts.

We can only wait and see.


  Dr. Pournelle,
I look to foreign television sources for some of my breaking news intake. German Deutche Welle (in English – my German is no longer good enough for understanding) and BBC sources have few reasons, these days, to hide possible Muslim connections to either victims or perpetrators of crime, and certainly the French Gendarmes don’t. Early reports of any violent crime from most European countries’ and NHK news services seems to include speculation on terrorist or middle Eastern links. Both BBC and DW repeatedly report that no radical Muslim link is detected in the Airbus crash by the investigating services, and the question has been put to representatives of those services many times in interviews and news conferences.
They have reported on some of the evidence discovered for the copilot having some form of illness, and my latest feed reported a denial that the illness was depression. This coverage has not included any discovery of evidence that the copilot had recently converted, even though other private papers and electronic correspondence have been referenced.
20-30 years ago, my experience was that French, German, Swiss, Dutch and Belgian citizens had their choice of as many yellow sources of journalism as I had in English from the U.S. or U.K. While I can detect an editorial slant to both BBC and DW (and NHK) televised and print news, I find them still to be pretty reliable information sources.

I very much hope you are right. I see signs of self induced blindness to certain facts, but I hope I am wrong.  We will wait and see, and I will have little more to say until we have stable facts. Either way we remain at war with the Caliphate – their declaration – whether we believe it or not, and that does not change.


The Hunt for White October

Dear Jerry;

Though  Comrade Putin is still with us, Russia has produced a sympathetic  film about the life and times of  White  Russian  commander Admiral Kolchak !

This is not to say that the world is now safe for the Easter Bunny,

and Faberge egg rolling, but it represents  progress of a sort.

                         Russell Seitz

Putin is a Russian patriot; perhaps super-patriot.. He needs to be understood accordingly. In another note, Russell says

I am bemused to note that while yesterday saw the highest temperature ever recorded on Antarctic Terra firma, 63.5 F, it is snowing as a write in Boston.

That reminds me that satellite observations of atmospheric temperature are getting easier and cheaper: but the new cheaper instruments are not the same as the old, and continuity has a large error bar making comparisons to past satellite observations less useful.  By large I mean up to a Kelvin, which is not serious unless models want 0,01 K accuracy. More on that another time.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.