CHAOS MANOR MAIL
July 19 - 25, 1999
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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
If you want to send mail that will be published, you don't have to use the formatting instructions you will find when you click here but it will make my life simpler, and your chances of being published better..
I believe you’ve put forth
the opinion a number of times that power-saving features on motherboards
and other peripherals are largely superfluous. I think you might want to
read the following article, published a few months back in Forbes, which
purports to accurately characterize the total power consumption of
computers and the Internet. It’s
not a pretty picture...
“I am life’s flame. Respect my name.
My fire is red, my heart is gold.
Thy dreams can be...believe in me,
If you will let my wings
-- Heather Alexander
It isn't pretty if true, but I don't think it's true. The latest energy budget of the US that I have is an older ANNUAL REVIEW, but it doesn't show anything like the proportions this chap uses.
Does anyone have a good energy budget, for both all forms of energy and where the electricity goes? I would have thought most of it in households at least goes to air conditioning, not lightbulbs and electric motors (of course air conditioners use electric motors, but it seems an odd way to lump things) and there seems to be little discussion of industrial. Commercial use of electricity used to be a major use also.
I don't believe his numbers. The only number he gives other than a lot of relative things are a kilowatt per computer; that would mean the equivalent of 10 lightbulbs. Since the computer can't use more than 3 to 4 lightbulbs worth the rest must be the monitor. I have never questioned the use of screen blanking and other ways to turn the monitor off or down; it's diddling with the computer itself that I get upset about.
Anyway, does anyone have good numbers? I don't trust those.
In response to those who
consider space exploration, exploitation and habitation too expensive,
consider this: A quick
back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that it requires some 62.6
megajoules of energy to take a kilogram of mass from earth surface to
infinity. This sounds like a
lot, but when you convert it into kilowatt-hours, it works out to a little
over 17.5 KWH. At 10¢/KWH
for power, it would cost $1.75 to blast a kilogram of mass out to anywhere
in the inner solar system.
The cost to go anywhere at all
must account for the cost of getting out of the Sun’s gravity well.
From earth orbit, this adds another 244 KWH to the energy cost, or
$24.4 at 10¢/KWH. Thus,
you could send a kilogram of mass anywhere you wanted it to go for under
Of course, this assumes all the
velocity can be imparted to the mass at launch, as with a mass driver.
If you need to carry fuel, a container for the fuel, a container
for the payload, etc. you increase the cost per kilogram of payload.
Is $30 to anywhere achievable? Probably not.
Is NASA as close to this figure
as can be achieved?
...Nice to read your column
again. Sorry that Byte went belly up....
I read your words on screen
settings, and that you’ve decided on 1152x864 (or something like that)
on your 21 inch monitor. I assume, that this means, that you use the 96
dpi setting for your font.
I know, that the jump may be a
bit too dramatic, but have you tried 1600x1200 with a 120 dpi (or more)
setting for your fonts? I know the Icons become quite small, but the
difference between 120 and 96 dpi standard resolution is - in my personal
view - more dramatic, than the figures should indicate (especially if you
have activated font smoothing). Maybe you can find a card with some
intermediary setting, like 1440x1080 or something similar..
...but do give the 120 dpi (or
more) a try.
Kurt Friis Hansen
Well, it's certainly true that the higher the resolution the better text looks in WORD and elsewhere, but on the other hand, my parchment begins to look bad given the reduced colors. It depends in part on what you are used to, I think. I prefer a few more colors and fewer pixels. At least for now.
That you just instructed every
Windows 98 user to pay &;20 for a service pack (Win98se) that they
could download for free...
BTW, have you ever tried windows
---Dear Mr. Pournelle: Where can I obtain a $20.00 copy of Windows 98 Second Edition upgrade from Win 98? The local computer stores have a $99.00 and a $199.00 version, and one said they had heard of the $20.00 version, but no luck in finding it. Is it available locally or directly from MS? If directly from MS, how do you order it? My frustration level is peaking! My Compaq 5140 locks up frequently. Thanks, Bob Brown email@example.com Chantilly, VA
I wrote that some time before the product was released; Microsoft told me that there would be a CD upgrade for about $20, and a free download. I have not myself seen the offer of a CD, but I would suppose it's somewhere within the Microsoft pages. Perhaps not. The download certainly is. As to our AOL correspondent, perhaps someone will refer him to other pages on this site? He seems not to be aware of them. Ah well. They teach such good manners over there on AOL.
I took the time to read all of the posted comments of your article on China &; Taiwan at intellectual.com. It was an interesting experience. I found the majority of the 60+ postings were coherent, and some raised interesting points supporting or challenging your arguments. I was dissapointed and a little shocked at the handfull of responses that used the word “racist”. It seems that some people enter into free discussions with the idea that the object is to “win” by following these three steps: a) call your enemy a racist as soon as possible. b) make a statement based on your feelings instead of an argument c) press the submit button and repeat as neccessary.
It’s not that I’m terribly surprised that there are idiots out there, I just can’t figure out what they are trying to accomplish other than venting their anger. Maybe we better off in the old days when only the select few were able to navigate the arcane protocols of electronic communication. People used to pride themselves on the quality of their flames.
Good article, by the way.
Terry Stickel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Actually, most of the commentary over at www.intellectualcapital.com is well done, but there are a few individuals working at appearing less intelligent than the general readership. A couple of them, one with a Ph.D., wrote me letters I didn’t bother finishing. One thing: the article was long, and written longer. It was cut to fit by the editors. I am aware that Formosa was occupied by the Japanese until liberated by the US, but that has made no difference to the claims made by either People’s China or Nationalist China. Second, perhaps I should have used Tibet rather than Kossovo as an analogy, but my point was that Serbian Yugoslavia claims Kossovo without regard to the wishes of its inhabitants, and People’s China has the same view regarding Taiwan. I never mentioned race at all, so why I am accused of racism is beyond me, and certainly not worth responding to.Thanks for the kind words.
recently came across an article by Norman Spinrad concerning SDI, manned
space flight, and the Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space
Policy. The gist of it is
that the big push for SDI (which he claims was a sort of Trojan Horse
devised by you - among others - to get the federal government to explore
the solar system in a serious way) hurt the space program. You’re
prominently mentioned, and I thought you might be interested in looking it
Well, Norman got a lot of it wrong. We were not trying to boost space we were trying to win the Cold War; it would be very good if low cost space came from that. Indeed, you can't do Strategic Defense without lowering the cost to orbit, just as you can't fly Air Mail without lowering the cost of air travel. However, I point out that giving NASA another $40 billion, or another $400 billion, would have done NOTHING AT ALL. NASA has always had plenty of money. If NASA had more money they'd spend it on more bureaucracy.
It was the SDIO that built DC/X and flew it many times. General Graham, Max Hunter, and I talked the head of SDIO (VP Dan Quayle in his capacity as Chairman of the National Space Council) into building the DC/X. It flew straight up, moved sideways, and landed on a tail of fire just as God and Robert Heinlein intended rockets to do. When NASA took DC/X over they burned it on the first flight. This isn't all coincidence. Proving that you don't need SuperShuttle is death to a NASA career. NASA and George Abbey make a career of owing access to space; they don't want you to have it without their permission. NASA exists now primarily to pay the NASA bureaucracy and keep it busy ($100 billion for a couple of cans they call a space station that won't do what SKYLAB did a long time ago?). Giving NASA more money would not have build a space program.
But then we always thought winning the Seventy Years War was a good idea. Perhaps they haven't noticed in France? I would have thought they would; perhaps it is only Americans living in France who didn't notice.
The proper way for government to participate in development is through X programs. I have a lot on that here on this site.
By all means see what Norman has to say, but he's got it wrong in several dimensions.
[This has been expanded and put on its own page.]
The $20 update exists (I have
it). Microsoft has it on their site at:
The cd costs $19.95 plus $5
shipping and has the service release plus some additional stuff. You can
also order a cd with just the service pack for just $5 shipping charge
though it can be downloaded over the net.
Win98 users can get to this link
by using the Windows Update feature installed on the Start Menu. Once the
page loads there is a prominent link.
I did not yet read Spider
Robinson’s reasons to explore space, but I suggest they are actually
more easily explained than previously noted on your page.
First, any pure science is
beneficial. The act of
expanding our knowledge in any pursuit benefits society, not
philosophically, but directly and financially.
The Apollo project is largely responsible for the state of
miniaturization in electronics. Of course, the materials used are “space age” for a
reason. Plastics, light
weight metals, heat resistant ceramics are all results of the space
program. Plastic, in most of
its current forms.
Robert Heinlein once spoke to
congress on the benefits of the space program to the elderly.
He was his normal eloquent self, and I will not even attempt to
paraphrase. It was reported
in its entirety in an issue of Omni magazine some time ago.
What good is the space program? Even if we never live off this planet, our lives have been
improved immeasureably because of it.
Me, I love NASA. Not
because it is efficient, or because it does its job well, but because it
represents our SOLE efforts to expand our horizons.
We don’t know that we will find a miracle cure on Mars, or some
new element that will radically change our lives.
Who cares? The science
that gets us there is benefit enough.
Be greedy, want more, but we shouldn’t let pedestrian minds
belittle what we already recieve.
Sorry for the excessive passion,
but my great regret in life, one that some days is unbearable, is that I
will never have the chance to go to space, to walk on the moon, even
though I know it could have happened.
Strength of will, national desire, and a little (very) money would
have done it.
Major Bryan Broyles
Dear Dr.Pournelle, I Read the
Forbes article. Two thoughts: 1) Power figures for computers almost
certainly wrong. We are using 500 KVA Stabilizers to power 2 Pentium 1
computers for several years now. Ok they are old computers, but newer
chips and boards consume less current.
2) Language very emotionally loaded. That quote of power densities
of “1/10 of the surface of the sun” for example. The power density of
the sun is considerably lower than that of the human body. Thus if their
own facts are true the heating load of 600 to 800 kilos of chips (chips
not computers) is less than that of a
single human being. So all the comments on cooling and heating is so much
rubbish. No knowledge of power consumption for network lines but as copper
is being replaced by laser &; fiber optic, which reaches ever higher
bandwidths as the power of the lasers used are declining this arguments
there are probably wrong. The last is opinion (no numbers). Dont even have
opinion on wireless Lans. Hope someone else has hard numbers.
Ramesh Chandran Nayar [email@example.com]
anyone have good numbers? I don’t trust those.
Well, I know any number of
people who run a PC and a 17” monitor from a 200 VA or 280 VA UPS. That
should tell you something...
Robert Bruce Thompson
My experience precisely. For more on this, click here.
ATI Rage Fury Video Board Impresses
There are a lot of good video
boards. Probably far more companies make 3-D chips than will survive the
millennium, but that’s another story. Because they were on sale cheap
with a rebate, I got several of the ATI Rage Fury 128-megabit boards, and
I must say I am very much impressed.
Should be just ATI Rage Fury
128, or 128-bit if you stretch it a little.
Definitely not 128-megabit, if you’re talking about the memory
transfer rate it’s gotta* be higher than that... :)
Low Ee Mien
DSO National Laboratories
Don’t know if you’ve read
these, but if not, they are worth the effort, despite their length:
BTW I agree with almost all
that’s said in them.
The are perhaps worth posting as
links - What I can find about Y2K on your site seems to give mostly the
opposite point of view...
Good to have other views. My own remains: I'll fill the propane tanks, see that I have several bottles of bleach and lots of fresh batteries, be sure the Earthquake Kit is in good shape, and stay home. (Actually we will probably go to Niven's party, but in a 4-wheel drive truck, and I'll take some survival supplies to the party too...)
For a discussion by Daniel Sobral on Open Source (to wit Free BSD) vs. Linux as an alternative operating system, click here. I have given it a page of its own because it is fairly long and complete and can serve as a reference for a while.
Curiosity only. I'm glad you had a good break from fighting the good fight with documentation but.. Avalon shows up in Encarta 99 Atlas only as a town on Catalina Island and assorted indand sites, but the contxt of your remarks made me assume it is an Island name. Where is it? Nick Hanstock
Avalon is the only town on the island of Santa Catalina, so if you go by commercial boat to Catalina you will find yourself in Avalon. Most of the island is owned by the Conservancy, a gift from the Wrigley Family which owns the rest of the island except for the town of Avalon, which is a town with freeholdings and real estate. The Wrigley Family owns an interior ranch and the Island Development Company which now mostly operates tours and such like. The Development Company sold some land for condominiums (ugly) in Hamilton Bay where the old seaplane ramp was, but doesn't do that any more. I'll try to get some pictures up later. For another Avalon story...
Now for a bunch of letters about power use and computers. It's pretty clear that the original article was wrong; whether because the author was off his head or simply making things up to be politically correct I don't know. Anyway:
You asked for actual figures on
PC power consumption; here’s one machine I run (the worst case,
actually), and its maximum power consumption.
Tyan Titan (S1668) ATX
Dual Pentium Pro 200 MHz
processors 256 MB EDO RAM US Robotics Sportster 56K internal modem Adaptec
AHA-2940UW SCSI controller IBM Ultrastar 2ES Fast UltraSCSI HD, 4.3 GB
Seagate ST34555 FastWide UltraSCSI HD, 4.3 GB Toshiba 32X CD reader,
internal, SCSI Floppy drive, internal (generic)
HP Colorado 5GB tape backup,
Number Nine Revolution 3D
graphics adapter w/ 12 MB WRAM
3Com 3C905TX ethernet card,
on a fast ethernet hub
Adaptec AVA-1502 SCSI
(for a scanner and CD-RW,
both external devices)
SoundBlaster AWE-32 sound
all this—with internal
peripherals, no less! -- is driven adequately
P815 21-inch monitor, rated at 160 W
I deliberately picked the
old, powerful machine, loaded with all the juice-sucking internal
equipment; even so, it isn’t capable of drawing more than 410 W under
any conditions. I suspect I
can get close, sometimes, because I use the machine hard when I’m on it (that’s why there are two processors
and all that memory!). But
there are no indications of power problems:
very few unexpected crashes or lockups, for instance, and the ones
that do happen are clearly software-related.
My HP LaserjetIV, on the other
hand, uses 90 W on standby, and can peak at 660 W while printing (!), so I
turn it off unless I’m actually using it (it will make the room warm).
Because of the large power draw of the laser printer on both
startup and during printing, I have a “clean” power line isolated on a
20-amp breaker for the computer; otherwise, I was afraid the UPS would
step in when the voltage sagged. (I
guess I have to count a few Watts for the standby UPS, don’t I?)
The Epson 1520 wide-format inkjet, on the gripping hand, draws only
21 Watts... but gobbles consumables so fast that the laser is cheaper by
orders of magnitude, even counting electricity.
Odds and ends must include the
graphics tablet and the computer speakers, at a few Watts apiece; I think
this is lost in the noise.
All these numbers come from the
manufacturer’s specifications; YMMV. But
I know that when I started leaving this computer on all the time, my
electric bill immediately went up twelve or 15 dollars; at the outrageous
$0.13/KWhr I pay, this is on the order of 130-160 Watts draw for the time
I’m not using the computer—probably about 16 hours a day.
Most of that time, the monitor’s off.
And that seems about right, because there’s no
energy-savings hardware or software active (I run NT 4.0, and everything
else is off by either MB jumper or CMOS setup).
So, in the worst case this
system might be drawing 150 W or so when I’m not using it, and somewhat
more than double that when I am (mostly from the monitor).
It’s about what you said: three
lightbulbs, maybe four.
Has this helped?
Printers draw a lot of power, but modern ones go into standby mode automatically; my HP 4000 just sits there nearly off until it is told to print. Monitors can go to standby fairly easily. Both those techniques are worth developing and using; but powering computers up and down is a waste of effort and probably, through wear and tear requiring more frequent machine replacement, ends up using more energy (the energy cost of making and transporting the machine) than ever was saved.
Wednesday July 21, 1999
I really don’t like the little
separators you’ve been told to use on your sites.
It makes your pages take a LOT longer to load.
And the reason I go to your site is for the CONTENT, not the glitz
and glamour. If you have to
use a separator, make it a small, single line that loads quickly. Anything large and flashy will detract from the purpose of
your site (i.e.: presenting information to the world). Leave the showy stuff for people who have less to say and
don’t say it as well as you do. Keep
up the good work. Thanks.
PS... I tend to agree with your
position on NASA becoming another government agency whose main purpose is
to maintain itself as a bureaucratic agency.
These are smaller lines, but they are also hard to work with. I have been sent some other as well. No time today to play with this stuff.
I've added a bit to my response on the Le Monde thing, and moved it with other mail over to a page of its own. It's probably worth your attention. As to lines, I guess the simple thing is
which has the merit of trimming to proper length and taking up no new time, although it's a bit ugly. Ah well.
Uh, I dropped a "K" 1 -
2 amps at 120 Volts is .1 - .2 KVA. Sorry.
Ever typo'ed yourself?
It jumped out at me too, when I
read it on Jerry's page. Felt
But the POINT was still valid, a PC, even a big one, draws less
than a couple of amps. The
simplest explanation might be that guy
from Forbes was doing interesting
I fixed it. JEP
I must beg to differ with Roger
Shorney on the topic of separator images for the mailbag.
First, your surmise that the
image file is only downloaded once is correct; once the browser has an
image in its cache for an inline image, that image will be used in
Your images were well under 10KB
and shouldn’t have taken more than a couple of seconds to load.
This leads us directly to:
Second, Mr. Shorney
characterizes the separators as “glitz and glamour”, or to use a
favorite hacker term, “chrome”. This
bit of jargon <http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/>
implies that something is merely pretty; ultimately useless.
I’m afraid I don’t see it
that way, primarily because I was one of the people who asked you if you
Using images is useful, because, as noted, they only load once, and
are easy to grasp visually. Using
images is useful because, after all, they do different things (separate
question from answer; separate one message from the next).
That they are “pretty” seems
pretty much immaterial to me in this context; they aren’t pretty at very
Of course, this would get Jakob
Neilson <http://useit.com> mad at
me, if he was paying any attention—thank ghod he’s too busy.
I would make one suggestion
though. Even though I’ve
the luxury at work now of a dedicated (and therefore pretty speedy) ADSL
connection, I still often use the Lynx text-only browser to read many
websites, including yours. When
it ‘displays’ these separators, I get either [INLINE], or with the
more recent version of the browser, [birdline.gif].
Obviously, neither of these are
all that useful. If your
email to HTML conversion process makes it practical, you might consider
adding ALT tags to these images, possibly <...
ALT=”===================”> for the inter-message break (the balls),
and <... ALT=”----------“> for the question/answer separation.
Glad to hear you’re feeling
better, and that you enjoyed the trip.
Good luck on your next round of Linux adventures, too.
I keep a daily eye on the mailbag, and I’ll try to join the
legions of the helpful if you have problems.
Now, of course, if Chaos Manor
is _hiring ... :-)
Jay R. Ashworth
Member of the Technical Staff Buy copies of The New Hackers Dictionary.
The Suncoast Freenet Give
them to all your friends.
I thought that once you'd downloaded an image, it was cached so doing it again doesn't add to the page. Thanks. And I like a bit of pretty so long as the cost is low. Hiring, I fear not...
You should also mention that Avalon is a Beowulf
computing cluster named in honor of “The Legacy of Heorot”. Your
readers can check out the details at http://cnls.lanl.gov/avalon/
I was wondering if you have
experienced ANY performance issues with any of the games under Win98. I
did the upgrade (from Win95 OSR2) and the games Sabre ACE, and Luftwaffe
Commander (flight sim) suffer from “herky-jerky” performance. Back to
Win95b and everything is fine!
Thanks for your hands-on
articles. I enjoy them very much!
Hormoz Zareh, Associate Professor
Director of MCAE Laboratory
Mechanical Engineering Dept.
I asked Eric, who is more familiar with games than I am, and he says:
Most likely drivers and on a
related note DirectX. Make sure all of your devices, especially video and
audio, have the most up to date drivers. This is a critical issue for many
Win98 upgrades. Also check what version of DirectX is in the system. Win98
has DirectX 5 built-in and Win98 SE has DirectX 6.
Badly coded game sometime behave badly with DirectX version later
than their design phases.
Plus, try to substantiate the
behavior. Is it just your system or are others affected? WWW.DEJA.COM
is a good place to check such reports.
Given the recent threads on NASA
this link may amuse you and your readers:
Keep on keeping on --
Daniel J. Boone
Thursday July 22, 1999
Begin with this story:
I was able to boot from floppy
and install SE into a new directory, but then I had to spend the rest of
the day and well into the night removing now-useless stuff from the disk
and reinstalling the applications I absolutely need. I was at least able
to save all of my documents and programming projects. The good news is
that I reclaimed about 4 GB of disk space.
Owner, Martin Heller &; Co.
Senior Contributing Editor,
BYTE.com mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I never had that kind of problem, and I have done both "upgrade" and original installations of Windows 99 SE. I tend to do full scrub and reinstall when possible, but I have tested upgrades also, and this is the worst report I have ever seen. Odd, because Windows 98 SE seems better at Plug and Play than anything else. Windows 2000 can get wrapped around the axle with bad drivers and require a full scrub, but I haven't found that with 98 SE.
BUT SEE THIS:
After reading your most recent
Byte column that recommends Win98 Second Edition, I thought you might be
interested in an anecdote.
My wife works at a CPA firm, and
when they need help with PCs I do a little moonlighting as a computer
consultant (In my regular day I design audio electronics for a pro audio
The CPA firm expanded recently,
and needed 5 new systems. I went to a local clone shop, and having been
burned by cheap parts in the past, specified Intel motherboards, Intel
Celeron 433 CPUs, Intel ethernet cards, and an ATI video card. Per your
recommendation I made sure they were installing Win98SE. These were simple
business systems with no sound cards or modems.
The day the computers were
supposed to be ready to pick up they called to say that although the
systems seemed to boot fine, the boot took longer than they expected and
also, the systems would not fully shut down. They hung at the “please
wait” screen. If you turned off the power at that point, they came up
without complaint when rebooted. All five systems behaved identically.
I took one system and began to
install it. After adding the built in Microsoft “Client for Novell
Networks” to permit connection to their Novell server (which BTW runs
for months or years without a reboot), and rebooting, I had a crash the
first time I hit the “Start” button after connecting to the server.
“Explorer” restarted itself, and I proceeded with some additional
setup (adjusting video settings). Then the video control panel crashed.
The next time I restarted I got a message that Windows could not start,
and needed to be re-installed. It would not even start in safe mode.
I took the system back to the
shop, where they wiped the disk and started over with the original edition
And with Win98 FIRST edition,
everything worked great. Fast, glitch free, quick boot, quick, complete,
The moral? It appears that even
Win98’s latest incarnation has some serious bugs.
Thanks for being out there to
provide a place to share this info.
Regards, Jim Murphy
I was just reading the SMP
discussion, and there is one little comment I’d like to make. Eric
“So, in this field tight code
still counts for a lot. One reason many operators get annoyed at NT is its
GUI orientation. Running admin tools in a friendly environment is a fine
thing but just a waste of RAM and CPU cycles during normal operation.”
That kind of misses the point.
That has nothing to do with CPU cycles, but, rather, with the cost of
While it might be seem easier to
spend thirty seconds doing a task through a GUI than spend hours studying
a CLI (Command Line Interface), you won’t get half-way through doing the
same for 1000 users before changing your mind.
Daniel C. Sobral
Subject: Space travel article on SciAm web site
Reads well, but I suspect you know much of what it contains. It is informative, though, even if it is just a summary. All of the letters about the subject have sparked my interest in science again, after a long hiatus as I studied history. I think I’ll bend my will in that direction. I took my kids to see the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center during my holiday in Titusville during the first week of this month. I’ll scan in photos- the looks on their faces was priceless. This is what NASA should be about!
George A. Laiacona III <email@example.com>
“Well, you can just die
Excerpt, King’s Men Diplomacy Manual
“This isn’t a jury of my
peers...They’re all common citizens!”
Captain Tyrell, Ex-Starfleet Commander
As far as small animated
gifs go, they make no appreciable difference to the download speed of your
pages. To be honest, your site loads faster than 90% of the sites I visit
on a daily basis.
As a side note, I loaded Win 98
second edition on my computer at work. (WIN 95 was unable to deal with the
Pentium II motherboard). I quickly noted that there was no real difference
from the user point of view. In fact, the BSOD appears just as often. So
what did I get for my money other than a painfully slow resource hog that
took up all my extra disk space, and crashes just as often?
I use Linux at home, and it is a
fast, stable and really powerfull O/S that has fulfilled all my needs.
This is something you should put more effort into. If you get it setup
right, you’ll never go back to Microsoft
Well, I am glad to hear that the download times are not long. FrontPage has a time estimate, but it doesn't take account of caching, so each instance of the birdline above adds a second to the estimate: only I know it doesn't, from my own testing, even if I kill the cache.
98 SE has more and better drivers, and better plug and play; and if you have a good bit of memory (which is cheap) you will like the active desktop with its automatic thumbnails and such like. Or at least I do. You will recall that I have not recommended upgrade from 95 b to 98 until 98 SE came out, and obviously, if your system works well with 95b you want to think hard about fixing that which ain't broke.
As to LINUX, agreed: if you get it set up right, it works well with the applications it works with. Of course so did OS/2.
As to LINUX,
agreed: if you get it set up right, it works well
applications it works with. Of course so did OS/2.
Linux works indeed well and
there are quite a lot of applications available. The only ‘problem’ is
that most are not widely advertised.
There is not much ad-dollars to be made by free products. You must
actually search for the apps you may need. Because most products are free
the competition is not so much for market share (and thus dollars) but for
quality. Few Linux programs crash because of this. Because the users must
actively seek out the programs and determine their suitability and quality
themselves, they are likely to have alternative programs available.
One of the great risks to Linux
(for the desktop) is the mass of ‘Windows raised’ users, that is users
not accustomed to do the research themselves. They pick the apps off
catalogs, install them (or try to) without reading the instructions, find
things don’t work as expected, and don’t find a phone number to call.
Result they return to Windows.
You can easily swap Linux with
OS/2 or any ‘minority’ OS. (minority in the sense of market share and
Bees do sting. But that is
no reason to hate honey.
BTW would it be possible to put
up a link from your Current View to your Current mail (and back)? Just for
convenience, so don’t invest to much time in it.
I think that link already exists, no? As to the rest, agreed, but for some people time is quite valuable, and poking around hoping to find quality applications isn't very cost effective.
Friday July 23, 1999
Subject: Retro computing
ran into this, and could help
thinking about the need to not throw out the baby with the bath water
UserFriendly ( http://www.userfriendly.org
) is a nice little site devoted to an online comic strip of the same name
documenting some of the nuerotic characteristics of the Unix community.
(Been around for a couple of years, and is doing very nicely thank
While they have their own site
with all of the usual amenities (message board, etc.) someone decided to
do some retro computing. Someone found BBS software that runs under Linux,
and has setup an old style BBS that you log onto via telnet. (T1 line, 64
lines max) Text or ansi interface, game doors (Trade Wars, for example
[!]), etc., with lots of new stuff Coming Real Soon Now ™.
Did you know that Fidonet is still around? ( http://www.fidonet.org
Apparently this has struck some
sort of chord, because they had hundreds of new users on the first day,
and lots of people mentioning how much they miss this stuff, etc. People
who ran one line or two line BBSs in the old days two or three or four
Apparently, at least for this
crowd, there is something missing in the current setup of the Internet, a
certain sense of community, a certain niche that was better filled under
the old technology, even tho there are plenty of places to do things like
chat, or play games, etc.
It almost reminds mind more of
the online equivalent of the old watering hole, compared to your now more
current video game arcade with the coffee shop at the other end of the
[ ... btw way, they have a simple web page with pointers at http://bbs.ufies.org , and the bbs itself you telnet to at
It sort of helps make sense of
the notion that the internet tends to isolate people.
This is because the separate elements of video arcade, etc have
more in common with a shopping mall, than a real online community as
experienced in the old BBS.
Michael Zawistowski [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I've been fond of User Friendly for years now, although I don't get over there as often as I like. Actually they are doing a book, and I think I have given them a cover blurb. I was supposed to. I hope I haven't forgotten...
link to current mail
(on the left hand side of page) has a leading period which the
browser chokes on.
P.S. I have installed Win 98 SE
full addition on a recently redone Win95b machine in order to get the USB
stuff working that’s on the mother board.
I had to install the appropriate
connectors as well since the case did not have them either. Worked well
CPU is a 333MHz AMD K6-2.
Machine also dual boots into
Linux which in my opinion still needs some polish before it can take over
the market place on the desktop. Though it is a very functional and stable
OS it is still too mind boggling for the average user to set-up. The
greatest weaknesses are in the internet, network-modem access/ ISA plug
and play area where you must read the fine manual prior to getting things
to work. (Red Hat 5.2, 6.0, Debian 2.0, 2.1) It is do-able but a bit of a
pain. Windows shines in this area particularly.
(to be fair there is a trick you
can use when installing Debian linux which does a very good scripted PPP
set-up for you - use the ppp/ftp? install option when asked how you will
be installing But this requires that you know how to use setserial to
punch an ISA modem to the correct IRQ setting so it works (with a mouse on
Of course the corollary to this
is that Windows for the average user is not necessarily simple either in
some other situations. Of course I also remember that just a few years ago
that Windows (3.0-3.11 vintage) was also in this state where internet/
networking / hardware installs etc. were real chores requiring manual
It will be interesting to see where Linux install / plug and play will be several years from now.
Fixed the link. Thanks. And yes, it will be interesting to see where Plug and Play goes with Linux and its derivatives.
The 19 July issue of Aviation Week &; Space Technology says that
a proof-of-concept demonstration for a 260 meter CargoLifter will start
flight testing. This thing
will carry 160MT about 10,000 KM at about 100 km/hr.
If I were you, I’d put the 42nd Line on standby!
Yeah! Thanks. (The reference is to scenes in my novel FALKENBERG'S LEGION, Baen Books.)
Jerry, the first sentence of your post 7/22 @ 5:50 (over at Intellectual Capital in replies) is pure crap. Ed Week has been running a series of articles on the evolution of education over the last 100 yrs. The public school system has gotten to where it is today as a result of incremental changes over that period, it was never “designed” at all. Most schools in the US do a good job, some do an extremely poor job. As in your Op. piece earlier in the year, there are a number of reforms that should be made in many of the schools. Vouchers are not the answer. Charter schools should be one answer to spur competition and change. Parental involvement is important. Increased funding alone is not the answer, but intelligent spending is, and that may require additional money to get a system/district up to an acceptable level. As a side note, how many of the posters, do you think, even voted in the last School Board election, much less know the members, or the principles, or talk to the teachers more than just for parent-teacher conferences?
I'm tempted merely to say "Thank you for sharing that with us" and be done with it, since you don't seem to read too closely. What I said was that if the system were designed to produce hewers of wood, drawers of water, and flippers of burgers it couldn't be improved; also that the education establishment like most other government bureaucracies exists mostly to hire and pay its employees and give them raises, without reference to the outcome. I also didn't say anything at all about vouchers other than that tax credits would be simpler and probably sufficient.
As to additional funding, that is clearly NOT the answer, and if you don't believe that, look at Kansas City. It's hard to imagine spending more to get less result. That experiment has been tried. As to school boards, with the monster districts we have what is the point? The LA School Board will let you have 3 minutes to talk to a board meeting if you schedule it 6 months in advance. Biggus Dealus.
Pure crap indeed. But then reading Education Week can do that.
You noted, while working on
Princess, “That was when I found that the heat sinks on those processor
chips are HOT.”
That’s why I have a PC Power
&; Cooling fan on EACH processor, plus a case fan which blows across
the chips (courtesy of the ATX board layout).
They are warm to the touch, but that’s about it. Nevertheless,
I do have a temperature alarm (with automatic cutoff), just in case... but
I think it’s more likely to be tripped by the hard drives than by the
processors, unless I lose a fan.
Actually, while they felt hot to the touch, I have never had any problems with heat in that Compaq case, and I suspect that the case design with the vents just at the chips is more than adequate; I suspect my added chip fan was a work of supererogation. But it feels better to do it...
Just a quick note, some simple observations…
Most windows install happen with no major problems.
Quality parts, quality software equals easy installs.
Why should all Linux apps be free? Don’t you usually get what you pay for?
Even the open source mavens at Mozilla admit that Linux is free only if you don’t value your time.
If you had to build your tv set from scratch, then search the world for some channels to watch, would you bother?
Isn’t it ironic that Windows users are starting to act like Mac heads. I have two (Wintel) computers and neither took longer than 30 minutes to unpack, plug-in and turn on! Actually that’s a lie, the first computer took 45 minutes (scanner, printer to unpack and set up too!), the second only had to be plugged into power and the network hub. I was surfing the ‘net on adsl within 15 minutes. Take that Imac!
Linux seems to be the Jesuits of the Unix Priesthood.
Of course I got a good deal of my education from Jesuits (although more from the Christian Brothers...)
Chandra X-ray Observatory is where it should be.
But, is it really necessary to have Ph D’s and Colonels as
payload specialists? In any other service it is usually an enlisted man,
and maybe supervised by a non-com, who do payload deployments. No wonder
NASA can’t get costs down! Nothing exceeds like excess!
Privatization of this industry would probably put us on Mars within
ten years. But then again, maybe in that case only CEO’s and Executives
would be allowed to go.
George A. Laiacona III
I always thought that everyone
receiving spam should reply with a nice polite no thank you note. Then the
spammer might get 55 orders, but would have to dig through (and download)
100000 replies to find them.
The problem is that only the nicer Spammers actually HAVE a return address. Most don't have a real email address anywhere, and want you to call a long distance number with a fax, or do something else that will shield them from people who hate them...
Saturday July 24, 1999
Noticed the comments on
upgrading to Win98se. After doing upgrades for various clients (“...we
gotta have the latest you know!”) I’ve noticed a few of things:
First, the $19.95 Win98 to
Win98se updater appears more stable than the “full” update CD (which
can do Win9x) when updating Win98 systems.
Second, don’t even consider a
Win95 to Win98se update unless you reset the video drivers to plain
vanilla VGA. Almost every Win95 machine that died installed correctly the
second time when set to VGA drivers. In fact, scrubbing the hard drive and
starting from scratch is best when going to Win98 from anything earlier.
Third, network drivers are the
second most likely to get you. For some reason I’ve seen the IRQ’s get
twisted and swapped big time during upgrades.
With “cheap” PNP network cards (both PCI and ISA) this often
leads to a situation where IRQ’s get shared, you can’t use device
manager to go manual and reset the IRQ as you get told the setting can’t
be changed and on card settings also refuse to reset. Now, its pull all
cards except video and reset the CMOS settings—fully: right back to
“out of the box default.” In fact, if there is an onboard jumper to do
this than that’s the best way to go.
For some machines, after
upgrading, I’ve found that IRQ Steering needs to be turned off. This
setting in Device Manager—System devices—PCI Bus indicates to Win98
how to arbitrate IRQ, etc. assignments: use BIOS/CMOS tables or do it
Finally, it should be noted that
Pentium II/III/Celeron motherboards current to 1 year old upgrade the best
while ANY Pentium board (w/Intel, AMD, Cyrix cpu) gives the most trouble
(Actually, a no brainer, right, we should look to the future not the past
with our upgrades. Said the support tech: “ Gee, if the software upgrade
doesn’t work then I guess you need to upgrade to our new super PIII
system at only $$$.”) Super7 motherboard fall in between.
The old adage of “you get what
you pay for” seem to have slipped a bit, though. I’ve generally had
equal problems with “expensive” as “cheap” components. Midrange
$25-$75 cards are excellent and very dependable (I recommend SMC) but I
wouldn’t by any under $25 net card. The exception to this is memory—as
you have said NEVER BUY NO NAME! You will get burnt. Always. If not right away, it will get you eventually and by
that time you will not know its the memory acting up.
if you don’t know it is memory you can use DAYS finding it out. I have
managed to luck out sometimes with some of Fry’s no-name in that I buy
PC-100 and when it doesn’t work right, I use it in older machines; but
even that is taking a chance I shouldn’t be taking. Just the other day I
found out an older Win-95 machine was having problems because of bad
memory. Don’t use no-name
memory. Pay the man the extra dollars and get Crucial or Kingston. I am
sure there are other good brands as well, but those are the ones I have
had experience with, and I have never had a problem with either.
cards: I have had success with Bay Systems NetGear cards at whatever price
I have had to pay for them.
point on setting explicitly to VGA is right on. Yank out all the old
drivers before an upgrade! That includes network drivers too. If you are
going to upgrade a system, go into Device Manager and clear out the old,
leaving just enough to let the system see the CDROM drive. Windows 98 SE
has lots of drivers and recognizes most of what you are likely to have and
its drivers are better than the ones you’ve got on your system.
for the telling us about all that. For other material on upgrading SE see previous
Bill Grigg said:
“I have two (Wintel) computers
and neither took longer than 30 minutes to unpack, plug-in and turn on!
Actually that’s a lie, the first computer took 45 minutes (scanner,
printer to unpack and set up too!), the second only had to be plugged into
power and the network hub. I was surfing the ‘net on adsl within 15
Now, that would impress me a lot
if he claimed that included
Daniel C. Sobral
“Your usefulness to my realm
ended the day you made it off Hustaing alive.”
-- Sun Tzu Liao to his ex-finacee, Isis Marik
yes, but then that’s part of the point, isn’t it? When Sony came into
the computer market they changed everything: these things are going to
commodity prices, and that means commodity convenience to the user: profit
margins on new systems are so low now that an entirely new channel of
distribution is needed, and there isn’t going to be much for systems
that don’t work when you plug them in. Yes, the hi-fi market may be a
model for some high end users, but it’s a niche. And that’s the
problem with Open Software. Is there enough volume?
thinks so, and may yet show people you can buy pre-installed Linux with
documents, plug it in, and turn it on. But recompiling the kernel isn’t
going to sell in Peoria.
markets are odd. I used to love Woolich silver-tan shirts. Wore them all
the time. They were only available in a few places. Then they caught on.
All the big outfits were selling them. The prices went down. Then the fad
went away – and now I can’t find them. (If anyone knows where I can
find silver-tan outdoors short sleeve shirts with button epaulets, about
50% cotton and 50% synthetic, please tell me; and I know about Tilley. I
want the old silver-tan.)
A LOT of old mail most of it unopened until today because Things Were Happening when it came in. I fear it gets short shrift, but there's nothing I can do about about that.
THIS WOULD BE a lot easier if the execrable FrontPage 2000 hadn't been "improved" over 98 such that copy and paste no longer work right. Now it pastes it in in default font whether you like it or not. If you have FP 98 working keep it. Don't even think about upgrades. For that matter I have seen NOTHING in Office 2000 other than some OUTLOOK improvements to warrant "upgrading" and in many cases the "upgrade" does harm, as with this "feature" of FrontPage 2000.
A lot of us use this for
Looks like Nicholas has
discovered it too. It is very powerful stuff. There is a lot of free
examples of some very cool stuff that is really quite easy to put into
I only write what I cannot find
pre-built and I write very little PHP.
Upgrade to Linux...the penguins
Chris Carson aka
Thomas Crook [email@example.com]
Subject: FrontPage vs. Dreamweaver
I used FrontPage for a couple of years to publish
specifications and documentation for a large client/server database
development I managed. I found FrontPage adequate for that medium size
site with simple document layouts.
Several months ago, a friend with a computer
business asked me to develop a website for his firm—nothing
fancy for the first go-around—more of an on-line brochure. Unlike my
previous FrontPage application, this site required accurate layout of
graphical elements and a moderate amount of hand-coded HTML. I immediately
ran into problems with FrontPage in this slightly more demanding
application. It moved graphics around, did not maintain tables properly,
and messed up hand-tweaked HTML.
I’m not uncomfortable with HTML, but I
prefer a WYSIWYG editor for speed of layout. I read every review I could
find and browsed dejanews extensively. I found a strong consensus in favor
of Dreamweaver. After using it for six months, I can highly recommend it.
It does a good job of layout, produces clean HTML, and doesn’t stomp on
Although it might take some effort for you to
convert your site to Dreamweaver, I suspect you would be happy with the
result. The total conversion effort may turn out to be less than the time
you’ve spent trying to make FrontPage work.
Thomas Crook, PhD Candidate and occasional
The problem is that once you have been absorbed by the Borg it's hard to get out. FrontPage does some things extremely well, and handles site management very well also. It's a devil I know. I am sure that had I started with Dreamweaver and learned about Trellix I would be better off. Sigh.
RE: Web Authoring Tools/Front Page 98-2000
I’ve been following your
travails with Front Page. Like you, I love many of the features, and hate
many of the impositions and limitations especially in the extensions and
publishing. I still think it is the most full-featured HTML composer
around, and I love the way it manages links and graphics, but I hate the
excess baggage and Microsoft-specific quirks.
I manage a large corporate
e-commerce site, the back-end driven by a Lotus Notes database system. We
serve from Solaris, and I early on gave up on Front Page publishing. We do
it the hard way, sticking with bare FTP for publshing changes manually. It
means a lot of record-keeping to make things always current, but it works.
I have also tried Visual Page,
HotMetalPro, and Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver is extremely powerful, but I
found the interface cumbersome and counter-productive. You might want to
take a look at a little package from IBM -
NetObjects TopPage. I have found it very flexible, the HTML editor
is very good, and the built in FTP works fine for batch publishing. The
main advantage is it produces clean, documented code, does a good job of
maintaining links, and doesn’t try to play games with your site. It
it seems to be very stable and solid. We don’t deal with huge pages of
text the way you do, but at least the editor lets you type text without
taking a nap between keystrokes.
Good luck with the FrontPage
The next was an invited bit from Eric that came just as I was doing something else and it got lost in the shuffle. It should not have been, and it will probably be copied to a report page; for now we'll put it here with indexing.
The 3D World Flattens
Eric Pobirs June 24, 1999
Two years ago it was nearly a full time job trying to keep track of all the players in the 3D video processor game. It was by far the most glamorous pursuit in semiconductor design. The field is much simpler now. Several companies dropped out of the race without ever shipping a product. Others are pursuing niche sectors like integration into motherboard chipsets or have been bought by giants pursuing the same end i.e. Intel’s purchase of Chips &; Technology. . Due to the need for low cost over high performance in such designs this sector hardly figures in the race for polygonal supremacy.
In one case, Rendition, creators of the mildly successful Verite chips was purchased by memory and PC vendor Micron for no apparent good reason since nothing has been seen of Rendition’s technology since. The promising PowerVR chips from the partnership of Videologic and NEC have their latest generation delayed so many times that they effectively no longer figure into the market. The technology is used with impressive effect in Sega’s Dreamcast game console and Naomi arcade boards but the company is MIA in the PC realm.
Now the battle is for secure market channels. Traditionally, the chip companies supplied their parts to any number of competing board makers. Even after choosing a particular chip it remained for the customer to decide who offered the best package in which to buy it. Company A might have a lower price and a an attractive software bundle but Company B might have the upper in the quality of the all-important drivers. The lone standout has long been ATI Technologies. They’ve always been the exclusive source for boards based on their chips. This has given the company some advantages that kept them in the forefront of market strength despite lacking (until the recent Rage 128 generation) in sheer performance.
This lesson hasn’t been wasted on ambitious younger companies. Earlier this year, 3Dfx merged with STB in time for the combined company to be the sole source of the Voodoo3 chipset. Surging out of their long decline, S3 just announced their buyout of Diamond Multimedia, a company that has always had a highly varied line of video boards. It seems likely that once inventory and purchase commitments are out of the way Diamond will solely offer boards using S3 chips. S3 has publicly stated that, unlike 3Dfx, they won’t cut off supplies to their OEM customers (#9, for instance), but that begs the question of how long those companies can hope to remain competitive against the combined might of S3 and Diamond.
For most of the remaining board companies this leaves Nvidia as the sole source of state-of-the-art 3D chips. 3D Labs has promised that their Permedia 3 will be a viable choice but based on past performance this seems highly unlikely, especially in the cutting edge games that define the market. Chances are several of the smaller board makers like Guillemot and Canopus will shift their focus to other opportunities like audio cards and video editing. The last of the big retail brands unjoined to a chip developer, Creative Labs, has be getting nervous about their supply situation. Is there a 3D chip design house on their shopping list?
Nvidia should be more nervous still. This trend has cost them dearly in major OEM accounts to the biggest PC vendors. Both Dell and Gateway were selling STB Velocity cards in their computers before 3Dfx made their move. They since began using Diamond’s implementation of the Nvidia TNT product but that is likely coming to a premature end, too. Nvidia is surely looking to acquire or merge with a board manufacturer. Most of the candidates are lacking in production strength and market presence, except for Creative Labs.
The question is, who will be first to say, “Shall we dance?”
Dr. Pournelle, I have read several times in your mail section about exporting and then importing the Win95 registry to lessen the RAM impact. Can you or one of your other readers please provide a step by step of how to do this? I am afraid that this is one area that I do not feel confident about. I have been unable to figure out how to do it by experimentation and have also been unable to find step by step instructions from Microsoft. Many thanks for the last ten years that I have been reading your column in Byte and now your web site. It is greatly appreciated! Thank you, Scott Brasted See below.
arrgh! I just wrote you an email with both a feature suggestion and a link
to a review of web-authoring programs. Then I realized it would probably
be nicer of me to split them into two separate emails. Then I managed to
clear my clipboard before I was able to paste what I’d written about web
authoring into this email.... (and since I’ve recently upgraded my OS, I
still haven’t re-enabled my clipboard enhancer which normally saves me
from such gaffes).
passing along a URL which points to the best comparison of web-editing
tools I came across while choosing a package several months ago. If you
only read one article to help you choose which to use, I think this would
be the best use of your time.
is the most useful web-authoring website I’ve found; without exception,
every time I have read something there, I’ve learned how to do web
creation better, faster, and more easily. They cover design, editorial,
and technical issues. Highly recommended.
save you the suspense, they chose DreamWeaver 2.0. They also evaluated
FrontPage 98, GoLive 4, Fusion 4, BBEdit 5, Allaire HomeSite 4, Drumbeat
2000, and HoTMetaL Pro 4.
PS: I chose GoLive 4.0, which makes sense, as WebMonkey says “Best editor for those who fall asleep spooned with their Macs: GoLive 4.0.” I’ve used PC’s for 19 years, and Macs for 10, and my preference is Mac, though I’m quite good at using both and support both at work. Everyone I know who has tried out DreamWeaver has been quite impressed with it, and the more web-creation they do, the more impressed they are. I think you’ll find it an excellent tool. Whichever you choose, I hope your web-creation process gets much easier!
So do I.
First off, my sympathies to you
and the woes you have been suffering over Front Page. As far as WYSIWYG
editors go it’s certainly not the worst and unfortunately the best still
leaves something to be desired.
Your decision to go with
Dreamweaver is probably the best. You might also consider looking at
version 2 (although the price charged for upgrades by software companies
is a huge pet peeve of mine) which is available at Macromedia.com as a
trial. It’s got a few features that are really great. I didn’t use 1.2
that much but I know that 2.0 does a nice job of doing things like
checking links. Also, you should have also gotten Homesite bundled with
Dreamweaver. Even though it is code based it has
Good luck on your web page woes.
Hopefully between Dreamweaver and Homesite you’ll get a website that
works the way you want it to with minimum hassle.
If I can ever offer any help just email.
Whew, now with the shop talk out
of the way I’d like to invite you to do something a
If you’d like to check us out
take a look at http://www.worldsaway.com/firsttime/ds.html.
Let me know if you’d like to pop in for a tour. I’ll arrange for a
complimentary account for you and show you around in-world.
have reached the point where "the internet makes everything we need
to know accessible". What I could remember was the "plus
ca change" part and here's the first hit I got from HOTBOT:
out the link. You'll get a giggle out of it.
there was an excellent article in the Saturday paper (Toronto Star, which
isn't online, so I'll type it in later) about three youngsters (two from
Toronto, one from Australia) that made http://mydesktop.com
into such a big thing, they sold it for seven figures (they're not saying
exactly how much due to nondisclosure agreements). The main partner
is 16 years old and started it when he was 13. The second Toronto
partner said if you make me a partner, I can increase the hits on your
site to make more money. They did and he did. He is 20 years
next internet product is: buybuddy.com
the comments they made when visiting Ottawa to see the Canadian prime
faster, succeed sooner.
people don't have to think outside of the box - they don't know there is a
(the 20 year old) wants BuyBuddy.com to set the record for the youngest
and fastest company to ever go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange -
three months ought to do it - and then trade it on NASDAQ.
BuyBuddy.com bombs tomorrow," he (Furdyk, the 16 year old) says,
skating around his office on a new set of inline skates, "I'm not
going to cry about it."
things are more important to me, like people and having lots of different
experiences. This gets boring after awhile."
decade, he will be 26. By then, he hopes to have sold BuyBuddy.com
and be wealthy enough to retire and work as a volunteer for NASA or the
SETI Institute - a non-profit organization that charts the skies looking
for signs of other life in the universe.
space, now that's something worth dedicating a life to. But
governments just don't seem to get it.
thinking so short-term. It seems kind of foolish they'd ignore
dreams of the stars - and of unlocking their secrets, like he unlocked the
secrets of the internet.
for him is something more worthwhile.
truly are exciting times.
They are certainly interesting times…
Sunday July 25, 1999
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I have been following
the debate, and have just have had the chance to read Spinrad’s
original article. It seems to
me that he got a lot more wrong than your role in a “conspiracy” to
develop SDI as a means to explore space at the expense of NASA.
He claims that DoD pretty much hijacked the shuttle to launch
secret military (to him, seemingly synonymous with “evil”) payloads.
I seem to remember just the opposite.
NASA did such a good job of political sabotage that there just
weren’t enought alternatives and DoD was forced to use the shuttle to
launch satellites which they might have prefered to lift aboard expendable
LVs. Perhaps I’m wrong, but
I think not.
As to the rape of the Saturn V,
the perpetrators of that deed should have been staked out under a launch
pad, from Nixon on down. What
we could have done with it... I
am looking at a dog eared copy of FRONTIERS OF SPACE by Gatland and Bono,
and remember the possibility of reusing the S-1C stage.
Economies of scale would have made the Saturn much cheaper than the
shuttle. It was also to be
the basis for SASSTO, an X-project which might have given us Single Stage
to Orbit in the 70s. Alas...
A quick question.
Do you know who it was who saved a copy of the blueprints of the
F-1 rocket engine and where those blueprints are today? I still have hopes that Someone can make use of them.
All true. I have been told the names of the people who saved the Saturn plans by unauthorized removal of copies destined for destruction, but I don't recall them, and probably it is no favor to them to name them.
What I’ve failed to understand
since even before the Reagan era is the loud emphasis on ballistic missile
systems and defense against same, unless such emphasis is a deliberate
smokescreen in the interests of U.S. defense.
It seems to me that it would be much simpler and stealthier for a
hostile organization to place fission or fusion bombs at their targets by
means OTHER than by ballistic missile.
I suppose that with a
nation-wide grid of custom chemical sniffers (laser-based remote sensing,
well-trained dogs, etc) and gamma-ray detectors, one might ferret out
attempts at smuggling plutonium, or devices with plutonium, but I’ve
never heard of anything being deployed on the scale that would be needed
at all U.S. borders and points of entry to provide a reasonably solid
barrier. Making such a
deployment more difficult, a hostile organization could very likely be
domestic in origin as was the
case with the Oklahoma City bombing.
If I’m having a stupid attack
in thinking this way, I would hope someone would be kind enough to
enlighten with facts and figures to the contrary.
Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca &;
1801 Century Park West
Los Angeles, CA 90067-6406
“My God...it’s full of spam”
Come now. Smuggling in nuclear weapons makes for a good story, but that's not quite what the US was threatened with. The USSR had thousands of weapons targeted at us, and the Chinese claim 12 now. Let me ask something: you say you fail to understand. Is this because you have not read the relevant analyses/ Do you think you are the first person to think of this?
The USSR was Bulgaria with missiles. The missiles and warheads made them the Second World, a Superpower. Without them? They still have the warheads, but somehow...
I have often wondered just how serious people are who ask this question.
correspondent who asked about exporting the registry might like to look at
which details the procedure.
Thought I’d drop a line to
tell you about my Museum of Soviet Calculators.
I try to make it an interesting read, and have spent several years
documenting every known soviet electronic and electromechanical
calculator. There’s nearly
150 of them on-site, mostly with pictures.
Many of these machines stole ideas from the west, but a significant
number exhibit weird and wonderful designs and technology that make them
quite alien to our western eyes. And,
of course, hunting for them is lots of fun.
I’m in Australia myself, but find that the ‘net removes the
tyrrany of distance. I do hope you take the time to visit; if you’re interested in old hardware - and in particular
strange and different ways of doing things, you’ll enjoy yourself.
The URL is
Hah! Fascinating! Thanks.
The Publisher of Soldier of
Fortune (Col Bob Brown) describes how to
build our Imperial Marines...jim dodd
Haven't seen this but I'll have a look. Brown is always interesting and knows his subject. Incidentally, the Roman Imperial Marines are a force without a history: they were so successful that you have to dig to find out they existed. After Pompey the Great and later his son suppressed the pirates, the Roman Navy and Marines kept the Med safe and secure for centuries, operated search and rescue, and generally enforced Roman peace along the littoral. After Actium there were few actual battles. No one to fight.
I, too, have long suffered from
“Windows Arthritis” with NT 4.0/SP5 &; 64MB memory - until I read
Brian Livingston’s 3 articles (URLs below) in _Infoworld on that
subject. I took his advice to heart (nothig to lose, at that point), and
religiously followed his instructions insofar as they applied to NT 4.0.
The RegClean routine didn’t seem to do very much - but then most of my
registry is empty subdirectories; even ones that should contain data.
HOWEVER: I downloaded MemTurbo Eval copy from http://www.memturbo.com,
installed it, and ran it. IMMEDIATE results - like a dose of salts!
MemTurbo is a garbage collection utility that runs constantly in the
background, tidying up after such litterbugs as WinWeird, etc., much as
the old Commodore/Amiga systems did. Why MS never saw fit to include
garbage collection among all the other less relevant bells &; whistles
is beyond me. I suppose because their apps are designed to preempt and
keep available memory, so they have no problem with garbage. Meanwhile
available memory gets chewed up, and we experience Windows Arthritis. Mine
was so bad that if I left my desk at 2300, with nothing_ running, by the time I would return at 0800 there
would be a big fright box announcing “LOW MEMORY! shut down some
apps.” I didn’t have
any apps to shut down! Gods only know what the hell was chewing up 264MB
total RAM &; Virtual memory.Then I would power down &; reboot, and
NT would trundle along for another 3-4 hours, when I would have to again
Monday night I left the box on,
with MemTurbo running. At 0000 13 July it showed
25 MB (40%) free RAM, 164 MB (81%) free page file. When I returned the
next morning, it showed 41 MB (65%) free RAM, and 159 MB (78%) free page
file.I was amazed and delighted. This was the first time EVER that I had
more memory available than when I left the machine. And no ‘LOW
MEMORY!” fright box. MemTurbo cured my Windows Arthritis. MAybe it will
help yours. It runs equally well on W98 and W2Kb3, also, with no apparent
effect on my normal operations
First of Three articles on
Windows Arthritis: (06.21.99)
Another Infoworld article
describing a cure for bad results of combining IE, Palm, and W2K. Sonds
similar to some problems you have described:
Also, an article from
PC World describing some commercial tune-up utilities:
With my best regards,
[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]
Livingston is always worth attention. I have recommended Memturbo here before, and continue to do so. Well worth the effort.
Hi Jerry I have a question which I hope will not produce horrible, dire effects on the rest of your readers, but do you ever test out any products besides Microsoft? In particular, I wondered if you were going to do any testing with Corel's new Wordperfect Suite? Being a recent Corel stockholder, until I actually sold at a profit!, I would like to find out how users like the product from someone besides Corel itself! For the record, my computer came loaded with Windows 95 and I paid extra, through the nose I may add, for the Word/Excel/Powerpoint package because I thought I needed it to be compatible with the letters and spreadsheets my workplace was using. If I had to do it over again, I definately would go with Wordperfect, because I don't use the programs except to type occasional letters and do simple spreadsheets! Until next time, George firstname.lastname@example.org
I have the feeling I have answered this before. I do lots of stuff other than Microsoft, and I am waiting for Corel to get their Suite to Linux so we can look at the whole thing as an alternative to MS Office and Windows.
You get a lot with Office 97, but if you don't use it for anything but letters, Word Perfect certainly works and is certainly cheaper.
I use Word because my collaborators do, and most editors accept WORD documents.
contents copyright 1999 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.