THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 510 March 17 - 23, 2008
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
March 17, 2008
We're doing a slightly different structure for Mail and View, but with luck you won't notice. Brian points out that my system of archiving breaks links from outside to particular places on my site; I should not move stuff.
So I am leaving the old structure in place but from now on no mail or view file will be moved, and links won't be disturbed. You won't need to know anything about this: it should Just Work.
0052 Back from our midnight walk. All's pretty well. It's bed time but I had better pay the darned bills.
0930: a good morning. About to go out for morning walk. Got a lot done last night but not a great deal of sleep. Zaps resume at noon. Not looking forward to that. I need to build me a macro to get to my new ftp.
I have a dental appointment shortly. Wrote some notes waiting for the Zap -- the MacBook Air is very easy to have with me -- but I need to bring them over from Khaos the Air, and she's downstairs in my carry bag. I didn't bring her up because I was carrying the MacBook Pro that arrived while I was out getting zapped. I haven't opened that yet and won't until I get back from the dentist.
Overall it has been a good day; and of course having a lot to get done turns out to be a Good Thing. It doesn't do to brood.
I am hearing more good things about Windows Server 2008 -- as a work station. I am sort of committed to building a Windows Server 2008 system to replace my ancient server; but now I am seriously contemplating experimenting with it as a work station as well. I hear rumors that it's pretty good for that.
Herman Kahn's Techniques of Systems Analysis, one of the best introductions to the discipline I know of, is available. See mail.
1650: Back from dentist. I am a thousand dollars poorer for breaking my teeth with a fork (couldn't feel a thing)! Ah, well. Time to get to work. It has been an exhausting afternoon. I did manage to write a bit in the dentist chair waiting for the temporary thing-a-ma-gub to be made up and fitted. At least I don't have a sharp edge on my incisor. And I look fine.
On looks: I am setting up the Everio and I am going to do A FaceBook and I guess a Utube so you can see what my speech problem is. I think in sentences and paragraphs, but speaking is a terrible effort. Sometimes it is better than others. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be a problem at all, but usually I end up gasping out parts of a sentence. I know what I want to say but can't say it. It's a powerful lesson in humility.
We are moving toward revamping the subscription system to make it easier to use and work with. My thanks to the volunteers who have put some real effort into this. I seem to have some very smart readers.
2035: I couldn't stand it any longer and opened the MacBook Pro package. It's Apple elegant packaging, not quite up to the packaging of the MacBook Air, but it's neat. The MacBook Pro is about a half inch wider than the PowerBook, which means that while Ariadne the PowerBook (and the ThinkPad t42p) will fit into my Briggs and Reilly laptop bag, the Pro -- she's not named yet, doubtless something will suggest itself -- will not. The Briggs and Reilly has some thick protective rails at the ends of the compartment, and they are just too close together. I may be able to force it, and perhaps that will collapse something.
I put it that way because the Briggs and Reilly bag is the safest protection for a laptop I know, and a great laptop travel bag, so it's worth fussing with it. It really is my favorite general purpose laptop bag. As for the Air, I have received today a musette bag in ballistic nylon, khaki color, with straps, compartments, and lots of wonderful other stuff; it may well become my day to day carry bag. I'm going to try it tomorrow.
I'm collecting bags for the various laptops. I am supposed to be getting a 13" leather messenger bag, and that may be my actual day to day carry; we'll see. The musette is pretty nice, though. I carried the Army's version of that (metallic buckles, no real internal compartments) for months a long time ago, and it was pretty handy. I'll fool around with these a while and write it all up in the column.
Does anyone have a good contact in Apple PR Software? I have a lot of Apple hardware now, but there's a bunch of software published by Apple that I need: indeed I need multiple copies if I'm going to do this properly. Back when Heidi Roizen was Director of Development for Apple I used to get all their software, and much of Apple's hardware. We wrote Roberta's reading program for the Mac, and sold a lot of them. I wrote a lot about Macs in the BYTE columns. Alas, the new administration doesn't seem to have designated anyone to answer my mail.
Perhaps I am insufficiently persuasive. I have to admit it's a new experience. For more than twenty-five years most companies were eager to hear from me and get into my BYTE columns. Chaos Manor Reviews has about the circulation BYTE used to have. It's not as if I had some obscure web fanzine. I understand things get busy at Apple, but surely someone has a few moments?
My error. The MacBook Pro does fit into the Briggs and Reilly bag. It just takes doing it. So now I have a place for it to live when not set up. I'll get to work on it tomorrow. As with all the new Macs it's beautiful.
|This week:||Tuesday, March
0110: Back from our midnight walk. Roberta and I watch Medium on Monday nights, and at 1100 there was an episode of The Closer that we had not seen, so we were up late, and Sable and I started late. Otherwise uneventful except that I bought the latest MacWorld at the news stand on the way home. There are a lot of reviews and advertisements I suppose I ought to get familiar with.
But in fact it is time for bed. I think I will be able to sleep. I can fool with Macs tomorrow.
0900: A good night. Woke up at 0700.
Nothing scheduled for today. I will work on the cell phone booster -- the iPhone gets significantly worse signal than my ancient old Nokia did -- and then see if I can go to the monk's cell for fiction. The MacBook Pro sits here partially initialized, and I'll have to finish that. The intention here is to upgrade the hard drive to the new WD 320 GB and add Kingston memory to make 4 GB before we install anything, and I have to get new licenses for some of the software that will go into it. Then it's Boot Camp, and VMware with XP, and Office 2007 on the XP side and Office 2008 on the Mac side. The intent is to make the Pro a desktop replacement and companion to the Air.
So it's a full day. I am still working on setting it up to make it easier to join the ranks of the Platinum Subscribers. My thanks to all those who have recently renewed, upgraded to Patron (or even Platinum) and especially to new subscribers.
Zap time today: High Noon. I'll carry Khaos the MacBook Air as usual. I sure love that machine.
1009: A good walk this morning. It's a beautiful day out there. The Apple Time Capsule has arrived. I will need to replace the Airport Extreme with it sometime today and let Khaos start doing the Time Machine caches to it. Imogene the iMac already does Time Machine through FireWire to a Seagate 500 GB external.
Set up iPhone Voicemail and Text Messages. I think. It is working and I am exchanging messages with Peter Glaskowsky. Interesting. Never was able to do that with the old Nokia.
iPhone has some odd tricks lately, including shaky icons once, and sometimes needs hard reset to see any bars of signal strength.
I am due out of here in 10 minutes, and the Air wants to upgrade. I should have told it to wait. It seems to be taking forever to download. I am sure it's wireless. I had a similar upgrade on the iMac earlier and it was under a minute for all of it. One problem with the Air is that wireless. I need a USB/Ethernet adapter. I was supposed to get one but it never arrived. I guess I will just order one. The Air really and truly needs to be Ethernetted when it comes to software upgrades and large downloads.
Dumped the job, and transferred stuff to work on to the Air. Wireless works fine for that.
Off to get zapped. Twittering, I am.
1310 Claustrophobic. But done. Back home.
Tinnitus was bad this morning, not so severe now. The zapping may have affected it. It's hard to notice any actual effects when it is happening. But over time there are some. Of course I have sunburn both inside and outside my ears, behind my ears, and I am peeling. I am carrying a pile of dead meat inside my head, and it's taking time for the system to clear itself, so I suppose I ought to expect odd effects.
Mac OS X has a defect. When you connect to an XP machine, then go somewhere with the Air, up pops up a message that the server is not available, disconnect? If you dismiss the message, it pops back up until you finally weary of it and tell it all right, disconnect. That's weird. It should just let you ignore it, but no, it wants you to know. Now.
Quite distracted me from what I wanted to work on. Now I will have to reconnect. So it goes. It's not a terrible burden, but it ought not work that way.
Coming up in the column: the small Wi-Ex ZBoost zPersonal Cell Phone Signal Booster is working fine. Suction cup to inside of a window, string 20 feet of wire to a central point and suction cup the antenna to a book case. Now I have 3 bars all over the Great Hall and bathroom and the back room here, as well as in my office. I never had more than 2 in the office, and zero in the bathroom, before I installed that unit. Full report in next week's column, but it really works for me.
Of course I need to see how it works in other weather conditions, but for now, this is the cat's pajamas.
No more galloping sounds on the landline phone, either.
He was an old friend. I first met him at JPL for a planetary encounter in 1972. I was then unknown, but I had been elected President of the Science Fiction Writers of America, for my management experience, not for my writing skills. I did go on to win the Campbell Award (the first one, in fact; John had bought my stories and they were in Analog after he died) as Best New Science Fiction Writer, but no one had ever heard of me.
I was at JPL as the Science Correspondent for the National Catholic Press, and I was merely one of hundreds of science and feature reporters who had gone out for the planetary encounters. In those days those encounters were a Big Deal Indeed.
D. Clarke, escorted by Dr. Pickering the Director of JPL, walked through the von Karman Center at high speed. He saw my badge. He stopped. "Hello! You're the new president of SFWA. Good to meet you. I'm Arthur Clarke. I've been reading your serial in Analog. Good story! I've got to rush off now but maybe we can have coffee later!"
At which point I ceased being an obscure reporter and became a VIP to the other reporters.
Arthur was like that. We became fairly good friends. He sponsored me for Fellowships in the British Interplanetary Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. He came to parties at my house, and I had a standing invitation to visit him in Sri Lanka. I regret I was never able to go.
We spoke on the telephone at least twice a year, last time about Christmas.
Farewell, old friend.
On Shaky Icons on iPhone:
Shaky Icons happen like this - press and hold any icon on the screen. The icons will begin to "wobble" - at this point you can drag any icon to any position on the screen. Also, you can drag them to the right to another screen. Hit the physical button at the bottom of the iPhone to stop the wobble.
Aha. I don't have any notion of how I managed to achieve that. I hard reset the phone to get rid of them.
I am gradually learning the iPhone and now that the Wi-Ex has given me bars all over my office I am becoming a lot more fond of it. It's a great phone but they did compromise some of the rf circuitry to get the form factor and other goodies in it. I don't recommend it for Aunt Minnie, and I expect I will get Roberta a Razr. Her friends all carry Razr. But I will carry the iPhone from now on. I like it.
In conjunction with MacBook Air it's a great combination to carry.
Dole's HABITABLE PLANETS FOR MAN is one of the best books for planet builders ever written. I gave one to Mr. Heinlein for a birthday and he thanked me for years. There was a wretched edition involving Asimov. Pay no attention to it. I do not recommend the Asimov watered down silliness. But if you can get the original Dole you will love it if you build planets.
RAND is selling "Habitable Planets for Man" and "Planets for Man"
Finally, I assume there will be a lot of additional stuff to add and modify, but RAND is selling "Habitable Planets for Man" by Dole. And "Planets for Man" by Dole and Asimov I will be buying one each. At last!
Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
March 19, 2008
0120 Back from our midnight 2 mile walk.
I haven't recorded a real symptom change. One of the ways we found out I had this lump in my head was that I had problems swallowing, and they ordered CAT scan and MRI, which is what located the dreaded mass.
Since the radiation started the swallowing problems have diminished to the point that I hardly notice. Whether that is due to the steroids or the radiation I do not know, of course.
I used to taste brass all the time. There's still a faint taste of brass on the right side of my mouth, but it's not as bad as it used to be.
Tinnitus remains: dual frequencies in my right ear. Left is all right, or at least good enough to talk on the telephone.
Now to read a few chapters of The Silver Swan, and so to bed.
0600 Alas, I could not sleep until 0800, so I am up.
There is discussion of the Legions, and requirements of Republic and Empire, in Mail.
We are still building the new subscription store, but the old one still works. I always get nervous when subscriptions and renewals stop coming in, but at the moment it's probably my fault for not revamping the system. I'll get at it shortly.
The Wi-Ex cell phone booster continues to work just fine to cover the upstairs office and Great Hall. I am looking into installation of the larger unit to cover the downstairs.
Today it is time to bite the bullet, and take down the Airport Extreme to be replaced by the Time Capsule (which incorporates a wireless router). It is clearly a symptom of getting zapped: I seem to have less spirit of adventure. I'll have to plan this out including names and passwords before I start. The iPhone wants to connect through the Airport Extreme so taking that down will break the connection to Wi-Fi; the Time Capsule should be set up to do that. Then I will tell Khaos the MacBook Air to use the Time Capsule for Time Machine backup. With luck this ought to go smoothly, since it is Apple to Apple entirely. And I now know a bit about setting up Apple wireless Wi-Fi nets having got the Airport Extreme to work properly.
I will say that it is unusual to feel reluctance to do this. I'm usually pretty game for nearly anything that will give me something to write about. But then I find that I am -- let's not say reluctant, but certainly less eager -- to go get zapped every day. I know it is doing me good, the side effects are not all that bad, the experience isn't awful; but it is not something one enjoys. The unfailing care and professionalism of the Kaiser staff helps a lot. I can't say too much good about them. Thrive!
1006: Back from our morning walk with a long list of things to do. The MacBook Pro is here and so is the WD 320 GB drive to install in it. This is a formidable task, and requires that I clear off my desk and set up some parts bins to collect small screws and stuff. I probably won't get at it until afternoon or evening.
I don't yet have the memory to upgrade the Pro to 4 GB but that will come soon enough. I may skip the Pro for this week's column since I first need to install the Time Capsule, and I need to write up the Wi-Ex Cell Phone Booster for the column; and there are notes on the iPhone that need to go into the column. I am becoming very fond of the iPhone but I cannot find anything to carry it in but my shirt pocket. That's valuable real estate unless I am wearing bush shirts (which indeed I do prefer). I use the iPhone as a phone, not with a headset. Works fine for me, but means it needs not to be in a skin. I still miss a lanyard cleat, and I am thinking of hot glue or Gorilla Glue to anchor one; but that does involve a certain degree of danger.
Today I will carry the iPhone with the MacBook Air and use the small USB - iPhone cable to see if I can synch them on the road. It can do no harm...
And I have made a list of essays -- used the iPhone Notes while on my walk -- that I should be writing. Inflation; the Bell curve and what must be done; and a couple of others. I'll get at them as I can. But I feel mentally vigorous this morning even if tinnitus is awful. I no longer have the awful pounding of my pulse in my right ear. Good riddance to that! And I can swallow just fine. So things proceed well...
I confess I like Macs. I also find there are things that need Windows. I am contemplating biting the bullet and getting a Dual Quad Mac, putting Windows XP under VM ware on part of it, and using that as the really main machine with two big monitors. It is an expensive option, but it looks as if it will do the job. I will then put the iMac up in the Monk's Cell as the writing system up there, and have the MacBook Air as the Computer I Have With Me, and the MacBook Pro as the machine for heavy duty portability. So far I am only contemplating this, but it does seem attractive, assuming that I am able to use the iMac to do XP. I expect that to be a bit slow, of course. I am waiting new licenses for Office 2007 before I test this.
1045: time to get ready for the noon zapping. I am apparently on the Lars Larson show at 1530 this PM.
1245 Back from clinic. It's a bit debilitating.
I need to write an essay on the Bell Curve and what's snapping out in the political campaigns. Ignoring data is always a bad thing to do, and that's what the problem is here. All your data are belong to -- nowhere. You are told to ignore what you know. The result is ghastly.
It will take a while to write this essay because the subject is very sensitive, and I am sure I will be denounced as a fascist and worse. Nothing for it, though. One needs to pay attention to the evidence. It's all right to speculate within the evidence, but ignoring what is known and known well leads to terrible problems (if the issue is important).
1255 And if I didn't have enough to do, a Sony Reader has arrived. I need to compare it to the Kindle, I guess. First I have to acquire some books for it. I expect I can find a lot of them in the Baen free library, and Gutenberg. I confess that I find the Kindle pretty well Good Enough, and the Amazon acquisition system well thought out; but of course I have done nothing with the Sony Reader except plug it in (with USB cable) to let it charge. It's a handsome unit and seems to have been engraved: Jerry Pournelle, Chaos Manor.
So I have a long queue of things to review and examine, and toys to play with, which ought to distract me from the Zappings. Deo gratia.
1545: Just finished a short stint on the Lar Larson show. He seems to be exhorting people to become Platinum Subscribers, and of course I don't have the mechanism set up. You'll just have to go to Paypal and send to firstname.lastname@example.org $100 and say it is for a subscription, put in email address, and I'll handle it from there. The notion is to build a group of super-subscribers. Of course from my view enough regular subscribers would do, but it takes a lot more of them, and this place operates on the Public Radio model: it's free, but unless people subscribe it can't exist.
Public radio gets about 4% subscribers. We don't get that good a percentage and Leo Laporte tells me he doesn't either. Thus the need for patrons and platinum subscribers. But that's another story. I really hate doing "fund drives" but sometimes I have no choice.
2005: Wi-Ex log. Earlier this afternoon the Wi-Ex flashed red, and we had no service from AT&T. I thought about that for a while and went over and power cycled the Wi-Ex. It came on green, and we had our bars again. This all goes in the column. The Wi-Ex really works, but I have no idea what hosed it.
I am getting a signal strength meter, and I will do some careful measurements. That may tell me something.
On the Iraq War, Greg Cochran quotes one of my maxims: a thing not worth doing is not worth doing well. He believes doing it badly may turn out to have been a good thing.
I understand his point. It's a bit like a gambler who is rewarded when he first starts gambling: after all, Afghanistan was an early success, with low costs and high results, so why would not Iraq be? And why not send in an incompetent boob like Bremer to be sure it was all mucked up and oil prices would not be stabilized at under $30/bbl which they could have been with some competent imperialism? Of course that leads to conspiracy theory, and violation of Bonaparte's dictum to never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
I do not agree with Greg; I think that having gone in there, we owed it to the Legions and to ourselves to do it right and be done with it. The horrible part is that we certainly could have done it properly, using the Iraqi army as a puppet army to pacify the nation while our troops stood watch over them but did not take many casualties. And we could have pumped oil. Lots of oil, with which we pay the Iraqi army. It didn't have to cost $Trillions and inflate our currency.
We are there now. What happens next is important.
Welcome Spring Equinox
0025: back from our midnight walk. All quiet. I have iPhoto books, and it is probably time to learn more about the iPhoto program and begin organizing my digital pictures of which I have myriads. Systematically learning about Apple takes time, but it's rewarding, and a bit of fun in the bargain.
And now to bed.
0430 Sleepless in Studio City. Severe indigestion. Rather horrible, actually. Milk of Magnesia and Alka Seltzer and no joy. No brain power either so I am not going to do any work. I could fool around with the Sony Reader and see if I can get anything to transfer to it. I must be particularly dense. The Reader comes with a lot of excerpts but no real books, and I think there must be some package deal I have missed. It sure doesn't have the convenience of the Kindle's wireless connection.
0845 Woke at 0830 after getting back to bed at 0600. Today it's time to get the Time Capsule running. I find I have less enthusiasm to do things like that. I used to like playing with new stuff, but I have the Airport Extreme working and I hate to dismantle it. I will need to go into my notes to see how I set up the Airport; I don't really recall doing it, and yet it was only a week ago.
I can see that this radiation therapy is affecting memory, but it seems to be confined to short term, and the remedy to that is keep a better log book, I think. I find that I can use the notes function on the iPhone while walking; not to write anything more than a note but that can serve as a reminder. So far I haven't lost many ideas, or I don't think I have.
But everything I do takes longer than I expected, and uses brain power; I don't have much in the way of reserves. Again I can't say that's unexpected, and so far it's not bad enough to be discouraging. I am pretty sure the radiation therapy is working. I can swallow, my voice is improving, and while I suspect that the reader who says my grammar and thought processes have done all to Hell has a point, I don't think I have stopped making sense. Perhaps I have been remiss in editing long letters, and I was a bit telegraphic in one reply, but that was done in haste. I think I can still think. I sure hope so.
More mail after breakfast.
0930: It is time for our walk. I will today deal with the War and the Legions; or try to. The situation is serious but that is not to say desperate. There are measures we can take if the nation can get together on them and not make it a matter of politics. Fat chance, of course. But there are things we must do, and it is time to get started.
1055: Back. There is lots of mail about the plight of the Legions. I will get to work on that when I get back from the noon zapping, but I have to go now.
The iMac just died: that is, there was no cursor. At all. Nothing I could seem to do would bring me a cursor so it was power switch time. This has happened before. I really wish I knew a remedy for it. Power down makes it work again without problems, but that is a real pain.
1240: Home and had lunch. Got to Kaiser early and they sent me directly to the treatment room so I was back home before my Noon appointment. Lunch, and now here. I feel debilitated, but that could well be lack of sleep. I will try to get a nap shortly.
I am contemplating a 30" monitor. I don't see too well, and that would make it easy to get almost everything on one screen and set sizes and such. My eyes don't focus properly: one is about 24" and the other about 28" focal length. It's OK for driving, but makes it hard to work. The monitors are about $1200 but I think it would be worth it to get one.
I have given up on the idea of becoming the King of the Geeks with a really hot Mac Pro, and the reasoning on that will be in the column next week.
Now I think a nap, and then try to get the Time Capsule working. And think again on that monitor.
1350: Wi-Ex continues to work perfectly. I have cell phone service through office and Great Hall. Without it, I don't. I had the one glitch yesterday which was fixed by power cycling the Wi-Ex. I can recommend this unit if you have reception anywhere near a window but not inside the room. It says it makes about a 6 foot radius, but I have found that to be closer to 20 feet. which is good enough.
1645: I really need to write two essays and get the Time Capsule running, and I find my energy levels are awful. I am able to do galley slavery: I have the galley proofs of Inferno I to finish and that seems to be my level of competence just now. It has to be done, so I may as well do it. I should manage a column over the weekend. Apparently as you get deeper into the radiation therapy it really does wring you out to the point of lethargy: I was warned about that by several readers. I am fortunate in that I can do SOMETHING, and I do have all the new Mac equipment and software to occupy my mind, which is a great distraction.
But mental effort is difficult, and that is very new for me. I have always been able to think. Now, I guess I CAN, but I don't really want to -- that it, it's a very difficult thing to do, to want to think. I am sure this is in part lack of sleep, but this stuff also saps initiative. If it happens to you, be warned: however easy it all seems at first, a couple of weeks into radiation therapy you will find your energy levels flagging badly.
Now off to Inferno and galley slavery.
2345: Went to LASFS and then out at 2230 for our night walk. I think I may be able to sleep although the indigestion is still pretty bad. I'll turn in shortly.
I seem to be in a state of almost entire exhaustion but restless. I gather this is not uncommon for radiation therapy. I don't have chemo to contend with, Deo gratia. The most frustrating part of all this is inability to talk. I used to stand there at West Coast Computer Faire and talk for hours, with everyone listening. Hours. Now I can't get a sentence out.
Count your blessings. It could be a lot worse.
Before I get to bed I will finish the Inferno galleys. Tomorrow it's install the Time Capsule.
And it's time to Do Something about this sinking Aeron Chair. And probably about the tables here. I keep being tempted to consolidate everything into a big Mac Pro, dual quads, with XP under VMware; two monitors; and be done with it. I could even put Windows 2008 Server in VMWare and see how that compares with XP. All this flight of fancy. I wonder if I am being irrational. But Apple managed to tame UNIX, and it works...
Anyway that's enough for today. With luck I sleep.
March 21, 2008
Happy Birthday Johann Sebastian Bach
0530 Sleepless in Studio City
Woke a bit after 0500. I'll try to get back to sleep. I might manage it. Indigestion is under control. Radiation burns on ears not good. Small sores here and there on body do not heal, which is classic radiation poisoning symptom. Hair not falling out so that's good. Weight is more or less stable. Blood sugar under control.
Not feeling all that lethargic despite lack of sleep, but not a lot of ambition either. Subscriptions continue to come in, enough to keep things going here. We have a new subscription system which I am told is ready for implementation, but I am not quite sure how to turn it on, so I await instructions. I have a great team of advisors, two of whom run the ISP that hosts this site, plus an IT guru reader who volunteered to set up the new subscription system. Paypal has pretty good instructions, but I find myself with difficulties following them. That's clearly a radiation effect; I have always been able to make sense of such matters in the past, and I suspect I could now: it's more a sapping of will than of ability.
In any event it ought not be long before we have that in place.
I know I owe all of you some essays and commentaries. One is on How We Got This Way in the Middle East. With respect to my friend Greg Cochran, it is not mere stupidity: there are some fundamental lessons in our path to incompetent empire. It is important that we understand those lessons, since the fundamental factor, the domestic political importance of Israel to these United States, does not change and entirely limits our alternatives.
I think I have some understanding of these matters; now I need the energy to put them down in an orderly fashion.
Second, there is the bell curve, what we can rationally predict as inevitable results of our education policies, and what must be done about tariff and free trade; all these are bound together, the relationships are very clear, and everyone acts as if there were no connections at all. Our "social scientists" ignore data and continue with voodoo science, and political figures either pay no attention to facts, or make up their data. The result is the politics of wish fulfillment, which can't possibly work. Acting as if your policies are successful in the face of overwhelming evidence is not a good way to run a nation.
I'm working on those. I also have notes to continue my musings on growing up smart; we have readers with bright kids who are a bit concerned. I don't blames them.
iPhone notes: I have more than once awakened the iPhone to discover "No Service" in a place where I am certain there ought to be several bars. Shutting it down with the top button and then slide prompt, then restarting with the top button, has always restored the service. I sometimes had to do that with the old Nokia cell phone, but I do not recall I had to do so as often. On the other hand, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the Nokia, and I am always fussing with the iPhone: I use it to make notes, and keep my calendar, and even look up things on the web, so I am far more conscious of the iPhone than ever I was of the Nokia.
The zBoost zPersonal Cell Phone Signal Booster continues to work just fine here in the office and Great Hall. I haven't yet installed the Big Unit (as I call it) to get signal in the breakfast room, but that will come after I get a signal strength meter. It may be that I need another of the small boosters for that room, but I'd rather have signal all over the downstairs back areas of Chaos Manor if that's possible, and or course I need to work with the Big Unit so that I can write about it.
0830: The new subscription system is in action. I will set it up with a button and stuff shortly, but the link is now active, and should make it a lot easier for those who want to subscribe.
This site operates on the Public Radio model. Everyone is welcome here, subscriber or not, but we can't exist without subscribers, and if you think this place is worth keeping, you should consider supporting it.
The text on the new subscription page was taken from my older subscription page and needs revising; I'll get to that another time. I also need to be a lot more explicit about what different levels of subscription mean. For the moment, they're all donations. I do promise to do what I can for Platinum Subscribers: that will include watermarked pdf copies of new books with an electronic signature and a means of buying (alas they can't possibly be sent free) signed copied of hardbound books (I will have to hire the neighbor children to do order fulfillment); but none of that is going to happen until I get past the radiation. The goal on Platinum is to build a base of people who think it's worth supporting this. I love the notion, but then any author would. It's the new patronage system.
Patron subscribers will be sent a pdf of Strategy of Technology on subscribing. I have a goodly number of Patron subscribers, and they're the mainstay of this site. Regular subscribers are welcome, but don't get anything other than a lot of thanks.
I repeat: I am not after anyone's rent money, eating money, or anything vital. I would rather have a reader than someone driven off by the guilts for not paying...
And I really do not like doing fund raising drives, but this is the Public Radio model...
So do visit the New Subscription Page
1035 Morning walk was short. Post Office to send off Inferno I galley proofs. That job's done. Getting ready for zapping at noon.
I must revamp the table situation in the office. My eyes focus differently and the focal length changes daily, so it's not a matter of new computer glasses. I have to sit closer to the screens now. Much closer. And since thing were set for 28" and now it's more like 14" the tables are all wrong. That won't be terribly cheap but it's not exorbitant, and thanks to all the new subscriptions coming in (clearly the new page system works) I can afford it. Now I need to rethink the organization. Space is at a bit of a premium here. When we designed this place I did not really make the office large enough, and I made the balcony/veranda outside a bit larger than it needed to be. Too late to worry about that now; but I do need to make better use of the space I have.
I expect things will settle down, focal-length-wise, after the radiation treatment is over, but I am told that the period following radiation therapy is often worse than what happens during the radiation. I expect I will learn all about that.
1405: returned from Zapping and shopping and interrupted lunch. Major irritations which ought not have been anything but minor; I won't elaborate, but I now find my pulse pounding in my ear. Irrational rage seems very much a symptom of radiation poisoning. On the good side I have bought aloe and cocoa butter, and that soothes the burns outside and inside my ears. It feels good.
And there are subscriptions rolling in. The new system seems to be working well. Thanks!
Subject: Good News - Your PayPal works from Canada
I thought I'd try to use your new Platinum subscriber PayPal system with my Canadian credit card. This has never worked in the past, but this time it did. You might want to let your Canadian readers know that progress has been made and they are no longer second class at Chaos Manor ;-)
For those who are just tuning in: I recently had to explain something to colleagues.
For those who don't know, I get Zapped with hard X-Rays daily at noon. They are burning out some growth near Broca's Area (extremely inoperable). Scans of the rest of me show it is unique: I don't have multiple myeloma that metastasized, and they can't get a biopsy so they are killing this thing on the grounds that it don't belong there even if they don't know what it is.
I've got some really top doctors, and I think I'm getting through this. I have decided to log what's going on in case it is of use to other people.
Symptoms come and go.
I find I have to sit about 15" from the screens, and perhaps closer. I am sure that will change, but for the moment I have gone from "my arms aren't long enough" to having to get close to what I read. When it all settles in I will get new near vision glasses ground to what I settle into, but "settle" is not happening just now. Add that each eye has a different focal length, and I can't close my right eye unless I close both (left I can close alone) and you can see that vision is a spot of bother right now. But I manage.
Keeping track of details isn't much fun either. I don't fuss well. I get things done, but I really resent interruptions. A minor incident today sparked what amounts to irrational rage. Fortunately nothing whatever came of it, and I wasn't really in the wrong here, but it was a silly waste of energy all the same. I don't want to get to the point of "just getting through the day;" I want days to mean something and to accomplish things. Fortunately I have all these cool new things to play with, and I am learning much.
It does look to me as if Microsoft has slipped badly. They ought to be selling one and only one Vista: "Ultimate"; and they ought to sell it for about $150 retail. As Dvorak said recently, the business of Microsoft is selling code, and they ought to get back to doing that instead of haring off after Google and neglecting what they used to know how to do. But this is a great opportunity for Apple.
I am finding Apple and MAC OS X to be not only solid but versatile. And since you can do in XP under Parallels or VMWare in a Mac about all you can do in Windows on a Windows PC, one can seriously contemplate making one's next computer a Mac (iMac, Mac Pro, or MacBook Pro; I wouldn't try Air or MacBook as my Mac plus Windows machine).
March 22, 2208
0023: Back from our midnight walk. While I was out walking, there was a pop in my right ear, and I could hear in that ear again. I have heard little to nothing in that ear for months. It's still functioning.
I ought to be able to sleep tonight. Hope so.
I am being told that the web cannot find www.paypal.com. Weird. I presume their server is down but that is a serious matter surely?
0800: Paypal server is back up. Alas, my right ear is entirely deaf again. It was nice to be able to hear while it lasted, but during the night it reverted to type. A good night, though, with only 2 awakenings.
Today it's off to Fry's for a bunch of minor stuff, and then the column to write.
Is there anyone with a good contact at Apple Press Relations; someone who might actually answer an email? If only to tell me to go away. It's like talking into a well so far. I even scan my junk mail in hopes I missed something.
And now off to Fry's for a bunch of small stuff.
Leo Laporte is reporting that his UPS died because he neglected to replace the batteries. I have had Falcon UPS systems for about as long as he had whatever he had, and I don't yet have any battery warnings. I am sure it will happen, but Falcon UPS last a LONG time and give you a very great amount of warning if the batteries are deteriorating. Get Falcon and relax.
No I am probably missing things. Understand that the web page is a day book. It is NOT the column.
When things go into the column they will be more than impressions. IN the day book I include speculation and not well founded hypotheses in hopes of getting letters and suggestions.
I thought I made it clear that a DAY BOOK is not a column; thanks for reminding me that I may not have been as clear as I thought.
I am experimenting now with what I can do under VMware and Parallels with iMac and MacBook Pro. Alas, I do not HAVE a MacBook other than the Air, and the Air is definitely limited in both memory and drive space; it is the computer you will have with you, but it is not a desktop replacement.
I've been gathering data from others on what you can and can't do with the MacBook and it is probable that I have been mistaken; if there's enough disk space and memory (I recommend Kingston memory; in ten years I have yet to have a single problem, and I find premium memory worth it for peace of mind) then there may well be no reason why the MacBook can't be both a Mac and a decent Windows machine. On the other hand, I have not tried it myself, and the GPU is a matter of some importance in some applications.
I am not likely to get a MacBook because there's no reason I will buy one and I can't think of anyone who wants me to experiment with it enough to buy it for me (which is how I acquired the iMac 20", MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air); and if I buy another Mac it is more likely to be a sweet spot Mac Pro dual quad, which I will then augment with drives and lots of memory to become the replacement for at least two machines here. But so far I have not made that decision. One reason is that if Apple won't talk to me about software, it's going to take a long time to acquire enough to do real testing.
In any event, what goes in the column is more tried and tested; this is the Day Book.
Went to Fry's and came back utterly exhausted. Got a new 24 port gigabit switch to replace a bunch of 5 port switches that have multiplied like rabbits. That way I can get rid of a bunch of electrical cords as well. Looked at tables. Don't like any of them.
Working on the column. Zero energy, but that's to be expected. All's well. Long conversation with Greg Benford about an article we are writing. I am way behind on doing my part. Alas. It's for Wall Street Journal.
And I know I am behind on some essays for here, but I do have notes, and I do know much of what needs to be said. Column first, of course.
Windows 2008 Server will run natively on a Mac Pro: that is, put in new disk drive, have no other drives in Mac Pro, boot with Windows Server 2008 disk, install, and voila! More with configuration later, but you can run Microsoft directly on Apple hardware. Windows 2008 Server is 64 bit, and apparently all the drivers seem to be working. More when I know more -- this is not my experiment -- but it is all looking very good according to early reports.
This means that Boot Camp can let you boot into Windows 2008 Server as well as Mac OS XP; which is interesting indeed.
Subscriptions continue to come in. The new system is working and I haven't even done anything with is. Thanks!!
Roland and others I rely on tell me that XP under VMware runs just fine under a MacBook, but you probably will want to go to 4 GB of memory to do that. One doesn't need the MacBook Pro for a lot of things; the MacBook is good enough. More later. MacBook battery life is better than MacBook Pro, too.
Me, I prefer the Air as the machine to carry around, but we'll see. MacBook begins to sound a lot better than I had supposed. Of course I do not have one. Yet. I may get Roberta a MacBook. I am becoming fond of the Mac OS.
Progress report of a sort on symptoms: Conference with Dr. Wang.
I had a good telephone conference with my radiation oncologist today. The situation is this: we have another week of being Zapped, then it will take a couple of weeks for the wreckage to clear. After that there will be CAT and MRI scans; pointless to do them earlier since all they would see is a mess. Once my system clears out a lot of the dead tissue, they'll see what's left of the original tumor, and do a symptom assessment. Given the location of the tumor (entirely inoperable) the usual treatment for such a thing is "observation" and that's probably what we will revert to, if the symptoms are gone.
So it is possible that I will be back more or less to normal in a month or so. I sure hope so. And until things sort of settle in, I don't think I want to spend much money on equipment that requires me to rearrange things. I need to know what my work station ought to look like when I am at the new normal.
I hesitate to make any expensive decisions right now because I can't see. I have to have my screens very close now. It used to be that 28" focal length was right for my computer glasses, but now I have the screens 16" or closer. My eyes focus on different planes, which makes it harder to see anything. Of course this will all change over time. At the same time, I do have to make new arrangements just to get through the next month.
How to sink to the depths of despair.
I have no idea what RAR is. Oh, I know, it's some kind of cabinet file structure similar to zip, but I have no idea how this infestation got to my communications machine.
I downloaded by ftp an huge .iso file of Windows 2007. I needed that because Vista corrupted Office 2007 (I have Office 2oo3 on the same machine) by bringing in a bad .dll and now Vista demands that I reinstall Office 2007. The only copy I have of 2007 is very old, pre any Service Packs. Microsoft PR was sending me several copies of Office 2007 but something happened to the disks, and now it is time to work and I need 2007 and do not have it.
So I got an ISO from MSDN. Only my PC tells me that although it is a .iso file, it has an RAR icon, and I can't do anything with it; it insists it is an RAR file. The Mac cannot SEE RAR files. The Mac, across the network, sees a .iso file in the same folder as that RAR file, but it will not see the Office 2007. So I can't burn a disk with the Mac.
So I copy the iso onto a thumb drive. Insert that in the Mac. Mac sees this and names the disk it sees as Vista2007.iso, but I can't manage to burn that. The Mac now wants to see this a bunch of folders. I can't figure out how to copy the darned file to the Mac and I can't figure out how to burn it.
OK, remove the thumb drive and go to Vista machine. It sees it. But my Vista is corrupted: my Vista will not burn any CD's. My Vista doesn't believe in CD's. It believes all my CD/DVD drives are DVD only.
So I am about to transfer this file to an ancient Windows 2000 system that has an ancient copy of Nero and a CD only writer, and write this the old fashioned and slow way. And I think this is a conspiracy to make me feel like a fool.
0950: That seems to be doing it. Old Charcute, a Windows 2000 system with Nero, is a=burning my ISO image. Now I have to figure out why RAR got in the act, and why the Mac couldn't see the file, and other such stuff; but at least I ought to be able to reinstall Office 2007 on the Vista system, and later onto the Mac under VMware. But why it took me two hours to figure out how to burn this disk is beyond me. I didn't need that long to get Windows XP SP2 burned and installed on the Mac. Sigh.
So I finally get a CD, and get one of my machines to believe that CD's exist, and of course the product key I have for Office Ultimate is rejected. Now I have to spelunk to find something that works. This is insanity. Computers are clearly in a conspiracy to make us feel like fools and drive us mad.
March 23, 2008
Anniversary of the Star Wars Speech
Easter is more important and by a lot, but today is the anniversary of Reagan's 1983 speech that began the Strategic Defense Initiative known as SDI. Senator Ted Kennedy immediately named it "Star Wars" and the press picked that up.
The policy behind that speech, and some of the wording, was done by the Citizen's Advisory Council on National Space Policy, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Chairman. The council first met in Larry Niven's home in Tarzana in 1980 after the election of 1980 to draft the transition team papers on space and military space policy for the incoming Reagan Administration. We reported to General Bernard Schriever USAF Ret., who was the officer formally charged with supplying the papers. Colonel Francis X. Kane, USAF Ret. had been Schriever's Director of Plans, and was charged with preparing the papers.
Kane was a co-author of Strategy of Technology (formal authors Stefan T. Possony and Jerry Pournelle), and had been director of Project Forecast in 1964. Forecast was the Air Systems Division study of warfare and USAF requirements for the year 1975. Project 75, also done in 1964 at Aerospace Corporation San Bernardino Operations, was the Ballistic Systems Division study of 1975 force and technology requirements. The Director was William Dorrance; the editor was Dr. Jerry Pournelle.
While the first report was in preparation, Possony's old student and colleague Dr. Richard Allen, formerly of the Hoover Institution, was appointed National Security Advisor, and agreed to give the Council Reports directly to the President, who read them all.
General Daniel Graham's High Frontier organization was allied with the Council and supplied much of the political muscle required to chip through some of the bureaucracy that opposed SDI.
The president adopted, and High Frontier gathered political support, for the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was first announced in the "Star Wars" speech. The Council supplied intellectual arguments, technical support (we included among others Max Hunter, Dr. Charles Gould, and many other rocket scientists and engineers; we were technically spot on), and sometimes speech phrases: Reagan was a better speech writer than any of his staff or the Council, but at least one phrase dreamed up by publisher (and long time friend) Jim Baen went directly into the speech. Jim was inordinately proud, as he should have been.
At Reykjavik Gorbachev begged Reagan to back down from Star Wars. The President would not do so.
It is my belief that SDI was the final blow that ended the USSR.
A good night last night. I got almost 6 hours of sleep, after Vista nearly drove me nuts.
I need help. Roxanne, a Vista machine, is one of my main machine, and particularly has most of my games. It also has utilities.
I need to scrub to bare metal and install the newest Vista Ultimate in hopes that it will make the machine usable again. At the moment it refuses to believe there is any such thing as a CDROM; all drives are DVD only, and half the time it won't even see those. There are networking problems. Roxanne is all messed up, and she needs to be started over.
If that doesn't work I scrub again and install XP.
But I do not really want to have to reinstall all the applications; indeed I may not even have some of the original disks. Is there any way I can backup and save apps in a way that they can be reinstalled on a new Vista Ultimate? Or must I simply battle my way through application at a time and hope?
Advice appreciated, but PLEASE do not speculate. If you know how to accomplish something I very much appreciate the advice, but I do not need an exploration path. I can come up with that myself and in fact that's sort of what I do. Thanks.
What I want is the most painless way to blow away Vista, reinstall Vista, and get this machine back where it is now, but working.
--- Roland Dobbins
If you like, go order a copy. Meet Dan Alderson, among others. Find out about Nerva engines. (Yes, it's an old story, but it's not out dated; it's about starting an asteroid civilization.) Needless to say you will see this announcement again.
Product keys: if your system believes that an installation program will be on a DVD, but it is in fact on a CD, then apparently Windows installer simply rejects the product code. It does not tell you that your disk is the wrong format. This cost me a lot of time last night. It turns out that Office 2007 Ultimate will fit on a CDROM, but in fact wants to be on a DVD; and attempts to install from a CDROM will fail with rejection of product key and no other notice.
It took all afternoon, but I have eliminated 5 Gigabit Ethernet switches to be replaced by two larger ones, and got rid of a snake's nest of cables and power cords.
It turns out that the smallest tasks -- this was pretty trivial after all -- take a lot longer than expected, are more daunting, and when things go wrong like dropping a screw produce completely out of proportion emotional storms. It's possible to go very slowly, remember that it's no real disaster to lose a screw, do one thing at a time, and systematically get the job done; as witness that you are seeing this, which means I have the Ethernet network back up and running. And it's sure a lot easier to see what's happening now.
But it's also a lesson on just what the effects of a brain growth plus radiation therapy can do to one's emotions.
It has been a good day. Richard drove down for Mass and brunch at Sportsman's Lodge. Alex and Dana came to brunch. Herrin, being 8 months along, didn't want the long drive with Richard from Tehachapi where they live, and one can hardly blame her. Jenny is in China so we didn't hear from her, but we heard from the other kids and grandchild. And while I have little energy, my right ear is deaf and ringing, I taste brass, still: I can swallow. My eyes don't focus well but I can see. I can walk and I can write, and apparently I can be interesting enough to get you to subscribe.
A week more of Zaps, and then a period of rest and recuperation and then a reassessment. We detected this problem six months ago. I had two friend who were dead in six months from detection of a tumor in their heads. Me, I'm getting better.
Count your blessings.
You cannot imagine how much I detest Vista. It is the slowest OD for accessing the Internet of any I have ever seen, and that's independent of the browser. It can't see my internal network sometimes, then later it sees the machines it ignored. It can see machines it can't connect to. It ignores CD's entirely.
A big download on Satine, an XP single processor system, took 20 minutes. The same download on the Vista Core 2 Duo system is expected to take more than two hours. Same file from the same (MSDN) server on a Sunday afternoon. Vista is a resource hog and gives very little for what it consumes.
Of course I was using it early. It may be a mess. I am going to scrub to bare metal and reinstall and see if that helps. If not then we do it again and install XP, and I forget Vista.
Does anyone happen to know if Eve On Line can be played on a Mac, or must that be done (if on a Mac) through a Windows installation? World of Warcraft plays very well on a Mac. Don't know about Eve, and I'd like to know.
Hah. I have email saying there is a Mac client for Eve. Good enough! I'll download it.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the weekly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
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