THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 539 October 6 - 12, 2008
Highlights this week:
For boiler plate, search engine, and notes on what in the world this place is, see below.
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
October 6, 2008
Sleepless in Studio City 0600: I completed the first October column last night. It's pretty good if I do say so. Went to bed at night but I couldn't sleep properly. At least it's done, and I am headed for bed.
1200 Well, the bill was long coming, late, and complicated, which isn't confidence building. The crisis is one of confidence: there's still plenty of money out there, but no one wants to risk it. And when Wells Fargo bids more for all of Wachovia than Citibank offered for part (leaving other parts to the taxpayers), why look! The judges get in the act. There's work for lawyers! And Wachovia twists in the wind. That, of course, was the reason that the original Treasury proposal explicitly excluded jurisdiction of the courts; a bad idea, but if one is trying to build confidence, something like that is needed.
So the market is down about what the Investment Bailout would have cost. An interesting roller coaster with more to come.
The column should go up tonight sometime.
I am beginning to hate Firefox. It decides to update when it wants to, never asks if I want to put that off, and then spends a long time doing it's thing when I want to look at something before it will let me just use it as a browser. I don't think I have that problem with Internet Explorer. Then it gives me spiels about updates to add-ons. It has been five minutes since I tried to look at an article about a rock hitting the Earth, and all I have done is answer jabs from Firefox. Of course it's free, so what do I expect? I'd rather pay for something that doesn't act as if it owns my machine.
Of course Internet Explorer is slow trying to find that article. It's on MSNBC and perhaps the server is busy. IE is taking forever to load the page. Firefox has decided that it can't find the page at all. Interesting.
Eventually IE showed me the page. Firefox has yet to do so. I expect it's busy.
Now I really hate Firefox. It has been an hour and it is still trying to play update games, and will not let me access the web. They need to fix their update procedures.
I have Firefox set to ask me before it does updates. I guess what I have to do is tell it to download on command only? What's really annoying is that it just sits there until I try to open a link, at which point Firefox decides it needs to update. Someone must have had a design feature in mind but I can't figure it out.
To make things clearer: I don't hate Firefox, but its update mechanisms are annoying. I still use it, and once all the update nonsense is done all is well again, but while it is trying to play update games it is more than annoying, it is infuriating; and it always seems to set out on its mission to infuriate me when I really need to access a web page because I am writing something and I need to verify a fact.
Ah well. Do recall: THIS IS A DAYBOOK. I often say things in unlabelled comments that I later reconsider. One may have some confidence that an essay with a title represents a real view. I often make typos (which Roberta carefully finds and tells me about in email so I generally get them fixed by the next day).
Think of this as a public log book. Bottom line: I don't hate Firefox. I continue to use Firefox because (1) I'm used to it and (2) it's still easier for me for what I do than IE. I particularly like the little button that lets me open a new Google window without trouble and without closing the one I am looking at.
For platinum subscription:
Platinum subscribers enable me to work on what I think is important without worrying about economics. My thanks to all of you.
Did you subscribe and never hear from me? Click here!.
|This week:||Tuesday, October
Anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, 15721
I have a natural curiosity about rocks hitting the Earth.
I have known Terry, God bless him, for many years. I can only count my blessings that I got brain cancer: we know how to cure that. I find I have trouble writing about this.
I have a 500 GB Western Digital drive for my Mac Book Pro. The question now is what to do with it. See discussion in mail. I'm about to go to the Apple Store and see what their advice might be. Of course I would have no problem at all installing it in a ThinkPad running Vista. What I want is to run both Mac OS-X and either XP or Vista on the Mac Book Pro, but that takes disk space.
Incidentally, the long lag connecting to WS_FTP (long lag but fast throughput once connection established) is gone just now. The connection is almost instantaneous. There hasn't been any update to Vista that I know of, and I sure haven't made any changes to my settings. It always bothers me when problems show up and then go away without explanation. The lag in connecting by ftp (about 5 - 8 seconds) have been around for a couple of weeks. Sometimes they would go away but never for long. Today they have been gone for hours. Connection is instantaneous. I'll keep looking...
Daybook entry: actual story will be in the column. I reserve the right to change my views if I learn something else.
Went to Apple Store with Mac Book Pro and new 500 GB WD Blue Scorpion laptop drive. Goal was to get Apple to install the new drive so I don't void warranty.
The concierge -- I have no better name, he filters people before they can get to the Genius Bar line -- said I needed an appointment. I showed him the WD drive and pointed out that they were just coming out, WD had sent it to me for evaluation, and I needed it put into a Mac Book Pro; I'd pay.
He went into the back room out of sight for about 10 minutes. Came out and looked behind the Genius Bar and found a sheet of paper listing a half dozen authorized service centers. Apple doesn't install 3rd party hardware. These places will. I had previously stopped at Staple for something else and the Ass't Manager told me that (1) they were an authorized Apple service center, and (2) they couldn't guarantee a factory warranty but they had their own. The Apple Store said much the same thing: my warranty would be assumed by the store I dealt with. No one at the Apple Store knew, or admitted to know, the details of this: suppose my screen failed? Who would take care of that?
Now I have to decide what to do here.
My advice: DO NOT BUY A MAC BOOK PRO. Apple is apparently coming out with a new model that has a user replaceable hard drive. Wait for that. Otherwise you are stuck with the hard drive that comes with your Mac.
Terrifying: Obama will give a tax break to 95% of the people -- including those who don't pay taxes. That's called negative income tax: take it away from those who earn more and give it to those who earn less. It has never worked in the past, but this time for sure.
And I bid 500 aspers per Legionaire
October 8, 2008
The Treasury Secretary has spoken and Wall Street has sort of responded. We're not out of the woods, but perhaps confidence is creeping back? That is, it probably doesn't matter a lot what the Feds do so long as investors are convinced that we will DO Something; the problem is, now much more harm with the Something do? That's one reason I was more fond of the original four page proposal than of the 450 page monster, and for that matter of the 100 page proposal whose defeat triggered the first Black Monday.
I know, I know, it gave unprecedented power to the Sec Treasury without much in the way of oversight and review; but no man who ever lived would have been in a brighter spotlight for the rest of his life; and without immunity he would have been subjected to endless lawsuits and the rescue certainly would not have worked. It was supposed to be a rescue, not a series of tax cuts and bounties, nor the Trial Lawyer's Full Employment Act.
The 451 page proposal didn't work because it is hard to have confidence in something you do not understand. The Secretary today made it a bit clearer, and Wall Street sort of responded, but we are not out of the woods yet. Something more will be required, and there are plenty of Congressional Militia and Senatorial Reavers who will act to get a piece of it written in. So it goes. Like occasional piracy off the Horn of Africa is a cost of using the Suez Canal, appeasing the Congressional pirate forces is the cost of rescuing the financial system. To carry the analogy further, we also insist on punishing the captains of the ships that allowed themselves to get into trouble, and perhaps we are more concerned with punishing the guilty than with rescuing the ships in trouble.
I confess I am more interested in Tran just at the moment.
For the record: it took 9 seconds to connect ftp to my web home page; 9 seconds to connect to the mail page; and 9 seconds to connect to the view page (I have different scripts for each because even with the lag it's a lot quicker to disconnect and reconnect to the proper page than to do two sets of drilling up and down). The next time I tried to connect to each of those pages the connection was instantaneous. My web service providers tell me they have done nothing to change anything. I have done nothing to change settings. I'm glad it works but I don't comprehend what's happening. It appears to happen only with Vista, but I can't think why.
Note that throughput isn't affected and is very fast.
I want to thank those who recently renewed by upgrading to Platinum. Now back to Tran.
That meteor in Africa didn't do any damage, but it was a coup for spacewatch. See Mail.
After digesting the Secretary's message, the Dow closed down, not up. I guess he wasn't forceful enough. Meanwhile the prospects of a Democratic Congress with a Democrat President may be sinking in. The only way Obama is going to do all the things he promised will be to extract money from someone. His "tax cuts" involve sending checks to the 40% of the taxpayers who don't pay any income taxes -- or, if not, someone needs to say that, openly and strongly. His health care system is going to be costly, and while he says that his plan will save money, most politicians say that.
I would be very pleased to have two political parties either of which we could trust to do what is best. We may be running an experiment to see if we have that.
I suspect the best we can get is divided government. We'd still have Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd chairing the relevant committees.
Ftp report: after about an hour of not using ftp the first reconnection took 9 seconds; the next was instantaneous. And now I really am off to Tran.
I am still dithering over what to do with the WD 500 GB Blue Scorpion laptop drive: I don't need it in the ThinkPad, and I do need it in the Mac Book Pro. Friends tell me that now that I'm back among the living, replacing the drive in a Mac Book Pro is more tedious than difficult, and you can always keep the original drive and reinstall it if you need Warranty service -- which, given the useful life of laptops, isn't likely anyway. Macs are well made. So one alternative is to use the really explicit on-line instructions (there are several) and think of this as doing yet another silly thing so you won't have to. I'll get a column out of it for sure. I'd still rather pay an Apple genius to do this, but I learned yesterday ( see above) that Apple doesn't do third party installations.
Since Apple is apparently bringing out a Mac Book Pro with user replaceable hard drive, I would strongly advise waiting for that before buying a Mac Book Pro. I intend this Mac to run both Vista and Mac OS-X, and to become my main laptop, so it's going to need a big drive, particularly if it's going to be the only machine I take on trips.
October 9, 2008
I have spent the morning on the telephone dealing with the Kaiser phone tree. Kaiser human beings are extremely nice, and most of them are very competent, but their phone tree system is maddening. I think of it as a preview of national health care under Obama: replace all the nice people at Kaiser with civil servants who consider themselves underpaid, and continue the phone trees. If there's a Kaiser executive reading this: I got a telephone message from a machine. It said I should call another number for a message. I called it and it asked for a medical record number. Kaiser medical record numbers as shown on the memberships card begin with 000 and then six numbers.
I punched in 000xxxxxxx, and the machine told me it couldn't resolve the number, and rather than ask me to try again, said please call back and call again -- and hung up. So I dialed again, and tried again, same result. I thought on this and tried once more, this time omitting the leading zeroes, and Lo! It worked. So if there is a Kaiser executive reading this, your phone tree mechanism over on the message center is defective.
When I got over that hurdle, I was told there was a problem with my credit card for my mail order pharmacy order, and given yet another number to call. I called that one and got tweedle=tweedle-tweedle "Your call did not go through," and while it didn't conclude with a cackle or a sugar sweet "Have a nice day," it might as well have. Three attempts at that produced the same result each time, at which point I called the appointment desk. They were supposed to transfer me to the right place, and I was also given yet another number to call. The transfer didn't work and after a few minutes I got the recorded "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again." So I called the number I was given and got an automobile body shop where no one spoke English. (I am NOT making this up.) So I tried the appointment desk again, with an offer to transfer, someone picked up the phone, and then it went dead. Holding on produced the "If you'd like to make a call" message. Third time's the charm, thought I, and this time I got a successful transfer to Membership Services which transferred me to the business side of the mail order pharmacy, where a nice young lady with a very bad short term memory -- she could not recall more than 4 digits at once -- went over my credit card information and we eventually discovered that someone, sometime, had transposed two numbers in my credit card data. Once that was straightened out my pharmacy order was reinstated, and all is well, and all is well. But I had spent an hour doing it.
That was with Kaiser, which is an extraordinarily well run organization -- at least in my experience -- and staffed with some of the most pleasant and just plain nice people I've ever run into. Now imagine this experience when it has all be nationalized and there's a big national health care system. I can hardly wait.
An interesting take on the election.
The market is down yet one more time, closing below 9,000 for the first time in 25 years. Confidence is hard to restore once it is lost.
It will get worse before it gets a lot better. We'll get through this.
October 10, 2008
Birthday of the Republic of China
Retraction or whatever:
Thanks for the correction. Yours was one of many, of course, and thanks to all those as well.
The black family survived slavery, civil war, Reconstructions, Jim Crow, legal segregation and the New Deal. It couldn't survive the Great Society.
It will be interesting to see what will happen next. Social engineers don't think families are important anyway.
You'll have to excuse me: I got very little sleep last night, and I think I need an early nap.
1215: That's better, but not sleeping at night can sure wreck your day.
What I wonder is what is the responsibility of the rating outfits that told bond fund managers that these packages were AAA quality, blue chip investments with the safety of Treasury bonds but higher yields? Was there any pressure on them?
Why should anyone care a hoot what these ratings outfits say now? It's pretty clear they were either incompetent or somehow influenced. Their models were hopelessly inept, and why should we assume they are any good now? Which is again one of the reasons for no confidence in the market. In whom would you have confidence? Who can tell you what's a safe investment?
I can't really blame the bond fund managers: these were touted as good investments. Mortgage backed securities. Now, had I been a manager I might have wondered about the bubble in the housing market and got out of as much of those things as I could. Query: I don't know the current state of the fiduciary responsibility laws and decisions, but I can see how one might be seen as not doing the best for one's investors for getting out of higher yield default swaps for Treasury bonds...
Your point is well made. One wonders how such messages should be delivered? The result in this case was good, but it might not have been. I am careful with my credit card numbers, and the person I gave this one to was reached through my calling Membership Services, but yes; this is worth some thought. How can messages be delivered and verified?
October 11, 2008
.This day was devoured by locusts.
October 12, 2008
.I have spent the day putting together the first October mailbag for Chaos Manor Reviews. It should be up tomorrow evening or Tuesday morning. Lots in there.
I'm sort of catching up, but there's still a lot to do. Thanks to all those who subscribed or renewed!
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.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
For platinum subscription:
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
For the BYTE story, click here.
Search: type in string and press return.
The freefind search remains:
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.