THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 542 October 27 - November 2, 2008
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October 27, 2008
I will be spending the day at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center. PDC is a big deal; this year it's odd, because after PDC is done, there will be, also in Los Angeles at the Convention Center, WinHEC, the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. WinHEC is held every year; PDC is less frequent and held when needed. I'll be at both, and if there's anything to be learned about the future I'll find it out.
Mail will be light until I catch up; I am due at PDC at 0 dark hundred. There is a discussion of free trade and the crash over in mail.
I managed to get to the PDC keynote on time. Ari and Peter had held a seat for me right up front, so I was as close as one can get when Ray Ozzie -- the Chief Software Architect now that the Fearless Leader has gone on to other matters -- introduced Windows Azure, otherwise known as Microsoft more-or-less Blue, the Microsoft Cloud Computing system. Don't take my frivolous tone as judgment: there's a lot to like about this, and there are many implications. I am inclined to dislike Network Computing, but I am assured this isn't really that.
I find that it was an exhausting day and tomorrow, which is likely to be Windows 7, will be the same, so I'll hang on; this isn't a place for breaking news anyway, and I'll have more considered comments in a day or so. Peter Glaskowsky and I spent an hour talking with Windows Azure product managers, and I think I understand what's happening here.
The LA Times has tapes of a 2003 Chicago party at which Obama was apparently being chummy with the PLO spokesman in the US. Ayers was present. I say this from an article in the Times; the tape hasn't been released for reasons not explained.
I do not know why the tape isn't news, but apparently the LA Times doesn't think so.
XCOR & Rich Pournelle
Today's The Bakersfield Californian interview with pictures.
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|This week:||Tuesday, October
Got to PDC at 0 dark thirty, learned something about Windows 7 and other stuff, and spent the afternoon with Michael Miller, Richard Doherty, Peter Glaskowsky, and Auri Rahiumzadeh, all old friends. I've known Michael since he wrote for Popular Computing back in McGraw Hill days. That was a long time ago, before he went to InfoWorld and became editor in chief -- and that was quite a while ago, too.
Anyway it was a good day for learning, and ended at Universal City with Peter and Auri and Michael. I just got back and I am exhausted. There will be more tomorrow.
October 29, 2008
The Microsoft PDC conference is still on, but it's increasingly narrowly technical and not too useful for me; so I slept in late today and I'm not going down there. I'll be doing my column for next week about what went on at PDC and try to get it up before I go down there to WinHEC for more of what I hope won't quite be the same.
Just at the moment I am put off my stride by Firefox, which has done it to me again. I tried to open a link in mail. Firefox told me there was this update I should install. I let it do that. Of course then Firefox came up with all my preferences gone, and my 60 or so open tabs in one long horizontal string. I know there is a place I can set that, and I should have written it down on a Postit and glued it to the monitor, since if you are going to use Firefox you'll have to live with resetting the configuration fairly frequently. When Firefox works it works OK, and I'm used to it; but I wish I had invested my learning time into Internet Explorer, which doesn't seem to reset your options whenever it feels like it. Meanwhile I have wasted a lot of time and creative energy into trying to get Firefox to look as it did last night. If there's a place in Tab Mix Plus options to set the tabs display option I can't find it. I know it's there for I used it before, but apparently the intention of Firefox is to weed out all those who don't have nearly perfect memories. Why do they do this?
I presume someone will tell me how to do this. This time I'll write it by hand an put it into my log book.
For reasons I do not understand, after working as a stupid long horizontal ribbon for half an hour, Firefox is now displaying three lines of tabs the way I wanted it to. Moreover, thanks to all you who told me how to fix things in future : although in this case no fix was needed. It was set properly, but someone Windows Vista wasn't told for a while; eventually it found out.
For the record: it's Tools | Addons | Tab Mix Plus (and you must then select that) | Options | Display | Tab Bar and you will finally have drilled down to where you can fix the display. Actually, once you know that, then Tool | Options | Tab Mix Plus Options will let you find it if you know where to look. Anyway, thanks to everyone.
As if I didn't have enough to do, I have a draft of an as yet not accepted by courts of a settlement between the Author's Guild acting on behalf of itself and its lawyers but purporting to be on my behalf. That led me to Google Books, where entering my name showed just about everything I ever wrote along with a button that says "Add to my library." I haven't yet figured out what "add to my library" means: does this mean a free download?
And on that one I have managed to dig in and find out what is happening: Google certainly has a number of my books -- not all of them -- available to be added to "My Library". Once they are in My Library I can open the book and read about 3/4 of the book. There are many complete chapters, but arbitrary chunks of the text are missing. Sometimes it's whole chapters, but in Burning Tower, for instance (which is I think the best love story Niven and I have written) you can read the opening, good parts of the book, but as the final chapter opens it jumps from there to the middle of the notes.
On the other hand, there are links to where you can buy them. Since I have posted chunks of my books myself I could be persuaded that this is teaser material and may increase sales. On the other hand, the selection is clearly random, and there are lots of spoilers.
I don't know what to make of this.
October 30, 2008
I suppose it will be called another racist attack, but I was struck with the appropriateness of McCain's remark that Obama's big medial splash last night was paid by broken promises. Of course I am no fan of campaign contribution "reform", but a system that lets one candidate raise money while the other is capped is insane. Obama promised -- well a campaign promise -- that he would accept public financing. I hate the whole notion of Federal financing of campaigns -- the Framer must be spinning like tops -- but it does seem to me that once one accepts it, one should not be allowed to change one's mind. Ah. Well.
Yesterday a shelf fell off one wall in my office. Actually, it fell Tuesday while I was at PDC. Anyway, yesterday I had to go to the hardware store for brackets, come back and put up the shelf, and reshelve the books. In theory that shelf is reserved for what I am reading now, but for the last year I haven't been myself and I sort of forgot what was on that shelf. The result is that I found a bunch of books I had put up to be read, and then promptly forgot about. One was a Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment, and I thought I'd start reading it, and as a result the main thing I got done yesterday was getting that shelf back in place.
I had intended to write column draft on Hailstorm -- oops, Windows Azure and Cloud Computing. Well, I did manage to read a new book on Cloud Computing, getting me sort of caught up on the concept, I discovered there wasn't much new to talk about: that is, I discussed it all in Hailstorm and Network Computing days. I knew back then that the hardware wasn't up to the concept, but I also knew that it certainly would be within 15 - 20 years. And lo! That's where we are now. The hardware is mostly up to the job. Anyway I'll try to do a column segment on Cloud Computing and Azure.
I didn't watch Obama's infomercial last night. The papers this morning didn't seem to be much impressed with his accomplishment: did he get enough return for what it cost (not just in money) to make it worth while? I would say not, but not having seen it I can't be definitive.
What I have never seen from Obama is real specifics on what he intends to do other than expand the power of the state. He will go line by line through the budget and decide what is and is not working; given that this is impossible -- have you seen the budget? -- what does he mean? On what criteria will he decide if a program needs elimination or reform or is working pretty well now? I have not heard anything that would tell me that; does anyone know? (I am not fishing for diatribes. It's a bit late for those anyway.)
One scenario is Pelosi with a majority, Reid with a filibuster-proof majority, and Obama bringing in the former chief of Freddie Mac to be the budget director. Obama doesn't actually say he is not a Socialist as far as I can see: he does ridicule those who say he is. My guess is that he's a clever Chicago politician and has no real principles other than spend and spend, elect and elect. Can he build a Chicago style political machine in the US? It will be interesting to find out. The country is broke, and taxes are pretty high now; we're not restricted by deflation; we are not crucifying mankind on a Cross of Gold; we already have farm subsidies. We aren't likely to have Department of Agriculture inspectors coming to family farms to determine how many little pigs of a litter must be killed to keep prices up and what proportion of the milk had to be poured out on the ground (yes, that happened; farmers with fewer kids to feed had to kill a larger portion of the litter, too). We already have most of Roosevelt's 'reforms'.
This will be in the column: those interested in what Roosevelt tried in his first administration and why it didn't work will find Amity Shlaes The Forgotten Man. I've been reading it on the Kindle and it reads well. I say it here because it took ten years and World War II to get us out of the Great Depression. It may be that we won't bottom out as hard. But much of what is proposed was tried without much success and may be argued as having made things worse.
The Congress is probably lost, and the Republicans deserve defeat - although the nation doesn't deserve huge Democratic majorities. Even with veto-proof majorities, a mixed government with McCain as President would probably do less harm. Neither McCain nor Obama may 'deserve' election, but I do not think the US deserves an all powerful Obama.
Whatever happens we seem to be living in interesting times.
There is considerable mail of importance.
Another reputable scientist predicts global cooling, not warming:
Complete with charts and arguments. I have not read it in detail, but I would be astonished if it proves the case -- I don't think any climate modeler can prove a case now -- but it is certainly as compelling as most global warming predictions.
And if our fate must be either warmer or colder, I'll take warmer every time. Colder brings famine.
31 October 2008
All Hallows Eve
Niven and I both came down with something. He thinks food poisoning from our dinner in Pasadena last night. I think stomach flu but it amounts to the same thing.
Spent the day more or less in bed. We didn't even go to Niven's Halloween party.
November 1, 2008
All Saints Day
More or less recovered. Good night's sleep and Sable and I took our midnight walk last night.
We are off for our morning walk, and I'll have a good bit here later.
Despair is a sin, and often a mistake. The polls do not record the "refused to respond" which in my judgment is a much larger category than any admit -- it includes me, five times so far this year since I'm home to answer the phone more than many people are -- and I suspect that more McCain people refuse to respond than the trendier Obama enthusiasts.
Few Republicans are enthusiastic. I wish there were a safe recipient for the Turn The Rascals Out! vote. There isn't. Electing a junior senator whose political positions are indistinguishable from McGovern except on the checkoff unionization which even McGovern opposes cannot be a good thing for the future of the nation. If the Democratic candidate were Colin Powell, who has fairly traditional liberal views but is primarily a centrist with some military (including political military, but who has led troops in combat) experience, I'd very likely vote for him on the grounds that he would be a good restraining influence on Rangel, Franks, Dodd, Pelosi, and the weak Reid. Alas, Obama isn't likely to stand up to much of anything; his political experience has been Chicago machine go along to get along.
But the election is not over. There are more decline to answer voters than it takes to change the election.
One vote per precinct in California delivered the nation to Woodrow Wilson.
The way to win elections is to get those who intend to vote for your candidate to go vote. Few readers here are not capable of getting two or three voters to the polls. That's well over a million votes. Think on it.
November 2, 2008
All Souls Day
AKA Day of the Dead
Roberta sang in a concert last night, Howells, Mozart, and Bach memorials. Well attended and extremely well done. Jeanine Wagner, daughter of Roger Wagner, inherited the Wagner Chorale and a couple of other groups, and also conducts the choir at St. Francis where the concert was held. She was exhausted after all the rehearsals and the performance so we came home after a token appearance at the reception.
I won't be sorry to have the elections over. Well maybe I will be since I don't know what the outcome will be. If you want my advice on what to do about the elections, see yesterday's squib.
I have no idea. Surely the National Guard already exists. The example of a new Federal Security Force that comes to mind is not one I want to talk about. My view is that the Feds have too much power now; that local sheriffs should have more independence. Well, we will see.
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.
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