THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 547 December 1 - 7, 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.
December 1, 2008
Official Christmas Season
Well, it's my official Christmas Season beginning: December 1 and after. The merchants have a different view, and there are the Puritans who want to abolish Christmas entirely (as it was legally abolished by Cromwell during the Interregnum/Commonwealth in England between Charles I and the Restoration). And of course the Plymouth Rock colonists did not believe in Christmas, even though they invented Thanksgiving. (Incidentally, the first words the Pilgrims heard from a Native American were in English, and were "Welcome! Have you got any beer?" But that's another story.)
The network situation isn't fixed, but it's tolerable. I'm reduced to sneakernet for transferring to and from any laptop to the main system (well, not quite: the MacBook air will talk to the iMac 20, I think) -- but since I am not going anywhere for a while, that's not terribly important. It's inconvenient for taking the ThinkPad t42p up to the Monk's Cell and saving a copy of the work done over the network, but in fact it's safer to save that onto a thumb drive anyway, so I have put a small thumb drive -- after all, Word files are small so we're talking a few megabytes here -- into the case I carry upstairs.
Actually, though, I suspect I'll get the network with workgroup going again. Something just happened: one of my Vista systems decided to show the entire network: it just appeared. I had done nothing, but now I can connect to the Apple systems (I know why that works; that's for the column) but why the Apple and XP systems suddenly appeared is not so clear to me. We'll see another time. The other Vista machine remains oblivious, but I may get that going. The fact that one of them works properly makes me think my problems are waning.
This is cheering news.
And indeed the other Vista machine is now working properly, and what was needed to get that working is instructive and will go into the column. The Macs talk to each other but don't see the Windows machines. That's clearly a matter of settings and we'll get that fixed.
All is likely to be well shortly. Deo Gratia.
So far, Obama has done nothing alarming. His announced advisors seem to have been drawn from the same pool as the Clintons do (and indeed include Hillary Clinton). It would be a good thing for the country if the Democratic Party moved back to the Center, so that turning out rascal Republicans was not risking irreversible changes to the structure of the nation. The two party system can work well if "change" really means turning the rascals out but otherwise things are pretty well the same. Of course getting back to that situation requires a lot of "Change"; and so far I have nothing but praise for Mr. Obama.
It turns out I was wrong. My high school civics lesson was misleading, although strictly Constitutional. By law, Barrack Obama is the President Elect.
My thanks to Mr. McIntyre, and my apologies to readers who may have been misled. Oddly enough, Mr. Reagan insisted on the distinction "President Designate" or "Presumed President Elect" until the December casting of votes by the Electors; I guess he learned the same civics lessons I did. He did take advantage of the Transition Act funding (I chaired one of the policy committees; we wrote Space and Defense policy), but he didn't claim the title President Elect. Ah well. In any event I was wrong.
Thanks to Phil Tharp who helped me understand some settings and who also helped stir up old memories (well, anything from last Spring is old because I was pretty well on autopilot from January through August this year) the network is working. Vista sees Xp and Macs, Macs see each other and Vista, and so forth. I can work across the net again. The story -- and it's a good one -- will be in the next column which ought to be posted next Monday. The old memories were from setting up the iMac and MacBook Air last spring: there were things I had to do in order to get the network operating properly, and I had entirely forgotten them. Macs and Windows both work, but they have their own idiosyncrasies, and particularly with Vista everything must be done in precisely the correct way, including case. Once done, though, it's pretty automatic.
Next step is the HP Windows Home Server, and the MacBook Pro.
Khaos, the MacBook Air, continues to be a love, and works just fine, able to connect to both the iMac and the Vista machine that is sort of her "server" to keep copies of any files created there.
Emily, the Intel Quad Extreme system, is lightning fast. All is well here, I have my happy ending, and a good story for the column. Tomorrow will be fiction.
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, December
One more problem solved. Vista 64 bit has some difficulties with Internet Explorer and Firefox, but I got them solved. That too goes into the column.
Obama continues to make sensible appointments. (Sensible not in the sense that I would have appointed Clinton as Secretary of State, but sensible in that she's greatly preferable to her husband's choice, or some of those who might have been appointed.) The scariest statement he has ever made was on environmentalism and coal; we can hope that he said that when he had not yet turned his full attention to the evidence. We will see.
December 3, 2008
The stories out of Mumbai continue to astonish me. Here is a country that has been independent since 1948; the world's largest democracy; which has been in a state bordering on war with Pakistan since the riots that killed millions, and which periodically has outbursts of rioting and terror; and the police are armed with .303 Enfield bolt action rifles, and clearly are not trained to shoot them. Great Heavens, the Santa Monica Police Department has a better trained and better equipped tactical operations and special weapons department than that! And yet what is said to be the world's largest city, the financial capital of the world's largest democracy, can be brought to a standstill for days by no more than a dozen men armed with AK-47's and grenades.
Part of it is the permit raj that continues in India: once the chief of the police Special Branch was killed -- apparently as he responded personally to reports of an attack on the railroad station! -- was killed, no one was available to take charge and take out the dozen men who were roaming the city and killing at will. Apparently there was no police reserve, no armed private citizens; the Navy and Marines were unwilling to take a hand; and the populace beat up and disarmed the private security guards that the Jewish community center had hired, leaving the two gunmen who attacked Chabad House free to roam through killing anyone they could find, dropping grenades into the crowd outside, and generally enjoying their last few hours before India Commandos -- were they Gurkhas? -- assaulted the center.
Of course the British didn't leave India as a nation of armed free men, and India has no Second Amendment; nor is there anything like a Civil Defense organization there. Of course we have disbanded our Civil Defense network in favor of Federal bureaucrats. Perhaps this will be a lesson to us?
December 4, 2008
Well we lost some ground yesterday. Not only didn't I get any real writing done, but the plumbers tell us that it's going to cost us about 3 grand to fix our sewer system: the toilets backed up. Probably roots. And we don't seem to have a main inspection-cleanout port, which is astonishing. Actually the astonishing thing is that we've got along for 40 years in this house without needing one. But of course putting one in isn't going to be cheap. There went Christmas... Of course we have no choice in the matter. Ah well.
Roberta tells me I must stop complaining and say something cheerful. I'll think on that. At the moment I have been trying to find some icon to change to for one of my command prompts to open in a particular place, and discovering that VISTA doesn't seem to have any standard set of icons the way Windows did for a decade and more. That is the "Change Icon" button doesn't lead you to anything, and search on icons gets no results. Apparently Microsoft decided not to bother. Or maybe I just have very old memories, and none of this was in XP either. But I can remember that Microsoft Windows used to offer a set of standard icons you could use to identify different command prompt windows, so that it was easier to see which window you were selecting (I used one that showed a wad of money to open my accounting program, which is an old DOS program I wrote donkey's years ago but still use because it's easier than changing accounting systems). Buy not I can't even get Vista to tell me where it stores the icon images. I guess Microsoft just doesn't much care any more.
Googling Vista Icons gets me a lot of paid positioning sites all of which offer me downloads only they don't; after a while you realize that they aren't going to actually do anything but let you see advertisements, and I presume that each time you try to download something you are given them another hit to report to Google. Nice work if you can get it, but it's pure deception. Or perhaps I have finally lost my reasoning ability because I sure haven't got anywhere. One place seems to take me in a big circle, a couple stages of which are offers to sell me things. Again I suspect it generates Google clicks, but it does me no good. I am beginning to think I have lost touch with the wonderful world of Vista. For that matter I don't seem to know much about XP. The problem is that I had those things set up properly at one time, and in changing over from Domain to Workgroup all my user settings got lost, and Microsoft's defaults are so horrible I can't get anything done.
Ah. Here is it. My Computer Tools Folder Options in XP. In Vista it's go to help and search for folder options and then click on it. Hmm. It does tell me that it resides in Control Panel. Actually the logical place for it. Good old Microsoft. But Change Icons doesn't have any help. Oh well, I can just rename the command window that has had its properties changed to open in a different place. That will work. Pity I can't change the icon, but I haven't time to keep looking for where Vista stores optional icons, if indeed it does that at all. I suppose I am merely remembering another time.
As to cheering up and being cheerful, we cheered up. Things could be worse. So they got worse, and it's going to cost about five time what we thought it would. Now I really need a new best seller. That's a cheering thought. Assuming I can still do it. I think it's time to get to work...
Yeah. They went in with the camera and found the pipe is cracked. Just cleaning it out won't work. There's a nest of roots. They'll have to dig down and take out the cracked section and replace that. We now have a cleanout port installed this morning. Looking at the pictures from the inspection camera it's astonishing that it worked this long. Sigh. It's going to be expensive. Merry Christmas...
While I am being cheerful, I got my first subscription cancellation last night. It wasn't a long standing subscription. The charge was that this has become a place of right wing ranting and nothing else, but there wasn't a specification so I don't know what ranting I have done.
I am also informed that the Enfield rifles carried by the largely untrained police were
Thank you. When I wrote that book the Club of Rome was predicting a huge planetary die off by 2010, and most of the universities were teaching doom and gloom. My lecture Survival With Style was popular but often shouted down -- not by students but by faculty!
I do not believe NASA will be terribly relevant to getting to space. Yes: we need something like NERVA if we are going to be a spacefaring nation, although we don't need it just to go to the Moon; but if we are to do much in the way of interplanetary travel, we do need something better than chemicals. NERVA is a good candidate.
The NERVA program was successful, but cancelled as not needed. As to reinventing Apollo, would that we were that good. Still, my son's outfit XCOR sold a ticket to space yesterday, with some fanfare.
This is daybook stuff. It will be in the column
Well, I knew about the right click change icons; but the only icon it showed me to change to was the cmd icon because it was \system32\cmd.exe and I had no idea to look in SHELL32.dll. It lets you browse, and browsing to Shell32.dll works to show a bunch of choices. On the other hand HELP doesn't know anything about a shell32.dll nor does the Missing Manual book nor any of the other books I have. Oh well. I suppose most people are just supposed to know that it's shell32.dll. It's so intuitive.
There are, it seems, more in /system32/imageres.dll and of course that's intuitive to nearly anyone on the planet. Except me.
December 5, 2008
I don't know the details, but he had been in poor health for months -- a British fan publication reported him dead a month or so ago, but LASFS members who visited him said he found that amusing. This time I suspect it's real.
I have known Forrie for nearly half a century. The Pinckard Literary Salon often met in his house when he inhabited the mansion. We were not close friends, but he was a decent man. I am not the proper person to write an obituary. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society has many members who were close friends, and I'll leave that to them. Forrie hadn't been very active in the last few years. I went to his Friars Club Roast on his 85th birthday, and I saw him a few times after that, once at Ray Bradbury's birthday party where I had a bit of fun: Roberta wasn't feeling up to going to a part so we dressed up my starlet grand niece with some of Roberta's furs and jewelry and I took her to the party, introducing her as, of course, my niece. Neither Ray nor Forrie believed a word of it, I am pleased to say.
It's better to remember Forrie in his better days, in the Ackermansion; and indeed if you want a bit of a picture of him there is a scene in Fallen Angels that featured him. We know Forrie was fond of it. He mentioned it often.
Science fiction fandom is a phenomenon, and Forrie Ackerman was one of its creators.
Thanks to all who offered advice on my plumbing disaster. You are probably right, I should have negotiated and got bids and such given the magnitude of the task, but I didn't, and they've dug up my rosemary bush and are undermining the sidewalk. This is going to take days and lots of money. I suspect I could have saved a couple of thousand dollars by getting involved instead of just saying "Get it done," but frankly, it feels so good to be writing again that I didn't want to take a chance on upsetting that. I got past a big hurdle in Mamelukes yesterday afternoon, and I am sure it's seeing the paw under the door that's responsible. (Well, actually, Sable wouldn't permit any other wolf to be at the door but you get the idea.)
I have sent a message to Platinum Subscribers. If you do not get it, send me as much detail about your subscription as possible; I have had three returned I did not expect to be returned, so I must have a wrong address entered in the enrollment.
My thanks to all of you who have responded to our plumbing disaster with new subscriptions or renewals. Indeed, my thanks to all you subscribers: I wouldn't have got through the summer on autopilot without you.
I've been asked to do an essay on the Mumbai disaster: How could the financial capital of the world's largest democracy be brought to a standstill by no more than a dozen armed men, and what does that say about the future? I've been giving that considerable thought, and I'll try to say something worth printing next week. There are many facets to this, some unique to Central Asia. For now, I have a column to get out this weekend, and before I start on that I will do another thousand or more words on Mamelukes. Finishing Mamelukes is a priority, and requires both writing and some research on 16th Century Venice...
Once Mamelukes is done I'll start another solo novel; and sometime next quarter Niven and I will hear from the publishers about our proposal for another big book. That's another place subscriptions help a lot: it helps if publishers know an author isn't desperate. It didn't used to be that way, but that was when editors had more power in publishing; now the money people are in charge -- which may be why publishing is in trouble as an industry. Bean counters seldom know much about how businesses operate, and the results of their meddling may sometimes make a company leaner and more profitable, but they also have a significant probability of ruining the company entirely. In an event, I'll be working on either a juvenile like Starswarm or a military adventure science fiction novel; haven't quite decided yet. I have a lot of good notes to go through.
And I'll keep this place up, and on that score we have a lot of good mail today. I contend this site has the best mail of any place on the web.
More if I learn more, but I'm about to go upstairs and write.
December 6, 2008
I will be doing the December International column and a mailbag this weekend, so there won't be much here. I am still gathering thoughts on the Mumbai incident and why a dozen lightly armed men could bring the largest city in the world to a standstill for days.
For all of you who have subscribed or upgraded subscriptions or renewed subscriptions, my heartiest thanks. It's cheering to see that many of you think this place is worth you time and money.
Thanks. It's a good summary.
December 7, 2008
Pearl Harbor Day
I recall hearing the President on the radio that Sunday morning. Everyone was in a state of shock.
I have finished the December column. It will be posted sometime tomorrow. It's quite long. I'll now try to do a mailbag, and perhaps a catchup book review since I have a lot of books worth mentioning.
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 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.