CHAOS MANOR MAIL
November 22 - 28, 1999
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Fair warning: some of those previous weeks can take a minute plus to download. After Mail 10, though, they're tamed down a bit.
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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
If you want to send mail that will be published, you don't have to use the formatting instructions you will find when you click here but it will make my life simpler, and your chances of being published better..
Here's what's going on:
After you install Service Pack 6, _no_ program that is not running with Administrator privileges on the local machine has access to TCP/IP connectivity, at all.
MS knows about this: <http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q245/6/78.asp>
This broke, among other things, VNC, the AT&;T/Olivetti/Oracle remote control utility which is available under the GPL (Open Source) license.
I have to say that I think this proves the assertions of the people who say that MS don't test their releases _nearly_ thoroughly enough; it's not like user applications that access the Net are exactly rare programs these days...
Cheers, -- jra
Thanks. Then there is this:
I don't know about SP6 breaking Notes, but I was unable to install Office 2000 on my Win 2000 (RC2) machine. Thanks to Deja News I found I had to rename my Notes.Ini file and which time Office 2000 installed. I then named Notes.ini back.
And we have:
Eric Raymond has an extremely insightful essay on Microsoft and antitrust law here:
He argues cogently that libertarians should both reject the wrongheaded antitrust suit, _and_ condemn Microsoft for its villainous behavior -- to set a moral example and educate the public about libertarian values.
He notes that libertarians have divided into two camps regarding the suit, and then says:
"The devil-Gates crowd is making a bad mistake, copying statist rhetoric and statist arguments in a way that will end up benefiting only statists. But the hero-Gates crowd is doing something much worse. They are teaching non-libertarians that libertarians cannot be relied upon to condemn behavior that is clearly wrong."
Moral arguments are another story, hence my pointer to Dan Bricklin's observations on ethics. But to hand the Federal Government all that power is something you will regret another time.
which explains the fast one MS has tried to pull concerning the differences in licensing between NT WS and NT Server, in considerably more detail than is appropriate here. In short: MS claim that there are "substantial differences" that make it irresponsible to try to run a production webserver on WS instead of the _much_ more expensive Server version.
The actual difference?
One registry entry.
Two, in a newer version.
Read it. It's _exceptionally_ informative in the "why people don't like Microsoft" department. And doesn't surprise me at all.
I'd be _really_ interested to know what your MS contacts think of _this_ one, Jerry...
Cheers, -- jra
So will I be. At the moment, no data.
Wanted to address your questions regarding Service Pack 6 and Lotus Notes.
>>I have a reader who accuses Microsoft of deliberately making NT Service Pack 6 break Lotus Notes. I have no Lotus Notes to break so I can't test that.
>>I don't know what it means "break" or what it means "deliberate". Can someone give me an official answer?
The issue with Service Pack 6 that affects Lotus Notes users: There is an issue with Service Pack 6 that places to strong of a restriction on certain Winsock operations, thus requiring the user to have administrative privileges in order to have access to the applications.
Microsoft has identified the problem with SP6, Lotus Notes and some Winsock applications, and has released a hotfix. The fix can be found at URL: http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q245/6/78.asp
SP6 is a cumulative roll up of fixes and updates to customer issues but is not a required update, nor is it required for Y2K compliance.
SP6 demonstrates Microsoft's commitment to providing customers with regular updates to the Windows NT 4.0 platform.
More information about Service Pack 6 for Windows NT 4.0 can be found at URL: http://www.microsoft.com/ntserver/nts/downloads/recommended/SP6/allSP6.asp
Please let me know if there are any other questions that you have.
(Official Microsoft Spokesperson)
So: neither malice nor incompetence but there does seem to have been insufficient testing. The fix is out; if you install SP 6 be sure to use it.
Wednesday November 24, 1999
Just used a page on your site to verify a new acronym (BAMBI) for my database. The Acronym Finder database now has almost 118,000 acronyms and is growing by about 100 new acronyms/day.
If you have time to review or mention it, it would be much appreciated. PR type stuff below.
Also, you owe it to yourself to check out the GuruNet client. It's a killer app for those always connected.
Mike Molloy Acronym Finder: http://www.AcronymFinder.com/
Some day, on the corporate balance sheet, there will be an entry which reads, "Information"; for in most cases the information is more valuable than the hardware which processes it. -- Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, USN Ret.
= = =
You may be interested in reviewing or linking to the Acronym Finder web site, a database of more than 117,000 acronyms/abbreviations and their meanings.
The site can be found at: http://www.AcronymFinder.com/
Contains acronyms/abbreviations about: general topics; Internet; chat; email; newsgroups; computers; science; technology; aviation, federal, state and local government; telecommunications; airport codes; and the military including Department of Defense, Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard acronyms.
The Acronym Finder contains the web's largest general purpose acronyms and abbreviations searchable database.
The database contains acronyms in many languages including: French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, and others. It can be searched using wildcards for both acronyms and within meanings, and Boolean keywords within meanings.
Picked as PC Magazine Top 100 Web Site, Reference Category (September 1998). Yahoo Internet Life Useful Site of the Day (10/7/98) &; Useful/Reference
The Acronym Finder is very dynamic, with users adding new acronyms at the rate of more than 100 new acronyms each day.
NOTE: if you review or link to this site, please let us know and we will provide a courtesy return link (on the About page) to your site.
Acronym Finder Webmaster http://www.AcronymFinder.com/
Thursday November 25, 1999
I'm thankful for Jesus, and for my family, and friends. I'm also kinda thankful for the people who gave us our freedom (and those who helped preserve it, which I'm reminded of every time I see "Saving Private Ryan").
Beyond that, I'm thankful for your website and the opportunity to read of your adventures (BTW, I agree that it _sometimes_ takes a bit of digging to get X configured properly on a new Linux box), as well as being grateful for an OS that doesn't crash when Netscape dies (must be a caffeine allergy, since it happens sometimes when it encounters Java).
I'm also grateful that there are at least a few TV shows worth watching ("Buffy", "Angel" and "Roswell", of course) - and I'm also VERY grateful that the number is so limited, or I'd have even less time to learn about (and play with) computers.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family!
Thank you. I'm thankful to all the subscribers who caused me to keep this place open after BYTE folded. And that there are not 24,000 nuclear warheads aimed at the United States, and we don't have to have young men and women down in the silos this day.
Busy getting flash products going at this site so not much time to communicate lately.
I noticed your comments about your experience with Fry's Electronics in this week's and a previous week's View.
We have a Fry's in this area. It takes about 30 minutes to get from here to there. I have purchased a LOT of hardware from Fry's and some software too.
My experience has been that the software has not been a problem.
The hardware, on the other hand, is a different story. Being an engineer I tend to be very data-driven and won't come to conclusions without proper consideration of it. Hardware I have purchased from Fry's has suffered a failure rate close to 50%. There is no manufacturer of hardware - even the sloppiest Chinese ones - that even comes close to a 50% failure rate going out of their factory. I can tell you this for a FACT: if a failed Intel processor were a pothole in a freeway then there would be only a single pothole in the entire freeway from Los Angeles to Chicago! The source of the failure rate problem, therefore, is in the reseller. I would conclude that the word "reseller" as applied to this vendor is literally true: who knows how many times a single box has been resold and returned there? There are so many problems it makes me begin to wonder if they aren't out collecting all of the returned product they can find to sell as new....
As you did I determined that if I purchase hardware through mail order I gain several advantages:
1. Eliminate the 1 hour round trip. 2. Have had zero failure rate and NO previously used parts delivered to me. 3. I can order a part one day and have it arrive on my doorstep by 10:00 the following day for a small shipping charge. 4. I don't have to get grilled at the door by a suspicious "guard" who seems to think customers are thieves who are only thwarted in their dishonesty by the guards' eternal vigilance. I just deal with a courteous Fedex driver with whom I'm getting to be on a first-name basis.
At any rate, I can agree with your experiences entirely.
By the way, when will Burning City hit the bookstores? I NEVER purchase a paperback book by an author whose work I respect. I think he or she deserves the return from the hard bound edition. I can just read so much Crichton before I have to get back to the "real stuff", after all.
Regards, Mike Detjen
My experience hasn't been anything like that bad, and of the hardware I thought had failed, at least twice it was motherboards sent to me for review rather than CPU I got from Frys, But I will say the attitude of some of the people there discourages me from going out there again. There's lots of good stuff to be had on the Internet...
Your column mentioned that you had difficulty with a Zip drive under Linux. The trick with Zip drives is that the disk is presented as partition number 4 on the device ( I understand that this is because of compatibility with Macintosh systems). As you know hardware is treated as special files in the /dev directory. IDE drives are /dev/hda (Master IDE channel on the first IDE channel) to /dev/hdd (slave drive on the second IDE channel). Partitions are addressed as a number after the drive device name (/dev/hda1, /dev/hda2, etc.) many people keep drives mounted under the /mnt directory. Assuming you drive is master on the second IDE channel you would create a directory (mkdir /mnt/zipdrive. This only needs to be done once so that you have someplace to mount the disk to and can be any empty directory that you have write permission for). After inserting a zip disk type mount /dev/hdc4 /mnt/zipdrive. To unmount the disk use umount /mnt/zipdrive Linux has an automount daemon that can make the mounting and dismounting of drives automatic (just like dos) however you would probably want your local Linux person to help set that up. Linux is really no more difficult than cpm or dos and, while it may not be easy enough for the average user yet, it makes an exceptional server, is very flexible, and is a lot of fun to play with ( I've been reading you column for almost twenty years now and I don't think you'd still be doing all these things if you didn't think that computers were fun to play with).
Thanks. That will take some study, but I think I can manage it. Computers are fun to play wth until you have to get some work done...
Friday November 26, 1999
Saturday November 27 1999
Sunday November 28, 1999
In one of your columns last month you recommended IRFAN. The link from your column at byte.com leads to www.irfan.net which appears to be a dead end. It's not even clear that this is the site you intended.
Where can I download IRFAN?
I most enjoy your column and want you to know that the after having subscribed to Byte for over a dozen years, the magazine is sorely missed. Can you recommend a print publication with content and editorial style rivaling the sophistication of Byte? I haven't found one.
Thanks for your help and for a great column.
David J. Pogoff
Jerry, how do I make Netscape my default browser again in Win98? I installed IE5.01 and it changed all of the internet extensions to link to IE instead of Netscape. How can I easily change them back to Netscape? The Netscape Web site is absolutely no help. I am really suprised that they don't have a big link somewhere to tell you how to make Netscape the default browser again after IE asserts itself (without asking).
When you invoke Navigator and IE is your default browser, you get a dialog box asking if you want to make Navigator your default. There is also a check box in there to cancel performing that check. If you have checked that box so that it no longer asks, I don't know how you get back to it to clear it. Perhaps another reader will know. Thanks. So long as that box is cleared every time I invoke Netscape I am asked if I want Netscape to be the default browser. I was once in a fit of piqué temped to check that box so I would not be asked again, but I came to my senses.
Jerry, In the file Program Files\Netscape\Users\(username here)\prefs.js there is a line that reads
I suspect that changing true to false, or deleting the line entirely, will get back the dialog box asking if you want to make Netscape the default browser.
I expect that will do it, but surely there is a way other than editing the registry?
Your article did not mention the fact that Office 2000 requires registration to be activated. In other words it is copy protected. I found out the hard way when upgrading my computer and needing to reinstall Office 2000 twice. The first time, I had to reinstall because I had a bad Win NT installation. The second time I had to reinstall was due to a hard disk upgrade. To my surprise, I could not use Office 2000 more than 50 times and Microsoft would not provide a software unlock. In other words, they are monitoring the number of times that a user installs Office 2000.
Finally, I also share with your horror story having recently lost a WORD file to a bug in MS Word. I think I will return to my roots (WordPerfect for serious word processing work).
I have not yet recommended Office 2000 although I am more and more using it. I have a set of Office CD ROMS from which I can install Office 2000 and I have never been asked for anything other than the serial numbers, and certainly I have never heard of a problem such as you have. Do you have a full version? If you you almost certainly have a valid complaint, but I can't duplicate your problem. I have installed and uninstalled Office many times around here, from the CDROM, and I do not understand how a CDROM knows how many times it has been installed.
I have yet to register a copy to the best of my knowledge, and it seems to work for me.
Curiouser and curiouser:
I had wondered why you had not mentioned the O2K registration bug. Do you have a pre-release version, or a cleaned-up reviewer's copy?
All copies we have bought in Australia require online or telephone registration, otherwise it will only open 50 times. This is similar to the way AutoDesk have been controlling AutoCad Release 14, which has been such a mess that I believe they are giving up on it.
The first copy we got installed relatively cleanly on Win95 (except that it refused to co-exist with Office 97). When registered online it displayed codes which could be used to reinstall if necessary - but I never got to test that. Our second copy I tried to install on a Win NT 4 machine, but it would never accept the registration. After wasting a couple of days and getting no help from Microsoft or Dell, we decided to stick to Office 97.
If MS returns to a sensible registration process and ceases to treat its customers as potential criminals, we might consider upgrading.
Regards, Peter Smith
What I have appears to be a normal set of CDROMs, Office 2000 Professional, nothing special about it. I did get it from Wagoner Edstrom but so far as I know there was nothing special about it. Now I wonder, do people in the US have to do telephone registration?
I also have to say that I find it hard to believe no one has come up with a freeware hack to reset the silly counter on number of openings. It doesn't sound as if it would be hard to do.
contents copyright 1999 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.