August 3 - 9, 1998

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Book Reviews


An irregular journal of things computerish.

For the BYTE story, click here.

Previous Weeks of The View 1  2   3  4  5  6  7   8  9

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If you want to PAY FOR THIS there are problems, but I keep the latest HERE. I'm trying.

This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. The regular COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 words, will appear monthly when i get orbanized.

I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying.

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Wednesday, August 05, 1998

Yesterday morning I sat down to do the morning View. I'd missed Monday largely because Niven called in the morning wanting to talk and hike, and I spent the afternoon at that. Monday was Alex's birthday so there was no time in the evening. Well, missing a day isn't a disaster.

While at Niven's we got a call forwarded from the house: the Microsoft 2000 team wanted to make it Tuesday evening rather than Wednesday morning for their visit. Again, OK by me. (I'll put up some pictures of that meeting later on today.)

When I started to write I discovered that Princess was as near dead as it is possible to be. It soon became clear why. Princess is a dual Pentium 200 running NT 4 Service Pack 3, and is normally solid as a rock, Princess has 192 megabytes of RAM, but if you keep lots and lots of windows open, as I do, you will soon run out of that. If you have also been doing a lot of web crawling, as I had, you will also soon fill up your disk space. When that happens, and the space gets fragmented, there's no room for the swap file. When that happens, the system gets slow, slower, slower, until it's impossible. At that point you can't even shut down processes to make more memory. Moreover, shutting down nearly all still doesn't make for a recovery. I mean, I suppose it does, if you're willing to wait while the system works on itself, but it's a lot faster to shut down and start over.

After restarting I brought up DiskMapper from MicroLogic. Incidentally, their web site is hard to find because the name MicroLogic seems to have been taken in every variant by others. DiskMapper has been reviewed elsewhere including by me in previous columns, and it works well in both Windows 95 and NT. In NT there are some problems with using it to delete, but none serious. I also brought up ErrorScan, a utility that finds files you don't need, and offers to delete them. Between the two programs I cleared off a huge pile of old cache files, temporary junk, and a bunch of downloaded zips and exe files I'd installed but hadn't got rid of the sources. I spent the morning moving stuff off to the server for archiving, and generally cleaning up Princess. I also cleaned up the Great Hall in anticipation of the Microsoft team visit.

About the time Princess was ready, I had to make a trip to Fry's. Winnie, the WinChip system, is working stably and reliably with normal software. Meanwhile I had fried the chip in Pentafluge. Pentafluge is a very old original Pentium 60 upgraded with an Intel Overdrive. The OverDrive fits in a Socket 4. Alas, Socket 4 isn't oriented the way others are, and has no clipped corner: You can easily get the chip installed with the wrong orientation, and I did, and the chip fried. It's dead as a doornail.

That meant there was no machine where Larry Niven works when he's here, and that won't do, so Pentafluge got carted off into the back room and Winnie put in his place, and I went to Fry's to look for another Overdrive chip for a Socket 4 system. Didn't find one. Could sure use one if there are any Intel people listening. Pentafluge has a couple of assets worth hanging onto including a large cartridge glass disk, and a combination 3.5/5 1/4 floppy, the last 5 1/4 floppy in Chaos Manor. Anyway, by the time all that was done the Microsoft people were here.

The visit went well. I'll have pictures later. I gave them a bunch of notions on Office 2000 and showed them a couple of glitches in WORD and OUTLOOK that need attention, including the complexities of using wabmig.exe for creating mailing lists.

Most of the features of Office 2000 are under non-disclosure until August 10, and while I am sure you can find the information elsewhere, I'll wait until then to put up my report. I do like it, and so did Mrs. Pournelle. They've made some things a LOT easier to use.

Then last night we installed Office 2000 and Internet Explorer 5 (both beta versions) on Winnie. Explorer 5 killed Winne dead, or all but: she'd let me move the cursor, but clicking on things didn't do much. I opened her in safe mode, removed IE 5 but not 2000, and all was well. Then went to bed. That used up the day.

WORD, meanwhile, has decided that the dictionary and thesaurus are supposed to reside on a CDROM. I can't convince it otherwise. Is it back to installing Microlytics thesaurus and a third party dictionary? I can't believe that. But nothing I can do will prevent WORD from demanding the BOOKSHELF BASICS disk in the CDROM drive. Does anyone KNOW (not guess because I have tried the obvious like reinstalling OFFICE 97) why this is?

I am getting the same result with Office 9 in Word 2000; but that was installed over Office 97, which presumably had the same problem. I'll see what I can do. First uninstall 2000. Then uninstall 97. Then reinstall 2000 from a machine that never knew about 97. But this is certainly enough to drive people nuts…

More later.


I have wasted the day and I am still not through. Something has corrupted the preferences in my WORD templates used in replying to letters, so that I get Arial as the normal. I can't figure out how to reset that. Probably because I am so angry and upset that I am not thinking clearly.

WORD cannot apparently do definitions without a CD. I have uninstalled the damn thing and reinstalled and it still demands a CD to define a word. The thesaurus works all right without a CD, and the spelling dictionary works all right, but not the dictionary itself. Now I don't often use a dictionary on line that way so I can survive this, but it's more annoying than I thought to discover you can't do it. The old DEFPLUS DOS program that ran underneath any word processor including Word for DOS and Q&;Q Write were able to define words without problems. The dictionaries were highly compressed. But WORD needs the CD to do definitions.

Now if you install WORD from a CAB directory then of course it HAS the equivalent of the CD. I am also going to experiment with copying the BOOKS subdirectory from WORD to a hard disk directory; the problem will then be to tell WORD where to find that, and that may not be easily done. There's no "browse" or other obvious command. It looks for the CD in the drive from which you installed it.

This is needlessly irritating, and I am astonished that no one has noticed any of this before. Maybe they can fix it in 2000. Maybe.


Something corrupted the file in the part of Word that OUTLOOK uses when I open something for replies. I get this big ugly arial, which I am not used to. I have been unable to figure out how to fix that. I have spent the day, the day, wasting time on playing with Word and Outlook and stuff, and most of the day trying to do something that is impossible, namely, get WORD to do a dictionary without a CD. The worst of it is that I don't care that much. I don't use on-line definitions very often, in fact haven't for so long that I didn't notice the lack until just now, and if I had been TOLD that the dictionary has to be on a CD, I'd have saved a lot of time.

Now if I can figure out how to keep Outlook from making me have the horrible arial as the default font in replying to email I'll be back where I was yesterday. With deadlines of course. And work to do. And a day wasted. And no fiction written. I am more and more wondering if playing with little computers it worth the effort. There's sure more money in science fiction.

OK, I fixed that one: my replies are back to what they ought to be. Tools, preferences, and be careful. Pay attention. Calm down. The fact that I missed breakfast trying to get all this gubbage done and it's 5 PM now isn't important, just do it right. You still won't get WORD to do definitions without a dictionary, but perhaps there is a registry trick whereby I can copy the BOOKS subdirectory from the CD (it's not THAT big) and then tell WORD to look THERE instead of for a CD. Perhaps there is a way. Perhaps.

Now this:

Robert Bruce Thompson []



> there's no room for the swap file.

It sounds like you have the initial size of your swap file set way too low. Right click the My Computer icon and choose Properties to display the tabbed System Properties dialog. Display the Performance page and then click Change in the Virtual Memory section. Choose a drive to create the swap file on, and then enter an Initial Size for the swap file. Windows NT actually creates a file of that size, so you don't have to worry about finding room for it later. Enter another value for Maximum Size and then click Set to create the swap file. Windows NT does not pre-allocate the amount of disk space you've specified for maximum size, so if your hard disk gets full and the swap file needs to expand, you run into the kind of problem you described.

A lot of people just set the Initial Size and Maximum Size to the same value. That way, you never need to grow the swap file, so you can't run out of disk space while NT still wants more swap space. With 192 MB of physical RAM and the amount of stuff you probably have loaded, I'd go with at least 384MB for both initial and maximum, if not 512MB for both. Also, putting the swap files on a drive other than the one with NT can help increase performance, although I always keep a small swap file on the boot partition to aid in debugging if NT crashes.

Some people keep multiple swap files on different spindles to increase performance, but my attitude is that swap files should be for emergencies only. Sounds like you need more RAM.



Robert Bruce Thompson

I had long ago done that, and forgot it: so the C drive being fragmented and down to 20 megs or so of space couldn't have been a swap file problem. And with 192 megabytes of memory HOW MUCH DO I NEED FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE? (Not intended as a flame against Thompson, but a cry of disgust. Isn't 192 ENOUGH?)

Apparently NT isn't as stable as Microsoft wants you to believe, and if you do a LOT of stuff with it, as I do, then once in a while it feels neglected and wants to be shut down and restarted. I have no other explanation. I hadn't done anything all that odd with the system. I do keep a lot of windows open. I should have had a look at Task Manager before I reset of course, but I didn't. It was before breakfast...

NOW, Task Manager Performance says I have 195764 total memory, of which 125560 is available. There's also 22368 of Kernel Memory of which 19044 is paged and 3324 is not paged. I don't know what that means, but it looks small. I have NT books around here but of course now that I need one I don't see one. This place is a mess and I have to DO something about that.

Or write fiction.

I haven't fixed it. Although my tools, options preferences thing clearly says that email replies ought to be in Times Roman, when I start typing they are in Arial. My preferences don't matter. I am beginning to hate programs that decide things for me. I am beginning to hate these silly computer, which eat time. I think the first machines were a great boon, with the abilty to write without retyping paragraphs, and make printed copies, and I am glad of speed improvements, but this has got to the point of being silly. Why can't I find the template outlook uses and modify that?

Do I have to restart again to get those preferences to apply?

And while we are at it, the 'signiture' thing is greyed out and the Office Assistant doesn't know what a signiture is, so I cannot make a signiture file. Ain't all this stuff fun? The OUTLOOK book talks about a signiture picker. I must be dense because I never noticed one. I'll try again.

No wonder. It grays out if you choose WORD as the editor. I expect this is an integration problem. Outlook and Word hate each other, apparently. And you can't have a signiture file if you use Word. Plain text is ok. I wonder why this is?

That's my NT machine. Now back to the other stuff:

PROGRESS sort of: If you use regedit and search the registry for the word "define" (which is a command that appears when you right click a correctly spelled word in Word) you find a pointer to a file called msreft.dll which presumably knows, somehow, what drive you installed Word from. It demands the word CD in that drive when you try to define a word.

I am astronished that no one has ever run into this before. Did everyone just give up trying to make the Microsoft dictionary work? Or don't need definitions? Or have a secret I don't have? Or just assume you needed the Office CD in order to run some of the office functions?

Now I am guessing that you ought to be able to copy the BOOKS subdirectory of the OFFICE CD to a hard disk, and then somehow tell Word to look there when it wants the CD for a bookshelf function; but I sure don't know how to tell Word where to look, and that pointer to a DLL is a bit discouraging, since I doubt I can edit the DLL even with a HEX editor. Sigh.

Well, if you hit f3 (find next) searching for 'define' in regedit, you hit the jackpot. It shows clearly that the registry is telling word to look on the CD for what it needs to satisfy the 'define' command. It ought to be possible for a real registry wonk to edit that so it will point to a hard disk file, but I sure ain't going to try it. I don't need an on line dictionary in WORD that bad. And you'd have to do it for every instance of WORD, too. Well I have wasted the day looking for this, and that's enough.



Winnie is all mucked up again, in part because of difficult uninstalls. Regclean performs illegal operations in trying to fix things, and shuts itself down, so we're in a spot of trouble, I think. I can try Norton. I can also simply reinstall W 95b.

Or I can try to use the new information I got about blowing proms for the RICOH and then go directly to Windows 98, which may be an even better move. I won't do any of that tonight. I have deadlines for the column to be to BYTE Japan, and a bunch of house administrative things to accomplish. The Ricoh is the only real reason I had Winnie on Win 95 b anyway. I'm rather eager to get to 98 and see what that does.

Regarding Office 2000, I'll install that on an NT workstation; it was running just fine on that on the Microsoft team's laptops, and I don't expect any problems over there. Winnie is a high strung girl, and Eric keeps saying that the 6 Disk changer is evil (Sibyl, he calls her, multiple personalities) and will never love me. Maybe he's right.

What I have learned today: to get at the dictionary in Office you must have the CD in the drive. It is possible to copy the Bookshelf stuff over to a hard disk and jigger the registry to understand where it was put, but even the Microsoft experts didn't know how off hand, and the one of you who has done it has forgotten how. (Reminds me of Palmerston on the Schleswig-Holstein question: only 3 men ever understood it; one was dead, one had gone mad, and the third was Palmerson himself but he had forgotten it…)

IE 5 does not like complex system that involve DIRECT CD from Adaptec; and uninstalling IE 5 may still leave residual problems. Uninstalling Direct CD is straightforward, but having done that I am still in trouble. Uninstalling Office 2000 turns out to be very difficult, and leaves a mess in the registry. Regclean then performs illegal operations. I think I will have to reinstall W 95 on Winnie. Anyone know the simplest way when all I really want is a clean registry?

Outlook continues to present opportunities once you understand what to do, and I am learning more on using it. I think I like Outlook a lot, and the integration into Office 2000 is impressive: more on that after August 10.

You can sure spend a day learning stuff. Now to put 2000 on the Intergraph Blurple Workstation, where I predict it will be quite happy and stable: I think the problem was that they haven't tested as thoroughly with Win 95 b as they might; the Ricoh and its Adaptec Direct CD cause some problems in combination; and the 6 changer CDROM seems to be another source of difficulty. Winnie is a pretty complicate lady. And what I saw of Office 2000 I liked.

But I sure wish they'd figure a way to let me have a dictionary without having to have a CD on line.


Thursday August 6, 1998

For some reason Word wants to say it is August 5, and keeps giving me that prompt. This is of a piece with the rest of Microsoft's imbecilities. I think I will send those people suing Microsoft a donation. Of course I won't, but consider:

I have been trying to clean up Winnie without reformatting the C Drive and starting over. I can't. I tried a clean registry copy using a program Claud Addicott [] sent (thanks). The result was a mess of messages about bad ATAPI stuff (and it sure was: the Zip drive became Drive D and the D drive became Drive E among other things) and how I have to run Windows Setup from the original disks. When I try to run Windows Setup from the original disks it says that I can't do that: I must first uninstall Internet Explorer 4 or else get a new copy of setup or whatever. When I try to uninstall Internet Explorer 4, NOTHING HAPPENS. It won't uninstall. Now whether that is a normal feature of IE 4, or there is a problem caused by having installed IE 5 at one time, then uninstalled that, I don't know. I do know I am sick of this.

If you put an Internal IDE Zip drive in your system, you can muck up Windows.

If you put a 6-changer in your system, you can muck up Windows.

If you have a Ricoh Media Master in your system you can REALLY muck up Windows if you are trying to run that in a system with an IDE CDROM as well as the SCSI R/W CDROM.

If you install IE4 on your system, you can muck up Windows to the point where you can't even uninstall it.

Now I am sure those are not all true statements in the sense that they have no exceptions; but they are true enough in the sense that each event described happened.

SO. Since I fried the chip in Pentafluge, which was the system Niven used, I need quickly to get a new system in that work station. I will:

Remove that blasted TEAC 6 Changer to put somewhere else in a system that doesn't attempt to have an R/W SCSI CD drive, and replace it with a SCSI CDROM drive.

I'll try leaving the internal ZIP drive although the nonsense of having it take over the D drive slot is VERY annoying.

Reformat Winnie's C drive.

Reinstall Windows 95 b, and attempt with a cleaner system to run the Ricoh program that supposedly upgrades their CD R/W drive so that it will work with Windows 98.

If that works, install W 98 and be done with it. Then put Office 97 on the system and leave the beta stuff for Blurple, the Intergraph NT system.

But first I have to finish the column for the overseas BYTE magazines, then pay all my bills. That will take up the day. Fortunately, Niven is off to the World SF Con in Baltimore so I have the weekend to get all this done.

Advice: don't try to make up complicated machines with internal ZIP, SCSI CD R/W, and IDE 6-pack CDROM changers; or if you do, and get it working, DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE. No experimental software. Nothing that has to be uninstalled. Microsoft has moved on from Windows 95, and Windows 95 just isn't up to complex systems. I don't know if Windows 98 is or not. We'll find that out later.



Life looks better. Just got back from an opera party at Trader Joe Coloumbe's house in Pasadena. Earlier I filed my overseas BYTE column, 4500 words condensed from all the stuff you can find here.

WINNIE is once again getting Windows 95 b installed. This time I have removed the IDE 6 pack CDROM drive. Eric calls it Sibyl and says that a split personality can never love you back. In any event it's waiting for another system for its installation. In its place is a SCSI NEC out of Pentafluge, who I fear is being taken apart for his parts and may never recover. I shouldn't have smoked his chip. Oh well. So WINNIE will have an internal IDE ZIP, a SCSI CDROM, and the Ricoh Media Master CD R/W. On that score, thanks to the Adaptec and Ricoh people, I have successfully reblown the proms in the Ricoh, so there's no real reason we can't go to Windows 98 on Winnie once I get 95 up and stable.

Meanwhile the beta IE 5 and Office 2000 are successfully installing on Blurple, the Intergraph NT Workstation system. Both installations are happening, and so far no problems. I am telling Windows to keep no newer files; I'll reinstall everything and be done with it. It's going a bit smoother. If this all works properly the moral of the story is plain: if you make up a complex system with multiple IDE CDROMs as well as SCSI CD R/W and an IDE Zip, and you do get it working, back up the registry real good, and be very careful what you install on there. It's at the edge of being unstable… On the other hand I don't anticipate any real problems this time.

Well, I was wrong. Winnie came up with the IDE exclamation pointed, and the stupid ZIP drive as the D rather than the E drive. Both CD ROMS are OK, but that internal IDE ZIP is a LOT more trouble than it is worth. I have now got to search through the mail here and find the solution using regedit to fix that "noide" thing. I don't know where it is. I hate this. But apparently one of my biggest problems is that silly ZIP drive. On the other hand nothing else is working either.


The remedy. Scrub windows off. Sys the machine in DOS again. Erase the entire Windows Directory. Physically remove the network and sound cards. Disconnect the IDE ZIP drive. Reinstall Windows 95. Think of amusing ways to annoy Microsoft, which owes me a fair amount of money for the time it has wasted -- I mean, I didn't do anything all that unusual this time, but it won't work.

On the good side, IE5 and Office 2000 installed painlessly and without any problems at all on Blurple. If you have NT you're probably better off. I noticed that most of the Microsoft people now use NT. Who wants Windows?

So back to the adventure. I hate Microsoft just now. I had got over that a while ago, but this is ridiculous.

Incidentally, there is no NOIDE in the registry, so I can't fix the yellow exclamation points in the IDE system in Device Manager by doing that. I have to scrub again, and install without the Zip drive. I hate this. A lot.

So. I have scrubbed and removed the sound card and network card. Now to reinstall yet one more time. Next time the ZIP goes on the Second IDE string as a Master, not on the primary as a slave. But Windows ought to be smarter than to assign a ZIP a higher letter than a cartridge drive.

Bah. : Note: this problem is solved. See below, and MAIL, and thanks!!



Friday, August 07, 1998

My birthday. The day started oddly: I had to get up at dawn to take Roberta to the airport. She's going up to Seattle for a class reunion. Had my birthday presents before the sun was up.

The world is looking a lot better. Winnie is now pretty stable. It turns out that unless you explicitly install the Adaptec EZ SCSI drivers, Windows 95 b OSRT will not be able to understand the IDE drive if there are also SCSI CDROM drives. This is sloppy. In any event, I had those yellow exclamation points in Device Manager for the IDE drives. Nothing you can do about them from there. But when I installed the Adaptec EZ SCSI those went away, and I have been able to label my two CDROM drives as "F:" for the "normal" one, and "R:" for the Ricoh Media Master CD R/W. The Ricoh has had his ROM's updated, and all seems well there.

WINNIE needed fuss and attention: I had to install twice, the second time incrementally by taking out everything but the Video Card, getting that installed properly, adding sound, and so forth. I'm about to add the network card. Plug and Play is NOT ready for prime time, and I may yet have to muck with the BIOS to set the IRQ for the slot the card is in. Eventually I'll get there. Have faith.

Meanwhile, PRINCESS blew up: something got horribly corrupted in WORD. The buttons on the Office Tool Bar pointed to the wrong programs, the operating system kept reporting I was out of memory -- clearly that was the origin of my problem the other day. It kept getting worse.

I have now reinstalled Office 97, and I have this problem: first I started with Control Panel Add/Remove programs. If you select Office 97 that will request the Office 97 CD. I put that in. It trundled. Toward the end it said that Setup was corrupt and I ought to run it from the original disk. I thought I was running it from the original disk. Anyway, that installation went to completion, so I did it again, this time starting setup from the CDROM. Identical results. Toward the end: "Object 12242, your Setup files may be damaged, try restarting from the original source disk."

In the usual fascist manner that Windows seems to have learned from the Mac, I must now approve this by clicking OK. When I do, I get the same message. Click OK again. Now I get the message for Object 12243. Twice. Twice for 12244, once for 12245, twice each for 12246, 12247, and 12248. Then I am told that setup has done its job normally.

But the buttons on the toolbar are all wrong, and I wonder if those are not the corrupt objects? So I deleted all those buttons. They were the wrong image as well as pointing to the wrong program: that is, the image was not that of Outlook, but the yellow button tip SAID Outlook; clicking on it opened My Computer, and that was I think correct for the icon but not the button tip. I have restored buttons by browsing and drilling down, and now the Office tool bar seems to do what it is supposed to do.

Also the font problems and overflows and memory errors in Word and Outlook are fixed. Hallelujah! So things are working normally again. Why does all this happen to me? Is it a blessing -- I get things to write about -- or a curse?

I want to thank Claud Addicott for telling me about the OSR2 IDE driver problems and sending me the file that fixes the difficulty. I have installed that patch on Winnie and while I haven't yet installed the IDE ZIP drive I will. Jason Tokunaga sent even more information on ZIP IDE including the advice that one must make the Zip drive the Master on the secondary string rather than a slave on the primary. I had concluded that myself, having noticed that implementing the IDE Zip on the primary IDE string noticeably slowed the performance of the primary hard disk on that string. WINNIE now has the hard disk sitting alone on the primary IDE, and will have the internal IDE Zip sitting alone on the secondary. The two CDROM drives are both on an Adaptec SCSI controller.

I want also to thank Adaptec for help and support. Their controllers and software work, provided that you install the drivers: do NOT allow Windows to take care of your CDROM drives by default.

Another problem is that if you set up your system to have CDROM in DOS with the Adaptec sys drivers and mscdex, Windows 95 b apparently doesn’t do anything with that: and never asks for additional SCSI software. The safe bet is to run ADAPTEC EZ SCSI first thing on installing Windows.

Adaptec Easy CD Creator 3.5 also works. It will even work with an IDE CDROM drive as the source although I don't really recommend that.

So. The machines are working fine. I have a party tonight -- a murder has been announced -- and I don't much need reminding of my birthday anyway. The fact that the machines are working is good enough.

OH: and Microsoft's people have found in the knowledge base detailed accounts of how to put the dictionary and other bookshelf basics files from the Office 97 CDROM on your hard disk and edit the registry so that the keys point to that. I haven't yet looked at the possibility of copying the Office 95 bookshelf stuff -- there is a lot more on it -- and getting the registry to point there, but I'd bet it's not a lot more difficult. My thanks to Andrew Dixon of Microsoft.

Final matter: except for the registration hassles, which are extreme and horrible, I have had not problems at all with OFFICE 2000 and Internet Explorer 5 on Blurple, the Intergraph NT workstation. Installation was a breeze. Unfortunately, Microsoft has become paranoid -- I guess with reason -- about counterfeit product including counterfeit or stolen certificates of authenticity; and has taken the exact wrong approach to solving the problem by putting major registration inconveniences in the way of legitimate users. What it amounts to is that, at least in the beta editions, there is no way (that I have found) to register the product on a machine that doesn't have a modem. The program has a timer that will kill it after 50 invocations if you have not registered it. Since uninstall doesn't work -- at least it didn't for me -- this means a user will have his primary productivity tools set on a death spiral unless he can manage to get a telephone line and modem to the machine. This is ungood. Double plus ungood. Pournelle's Law: companies that treat their customers as criminals will soon have criminals as customers. Moreover, companies that act as if they have no ethical regard for their customers will soon find that the customers have none for them: and since it is the conscience of the law abiding that makes a civilization work, any effort to prevent crime that gives more people an excuse to feel ethical about 'getting even' or treating a company as fair game, will in fact make for far more problems than are solved.

My guess is that Microsoft is going to learn this lesson very quickly during beta tests where it won't do a lot of harm, and this is all to the good. Yes, piracy and theft is a real problem; but making life exceedingly difficult for legitimate users is NOT the way to solve the problem. Or so say I.

In any event, Office 2000 is NEAT, and once I have tested it and IE 5 on Blurple I may well move both of them over here to Princess: which will of course solve the registration problem as well as let me make thorough tests. You will want Office 2000 if you use Office at all. Depend on it.

Now for my morning pills, and maybe a nap…


Winnie is stable, with active desktop and the network working. Now I have to figure out just what I need to do to be sure I can get back here again. We have one problem that may emerge: the network wants IRQ 5, which I think DOS games want for sound. This may make for a difficulty some other time. Right now, it all works including the sounds, and to heck with it…

I'm just tired enough that I don't want to go digging through old logs and records. What is the best way to back this machine up so I can get back here again? I'm even willing to burn a CD. Perhaps that's the right way? Except that DOS doesn't actually copy long file names, and you can't use Windows to copy Windows system files and such like. I probably know all I need to, but with no sleep and too much to do, I'm unable to remember. I won't muck with Winnie until someone reminds me.

Anyway, everything seems to be working again. A relief. Now I have to pay bills.


I didn't get the bills paid but I did go shopping. I seem to be alone this evening, so I think I'll go to Trader Joe Coloumbe's party. There was one there last night too, but tonight I am told there will be a murder. That ought to be great fun.

I made the horrible mistake of installing Adeptec Direct CD in Winnie before saving everything. When will I ever learn? Now the network is dead. Everything else works, but Winnie simply cannot see the network. I uninstalled Direct CD and no dice. I uninstalled the network and network card and allowed them to reinstall. No joy. I have now physically removed the network card. I have also installed Adaptec Easy CD Creator 3.5 which works. If I want to use that Ricoh as a CD R/W I have to use Direct CD. That cannot possibly be worth the hassle. I can make CD's. What more do I need? To heck with CD R/W. But since I have another CD/R drive I think I will put that one in and save the CD R/W for the Win 98 machine I intend to build.

The goal now is to get Winnie stable and on the network again, at which point I QUIT: she ceases to be an experimental machine as of that moment. CD Burner, OK. Zip Drive if I can get that going, and I expect I can. But not CD R/W or Office 2000 or any experimental stuff. Not this time. I swear a might oath. Next time Winnie is stable is the last experiment for her. I'll build another machine for experiments.

I still have to get the bills paid and other stuff done, but I think I am off to a murder…



Saturday, August 8, 1998

Murder at the Opera, an outreach program done in living rooms: specifically in Trader Joe Coloumbe's living room. This was the first time they'd ever run through this original -- I guess I'd have to call it a review, since it has a whole bunch of famous arias from a dozen operas strung together with an English language spoken dialogue about a murder. Was it the soprano, the mezzo (quick saucy bit from Carmen), the baritone, or -- drops to his knees and belts out 'Ridi, Pagliacco' as the others say in unison "the tenor"? Very good, too, and for some stupid reason I didn't take my Olympus electronic camera. I sure should have. An interesting evening, done by some of LA Opera's up and coming resident singers. The mezzo was particularly good, great stage presence.

It is time to make Winnie behave. I have got the internal IDE Zip drive installed as the master device on IDE Secondary; the Quantum Bigfoot is the Primary master. There are no secondaries. When I installed the drive and brought the system up, it insisted on being Drive D, displacing the actual Drive D despite my having done that Microsoft patch to OSR2. If you go to System/Device Manager you will find there is NO WAY to set the drive letters: it tells me that the hard drive is drive letters C and E, and the removable is Drive D, and there ain't nothing you can do about it nohow. However, when I installed the Iomega Zip tools that came on a CD with the internal Zip drive, it magically became Drive E. The first CD is Drive F, and the Ricoh Media Master CD R/W (which at the moment is merely a CD-R because running Adaptec Direct CD, which is required to access the R/W features, blew up my network, a mess from which I have not recovered) is Drive R.

There are two things to go: get the network running again, and get the Sound Blaster on IRQ 5 if that is possible. I have told Device Manager to remove the Sound Blaster PCI64 from the system. I already removed the network card. Now I will physically remove the sound card from the computer. Then I will enter the BIOS and reserve IRQ 5 for ISA. Then I will put in the Network card and get it running. On many of my systems the network is using IRQ 10, but the Adaptec SCSI has taken that over here. Eleven is free, though, and with 5 reserved the network ought to take over that. When I get that running I'll physically install the sound card. With luck in an hour I'll have Winnie set up, and if so, she STAYS THAT WAY. I may swap the Media Master for a TEAC CD-R in case I can find a system that's kinder to CD R/W. Once Winnie is stable, though, I will use PQ's DriveImage to make an exact copy of the C: drive, and put that on the D drive, so I can always get back to a stable configuration. Winnie's days of flirtatious experiments are over. She's going to settle down to a long term relationship. It's a lot easier to control a Windows machine than a daughter.

Anyway, after that I am tackling the Cable Room. The other day the Pioneer external SCSI 6-pack Changer decided to stop working properly. That sits on an external SCSI string off Spirit, the Evergreen Upgrade NT 4 server that sits in the back room. I don't really care -- I don't think I have accessed one of those drives in months -- but I did want to know what was wrong, since the AVI Micropolis external hard disk, 4 gigabytes of AVI storage, sits on that SCSI string. To inspect I had to remove about 12 boxes from the Cable Room (which is infested monsters anyway). Sure enough, the problem was an external SCSI cable that was connected just well enough that the External hard disk was able to function, but loose enough that the SCSI CDROM changer could not. If that makes no sense to you, it doesn't to me, but it was the situation. Shutting down and reattaching the cable properly made the system see the external drive, but they aren't working properly. I don't know if I care, but having removed a dozen boxes of junk from in there gives the opportunity for a real cleanup and I intend to take it.

I can also throw away some more old junk. It's astonishing how much ISA stuff I have, and how little I want it. Boxes and boxes go to the LASFS and out of here. A ton of ISA 10Base T Ethernet stuff: now that 10/100 cards are $20 to $40 at Fry's and 100 concentrators are under a hundred bucks, it's pointless to keep a lot of this junk, and just about as pointless to send it over to Notre Dame. It wasn't all that long ago that this ISA Ethernet stuff was a low cost breakthrough: in 1982 Bill Godbout decided to go with ARCnet because the Ethernet CHIP SET was almost a thousand dollars and no one expected a price reduction very soon. I'll keep some of the Intel EtherExpress cards. They're a quick and dirty way to network old systems I want to strip data from.

Anyway, now to work.

It's a pity letter bombs are illegal. There's a spamming outfit that send me a solicitation to buy some kind of pheronomes to attract girls about once every two hours. No email return address. There is a web site given. I wish I had a copy of Satan to play with. There's also an address in Phoenix, but I suppose that's a Mail Boxes Etc. or some sort. I can take random spam, but 10 a day from the same people is annoying. Not very or I'd use some kind of rule to put their junk where I don't see it. But anonymous unsolicited commercial offers isn't free speech as the Framers would have intended it....


OK, now I understand. Internal IDE Zip drives are evil. I have a bunch of them that Iomega sent before BYTE died, and I thought they'd be useful, but they aren't really as useful as I had hoped they'd be. They want to take over drive letters even with the Zip software installed. HOWEVER, there is a work-around so that they can be used:

When you shut down a system with a Zip the Zip automatically ejects. LEAVE IT ejected on startup. If there is no disk in the Zip drive when Windows starts, the IDE Zip behaves itself and becomes Drive E as it ought to. If there is a disk in there, it takes over the D: drive letter and displaces the D: partition. Thus, the way to use an internal IDE Zip drive is to put the Zip disks in a drawer. Use the drive when you have stuff to transfer, and otherwise forget that it is there lest you insert the disk before Windows establishes itself. Of course this is more a Windows 95 OSR2 (patched) bug than an Iomega bug. It's still blooming annoying.

Now that that's settled I'll try networking Winnie again. I'll leave the internal IDE Zip in there, since Niven and I do use Zip for transfer of our work together, automatically insuring safety copies off our premises, and I use Zip to sneakernet stuff to the Monk's Cell and back; it's convenient to have one in there, just remove the disk when it's not in use.

Afternoon, Later (1330)

Well, well. Could Winnie finally be settling down? And Windows 95 b OSR2 be admitting defeat? The net card installation was simplicity: I reserved IRQ 5 as ISA, shut down, put the SOHO 10/1000 NE 2000 card in, turned on the machine, and went in to tackle cables. Came back from fighting an octopus, to find "Finished installing your new hardware, restart Windows." Told it to restart, came back a few minutes later to find the logon prompt: apparently removing the net card and network and all drivers and all signs of a network doesn't make W 95 forget it was once connected to the rest of the world. Nostalgia, I expect. I recall this has happened many times before.

Did password and return, and LO! Winnie is networked. Now before I install the sound card, I seriously need to do PowerQuest Drive Image. Meanwhile the fight in the cable room is desperate but not serious…

(Diplomatic reports from the last century during the German unification wars: in Paris the situation was serious but not desperate. In Vienna it was desperate but not serious…)

If the Sound Stuff goes as well… Meanwhile, since the reinstallation of Office 97, Princess is extremely well behaved, no more of those mysterious out of memory crashes, which clearly were neither a swap file (pagefile.sys) nor a memory problem at all, but courrupt applications capable of crashing an NT Workstation. Be wary: I didn't do anything out of the ordinary to produce that situation. Yes, I have a lot of windows open, and I use Princess heavily, but with 192 megs of memory and dual Pentium 200 processors why the devil should I not? And something I did in my applications crashed an Office 97 font, and that made the rest of the system run as if someone had poured glue into it. Reinstalling Office 97 solved the problem. I would guess those corrupt object messages referred to Office toolbar options; why that was reported as a defective SETUP file needing reinstallation from the original SETUP source is well beyond me.

But today the birds are singing, the sun is shining, my air conditioning is working, the Cable Room is neater than it has been in ten years, and Winnie is behaving herself. I still have to pay the bills, but I'll get that done tonight while listening to Fiona Richie's Thistle and Harp and the BBC My Word and My Music.

Now to do Drive Image, Sound Card, and the Cable Room. Then Drive Image again, and then, and only then, make one more attempt to make Adaptec Direct CD work: if it don't, I'll restore to conditions prior to its installation, report the problems to Ricoh, Microsoft, and Adaptec, and wait for someone to resolve the mess…

Afternoon, Later (1630)

Well. At the WinHec conference, one of the speakers asked how many would like to take ISA out to the parking lot and shoot it? Thousands cheered. Me, I want to do the same to Plug and Play. Only torture it a bit. It shouldn’t get off so easy.

I installed the Sound Card, and released IRQ 5. Plug and Play instantly assigned that to the network card, which had previously had 11.

Is there any way to NAIL DOWN an IRQ in Plug and Play? If not, why do we not find and beat senseless the monster who designed this so that we can be sure he does not work on anything else? Why can't I TELL THE DAMN SYSTEM which IRQ I want to assign to what device? Sure it's nice for it to do things automatically, just in case, but if that doesn't work, why the HELL does it then undo things?

DOES ANYONE know of a way I can assign an IRQ to a PCI network card and have it STAY THERE? If not, are there 10/100 t ISA cards? I haven't seen one, but I'd rather have the performance hit and control over my system. For that matter, I have some ISA 10Baset cards. Maybe I should just put one of those in, give it IRQ 11, and be bloody done with it. I am very very very weary of fighting Microsoft and the MSI Mother board with inadequate controls. I even miss jumper settings. At least with those you knew where you were. Grr. I want to pound on someone. Make some designer pay. Do these people realize just how much of the world's time they are wasting? Grrr. I am sure I will be calmer in the morning…


Afternoon, Later (1830)

I get to eat what I want, and I think I want a pizza. One good thing about baching it. Winnie is working. Not using IRQ 5 for sound and that may or may not be a problem with legacy sound stuff, but it doesn't seem to be a problem with Windows games, or at least the ones I've fooled with. Next I will put up the latest Wing Commander and see what will happen. Should be all right. Winnie has network, and is fast, and Niven can use her. I've got a Microsoft Hump keyboard and a Logitech wheel mouse, which is Niven's favorite combination. The Zip drive works so long as there's no Zip cartridge in it when you start up.

While I am looking at it -- I'll get it into books later -- if you have friends or clients who are just getting started on the net, get them a copy of Peter Kent's POOR RICHARD'S WEB SITE. Most of you are a bit beyond its scope, but it's sure a great starting book. Well written and pretty comprehensive for getting started. Top Floor Publishing, ISBN 0-9661032-8-9

Night: 2250

Well, Winnie works, and the cable room is a lot cleaner. And David Ellis has the right solution to the IRQ mess; I've moved his letter and my reply to mail.


Sunday, 9 August 1998 Afternoon

 See Mail for details: but we have learned a lot about IRQ and what to do about it. The moral of the story is don't trust plug and play, go reserve all the resources, install things one at a time, and be careful: it will probably save time in the long run.

Winnie is now working fine, all resources in place, and I have a copy of the Power Quest drive image; I can restore that from DOS. It takes up enough space on Winnie's D drive that I am going to transfer it to a Sparq or SyJet Cartridge. That means the network will have to be working before I can restore (assuming that I erase the image from the D drive as I probably will) but I know how to do that. Get the net working, transfer the file to the D drive, run Drive Image to restore, and all's well. I hope. Eric does this sort of thing all the time.

If there were room (physical room) in Winnie I'd put in a Syquest SparQ cartridge drive on the same drive string as the IDE Zip. That works all right on Fireball and should work on Winne. The system tends to think those are both Iomega drives, but I can live with that. But really there isn't enough physical room in Winnie for that, and no real need. Attertag, attertag.

The bills are paid, the Cable Room is more or less cleaned out, and my desk is a mess. I can work on that until later, then there is a party for John Lilly I am looking forward to. In fact it starts in a few minutes and Fiorella Terenzi is performing so I better hustle to get out to Malibu.

At least the bills are paid. There's a report on Siggraph by David Em; I'll get that up tomorrow.




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