October 19 - 26, 1998


read book now




BOOK Reviews



blimp-email-motion1-w.gif (23130 bytes)

For the BYTE story, click here.


Previous Weeks of The View 1  2   3  4  5  6  7   8  9 10  11  12  13  14 15  16  17 18   19

Boiler Plate: If you want to PAY FOR THIS there are problems, but I keep the latest HERE. I'm trying. MY THANKS to all of you who sent money. I'm making up a the mailing list. There are enough that it's a chore, which is not something to complain about. Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods. I am preparing a special (electronic) mailing to all those who paid: there will be a couple of these. I am also toying with the notion of a subscriber section of the page. LET ME KNOW your thoughts

atom.gif (1053 bytes) If you subscribed, CLICK HERE for a Special Request.

If you didn't and haven't, why not?  If this seems a lot about paying think of it as the Subscription Drive Nag. You'll see more.

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. Real Soon Now.

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

Last week there was a lot about LINUX, here, on the Linux pages, and in MAIL. There will be more.

Linette and Applix: Applix runs!

Diskeeper 4.0

Alice in Unix Land

Updated Index: New Order out of Chaos: Thanks to John Rice

Horror stories on what happens if you do not defrag NT: One and Two

Deadletter office: some are not getting mail from me.

A new way to format MAIL

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

read book now





Monday October 19, 1998 Noon


Today I have a big essay to do, as well as getting some work done on fiction. We are also making, not precisely progress, but something is happening with LINUX. I managed to lock up the machine, and not through any fault I can see. Perhaps setting the display variable properly will fix that.

I also have Corel Word Perfect 7 for LINUX and I hope to figure out how to install that; if nothing else, Moshe Bar will tell me since he has it installed in his place.

If I have not properly thanked all the readers for the help and support let me do that now.

At the risk of repeating myself, I point out that this is a day book. My finished columns almost inevitably deal with stories that have a happy ending: you may see the frustrations, but they are colored by the fact that eventually it was made to work. In many cases I was able to cry on the shoulders of the BYTE experts, get help much as I have from you, and get things going; only you never saw the process, only the final result. Here it's making sausage in the shop window, and sometimes it may not be so pretty. I can hope that it's all worth while.

At the moment I feel like an idiot. The system is locked up, I am way behind on work, the pollen count is enormous with a hot dry Santa Ana wind (making beautiful weather to look at but not quite so good to be in) and the LINUX system is locked up or did I mention that already? At least Winnie is working just fine now that I have moved the IDE Zip drive from Secondary Master to Primary Slave. For that story click here, and DO NOT make your internal IDE Zip a Secondary Master! Or if you do, and it works all right, tell me, because this may be a hardware or BIOS specific problem and may be universal.

With luck I'll have Linux Applizware running before dark.

Maybe not. See the Applix log. Or maybe so! See the rest of the log... Applixware lives, and it is not yet dark.

And now I can try to see what goodies I have for Palm Pilot, but first I have to pay the bills, which ought to take the rest of the evening that isn't taken by finishing an Intellectual Capital column ( ). Still, a good day's work. (I finished the column. It should be up Thursday.)

Tuesday October 20, 1998 Morning

Later more on the Linux Box, and I need to start on Palm Pilot. For the moment I am learning things about Front Page and absolute addresses. I have a new Special Report on Diskeeper 4.0 by Bob Thompson, which contains images; the problem is that I can't see the images in my editor here. Bob used absolute addresses to lead to them, and I suspect that Front Page can't find them until I publish them to the actual web site.

As I suspected: Front Page can't find absolute addressed images until they are published, which I suppose makes a certain amount of sense. There were other complications caused by replacing the images themselves with thumbnails, and what directories those go in. That's all taken care of now. There remains a question: thumbnailing the images makes for faster loading times for the whole report, but then you have to click on the illustration in order to see it, and that opens it in another window, making it difficult to see the image and the text it illustrates at the same time. I'm thinking of doing this differently, abandoning thumbnails in situations where the illustration is discussed in the text.

Anyway, that's fixed.

Regarding Diskeeper itself: Thompson's report goes into more detail than I would, so it's welcome here. I've been using Diskeeper in all versions from 2.0 on, and I've never had any problems with it. It does tend to natter at me about not having enough free disk space, but it goes on and does the work anyway, and it never harms to be reminded that it's probably time to clean up some files. I haven't installed 4.0 yet although I've had it for a couple of weeks, because I've been busy and the 3.x version I am running is Good Enough. I do this web site on Princess, my dual Pentium 200 COMPAQ Professional Workstation, and Diskeeper 3.x runs every night, and there's never been much reason to mention it, although I should.

I did once do a test: I let things go for about a month without defragging. When I thought Princess was notably slower, I ran Diskeeper; and the difference was rather dramatic. After that I set it on automatic. As Thompson says, if you run NT, you should get Diskeeper and use it. Recommended.


This should and will go in mail, but it's appropriate for here as well:

Roger G. Smith []

You’ve probably seen this, but not every one has. The timing is perfect. See

~ Alice in UNIX Land ~ ( )

I hadn't seen it...

And my special thanks to John Rice [ ] who does the New Order indexing for us.

Tuesday night

I have received a new Linux book which looks very good, so perhaps I can learn more in a systematic way. And now I've watched my Tuesday TV (Mystery theatre and Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and it's time to pay the bills.

Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Noon

We won't be going to the beach house today. Flu has invaded adding more Chaos to the Manor. On the other hand, while I seem to have escaped most of it, I have to run errands. Some good mail, and I note that I am showing up in more newsletters and web mailers, greatly increasing the traffic here. Wonderful.

Last night I sent a special mailing to everyone who I have marked as paid up to that moment. If you did not get it (and should have), you'd better send me a note to that effect marked "Didn't get it.". My record keeping isn't wonderful -- would you expect it to be at Chaos Manor? -- and I rely as much on your email as anything. If you send a note that says "I Paid" in the subject line, that gets put into a folder and at intervals I tick those off against the payment records. That doesn't take long. Then the name goes into the "I Paid" folder, and that list gets folded into the older I Paid list through Oulook and wabmig. This all goes fairly quickly, and Outlook can then make a mass mailing from the "I Paid" list. I did that last night. If you got the mailing and shouldn't have, you can either do nothing, send me money, or tell me about it…

Last night Princess (Compaq Dual Pentium 200 Professional Workstation, 190 mb memory, NT Workstation) began to jam up; when I made the mailing list to the paid subscribers I couldn't move the new list from the root Contact folder to the "Paid List" folder. I get exception errors. System didn't crash, but Outlook did, and closed itself down. Tried twice, then closed all windows on my desktop (I keep a lot open), tried again, same result. Shut down the system and brought it back up. I was getting real thin on free C: disk space -- I have to do something about that -- and that may have been the problem. Anyway I killed a bunch of files and ran Diskeeper, and now everything is crisp and fast and smooth as silk. Darnell says you should restart NT periodically, and I think he's right; but I suspect that my main problem was that I just didn't have enough free space on C:. There is plenty on D (where I keep the pagefile.sys or swap file).

Of course Diskeeper natters at me about not having enough free disk space so I can't say I wasn't warned.

More ominous: I later found the "Paid List" message in my OUTBOX although the "TO:" test message to myself had not been sent. How many, if any, of the BCC's had been sent I don't know. The real problem is that I had many times sent other mail, yet it remained in Outlook 98's Outbox, unsent, but not noticed either. I have informed Microsoft that while the crash on fragmented disk is an annoyance, a message that you think has been sent but has not is more serious.

Thanks to everyone. Now it's errand time.


I have never understood something about the web. Take, for instance, Jesse Berst's Anchordesk, which I tend to read daily. Not only does it take forever to come up, but after a while my browser says "done" or something like that and I am still looking at a blank screen. Eventually it all comes on, but for the longest time NOTHING. Then I get the blue and white frames. Finally something to read, but it all happens at once. Since it can't take that long to bring up text -- my BIGGEST pages load in under 50 seconds, and most load much quicker than that, and his doesn't have more than a couple of pages of text if that -- what is going on that I don't see ANYTHING until it's all there? Is this a rather thinly disguised way to make sure we see the advertisements, posting the stuff that takes longest to download first, then the stuff we are interested in? Or am I paranoid? I don't really understand all the niceties of html and java scripts anyway; is this something being done to us, or is it an inevitable part of having a complicated web site?


Well, some of you did and some didn't get my mass mailing to subscribers so I have sent another with some information I just got about Celeron and SCSI boards and stuff. It'll all get here eventually. Meanwhile, I trust that most of you got the message. For some of you it's impossible: you send me mail saying you didn't get the message, and my replies to THAT are returned. At that point I have no options.

Note that I send subscriber mail to the LATEST email address I have. If you change email addresses, send me mail that says "I Paid Address Change" in the subject line. Understand that I may not read the body of the message.

This is taking more time than it should. Sigh. But while last night's message seems not to have got through (at least not to very many) today's seems to have made it everywhere. Since I sent the message last night just before I got Outlook's crash due to disk fragmentation, I may know the cause. In any event

Clark E. Myers [] sends a reference to a story about NTFS and disk fragmentation: if you are interested in the subject look to

where you will find quite an interesting story, the moral of which is that if you're running NT, be darned sure to leave some empty space on your disk, and run a defrag program often.


And now a message to:



Are not getting mail because it is being returned with various error messages, If you will send a new email from your current email address to you should get an automated reply, and at some point I'll try to send a direct one. If you send to that and do not get a reply, there's a problem and I do not know what it is; many hundreds did not get my last night's mailing, probably as I say due to the crunch with the NT fragmentation hosing Outlook without telling me there was a problem; but today all but a very few got the "second test" mailing I did.

If I have any more that I am not getting mail from I'll come back to this spot and put them up there in the list, rather than doing different lists all the time. This spot is bookmarked as "deadletter".


The September 1998 Column is now up.


Thursday, October 22, 1998

Got a lot done this morning. Now I have to work…

I have added a new Linux page on LINKS and REFERENCES but I am not working Linux this week. I will start networking next week. This weekend I need to write, and if I want amusement I'll build a W95 box with my cheap AMD chip and mother board. We're also having fun accelerating Celeron. Astonishing what you can get out of a cheap chip...

I will also work on the RULES for MAIL so that you don't always get the automated response after you have sent mail, or perhaps come up with an address that will NOT get the automated reply. It's not easy to do because so darned much mail comes in, and some of it I will NEVER be able to answer much as I might want to. H. P. Lovecraft answered all his mail. He starved to death because he never got much written: the more he wrote the more popular he became and the more mail he got and ...

So if all you got was an auto response, my apologies but I am not sure what to do. DO NOT stop sending interesting stuff though.

Friday, October 23, 1998

Later: OK, I have worked something out that may make life easier. For new mail system click here. And there's a new page: reader recommended web sites. Once there's more in it, I'll make finding it a bit more prominent.

Long call from Microsoft Outlook Product management people about the Outlook glitch. They're going to try to duplicate it. The problem with inadequate fee disk space is known, but the fact that Outlook sent at least one message and not the others concerns them. You probably won't get this level of technical support.


Saturday, October 24, 1998

Roberta went down to the beach, while I stayed here to try to clean up some work. Got some of it done, too, but I probably ought to have gone away from these Santa Ana winds. This is the worst seaon of the year for me. The weather looks gorgeous, but the hot dry wind -- what the Europeans call a foehn wind, with lots of positive ions -- is irritating and hard on my sinuses. Part of the price for living in Southern California.

The mail is way down and it makes me wonder: is this due to people being considerate given how much I get (since I did mention that recently) or am I getting duller? Leaves one with mixed emotions. And I have not had one of the 11f mailings, with the new mail format. (For details on that click here.) I had hoped that would both generate more publishable mail and save me time in processing it. Oh. Well.

I still have a seven inches (down from 18) of clutter on my desk, including two mss. of already sold novels from friends who want a puff statement, both of them good enough friends that I ought at least to TRY to see what they have done. That's one of the hardest requests in this game: someone you know and like has written a book, and you either know they can write, or you hope they can. You intend to read the book. But the publisher wants your quotable remark (known in the trade as a "puff") right NOW, and of course the request comes at a time when you have no time. Mr. Heinlein used to get so many of those he stopped reading other people's manuscripts, except special cases. Fortunately for me, I was one of the special cases, but in my case he didn't just read the manuscripts, he edited them. He used to say no one ever took his advice. I sure did. Later, so did Niven and I.

Anyway, I've errands to do and books to write.

I badly need a FRONT PAGE Batch processor. Does anyone know how to do it? What I need is a way to call in the index.html, VIEW.HTML, and MAIL.HTML pages (selectively) into the Front Page Editor; then save them again. That's all. What that would do is cause the Front Page 'bot to update the date stamp. Then the next time I publish anything, the updated pages would go out. As it is, unless I remember to call in the home page and save it again, there's no updating the date stamp.


Sunday, October 25, 1998 11:30 AM PST

Had a look here before breakfast and I am still here, although I'll be gone in a second. Slept late. I worked until 4 AM PDT (2800 words last night on Mamelukes, not a record but respectable). Panic messages from Bob Thompson: it seems Front Page is going to update and reload every page on this site, because of the time change. To make sure that isn't a problem I have copied everything over to another machine. Naturally while I was doing that I did some fiddling and cleanup, so it all took longer than I had intended. Anyway, I'll be gone as soon as I get this stub copies and hit the publish button. The result may be interesting.

I think my fiddling has already done some bad stuff.

If you see any problems with the site, do send me mail. Do me a favor and make sure you note the exact problem including the page title if possible. Thanks.


Two PM and I still have not had breakfast! I did take my pills with a big glass of soy powder and fruit juice so I am not in trouble, just disgusted that I've been this long at this.

First: whatever happened to Bob Thompson's web site, nothing happened here as a result of the DST rollover. Front Page published only the pages I had worked on. It was no bad thing to make a backup, so that wasn't a wasted effort, but it was needless.

Second, I got email, and I was going to put up one little letter. I ended up writing an essay on of all things the Dean Drive. I suppose I did other things too since that doesn't account for more than two hours of effort. Does it? Anyway, NOW I go to breakfast!

I'm back, but Sasha the Husky has come up to tell me that it is a beautiful day out, there are rabbits to be chased and gophers to be harassed and hawks to be watched and what in the world are we doing in here?  He's right. I'm out of here.



birdline.gif (1428 bytes)