October 26 - November 1, 1998
For the BYTE story, click here.
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.
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 and the week before there was a lot about LINUX, here, on the Linux pages, and in MAIL. If you are really interested in Linux there's nothing for it, you'll have to read all those. There will be more, too. The LINUX pages are organized as the log, my queries, and your responses and advice parts one and two. There's two pages because I try to keep download times well under a minute.
Looking for Dilmun, or NT 4 Service Pack 4 or a colossal waste of time
Found it: see Thursday. Also for mail problems click here
Update complete: all's well that end's well if you don't mind using lots of time.
Why don't I switch to Linux: a discussion begins
Another thousand words last night, so this book is beginning to move. Thank heaven. My new mail format suggestion seems to be going over like a lead balloon. Oh, well. About a jillion small administrative things to get done today. I don't feel very organized, and COMDEX is coming. Sigh.
I really thought I would get more time to write with BYTE folding up, and I suppose I have, but there still seems to be a great deal of computer stuff happening. I expect it would be better to ignore a lot of it, but like the old war horse when he hears the trumpets and drums
Eric was over today and we got to talking about Year 2000. He pointed out that many people talk about what might happen, and many are trying to fix the blame -- it's odd that the people who ought to be fixing it seem more inclined to run in circles flapping their arms, or run for the hills -- but few seem to be giving much advice about what to do in preparation. I am thinking of starting a "Prepare for 2000" page. I really ought to set things up so we can have a moderated discussion group on the subject. I'm looking into how to do that.
In case you missed it, I did a short essay on the Dean drive and spacedrives in particular yesterday.
Begin with something I never do, posting a press release from Corel about Corel and Red Hat. Unlike most press releases, this one seemed both important and interesting. Now for breatkfast. Another 1,000 words or near enough last night.
We also have some recommended UNIX books in two letters; the second one confirms my impression of the right book to start with.
Go to Jesse Berst's ZD AnchorDesk, and follow his instructions to go to the place to download NT 4 Service Pack 4. Click on Go To DOWNLOAD Site. You will be given a totally useless 8K file. Try again, same result. If there's one thing for certain about an NT service pack, it's larger than 8K.
I then went to the Microsoft site, and attempted to order the CD and avoid the lengthy download. I went through a great deal of trouble to register, only to find that since Princess came from COMPAQ with NT pre-installed I have to go to Compaq to get a copy of the Service Pack. This is pretty bloody unreasonable for a free product.
So go to the Microsoft site
and try that. This leads to a download now icon that leads to -- nothing. An "online support service" screen with absolutely nothing on it, and nothing to do there.
Now this could be because everyone is trying to download this stuff. All I know is it was one heck of a dull way to waste a lot of time.
I am more and more convinced the Internet is an experiment to see how many grown people can be made to stare at screen on which nothing worth knowing is happening, and often nothing at all is happening.
If anyone has a better way to get the new NT Service Pack, I'd be pleased to know it. I presume I could work something through Microsoft contacts, but I'd like to know if there's a way my readers can find it. It won't be through Jesse Berst's AnchorDesk, at least not now.
Then on suspicion I closed Netscape and opened Internet Explorer, and went back to the Microsoft site. Lo! Clicking download now got me the same screen as before but this time there were THINGS ON IT, stuff to do. I am now in the process of trying to update my NT workstation. This is fascinating. Netscape DOES NOT WORK at the Microsoft download site. I wonder if the Netscape lawyers know this? Offhand, I'd think that making you use the Microsoft Browser to get a service pack -- ie a BUG FIX --for your NT operating system is, if not illegal, a pretty shabby trick. I use Netscape partly from habit and partly because, since I use Front Page, I am pretty sure that my web site will look all right in Internet Explorer and I want to be sure it will look OK in Netscape.
I am not at all sure I like this development.
And now this: some jerk managed to overflow Darnell's mail server so I am neither sending nor receiving mail. Mail that I think has gone out may not have. It will all be fixed later, and we'll have a report. I'll let Darnell tell the story but for the moment I am not getting mail. (FIXED now).
The big Fix Pack file is still downloading on IE4. NT can't touch it. After 4 hours it still hadn't downloaded the whole thing, though, so I have dumped the job. Something is very wrong at the Microsoft web site. I am told by a reader that you can get there with Opera as well as IE4 but not Netscape. Interesting.
Went to the new ELIZABETH movie. Enjoyable if you like historicals. Great costumes. good performance, reasonably historical. The jerrypournelle.com mail server is working fine again.
Fascinating: I went to the ZD Anchordesk and their download site with Netscape. It won't work. But when I did the same op with IE4 it worked. So ZD is also playing that game?
As noted, went to see Elizabeth last night. Opera subscribers got a free admission, which was crowded --theatre full -- but made for a high quality class of moviegoers. Well done picture, lush sets and costumes. I don't think anyone has ever seriously argued that Walsingham poisoned Mary of Guise, although this picture certainly makes it appear that he did. It's certainly not a picture to take small children to.
The mail problem caused by a hacker attack is all fixed, details when I get them. I don't advocate illegal actions, but if anyone can think of a way to do an ill turn to this character I'd count it a favor. Spammers who use other people's mail servers for their work deserve harsh treatment.
During the night the big NT 4 service patch that I had GETRIGHT download before I went to bed seems successfully to have arrived. I'll try to install it later, although I may also have coming a copy of the CD. I note that at the ZD site Netscape did NOT work when you clicked through Berst to the ZD download page then clicked download now. What that produced was a useless stub. I now have a 32+ megabyte exe file. I won't tackle that before breakfast!
The SP4 business generated a lot of mail, most worth your attention.
I have installed NT Service Pack 4, the one you get when you download from the Microsoft site . Installation went smoothly. When the system rebooted, it instantly hit me with a readme that I can't find anywhere; it states that there are known Year 2000 problems with NT, and that I can fix them either by running y2ksetup.exe in the \I386\update or \Alpha\update folders on the SP4 compact disc, or some other method. Since I don't have the SP4 Compact disc and I am not likely to get it since this machine's OS was registered to Compaq, I have to try the alternate route. Microsoft doesn't want to sell me upgrades to my NT Workstation because, apparently, it came with the machine. I am supposed to go through Compaq. That makes no sense at all to me.
I can download the Year 2000 Service Pack from fttp://ftp.microsoft.com/bussys/winnt/winnt-public/fixes/ or http://support.microsoft.com/support/downloads which will "automatically update operating system components as necessary to resolve known Year 2000 issues."
So now I am off to try that.
A new way to waste time. The Microsoft site knows NOTHING about Year 2000 Service Pack, and the addresses given don't indicate what to do at all. I am now trying alternate search methods.
Your search for Y2ksetup.exe did not find any matches. You may want to review the search words you entered to ensure they are not misspelled.
"Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Never ascribe to malice "
The http: site can't find the thing. The fttp site can't be reached at least by me. I may be doing the wrong thing, but I can't get there. Ftp-32 tries and fails. Now what? Try
fttp://ftp.microsoft.com/bussys/winnt/winnt-public/fixes/ which doesn't work in IE 4, so try ftp.microsoft.com/bussys/winnt/winnt-public/fixes/. That does get me connected to a site. Now let's see what I can find.
Well, I find a numbered url address for fixes, but nothing useful. Apparently Microsoft has become Microshaft, and another great way to waste time. If anyone can find this silly Y2K bug fix, please tell me. If I were Microsoft I'd want to make it easy to find this stuff. Apparently they have a different view of the world. I am a bit angry.
I HATE Microsoft.
Here from their readme:
Download the Year 2000 Service Pack (y2ksp4i.exe or y2ksp4a.exe)
ANd from the site they say to go to:
Your search for y2ksp4i.exe did not find any matches. You may want to review the search words you entered to ensure they are not misspelled.
To the devil with them. Needless to say, they offer the enormous Service Pack which I already HAVE, and which told me that I need the y2k bug fix; but they do not give me any way I know of to find the damned y2ksp4i.exe which they refer to.
"Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Never ascribe to malice "
Your search for NT4Y2K4I.EXE did not find any matches. You may want to review the search words you entered to ensure they are not misspelled.
OK: I got this from Calvin Dodge:
Attached are two files from the alternate NT download location
(ftp://188.8.131.52/fixes/usa/nt40/ussp4/), since you have problems
As near as I can figure out, if Y2ktesti.exe says your system is OK, you
can get by with the 31 meg service pack. If not, then I guess you have
to find y2ksetup.exe OR download NT4Y2K4I.EXE (a mere 71 megs).
I hope this helps.
and while the readme he attached gave lots of information, none of it showed where to find the y2k file. Then, as I was cleaning mail, I clicked on the 198.105 etc with the intent of saving it, and Netscape went there; and lo! there is an enormous NYy2k file that GETRITE is even now downloading. It will probaboly take hours, but it will be there. Why Microsoft can't have its search engines able to find the files it references in its readme files is not known to me. Never ascribe to malice... Napoleon's dictum comes in more useful every day. Where do you want to go today? Well, it depends on whether you have put up any signposts, doesn't it?
On the mail problem: Darnell had his system attacked and as a remedy has set things so that you cannot send mail from his site unless you are logged in on it. He didn't set it that way at first yesterday so I hadn't realized he was going to do it: he had about 50,000 messages to sift and sort (90% from this spammer but the rest legitimate stuff that has to get through). As a consequence if I am logged in through Earthlink, I can send and receive through Earthlink, and send only through Earthlink; any mail that comes to me through jerrypournelle.com (rather than through Earthlink.net) gets here, but when I answer it, it sits in the outbasket; it's not going anywhere. I can then hang up Earthlink, and log on through direct connection to binmedia, and now it's the reverse: answers to messages that came in through Earthlink do not go out, but messages that came through jerrypournelle.com do. I presume there is a way to set things so that it ALL goes out through one or the other, and I have to figure that out. Meanwhile, it's not a BIG deal to log off one way and dial in and on another.
This is going to make for a problem when I am on the road. In 2 weeks I am off to Hackers Convention which is immediately followed by COMDEX, so I'll be gone a whole week, and I doubt I'll have any direct binmedia connection. Maybe by then Darnell will have figured out a way to let us get into binmedia from outside but with a password or some such. I'm sure something will happen. It is a big problem: if you have an open site, then spammers will take advantage of your generosity and bounce thousands and thousands of unwanted messages off you. If you don't then it gets inconvenient for the legitimate users. Surely some simple remedy, like finding spammers and boiling them in oil for an hour or so, can be found?
This has been an adventure. Most of this goes in the column so this will be the notes that generate a good part of the next column.
First the Y2K/NT Service Pack 4 Adventure.
Service Pack 4 is out, and installs all right once you get it. Getting it and figuring out what to do is a different matter entirely. Find the right place on the Microsoft site isn't easy, and in my case at least, I wasn't able to get it with Netscape (at least the version I have). I had to go after it with Internet Explorer. That worked, and resulted in a 32 Mb file that took a while to collect. Eventually I got it.
If you download the 32 Mb file which has one of several names, you will get an exe file that doesn't expand itself: it just sort of runs. I'm being vague because I have erased the file, and I don't remember its exact name or size. You'll see why in a bit. Anyway, after it runs, it says it has done the job, and NT 4 henceforth says it's Service Pack 4, so one supposes it has in fact done the job it's supposed to do. However, at the end of that comes a wicked little message called y2k.txt that begins "You have received this information because Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4 (SP4) has detected that one or more of your operating system components contain known Year 2000 issues for Windows NT 4.0."
There's a lot more, including a bunch of locations, and ending by saying that you need to run Y2ksetup.exe located in the \I386\update folder on the SP4 compact disk. Problem: I don't have the compact disk, and because this computer came from Compaq with NT 4 already installed and was registered to Compaq, Microsoft won't sell me the compact disk. Exactly why isn't clear, since the Service Pack is supposed to be free except for distribution costs, but their paranoia is such that I can't buy one. I can go looking for the stuff to download. That turns out to be VERY difficult. The Microsoft support net help system is abysmal and the search engine doesn't believe there are any files called y2k anything. I complained on line, see yesterday, and Calvin Dodge came through to earn the Hero of Chaos Manor Award: he sent this URL: ( ftp://184.108.40.206/fixes/usa/nt40/ussp4/ )
Which, if you click on it, takes you to a page that will let you find a file called nt4y2k4i.exe which is a monster: 76 mb. I set GETRITE to go after it, and went to dinner, and then to the opera (Falstaff; the Mrs. Ford's voice was a bit weak, but Falstaff was magnificent, and so was Quickly, and the Bardolph and Pistol were a couple of our local favorites, so all in all it was enjoyable). When I got back it still hadn't finished! So I went to bed. This morning I had it, all 76 Mb.
First attempt to run it hit a wall: not enough disk space to expand the file! So I moved it to the D: drive and while I was at it cleaned up some more files on the C: drive although still not enough: what I really have to do is move some other stuff I don't run much out to the server. Real Soon Now.
Now I can expand this thing, and do: it expands to 212 Mb and turns out to be the entire NT 4 Service Pack 4, although it certainly didn't warn me that is what it was. I ran the y2ksetup.exe in the I386/update folder. This took forever: it was installing Internet Explorer 4.1, or said it was. Eventually it was done and wanted to reboot. Fine, says I, reboot away.
On reboot something tells me it is installing Internet Explorer 4.0, and proceeds to do that without asking, and now when I open IE I get 4.0, not 4.1, which I spent ten minutes installing. Meanwhile, NT 4 now says Service Pack 4, I no longer have the y2k message, and apparently I am ready for the Year 2000. Unless I have to have IE 4.1, in which case I am not ready. I'll try reinstalling that again later today. I am also going to burn a CD with all those files expanded from the nty2k4i.exe file, and try running from that.
It's nice of Microsoft to give us bug fixes, but ye flipping gods, the work you have to go through! And I am still not sure I have everything done right. More later. But that's how I spent my morning. It's noon now.
On what happened to my mail situation, click here. Incidentally, I don't know if it is because of Darnell's adjustments to the binmedia host site, or the y2k adjustment, but Front Page acts as if someone has poured glue into my machine: it's really really slow. Inserting a link can take 20 seconds.
After I found, made several attempts to download and finally succeeded, and installed both service packs and rebooted, my computer response time was visibly slower. Though I hadnt planned this sequence of events, I had just run Diskeeper with the chkdsk option enabled the day before. Since I figured the new service packs had made new directories, I set the boot time option of Diskeeper to consolidate the directories and rebooted again. Lo and behold, the chkdsk found disk errors and some kind of error in the upper case bank (whatever that is). With the errors fixed and the disk defragged, speed was back to usual.
However, this made me have another gripe at M$. Not only do they advertise their products to be Y2K compliant, then they have unadvertised fixes for same that they dont include in the regular service pack, and finally the installation process that they wrote to fix previous bugs makes even more problems (disk errors) in the process! Argh!
<sigh> Am happily vented now. Im looking forward to yours/Nivens new book!
so I will set that, reboot, and try again. Thanks. This machine is SLOW SLOW SLOW. Like glue has been poured into it. SLOW.
The adventures continue. Plenty of them. The system was running like glue, and given the experiences of Ted Borreson it looked as if I knew what to do about it. That turned out to be easier to describe than to do, and by a lot.
First, the happy ending: all is very well indeed, and the system is faster than it has been in a long time. It was worth it. I guess. But it sure took a while.
I brought up Diskeeper and told it to do everything on bootup: do chkdsk, consolidate the directories, the works. Then I shut down and restarted and went in to sort pills. I take a lot of pills, and it's easier to make up the daily pile by laying out plastic glasses and dropping in the various things from the different bottles -- about 15 in all for the morning, one day I'll do a photograph and post it, when I was in Guatemala on a field expedition for the Boston Metropolitan Museum with Russell Seitz he saw the wad of pills I take and said, "Do you also eat food?" Anyway, that takes an hour or so, so I had something to do while Diskeeper trundled. It said there was probably something wrong with the drive, and wanted to do things about it, so I let it. This took an hour or more. Eventually it said it was consolidating directories, and then it said it didn't have enough disk space to do that. Time wasted, more or less. So I managed to boot up again -- Diskeeper wants to do its thing every time and you have to catch it -- and used the network to shift a bunch of files, like Windows 95 which I never use on Princess any more, over to a remote disk. I'll bring them back if I need them. I also shifted the OFFICE and FRONT PAGE subdirectories of Program Files to a foreign disk, then deleted them. Of course they don't all really delete: even with the programs closed down some files won't delete. A lot do, though, and this makes for a lot of space. Or would, if you remember that files are not really deleted. I let Diskeeper run, and after a while it told me I didnt have enough disk space.
I ground my teeth and emptied the stupid 'recycle bin'. (I KNOW.) NOW I had enough space. I had 700 megabytes of space. Diskeeper was happy. Now to move Office and Front Page back again. Copy and over-write, right? Wrong. Some file called fpexe.dll stopped the process with a sharing violation, and of course it stops it dead, refusing to send over any of the other files in the list after it hits that stop. This is a very bad feature of copy. Usually I don't use copy at all: I use Canyon Software's Drag 'N File, a shareware program that really gets things done, with lots of options. Alas, Drag 'N File wants only mapped drives. This drive on my remote server isn't mapped to a letter, it's named, and it's not going to map. Oh, sure, I could go to the remote server and fix things so I could, but I didn't want to DO that.
So, copy the Front Page files over to the SyQuest SyJet 1.5 gigabyte cartridge drive. Plenty of room there. Alas, although it's SCSI, it's SLOW compared to a real drive, and it took long minutes to copy the 16 megs of Front Page and about the same amount of chaos.manor web site over (but of course that makes a backup, so it was worth something). With the 170 megabytes of Office Files to replace I would be all day doing that. First I used Drag'N File to restore Front Page and my web site to the C drive, by using the "copy all subdiretories" and "Copy only later files" options. That stops the sharing violations since it won't even try to copy those dll's, they being the same date on both drives, so all and only those I had managed to delete were copied back. Then I reset the machine once more.
And here I am. Things are crisp and fast. Front Page is working fine. Word is working fine. All is well, and as I said, it was apparently worth the time. I also got several weeks worth of pill sets, morning, afternoon, and night, all sorted out and stored off in Baggies, a task I'd have had to do anyway, so not really much time was lost.
And Niven is supposed to be here momentarily for a hike and story conference, so that took care of the day.
If you want to update your NT 4 system to Service Pack 4, get the Y2K version and be done with it. I still don't know why I am back to IE 4.0 after installing 4.1 but I figure I'll solve that problem another time.
MISSING HERE IS HOURS OF WORK.
MICROSOFT ATE IT. See below for the whole story.
The next part was lost too, but I found it.
I did have this left in WORD, but I lost all my Thursday afternoon notes on what happened, which was a big adventure.
Good point. I did find the link to the authors notes I was looking for,
Which is in fact said to be the notes to the book THE MICROSOFT FILE. I have read those notes.
A typical entry:
"My accounts of Bill Gates doing high fives in the corridors of the FTC after leaving Commissioner Owen's office is based on extensive interviews with government officials who witnessed this."
What's wrong with this? Why are the government officials anonymous? Why would they not WANT their names to be recorded? The book is full of this: anonymous 'highly reliable sources' who in some cases have good reason to want to be anonymous, but in many others have no reason whatever for not coming forward as open witnesses. If they exist, name them. One or two anonymous sources is not good but may be required; but ALL sources anonymous?
There is insufficient data in those notes to allow one to determine whether this is a book of pique, with 'sources' being people who have good reason to wish Gates ill, or is actually based on real knowledge. I have found not even the usual anonymous source for what supposedly passed between Gates and girls he dated before his marriage. I wouldn't expect to because there isn't any possible source: the girls aren't talking and neither is Gates. It's all speculation with some detail to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative But in many cases there are anonymous sources to what were semi-public events. Why? Are the sources concealed because the author is under the impression that anonymous is BETTER?
I fear that these notes don't convince me one way or another. They add too little information.
" Details about the commissioners, including Starek's reason for being recused, were based on extensive interviews with FTC sources as well as D.C. antitrust attorneys who worked closely with the agency." Who? Why don't they want to be named? What objection do they have to coming out front with their story?
"he Microsoft documents quoted on pages 116-117 were reviewed by me and analyzed for me by confidential Microsoft sources who were intimately familiar with the way the company operated. I also interviewed persons who were circulated copies of the internal Microsoft e-mail."
Well, one would suppose so: but the problem is that anyone can say they received a document, if they don't have to produce it, and say anything they like about what was supposed to be in it.
It goes on and on. "Based on interviews with high level IBM officials." And such. Now I make no doubt that much in this book is real, but again, since every chance to take a slam at Microsoft is taken, one might wonder why people who have no reason to hide haven't been cited by name? Were NONE of her interviews on the record? Is it all gossip by people who don't want their names used as sources? It sure looks that way. And in some cases, I suspect the 'anonymity' serves a purpose: you would expect the person to say bad things about Gates and Microsoft. Disgruntled employees are famous for this sort of thing. "Former Microsoft executive" sounds like "disgruntled employee" to me. But perhaps I learned journalism in a different school.
I fear the notes have not changed my opinion in the least.
On the other hand I am not favorably impressed with the Front Page Bug.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequatly explained by incompetence and negligence.
Here's the story:
It had happened to me once before: Unless Front Page 98 was connected to an outside web site, I couldnt save work done in Front Page Editor. This is double plus ungood. Last time I reported this problem, a Microsoft Front Page programmer called and after some experiments we were able to change connectivity settings in either Outlook, Outlook Express, or Internet Explorer, or maybe all three, (but not in Front Page itself!) which seemed to fix the problem. Or I thought it had. I still think it had been fixed; but in any event, last night and this morning we did the upgrade of NT to NT Service Pack 4 with the Y2K fix: and that did two things.
First, it set IE4.0 as my default browser, although I had Netscape set as default. (Note that I had just installed IE 4.1, but somehow that didn't 'take'; I am still wondering about that one.) It did not TELL me it had changed browser defaults. It just did it. Second, it set IE4 or Outlook or Outlook Express so that whether or not the Front Page problem had been fixed, it is NOT FIXED NOW, and I have no idea of what to do to change that. Finally, my situation changed.
The Front Page bug--and anything that refuses to allow you any way to save your work is a BUG, not an annoyance-- had not been a big difficulty for me because my internet connections tend to be pretty stable. However, the other night a hacker made use of Darnell's binmedia site to bounce out some 20,000 spam messages, and Darnell had no choice but to lock down his site: now you can send mail only when logged on directly to binmedia. The problem with that is that I generally get to binmedia through Earthlink, because Earthlink has POPs (points of presence) in cities all over the country, while binmedia is mostly Southern California. I also get mail sent to me at Earthlink.net as well as to jerrypournelle.com. If it came from Earthlink.net then answers go out through Earthlink; mail that came to jerrypournelle.com go out through jerrypournelle.com which is to say, through binmedia. Earthlink is locked down the same as binmedia: you have to be logged on to Earthlink to send mail through Earthlink, once again as an anti-spam measure. This means that whichever service I am logged on, about half my mail isn't going out. The remedy is simple enough, hang up, and dial in to the other service. This may be a problem when I am on the road, but it's easy enough here.
Except that if you have a connection to the net when you open Front Page, then, if you subsequently lose that connection, Front Page WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO SAVE ANY WORK YOU HAVE DONE since the connection was lost. It says it can't find a server on socket 80 and that's that. Worse. If you try to EXPORT the file, it will give the socket 80 message; but if you close that message, then you get a message that SAYS THE FILE WAS SUCCESSFULLY EXPORTED! Only it wasn't. The exported file DOES NOT EXIST, and all the work is lost. Think on this for a while.
The only way to save work done in Front Page once you have lost the connection to the net is to copy and paste it to something outside Front Page entirely. The ONLY way. And that was the situation earlier today. I lost an hour or so of work.
So tonight we went looking to the Microsoft site.
First, Microsoft's index doesn't admit that Front Page exists. Alex and I spend fifteen minutes looking for any search engine or alphabetical product list that would admit there was anything called Front Page. Finally we clicked on a small box called products up in the small print, and that led to a box that had a pull down menu that listed every known Microsoft Product and there, and only there did we find there is a Front Page web page. On that page we found there is an upgrade/bug fix of Front Page. It doesn't mention the problem of not being able to save if it can't find a server on socket 80, but it was an upgrade, so I downloaded and installed it.
No change I could see. Dial in. Connect. Open Front Page Explorer. Open a page (and Front Page Editor comes up). Alter the page. Save. No problem. Now hang up the connection. Make another change. Try to save. You cannot save. YOU CANNOT SAVE THE WORK YOU DID. You can't save, and you can't export. Now dial in and connect again. No joy. You still cannot save nor can you export. This is NO FUN.
So I did another experiment. Hang up. Close Front Page, both Editor and Explorer. Now open Front Page Explorer while NOT CONNECTED TO THE NET through the modem. Open a page, work in editor, try to save. VOILA! It saves. Use Dialup Connector and call in. Connect. Try to publish. VOILA! You can in fact publish. Save. You can save. Hang up. Save. You can save. Open a DIFFERENT connection to the net. Save. It saves.
Thus the work around is this: do not be connected to the net when you open Front Page. Now it will never demand to be connected in order to save, and whether you are connected or not, it will let you save. If, however, you are already connected to the net when you open Front Page, then save early and often, because if you ever lose the net connection you will no longer be able to save your work. And that's the way it is as of now.
So I have a work around, and I am no longer QUITE so furious at Microsoft, but their tech support web site sucks dead bunnies, their indexing must have been done by a low grade employee who hates Front Page, and Front PAGE has a SERIOUS bug that will cause you to lose work if you open Front Page while you are connected to the web. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I had hoped my NT upgrade would cure WORD of offering the wrong date, but it doesn't. It cheerfully wants me to hit return to get Friday, October 29, 1998, which is interesting. Thanks to loyal readers I have an easy way to upgrade Netscape and I'm doing it now. See Mail if you haven't upgraded your Netscape in a while. If you have 4.02 or later it's quite painless.
I'm uncertain about IE4: as I said, the NT fixpack 4 upgrade was supposed to make IE 4.1, and said it did, but when the system rebooted it instantly said "installing IE 4.0" and trundled, and 4.0 is what I have. Why the upgrade didn't "take" isn't known to me. Anyone else have similar experiences? The Netscape upgrade is downloading, so I am off to breakfast.
The following is stored here temporarily: it will get it's own page and a reference when I get time since there is more to say.
Here begins an interesting discussion of operating systems and their merits and defects. I have moved this debate to its own page where it is taking a life of it's own.
I have been neglecting the book reviews, and today I got mail which was a book review for From Plat to Nato, a book I have seen reviewed and thought I would want to read anyway; I used that opportunity to revisit my BOOKS page, where I posted the letter and did some cleanup. I expect to read the book shortly. I should do more with book recommendations, and I will. Meanwhile, do note that if you buy books from Amazon having got there from the buttons on this site, I get a small amount of what you paid...
Took Roberta to see PLEASANTVILLE. Disturbing movie. Funny, enjoyable even, but the attitude is a bit, uh, well you might have to see it. But I am not sure that the meaning of life is adequately found by reading D. H. Lawrence, or even Huckleberry Finn, although I think you'd come closer to finding it in Twain than Lawrence.
Returned to try to fix up the LINUX pages. I have a LOT of mail, much of it worth reading, and it ought to be sort of organized or at least put where it can be found again. Anyone contemplating doing a LINUX installation from scratch would find it profitable to spend an hour looking over my LINUX Adventure pages (1), (2), and (3), which contain a great deal of advice from experts. I confess that the first letter in (3) is somewhat different, and I was probably a bit intemperate in my reply. Oh. Well. Maybe I'll be persuaded to eliminate it and the reply later.
I woke up in a fury of thought, and got a letter that stimulated me into doing something with it. The result was something like 2,000 words on the new computer revolution. Taking phosphadityl has an interesting effect on people my age. It's relevant to making sense of what the Linux adventures all mean, or so I believe. Anyway, it's done. Now to go have breakfast.
Saturday, October 31, 1998 NOON
Well, this time Word offered me the right date. Interesting.
Two things that never happened before. First, when I did reply in Outlook I was told I couldn't do that. Check the connections. I was certainly connected. I could publish in Front Page. I hung up and dialed again. Still nothing. Finally I decided to do what Microsoft Users do when all else fails: reboot the machine. I shut down all programs manually, then did shutdown. Interesting. The Task Manager came up and said WORD wasn't responding, should it be shut down anyway? I said yes, but in fact I had shut Word down and it appeared to do so normally. From then on shutdown went as usual.
Second, when I did reboot, a program that calls itself RUNBIND.EXE swam up on screen, executed, and went away just before all the network connections were set up. Two network connections can't be established: to Royal Armadillo, which is a portable, and which isn't turned on. I expect that. Two that should have connected, to Cyrus C and D, also didn't connect, but when I opened My Computer and clicked those drives their directories appeared instantly, the screen blinked, and the red X through their letters in My Computer went away. I have no idea of how or whether these events are connected.
All is working now. When I opened Outlook and attempted a reply, I got a "starting Word as your text editor" message, and then the reply went normally. On the other hand, Outlook offered to dial for me; did so; and I do not see the dialup networking icon in the tray. It may be interesting to see if I can easily hang up. Or publish. Or whatever. Of course I am connected through binmedia, so no Earthlink mail is going out. I am getting Earthlink mail, though. Front Page comes up normally, and I assume will publish all right. Curiouser and curiouser. I wonder if this has anything to do with the NT 4 Service Pack 4 upgrade?
Yes, publish works fine. Next step: close Outlook, hang up the modem, use Dailup to dial out, bring up Outlook; my guess is all will be well, meaning that while you ought to bring up Front Page while you are NOT connected to the net, Outlook probably should not be invoked until you are connected. Interesting.
All worked as planned, and while I was at it, I managed to test another workaround to the "Can't Save" bug in Outlook. This was suggested by reader Keith Irwin, and it works. First, attempt to save in FP Editor and find that it fails, with the "can't find server on Socket 80" message. Second, go to FP Explorer and shut it down. When it says you have unsaved work, would you like to go to FP Editor and save it, say NO. This will not in fact lose your work. Now FP Explorer will shut down. Go back to Editor. Try to save. FP Explorer will OPEN ITSELF, and now your work will be saved. This is very goofy and certainly not anything I would have hit on.
The following was in answer to a letter and appears in mail, but it is worth saying again here:
Things are happening, and I am learning, but I will continue to document what I think. As I try to warn people, A DAYBOOK IS NOT A COLUMN. My columns include my considered judgments after some time is gone by. The Day Book is exactly what happened, when it happened, and how I felt at the time. I know some people can't handle that (see the first letter in Linux Adventures Part Three for a good example) but most seem to understand the difference.
And it's true: the Y2K site does contain the whole NT4 Service Pack 4 files complete. See mail.
I am probably being too much of a curmudgeon, but I've been brooding. I have several mails from Linux enthusiasts who have gone directly to the Linux pages -- apparently the links are being shown in circles they inhabit -- which is fine. But then they want to send me mail, usually designed to show they're smarter than me (quite possible), and they complain that there's no one-click button to let them send me mail, always explaining that they didn't bother with my home page, but went directly to the Linux site.
Am I unreasonable in thinking this is a bit odd? I mean there is the "MAIL" label that if clicked on will get you to the MAIL page. There's a HOME button. There's a VIEW button which I grant isn't self-explanatory. But mostly there's HOME which will lead you to what this place is about, what VIEW is, and all the rest. Am I unreasonable in thinking that if people want to come here, look around, and send me mail about it, they might at least find out what the hell this place is and who I am by having a look at the HOME page? It's not as if I make it hard to do. One of them left my page and got my mail address from someone else. Surely it would have been easier, especially for someone out to prove he's smarter than me, to go look at MAIL? I'm sure I'm just being curmudgeonly.
Sunday: Got the column started. Did much mail. Day partly devoured by locusts. Ah well.