November 16 - 28, 1998 (Two Weeks)

read book now




BOOK Reviews


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


Previous Weeks of The View 1  2   3  4  5  6  7   8  9 10  11  12  13  14 15  16  17 18   19 20 21 22 23 24

Death Valley Days

For an index of the above, or at least some of one, see the New Order page, which tries to make order of chaos. There is also a VIEWDEX page that has more detailed index of VIEW. These will be useful. For the rest, see What is this place? for some details on where you have got to.

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.

For the BYTE story, click here.

The LINUX pages are organized as the log, my queries, and your responses and advice parts one, twothree, and four. There's four pages because I try to keep download times well under a minute.

Due to special circumstances, this week's View will cover TWO weeks.

The PICTURES of my desert adventure are up now.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

read book now




 line6.gif (917 bytes)

There will be a COMDEX report, but for now:


Saturday, November 21, 1998

I'm alive.

That may not sound like a lot but when you see the pictures of the Bronco you'll wonder why. I lost a tire at 35 or so on a desert road in Death Valley. There's a berm on the side of the road, and I went up that sideways enough to roll, and we rolled at least twice. I came to rest with the truck lying on the driver's side, on the opposite side of the road and facing 180 degrees from the direction I'd been driving. Doors wouldn't open. The big glass rear window on the passenger side was broken, and I climbed up out of that. Fast, because the way to find out about a fire is from 40 feet away. I got some wicked cuts on the palms of my hands on the residual of broken glass on that window, but I was out fast.

No fire. No nothing, but I was 23 miles from a paved road in Death Valley National Monument. It was late afternoon. Clear skies. Wind coming up. It would be cold. I had plenty of liquids.

Found all my stuff, got it out of the truck and made a pile secure against wind. Located all the liquids. Found my glasses on the passenger window, which was on the ground. Actually they were on the ground, since that window had been open. Found the map. The Armada was working enough that I could see on the screen the exact position on the road were the GPS tracker had stopped being a vector and became a stationary round ball. About 23 miles from the paved road to the south. Over 40 to anything at all in the north.

Nothing for it but to hike out, so I did, and it was cold at night, no moon. Of course I was on a road, so I couldn't get lost. Only I did. Because the truck was on the right side of the road, but 180 degrees from the way I had been headed, I started walking north. I had been headed south and it never came to me that we'd done a 180. I walked almost an hour when I realized I was going north INTO Death Valley. That's why the sunset was on my left. And stars were rising on my right. Walking into Death Valley.

Not smart. Nothing for it but to turn back, so I didn't really leave Bronc until 6:30 PM, having wasted two hours of walk. Bah.  I left a note at the car in case anyone came along, although no one had in 3 hours and it was clear no one would, and off I went with water and Seven-up bottles and a Microsoft WinHec backpack which I thought had a jacket and sweater in it. I guess I was more confused than I thought because I discovered that I'd left the jacket and sweater ready to be packed in, but they weren't in the pack. Instead I had a second polo shirt, a light cotton sleeved shirt, and a pair of pants. And a Boy Scout bandana. For a while I used the pants as gloves. I had a plastic bag of the grocery store variety with bottles of 7 up, which I had to carry along. Eventually I was down to one Seven-up bottle and it was cold and the bag ripped so the bag went on under my shirt for insulation. By then I had on three shirts, to wit: a polo shirt, a light cotton sleeved shirt, and another polo shirt, in that order. It got colder so the AAA map got wound around my body inside the outer polo shirt, and the trousers went on as a hood with the legs around my neck as a muffler. Not bad. And as John Muir said about staying out on the desert without a fire one night, keep moving. It will keep you warm despite that -450 F radiation environment that sucks heat right out... You get a lot to think about walking in the desert at night. So about 2:30 AM after 8 hours of walking in the right direction (and 2 in the wrong!)  I got to a paved road.

Nobody would stop, but about 4:30 a big 18 wheeler driven by two Mexicans who spoke very little English stopped, and they took me to Baker, where I shivered my way to the Bun Boy motel. AAA took me back out to get the dead truck and all my luggage and computers, and Alex came to Baker to take me home, and here I am, which is why I am not at Hackers telling about the death of BYTE.

USAA insurance is taking care of everything from here. Kaiser looked at me last night and gave me a big course of anti-biotics and a tetanus shot, but that's mostly preventive rather than needed. I've got multiple bruises and contusions and scrapes, and a good story, and I'll have some pictures of my poor dead Bronco later on.

Wear your seat belts. They sure saved my life. No air bags so my glasses were not broken either.

But I'm fine, and I have to call Hackers and tell them why I am not there. But otherwise I've nothing to do but look for another 4 wheel. Given that I walked away from this one, I'd buy another Bronco II but they don't make them any more. Probably an Explorer. Something with rear seat windows that open: the one problem with Bronc was that Sasha the Husky insists on sitting with his head out the window, and since the rear windows can't open in a Bronco II, he ends up in the lap of the passenger. Seventy five pounds of Husky is a bit much. He can be ordered into the back, but then he complains. A lot. So my next truck will have openable rear windows. Explorer is probably going to be it. There's a great Ford agency here that likes 4-wheel vehicles. But we'll see. Anyway I am alive. Pictures before the end of the day.

Those pictures are painful. I loved that old Bronco. I'll get them up, but it's harder to do than I thought.

For a slightly revised version of the above click here.

I HAVE posted THE LAST BYTE COLUMN, intended for an issue that was never published. It has among other things the Finland Trip I took with Dvorak.



Sunday, November 22, 1998

Well, the automatic dating problem has cleared itself up: now when I type Sunday, I get offered the actual date. Progress.

The Ceflex anti-biotics are doing a good job. It's a good thing I have them. I discovered last night that one left toe is bruised bad enough that I am going to lose the nail, and there are some angry red places on my left leg, presumably surface infections. I hadn't even known I had a problem there when I went to the doctors. I'll probably have to go again, when Roberta gets back tonight. For the moment, no car… The moral of the story is to be sure to inspect yourself all over if something like this happens. But we all knew that…

I'll have some mail up soon, and I really will get to those pictures. They're still painful. I loved that Bronc. Oh. Well.

The Compaq Armada screen is gone. I was able to dock it and peel off all the work I had done. It runs fine. Just can't see more than a few square inches of the screen. Sigh. The little GPS unit is I fear ruined, broken off at the cable connector. I could if I had to repair it, but it will be easier to get another. I am sure DeLorme will like the story.

I walked the dog yesterday before I discovered my foot and leg injuries were a bit more than I had thought. I think I better take it easier. I'd drive out to Kaiser, but no car until RJP gets home. But in fact Polysporin and peroxide so seem to taking care of the surface problems, and the Ceflex is reducing the angry red to a duller look, so I suspect all will be well.


Monday, November 24, 1998

This day was devoured by locusts. See below. Decided not to start a new page for this week.


Tuesday, November 24, 1998

Yesterday was devoured by matters medical. Sunday night my leg, which I hadn't even realized had been injured when I went to Kaiser Friday night in Lancaster, was swollen and an angry red despite the Keflex oral antibiotics I had been taking, so we went out to the emergency room at Kaiser in Panorama City. They decided I needed industrial strength antibiotics and inserted a shunt in my left arm. They injected a pile of stuff through that, and told me to come in Monday morning to the "Infusion Center" on the 6th floor where I would learn how to do all that myself.

Alas, they wanted me at 0830, which meant getting up even earlier. We got out there, and were shown two different systems for infusing stuff into my arm. Unfortunately, no one could make sense of the fax the emergency room had sent upstairs so no one could figure out what it was I was supposed to be getting. Finally a very nice lady went downstairs and worked on the matter while others tried to retrieve my charts which were in transit to the Chart Room, a place I envision as similar to that archives room in Raiders of the Lost Ark. About 1100 they got it straightened out, and showed us yet a third system involving IV bags. I got one then, and we'd be doing two a day at home. That shot the morning.

Came home feeling bad enough that I didn't want to talk to anyone, so I did nothing here. Come 11 PM (2300) we tried to make sense of the instructions we had been given. By midnight we gave up and went to the emergency room again, where a nice young lady nurse discovered that we hadn't failed an IQ test: they'd given us the wrong adapters for the system we had. She set up my infusion which I carried, holding the bag high as Roberta drove. I kept thinking of scenes in which the Highway Patrol or LA Police stopped us. "Ah, gigi!" I could shout. "Greatest trip in the world! Mainlining, it's wonderful." But in fact they didn't and I wouldn't. I don't think I would have. The worst thing about the antibiotics is that this infusion gives me a horrible metallic taste in the back of my mouth. Like old batteries. They say that's normal.

This morning my leg ain't hardly red at all, and I feel better about the whole thing. Maybe I'll get the pictures up. I did peel the pictures off the camera. The Olympus electronic camera was on the passenger bucket seat beside the Compaq Armada, and shot out the passenger window to be found alongside the Armada about 30 feet from where Bronc came to rest. It had grit in it, but cleaning it out was all it needed, and I have pictures to put up. I wish -- oh well, it doesn't matter what I wish.

The house is filling with new toys from COMDEX. Last night I was compos mentis enough to do some file transfers for Roberta using the Zip 100 Plus, a really nifty external unit that can easily attach to portables and desktops and anything else with either parallel or SCSI connection, and installs in seconds. You ought to have one in your kit; great sneaker net as well as emergency backup, and can be installed on the fly once the software is installed, so you can use it to backup without reboot. I have never had to do that, but I can imagine circumstances in which I could.

I get another infusion in an hour or so. Slept like a log. Lost 3 pounds despite COMDEX. Feel pretty good now, and tomorrow I'll start hiking again, at least for short distances. Boy, a lot of work piled up here!

But I have to look into a new truck. I have recommendations for Dodge Durango, Izusu Trooper, and a Mercedes. Mercedes sounds expensive and I'd worry about getting it dirty I think. I am hard on 4-wheel vehicles and I don't intend to stop being so. My inclination is still to a Ford on the grounds that I walked away from this one, but we'll see. Recommendations welcome. I tend to buy new and keep them until they die. If they still made the Bronco II I'd get one: right size, for me. But it does have the problem of the rear seat windows not opening. Anyway, they don't make them. Jeep Cherokee looks overpriced for what's in it. I had a WILLY's Jeep pickup once. Loved that. But that was a LONG time ago. Have thought about a supercab pickup. I do need at least 4 passenger vehicle. Of course one spends far more time on freeways than in the desert or mountains. Got a bunch of magazines. Seems they have air bags in all of them now. Annoying. I would hate airbags in a real 4 wheel.

I did get the pictures up.

 And we're back from Kaiser again where the resident decided I look good enough, keep infusing for 3 days, and come back Friday. Well, OK. This sure ought to cure any cold I was thinking of having. Any other bugs too.

Wednesday, November 25, 1998

Another day devoured by locusts. Roberta is still infusing me with anti-biotics, and we are learning more about home medical care. It may come in handy one day. I seem to have some energy back. Have heard encouraging words about the bif O'Reilly book, and a very attractive offer from them. Looks more and more as if the book will be a go.

Have a letter from John Hertz, my lawyer who is also my friend and a  Talmudic scholar. He went to the film PI on my recommendation; and he doesn't see it as I did in the review. Doesn't regret seeing it, though. I'm trying to reorganize here and I will move that review, but since it was referred to at its present site in John's letter I guess I better keep a linking reference in the root for a while. Does anyone know a better way to do that?

I really must do more reviews, and keep the reviews page up to date. I have done a little work on the Book Reviews page tonight, but it's not a lot. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a trip over there. And I'll start adding to it weekly, really I will.

My thanks to all who wrote to send sympathies and support. It does mean a lot. And Moshe, I have been thinking about your Rabbinical tradition, and I rather like it.

By the way, I know that anti-biotics do nothing about colds. It is interesting that my nasal stuffy nose problems which I have had for weeks did go away as did the sort of sore throat, as they infuse me twice daily. It's a bit debilitating, but it's doing the job, and my leg looks almost normal now, and NO, I draw the line on posting pictures of wounds and injuries. Although with some of my readers I probably could get a pretty good professional opinion from showing the pictures.


Thursday, November 26, 1998

Considerable to be thankful for, of course. As in walking away from that, and having the antibiotics which drip into me even as I write this. Leg infection seems to be going away. Tingly down there so I suppose circulation is being restored. We've already been to St. Francis to show a bit of gratitude.

Query: I now have an Ericson Digital Cell Phone, a party favor (with a week's time charges paid too)! From Andy Seybold's Wireless dinner party at COMDEX. It was keyed to believe it was in Las Vegas. Question: what service in LA ought I to get to restore it to use? It had Pacific Bell, which may be good, but seemed spotty out in the desert, but then it would, no? Recommendations for LA digital cell phone services gratefully accepted.

Now my mouth tastes like old batteries so I know the drip is working.

We have a question about how to make a mail list from an Excel file. I expect I could answer but my grain isn't working. See mail, and thanks.

Every time I go to one of the "professional" web sites I figure they must be accessed on a T1, and even then the problem is often not download time but server delays. I guess "professional" web sites are maintained by people in on the conspiracy to see just how many grown people can be kept staring at a screen on which nothing is happening.

Thursday Night

Aftermath of the dinner and all that. Still got needles in my arm. Drip. Drip. Paid bills. Deposited checks. I am astonished at the lengths some of you went to pay your subscriptions to this web site. Thanks. It is appreciated.

Tomorrow I have a bunch of stuff to do, but the aftermath of COMDEX should begin. COREL has these really neat LINUX boxes, and I should be getting one. Darnell is getting their server box. We'll have reports later. I also saw a bunch of LINUX people at COMDEX, and we're supposed to be getting some new Linux goodies. The Linux "Pavilion" was tiny compared to Microsoft -- I have some pictures which I'll get up later -- but there was a lot of excitement around Linux. I think they may be on to something. It sure is fast. And by all reports stable.

I asked the Corel president why they were getting back in hardware after he swore they'd be off it. He said something to the effect that it's just too much fun doing Linux boxes…


Friday, November 27, 1998

With luck they will get me off this drip twice a day this morning. I can sure hope so.

I still have this pile of stuff to deal with, and a COMDEX report to do. Things FLOW here so…

Saturday, November 28, 1998

I'm still getting infusions. They're helping my leg, but something has definitely cleared up my stuffy sinuses and nasal passages. Could be coincidence, of course, but prior to all the anti-biotics I had to turn over from one side to the other every hour or two just to keep one nostril open, and I sure took a lot of Sudafed. As several of you have pointed out -- it's a bit of a surprise just how many of you are physicians -- it's not likely that my IV drips have done much with virus problems, and it's hard to figure which bug was causing the problems and is now deaded. So may be coincidence, but if so it's a big one.

The leg isn't so swollen and the map they drew on it at the worst infection is now largely empty of the angry red, but there are still red streaks. I think when I was a kid we called them "blood poisoning" and it scared hell out of us, but that probably had to do with a general cultural awareness of what happened to Calvin Coolidge's son, and yes, I know, to most of you that is ancient history.

The moral of this story is if you have a wreck, check yourself ALL OVER, not just where you thought you were hurt. Particularly if you are my age check your legs and feet where circulation isn't as good.

It's raining in LA.

I have a speech at LASCON (the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society's proprietary regional SF Convention, out at the Burbank Airport Hilton), after which I'll get back to work. I have a lot to report.

One thing I want to do is experiment with 100 MHz motherboards. Depending on what you are trying to do there can be dramatic improvements in performance or none at all. We also have done some more with the AMD K2 system running with the motherboard at 66, but the chip at 300. Richard tried the Psygnosis Newman-Haas auto racing program on it, and it screams, even with no more than a Velocity 128 STB board. That STB Velocity 128, by the way, is about the best bang for the buck in any board we know, although Diamond and Matrox are breathing down their necks. I want to play with more expensive boards before I have any recommendations on those, but I can tell you that the Velocity 128 is plenty good enough for a lot of what you want to do. Stable, too. Of course as with any modern systems, be sure to download the latest drivers. Nothing ships with what it really needs any more.

I have got Interactive Magic's Knights and Merchants, which is -- interesting. You had better be interested in medieval command economies -- they mostly were command economies which is why they were so dismal in performance -- and micromanagement, otherwise watching paint dry would be more fascinating. But if you're really interested in medieval economics, this is a fairly complex simulation. Think of it as Medieval Sim Village with combat. The combat can be interesting, too, although it isn't anywhere near as complex a simulation as some.

I've got a Franklin Rex, yet another PDA, and a bunch of Pilot stuff. So all told there's a lot to write about: all I have to do is keep up with this blasted leg infection. It looks a lot better, but it's still got that redness I don't like. Hot compresses now…

There is an interesting letter about tables and this site in MAIL. Have a look. And Eric defends Microsoft..




birdline.gif (1428 bytes)