THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
January 25 - 31, 1999
|THIS is the CURRENT View.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 words.
|Previous Weeks of The View:
|For an index
of previous pages of view, see VIEWDEX.
See also the New Order page, which tries to make order of chaos. These will be useful.
For the rest, see What is this place? for some details on where you have got to.
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The LINUX pages are organized as the log, my queries, and your responses and advice parts one, two, three, and four. There's four pages because I try to keep download times well under a minute. There are new updates to four.
Highlights this week:
January 25, 1999
In another place I have seen a long discussion on "Are Public Libraries Necessary any Longer?" I was surprised that there is an argument against them (from Libertarians, but the case was made fairly well). I don't know that I will start that here, but I note it in passing. My own view is that libraries cost very little, do a lot of good, and there are far more expensive and harmful things to prune from government. Including much of the education bureaucracy.
Well, Roberta's Joizy, the Gateway 2000 Pentium 200 -- one of the first production units of the first Pentium 200 Gateway sold -- came up with Registry problems and Windows 95 couldn't manage to install a backup. Getting that running took up a good part of the day, although it shouldn't have.
Windows would offer to restore the Registry from backup; try; say it couldn't do it; say it had done it although it had just said it couldn't; and ask to reboot. Rebooting would produce the message that there was something wrong with the C drive, with the DOS "Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail" choices, none of which produced any satisfactory result. I couldn't even get the system into safe mode.
Joizy has two problems: there is only about 10 megabytes of free space on the 2 gigabyte C drive, and much of that is taken up with BIG wave files which have enormous file names (some of those file names are 400 characters long). This annoys Windows 95 a lot, as does the lack of free space.
First, boot with a W 95 DOS disk. This sort of worked, and I could see the C drive all right. Run ScanDisk on the C drive (actually I went to the C drive and ran Norton Disk Doctor which I think is a bit more reliable); that found one lost chain and otherwise thinks the disk is all right. We're that far ahead.
Quick call to Bob Thompson to confirm which are the Registry files and where they hide: they are System.DAT (backup is System.da0) and User.dat (User.da0). I suspected that if I could get the backup copy of System.Dat that I made in late December when I copied everything from Joizy to Scarlet, Roberta's new 10 Gigabyte machine running Windows 98 (it has not been installed in her office because we haven't this month had an afternoon when both of us were free) -- if I could get System.DAT from Scarlet to Joizy I'd be home free. Alas, System.DAT is 1.6 megabytes, just too large for a floppy. Have to put them on a ZIP disk. That's easy, Scarlet has a built-in IDE Zip driver; but how to get Joizy to read a ZIP Drive from DOS?
First, copy ZIP's "guest.exe" to the DOS boot floppy, and install the Parallel Port Zip drive on the parallel port, boot up, run guest. Alas, I have the Parallel/SCSI autodetect ZIP, and the old DOS guest.exe won't work: never did find the Zip Drive. That's OK, go to C:\TOOLS95 and run guest.exe from there; it's a later version, and viola! Now copy System.dat but not User.dat over from the ZIP disk, remove the floppy, turn the machine off --
Voila. Of course it didn't know about the US Robotics 56K modem we installed after the last time I copied SYSTEM.DAT, but it did see new hardware, and now all we had to do was find the 3COM/USR installation CD. That was harder than it should have been because Roberta can be very efficient about some things, but organizing the installation disks of system software isn't one of those. Eventually the 3COM disk turned up, the modem was installed, and all was well.
Well, almost all well: I wanted a backup copy of SYSTEM.DAT with the USR 56K installed on that ZIP disk. So I went to Tools95, and ran guest95.exe, and promptly locked the machine up to hardware reset. Of course. Because we long ago installed that parallel/SCSI ZIP drive on Joizy, and the Registry knows that, and when the ZIP is actually attached, as it was, on bootup, then the ZIP gets installed as a valid drive: so now GUEST is looking for a ZIP drive, but of course there is already a ZIP drive installed, so guest95.exe looks, finds a ZIP -- if there were none it would report it couldn't find one -- but can't install it, and gives up and dies, locking the machine in the process. Off switch time.
Fortunately no harm done: restart, system comes up fine, observe that the ZIP drive is listed as Drive E:; shut down just to have a normal shut down, restart, copy SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT to a folder marked January BACKUP on the ZIP, and turn Joizy over to Roberta who is cleaning up mail that accumulated while we were at AAAS. And that's done, and I can get on with something useful, but the moral of the story is that it's time and high time to get Scarlet set up for Roberta and let Joizy be a networked backup resource.
The San Jose Mercury/News does a daily piece on the Microsoft trial that you might be interested in. In the Business section,http://www.mercurycenter.com/. This is coverage from a business standpoint, not a computer users standpoint.
Ward Gerlach [firstname.lastname@example.org]
For those who follow such things. If there's anything interesting happening I presume someone will let me know. I don't have time to look, but I suspect if there's a real development it will end up in the Wall St. Journal which I do read. Sort of. Sometimes.
I have just posted a new Special Report by Moshe Bar on installing Linux in a family situation. If you are interested in USING Linux, you need to see this.
Opera event tonight, some kind of party. I have about 50 AAAS pictures (but none of Vice President Al Gore; the Secret Service has made it so diffucult for the press to get into any event that Gore is at that I don't go. I hope all this nonsense is bureaucratic turf building on the part of the Secret Service and not really needed. I recall after terrorists shot up Blair House where President Truman was staying while they renovated the White House, Truman was out walking the next day. When the Secret Service tried to tell him is was too dangerous, he said "Comes with the job." But that was Harry Truman of Missouri, not the gentlemen we have at present). Anyway, I have AAAS pictures some interesting, and if I get any time I'll make up some kind of report. Of course I never get any time now. And I haven't done any work on my novel today.
I did play a bit with Baldur's Gate last night, enough to waste an hour I might have spent working, but also enough to discover what I think is a pretty bad defect: there are too many random monsters. Monsters and NonPlayer Characters who add to the story are one thing and fun, but when you are merely wandering a road trying to get back to a place that will sell you some arrows, and a pack of wild dogs attacks and kills half your people, that's pretty dumb: and when it happens in a place you can't get back to because it's interstitial in the map, and you do not have enough carying capacity to carry all the expensive gear your dead characters have with them, that's too much. I can hack how much money I have so "raising the dead" in a local temple is more annoying than anything else, but losing all the gear means I have to hack that too, or else admit I am fighting a random number generator, and I HATE games whose outcome is determined by random events no matter how good or bad you play. Game designers ought to stop this random monster gubbage. It is not more fun, it's less. And why would a group of Level 2 to 4 heroes be half destroyed by a pack of wild dogs anyway? Not in any world I'd dream up they won't be.
The Opera Society thing was great, and the new season next year looks very good to me. Only one I am not at least a little familiar with, and that one is a bel canto, which is the kind of thing I like. Our resident artists will be in nearly all, although I think in fact some of our up and coming singers are better than the leads they have cast, particularly in Billy Budd, but we'll see. Anyway, a nice eveing, but it did make it late.
January 26, 1999
More live action in Iraq. I suppose it is good training for the troops. I'd hate to be a field commander in this silliness. We're supposed to enforce "no fly" zones, which does no good for anyone I know. This lets the Iraqis test methods for hiding radars and other air defense components, gives us lots of opportunities for accidents that kill civilians, meaing that inevitable we'll kill some, and when it's all over, it has been little more than live fire exercises for both sides. None of this will have any decisive effect anywhere, other than the obvious one, entrenching Saddam Hussein as maximum leader in Iraq. I presume that's the result we intend, since it's clearly a predictable consequence of our actions.
I thought the "ethics of intent" era was coming to an end. That is, when I was a lad, you were held responsible for the prudential consequences of what you did: if it was clearly predictable that your actions would accomplish a certain result, then you were held to have intended that result. Then came the 60's and 70's when it seemed to be good pleading to say "But we meant well!" You were to be judged only on your intentions, not on what you did. The flip side of that is 'hate crimes' in which what you did isn't as important as why you did it. That seems embedded in our legal system, but the ethics of intention made such a shambles of law and order that I thought we were backing off from it. Apparently we're back to it again, this time with military action. It's entirely predictable that military operations will break things and kill people, and some of those people are going to be civilians. There's no preventing that. As Clausewitz observed, in war everything you do is very simple, but the simplest things are very difficult. In high tech warfare that 'friction' is even more inevitable.
But killing arab civilians isn't going to endear us to any arab anywhere, and keeping Iraq in what amounts to an unending state of war and deprivation without the smallest threat of actual invasion and defeat will certainly have the effect of solidifying Saddam's rule. Whatever chance there was of the people of Iraq rising up against him were lost when we didn't help them the last time they tried it; only a fool would foment rebellion now. I haven't seen anyone dispute that. Therefore, we must intend solidification of Saddam's rule. Why?
The alternate explanation, simple stupidity, doesn't hold. Whatever the rest of his sins, Mr. Clinton isn't stupid. Far from it. I suppose all this merely proves I don't understand foreign policy.
And HERE's a sight you never want to see:
My friend Dr. Claes Nordquist from Stockholm will be joining us for dinner shortly, so I may not get a lot more done tonight. I have some good news, I think...
January 27, 1999
Interesting things are happening regarding the column and this site. I'll keep you posted.
as a place where people discuss the attempts to get a refund from Microsoft by returning their unused OEM Windows they got with a computer. While this is interesting, there is an ENORMOUS amount of chatter, largely from people who always write "Windoze" and use other cute appellations, all of which I fear serve as warnings not to read anything more from that source. Somewhere in there is a reference to the big February 15 "return day" I've mentioned before. My own guess is that while part of this movement is honest, much of it is not; I know for a fact that at least one copy of Windows 98 was transferred from a new machine to an older one that had Windows 95 (it didn't happen here), then the new machine got Linux, and the chap is now trying to get his 'refund'; which he regards as a lark, but the technical name for that is fraud.
I also know plenty of places where multiple machines are all running copies of a single license of Windows 98 upgrade, and I expect most of you do as well. This is technically theft, although I doubt that Microsoft would send in the FBI or Secret Service or whoever has enforcement responsibility in the case of a home user with machines for himself, his wife, and his kids. In most multiple machine homes the systems were bought with Windows installed on each machine; it's a lot less common to make your own machine and pirate the operating system, although given the number of mother boards sold at Fry's is a lot larger than the number of copies of operating systems, my guess is that it's not as uncommon as all that.
The big fraud is business establishments running 200 copies of OFFICE with one license; this is like buying one dictionary book and making copies for a whole office. Libraries buy a book and lend it to one reader at a time; the author gets nothing beyond the first sale, but at least there's only the one book in use. Suppose the library printed their own copies and gave them away? So Microsoft has a legitimate grievance sometimes, and their licensing agreements are really a sort of big discount price deal: buy a lot of Windows and you'll get it cheaper. And yes, they bully people into signing up, but the fact is that most big box vendors save a lot on the discounts, and pass that discount to the customer, and often the box price with discounted OS is cheaper because of book keeping than selling the same box with no OS at all. That sounds odd, but it's not if you think about it.
Annoying Microsoft is amusing to some people (and probably fairly harmless), but I'd far rather that Microsoft concentrate on doing Windows 2000 right, making it as stable as NT (which is pretty doggone stable) while incorporating some of the hardware management controls from Windows 98. I would particularly like to have "Device Manger" on my NT systems. Linux is already causing Microsoft some anxiety, and the new and revived Apple possibly even more, and that's all to the good; Microsoft has a lot of smart people, most of whom want to do the right thing, so from our point of view it's a matter of getting Microsoft management to do an allocation of resources good for the rest of us. I'm not at all sure that triggering their wrath by playing "refund" games has much beyond amusement value.
I'm about to move Robertato Scarlet, a Windows 98 machine; her current Joizy runs Windows 95, and she's never used 98. I suspect we're about to undergo a learning curve here. I could put Windows 95 OSR2 (Windows 95 'b') on Scarlet (with a 10 gigabyte disk we need the more advanced file partition), but that's more trouble than Windows 98. NT has the disadvantage that she doesn't know it at all, and some of the communications software she's using doesn't much like NT; better to stick to the devils we know.
As for me, once Scarlet is off that test stand, I'll put Linette back up and see how that goes. It's been a while since I did those experiments.
Now it's upstairs to do fiction. I'm still working on doing a AAAS report. Some of the sessions were very interesting, and a bit of it goes into the February column.
And Jim Carr of the LA Times points me to the place where the sun don't shine.
http://www.y5b.com where you can get really scared...
Enough for the night.
[FrontPage Image Map Component]
January 28, 1999
Niven will be over shortly. We have a long message from our editor at Simon and Schuster regarding BURNING CITY. John Ordover has some excellent suggestions, and Roberta has been saying some of the same things. It means work, but there's also a shot at a real break out of category best seller here; not that we don't try to do our best work no matter what the sales potential, but it always helps to have a big prize to shoot for. By prize I mean sales: I consider most "awards" to be a kind of Special Olympics, alas. As Niven once said, "Writers who write for other writers should write letters."
There's a long exchange on meaning or not of the new serial numbers in CPU's over in MAIL.
The 400 mhz Celerons are barely out the door but a major price drop is due in two weeks. Also, a 433 mhz Celeron is coming in March.
Alex encountered a myth about NT Level Two Cache. If you use NT you ought to be aware of it. Look HERE.
There seem to be a number of people who simply cannot stand it that the cheap computers all come with Widows (or Windoze as many like to say). They can buy computers without Windows, but they have to pay more; and it galls them that they are forced to buy this operating system they do not intend to use in order to get a computer at a price lower than they would have to pay if they bought a system that had no operating system.
It doesn't seem to irritate people that if I want a car with a special brake system I must still buy one that has brakes I will not use, or pay quite a lot to a custom company to sell me one with no brakes.
The model is the same: mass marketing has brought the cost of good machines suitable for Linux down to about $800 or so: but in general to get one of those machines you must go to a mass market dealer, and buy a system with Windows on it. The alternative is to pay more for a machine without Windows.
I concede that this seems to make a number of smart people crazy, and it is probably a failing on my part that I don't understand that. Me, if I want a machine with no OS, I buy parts and make one. If I didn't want that much hassle and I needed a Linux box, I'd buy a cheap Windows machine and reformat the hard disk. The fact that the maker paid $25 or $50 for the operating system which I won't use doesn't bother me, if I bought the computer for less than I'd have paid someone else for the same machine without an OS.
If there are enough people who want cheap machines with no OS, I am sure someone will offer them. That's what free markets are about, isn't it? Or did I miss something?
But by all means, if you really want that $25 or so, GO FOR IT. My guess is that Microsoft will play funny games, and the result will be a reworded licensing agreement, and nothing else will change; but by all means, fill out the forms, bring your computer to the dealer to demonstrate that you no longer have Windows installed, and try to get that money. I hope it's more fun than a movie.
Seriously: Microsoft's license agreement is an amusing trap, and I suppose it is fun to call them on it; and if 100,000 people turn in Windows for $25 refunds (I'd be astonished if it comes to much more than that) then $2.5 million will change hands, the license agreement will be altered, and all will be as before. I hope it doesn't take more time than an hour, but I suspect it will cost those 100,000 people somewhat more than an hour each; and if they're as smart as I suspect they are, that's a lot of talented man hours. I wish them well.
January 29, 1999
I suspect it depends on what your definition of "stable" is. One of my correspondents says he has to reboot NT twice a day "at least". If that happened to me I certainly wouldn't call NT stable; but in fact it doesn't happen to me. Really, the only time I must reboot Princess, the Compaq Dual Pentium 200 that runs NT 4 SP 4 is when I answer a lot of mail and leave about 20 windows open each with an open mail in it; at the same time filling my hard disk so that there is under 10 megs of disk space and that fragmented. When I do that, the system hangs. I can go have coffee and eventually it will probably recover enough to allow me to close a bunch of those windows and free up some memory so that the swap file isn't so big that it has to hunt on the fragmented hard disk for space to write to; but in fact I generally get impatient and reset the system. That may happen every couple of days.
But I have NT servers in the back room that haven't been turned off for months. Now true, I don't stress them hard, the way some do. There are certainly limits to what NT can do. I doubt, though, given adequate hardware (and a lot of room on the hard disks; that's important) that the average doctor's office or law firm will have to reboot NT twice a day. If you have to reboot your system twice a day there is something WRONG, and you ought to DO SOMETHING. Perhaps go to Linux for your servers and network in your Windows NT work stations. Perhaps merely add more memory and larger hard disks to your NT systems. But do SOMETHING, because that certainly isn't acceptable, nor is it a situation you must endure.
Darnell runs a whole bunch of web server systems, and he says that he prophylactically reboots NT daily. He is not fond of NT at all, and prefers Linux. I think for servers with critical missions and big jobs that's preferable.
So what do I mean by stable? Well, that I don't sit in fear that Princess is going to crash, and provided that I don't keep a humongous number of windows open, I won't get hung up, and things will happen as I expect and in a timely manner. And in my experience NT 4 SP 4 does that much just fine.
Can't we all just get along? Clearly I have missed a point somewhere, but I don't think mail bombing me is going to make me get it. If you want to turn in your Windows on February 15, do so. I'll even publish the best of the reports on the experience. But why must I either join or support this?
I don't need $25 enough to put an hour in on getting it, and I am pretty sure it will take more than an hour of work to get the money. I don't particularly want to increase costs for Compaq and Dell, which is what will happen. Microsoft is already revising the EULA and I just hope it doesn't get even more onerous.
The important thing is real competition. That was why I was a very strong supporter of OS/2; with IBM behind it, OS/2 had a chance of being a real competitor. Unfortunately IBM did not encourage third party software developers to work with OS/2 -- I recall a Spring Comdex in which IBM was selling a CDROM Driver Developer Kit for $600 while Microsoft was giving their Windows Driver Developer Kit to anyone walking past their booth. That was the Spring that I personally gave IBM the best technology award for OS/2 -- and spent two hours finding an IBM executive willing to come to the ceremony and accept it. Microsoft of course sent their development team on hearing they had been nominated (even though they didn't win that COMDEX).
LINUX with cheap boxes is competition. Harassing manufacturers isn't going to make them offer cheap Linux pre-installed boxes, and it certainly isn't going to force them to offer boxes with BEOS pre-installed as some of you demand. If you believe that Microsoft is in a dark conspiracy to keep anyone from building boxes with BEOS, then feel free, but I suspect that if there were a real market for those they'd be available. The free market is the best remedy for most of the problems people complain of.
But Microsoft has a monopoly. Well, not really. First, Microsoft Windows to run well needs a far more powerful box than does Linux. The cheapest box you can get will with Linux run rings around the same box with Windows, depending, of course, on what you want to do with it. Having that cheap box capability may encourage developers to write applications for Linux that work as well as do those for Windows.
And there's Apple which is coming back strong. One must admire Steve Jobs for what he has done with that company. There's another candidate for real competition to Microsoft. And REAL COMPETITION IS THE KEY and will do far more than legal harassments and funny games.
If you want to turn in your OS and go through that trouble, go for it. I won't encourage you, but there's nothing I can do to stop you, and there's a streak in me that finds it all quite amusing. On the other hand, that same streak sees the Internet as a big experiment to see how many intelligent people can be got to watch a screen on which NOTHING is happening .
So. Have at it, but can we have mail on another subject? Believe me, there's little left to say on this; with the nearly 1000 letters I have on this, I think there is no argument I have not heard, and the net effect has been to put off my Linux adventures for another couple of days as I deal with all the "HOW DARE YOU, YOU TRAITOR TO LINUX YOU BELITTLER OF OPEN SOURCES!!!" mail. Have a nice day. I have work to do.
My agent sent the first installment of the money for BURNING CITY so now it's time to buy a new truck. I have about decided on a pretty well loaded up 4x4 Explorer, V8, running boards, and most of the options. So the first Ford dealer (and closest) I went to doesn' t HAVE and 4wd vehicles. I got out of there as fast as I could. There used to be a Ford Agency in Sunland that was "4 wheel drive country" where I got Bronc, but alas, that seems to have folded up and died. So now I have to find an agency with a decent service department. I expect that knowing what I want I will end up having to have it built, which means I will pay more, but at least I will get exactly what I want.
NT Stability: for a good story on why NT might crash, and how stable it is if done right, see mail.
And apparently I am a Microsoft bootlicker. I knew there was a good reason to avoid that discussion.
January 30, 1999
Well there's one good come out of the slashdot madness (see mail). Subscriptions are way up in the last couple of days. Apparently a lot of former BYTE readers didn't about this site, and now they do, and they seem to be coming here in numbers. Welcome aboard.
I also have a LOT of mail about the organization being more chaotic than it needs to be. I suppose I can reorganize, but I think a better way will be to write a "Users Manual": a sort of one page intro to how to navigate this place. After all, it's not THAT complicated. The columns are summarized in one place, the reports are summarized in another (and I'm pulling more and more of those into that summary), the whole place is indexed by Mr. Rice's weekly efforts, the main action is VIEW and MAIL, both of which I am working hard to cross index. Of course there's a lot of stuff that doesn't fit in like Strategy of Technology and the space stuff and pictures and reports on opera and --
OKAY, it's complicated. So are libraries. There's a lot here, and surely the idea isn't to simplify by getting rid of some of it? So I'll try to keep the best stuff organized, and integrate things as I add them, and for the rest, well, the Adventure Game is fun, isn't it?
Roberta says I spend too much time here, and that I start in the morning, which means that everyone else gets me thinking about what THEY want me to think about rather than what I want to think about. She has a point, so I think I'll start doing this work at night, after a day's work. It's also why I don't bother with things like the above which I have not looked at and am not likely to.
Baen wants to make a 'fix up' novel out of the Anaeas MacKenzie stories in HIGH JUSTICE and the short juvenile novel EXILES TO GLORY (which was originally written as a Laser book, but was published by Ace after that, and then Baen books after Ace dropped it). This means two things, minor revisions of the text of the stories and book, and my writing some interstitial material and a "frame". It's not a lot of work IF I have the books in electronic form, but I don't. Both were written on a Selectric typewriter, and I no longer have the mss. What I need is a service that will take the books and either type them in or scan and correct; I don't care so long as I end up with text in Word format (or something easily convertible to WORD). Can any of you recommend a service? I can of course look in magazines for advertisements, but what I'd like is a recommendation to a service that someone has used and can recommend. We will pay $1 a page which I gather is the going rate? If not, we can pay more. The important thing is to get it done. We may have some other work of this type for a good service.
Alas, the slashdot flame wars so filled Mail 26 that it takes over 2 minutes to download the Mail 26 page. That is far longer than I usually allow, and I should have broken the page into parts. Now it would take a lot of effort to do that, and I don't think this warrants it, because it will go away after a while. On the other hand, there was some good mail both on that subject and on others last week. I guess we'll just have to live with it, but I don't have to like it... What I really need is a structure that lets me have the weeks' INDEX one page, quickly downloadable, and the mail itself in all its tedious detail on another that you reach through the index. That wouldn't be hard to do for the future, but it's a bit much for just now. Alas. Let me think on that. I could, for instance, save the page again, then take the current page and chop at it so that it was fast to download, then change the pointers in the hot topics summary. That would take half an hour, and anyone wanting to read the actual mail would still have to watch a blank screen for a couple of minutes. I guess the best thing I can do is nothing. It still downloads quicker than many of the "professional" sites.
On that score, I am told I was mentioned on the web sites that suck list, but by the time I went over there to look, I couldn't find anything. Looks like I lost my award before I ever saw it. Oh. Well. I also spent five minutes looking at slashdot and saw some lies -- one said I had been kicked off my own forum on BIX, which is odd since I still run that after 10 years or so, another that I was or was not wearing some button or another at a convention, and some other stuff about 'weenies'. I gather that these are the supporters of Open Source software, and the hope of Linux? Most anonymous, of course. I was unable to determine: is "anonymous coward" one person or is this a designation for all those who decline to say who they are? I don't really care, though; there is no signal at all in the stuff I found there other than a statement that this site is confusing. Perhaps so, but I prefer confusion to removal of all doubt...
For those following the Great Truck/Car Hunt, I've got it narrowed to three: There's a red 1998 Dodge Durango I drove a couple of weeks ago and liked. I keep remembering it, which is odd, because I don't have any great specific reason why, but I liked it. Second, there's a Mercury Mountaineer, also 1998, with V8 and most of the features I want; I haven't driven it, but it's pretty sure to drive like the Explorer since except for the grill it's a twin to the Explorer XLT. It's white with some gold trim, and white is enough better in Southern California and in the desert that if I got the red Durango I would probably have the roof painted white to save on air conditioning strain. I just happened to see it today when the Ford people were so busy they didn't have a salesman available (!) so I will have to go back tomorrow (during SuperBowl; I don't care about the game, and I suspect the lot won't be crowded ).
Third and very much in the running is to go to a Ford agency and tell them to make me a 1999 Eddie Bauer Explorer with exactly the color (light but not milk truck white) I want, the V8, and the other stuff I like. That will of course cost several thousand more than either of the other two, but amortized over ten years (I tend to keep cars until they die) it's not a lot; and I will have precisely what I want. That's likely to be what I do, because Roberta likes the Explorer's crash safety statistics better than the Durango, and as she points out, I DID walk away from rolling a Ford.
Now I have to find the aftermarket for brush guards and lights. I'm not going to put a winch on it; I don't realistically go that far off roads any more. But I do want something that Niven and I can pop into and drive to, well, Durango, and Chichen Itza, and other places where we are likely to set the sequel to The Burning City. Realistically we'll spend more time on freeways than in the desert, and that needs to be quiet and comfortable enough for our story conferences -- we talk a lot when hiking or on the road. And we carry a LOT of gear including computers and big notebooks and so forth, and a big coffee maker in case there's not a proper on in the motel.
Anyway, any one of those three will do it, and within a week I'll have one of them. Of course if they have to order it that may take a few days longer.
Does anyone know about negotiating positions regarding a car they have to order vs. one they have on the lot and want to get rid of? On the one had it's not getting rid of inventory, but on the other it cost nothing to keep around. I don't understand the car business all that well. On the other hand, money is important but my time is even more so Advice welcome.
I am thinking of modifying mail: have the Mail Buttons point to an "Index" page, and have the index page point to as many day pages as fill up my 60 second download limit. I have to think on this since it's more complicated. At the moment you can read the mail page either by scrolling down, or by going to the index and go from there. Both have advantages, and both have difficulties. I get a LOT of mail, and for me at least it's one of the better features of this site, since it gives me your views and my chance to comment on them. It seems popular enough; but putting up a LOT of mail means BIG pages, and long download times. So: again, advice welcome. I need to cut down the time this place takes, but I don't want to cut back on content.
January 31, 1999
Well, I did it. Pictures tomorrow (it's dark now and I didn't take the camera): but during the Superbowl game -- a great time to get a car or truck since you have the dealership to yourself -- we went out to Vista Ford in Woodland Hills and I found and bought an Eddie Bauer Allwheel Drive Explorer. It's blue, which is not the color I went out there looking for, but I like it. I must say it pretty well sold itself. We drove it, I liked it, and I decided I wanted it. They had some enormous discounts, Vista's service department has a good reputation, and my neighbor bought her Expedition there and had some problems with it: and was very happy with the dealership. And, I admit, I was tired of being unhorsed.
Roberta is happy with it, Sasha loves it -- we came home and I took the dog for a ride -- and I'm happy. Being that I'll have it for years I suppose I better be. Pictures real soon now.
Ford -- or this agency anyway -- no longer puts brush guards and lights on their off road vehicles; their legal advisory board had them discontinue it. They were concerned that if a brush guard prevented deployment of an air bag someone might sue. This seems a bit silly, but I'll have a look at Dick Cepek's establishment this week. I do like having at least some front bumper protection, and I also like Baja lights. I want a steerable spotlight, too. Advice on good on-line off road accessories welcome.
No name yet. That will come in time. So now we can pretty well close out the Great Death Valley Adventure
For all those who offered advice on car buying, thanks. I see there are books on the subject. I doubt I could have saved more than a thousand dollars on what I did pay, and probably not that, and I got what I wanted, complete with extended warranty, security system, pre-paid maintenance, and all the features. The dog loves the truck already, and I may just go out and look at it. Heck, flash pictures...
Anyway, thanks to all for the good advice and good wishes. Aftermarket advice now welcomed. I have an Eddie Bauer Explorer AWD, blue, 5 liter V8. I usually like a steering shock absorber, some brush guards, and good lights. I may or may not put a CD radio in it. There really isn't a good place, and I don't use that very often any more now that we have cell phones.
But at least that chapter of my life is sort of closed. Niven is happy. Now I can go to his place to hike...
And it's Explorer, not Expedition. The Expedition is large enough that I thought I needed to file a flight plan before going to the grocery store.
The slashdot madness: this erupted from a couple of casual remarks about the "return your Microsoft OS movement", in which I noted that I seldom read messages from people who ALWAYS took the trouble to write "Windoze" instead of Windows, and generally used such disparagements as their main system of argument. It's all confinded to one week of mail because I am not going to let it flow past that. It began here in view with a comment on the refund movement, and exploded into mail. Some good stuff came from it all. My advice to anyone interested is to look at Mail 26, and examine the brief outline. Life without prejudice is a good place to start. The letter after that one is on another subject, but then comes a key letter on the slashdot affair. But if you want to make sense of it all you'll have to read it all, and that's a lot, and I don't blame anyone for saying to heck with that.