THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
February 8 - 14, 1999
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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For the BYTE story, click here.
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:
February 8, 1999
Column day today. Many problems, as always, at least one very odd: I am having trouble with a new machine which I like very much, and want to recommend. I think I have had Chaos Manor luck and this particular system, which worked so well I was very enthusiastic about it, has developed an infant mortality in a chip. I'll replace the motherboard but it is annoying.
Many things are. I have to keep reminding myself, I do this stuff so you don't have to, and if it were easy I wouldn't be getting paid to do it...
Anyway, more later, but I'm really busy.
I have put a letter regarding Amazon practices, and my comments, over in mail. It may be an important subject. I need to think on it anyway. It also got me thinking, I don't review enough books and games here. The trouble is I haven't a budget for that sort of thing, and most people who try to review books don't do well at it. I do get the books, many of which end up going to schools because I have only so much time. Anyone interested in being a book reviewer for Chaos Manor is urged first to read Florence King's story in the current National Review on how she learned to be a reviewer; second to find a book you feel strongly about and do a short review and send it to me; and third, think about finding a place that will pay you once you've done some on the job learning here. I'm interested in both computer and general books.
Well after midnight: the column is done and off to Japan; I'll have more about upcoming columns soon, I hope, with some good news.
February 9, 1999
Logging a detail: if you cannot get Windows 98 to let you see the network, (1) try uninstalling all the net stuff and reboot. Reinstall the whole network card hardware and such. If it still doesn't work -- and it probably will not -- then LOG OFF, and it will invite you to log on, and all will be well. This is a bit like having to close a door then open it again in order to go outside; infuriating. In fact step (1) may not even be necessary, but that's the order I did things in when the network collapsed.
It is raining and since 2300 last night the Earthlnk network has dropped me every five minutes. Since you have to close Front Page and reopen each time that happens, this can be maddening. Ah well. I keep hoping to negotiate a new deal with the phone company to get an ADSL or whatever that it called nailed up.
I now have a problem with disk drives being SLOW. It may be incompatibilities on the IDE string since there are two hard drives on that string. I will try putting the CDROM and a hard drive on one string and the ZIP and the other hard drive on the other. I have been told that some drives don't live together well on an IDE. If worse comes to worse I will go to SCSI for one hard drive.
NO: the problem is SETTINGS in WORD. I always set "Always make backup" but that is NOT the problem. Somehow the "embed true type fonts" button was checked. That slows down WORD saves something awful. It goes from under a second to several seconds, and of course without regard to the length of the document being saved. Watch that box. It can cost you!
The column will detail a problem with the new ATI Rage Pro Turbo video chip set, and the work around for it. It's not a BIG problem, and one expects that ATI will have new drivers for a permanent solution any time now.
February 10, 1999
Meetings yesterday with CBS Tv executives. More today with Paramount, and tomorrow with Disney. There's a lot of money in the Hollywood Industry. There's also a lot of grief. Every time I get tempted, I go listen to Harlan Ellison tell about his experiences and I think how nice it is to write books, and how much more pleasant and old-world gentlemanly the computer industry is compared to Hollywood. But our agent keeps getting inquiries, and Niven and I are pretty good at creating worlds, and off we go... If nothing else it's a chance to see how "the industry" is taking the computer revolution, about which most of its executives know nothing. That's another report I owe you: Eric Haseltine of Walt Disney Imagineering gave a pretty good talk at AAAS. He actually understands much of this stuff. The potentials are large. I need to write that up. Only the meetings eat the time...
I'm off, but first I have posted a new ALT MAIL: an exchange of views about Marxism in the modern age. Back later.
Well, that was interesting. They seemed more interested in SDI and our part in it and the end of the Cold War than in artificial worlds. But we'll see. Niven and I are good at creating self-consistent worlds, and apparently Hollywood is in the market for some of them...
And I seem to have some mail from some anti_Microsoft people who think it funny to format their mail into a column two words wide. Beyond the first two screens I have no idea of what it says, of course. Look: if you want to send complaints, that's fine but making them difficult to read is a good way to keep me from reading them. If this was a test of my patience, you now know at least one of the limits.
February 11, 1999
Interesting: I went to bed with NT running fine. Came in this morning and communications were all messed up. Wouldn't send email. Couldn't find the jerrypournelle.com server (or any other). Shut everything down, turned off system, restarted. All well now. NT? Cosmic rays? Act of God? I don't like mysterious glitches, and they happen more often than they should. Anyway it's fixed but there went another half hour including a call to Darnell, who dutifully checked the server to find it was "running like a top." Microsoft strikes again?
Had a couple of complaints about VIEW's width; went looking; found that the gold balls line separator was a bit long, not a lot, just enough to bother some people's browsers. It ought to be fixed now. I may have to go back and fix a bunch of them from the past unless I can think of a substitution replacement thing.
I can now narrow this to ridiculously narrow so the problem ought to be solved.
How do you remove Linux?
And check this one:
A reader has sent me the entire Lays of Ancient Rome from the Gutenberg project. My thanks. I've given it a page of its own. It's long, of course. But more relevant to today's education than I had remembered. All three lays (not just Horatius) are included along with Macauley's comments. It is a comment on today's education that any educated person was expected to be familiar with much of what Macauley alluded do here.
a sample (from "Virginia"):
``Now, by your children's cradles, now by your fathers' graves, Be men to-day, Quirites, or be forever slaves! For this did Servius give us laws? For this did Lucrece bleed? For this was the great vengeance wrought on Tarquin's evil seed? For this did those false sons make red the axes of their sire? For this did Scævola's right hand hiss in the Tuscan fire? Shall the vile fox-earth awe the race that stormed the lion's den? Shall we, who could not brook one lord, crouch to the wicked Ten? Oh, for that ancient spirit which curbed the Senate's will! Oh, for the tents which in old time whitened the Sacred Hill! In those brave days our fathers stood firmly side by side; They faced the Marcian fury; they tamed the Fabian pride: They drove the fiercest Quinctius an outcast forth from Rome; They sent the haughtiest Claudius with shivered fasces home. But what their care bequeathed us our madness flung away: All the ripe fruit of threescore years was blighted in a day."
February 12, 1999
Meetings are over. Work to do. There's a big discussion of Marx and his relevance or non-relvance to modern society over in Alt Mail.
This does mean that some of the boiler plate has to go on the current page.
At the end of each week the pages will be saved as numbered pages, and we'll have a new current mail and view page. That means you can bookmark the page and be done with it, or get to the page from the home page in one whack. I think I am going to do it this way. I don't see why it's so hard to get to the current page once a week and bookmark it, but I've got enough requests that I'm taking it seriously. We'll see.
Hardware problems with the Linux box today. Or I think hardware problems. I may say to heck with it an get an entirely new Linux box just to have one. But I'll make one more try with this one.
New essay by Talin explaining use of TCP/IP. If you aren't familiar with the subject this could help.
February 13, 1999
We learned a few things about ZIP drives. If you format a ZIP Disk, it can be read in the machine you formatted it in, but no others; at least that's the case with disks formatted in an internal IDE ZIP drive. I will try it again with a regular zip and see if that changes things. Regular pre-formatted ZIP disks can be read in any ZIP drive we have. Those we format in an internal IDE Zip Drive can be read ONLY in the drive that formatted them. Curious, no?
I'll see if that holds true for disks formatted with a SCSI drive, and with a parallel drive.
Second: you can have only 166 objects in a ZIP Drive root Directory at least under Windows 98. This is probably a universal truth I have forgotten. You can have more than 166 in a Folder on that ZIP disk.
MORE: I have found that if you use the LONG FORMAT routine which takes about 10 minutes, you can reformat ZIP disks, even MAC Disks, so that they are readable by all machines. The rule seems to be that the "short" format routine will produce disks readable on the machine that made them, but not necessarily on any other, while the "long" format seems to make disks that are readable by all Zip drives. Interesting.
Even MORE INTERESTING: If I use the LONG format routine on a machine with Windows 95 and an internal IDE Zip, then it makes ZIP Disks with 100 Megabytes, and those are readable by all the machines in the house. If I use the new SYS Celeron system running Windows 98 to format the disk, the long routine makes a disk with only 99 megabytes, and it is readable only on the machine that made it. (Not entirely sure: it may be readable on another Windows 98 machine; it is not readable on the Windows 95b machine that is making ZIP disks readable by anything. I will try the Celeron system and LONG format; then take the disk down to Scarlet, which has Windows 98 and uses an AMD K6-2 chip. that machine can read disks formatted by the Windows 95b machine, but not those short formatted by the Celeron. My hypothesis is that it won't read them formatted with the long format routine on the Celeron either; but will read those formatted with the long routine on the Windows 95b system. Now is this a problem with Windows 98, with iomega drivers, or didn't I hold my mouth right?
I am now testing: I am formatting long a disk on each Windows 98 machine. I postulate that each will run out at about 99 megabytes, and while each will be readable by the machine that made it, neither will be readable by the other. Both may be readable by the Windows 95b machine. It will take about ten more minutes.
Curiouser and curiouser. Scarlet, the Amd K6-2, will format a Mac formatted ZIP disk to 100 megabytes; the resulting disk is readable by all the machines I have. SYS, a Celeron system, formats that disk to 99 megabytes, and the resulting disk is possibly readable to the machine that made it but certainly not to any other machine. Both systems have internal IDE ZIP drives. But the really reliable machine for formatting ZIP disks is Winnie, the WinChip Windows 95b system. And I have no idea why. It too has an internal IDE Zip drive. I have no idea of whether this is iomega drivers, sloppy tolerances on the drives, or a Windows 98 problem that Windows 95b doesn't have. Since I have a remedy -- format any ZIP drive that needs formatting on Winnie -- I end the investigation here.
I do this stupid stuff so you don't have to.
The North American Science Fiction Convention is held when the World Convention is out of the country. In 1999 the NASFIC will be in Anaheim California 26-29 August, 1999. I am guest of honor. If you have never been to a science fiction convention and wonder what those things are like, this is as good a one to come to as you will find...
Go visit the site, and tell them I sent you...
February 14, 1999
Happy Valentine Day. We're going to lunch at what used to be La Serre and is now Pinot Bistro, still one of the best restaurants in the Valley (and in LA for that matter) and has the great merit of being open on Sundays, which Mon Grenier, the best restaurant in the United States, is not...
Summing up on ZIP: Formatting on a Windows 95 Internal IDE using the "long" format routine works every time, Formatting on a Windows 98 Internal IDE using the "long" format routine almost never works, and certainly cannot be considered reliable. I have not yet tested formatting with Windows 98 machine using and external SCSI drive; that comes next. I think that you can format with Windows 95 and an external Parallel, and Windows 95 using an external "Zip Plus" as either parallel or SCSI, because I think I have done it without incident, but now I wonder, so I have to make THAT test too. Of course ZIP parallel is in fact SCSI with a parallel to SCSI converter, so if SCSI works parallel ought to also and vice versa. But I have not yet tested Windows 98 and an external drive.
However, something horrible has happened to OUTLOOK and Mail. Mail no longer comes in formated without line endings, and in fact it all seems to be in courrier rather than Arial font. I have tried to find the settings but the only setting I can find is in what my OUTGOING mail will be, and that doesn't seem to make a darned bit of difference to what the mail LOOKS LIKE as it comes in. What have I done wrong this time?
In any event it is impossible to deal with the mail any longer since every message to be posted has to be gone through to remove line endings, and I don't have time for that. Clearly something has changed, but what I don't know. I get very discouraged when this happens. I don't know how to get back to where I was, either.
Well, I figured that one out. You must set the OUTGOING Mail, then choose a template; and the "email.dot" template doesn't alway "catch" when you set it. So Set Outgoing Mail to WORD, then set the template by going to TEMPLATE CHOOSER rather than just clicking the email.dot from a list. Then for good measure shut down Outlook 98 and bring it up again. THAT DOES IT. I am back where I was. But why, oh why, must it be THAT -- not hard, not even complicated, but tedious? Oh well. Outlook is still worth using. But sheesh!