The View from Chaos Manor

Week 4

June 22 through June 28, 1998




Previous Weeks of The View 1    2   3

Feedback question: I have tended to keep page sizes small by using a lot of pages. I read in one of my web design books that many users prefer larger pages with bookmarks and scrolling. I would think that would make for long download times. I'd appreciate your observations.

New Windows 98 discussion begins.

ALEX has a new page. With experimental layout.

ALERT: Talin has a suggestion for a way for you to PAY for this place. Click here.

 If you want to PAY FOR THIS there are problems, but I keep the latest HERE.

If you have any interest in space, see spacemail. There are also papers of mine on space policy, not well organized; drill down from the home page and the best of British luck to you.

I think I have fixed the STARSWARM links. See below.

Organization of the view: The section down to the first line (planets or balls) is general and may or may not change from day to day; it won't be very long. Then if you haven't been here before, we go in chronological order, from beginning of the week, and all you need do is scroll.


Monday, June 22, 1998: I continue to organize. I have copies of Front Page 98 and Dreamweaver coming, and I'll use those as soon as I can. If you missed yesterdays Mail and View, there's a lot there.

Just at the moment I am finishing my Intellectual Capital column, and deadlines are tight. Later...

Got that done and turned in and pretty good it was if I do say so. Now to try to organize: Front Page 98 has arrived, and I am making enough disk space that I can install it. I can't believe how I have managed to use up several gigabytes of disk space on Princess, the Compaq Professional Workstation I do all this on. It would be amazing if it weren't disgusting. The worst is that I cannot for the life of me see what I can get rid of.

There is also a ton of mail to work on, and a new series on graphics by David Em. He'll need his own page structure of course. With luck Front Page 98 will make some of this a bit more routine than it has been.

Well, I'm editing in Front Page. It took a while, and a frantic call to Darnell, to make it work. The important thing to remember is: you must install personal web server along with Front Page; and you must shut the machine down and restart after these installations. When you install Front Page it will ask if you want to run it. You don't. Finish without running. Make sure that you did a custom install that included Personal Web Server and if you didn't, go back to the CD and start over and this time do install Personal Web Server. It will again ask you if you want to run the program.

I wanted to. Wrong answer. The dialogue ought to be: "Do you want to run Front Page now?"


"You can't, stupid. Restart the machine and ask me again. Sheesh, these users."

Unfortunately it doesn't say that, so you can try until the cows come home but it won't let you start a new web page or import an old one, and not even Darnell realized this so we wasted time on the telephone trying this and that, until he remembered. The good news is that once I did restart, it all works just peachy fine, and I have imported this web site from the folder where I keep it on the C drive, but it would have imported it from the server Darnell keeps it on if I'd just allowed it. Wow. And it's fast, and you can grab a link label to edit it, or do control-click to follow it. That's already better than Word. On the other hand, I seem to be having problems finding the date and time, which don't quite work the same as they do in word. So it goes.

I now have to create a page for David Em. The art and layout will be mine. David's words, though.

We will see if that works. To get there try  EM

Observation: in Front Page you MUST close the file before you "publish" which is to say allow Front Page to update the web site.

I'm writing this in WORD by opening the View file. It works. I am still learning this, but I have to say: I am beginning to like Front Page, and I've been using IE4 to look at this stuff and I like it. Eric is sitting here resisting saying I told you so and not managing it. He did tell me I'd like it. But does this mean I am being absorbed by the Borg? Help! Now I have closed WORD and opened Front Page, and I am writing in Front Page, and it's working if a bit slow. I note that to do spell checking I have to explicitly invoke the spelling checker which is the same one as the rest of Office. In Word it does it on the fly. But the integration of these products is very nice. Aargh. Am I being assimilated? No, no...

Tuesday, June 23, 1998

Still working with Front Page. It is integrated wonderfully well with Word: that is, I can forget using their HTML editor unless I really want to, and instead edit in Word. Word is faster, even with on the fly spelling and grammar checking, and frankly has better tools for routing matters like date and time, horizontal lines, and other stuff; use the Front Page editor when that really counts; and use the Publish feature to upload it all. Works good. One minor complain, Front Page has NO provision for saving the very complicated and impossible to remember password for the Chaos Manor web site. As long as Front Page is open the password remains, but if there's a glitch--such as earlier today when apparently Darnell was updating some stuff--then Front Page forgets the password, and out come the log books to look it up. Minor annoyance.

Am I being assimilated? Is resistance futile? The only reason I use Netscape now is to look at the files to be sure that Front Page hasn't done something I didn't know about; IE4 is much faster, and not just for my web site. The other reason I use Netscape still is that I haven't figured out how to transfer the bookmarks, of which I have a lot, from Netscape to Internet Explorer. I didn't start with any preference for IE4, the opposite in fact, because I while I made a living for 20 years writing about trying new things, the fact is that I actually like developing habits for working with my tools. That way I don't have to think about how to do something, I just do it. Now I'll have to learn new habits for web browsing. But IE4 really is faster, and integrates nicely with the rest of Office and Front Page.

I hope it's just the Borg, and not the beast John W. Campbell, Jr., invented for his "Who Goes There". That may have been the most frightening monster in all science fiction, even if they did a ridiculous movie with that title with James Arness in a rubber suit...

Reinstalled Symantec Delrina Winfax 7.5 on Roberta's "Joizy" a few minutes ago. She does nearly all the electronic faxing; when I fax, I tend to print on paper and let the Panasonic fax machine handle the job. It didn't used to be that way, back when I was active in space politics, and I was sending faxes every few minutes. For all its faults, Winfax does the job well. If there's an upgrade I don't know it: the one we have is a couple of years old. Works just fine, though. It does believe that the internal US Robotics modem in Joizy is a 28000 Sporster, when that was long ago upgraded to one of the 56K systems. I notice that Roberta very often gets 40K+ internet connections. I don't usually get better than 28K and often not even that with my external US Robotics. I am not sure why; it may need some kind of firmware upgrade. One more thing to do.

New Feature: Chaos Manor Books. The return of the book of the month...

Well, the Borg nearly had me. But I have escaped. First, I cannot find any way to tell Outlook 98 that I want to change over to Internet Explorer as the default. Consequently, if I have IE4 open, say to look at my web page -- which incidentally has considerable new stuff in David Em's page among other places -- and I double click on a URL in a mail message, up comes Netscape, then up comes Dr. Watson, then IE4 dies. There is a Microsoft web site that purports to tell me how I can run Netscape and IE4 together, but when I tried to get those tips (using IE4, having closed Netscape) I got Active-X Script errors, something about parent/child is not an object, do I want to continue running Active X script on this site? It doesn't matter what answer I give, nothing useful is going to happen. I don't know what that's all in aid of. So until I can find out how to set IE4 as my default browser for Outlook 98-- I have the horrible feeling I am going to be told I have to reinstall either IE4 or Outlook or both--I have evaded the clutches of the Borg. That Microsoft Site seems pretty enough, but there's something seriously wrong there...

My advice is to stay away from Worldbook Encyclopedia done by IBM. I have no idea of whether the encyclopedia is any good: it comes on 2 CD ROMS but before you can use it, you must enter a code number. Since the code number is on a card that you probably threw away (since the CD's are shrink wrapped, and you have them, and the stupid encyclopedia is useless without the CD's) it means you may not be able to use this thing at all, and it's nearly certain that you'll eventually lose that number. IBM and Worldbook deserve the "as near to fraud as you can get" award for charging money for this imbecility. Roberta wanted an encyclopedia, and thought Encarta a bit simple; I fished out a shrink wrapped Worldbook for her. But apparently the key code was in another package long ago thrown away.

They give URL's for IBM and Worldbook but I won't bother to give them here: I mean why would you want them? Sop you can spend money for a product you can't use without having to have a 10 digit number to enter every time you want to look something up? They also give a tech support number, but it's a 716 number; they are taking no chances with that one. Way to go, Worldbook and IBM. Way to go. Feh.

New feature: SPACEMAIL. The topic ought to be obvious enough.

Wednesday, June 24, 1998

Last night I converted from Netscape to Internet Explorer 4. It wasn't that there was anything basically wrong with Netscape, or all that much better about IE4; but now that I am using a combination of Front Page 98 and Word from Office 97 to do this site, and Outlook 98 to keep track of my mail, it all integrates a lot better with IE4 than with Netscape. I had a real problem convincing the system to change default browsers: the answer is in the Internet button on the Control Panel. This is installed when you install IE4. It has a little box with small print that asks if you want IE4 to check and see if it is the default browser. You check that box, close Netscape and launch IE4, and Bob's your uncle. There is a Microsoft Web Site for the newly absorbed -- oops, converted -- that will guide you the rest of the way. Back when Netscape was my default browser I got some Active X script errors on that site. I haven't this morning been able to duplicate them, and I'll probably stop trying.

I am fully convinced that Internet Explorer is faster than Netscape, and by a lot. It seems a bit crisper, and the scrolling seems smoother.

I can usually rely on my readers to think of solutions to problems I can't handle. A surprising number of those solutions come from Talin. For payment he suggests:

From: Talin []

Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 2:02 PM

To: jerryp

Subject: Collecting Payments for Chaos Manor Column


I just read on your your site about the difficulty of people from foreign countries sending you checks. Presumably, Millicent would solve this problem, as well as many others. While you are waiting for Millicent to be implemented, however, I suggest you sign up with "Kagi". Kagi is a shareware payment service. Here’s what Kagi does: Instead of customers sending money to individual shareware authors, they can send money to Kagi in _any_ form (this includes foreign currency, credit cards, checks, money orders, invoice, First Virtual, whatever). Kagi then takes a flat six percent of that, and sends the rest to the shareware author, aggregated into a single monthly check. Kagi removes the burden of accounting and payment processing from the shareware author, and let’s them concentrate on writing code or doing whatever it is that they do best.

You don’t have to be a shareware author to take advantage of Kagi;

Anyone who is collecting payments over the internet can use it. For example, there are various "charity" accouts—there is a list of charities that you can donate to using the Kagi mechanism. There are also newsletters and organizations which have Kagi accounts—you can pay your membership dues via Kagi.

Kagi works with both shareware and crippleware, i.e. they have a mechanism whereby receipt of payment will automatically send you an email containing an activation code.

Kagi has been in business for about 5 years, and processes $20,000 worth of payments per _day_. They have over 500 authors.

Kagi is convenient for end-users—they can submit payments via regular mail, email, web or fax. They have a customer support staff to handle end-user problems.

The URL is

Also, I should mention that the founder and owner of Kagi is Kee Nethery, a close personal friend of mine. (In fact, my personal web page is running on a machine located at his offices.) If you ever come to Baycon, I’ll introduce him to you.

Talin ( -- Systems Engineer, PostLinear Entertainment.


"The only mind-altering substance I use is breakfast."

In fact I had lunch with the founders of Kagi when Eric and I went up to DEC's Palo Alto Research Center for the Millicent conference. It's a splendid suggestion, and I'll sign up as soon as I've given the rest of you an opportunity to think on it. If there's a reason not to, tell me.

Some frustrations continue. I wanted to draw a little box, blue background with white letters, small, that would say in white on blue "Best viewed with a web browser." Little border around it. I got it fine except that the picture drawing function insists on making the darned thing big in depth so that it takes up too much space. Anyone know what I am doing wrong?

 There is surely a simple way to trim the thing to size. I wonder what it is?

And, of course, Voila! NOTE THURSDAY NIGHT: There's a better way. To see it, click here.

From: Tim Bowser []

Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 3:54 PM


Subject: ChaosManorMail

Dr Pournelle,

Not knowing what you were using to produce the "Blue Button", I’d guess it was trying to build a default sized graphic image and rendered the Big Black Box the button was trapped in.

IrfanView32, while being the slickest viewer I’ve seen in ages, can also clean up little problems like the Button. Open the file with Irfan, use the mouse to encircle the area you want to save, then click on Edit - Crop. The result is attached as BestBrws.JPG.

Expect a ten-spot in the mail shortly. I was a subscriber to BYTE for years, and the first column I’d turn to was Chaos Manor. For the price of a cheese pizza, I can learn along with the Good Doctor for a year and not worry about cholesterol.


Tim Bowser

Thanks. Worked like a charm, of course. I'll move all this over to mail directly, but we'll leave it here a day or so.

 And now for a key question:


Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 10:05 PM



Dear Jerry:

The web is not a magazine. Look at CNET or CBS’s web news sites to see what type of format is "screen" friendly. I think if you are going to move Chaos Manor to the web and make it a pay site, you should make it easier to read on the screen. You can always allow downloadable, or special printable versions that work better on paper. But if you’re gonna be on the web...

The questions here being two. First, if this isn't readable, what would be, that I can manage to do without spending most of my time at it. And behind that of course the implied question, am I going to be 'on the web' other than casually? What formats are readable?

For what is probably a disastrous experiment, see TESTVIEW.   [Note: it was a disastrous experiment. Most to all the links in testview are broken. I haven't eliminated it, but think of it as a horrible example. Pay no attention to that test page behind the curtain.]

Thursday, June 25, 1998

Long lines at Fry's and COMPUSA for Windows 98. I can't think why. I have had the shipping copy for a couple of weeks. Eric (Eric Pobirs, our mad associate) likes it a lot but I doubt he'd have stood in line to get it. Windows 98 solves some problems, and creates others. It breaks some CD R/W systems -- the Ricoh Media Master can't stand it without a bios upgrade and that upgrade has to be done from DOS, and it's complicated enough that I haven't done it. In fact, I don't have a CD R/W system running just now because I had the Ricoh in Fireball under Windows 95, and when we changed that to 98 the Ricoh stopped working. We were using Fireball to make CD's so I quickly installed the Panasonic CDROM 4X (writes at 4X) and removed the Ricoh, and I haven't set up a Windows 95 system for it to work with. I think it works with NT, and Fireball reverts to an NT only system in the next day or so.

Spent yesterday afternoon in the Monk's Cell working on Mamelukes. Felt good, but OLDCOW, a Gateway 2000 486 Dx2 seems painfully slow after all the other stuff I've been working with. Of course once WORD loads it doesn't matter; it's loading and copying that seem to take forever. Of course a lot of that copying is file transfer through a serial port ZIP so speeding the machine up wouldn't change that much. Still, I think I'll put together a somewhat faster upstairs machine, probably with Windows 98. I've got a lot of boards, chips, and drives here. But then the system I was going to do next is a really speedy Socket 7. But that would be good for games. Games are precisely what I must not have in the Monk's Cell. I have some Kingston memory chips, and with luck they'll work to give OLDCOW a bit of a memory upgrade. I have some recollection of trying that once and it didn't work. I know that when we tried to add memory to Supercow, a Gateway 2000 486 dx2 VL local bus machine of the same era, we got parity errors, probably because I can't find the manuals: there's probably a jumper or DIP switch setting that needs changing. In those days machines needed to be told what memory they have. We get used to all that being automatic now. That's one change that's all to the better.

Anyway, Supercow is now being used by the Space Access Society, the only space activist group I have a lot to do with any more, and upgrading it is their problem. For details on Space Access, send email to Henry Vanderbilt.

Apparently there were extraneous spaces in my link to the Amazon Books location where you can buy Starswarm. I believe I have fixed those: if you click on the book title it ought to take you direct to the page at Amazon where you can buy it, with the code that gets me a percentage of what you pay. It worked for me before, so it may be that my system remembers something yours can't find. Clicking on Starswarm ought to take you to direct to the right page at Amazon Books, with a code that will cause it to add jerrypournellcha to the order information. (Apparently they truncate your name and web site to get that code.) If that's still broken, someone tell me: it seems to work for me.

Alex -- Alexander Pournelle, my oldest son, who was responsible for starting me at BYTE, and I guess that story is worth telling. It was a computer show here in Los Angeles. I was wandering around with Mac Lean. We took Alex who was about sixteen at the time. He came up to me: "Do you want to meet the fabulous Carl Helmers?" Helmers being, of course, the founding Editorial Director of BYTE. Sure, says I. I found later Alex had gone to Carl and said "Do you want to meet the famous science fiction author Jerry Pournelle?" As it happened, both Carl, and Chris Morgan who was the editor of BYTE, had read a couple of my books, and were desperate for more text to hold the advertisements apart: BYTE was thicker than a Sears catalog in those days. We had a short discussion and the column was born. Lasted more than 20 years. Not bad...

Anyway, Alex has a page here now. Go find it.

I see that Jesse Burst is complaining that Windows hasn't fallen in price for years. It's more powerful, sure, but shouldn't it cost less. Funny. I recall a few years ago the big problem was stagflation: wages stayed low but prices kept going up. Inflation and unemployment. Misery index. Now we complain if prices don't fall.

Cars don't cost less. Bicycles don't cost less. Computers and electronics in general are about the only things that do fall constantly in price. Most stuff goes up. Maybe what we need is more government interference into the computer business. That will fix that falling price expectation.

I don't hate Windows 98. I just don't use it much. Got along without you before I met you, gonna get along without you now... I'll install it eventually, but frankly, ORS2 works about as well with everything I have. No USB, though; for that I will need Windows 98. If it weren't for USB I might not bother.

Considerable Amusement in building Alex's web page. Don't blame him for the layout. The content is his, but I used his page as a design experiment, that's still going on. I'll get it settled later: have to work on fiction now. But I do see some progress here.

What I am going to do is redesign everything of course, then import all this into a themed system. But that is a long term project. For now we muddle through. I sure am glad I kept the HTML reference book. Some of the problems are noted on Alex's page. Now that they are solved I will take them off there, and for that matter, most of this log needs to be incorporated into the web page construction file. That's a good hour's work to find all this and put it in there, and I won't get to it for a while.

The important thing to note is that Front Page does not always send all new files created when you bring in a new object. In my case I have a thing called bg.jpg which looks pretty good for the left column of a 3 column page layout. I copied bg.jpg into the place where Front Page keeps the files for the web page. For reasons not clear to me, Front Page never saw that file and thus never offered it as a cell background option, but when I manually typed bg.jpg into the cell property dialogue it accepted it and displayed it -- but that background never appeared on the web. The reference to that cell background was in the html code, but "Publish" for Front Page didn't FIND that reference and thus didn't send that file up. Eventually I figured it out, used FTP to manually send bg.jpg up to the site, and LO! There is is.

I am beginning to see how to organize this. Patience, and I'll manage to get all these pages into a new and we can hope better format. And WOW do I see the value of learning how to get in there and fine tune the html code; WYSIWYG is for the birds. Still, the best thing I have found is to create formats in Front Page, then edit the actual pages in Word, which is much faster, then let Front Page publish what was done. As long as you realize Front Page doesn't always find all the needed files...

THURSDAY NIGHT: I have found out more about Front Page from reading, of all things the Reviewer's Guide. For a lesson on Front Page image processing, click here.

Friday, June 26, 1998 Just out to Fry's. Lots of W 98 packages, resource kits, books on using it; seems to be selling well. And radio ads on all the local shows. It has been pointed out that W95 OSR3 will do all that W 98 does, and some of it better; which may or may not be true. I don't have any experience with OSR3 but I am getting a copy so we will see, won't we?

Bought some cartridges for my SyQuest SparQ 1.0 gigabyte drives. I'm backing up everything off Fireball onto those; because Fireball has a lot of disk space I was accumulating all kinds of stuff over there. Much of it is junk, but I have no time, so I will copy it all off, and after it ages a while I can erase it; meanwhile if there's DLL or some program I stashed there before scrubbing another system, I'll have it. Fireball will shortly get NT Server 4.0 with Service Pack 3. I probably ought to remove the Number Nine video board and put in a cheaper and more generic one. The Number Nine is a great board. On the other hand, I am not sure where Fireball will go; I could put him over where Larry Niven works. He'd be fast enough, and on a 100 megabit Ethernet, and with the dual processors the fact that he's being used as both server and workstation won't be noticed. In that case I will want a really good video board, and while the Nine may not be quite up to the Intergraph, it's going to be close. Hmm. The more I think on that, the better I like the idea. Niven doesn't do anything on a machine that won't run under NT. And since Fireball has a lot of assets -- built in IDE Zip, built in SyQuest SparQ, multiple CDROM changer, CD R/W drive -- it's better if he's out where I can get at all that stuff easily. Yep. That's where he will go. Meaning I can liberate Pentafluge, probably to take up to the Monk's Cell.


I feel the need to add a games review section. Getting a lot of games. We're getting a lot of hits on this site, too. Astonishing. Thanks, everyone...

 I am not sure where to put this:

From: Ian Clark []

Sent: Saturday, June 27, 1998 12:18 AM

To: Jerry Pournelle

Subject: Word and Spelling

Reading the AlexP section raised an issue which may affect many more users. I will provide the Australian English situation, and leave it to you whether the problem may be international enough to post on the "main" site.

The team leader for Word was an Australian. Nice guy, chubby like me. So, Australian paper sizes and dictionaries came FIRST. Then he moved on to bigger and better things in Microsoft. We still came first. Then he left.

Next version of Word - no Australian paper size or dictionary. MS support’s response: "HUH!"

What I learnt the hard way: when converting to Windows 9x from W4WG, the country code in DOS is ignored. You’ve just become an American. Setting the time zone during install just says you are an American who gets up 17 hours early.

You MUST go to REGIONAL SETTINGS in Control Panel and set your country prior to installing Word. If you don’t the choice screen is not displayed and again, your an American.

Then came W95 OSR2. All of a sudden, Australia became a state of USA again. Rang MS Support - this time they helped immediately - you must ALSO change the KEYBOARD. Now, this is weird. Australia uses the US keyboard. You must add KEYBOARD Australian (which doesn’t exist in the real world) in Control Panel, then set it to the default. PS - do not, as Microsoft Support tells you, delete the US keyboard. You have a 50/50 chance of a dead PC - because it IS a US keyboard, and thus you cannot enter anything anymore. So leave the keyboard (US) there, and set the Keyboard (AUS) as default.

THEN you may install Word. And it will ask you the paper size and language you want. Note: it still doesn’t believe what you have input three times, but at least it gives you the CHOICE. Miss any of the above steps, then you are an american and no choice is offered.

FURTHER - when opening a document created under Word for W4WG, you may find your spelling checker fails - cannot find MSSP32.dll. This is the USA spell checker. After everyhting you’ve done right, Word assumes that a document that dpoesn’t claim to use the Australian spelling checker must need the US spelling checker.

GOOD GRIEF Microsoft. Choice of language, spell checker and paper size should be made available automatically. Forcing the PC owner to go through hoops to be shown the screen where they may make there choice is ridiculous.

PS One final point. If you got it wrong - missed a step, do not just

re-install MS Office - you will get no choices at all. You MUST use

TOOLS-FIND-FILES OR FOLDERS-Office*.stf and delete that file. (I recommend finding, because there are so many variations in where Office instals).


And I wish I didn’t. On the site I support I occasionally forget a step in setting up a new machine. great. there goes another hour into limbo. TCO - you bet (sob)


Ian Clark

Gladstone Q Australia

I did not know a thing about this. Interesting; I hope all my Australian readers already know it.

Saturday, June 27, 1998

I have got to get a games page going. Next week, I guess. I seem to have a lot of them that I like. Too many, actually.

Amazon reports that about a dozen of you have bought books through my links. Remarkable since I didn't recommend all that many books, and the report came quickly. No money yet and it won't be large in any event, but they have already told me they owe me. Very prompt and very commendable.

CMP has sent me a 'final release form' generated by a lawyer. Of course it offers me a bit more than half of what they owe me. It's not marked as an offer; it's sent as if it were routine. I suppose lawyers work this way, hoping you will be fool enough to sign their unfair proposals. Then they can go to the managers and boast of how much money they saved and how they have safeguarded their fiduciary obligations to the stockholders. Have you noticed that if you pretend to be working in someone else's interest you can justify all kinds of loathsome sharp practices that you would eschew if you were working for yourself? In the absence of a communication from Adam Marder of CMP who has acted in an honorable manner throughout this, I'll assume this was just a lawyer trying to play hero, and not an actual attempt to repudiate what I believe they have admitted they owe me. As for instance for the July column, already published, but not yet paid for.

A great deal of hype about Windows 98; I have started a discussion which I expect to become lively over time. I am still concerned about the organization of this place.

I am having a horrible time with TEMPLATES and STYLES in Word. Clearly I don't understand them. What I want is a way to go through a book (THE BURNING CITY to be exact) to find major breaks. This is a heroic fantasy, and those are long, and this book is certainly long. I would like to be able to click on a "section heading" or some sort and have it: insert a page break; skip down x lines where x depends on which kind of break this is; insert the words "BOOK" or "PART" or "Chapter" depending on what kind of break this is; insert the next number in order from the last (ie Chapter 25 follows Chapter 24 without regard to Book and Part breaks, but Parts go in order starting over at each "Book" break; skip down x lines and exit in the case of Chapter breaks, but insert a Page Break in the case of Book and Part breaks.

Now that is all complicated, and it's easier to do it by hand than to learn how to make Word do it. The trouble is that it has ALWAYS been easier to do all this by hand, so that I haven't made very much use of the Style and Template capabilities of Word. I know they are there. I know you can use them. I know that people not a lot smarter than me have used them. What I need is some EXAMPLES, and all the examples in all the books I have don't seem ever to have heard of a chapter when it comes to making templates. Certainly not parts and books. All the examples seem appropriate for the book about Word that the author is writing, but not for anything else. Why is this?

One silly book says that publishers want their text in Word format with each chapter a separate file. This is insane, and I wonder how many books that man ever wrote, and who was his publisher? It could not possibly have been the publisher of the book with that dumb advice? Or could it? The book was from SAMS and has a nice chatty style and some of the advice is good, but I sure don't want all my chapters saved in different files! What my agent wants is a nice clean readable neat copy of the book in good black print laid out so the editors who are going to bid lots of money will be able to read it easily. What the eventual publisher wants is clean copy so that the copy editor who is going to find all the places where we let characters' names change or their hair color vary from chapter to chapter and such like will be able to see this stuff and make magic marks and paste on the little query flags. No one I know wants a disk with a bunch of linked files on it. So much for that "book" template.

And I find I got rid of a number of my books on Word, and the new Office 98 books are fine if you sit in an office and do reports with spread sheets, but none of this stuff seems to have been written for people who write books.

So I will probably muddle through once again, doing all the work by hand, and next time I have a book to organize I will have it all to do again. But it sure would be nice to get a template that does it once and for all. Once I know how to do it I can figure out how to handle books that don't have the "Book" division. Most of mine have "Parts". But for this one I guess I will once again be doing it by hand. Alas.

NT is pretty stable but there is a sure fire way to crash it. Just fill your hard disk C drive so that it can't swap properly. The problem is that it will do that quite nicely as you surf the Internet. Mail accumulates, and cache files grow, and suddenly you are DEAD. Word locks up and won't save, and your only way out is to close stuff down; that takes a long time even with Task Manager.

That just happened to me so I invoked Disk Mapper, a neat little utility from Micro Logic, the people who brought you Infoselect, which is the free form "improved" version of Tornado Notes. Infoselect is improved, a bit, but the name is horrible compared to Tornado Notes. So it goes. Disk Mapper shows where your disk space is used. In my case the big blocks were Visual Basic, and Netscape. I saved all the VB programs I had done and uninstalled it; I'll put it back on Fireball when he's set up as a server. Other big files are system files and can't be moved. Front Page eats a good bit although most of it is over on the D drive. But there are over 100 megabytes in Netscape Mail. So. I saved the big mail file over to the server, just in case there is an address I need some day, and deleted 80% of the mail in inbox. Then I went into "Sent" and deleted a lot of stuff like copies of books and columns I have uploaded over the months; all that was kept in there.

Netscape moved it all over to trash. The files were still enormous. Bigger than ever. I went to TRASH and deleted all the files there: I know there is an 'empty trash' command somewhere in Netscape, but there is no HELP under "Trash", "empty", "erase", or "delete" and I can't think of anything else to look for. I tried Elisabeth Parker's otherwise pretty good book on Netscape, but there's nothing in her index either. If someone knows that magic formula, please tell me. Finally I just erased the high 'trash' file that hides deep in Program Files/Netscape/Users/Jerryp/Mail/ so that went away. However, despite all those efforts, the netscape inbox file remains 92 megabytes and the sent file has over 20, and nothing I can do will shrink those bloated things. Surely there is a way short of eliminating Netscape entirely? I also got rid of its cache, which was enormous, because some of those big gif files went back a year and more, and were for places I have not visited in months. All told I made about 200 megabytes, which has cured NT of thrashing.

SOME QUESTIONS: please send answers.

If you know how to make Netscape "inbox" and "sent" files smaller, please tell me. It may have to do with legitimate ways of deleting the trash, but if so, I don't know how to do that.

Do you like this wide format, or the format (forget the colors) of the Windows 98 page?

Answer here.

From: Ian Clark []

Sent: Saturday, June 27, 1998 10:56 PM

To: Jerry Pournelle

Subject: Netscape TRASH

"I know there is an ‘empty trash’ command somewhere in Netscape, but there is no HELP under "Trash", "empty", "erase", or "delete" and I can’t think of anything else to look for."

In the MAIL application: FILE Empty_Trash_Folder.

This also has the advantage of compressing all your other folders - may take a while - but can reduce the Netscape\yourname folder by around 10%.


Ian Clark

Gladstone QLD Australia

WOW! That did it. The inbox file went down to under 20 and the sent file to about 1 megabyte. I also thank you for the advice on NT swapfile management which I will get in another time. Meanwhile, this is great. Thanks.

Silly of me: the solution to my WORD formatting problem is macros. Tomorrow I'll get into why I didn't think of that right away. But I have certainly solved the format problem.



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Monk's Cell: The upstairs bedroom that was always the domain of the oldest boy still living here. It's now a room with no telephone, the simplest of computers, no computer games, and no books other than old high school textbooks. The only chair is a steno chair. I go there to work on fiction.

At the moment the computer there is a Gateway 2000 486 DX2, many years old, with Office 95 and Infoselect 3 and almost nothing else. In particular, no games...

Windows 95 comes in several flavors. There's the original W 95 that almost no one has now. Then there is OSR1, the "a" version which is what most have, and is the original with bug patches. Then there is OSR2, the "b" version, which has been shipping on new systems for a while, but which is in theory not available. I've been running it for months; it's much better than the "a" version. It also allows FAT32, but if you install it with FAT32 you better know what you are doing, and I don't have time to go into it. OSR3 is controversial: officially it does not exist, although there is a version, complete with new dot number, floating around out there. Known as the "c" version, it has USB support among other things, and I know little about it, but I am getting a copy and we'll see.