THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
May 17 - 23, 1999
Updated May 24, 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 - 7,000 words, depending. For more on what this place is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE.
|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.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
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:
May 17, 1999
Back home. We may be changing servers this week so things may be a mess for a day or so.
May 18, 1999
We changed servers. Things were a mess. UNIX is great for gurus. Not so hot for ordinary mortals. The UNIX box will let me update my personal files but refuses to believe that I am the site administrator. I can be root but then I have to know UNIX. Front Page sort of updated some of this stuff, but not others. Report another time. Keep the faith. I haven't been this discouraged in a long time, but I think I see light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it is not a train.
May 19, 1999
We changed servers. Things are still a mess. Only worse. I get no writing done, but nothing I do on this has made any real progress either.
It was a train, but I dodged it. We're trying again. I conclude that UNIX is wonderful for those willing to take the time to learn it, but for those who are in a hurry to just get something done, it's not optimal. Not.
More later. Still trying to make things happen. Subscribers got a newsletter on all this. They're due another.
HURRAH: Due to efforts beyond the call of duty, at about 12:45 Wednesday night (0045 Thursday Morning) the jerrypournelle mail server, and the jerrypournelle.com web site are working again. We have attempted to do this with a Linux box; Front Page and Linux have enough mutual animosity that this is difficult, and the Qube box in particular had some security features that compounded the problem: to wit, unless you are "root" it is very difficult to access the web site administrator files, and being "root" causes a bunch of other problems. In addition, the Qube box does not like sites with a lot of small files; it tends to want fewer and larger ones. With lots of little pages, which I try to have to keep download times low, the Qube server times out so that it is very difficult to upload it all.
But we seem to be in business at last, and tomorrow I will add the search engine. I may also take this opportunity to make some changes in system design. It's late: a round of applause for Darnell Gadberry who made it all work again.
May 20, 1999
I can get on here direct, and save to here. As of now I can't work locally and then publish to out there, or at least the last time I tried it, I got the stupid time out errors again. I then tried ftp and while I could log on to here with ftp, when I tried to send something out to the web server access was denied. This is now the fourth day to waste on this. Eventually it has to work smoothly. I wonder when that will be? So we keep trying.
At some point this will all work. But so far it doesn't, not really.
However I can modify this while it purports to be publishing last iteration. Let's see what that brings us... It no longer suws which page it is publishing, which it used to do. Why I don't know. But the percentage done is moving faster than last attept making me believe that it really did manage to change some of them before it timed out. We'll see.
Perhaps. Just perhaps. If it updates...
It doesn't, so I did it directly, and said:
Meanwhile this is the most fabulous way to waste time. I now have to work direct with
the web page, since publishing the local copy doesn't seem to work, and ftp doesn't seem
to get me there. It is going to take a while to get back to normal. I MUST do some real
work here. This can't continue using up all my time.
Thursday, Gray Dawn. Well, for a few wonderful hours it was working, but no longer. For about five minutes this morning I was able to make contact with the server, but that is gone. Once again I have had it, and once again I face the prospects of a day wasted trying to make this work. I am also trying to clear up mail.
I did send out mailings to subscribers to keep them up to date on what is going on. Mail through Earthlink was working, and continued to work.
Thursday, about noon. A router is flapping in Burbank, and that gives intermediate connections, which get established and things start, then then hang and time out. This is in the Globe networking system or some such; I wasn't listening too close to the reasons, because it now appears that the entire universe is in a conspiracy to make this all impossible. I keep trying. I will keep trying. And it would be nice to get some real WORK done.
On another front I installed Macromedia Freehand with the hopes of using it to draw maps for BURNING CITY but I haven't had a chance to do a lot with it. I really need better MAP DRAWING software and I have not found any. I may be able to develop some techniques with Freehand. I want to do some rally spiffy maps, because big heroic fantasies that sell like Robert Jordan does always have good and detailed maps, and I intend to have those for this book, as well as for THE BURNING TOWER which will follow it.
So long as that router is flapping this is going to be a sometimes thing exercise. Patience. Only I'd like to go kill something, as the vulture says...
On another front, the Front Page Extensions STILL are not implemented for this particular site, but they will be Real Soon Now, and then the search mechanism will work. So I am assured. Orate, fratres...
On the bright side, things do seem to be working. At last. Now I must go out to Fry's and find some small fans to keep the Pentium III system working properly.
Publish to Front Page begins, and looks normal, but then I run into some undeletable file out on the web server, and "access is denied." When that happens the whole thing starts over, 858 files, and it always starts over with the same ones. Clearly until all this is accomplished I have had it. I have deleted the entire _derived subdirectory on the local machine, so it cannot try to upload that. Since it doesn't exist. That may be the solution. It may not. All this is harrying. Meanwhile it tells me the Front Page Extensions are NOT implemented. This, we hope, will be taken care of later; for the moment don't sweat the small stuff. Try to get a synchronized local and web copy of this, so that changes are incremental in future. Apparently creation dates are kept at both ends and since if you simply copy in the files locally from a CDROM (Darnell did that) the dates will not be the same? I am not sure what is going on.
Files are transferring. 840 to go. We are on the Linux files now. They have not been changed but it wants to transfer them. If there is a way to force Front Page to believe that files need not be transferred I do not know it. I want to leave it running and go to Fry's. Dare I do that?
No. And as usual it almost works. Almost. But "access is denied" stops things where they stand. Bah.
Thursday afternoon. As I expected, nothing is happening that is productive. I am still fooling with this junk. Look, I KNOW that the right way to change hosts for an internet site is to do it in parallel. Unfortunately that wasn't possible, for reasons too complex to explain, but believe me, I KNOW that doing all this on the fly is precisely the wrong way to go. I also know that most of this stuff doesn't work the way it is supposed to. For example: because I have been getting these huge lists of files to upload in a "publish" operation I tried instead to "import" those files, that way doing it in smaller chunks. In theory it worked. In practice the next "publish" had the same enormous list of files.
And about halfway through there is some _derived directory that it will try to send to, gets "access denied", and dies. Nothing is done.
FrontPage is at fault here. FrontPage needs to have its programmers found and beaten senseless. Front Page needs to have a way to TELL IT NOT TO BOTHER with some files, which are in fact identical to the ones it is trying to upload for publish. FrontPage needs, in a word, MORE, not fewer controls and tools, precisely unlike what Cooper's book implies.
I want to be able to tell it not to bother, and not have it dump the job it was doing. I can't do that.
So I can manage, sort of, lamely, by using ftp rather than publish to update stuff here. I can't, however, just do what I used to be able to do. In part I think it is because there are some directories that are not supposed to be up on the web, but are, or are somehow protected up there. They all start with _ and are such things as _DERIVED and _vti_cnf the like. I am now emptying them in the local copy. Completely empty them. See if that does anything. Because it is those that access to is denied.
Meanwhile it insists on transferring the linux files first, then a bunch of others, and when it hits an access denied, it dies. I don't need the linux files transferred, and spent a couple of hours IMPORTING them up; they don't need to go up again.
I have emptied the _ directories all but one.
The next publish attempt didn't work either. Access denied when it got to _vti_cnf or whatever it is. Tricky about access rights indeed. Well, there are more ways to -- I was about to tell an obscene joke that Ted Sturgeon once told me, a saying of an old boatswain on one of the cargo ships Ted worked on. "Lads, there's more ways to futter a cat than to stuff its head in a sea boot," he said. For some odd reason that story stuck with Ted, and after he told it to me, with me, and you may supply your own verbs if you want it more accurate. It applies here. There are going to be WAYS to deal with this mess.
For now, it's ftp to send up the newest files.
And tonight is season finale to ER and I am going to watch it.
Later. If you eliminate the _VTI_CNF directories, the next time you open that web it will create them again. They are needed -- but at the moment when I seek to change one in any way I get "access denied" which negates all I have been doing. No fun. I'll get to the bottom of this yet, but apparently I was very lucky last time I did this.
PRAETORIUS, the new Pentium III machine running Windows 2000 has many surprises all pleasant. I installed a Bay Networks $29.00 10/100 Ethernet card a few minutes ago. It just installs. NO problem at all. Plug and play worked. Amazing! I have connected FROM Praetorius to other machines. I have not yet discovered how to join Praetorius to the network so I can get at him, but I make no doubt it's pretty simple. Everything else was.
I also added a small chip fan to the big heat sink on the Pentium III. I know that Intel sent it without a fan, but that heat sink --it's Godzilla sized -- gets HOT, and with a tiny $15 486 fan attached to the heat sink it does not get hot; seems a small price to pay for peace of mind. The more I see of Windows 2000 the better I like it, and that Pentium III is FAST. The Intel motherboard has built in sound and video. Add a network card and the machine is in business. And it's sure fast...
May 21, 1999
We are still running at a temporary procedures basis, but everything more or less works except the search engine.
There is a big piece in the Wall Street Journal today on Microsoft vs. Linux, and how MS has a Linux attack group formed to deal with what they see as a business threat. Read it if you have not. I will, this weekend, open a new discussion on this, and a new mail topic; this is important.
There is also a debate on the future of the Air Force and problems with the volunteer military given what is happening. This is also a topic of importance and I will open a continuing discussion alt.mail page on that.
The day links in currentmail.html have been fixed. Thanks for telling me about them. I have learned a lot from this week, and it will distill into a column item. Principally, Linux takes some heavy knowledge, and so does Front Page. They don't like each other much, so you need to know a good deal about BOTH if you want to use a Qube or other Linux box with a FrontPage web site. Apparently Dreamweaver does not have the same antagonism to Linux; this is a surmise not a deduction from knowledge. I hope to arrange to have a non-FrontPage site on a Qube (not this site) to experiment with in near future.
Now it is time to write some fiction. Thanks for all the patience.
Of course while I am trying to upload, Earthlink drops the connection. Critical need detector, I presume. Why not?
PUBLISH works again. Alas, the search engine isn't implemented yet, but I understand that happens Real Soon Now. At least we are back on track, and I should be able to maintain this place without a problem.
Next week I will list people who are subscribers who are not getting mail because it is returned. If you are a subscriber and not getting any of the flurry of bulletins I sent out during this week, be sure to let me know.
If you are not a subscriber, why not? Good night...
May 22, 1999
Agenda for today: fiction, but I need to get to Electronic City and get some ISDN hookup stuff. I have had this ISDN line for months without using it; should have cancelled it; and now BYTE.com wants to install a box that uses ISDN to send broadcast quality voice so I can participate more often in the BYTE and other CMP radio shows. It will be useful in radio interviews promoting books, too. So I have to get that old line running. While I am at it I will get an ISDN Router/Modem. On line charges are enough that I won't use it all the time, but I should be able to set up to use it some of the time, when I need big uploads for example.
I fear ISDN is going to be a new adventure, but this time in parallel with something that works. I had not intended the be the poster boy illustrating the folly of sink or swim, but I managed it.
Went out to Fry's looking for ISDN stuff. None of the books show which phone cord is used for ISDN: is it 6 or 8? I know there are only 4 wires, but which connector? I know now, it's 8, with the center 4 in use and the outer two on each side not connected, but I sure didn't know that before, and none of the books wanted to tell me either. (I went through my ISDN equipment and found a 4-pin to 8-pin telephone cable, and noted that the ISDN Modems have an 8-pin socket for Modem In, as well as 4-wire for phones out.)
Note that I am not contemplating doing ISDN for net connections, although I will try to arrange to be able to do it: last night "publishing" to my web site took about 4 hours at 44,000 bps connection. When I do upgrade it will be DSL, I think, since the charge structure on that is a fixed rate per month for a nailed up connection.
The reason I am doing ISDN is that Paul Schindler, Editor in Chief of BYTE.com will be down Monday with some telephone equipment that uses ISDN; I forget its name but most radio stations have it, and for the moment it doesnt work on DSL. This lets me do broadcast quality voice from here, both for the weekly BYTE/CMP Internet "radio" broadcasts, and also when I get on radio stations to promote BYTE or my books or both. This should prove interesting. And since I will have the ISDN system connected and working I may as well install an ISDN modem in one of my boxes and make that available by Ethernet to all my networked machines. This will all take longer than I think it will, and be tougher to do than I thought it was, and I now have programmed into my computer keyboard my slogan: "I do all these silly things so you won't have to "
There is a new special report from Jessica Mulligan on how too much knowledge can be a danger to your health: beware of offending a wizard. Take the time to read it: it's important. A discussion follows.
Seen it I have. Interesting it was. Absorbing as the original it was not. I suppose it would be very hard to come up to the effects of the first one. By now we expect miracles on film. Bored out of her mind at it, my wife was...
I rather liked it, and I may see it again, but I don't have to. And some if it understand I do not. What a Sith is I still do not know...
The following is over in the Discussion of Jessica Mulligan's report, but it is of general interest and asks for some information I would like to have, so it is repeated here:
Many years ago, back in CP/M days when the most advanced machine I had was a luggable called Adelle the Otrona, I was invited to speak to an organization of computer using physicians that met in Vail, Colorado (alas, in summer: no snow, no skiing). One of the fellow speakers was a physician educator name, I believe, Larry Weed; I will never forget him although I may get his name wrong. He had interesting if odd ball ideas about physician education.
At the conference I saw in action a program called Tieresius: you fed it information about age, sex, medical history, and symptoms, and it put out a diagnosis. A very good diagnosis. It was right far more often than beginning residents, and held its own with experienced physicians; and if you threw in some odd disorders like tropical diseases, it often caught things that the internist didn't. It was, of course, a glorified check list, but it was built around an expert system program, and it did an impressive job.
Another program took the diagnosis and recommended treatments, and when you told it your recommend treatment it made comments and asked questions about possible side effects and synergies.
About half the physicians at the conference were enthusiastic to get the program and others like it. One young physician told me frankly that he loved internal medicine, and considered diagnosis the best part of his job, and if a machine could do his job he would contemplate suicide. I don't know if he meant it, but he may have. I did a good part of a column on this, and I ought to go find it. Alas, it would exist on 8" disks now if it exists at all, and I have no way to read 8" floppies. I discover I have in fact shut down the last machine that could read 5 1/4" for that matter. I really need to install a 5 1/4" drive in one or another of these machines. If I can find one.
I have heard little about the society I spoke to, nor about the program Tieresius; I would like to know more.
May 23, 1999
0900: I can't ping my site. Some can. There's a big problem somewhere on the Internet, alas. Major router flapping? I expect it will be fixed.
0930 Fixed itself. Roberta has a concert (singing in it with the Wagner Chorale) this afternoon so I won't be around much.
1315 I have a couple of minutes for a query on AOL and MIME:See Mail. AOL dos in fact do this to multiples. discussion about Jessica Mulligan's health and the internet report; all worth while, I think. And just how much DO we trust experts?
I have made a list of people I can't reach by mail. Some are routine, others may be subscribers. If your name is in this list, I have been told I can't send mail to you.
And there is mail that elicited a LONG reply about Microsoft, operating systems, and the role of people like me over in MAIL.
2200: I find that none of the following was posted because for some time I have been denied access to my site as Administrator. I am sure there is a good reason. I am not so sure I want to know it. I am weary of this. Well, at some point you will see it. I hope.
Thought you or some of your readers might be interested in this site. I find it facinating and fun.
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 1999 7:20 PM
And thank you Dr. Huth. That's a place to go to literally every day. Wonderful.
Incidentally I'd be interested in your remarks about Jessica Mulligan's experience.
Sinuses: Snake Oil, antibiotics, NasalCrom, and humidity. One or another of those seems to have cured my sinus problems. I still have a bit of post nasal drip, but no sore throat, and it's likely all due to the pollen season now.
I took 4 weeks of anti-biotics then 3 weeks more. At the end of the 2nd week of the 2nd course a reader sent me some Chinese snake oil. It was attractively boxed, fitted compartments for 6 vials, and most of the writing was in Chinese although there was a short English insert telling me that it was made with "the freshest snake biles" and that I was to take two a day with "warm boiled water" which I interpreted to mean hot green tea. I did that. I ran out of snake oil -- I wish I had a supply -- and the next day went to Florida, where I finished the antibiotics. I had taken a spray bottle of NasalCrom along and started using that when the antibiotics ran out. Of course it was humid in Florida.
We flew First Class, where I think the air is better: anyway I didn't get anything from the air trip although I often do.
In the past while on antibiotics I had no problems, but as soon as I stopped the sore throat came back. Not this time. Nothing. Mild post nasal drip and nothing more, and that, as I say, is likely to be pollens.
The snake oil seems to have drained things well. Of course hot green tea probably didn't hurt. But I do wish I had more snake oil; I think it did a heck of a job of cleaning things out, and I'd like to keep a supply on hand if something like this happens again.
With multiple cures including time there's no possible inference of cause and effect here. At least I can breathe again, meaning I can work again. Hurry. Deo Gratia.
2200: Just found out that nothing has gone up since noon. I work pretty hard at this, and I apologize, I intended to have more up. None of the mail either, of course, of which there is a lot.
OK, it is time to have a generic solution to this.
Click on the thumbail for a high resolution picture. It's not small. Roberta is the one with red hair almost exactly in the center of the photograph. This is just after the Gospel reading I think. I have a whole series, done in natural light with extreme telephone on the Olympus 400DL and I must say that they're darned good for hand held. True moving objects are blurred, but much of it is quite clear. I did brace against a wall to take this.
And I have added a comment on current affairs; it has its own page.