CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 138 January 29 - February 4, 2001
CLICK ON THE BLIMP TO SEND MAIL TO ME
The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.
FOR THE CURRENT VIEW PAGE CLICK HERE
If you are not paying for this place, click here...
IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
Search: type in string and press return.
or the freefind search
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
Highlights this week:
Search: type in string and press return.
January 29, 2001
Your Sunday, January 21 View contained the following:
"QUESTION AUTHORITARIANISM: A third-grader found some jewelry and took it to Owen Elementary School in Pontiac, Mich. Since the 1.5-inch-long medallion is shaped like a gun, the boy has been indefinitely suspended under the state's zero tolerance weapons law. School district officials admit the boy did not point the toy at anyone, nor made any threats, but "state law takes precedence and requires us to take action," a spokeswoman said. (AP) ...Maybe it's time for the adults to take a stand and refuse to obey laws that make them do wrong things to children."
Here is a link to the follow up story in the Detroit Free Press for January 29.
The original AP story is somewhat misleading. The proximate cause of the investigation was the boy's questionable kidding around that he had a gun, which was overheard by another student who was not privy to the fact that the "gun" in question was the medallion. Also, the boy was suspended for two days, not indefinitely. This does not, however, change the fact that the school over-reacted. The Free Press story contains a side-bar that sets out the state law involved. The legislature clearly did not intend this sort of thing.
Tim email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for the update.
I have been using a file manager for a while now and I *do* like it a *lot*. It is called 2xExplorer. It's freeware and it emulates the old Norton Commander. You may find it at http://personal-pages.ps.ic.ac.uk/~umeca74
>From the website: "2xExplorer is an easy to use yet very potent and extremely efficient alternative to the standard windows Explorer. It combines the user-friendliness of the latter with the increased efficiency and advanced features of good-old dual- pane file managers like Norton Commander. It is a package that will appeal to the power user, yet its similarity with Explorer will ensure that less experienced users will not be driven away either."
This gets my cold dead fingers™ award.
Sincerely, Doug Eicher Work: email@example.com Home: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks. I will give that a try.
I just finished reading your latest installment of the Orchid and Onion awards and I must admit that it gave me pause to ponder. Specifically, what is your OH (Onion Hierarchy). There is obviously one since in your article you refer to the "red onion", "rotten onion", "large onion with small garlic cluster" and even the dreaded "large rotten onion, with garlic clusters soaked in skunk spray", to name but a few. Hierarchically speaking where do all these onions fit. How about the yellow onion, pearl onion, walla-walla sweet, etc? Do you have these diagramed out in Visio somewhere at Chaos Manor? Inquiring minds need to know!!
While this years Orchid and Onion fest is now part of history I would like to propose a belated orchid to Logitech for their superb cordless mouse and keyboard products. These wonderful gadgets do not work on IR so there is no line of sight restriction and they come in several flavors (including the ergonomic designs). If you have ever wrestled with your mouse like a tuna caught on a fishing line then you owe it to yourself to check these beauties out!
Tony Sirotak email@example.com "No matter where you go, there you are..."
It would make an interesting Visio file...
Just browsing through your Byte Onions and came across your complaint about Word. I agree, it is one of the most annoying features in the program.
Fortunately, it is very easy to turn off. Go to Tools and select AutoCorrect. Click on the "AutoFormat As You Type" tab. Uncheck the "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks" button.
Of course, Microsoft buried this three layers deep, but it is there. This is where you can turn off "smart quotes" as well.
Hurrah! I knew it would be easy, and also impossible to find in HELP. Thanks.
Thank you for all the work you have done in getting a fair and unbiased opinion to the using public. I have read your column since I discovered Byte at the AFEES Exchange in Japan in the late 70's. You have never steered me wrong and have saved me much trouble in my computing career. Thank you very much.
In you article "Annual Orchid And Onion Awards, Continued" article 244 that was published today I noticed that you were going to comment or review dBase2K. I started programming in DB2 and advanced to DB3. I went to Clipper in an effort to speed up the programs and have programmed in Clipper since 1990. In the last five years I have been developing my skills in a new programming environment called CA-VO 2.5. This is the Windows based programming environment that Computer Associates purchased from Nantucket Software. I have evaluated Visual dBase as published by Borland and found it to be lacking. VO is faster, compiles to native code, and I can use my clipper logic with out modification (NOTE: all visual aspects of the DOS based Clipper have to be rewritten, but that is true in dB2K and Delphi as well and they do not accept my Clipper code unmodified). If you are going to review dB2K then you need to review some of the other xbase language programs such as CA-VO from Computer Associates, dBase++ from Alaska Software and Clip4Win. All these have advantages and disadvantages. Most are compiled and use run time modules (verses VOs native code).
The xbase world is very active, uses ODBC, COM, and ADO to access the data of all other data bases (you should see how SQL is integrated into a dBase program) and are very easy to develop in.
Thank you for your time.
Dan Hobson Diamond Crystal Brands, Division of Imperial Sugar firstname.lastname@example.org
Fascinating. I had lost track of dBase and xBase in general and Clipper. I need to look into the scene again. Thank you.
|This week:||Tuesday, January
And I see that the DVD writable drive that Apple will allegedly be shipping with high-end Macs has built-in hardware copy protection that prevents it from copying a digital source. Not just a copy-protected or commercially-produced digital source, mind you. *Any* digital source. I don't know much about digital camcorders and such like, but my friends who do tell me that they wouldn't be able to shoot videos of their kids' birthday parties on their digital camcorders and then transfer those videos to DVD.
The movie and record industry really must be stopped before they have us all living in camps surrounded by barbed wire and machine-gun towers.
Precisely. It's a mad scheme. Fortunately the DVD-RAM drives have no such restrictions, and the new ones will have 4.7 gigabytes per side or so I am told. I have the older DVD-RAM drives both IDE and SCSI and they work quite well but only record 2+ gigabytes per side of a cartridge. I think DVD-RAM is the wave of the future.
After you get the T1 line please write up what kind of effort and problems you had to go through getting a T1 line for your Byte column. Of particular interest to myself, and hopefully your readers, is how much such items as the router at your end cost.
The only similar experience I've gone through is order DSL from US West in June of 98 when it was first announced. They managed to lose my order twice and it took them three and half months to finally install it. That being said they did do it right the first time, but it took two days for to get the magic numbers for my DSL connection. For some silly reason they wouldn't tell my ISP because US West didn't have permission. Then they wouldn't tell me the numbers because those were for the ISP. I finally got to a second level technician who figured out I had clue and he gave them to me. After that service has been great other than the klutz who knocked my DSL card loose in the central office one time on a Friday. It then took until Monday to get someone to look and fix the problem. The minute you metion quality of service they say "get a business line." For 4x as much.
The moral of the story is when ordering anything from the phone company other than a single voice line on one wire you have to pay attention and check up on them every week to two weeks. Classic example is the person who orders a second phone line for their modem and specifies they want an extra set of wires run. In most cases the phone company will then digitally split your single wire and halve your modem access speeds despite what you requested. Unless you are explicity billed for that second wire installation you probably didn't get what you asked for.
Also that digital line split will cause your line to be unsuitable for DSL usage. Of course, the phone company folks won't bother to check that you have a split line... "Your local loop is not suitable for DSL".
One small business in the Seattle area has a service where they will call the phone company and get you the DSL. I have no idea what it costs, but for someone running a typical small business this could be a god send.
Well I am looking forward to having something to write about...
Subject: Words fail me...
January 31, 2001
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
There is an interview with Lawrence Lessig at oreilly net on copyright law where he says "the recording industry has succeeded in its objective, which ... is to guarantee that no venture capitalist invests money in new modes of distribution unless Hollywood signs off. " Interesting interview at http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/p2p/2001/01/30/lessig.html
Thanks. I don't think they've succeeded, but perhaps. You will note that the VCR and VHS didn't destroy either the movie or the video tape industries.
From: Steve Setzer <email@example.com>
Subject: Thompson and the Apple DVD writer
I suspect Robert Bruce Thompson is reading the same article I did at http://cryptome.org/jg-wwwcp.htm . If so, I think he's misinterpreted it.
That article does not assert that Apple users will be unable to record their own digital video. Quite the opposite. It asserts that Apple users will be unable to record copyrighted video even if they have a legal right to under "fair use" and similar doctrines; it also asserts that Apple users will be unable to copy-protect their own homemade discs.
According to the Apple FAQs and Fact Sheets on the new machines and their iDVD software:
1) You can import digital video from a DV camcorder to the computer via FireWire.
2) DV video is handled by QuickTime; it's just another QuickTime digital format.
3) The new Apple iDVD software takes QuickTime files and encodes them into the MPEG-2 format used by DVD players, and then writes out a "DVD-General" disc that can be played in any consumer or computer DVD drive.
4) The drive can also write out 4.7 GB DVD-R discs usable only in computers.
So, yes you can digitally record your own digital movies in full quality. But, you can't add the special codes that keep others from duplicating them (because Apple's drive writes "DVD-General", not "DVD-Professional" discs), and you can't duplicate DVD-Professional discs (because they do contain the special codes and Apple's software abides by those codes).
Interesting. Thanks. I suspect we'll have more on this subject.
And then there's this:
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
This is a lot of quotes from Linus Torvalds. The columnist warns they are out of context, and just meant to show one part of the man. My own favorite, given with zero context, was,"It's entirely untested, but it looks good and compiles. Ship it!"
William L. Jones
Fascinating. I know how he feels...
You need to review this:
Is this what Internet Service Providers are coming to? The downfall of the internet is on the horizon.
Pay special attention to section 2.5
Ken Kashmarek Eldridge Iowa
Would you or any of your readers know what "pad.esi" is? I use W2000 workstation. It is a huge file, 134 Mb. I have been unsuccessful in opening or viewing it. Quickview does not know what it is and it is not listed in W2000's extensive listing of file types. I was wondering if it was safe to delete it. Thanks,
Peter Durand [firstname.lastname@example.org]
There is no such file on any of my systems, which is about all I know. I suggest you rename it pad.esj or some such and see if anything interesting happens. I doubt it will prevent your system from running at all...
Well, Front Page did that. Stupid. I think I have fixed it finally. About time... Now it should do http://audio.byte.com . My mistake was in not putting the http:// in the address; without that, Frint Pagfe decided to supply one. Or the web did. Anyway this ought to fix it.
BLOOOODY HELL I managed to type it wrong again. There is something evil about this, and about the web interfaces that make you squint at little tiny letters on big screens. NOW IT SHOULD BE ALL RIGHT.
I was reading an article posted on your website titled Telenko On SDI (Jun 23,2000); while I find myself in basic agreement with the message of the article, I did find a gross inaccuracy that I felt a need to correct. Perhaps you can pass this on to Mr. Telenko? His statement was:
>Only 3 of 7 "combat ready" Minuteman were successfully launched from active silos in early 1980s >realistic tests ordered by then Defense Secretary Casper Weinburger - realistic compared to the >standard phony tests from Vanderberg AFB silos of carefully reworked Minuteman ICBM's.
As a point of reference, let me state that I am a former Minuteman and Peacekeeper Maintenance Team Chief, Master Instructor, and Launch Super, and was an AFSPACECOM Technician Of The Quarter. I was stationed at Grand Forks AFB, ND and Vandenberg AFB, CA. My credentials can be viewed at http://members.tripod.com/Rocketman_NM/mypages/netres.html . That said, let me proceed to the facts concerning Mr. Telenko's load of excrement.
1. There was only 1 "combat ready" launch of a Minuteman Missile from an operational base. Test launches are all conducted at Complex 31 or 32 at Cape Canaveral AFB (discontinued since 1970) or Vandenberg AFB; some testing has also been done from Wallops Island, Va. The SINGLE ops test was conducted at Ellsworth AFB, March 1, 1965. The launch used a modified Minuteman that had the fuel cut to provide a 7 second thrust, and was code-named "Project Longlife".
2. The "realistic" tests that are done at operational bases are called Simulated Electrical Launch of Minuteman (SELM), and are performed yearly, at every base. A selected squadron is deconfigured of all explosive charges, and simulator boxes are connected to all cable terminations where the missile would recieve a signal. Launch is then commanded normally and the monitored signals are verified (by analysis only) as having "launched" the missile. These tests were known as "Giant Pace" in the 80's period he refers to, and were almost all a complete success; the few failures that occurred were largely in the MONITORING EQUIPMENT. There were some on-site failures, but a far smaller percentage than his narrative relates, and actually below the statistical failure rate for any electromechanical system (and a better success rate than NASA enjoyed at the time).
3. As for "phony tests from Vanderberg AFB silos of carefully reworked Minuteman ICBM's", this statement illuminates me to the possibility that the author is using biased conjecture (or less politely, out-right lies) to support his viewpoint. That's a shame, as his point is a good one, and it's a pity he spoils it (and his veracity) by adding in fake data. Technicians both at the the base that pulls the Minuteman Missile and at Vandenberg go to great lengths to ensure everything is copied in configuration matching the operational site - often to the point of ridiculousness. And the missiles are never "carefully reworked" - they are pulled from the silo in a single assembly (minus the warhead) and transported to base, placed into a shipping container (which leaves about 2 feet of space around the sides of the missile), then transferred straight into an emplacer vehicle (called a transporter-erector) at Vandenberg. It is then installed directly into the test silo. The ONLY hardware/software differences between a Vandenberg launch and an operational base have to do with 3 systems: special protective hardware for the silo itself, that enables the silo to be quickly refurbished after launch; Command/Destruct packages that allow the Missile to be destroyed remotely if it veers out of control; and a special instrumentation warhead, which replaces the real one. ALL other aspects of the test launch are identical.
I have worked for various periods of time in every aspect of Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBM's from programming targets for real warheads to recovering a silo after a launch. Nowhere, at any point in a very full career did I ever see ANY of the situation that Mr. Telenko falsely alludes to. We often hoped for failures, as Missileers everywhere often get fed up with utilizing 60's vintage equipment and support hardware patched together a hundred times because there were constant budget cuts in military spending that wouldn't allow purchase of new equipment. But instead, I and my co-workers were continually amazed at the success rate that the Minuteman system enjoys, despite it's age and lack of support.
It would have forced a public outcry and a much needed replacement of the system to have had the ratings Mr. Telenko suggests - we were never that lucky. Instead, hundreds of Missileers toiled 16-18 hours shifts, driving daily routes over 200 miles, working in heat indexes of 130F, or chill factors of -130F. I myself was frostbitten twice, once in a howling snowstorm that had a chillfactor of -108F. And our hard work kept that aging, decrepit system working at near 100% capacity - and won the Cold War. Mr. Telenko insults Missileers everywhere with his atrocious lies; and destroys the integrity of what would have been a very good article. His point was made fine - without the added bovine matter.
Sincerely, Brian Britt
P.S. - Love your books, Mr. Pournelle - keep writing!!
Thank you for setting that record straight. I was involved in Minuteman Command and Control design a very long time ago, and my lab at the Boeing Development Center was nearly whacked by a silo opening test that used a bit more explosive than needed.... In those days one of the problems was the security access door to the silo; it was made by a safe company to bank vault specs, and that's fine for bank vaults, but the Montana winters were a bit harder on them, and we had to drill in with armed USAF Security troops standing by... But all that was a while ago. As was sitting in one of those things when a Klaxon went off. It was always a drill but you never knew that.... Emergency War Orders is a pretty frightening message. I am not unhappy to see us stand down from some of that, but in our prayers and thankgivings we ought to remember the crews who sat in those holes through the last 20 years of the Seventy Years War.
Thanks again. For the letter, and for having been there.
February 1, 2001
I've read quite a few of your columns and you have pretty extensive experience with laptops and I have a particular problem with a monitor hooked to a docking station with a laptop.
The large Viewsonic monitor continues to use screen blanking or goes into a standby mode at rather indeterminate times. I have already checked all the power management settings for the operating system, set the bios to not do screen blanking, run the computer without a screen saver, and disabled all manner of standby modes in the operating system.
The laptop is an IBM 390E, not the best laptop in the world, but it's what the company bought. Have not been able to check the registry since our wonderful IT department has disabled that option on the PC. How many users actually care about looking around in the registry??
I have a very good laptop and some programs seem not to want to work well on a big screen when I plug that into the Compaq. Word does work all right. Power management I generally set to be off entirely if the laptop is plugged into the wall socket: what would be the point? But some programs, particularly on-line stuff, seem to drop off the big screen and require frequent resetting of the output. I haven't bothered to look into this much since my Compaq has a good enough screen that in general I just use that and have done with it...
> Well, Front Page did that. Stupid. I think I have fixed it finally. > About time... Now it should do http://audio.byt.com . My mistake > was in not putting the http:// in the address; without that, Frint > Pagfe decided to supply one. Or the web did. Anyway this ought to > fix it.
I suspect you mean byte.com, not byt.com :-)
- Michael Smith
Yeah. Well THIS TIME FOR SURE
I have often wondered whether any free ISP can really make money. spinway.com went under, and since the free Costco ISP was handled by spinway, that has gone away now. bluelight.com is being kept alive, for now, by K-Mart... but who knows.
juno.com offers a deal: you agree to the deal, and they give you completely free Internet service. Part of the deal is that they put ads on your screen and you can't get rid of them. Now it appears they may try some sort of distributed computing experiment and try to make money with that. An interesting approach.
When you sign up for juno.com, or indeed any of the free ISPs, they ask all sorts of impertinent questions, and part of the deal is that you answer them correctly. (I surmise they use all this information to sell "targeted" ads: for example, they may contract to serve certain ads to all their female customers over 40 years of age, or some such.) If you don't like their deal, you can always pay for your ISP. (As I do.)
So, I don't really have a problem with juno.com; if they can make money by running something like the SETI@Home screen saver, they can keep providing Internet service for folks who can't pay (or just don't want to pay) for it.
By the way, bluelight.com asks fewer impertinent questions than juno.com; if you want a free ISP, you might try that one. But I wouldn't get too attached to it.
P.S. I tried out bluelight on my laptop. My ISP (blarg.net) is a small local company with no dialup ports outside the Puget Sound area, and I wanted something that would work when I travel. But I have found an even better idea: I can buy a Costco phone card with really cheap long-distance service, and then just call my local ISP long-distance. No ads, and it will work anywhere, not just in certain cities where bluelight has a dialup port.
blarg.net lets you use their dialup ports for no extra charge if you are a DSL customer. Their service is excellent in all ways and I recommend them highly to anyone in their service area. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" email@example.com http://www.blarg.net/~steveha
From my view I would rather pay the man the $20 a month, but I suppose for some getting ads and being part of marketing experiments is worth putting up with to save twenty bucks. I doubt that applies to many of my readers. (I just checked. I have precisely 2 subscribers who use juno.com.) Me, I pay Earthlink for access and pair.com to host this web.
Well, you could probably have had starband working by now..... :-)
But, if you want to try one more time to talk to Pac Bell, use the following phrase "Fastrak Flexible DS1." Don't talk about T1, that's a wire, and you don't want to talk to the wire folks, you want the digital service. When you say T1, they get all flumoxxed. It's a phone company thing. They really like you to use their lingo.
On the other hand, try calling mci/worldcomm at 1-800-WORLDCOM 1-800-967-5326 With them the magic phrase is "Flexible T1."
But really, think again about starband. That way, one dish, dump the cable tv folks, get reasonably high speed internet, and as you are so fond of saying, "Bob's your uncle." (My uncle's name was Bill.)
Sigh. I will try again. Fastrak Flexible DS1 is it? Niven's on his way just now so this afternoon. How do these companies stay in business? And satellites look better all the time.
Check out http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010201.html Cassini has taken a beautiful picture of Jupiter.
Of course, the beauty of the internet leads us to the following links.
First is some more pictures that the Cassini probe has taken. ( http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/english/pic/ ) No low-gain-attenna-only-interplanetary-space-probes here. All I can say is, Wow.
Oh, and that lead to http://samadhi.jpl.nasa.gov/ The first link on the page leads to a "space simulator" that "Choose a planet or satellite, and a place to stand, and the simulator <http://space.jpl.nasa.gov> will render a color image for you!"
Way cool indeed. Thanks!
2, 2001 GROUND HOG DAY
>From Byte.com... "Look, I make a living from intellectual property, and it burns me up that many of my novels are available free on the Internet with little to nothing I can do about it, ..."
Couple things I have to say about that, and I'm sure you've heard them before, in part or in whole.
IMHO, you've nothing to worry about. Unless you fall into the fallacy that every download of a work is a potential sale of that work lost, that is. And don't let me get in the way of your worrying, if that's what you really want to do.
But until someone invents a home publishing-and-binding kit at economical prices, or invents a computer display that a) is wholely reflective instead of illuminative b) can be read in one hand while walking, or at most two hands while sitting c) is guaranteed not to lose its information if left unpowered there ain't nothing going to replace books. Even such places as Project Guttenberg and Baen's Free Library (which if you've not seen, you might want to) hold only minimal interest to me.
Simply put, staring at a monitor for the length of time required to read a novel is not something I enjoy doing. And even given the convenience of a laptop, the only circumstances I can see myself going for an electronic version of a work over a printed one is if I have absolutely no other choice. Even on an airplane, its so much more comfortable to bring paperbacks than to open up a laptop and read.
But what of video games? True, I do spend inordinate amounts of time with video games, effectively staring at the screen. There is, though, the element of interactivity that reading lacks. You can say the same of professions that use the computer. The secretary at the word processor isn't (ususally) simply reading what's on the screen. And too, this often occasions the "no other choice" clause.
But then, I must say, that this is the attitude merely of myself, and of the people I've talked to. I haven't yet heard one tell me they'd rather have their books on computer. I'm sure there are people out there who do (even a 1 in a million chance is a sure thing, somewhere), I've just not met them.
This doesn't mean that I won't read an occasional chapter if I find one online, but it might mean that I'd buy the book if I liked the chapter. And could afford the book...
The issue of "being able to do something about it" is a separate thing entirely, and I think the SFWA has swung some weight against sites they've found publishing out of line. If you've not talked with them before, you might. Better than nothing, certainly.
Of course, K.D.Jeter took the issue to extremes in his book "Noir". One the darkest, nastiest SF books I've ever read.
In any case, I wish you the best.
Much of the excitement we get out of our work is that we don't really know what we are doing. -- E. Dijkstra
Melvin Krehbiel firstname.lastname@example.org
I can't really quarrel with that. As to SFWA I'm fairly aware of what they do -- and can't do. Harlan Ellison is the one who really puts in time on this. Which benefits us all. Thanks, Harlan...
February 3, 2001
I put this in VIEW but it is so odd...
i heard that ther is a html code which you must add to the e-mail you send to anyone, so that it spreads itself to all his recipients and, from his recipients to their recipients and so on. Is it true? If yes then please mail me with that code. If it wasn't true, than please mail me anyway.
Please mail me to that address email@example.com thank you in advance
____ Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.
I have made no reply and will not.
February 4, 2001