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Mail 139 February 5 - 11, 2001

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This week:



Monday  February 5, 2001

Column Time. Day devoured by locusts





This week:



Tuesday,  February 6, 2000

Column Time. There is a lot of mail. Some interesting. Stay tuned.


Thanks for all the years of writing and regularly coming into my home - as a most invited guest.

You have written a couple of times about the issues of moving older window programs to 2000. I'm not a big gamer, but I have three games I play at times. They are "Lords of the Realm," "Red Alert," and "Masters of Orion." To date I have been unsuccessful in getting them onto 2000 without locking up the system and in the case of "Red Alert" 2000 simply will not load the program.

I know you're busy, but if you find time to respond and you have the "magic" answer I'd appreciate it. I'm obviously missing something here.

Terry Saltsman

I keep Windows 98 systems for older games. Oddly enough, a few old WIN-G games play on Windows 2000 but not 98, but in general, the best way to go is to use 98. This is a problem for me with a laptop because I want 2000 on it, but the few games I like to play on airplanes won't run on 2000.  I have no simple solution.

Dear Jerry:

A few odds &; ends:

Instead of "old dinosaurs" I think "mature Masters" is far more accurate. Your generation (including Asimov and a bit before) were the truly imaginative trailblazers of sci-fi, offering fully thought-out "fiction" that has, a lot of it, become daily reality, and wonderfully original stories of "what if?" There's very little out there today that compares.

As for your travails with Pac Bell, again I'd encourage you to try Starband satelite. The number of people in this country who can get cable modem and/or DSL is dwarfed by the number who can't, and your installation would offer some helpful guideposts for the majority of us out here in the digital hinterlands.

Just got a new laptop, for travel, an IBM ThinkPad T21 (750 P3, 13.3 inch 1024 by 768 screen, 10 GB hard disk, CD-ROM swappable with floppy, 128 MB memory). For years I've lusted after a ThinkPad but didn't want to pay the premium; with this machine I'm glad I did. Keyboard is fabulous, the neat little keyboard light works well for truly in-the-dark computing, the machine came with the wonderfully stable W98SE OS not the disappointing ME, but probably best of all it is the most secure-feeling and toughest notebook I've ever had. The titanium composite case is light (travel weight just over 5 pounds) but incredibly strong, with no flex at all. You really feel as if you could abuse this laptop with impunity. The only bad points are the lack of a touchpad (no matter how much I try I can't warm up to the pointing stick), the "small" hard drive, and the lack of printed documentation: everything you need is loaded on the machine, but hardly any of it is ink on paper, which I prefer. IBM's support is outstanding: the exact model and configuration is recognized on the Web site and you are immediately presented with the driver updates and other info that applies to your specific computer. Very nice!

Also just installed a Proxim Home Radio Frequency network which features about the most painless network install I have ever done. I went with the USB adapter ($95) on my desktop and a PCMCIA card ($125) for the ThinkPad. The system recognizes your connections, offers you a list, and once you choose the hard part is done: it is absolutely transparent as far as I can see, and changes no settings anywhere else: it is designed from the ground up to co-exist with other networks, and even has a switching program you can have load on boot so you can choose your preferred network connection de jour.

My only problem came from having Black Ice Defender installed on my machines: with the default settings it prevented network resource sharing between the computers, but NOT the modem access, which Black Ice says is exactly what it's supposed to do. Theoretically there is a way to change settings to allow everybody to "see" each other, but for now I have just disabled Black Ice. I may look into getting a real firewall program like WinProxy, but as I'm on a standard dial-up connection and have password protected all my writeable media I'm not too worried.

Also anyone using the Proxim system will want to disable Proxim's power management on all their boxes; they are supposed to "wake up" on packet traffic once asleep, but that wasn't working for me. Network speed is nothing to write home about compared to Ethernet but for simple file transfers and modem sharing the Proxim system so far has been easy, inexpensive, and effective: I can now surf the Net from any room in the house wirelessly, and probably from anywhere out in the yard, as well. Good fun, and convenient.

That's it for now, hope you are well.

As always all the best--

Tim Loeb

Thanks for the kind words and the information.  Sorry to be in such a rush...

Hi Jerry,

In the View from Chaos Manor dated Saturday, February 3, 2001, you have a candidate for the oddest email you ever got. I may have an answer to what the fellow is looking for. Slashdot has a reference (;mode=thread ) to an article in the NY Times about a Javascript code snippet that can exploit a hole in Java-enabled mailers. Apparently if someone attaches this bit of Javascript to an email, then that person can receive all the subsequent exchanges (forwards, replies, etc.) of that email. That sounds like what your odd email sender is looking for, the code to exploit the hole.

Best wishes,


I expect that's it, but why does he ask ME? Ah well.

Well, you know those 50,000 depleted uranium slugs we left on the Iraq-Kuwait border. What if Saddam gave them a chest X-ray? God forbid, did we give him the innards for 50,000 fission bombs?

I'm not asking you to print this, or not to.

Hoping for reassurance-

Bruce Purcell

Depleted means it has been depleted of the U-235. It's mostly U-238. To make weapons grade from U-238 you need a breeder reactor and THAT he doesn't have (nor alas do we). But it's still valuable stuff.

Harry Lime pointed down from the big Ferris wheel in Vienna and asked how much you would care if one of those dots stopped moving, if you could get 20,000 pounds for each dot you killed. Empire is that way: we fire a lot of rounds, and most do nothing, but some stop some dots. But they are far away on the other side of the world, and this saves us from $3.00 a gallon gas, or in the case of Serbian dots, from feeling bad about not doing something for the Albanians. So we better keep on making those depleted uranium rounds. They're expensive, but that's the price of empire.

Hi Jerry

I sat down today with the daunting task of creating a web page out of a complex Word 2000 document but I was unable to get it to produce plain html code without stylesheets and VML. The best results I got were by using Word-clean-up feature in Dreamweaver 3 and the second-best was to go back to Word 97. I also do a lot of cutting and pasting from Word 2000 to FrontPage which produces atrocious html and the best solution I have found there is to paste the text into Edit Pad first. I wonder if you or your readers can come up with any better suggestions.

Love your site. It's my favourite on the web.

Allan Jackson

Allan's Article Archive:

Fortunately I don't have to do much with complex WORD documents; and you are right, going back to Word 97 seems the simplest way. Perhaps readers have better suggestions. SEE BELOW.

You've probably heard from a lot of people by now how common your lack of connection with the phone company is. I hear the same stories about every company that offers any type of broadband service. A friend North of Seattle has been trying since August to get some sort of broadband connection, and just last week finally got a cable modem from AT&;T Cable. He tried hard to get DSL, even using some inside contacts at the local phone company, and finally reached the conclusion that there really wasn't anybody who gave a damn when or if his neighborhood got service. It wasn't anybody's job to care.

That's the feeling I get talking to people at these companies, although RoadRunner is starting to look a little better. During the initial roll-out, anybody who has a clue what a broadband connection is is working seventy hour weeks doing the technical work. The customer service positions are filled by people who don't have a clue and don't want one, they may even have been told that they're not supposed to handle the broadband stuff, they're supposed to refer it, and in a couple of weeks we'll get you a name.

So good luck, and expect more of the same no matter who you talk to. I would definitely check with all possible providers in your area (phone company, ISP's, cable company, satellite companies) to see what services they might offer when, and keep checking on a weekly basis - the answers will change suddenly and without warning. My friend in Washington went from "we don't ever plan to offer that service" to "we can hook you up next Thursday" in just a couple of days.

Jonathan Hutchins

Yes: It's clear that the Phone Company really DOES NOT CARE. I sure wish we had real regulated public utilities who had some fear of regulators: this monopoly without regulation is the worst of all possible worlds. And they farmed out marketing to Elbonia.




This week:



Wednesday, February 7, 2001

It is column deadline time and thus SHORT SHRIFT to the mail.

Regarding turning Word 2000 documents into html:

I'd suggest loading the Word document into Star Office and then saving it as html. Out of all the word processors, Star Office seems to be the best at producing simple and manageable html code.


I have not tried this, but thanks for the tip. I understood that Star Office had some problems with complex WORD documents? (See below.)

Dear Dr. Pournelle, Interesting article in the Washington Post today. At 

Former congresswoman Pat Schroeder (remember her?) is now the president of the Association of American Publishers. Some quotes from the article will give you an idea of why this worries me: "They're terrified," she says. And who, you might be wondering, is giving Schroeder and her publishers such a fright? Librarians, of course. The AAP is looking for ways to charge library patrons for information. "Technology people never gave their stuff away," Schroeder says. (end quotes)

You see, the Washington Post is read by all of Official Washington. Senators, Congressmen, White House staffers, and Regulators. And they're not getting much of the alternate view, that people should be able to use *free* libraries. Richard Stallman's Right To Read at  is looking more and more realistic all the time.

Kit Case

That warrants a long comment than I have time for today. Remind me...

Dear Jerry,

Re: Tim Loeb's comments of Tuesday, February 6, 2001, (even though the header says Tuesday, December 26, 2000 [OOPS! ed] ):

I suspect that Mr Loeb's StarBand recommendation is based on not having ever used one, or having seen the beta system delivered to resellers and installers which is based on different hardware using a different satellite. Their advertising and public website (  ) make it sound wonderful. As I have said in an earlier message, the only way Starband is acceptable is when there is no other choice -- 14.4 KBaud dialup is better for everything except large downloads. Also, only Microsoft Outlook / Express works with StarBand, and the preferred browser is IE -- not a surprise when MS is a partner. Highly NOT GOOD ENOUGH to amend your tag line.

Mr. Loeb's problem with Black ICE is probably that it has not been configured to accept connections from his network(ed) system(s). He need to go to Tools | Edit BlackICE settings... | Trusted Addresses and enter the IP address of the other systems on the network. Another good reason NOT to use DHCP on a small network.

John G. Ruff. J R u f f @ E x c i t e . c o m

Thanks. I am still thinking about what to do here; I will manage. And see the February column...

Since you are looking at RAID I would like to hear of (or "watch" your) experiences with the single purpose RAID file servers on the market such as:. (formerly Quantum) SNAP appliances < > Maxtor MaxAttach network storage < >

They seem to fit in with the Netwinder philosophy. Why have all the overhead of Windows 2000 running on a machine when all you need is a stripped down Linux hidden in a special purpose box with price savings - and, more importantly, administrator time savings.

Andy Kowalczyk Lexington, MA


In the old days we'd have done that at BYTE Peterborough already. As it is I have to collect the equipment. I have good contacts at MAXTOR, and I will try to get this set up here. Thanks for the suggestions.

Q252761 - OL98 Outlook 98 No Longer Available For Download

So this makes me mad. I have been forced to upgrade to office 2000. A while back I downloaded the free outlook 98 which I like a lot better then outlook 97 and I have been happy with it. I had to re-install my office 97 and I discovered I can no longer install outlook 98 because they do not give you the software in an installable format. They only give you a link that downloads and installs the software. I hope Linux will give Microsoft some competition. By the way I bought office 2000. I do like Microsoft products and I am a Microsoft stock holder.

Here is the link that Microsoft let this out. 



I don't know why they do things like that... I am having much the same problem with Internet Exporer, which is required for some standalone programs as well as Net stuff. But you can't get IE without being on the net...

I have many references to Cringely and Starband, They all go something like

Regarding the "Starband" access to the net using satellite, "Robert X. Cringely" wrote about it this week here:  .

Summary: "So Starband isn't for everyone. If you are a gamer or want to run your own web or FTP server, you should probably forget it. But for a guy who thinks gaming means throwing a squeaky toy for the dog to retrieve, it is not bad. That's why I turned off my DSL as of January 31."

Regards....Rick Hellewell

I gather he lives in the country. If I could get DSL I would take it like a shot, but I can't. Starband doesn't seem right for me either. I have been offered T-1 for $850 as month and I may have to go for that. Alas.

Incidentally when I was at Infoworld (I always did the BYTE column but for several years I did a weekly short column on the back page of INFOWORLD) I wrote a couple of Cringely columns. Laurie Flynn wrote a couple of Cringely columns. I think everyone there wrote a Cringely at one time or another. Cringely was originally a snail that crawled onto the outside window of Jonathan Sach's office and dried up and died. The name was on the masthead in part so that telephone calls could be directed to a person who was never in. At least one editor was relieved of the Cringely duty because he began showing up for work in trench coat and slouch hat and the Editor thought he was identifying a bit too much with the role and it was unhealthy.  Later this chap who now uses the name began to do it regularly and eventually assimilated the part. I thought he did it better than I ever did...




Regarding old games on Windows 2000, I have heard about this program from MANY and I have to get it:

An expensive solution would be to run something like VMware ( ) on your windows 2000 laptop and have windows 98 installed in the virtual machine.

You'll loose the accelerated video but for those older games it shouldn't matter. You should be aware that under my dual P3 800Mhz the virtual machine with tweaking runs like 500Mhz (I have mine setup NOT to take full CPU - I occasionally have two running). Then again lots of CPU is not what most of the games need. All you really need is enough memory for 2000 to run comfortably and enough to give the virtual machine for it to run comfortably.

There is free alternative but that is still under development and should be treated accordingly. It is called Plex86 (formerly Freemware) and can be found at 

 Ben Baylis (

 Why Do YOU hate Mondays ? 

Do you think I am a megalomaniac ? Just give me a ZX81, and I'll control the world !

Thanks. I will download that and try it as soon as this column is done.


I was able to get an Outlook 98 CD from Microsoft. I don't know if it's still available, but here is the part number from the CD..

X03-68705 is on a white sticker on the jewelcase, and X03-47863 is on the CD itself.

It is labeled Outlook 98 Upgrade, and I think I only paid a shipping charge to get it..

Regards, Al Hartman

Join the Macintosh Emulation List...

Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life. - William Blake


If Allan Jackson wants to clean up the horrid HTML that Office produces, he could use Microsoft's filter: 

Frontpage is almost as bad as Word. Far better to use HomeSite. 


Well I do struggle along with Front Page...







This week:


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Thursday, February 8, 2001

Deadline Day.






This week:



Friday, February 9, 2001

Column is on the wire. Cleaning up.

While I certainly cannot claim comprehensive testing of Word vs. Staroffice, I can offer the observation that with Staroffice 5.2 I haven't seen Staroffice choke on a Word document yet. Your mileage may vary, of course. Staroffice 5.0 and 5.1 were different beasts in that department - they did have serious problems. Indeed, Staroffice 5.2 allowed me to finally completely scrub Windows from the machines here.

<disclaimer> All opinions expressed here are based solely on the author's personal experience, and are in no way to be considered the product of exhaustive testing. </disclaimer>

Tom G.

Now that is interesting. I downloaded and tried Staroffice 5.0 and hated it. Now I'll have to see where I can find 5.2 and give that a whack. Thanks.

Dr Pournelle,

I paid again. I have just re-upped my subscription for another year. I enjoy the site and keep up the good work. Here is a web site with a good satire (I hope) on ADHA. 

Mike Plaster

Thanks. The letters may be more informative than the article... It's also an interesting format for a journal.

I know you're skeptical regarding evolutionary theory wrt. speciation. Perhaps the following will provide a bit of grist for the mill --

Alan Bonebrake 

Well, I am skeptical about the mechanisms proposed by the standard theories of evolution, and very much so about the adamantine political correctness as if the theory of evolution can't stand competition. As to this particular mechanism I'd have to think about it. I suspect Greg Cochran will find it interesting.

I also have problems with loading a Windows 95 machine. I was one of the early purchasers of a system with Windows 95 preinstalled. Upon first boot-up you were required to copy 34 diskettes with the Wind 95 system cabs. The first hard drive change on the machine really caused me grief. One of the early diskettes had a write fault and there was no way to load 95. I went out and bought a copy of the win95 upgrade. On it is a copy of Explorer 3.0, it is stand alone and can be loaded seperately. You had to check the Internet Options box in Custom so this had to be very early indeed. You can update Explorer from there to Explorer 5.0 which, as of my last attempt, still downloaded an installation file that can be run from the machine. . 

BTW to upgrade the hard drive I loaded an old copy of Dos 6.0, reloaded Win 3.1 and upgraded. What a pain that is and I've had to do it four times (twice for new drives, once for clean-up and once for a system scrub after a virus infestation). Why does Microsoft do these things? I not only waste a lot of time but had to pay $149.00 cdn for the upgrade, (The full version at the time sold for $299.00 cdn and I just couldn't bear to pay it) I'm also still waiting for a response to my e-mail asking for a work around for the above complex installation.

Allan Mason

It may be possible to download an IE Upgrade and then run it without being connected to the net but I can't figure out how. Worse. IE 5.5 is unstable and uses all the resources of an older Win 95 machine and MUST GO.  I am now looking to see what I can put in its place, and HOW TO GET RID OF IT. On a 16 MB machine (and I don't recommend anyone keep a 16 but there's a reason here) IE 5.5 simply takes over and destroys everything else. It has to go. I'll then try installing 4 from the 98 upgrade disk. We'll see. is not a wonderful idea if they abandon all those places -- like schools -- that aren't going to be connected to the Internet.

Dear Jerry,

I heartily agree with your review of Intel's 815EEA. I bought 27 boxes in November based on that motherboard, for two classrooms and some office machines. I had a local whitebox builder make them up to my specification for my particular needs, but I didn't see mention of two possibly relevant issues (I realize space constraints still apply in the new BYTE format).

1) The 815EEA with the onboard 82559 10/100 Ethernet adapter supports Intel's PXE (pre-boot execution environment) 2.0 specification. This is *VERY* supported by Microsoft, in concert with the Remote Installation Service (RIS) in Windows 2000 Server. I used this in my classrooms to get 22 workstations up and running with NO CD-ROM or boot floppy necessary. They boot off the network (it's on the option list next to CD-ROM), use tftp to get the basic install files going, then finish up off a mini-Windows installer.

It's VERY fast, and as long as you have ActiveDirectory (which I've grown to love) and DHCP up and running properly, life is good. The biggest problems I've had have been in integrating new drivers into the install images and at the same time remembering to cycle the BINL service (it hooks to the single instance storage service - it's a good thing). This comes in handy for the technical classroom, since blowing away student installs of Server and restoring to classroom specs would otherwise be quite time consuming.

2) The 815 chipset has an integrated i752 video controller - basically the successor to the i740. If you use the onboard video (my boards have the Digital Video Out connector for flatscreens, by the bye) it defaults to using shared system memory. For the 13 workstations in my large classroom, I spent about $20 extra and got the Kingston 4 MB card that fits in the AGP slot. Intel calls this the Graphics Performance Accelerator, and claims it improves performance by about 20%. I am loath to take the overall performance hit of sharing main memory with the graphics subsystem (I hated that on Macs as well) so it was an easy purchasing decision.

With Celeron 600's, 7200 rpm UDMA WDC drives and 128 MB of RAM, they are EXCELLENT general purpose office machines, perfect for the office automation classes we teach.

Just wanted to bring those up; if you ever wanted to raise some contentious issues, I think RIS would make for an excellent adventure.

Best Regards, Brian

Brian Fulmer Computer Gym Training Center 711 N. Court, Suite R Visalia, CA 93291 Phone: 559.733.2706 FAX: 559.733.2707

Thanks for all the details. I've pretty well made the D815EEAL my "standard" for new systems here.

Talking about building a machine from ancient parts...

I had a 150 mhz mother board (with 64 meg RAM) and I decided to load Linux on it, but then decided to try Windows ME, Windows 2000, and WIN NT 4.0. I added a new Western Digital drive (30 gig) and used the special EZ disk to format each partition to 2 gig, FAT16 (for the WIndows NT 4.0 portion) and stated by loading a fresh copy of WIn 98. Then Win NT 4.0. Then Windows 2000.

It seems to me another Daynoter, Dave Farquhar, had dual boot capability with WIn95 and Win98, but I tried just installing Win ME in a different directory. No bueno. So, it is either ME or 98.

I then added Mandrake 7.2 Linux. It comes with a pile of disks, but it seems one must use the Lnx4Win (Linux for Windows) if one plans to add Linux to a machine already running Windows. Also, Linux must be added last: any other Windows programs will wipe out the boot loader.

Everything seems to work with 64 meg. I'm not that impressed with Win ME. The drivers don't seem available, and the Windows ME disk couldn't find a driver for my modem or video card. And the installation seems to take forever! (Of course, this is still a slow machine).

I did like the Star package that came with Linux. Word processor, Spreadsheet, etc. all seem very similar to the other, more common suites.

I would really like to compare this installation with a newer processor and more RAM....

Dave Wootan




Jerry, I just saw Mr. Brian Britt's reply to one of my earlier letters. The source for that bit of information is a friend of mine named Tom Holsinger. He was one of FEMA's volunteer civil defense trainees in the early to mid-1980s. When I called him about it, he told me that he recalls it being in the Wall Street Journal in ~1985, and it may have been cited in Alex Cockburn's book "THE THREAT" as well. I asked him to drop a note about it, since he has a copy of Cockburn's book. As for his testing assertions regards the Minuteman, to quote an old General: "The only true test is combat." Working in the military procurement field, and extensive readings on past military procurements, leaves me completely cynical regards testing claims made of major weapons systems that are not 1) backed up by combat performance, or 2) long operational service that uses the weapon system in a role that closely approximates its intended wartime environment. We have never fought a war with a Minuteman, and pray to God, we never will.

We will never know if a full up Minuteman III will work under combat conditions launching from standard silos by line crews in a nuclear environment, with its motors and staging working, its guidance functioning properly on an "over the north pole" trajectory, with its bus deploying its RVs properly, and RV fusing detonating its warheads at programmed altitudes.

Point in fact; even under the current testing guidelines, we don't know if the Minuteman III is accurate. The following three paragraphs are from a larger article I cut and pasted from the Defense Dept's Early Bird clipping service:

"Defense Week February 5, 2001 Pg. 1 Air Force Okayed ICBM Upgrade Despite Unproven Accuracy By John M. Donnelly Just over a year ago, the Air Force okayed a $1.9 billion production plan for a new nuclear missile guidance system, even though the system hadn't been tested enough to prove that it met the accuracy requirement, Defense Week has learned. The upgraded Minuteman III ICBMs may yet turn out to be accurate, but there isn't enough data to prove it yet, the Pentagon's former top tester says. The Air Force says the NS-50 guidance system is accurate, but acknowledges that more tests will bring greater "statistical confidence." Despite the uncertainty about a "key performance parameter," Boeing, which makes the NS-50, has begun building more than one-third of the 652 required guidance units. The unresolved questions about the Minuteman III upgrade's accuracy have not been previously reported. The NS-50 guidance sets are the latest example of a military system being built whether it has passed muster or not. The General Accounting Office, in a Jan. 17 report on Defense Department management, reiterated its longstanding criticism of the Pentagon's tendency to buy before it flies, or at least before it flies enough."

Trent J. Telenko

Well with luck and the grace of God we will never know if the Minuteman system works. I was a small part of the design team for the original Minuteman command and control system. We sure hoped it would never get an operational test.

for your 16 meg win 95 machine, the correct browser is Opera. Version 5 is now available free of charge.

It works.

It has full javascript support, uses Sun's java runtime if you want that, does cascading style sheets etc etc etc. Now a competant and mature.


Well the problem was that we needed IE 4 or better for a program that we wanted to run; I agree Opera is a great browser for systems with limited resources.

I believe I should be able to tie 2 or 3 computers (and maybe, a DSL modem through a Linksys router) together into a "workgroup" using ethernet 10/100 cards.

I have tried several times over the last 2-3 months to accomplish this by entering network settings into Win 98 with no success.

I use Chaos Manor as my "home page" and do understand how busy you are, but I am now frustated enough to ask for your help.

I used Windows for Workgroups in the 1993 - 1995 period to group 3 computers and share files and printers. My basic problem with Windows 98 is that I do not understand the rationale behind Microsoft's networking controls. I have checked several books on networking at Fry's, but I saw none that covered the simple Workgroup approach. I would like to configure an old computer as a Linux server (I have Moshe Bar's article on the subject saved), but hesitate when I can't even get the simple approach to work.

Bill Mackintosh

First of course you must have a NIC in each machine, and those have to be connected to a hub (I am presuming you aren't trying to use Thin net and coax cable, which has to daisychain). You have to install the NIC as hardware. You must then go to Control Panel/Networks Configuration tab and install Client for Microsoft Networks. The NIC hardware should appear in there also. You want to have Dial-up Adapter installed, and Internet Connection Sharing (that's add device under that tab). You should install the TCP/IP protocol.  It should have installed NetBEUI automatically, and in fact that will work for internal file sharing, but you need TCP/IP for sharing an internet connection.

Once all that is done on each machine:

Windows 98 creates workgroups: just go to Control Panel/Network, the Identification Tab. Give the machine a unique name like "Regina" or "Galacticus" or R2D2, and give it a Workgroup name.  Now do that with each machine, giving each a unique name but the same Workgroup name, such as Macnet or Flooblefleck. Give each system its own unique name but the same Workgroup name. If you had a real Domain you'd give the domain name. Now reset each machine. I tend to shut them down entirely and turn them off when first doing this.

That should do it. I am writing this off the top of my head, and I may have left something out, in which case I am sure a reader will correct me...

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Your struggles remind me of a Murphy's-type law we discovered when I worked for a NASA contractor. I have shamelessly appended my name to it --

Nofel's Law of Digital Upgrades [Hardware and Software]: Any upgrade process will devolve down to the need to format a floppy disk.

Corollary to Nofel's Law: If you don't have to format a floppy, then you'll have to download a multi-megabyte something from an FTP site during the heaviest traffic time during the day.

Keep up the good fight so I have fewer stupid things to do.

-- Pete

I love it!

I read you letter on BYTE Column. What I want to know out of all of this is where I can buy 2 of the TEAC 6-pack CD-ROM's? I have been everywwhere I know to go, and stumbled across this useing Copernic on a search. Please oh please tell me where on earth I can buy these creatchers......

Thanks in Advance

Kelly Hadley BGMimber@

I don't think they make them any longer. I have a couple of them and I'm putting one permanently on line as a resource, but in fact it's probably simpler to get BIG hard drives and copy cd's to a hard drive...

IE5: you can get it here:

Also note that there are versions of the CD files as self extracting archives.

These are meatier then the above downloads, weighing in at 99 megs for 5.0, and 111 meg for 5.5

enjoy the weekend


Thanks. It's on AOL and Earthlink giveaways too. And it's too darned big for W 95! I am trying to see if I can get IE 4 to install...

BUT this is better:


If you want to run an application that wants iExplorer 4.0.1 or later installed you can make do by downloading these programs: 

They will add the common controls that appeared with iExplorer 4.0.1, without installing iExplorer itself.

Regards, Bob Wakefield

Thanks! That may take care of it for me. And there is this:

I believe the problem you're running into is that you cannot connect to\ie with the version of IE (3.x?) that comes with Win95 in order to download the active setup program that allows you to proceed with the installation of the later version of IE. Once you have that program (I prefer IE 5.01 over 5.5) it's a simple matter to use it to download the full version which can be burned to CD for future installs. Getting that program is sometimes problematical.

I had a spare computer here running NTS4 and IE401sp2 so I did a quick test to document the process.

1. Follow the links to download the ie501sp1 active setup program to your hard drive (i.e. d:\vendors\ms\ie501sp1). The ie5setup.exe is about 500K.

2. Run ie5setup.exe. Select "Install Minimal or customize your browser".

3. Select "Full", click "Advanced", select "Download only".

4. Select the download directory (i.e. d:\vendors\ms\ie501sp1\Windows Update Setup Files).

5. Select "Windows 95 and 98". "Windows NT" was already selected, naturally, and you cannot select "Windows 2000".

6. Create the directory when prompted, select the "Download Site" (North America). The download proceeds. Download size = 40.5 MB.

7. When the download is complete, run the (second) ie5setup.exe program in ..\Windows Update Setup Files to install the new version.

In short, you need a second computer to complete the installation of ie501sp1 on your Win95 computer (or my WinNTS computer) or have the software already on CD. Ordinary users should not have to jump through such hoops, but this has been status quo for Microsoft for as long as I can remember. 

_____ Mike Garvey

THANKS. And we will try 5.01 and see if it crashes as often as 5.5 on our old W 95 system.

Hello, Jerry,

The Sunday NY Times has the start of a two-part article on the Wen Ho Lee case, from A to z. Very interesting.

My conclusions, without having seen part 2:

- The Chinese did not receive help from a master-spy, and there was no single Big Secret from which they learned how to miniaturize their war-heads. They probably sifted through thousands of articles, speeches, contacts, etc etc, and did their own thinking.

- The Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations pushed contact between Chinese and American nuclear researchers. Given the number of contacts, the Chinese had their thousands of articles, speeches etc.

- Spy-catchers in the energy department probably misled senior people and congress into thinking that a master-spy had given away the Big Secret. The master-spy story fit into the way they had worked during the cold war, and it seems to have been used by Notra Trulock as a way to call attention to himself.

- Having mistakenly assumed that there was one master-spy to catch, the catchers in the FBI had not enough logical reason to pick Lee from the thousand or so sounds like there were about two bits of coincidence pointing something toward Lee, and at least one bit pointing toward the other 999 suspects. And that normally, it would take about 10 bits of coincidence to draw a logical conclusion that Lee had spied. This sounds incompentent, although Lee's lawyer has suggested it might be racist as well. That's hard to say.

- House Republicans, led by someone named Cox, used the possibility of a spy case to bash Clinton when his administration was at its weakest from the Lewinsky scandal and '96 fundraising. A remarkably slimy thing.

- Clinton, and, especially, Reno, did not have the ethical backbone to tell the congressional Republicans to get lost.

- The NY Times eagerly grabbed the chance to scoop the world by playing up the possibility of a spy case. Their story built pressure to indict Lee.

In all, it sounds like a case where typical American good sense vanished.

I don't know much about nuclear weapons, weapons research, and all that. Not my line.

I asked you about a year ago what you thought, and you said you distrusted the government and its case. Any further comments?


John Welch

I think typical American good sense is getting rare. Good analysis.






This week:



Saturday, February 10, 2001

Dr. Pournelle:

I spent four years as an ICBM combat crew member, starting as a deputy crew commander and moving up to flight commander. I have found your discussion of the Minuteman III topic very interesting, particularly the fact that you were involved in the design of the command and control system. I pulled alerts at F.E. Warren AFB, WY from 1989-93, when the original Command Data Buffer hardware was still in the launch control centers. Since I left, the Air Force has replaced most of the hardware in the LCCs with the Rapid Emergency Action and Combat Retargeting (REACT) system, which considerably modernized and automated a lot of what we did on a day-to-day basis. A few observations...

The Minuteman command and control system, considering its age at the time (almost 20 years for the newer components, and 30+ for the older ones) functioned almost without flaw. It was a very rare event when an LCC had to shut down due to equipment failure. The things that DID fail with regularity were of course the things that made life in a 30x6 foot box tolerable. The cooling system would often give out and we would be forced to use the emergency AC system in the LCC, which used a large tank of glycol and a blower unit to cool the equipment racks. After a day or two the temperature would get into the 80s and we would spend the whole alert in our shorts sweating! The shock isolator pistons, used to protect us from the shock of a near miss, would often become unbalanced. We had procedures to level the floor, but the only place they seemed to work was in the simulator. If the floor was at a good tilt, it was better to call the pneudraulics folks in to fix it.

Some of the design decisions that were taken when those places were built were dubious, to say the least. Probably the worst was the location of the of the box that gave us control to the door in the Flight Security Office. It was all the way at the back of the LCC, at the limit of the phone cord's stretch from the commander's console. In order to open the door you had to press and hold the button until someone twisted the knob -- a real pain most of the time. Some of the switchology was designed with two people always sitting in those chairs in mind. This was true when the system was originally designed: there were two crews on site pulling 12 hours on, 12 off, 12 on shifts. But we pulled 24 hour, two man alerts with sleep shifts thanks to protective measures that prevented tampering with sensitive equipment. So one would often be running from the front console to the deputy console and back again to initiate a command.

Training was always maintained at an extremely high level for line crews. There was very strict discipline for everybody involved with the alert business. It was rare for someone to leave the squadron after four years without a letter of reprimand or letter of counseling for one reason or another (although they would often stay in the boss's drawer). When I moved into the acquisition business, military people didn't even know what a letter of reprimand was! And if someone had a real serious problem, they would disappear into the night. It happened more than once while I was there. It is interesting to note that some of the crews that I felt had a harder time making decisions out in the field were some of the instructor and evaluator crews. This is probably because they were only pulling two alerts per month compared to the "line swine" and flight crews that were pulling 5-8. These crews would often be out in the field on the weekends, and I would often end up watching over their flights to make sure that they didn't make any mistakes! After all, if a mistake was not handled by a crew, the other commanders in the squadron could often be held liable for not handling the situation. This was a no-mistake business and the command chain was serious about it.

As far as the commentary about the line crews being able to turn the keys, I can say for myself that my crew would have turned keys. I would have stood for nothing less, because I gave my word that I would do it. We were all presented with a no harm, no foul opportunity to back out at the beginning of our training, so there was no excuse not to do one's job, no matter how hard the decision. Those charged with such horrible decisions cannot take their responsibility lightly. I rationalized the decision that I would turn keys by relying on our doctrine of no first strike, and that if there was incoming (the only reason I could ever see for turning keys with a rational man in the White House) I was going to take out some of the bad guys before I was wiped out. If that makes me a hard man, so be it. Its funny that I can't ever remember talking with another crew dog about making that decision. I guess we all lived with our own demons.

As for accuracy: my favorite (unclassified) Technical Order diagram showed the crater that one of the opposition's primary weapons could make if the LCC were to take a direct hit within its estimated CEP (Circular Error Probable - the area in which it was estimated that 50% of the warheads would fall). The LCC was shown suspended in space about a third of the way into the crater! While the accuracy of the early 1960s weapons would probably have allowed for survivors, I didn't have any illusions about MY survivability in a nuclear exchange. With modern weapons and multiple warheads per primary target, which we certainly were, we didn't stand a chance. Thank God those subs aren't parked off the coasts anymore. They didn't give us much time to do our job.

It is interesting intellectual exercise to think whether or not the missiles would go or not. With the high caliber of people on the job and the continuous improvements made to the missiles themselves, I think we stood a pretty good chance of getting most of our birds off the ground. But you are right: the only true test is combat. Thank God it never happened on my watch. I was reminded that it could every time I looked at those 10 little green lights that said "Strategic Alert" every time I went to work. And on the one occasion when my commander pulled the curtain to the bed and said "Get up now!" you can believe that my heart was racing a mile a minute. I'll never forget that episode so long as I live. Too bad I can't share The Rest Of The Story!

I have been a fan since the Byte days; it was your column that kept me subscribed up to the end. I have read many of your books and find them to be among the best of breed: you get the science, the tactics of combat, and the excitement of a good yarn all wrapped up into exactly the mix that intrigues me. Keep up the good work!

All the best,

Matt Farr

God bless you all. I used to give a toast every Christmas and New Year's party to thank the missile crews who were missing their holidays so we could have ours. The Seventy Years War was real, and we could have lost it.

Jerry: The following link has an interesting, though smarmy (I hate personality journalism), article on the feud between publishers and librarians over electronic content. I don't see a positive outcome. Since you have IP at risk, I would appreciate your opinion. 

Chris C

I'll try to have a look. I have no fixed opinions on this matter. It's fairly easy to see "what's right" but rather hard to get that accepted by all.

I disagree with the premises of the writer, but this is still a fascinating look inside 

- Roland Dobbins 

Interesting. Thanks.

Dear Dr. Pournelle, Here's a classic bit of "your tax dollars at work" stupidity. The FBI is investigasting a parody site. Apparently the humor-impaired have some trouble with it. The site:  The article:,1283,41733,00.html

Kit Case

There went our rights. Now they can subpoena your records and mailing lists because they don't like -- what?  And they don't have to specify the federal law that is being broken. Sure, Bonsai Kitten is a, well, uh, interesting web site, intended to set teeth on edge even for those who know it is a joke. But so is Tom Paine's AGE OF REASON, which was intended to outrage public opinion and make mock of religion and faith. And I always thought Paine had the right to write and publish that.

We have come to the point where political correctness has infected everything. Sure, this time, now that it has come under national ridicule, the FBI and the Mass gun toting animal rights officers -- what do you expect in Mass. anyway? -- will pull in and hunker down and try to forget this. But the assault on our rights will stand, no one will be punished for what is a clear abuse of authority -- once again, what law was broken? -- and there's one more bit gone. Oh well.





This week:


read book now


Sunday, February 11, 2001

To: Jerry Pournelle From: Chris Morton Subj: Chicken Fingers

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I agree that incidents like the recent "chicken finger" farce are not best handled by a remote federal government.

Instead, they are best handled locally, and specifically through the use of ridicule. The twits involved should be subject to the full force of community opinion. They should be laughed at. They should be made fun of. In short, they should be denied the credibility that one affords to competent, thinking adults, since obviously they are neither competent nor contaminated by anything even remotely resembling thought. Web sites should be created to educate the public on just exactly what their tax dollars are being spent. Names should be named. They should not be fired, they should be shunned. They should be SHAMED out of their jobs.

At the same time, I find it ironic that a child can be punished for pointing FOOD at a teacher, while an FBI sniper can suffer no punishment whatever for shooting a woman in the head while she holds an infant. But then, isn't that what happens when you forsake a republic in favor of an empire...?

Chris Morton Rocky River, Ohio


Dr. Pournelle, I'm hoping you can help me with some research I'm doing. Do you know of any good books and/or articles on the following subjects: the current status of research into fusion power (I've read the ITER articles and the final report of Task Force on Fusion Energy from the DOE, but they're over a year old. I'm looking for something a little more recent.), anything on the Phoenix rocket system, and the ion propulsion system JPL has developed for our deep system probes. I've got a tyro's grasp of physics and space science and want to learn some more about these subjects for a project I'm working on. 

Also, I just read the letter from Brian Britt and it brought back memories. I was in the Air Force Security Police and stationed at Vandenberg AFB (or Vandyland, as we called it) for 18 months in the late 80s. Mr. Britts's letter brought back some bittersweet memories. There was the awe I felt watching the Atlases and the Titans launch into the fog or incredibly low cloud cover, there was the horror I felt when I watched a Titan blow up less than a hundred feet from the pad (for which, oddly enough, they tried to blame us SPs), and there was the melancholy I felt walking the halls of abandoned Space Launch Complex 7, built for an Air Force shuttle program that was never to be.

 Which brings me to my final snippet: As I've mentioned previously, I've been a big fan of yours for years, and I don't normally go looking for flaws in the books I read. I don't pretend to know enough about the subjects explored to poke holes in things. However, there was a slight flaw in Footfall that immediately jumped out at me. In it, you refer to "General Gillespie's Air Police." Unfortunately, Air Force cops stopped being known as Air Police (APs) in the late 70s and it was changed to Security Police (SP). I could look up the exact date if you're interested as I've still got all my old manuals from the SP Academy around here somewhere. You've probably had this pointed out to you already, but it's been bouncing around in my head for fifteen years and I had to let it out. Just read Starswarm, by the way and loved it. I'm going to give it to my son to read if I can get his nose out of his Gameboy.

As Always, Paul E. Lewin

I must not have noticed that it stopped being Air Police. Thanks. Footfall keeps being reprinted too...

Jerry, I'm an ex-P-3 Driver (USNA '79) with an Aero Degree and still keep my nose in some of my old avocations. I stumbled onto a software that I didn't see reviewed on your site (I used your search engine!) So, knowing of your interest in Aircraft, aeronautics and space, I thought you might take a look at

These folks have written a software that allows mere mortals to design and fly aircraft and spacescaft simulations with accurate aerodynamic and physics modeling. Someone has even loaded accurate Mars aero data and tried out two planes in the simulated Martian atmosphere. Some folks have too much time on their hands, I guess...

Thanks for keeping me entertained with your great books and columns. You're keeping us ol' propeller hears out of trouble.

Best Regards, Joe Conyers

Thanks. That looks fascinating!


From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: Digital Trotskyism, or, "For once, let's face the obvious."

Dear Jerry:

I don't have any particular affection for the political incompetent/mass murderer/hypocrite Leon Trotsky, but he did say at least one thing worth remembering: "He who says A must say B, he who says B must say C, and so on, all the way to Z." We could profitably apply this to the copy protection follies.

I read John Gilmore's article on copy protection, and I think "Right on, brother!" I read Robert Bruce Thompson's Tuesday letter, and think "A little exaggerated, but basically right." Then I notice something missing: What do they propose to DO about piracy prevention?

If we say A (anyone who wants to can buy devices that make high quality copies) then soon we'll be saying B (lots of people are making bootleg copies of this, that, and the other copyrighted material). Then we'll be saying C (people are illegally distributing said material). Eventually we'll be saying Z (practically speaking, there is no more copyright; creators are supported by donations or the govt.).

Now, the movie/television/record industry has no intention of ending up at that particular Z, which is why they're pushing these hardware disabilities. I like the industry's "cripple the hardware" idea as little as Mr. Gilmore or Mr. Thompson, but without a concrete proposal to stop digital piracy, they're trying to 'beat somethin' with nothin',' a historically losing battle, even if Hollyweird wasn't constantly donating big bucks to politicians.

So instead of rhetoric, why not an alternative -- How do you propose to allow this easy copying technology to hit the market AND prevent the end of copyright?

Anyone got anything concrete?

Best, Stephen

I don't know. But DVD-RAM is already out there and already works. And NOTHING will actually defeat copy attekpts: if the thing can be shown then what is shown can be intercepted and the decrypted signal can be recorded. Always.

And then there's:

Dear Dr. Pournelle, A week or two ago you had a discussion with some of you correspondents about using PCs with the associated digital recording hardware/software to replace professional studios. The New York Times has picked up the story. 

 Gee, you beat the NY Times to the story. Way to go!

 Kit Case

Beating the TIMES isn't that hard. But thanks. And I am glad to see this being recognized. Did they give me any credit?  (I suspect not)...


In the course of an interesting mail on life in a Minuteman LCC, Matt Farr says "I rationalized the decision that I would turn keys by relying on our doctrine of no first strike, and that if there was incoming (the only reason I could ever see for turning keys with a rational man in the White House) I was going to take out some of the bad guys before I was wiped out."

Maybe the guys in SAC were told something the rest of us didn't know about, but I have always had the impression that the US has *never* had a "no first-use" policy for nuclear weapons. The rationale is that you don't have much of a deterrent if you promise not to use your deterrent. Am I mistaken about this?

Wade L. Scholine 

That turns out to be a far more complex question than you think. One reason for US troops WITH DEPENDENTS in the Fulda Gap and Berlin was as a "tripwire": if the Red Army rolled west they'd overrun our forces in Berlin in hours; but what would the US do when US service people including their families were killed?  Kennedy did sort of impose no first strike, but not really. We in theory had a policy of no launch until someone else had used a nuke, but once again, launch on early warning was an option. the whole point of the TRIAD -- including manned bombers -- was to buy decision time. We also kept the old Titans as "RV sinks" : they were not likely to survive long enough to be launched because it took so long to get them ready but well into the 60's when I got out of the actual business the Titans were there because they HAD to be taken out. The crews pretty well knew that, too.  Brave troops. Of course so were the KC-135 crews who would never go in, but who would on a real war mission pump their tanks dry, keep 2 minutes fuel for breakaway, send the B-52's on (on their own one-way mission) -- and be dead stick over the Arctic ocean.

Without such men, and later women, I make no doubt the Russians would be on the Rhine.

From Ed Hume:

One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.

As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz," and he pulled out a one-gallon, Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?"

Everyone in the class yelled, "Yes."

The time management expert replied, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"

By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered.

"Good!" he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"

"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good."

Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!"

"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is, if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all. What are the big rocks in your life -- time with your loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, your friends, teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these big rocks in first or you'll never get them in at all."

I can't add much to that.

And the following is for obvious reasons anonymous:

Subject: scientific merit

I just returned from three days in a DC hotel room reading NSF graduate fellowship proposals. There was an interesting new tactic I faced from the diversiterians.

For years there was a minority quota: NSF set aside a number of fellowships for protected minorities or whatever they call it these days. A few years ago someone sued them about it and they quit. But they didn't _really_ quit: they redefined "scientific merit". There are now two parts to the set of criteria we must use to evaluate scientific merit. One part is what most normal people would call scientific merit, the other is "potential contribution to diversity" and the like. In other words a person's skin color is now part of his or her scientific merit. The NSF bureaucrats are dodging the law and, worse from my perspective, forcing us to do their dirty work.

I will complain to NSF about it but they won't pay any attention. Anyone have any other ideas?


Again I doubt comment is necessary. Perhaps the new administration will make a difference.





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