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Mail 157 June 11 - 17, 2001

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This week:



Monday  June 11, 2001

There was a lot of quite good mail done over the weekend, so do not neglect Saturday and Sunday of last week. 

Note also that we have a page for discussions of the current state of applications under Linux.


We can begin with one reader's experience. I append the previous correspondence although the final message is pretty clear:

Sorry for being obtuse; it was one of those days and this was just one more thing. The outfit is called Digital Owl. I had purchased Scott Adam's (of Dilbert fame) most recent work call "God's Debris" from a link on the United Media website. It was one of those web installs that leaves no trace of an install program on your PC. That should have been a big red flag. I am in the process of moving from my old desktop to a new laptop. The old PC is to be reformated and given away. I contacted Digital Owl's customer support about how to move the reader and e-book over to my laptop and was told I would have to re-purchase the book.

Today, I received an e-mail from them that they were "allowing" me to download the printable version so I can print my e-book out on paper (at .05 a page this more or less doubles the original $5.00 price). Sweet. These guys really know how to make customers just come running back...

Ric Frost

> -----Original Message----- > From: Jerry Pournelle [] > Sent: Friday, June 08, 2001 4:40 PM > To:

Subject: RE: Another digital publisher to avoid. 

> > > Good but what was it to begin with? I am glad to include the > report in mail but please make it easier to determine who we > are avoiding... And what the program did > >

 -----Original Message----- > From: Ric Frost [] > Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 8:14 PM > To: > Subject: Another digital publisher to avoid. > > Another digital publisher that thinks I'm going to > re-purchase in order to move the content to a new machine. > Not likely. Luckily, I'm only out five bucks with these clowns. > > Ric Frost > > > > -----Original Message----- > > From: Customer Service [] > > Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 9:59 AM > > To: 'Ric Frost' > > Subject: RE: When you were offline...(via HumanClick) > > > > > > Dear Ric Frost, > > > > Due to the digital protection applied to the content it can not be > > copied or transferred to another computer. > > > > Viewing the content on another computer would require another > > purchase. > > > > If you require any further assistance pleased contact us toll free > > 866-681-2788 or via email > > > > Thank You > > > > The Customer Service Team. > > > > -----Original Message----- > > From: Ric Frost [] > > Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 5:25 PM > > To: randy > > Subject: When you were offline...(via HumanClick) > > > > > > > > User number 2777. > > > > I recently purchased a new PC. Is there a way to transfer > my digital > > owl content to my new pc? They are linked via ethernet. > > > > Thanks! > > > > _______________________________ > > The above message was sent when you were offline, via your > > HumanClicked site. > > > > Message sent from IP: > > > > Ric Frost > > >

Then there is this:

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I read the correspondence pertaining to Digital Owl and would like to confirm that I had the same experience with them. Not quite as bad as your other correspondent, but still absurd, given that they have the record of my transaction and I was writing from the same email address that I gave when I ordered.

I wrote them a nastygram in response, with a cc to Mr. Scott Adams, the man I'd least expect to be mixed up with this sort of thing. So far, no response from either.

I attach my own correspondence below:


In the event of a format, you will need to reinstall Title Vision and reregister.

After the reinstall of TitleVision email and we will generate a new link for you to obtain your content.

Please Include: 1. Your original order number. 2. Your first and last name. 3. Your email address.

If you need any more information feel free to contact us toll free 866-681-2788 or via email

Thank You

The Customer Service Team -----Original Message----- From: David G.D. Hecht [] Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 7:01 PM To: Subject: God's Debris no longer works after moving from one hard drive to another

Dear sir or madam:

I had to reinstall Windows on a different hard drive due to a catastrophic failure, and am just now reassembling the bits. I tried to import the *.owl file for _God's Debris_ from the other drive, but it acts as if it were not downloaded--each page says that it is only available to subscribers. Can you resend the document, or at least the link for me to download it?

ty, dh


You have been warned.



Anne Bokma wrote:

"If you cant force Outlook to use the LAN rather than a modem, how can you keep a modem on standby for the fax and voice functions?"

And you replied:

"Understand that it only does that if the modem is ON and CONNECTED; it won't cause it to dial. Not many are going to have a local modem on and connected as well as have connections through a LAN. In our case it's a feature until we have a high speed connection after which we will turn the modem off except when needed for certain tasks that have to dial to a particular number."

My server uses Win2k Pro for file, print and Internet connection sharing. The locally connected modem on my Win2k Pro workstation listens for faxes and sends them. The software claims it's capable of voice as well, but the telco provides answering even when the line is engaged, so I haven't tested that. Outlook 2k ignores the local modem and uses the LAN to access mail. I didn't do anything special to achieve this. Setting OL to use the LAN in the email Accounts dialog just worked.

Jonathan Sturm

In our case if the local modem is on Outlook uses it and if not it uses the LAN. Fairly soon that is going to be moot anyway.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

This is sort of a malange of things on my mind. Please take it all for what it is worth.

Congratulations on winning the award for SURVIVAL OF FREEDOM. My autographed copy still is on my shelf; the other copies I bought to lend are long gone. It would be terrific if you could get it published again. I don't know what your relationship with Jim Baen is right now, but methinks he would jump at the chance to re-issue it.

Speaking of Baen, I hang out at Baen's Bar quite a bit and mentioned that you were interested in re-releasing (or at least posting in Chaos Manor) A STEP FARTHER OUT. He replied that he would be delighted to have it. Perhaps it can be re-printed; perhaps it can be offered as an e-book. Why not put ALL your columns (including the ones from DESTINIES and your "Alternate View" columns) and fact articles out in e-form? I, for one, want to see your classic article on Atlantis again. My copy of VERTEX is long gone, too.

James Warner Bellah. I have long loved John Ford's Bellah films, and have read every story I could find after reading "Spanish Man's Grave" when you printed it. I know your plate is full, but is there anyone who could collect and edit his work? I seem to remember that you might have the rights to Mr. Bellah's work. I truly believe that he still has something to say today.

That should about do it. Please don't let Mr. Niven go jogging in that cast.

Best Always, Frank Luxem

PS: The Noble Native Americans didn't wipe out the mammoth, mastodon and horse. It was really Evil Dead White Guys from the future who built a time machine and went back to kill said species off so that the blame would be placed on said Innocent Noble Native Americans. Evil Europeans and their progeny in America are responsible for EVERYTHING that has gone wrong since the Big Bang. Didn't you know? 

I have just spoken to Jim Baen and STEP FARTHER OUT was sort of lost in the gears when he moved to Carolina; we're making a new deal to get out a print edition as well as putting it on line.

As to other stuff, if I can find copies I can get them typed in, and perhaps some exist in electronic form, but quite a bit of that stuff was on 8" floppies and is long gone...

I do have an archive of stuff on glass disks (5 1/4 R/W and WORM disks) and I need to set up a SCSI system that can try to read them. And I have some DAT backups only I don't think I have software that will read those; they were TNA Palindrome backups. We will see....

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

The current issue (June 2001) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineer's general membership magazine, Spectrum, has an interesting short article at page 27.

Based on measuring the Earth's light reflected from the moon, astronomers at the Big Bear Solar Observatory believe that the Earth's reflectivity is correlated with solar activity, with perhaps a 2.5% reduction in albedo in the last five years. The proposed causative factor is that during solar maxima, fewer cosmic rays reach the Earth, thereby giving fewer seeds for cloud formation. If so, the article notes that it "... could mean that greenhouse gases play less of a role than previously thought in global warming, much of which would be linked to the solar cycle."

The on-line version of Spectrum available to non-IEEE members unfortunately does not pick up this article. However, Spectrum is available at the larger bookstores.

Of course, no mention of this in the "mainstream" left-of-center press, such as the New York Times or the Washington Post.

>From my reading of the literature, as an interested amateur, the current global warming debate seems to downplay large climatic changes over historical times. Even in the late 1970's the fear was of an imminent ice age.

Of course, if a drop in albedo is a problem, perhaps we need a crash program to install mirrors.

Jack Smith Clifton, VA

Indeed: the Lowell Observatory has data going back a long way recording the brightness of Mars and Saturn and this seems to show solar variability.  There is no doubting a warming trend since the 1600's; the question is what caused it, since much of it happened before any massive amount of CO2 was added to the atmosphere.

There are many scienti-bureaucrats who now would starve if we applied real science to climatology. The various fixes to the problem have advocates who make their living at that; and real scientists don't have so much stake in a particular theory as in the truth. But the truth gets short shrift in "regulatory science" circles. Edith Efrom did a wonderful book called The Apolocalyptics on that, but copies are VERY hard to find now. For good reason, it threatens an entire industry of "regulatory science". Regulatory science is to real science as rat catchers are to rats, of course.



My boss and good friend is in Rome for a month and can't make his laptop connect to his ISP. His Italian host and translator got sick at the last minute and didn't make the trip. He's in a rented apartment in Rome. He can't seem to make his basic conversational Italian work at the electronic stores he's been to. If you were in this situation, where would you look for access? I've got a list of Roman Cybercafes. I'm trying to find the equivalent of "Laptop Lane" ( try translating that) in Rome or maybe something like Kinkos?

Thanks Jerry

John Hanlon in Syracuse ( NY)

Anyone got suggestions? I haven't tried to be connected in Europe: my wife will kill me if we go to Europe and I get on line...

Dr. Pournelle:

I've traveled extensively in Western Europe with my laptop and can offer a few suggestions. Unfortunately, none of these may be of particular use to someone already there and may also require a bit of computer knowledge.

1. I've kept an AOL account active for years, just to use whilst traveling. There may be a surcharge of a few dollars an hour to access (last year in the UK, I recall the charge as $8.00/hour) but you have access to local telephone numbers in dozens of countries. You then access your ISP's mail server via AOL. (See comments below about phone system compatibility.)

2. You *can* direct dial back home. You may need a specialized adapter to work with the European connectors. You may also need to disable your modem's "wait for dial tone" as the US dial tone is different than the frequencies used in most other countries. Direct dial can be VERY expensive, especially if you are accessing from a hotel. I recall one trip in Germany in the late '80s when my phone bill for a three day stay exceeded the lodging bill by a substantial amount. Whilst most hotels no longer charge extortionate rates, they still tack on a significant surcharge.

3. You can dial back home to your ISP via one of the bypass services, such as USA Direct. This gets a bit complex if you are using a modem as it requires dialing an access number, credit card and called number. But, it is usually quite a bit cheaper than a direct dial.

4. The slickest access (not the cheapest) works if you have a GSM mobile phone. (In the US, see VoiceStream or Pacific Bell). If you purchase a "world phone" you can use your GSM subscription data service (9600 b/s) in about 100 countries around the world. Expect to pay about $1.00 per minute for a call back to the US. The newer GSM phones have an IR port and can link to a laptop IR port for "wireless" connectivity. It's very handy to have one phone number and be able to be reached or make calls almost anywhere in the world. (The US uses different frequency bands for GSM, but the same basic transmission protocol, and VoiceStream and Pacific Bell have widespread international roaming agreements. Hence, it is important to get a phone that can work on not only the US frequencies. These are usually called "world phones" or tri-band phones or something like that. I have a Motorola and my wife uses a Bosch world GSM phone.) I wouldn't recommend this solution to a total computer novice, but you might wish to think about it for your next European visit. It's also nice to have a US telephone number that rings your phone whilst strolling along the banks for the Seine. You can also send and receive e-mails via the SMS function, but I wouldn't recommend this as a general purpose replacement for a laptop.)

5. There are going to be much higher speed GSM-based wireless solutions soon, but that's not quite here yet.

Perhaps the best quick access would be to get an AOL disk and install that service. The AOL help desk can probably talk a computer novice through a basic setup. It also will be the cheapest alternative, assuming local telephone service is available. I know for a fact that AOL has local access numbers in Rome, or at least did not long ago.

Jack Smith Clifton, VA



There's a wonderful editorial in today's Wall Street Journal that says nothing you don't already know but does it in a way that everybody in the world should read: 

Regards, Tim Herbst

I didn't read the Journal today. Guess I'd better. I hear Germany will scrap its nuclear power plants. That ought to do wonders for the environment. For more on this see View.

Mr. Pournelle,

In response to your 6/11 column on "Wiring Larry Niven", I'm sure others have written to you suggesting wireless home wiring, and I'd like to add my two cents worth. First I would like to say how much I have enjoyed your columns over the years - going back to the printed Byte's humble beginnnings. Many times, your columns have inspired me to try new technologies. I've been able to test things at home, and then make them work for the office as well.

Recently - actually last weekend - I installed a Linksys Access Point (WAP11) device and wirelessly connected a Dell Latitude LS laptop (Win2k Pro) with a Linksys wireless PC Card (WPC11), and my home Dell Dimension XPS 300 Win98 system with a Linksys wireless PCI Card (WDT11) &; PC Card combination - the PCI Card is just a holder for the same PC Card that fits into a laptop. I was able to set everything up in three hours - including a thorough reading of the manuals before starting. (Sorry it's the German in me.)

These are front-ended with a DSL modem and a Watchguard Technologies SOHOtc Internet sharing device and firewall. The DSL modem plugs directly into the Watchguard's WAN port, and one of the LAN ports is cabled to a 3COM hub. The Linksys WAP is also plugged into the hub. The Watchguard uses IPSEC to connect to my office firewall, making my home network just another WAN site to the company.

There were a few glitches. I have two other NT4 boxes - one is a Compaq P166 with 128mb RAM running NT4 server. The PCI/PC card setup would not make any connections - no lights would even light, indicating that the box was not communicating with the card. The other box is a Toshiba Pentium Pro 200 with 224mb RAM running NT4 Workstation. With this box, the card's lights indicated that it should be working, but NT never could get the driver to load. I even took the time to put Win2k Pro on the Toshiba, but it also didn't work - in the same way, so I'm assuming that it's just old hardware with no Plug-and-Play capabilty. Ditto the Compaq. I say Plug-and-Play knowing NT4 isn't PnP, but I just think something in the hardware or BIOS isn't right. These system are always close to the hub so using a 3' foot cable isn't a big deal.

The other glitch was with the Dell desktop. The Watchguard does DHCP, but the wireless NIC just wouldn't get an address. I hard wired an Ip address in the same subnet, and it works just fine. It's only about 15' between the system and the WAP device, which is located in the rooom just above it. The Win2k laptop did just fine getting a DHCP address in all of the recesses of the house, including right next to the desktop. It really is pretty slick.

I will be doing a similar network in our beach house next month: cable modem -> Linksys Cable Modem Router and Switch -> a Win2k desktop and a couple of Win2k laptops. It should be just as slick.

Of course, 3COM and others have similar offerings - I have had good success with Linksys in the past, and it fits my home budget. I will be testing 3COM wireless in the office and see if my Linsys PC Card lives up oi its Wi-Fi advertising.

Again, thank you for the writings and insghts.

Steve Kauffman Marblehead, MA

Thanks for the additional information and the kind words.

Hello Jerry, 

My daily dose of Chaos Manor led me to the Insight article on soy formula. You might find it interesting to look at  - suggesting that manganese poisoning might be a cause of BSE and vCJD. Apparently the scientific establishment is somewhat unreceptive... Thanks for all your work, and best regards, Peter Smith

Thanks. I have no expertise in this; but I have known Goodman a while and if he cites a study it's a real citation of a real study.

And a plea for help:

Help me, Obi-Jerry, you are our only hope.

My wife and I have been using Email.Com for our public email addresses to fandom and the world for over two years. It allowed us to change ISPs behind the scenes, and our correspondents never knew, or needed to know, which #^Q*$&;^Q#! ISP we were using this week.

However, all things must pass, or so it seems; Mail.Com AKA Email.Com AKA Easylink (yes, ex ATT), aka Iname.Com, has stopped forwarding email and does not answer when we beg for assistance. All I can find is a one sentence blurb at Mail.Com's website stating they're doing a migration. Reading the headers of the email which does get through shows a new server at, but otherwise nothing useful.

Emails to their tech support troops (now the only accepted means of support) have goine unanswered for over a week.

My technique of checking WHOIS with SamSpade.Org and caling the phone numbers listed there is also fruitless, as no one answers.

Easylink is NASDAQ listed (as EASY) and I suppose I could make a hobby of calling every Wall Street tech analyst to let the world know they don't keep their word are are ducking voicemails and emails... but perhaps a Manor reader has a better way to help us get their attention?

And, if you wish to contact anyone with an address at Email.Com, Mail.Com, EasyLink.Com, Iname.Com or any other redirection service they maintain, well, you may have to use a telephone or snail, TFN.

Anyone out there able to help?






This week:



Tuesday,  Jule 11, 2001

THE BURNING CITY and the sequel BURNING TOWER that Niven and I wrote/are writing takes place in North America 14,000 years ago just after Atlantis sank . I do not need to tell you it's fantasy. But being by Niven and me it's 'hard" fantasy in which we try to stay to the rules. In the first book we had "terror birds" which came directly from a Texas find dated about 6,000 years ago. We also have migrations of Zoosh worshippers into California: something at odds with conventional anthropology. But then--

  Roland Dobbins <> 

And of course we put redwoods in the Los Angeles basin, and later it was found this area used to be covered with redwoods...

Now have fun with this:

Dr. Pournelle:

The following BBC report,  , begins, "Changes to a controversial treaty on cybercrime have done nothing to improve it, say civil liberty campaigners."

The ACLU, Privacy International, and the Electronic Prvacy Information Center are fearful that countries adopting the treaty could frame laws similar to Britain's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which was discussed in a _Times_ (London) article posted on your site some weeks ago.

The BBC report talks about the 26th draft of the treaty; there is a 27th draft now, which can be read at .

Time marches on, I suppose.


Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're NOT out to get you....



Since the EU is run by faceless unelected French bureaucrats who hope eventually to have powers similar to intendants general this is an interesting experiment. The Irish people have tried to stay out, but I note their politicians want them in. Of course they do. Tax eaters aren't interested in elections except as a means of justifying themselves. Of course Napole0nic empires require an Emperor but that can happen later...  Anyway, time indeed marches on.

The following refers to View for yesterday.


"Smart tags" _do_ appear to be a browser-based technology. I'm guessing the "turn it off at the server" option is dependent on the web page in question including some sort of anti-smart-tag tag - and on the browser honoring that tag.

You can find a somewhat less paranoid (and funnier) article on it at Zdnet - head to,4164,2772297,00.html 


Calvin Dodge

Thanks. Maybe that's it. Apparently Microsoft intends to build all that into the browser (see View for yesterday) and then revise all this automatically. I'd say they have a foolproof way to be sure no one uses Internet Explorer. Opera, anyone?

And from a Name Withheld to protect the triuthful:

I work for AT&;T Global Network Services. We manage what used to be the IBM Global Network. Our dial ISP service for businesses offers points of presence in many countries for travelling users.

While the corporation prefers that the individual consumer use AT&;T WorldNet (we are NOT the same as WorldNet), anyone with a credit card can sign up for our service by downloading our remote access software. 

The web site is a bit of a mess to navigate. Please don't print my name since I'd catch heck for that statement.

Which with the previous suggestions ought to take care of the problem...

And I received this. I have no viruses on my system, but apparently there's a new spate of this going around. Incidentally, I do not open attachments to mail so if you send mail it has to be in plaintext that I can see without opening the message. Sorry about that.

I have been notified that both a W32.Magistr.24876@mm and a Win32 (Norman) virus got into my address book and quickly replicated itself and sent spurious e-mail messages to all of you. Please accept my apologies and be sure to RUN UPDATED ANTI VIRUS DIAGNOSTICS IMMEDIATELY!

Ron Evans

For the background to this, see VIEW. And here is the latest on finding Efrom's book:

> Edith Efrom did a wonderful book called The Apolocalyptics on that, but copies are VERY hard to find now.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Assuming this is the book variously subtitled "Cancer and the Big Lie" or "How Environmental Politics Controls What We Know About Cancer," ABEbooks ( shows around a hundred copies of various editions circa 1984-1985 available at prices ranging from a low of $5.00 to a high of $47.00. If you need an extra copy, I imagine it would be worth it, especially since your readers (like me!) are going to go and snap them up <vbg>!

I also found a book by what I assume is the same author called "The News Twisters," published 1971. Do you know anything about it?

Very respectfully,

David G.D. Hecht

Thanks! I have a copy. My original copy was stolen, and a reader found me a new one several years ago. It's still very much worth reading as a case history of "regulatory science."





This week:



Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Cheryl Currid was guest on the new Byte Audio Review we taped today. We discussed wireless. I mentioned that in wiring up Niven we got it done without encryption but we weren't sure how easy it was to set up the encryption. She has wireless all over her place in Houston. 

Hi Jerry,

It was a pleasure to work with you today. Hope we can do something else in the future.

As a quick follow up -- we "are" using the encryption feature of the 802.11b system. We are using Orinoco from Lucent (or soon to be Agere). The residential gateway also connects the wireless cards to our regular Ethernet. Orinoco plugs into a Netgear switch and then picks up Internet connectivity from a 3Com router. We also have Orinoco cards, Compaq cards, and a Toshiba with built-in 802.11b running on it. Its web site is:

You mentioned you had problems with the NetGear system wireless. I haven't tried it so I'm not sure how it differs from Orinoco.

Again, it was great to spend time with you and the team.

Best, Cheryl

Cheryl Currid President CURRID &; COMPANY 


Dear Jerry,

In your comments about FrontPage 2002 on Saturday June 9th, 2001 you make the following statement:

"There is nothing for it: I have to uninstall FrontPage 2002 and reinstall FP 2000. If any of you find a good reason to try FP 2002 again (or Office XP since it will be built into that) please let me know. What I find is that they have been too clever by half yet one more time."

I recently received a brand-new copy of Microsoft Office XP Professional (ordered directly from Microsoft). My copy includes neither FrontPage 2002 nor Microsoft publisher. At the time I ordered Microsoft Office XP, in mid-May, it was not possible to order a version which also included these programs. As far as I know, Microsoft no longer has a bundle equivalent to the former Premium which included Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, FrontPage, and Publisher. However, at this time I am unable to get to parts of the Microsoft Web site in order to verify this.

My primary use for Microsoft Office is to create documents with Microsoft Word and manage e-mail with Microsoft Outlook. I have found several of the new features in the latest Microsoft Word quite useful when creating documents. Both Styles and the Office Clipboard have been much improved. Upgrading to Microsoft Office XP could be well worth it for those who must create documents with complex formatting, or those who frequently juggle multiple blocks of text when creating a document. My copy of Microsoft office XP also included a rather well done interactive tutorial on CD-ROM. (Note: I ordered the full version rather than an upgrade.)

I must pass on a couple of caveats however concerning Microsoft Office XP. Several people, myself included, have had difficulties in achieving a successful upgrade from Microsoft Outlook 2000 to Microsoft Outlook 2002. The second caveat is an extremely important one for those who depend on speech recognition software due to a disability or RSI; do not upgrade to Microsoft Office XP if you use IBM ViaVoice or NaturallySpeaking (Standard or Preferred)! These programs have compatibility problems with Microsoft office XP that render them unusable. NaturallySpeaking Professional can be made to work properly with Microsoft Office XP after a little bit of extra work.

Keep up the good work.

Sincerely, T. Patrick Henebry PS please pass on my condolences to Mr. Niven. As someone who has had to dear several rounds of surgery over the years I fully understand the frustration is limited mobility is causing him. PPS I am glad to hear work on the novels is proceeding well.

Thanks. I have the new Office XP and I will install it on one of the machines using Windows XP and see what I like and dislike about it. I did NOT care for FrontPage 2002, but that is another story entirely.

Subj: Conservatism Defined From:

Your exchange with John Derbyshire reminds me that he is also the author of the best one-sentence definition of Conservatism I have yet encountered:

"Conservatism is not a devotion to stasis but a determination to bring the best of the past with us into the unknowable future."

-- "The Future of English", _National_Review_ 28 Aug 2000 p. 38

Derived from Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk of course but none the less valuable for that. Thank you.

I thought you might be interested in a report in Science Daily on how easy it is to create false memories. Check 

It seems that it is very easy to create false memories.

Chuck Anderson

Thanks for the reference. I learned years ago how easy it is to implant false memories, and any parents can do the experiment with their own children. And of course in divorces cases often do.

Hi Jerry.

I don't think the Smart Tag issue deserve the big hubub it's getting in the press.

It appears they are turned off by default, and there are already third-party products that do the same sort of thing - Flyswat is the one I'm thinking of.

This thread over at Ars Technica contains an excellent discussion on the topic:;a=tpc&;s=50009562&;f=48409524&;m=6930948691 

All the Best, Dave Mazzotta


While smart tags could be an intrusive technology if misused, equally they can enrich web viewing. The current comments seem to immediately assume Microsoft are trying to take over the web, not that they are providing an interesting new technology you can choose to use. Whether they are a threat in future depends on what Microsoft does with them, but at present I don't think they are.

Remember you have to turn smart tags on - they are disabled by default. At present this is a new feature, so not surprisingly almost all of those available are from Microsoft. However, other people can write and them, and you as the user can chose which ones to install.

See,10738,2771967,00.html  for some more detail.

Noel Leaver


I am reserving judgment until I see what is released but what I have seen I do not like. I have been reading the Microsoft .NET book and what they describe as Smart Tags is not at all what Winer and others were talking about. I sure don't want their browser sending people off to Slate and New Republic with links Microsoft embeds into my text from this page as you see it in your Explorer...

And sort of on this subject, from Roland:

Subject: The death of doubleclick? 

 Roland Dobbins 

And I just don't know.







This week:


read book now


Thursday, June 14, 2001

Roland sent a link to an article on ICANN:

Subject: Sie haben nichts zu verlieren aber Ihr Netz.  

I asked for some explication. The following should be self-explanatory:

Alternatives to ICANN?

The best thing which could happen would be for the President to direct the Department of Commerce to dissolve the current ICANN, and then restructure it as a completely elected body, with sharply limited powers. Readers should write and telephone (email is worse than useless) their congressmen, senators, and the White House, clamoring for this to occur.

Failing that, we can support so-called 'alternative roots' - but none of them seem to have a prayer of actually challenging ICANN's preeminence. ICANN has the weight of the U.S. government behind it, and as usual, the Bushies seem to have no clue as to what their various departments are up to (if they won't pay attention to DoD or State, how can one expect them to pay attention to Commerce?).

The design of the DNS and the need for unique IP addresses essentially dictate that there be one controlling authority for the naming and numbering of the Internet. Switching over to a directory services-based model would definitely reduce the need for a totally controlling authority for the namespace; implementing IPv6 would further reduce the -perceived- need for an ICANN-like body, since there's no shortage of IPv6 addresses.

A reasonable compromise would be to replace ICANN with a committee formed of representatives from the regional IP registries - ARIN, RIPE, and APNIC. Alter their charter so that they are duty-bound to honor any TLD (.biz, .xxx, .museum, whatever) supported by BIND 9 or higher; have they themselves operate the TLD nameservers and the root nameservers, rather than contracting the work out to -anyone-. Remove for all time any incentive they may have to get involved in intellectual-property disputes, that being more properly in the realm of the courts.

It'll never happen, though. Young Bush is too busy caving in on electricity price controls and letting Colin Powell set himself up as the Grand Caliph to bother about something so trivial as the Internet.

To which my comment is, better King Log than King Stork. Of course that assumes you've been exposed to Aesop as everyone in my generation was, and I can't be certain of that, meaning that it's much harder to communicate when there's no common cultural background. Which is increasingly the case in America. C P Snow worried about Two Cultures. We seem determined to have fifty, all mutually incomprehensible. 

None of which changes the fact that ICANN is like the EU, an organization by for and of bureaucrats. Why Esther Dyson ever got involved with something like that isn't clear. Fascism without drama; so far they haven't developed castor oil treatment for the opposition but that's only a matter of time.  The EU already wants to jail Englishmen for acts never condemned by an Act of Parliament. Like selling potatoes by the pound instead of by the kilogram. Horrible. Man ought to be hanged.






This week:



Friday, June 15, 2001

WORM WARNING, see below

There will always be an England, but I'm glad I'm American:

Subject: Metrication and the Law in England Dr Pournelle -

You said, "The EU already wants to jail Englishmen for acts never condemned by an Act of Parliament. Like selling potatoes by the pound instead of by the kilogram. Horrible. Man ought to be hanged." Errrm, the EU don't want to gaol anybody. There are directives that are intended to harmonize the way goods are sold within the EU, but it is up to member states to enact legislation to enforce the directives _and_ the penalties for non-compliance. I believe the penalties haven't changed since 1963, all that has changed are the "permitted units". Even then dual labelling is allowed: "Spuds 75p/454g (75p/lb)"

I find it intriguing that America was a signatory to the original Convention of the Metre in 1875 (before many other countries that are now metric and before the UK) and is still one of the last bastions of non-metrication.

In the UK, pretty much everyone below the age of 30 was taught in metric and has no instinctive feel for feet and inches or pounds and ounces and so imperial weights and measures will fall by the wayside as have other measures: (in this country at least) pecks, bushels, rods, poles and perches; to name but a few.

I find it sad that so much intellectual endeavour is wasted for so little gain in forcing our younger generation to make endless conversion calculations simply because we are too set in our ways to change. You _can_ teach and old dog new tricks!

Good health and happiness.

Toodle pip, Roy -- "... the fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by the superficial design flaws." Douglas Adams (1952-2001): So Long and Thanks For All The Fish.

First, yes, they fined the greengrocer who sold potatoes by the pound rather than the kilo; but if you don't pay the fine, you'll be jailed. 

And it's intriguing what you'll put up with and even defend. Me, I'd have thought if people want to sell potatoes by the pood it would be up to the merchant and his customers. Freedom. 1776 and all that. Long live the Queen, but not here....

The EU is a bunch of faceless bureaucrats not responsible to or responsive to any elected body whatever, but if Europeans are happy with that, fine by me. I just want them to be happy with that with their own protection, so that I don't have to pay the defense costs of the new Napoleonic Empire. But that's my odd prejudice. As to units, you're right, let's just hang anyone who uses the wrong ones. We'll fix them traditionalists: if they're dead they cost the state nothing in jail fees, and they won't be doing evil things like talking about ounces and pounds, and we can all be rational with that metric system invented by French rationalists.  Much better for the world. Tonne not ton, liters not fifths, and think what a better world it will be. None of that freedom of choice nonsense.

After all, the advantages are so great to having a single system, what's a little thing like freedom to stand in the way?

Statements made by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California on Global Warming on Tuesday in the House. Excellent summary of the scientific / political situation. I have no hope whatsoever that much of this information will appear in the mainstream media (ABCNNBCBS, NY Times, Wash Post, LA Times). They are Pravda for the Leftist Socialists in this country who wish to use regulatory "science" to establish central control - over government, business, you. 

Jim Riticher

Dana was briefly my student lo! these many years ago, so I am perhaps prejudiced. The truth is simply stated. We know the Earth is warmer than it was in 1776 and colder than it was during the time when the Vikings settled Greenland. We know the high altitude glaciers seem to be vanishing, and some of those seem to be older than the warm period of the Viking era (and some are not). We know that the temperature of the Earth has gone in cycles for 100,000 years, and we are at about the top of what is normal for one of those cycles.

We know we were afraid of a new Ice Age no more than 30 years ago and by "we" I mean nearly the entire scientific community including the alarmists who now purport to be afraid we will fry. We know that CO2 levels are higher than at any time in the past 100,000 years.

And that the Third World contributes most of that and beggaring the West won't do much to abate the levels; if we want to bring down CO2 we have some darned tough choices to make, but Kyoto isn't going to do much good.

We all know all this and it doesn't matter because regulatory science is to science as bear traps are to bears.

A warning from Roland:

Subject: Goga Worm,4586,5092717,00.html 

who also send the following with the title "The joys of smart phones...",4586,5092739,00.html 

And Steve Schaper sends this on rationed care, with a wonderful epigram... 

"It is true that if you tell me what you read, I can tell
you who you are. But I will know you better if you tell
me what you re-read." -- Francois Mauriac

On FrontPage 2002, this just in from Microsoft:

Hello Jerry,

Thanks to your detective work, we've found where the issue began. It looks as if one of the developers went into the code to add Unicode support to Paste Special and mistakenly removed a line of code that converted Line Feeds. A developer just fixed it, so as soon as we can get out a Service Release - this will solve the problem.

Again, thanks so much for pointing this out!

[Name withheld because of Microsoft Policy]

So at least this story will have a happy ending. Of course the question remains do people USE this stuff in testing? It's the main reason I do not do "reviews"; I only write about what I am actually using...

Then there is this, which is a matter of some concern:

I ran a CompareRite (see attached Word 2K doc in .RTF format) of the transcripts of Dana Rohrabacher's speech of 6/13/2001 as presented at the two web pages below. The two transcripts don't match. 

The editing is pretty interesting. At best it's sloppy on the part of to state without qualification that it's a reprint of the article. I thought that proper journalism demanded that any such editing and redaction be explicitly recorded using brackets and ellipses. I wonder how Rep. Rohrabacher would react. I'm unable to find a transcript via at this date, but am of course now curious to see to what degree the NewsMax version was edited as well.

CTP Ballpeen Solutions

I haven't time today to look into this: comments welcomed.


Dr. Pournelle,

Gorgeous space photography. 

Don McArthur
"A skittish motor-bike with a touch of blood
in it is better than all the riding animals on earth."
T.E. Lawrence
(aka Lawrence of Arabia, died in a
motorcycle accident in 1935)

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I have read Robert Heinlein on space exploration, Arthur C. Clarke on the decline of religion, and David Niven on law and medicine (the body parts supply/demand). As a world traveler, I saw samples of all of it. It amazes me how your discredited field of literature so often comes close to the truth, with the best educated writers coming very near in their fictional settings.

regards, William L. Jones

I hadn't noticed we were discredited...

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

William L. Jones wrote (Mail, Friday):

>I have read Robert Heinlein on space exploration, Arthur C. Clarke on >the decline of religion, and David Niven on law and medicine (the body >parts supply/demand).

I had to share the thought that flashed through my mind: Larry Niven starring in "A matter of life and death", and "The scarlet pimpernel"...

Enjoy the week-end... -- Harry Payne




Generally I'm not pushed to respond to what you write, but regarding smart tags, if links are inserted by someone other then the creator of the site, it reeks of theft. Now, on the other hand, the "service" allows the author (note the word) while creating the site to insert links, hey, think of the time it would save by linking automatically.

My two cents.

Rick Fried

Well I can't disagree with that; the question is who shall control these things. The SmartTags are inserted by YOUR browser, so as author I never know what they will be...

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Here's a NASA web page with data and images on CO concentrations for 2000.

Despite the Statist dogma, it appears that the majority of CO is being generated in the third world, not the US. 

I wonder if the New York Times will run *this* story...

Gordon Runkle

-- It doesn't get any easier, you just go faster. -- Greg LeMond

The real question is what effect CO2 has; no one really knows. Certainly we don't want to run an uncontrolled experiment in runaway CO2; but Kyoto isn't the way to reduce CO2 emissions. And CO2 is not the chief greenhouse gas anyway.

Jerry - The following message is from a list-serve I am on. The item offered for sale on eBay was a photographic diary of German rocket engine development during WWII (it sold for over $1000). Aleta

========================== >Guys - I am not allowed to see it (living in Belgium). I get the following >error message:

>Dear User:

>Unfortunately, access to this particular category or item has been blocked >due to legal restrictions in your home country. Based on our discussions >with concerned government agencies and eBay community members, we have >taken these steps to reduce the chance of inappropriate items being >displayed. Regrettably, in some cases this policy may prevent users from >accessing items that do not violate the law. At this time, we are working >on less restrictive alternatives. Please accept our apologies for any >inconvenience this may cause you, and we hope you may find other items of >interest on eBay.

The Nanny State in action...

And from Jim Warren:

>>>>When white man found this land, Indians were running it.
>>>>No Taxes...
>>>>No Debt...
>>>>Plenty Buffalo...
>>>>Plenty beaver!
>>>>Women did most of the work.
>>>>Medicine Man free!
>>>>Indian men hunted and fished all the time!
>>>>White man dumb enough to think he could improve on system like that.

To which I have no comment...




This week:



Saturday, June 16, 2001

Note this well:

Dr. Pournelle,

This is what happens if you don't use firewalls:

"The results are fascinating. A random computer on the Internet is scanned dozens of times a day. The life expectancy of a default installation of Red Hat 6.2 server, or the time before someone successfully hacks it, is less than 72 hours. A common home user setup, with Windows 98 and file sharing enabled, was hacked five times in four days. Systems are subjected to NetBIOS scans an average of 17 times a day. And the fastest time for a server being hacked: 15 minutes after plugging it into the network." 

Don McArthur 

Thanks. I think that pretty well says it all. And note that this is the way things are now.





This week:


read book now


Sunday, June 17, 2001

Dr Pournelle,

Firstly, thank you for both your grand fiction over the years, and your Columns. Since finding your site, I have been truly informed and assisted with several computer-related issues.

In relation to some of the recent articles regarding the regard for democratic process within the EU apparat, please see the following article in the Electronic Telegraph (UK). Apparently they disapprove of Ireland's democratic processes too... 

p.s. Sorry for this unbelievably lengthy link - I agree with your comment on unnecessarily complicated links.

Kindest regards,

Gary Powers,

Sydney Australia

I think the Telegraph is crowing: they could see this coming. But the EU Imperium isn't having any of this democracy or national sovereignty stuff. One Rule to bring them all, one Rule to find them, one Rule to Rule them all and in the darkness bind them...

Dr. Pournelle,

Apparently science fiction is discredited by the mythical body that decides what constitutes classical literature. "They" simply will not take it seriously. I have never subscribed to this view since I started reading at the age of four. I was introduced to good science/fantasy fiction when I read George Orwell's Animal Farm in the third grade. Someone in the school thought it was a children's fairy tale, probably a modern educator. I found it on the third grade library shelf.


But Orwell was rejected by the literary crowd because he was anti-communist and anti-anti-communism not only ruled the academy but still does. You will not find much in academe that exalts individual freedom. The odd part is that some deconstructionist heroes were collaborators with the Nazi occupation, which is all right if you are part of the right crowd, and not OK if you were not. It is all very complicated, but the Groves of Academe increasingly resemble, in Russell Kirk's words, Chaos and Old Night.










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