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Mail 164 July 30 - August 5, 2001 

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This week:



Monday  July 30, 2001

Coming home.



This week:



Tuesday,  July 31, 2001

That worm is still with us:


This article at The Register: 

Shows Norton admitting that it has a flaw in its software that prevents them from filtering out SirCam email virus. Apparently if an email containing SirCam has invalid or mangled MIME headers it sails right through Norton. That's not good. If you ask me its another reason I won't ever use Microsoft email clients and servers. Even the 3rd parties can't seem to get things right these days with email virii. Perhaps corporate America would do well to look into alternatives to the near universal deployment of Microsoft backoffice setups. Postfix and Eudora have been doing fine just by me.

-Dan Spisak

"Sails through" isn't correct. Norton detects it, but is not sure what to do about it. Since the virus does nothing unless you OPEN the detachment with dual extensions, nothing has happened to me; but it is EXTREMELY annoying because I get so many. I have taken to sending them back with "I return your virus to you, thanks for the confidential document" headers...

July 31

Dear Jerry:

Welcome home! I got my new Dell box yesterday, and Works 2001 comes with Word 2000 including Service Pack 1. It would have been great if MS had included the XP version of Word, but at least they made the effort to include the service pack with the older program. For somebody like me who uses very very few of the advanced features of Word it hardly matters.

I installed a TDK VeloCD 24X burner in the new box absolutely without incident... couple of quick updates from the TDK Web site and Nero Burning ROM 5.5 (included) is very happily burning at the rated 24X - a huge improvement over my previous pokey 4X and 8X burners. As you might say, "recommended."

BTW I went back and put a pencil to the "build versus buy" decision once again, and the best I could do on the Web, as close an apples to apples comparison as I could get, is that by buying from Dell I saved about $100 over building the box myself... plus the free upgrade to XP and a free printer. Now if I spent a lot of time and energy chasing bargains I could have done better, I'll grant you, and the homebrew box would have had a MUCH better power supply than what Dell provides (200 skimpy watts), but I would have ended up with high "friction" - the transaction costs of finding and then dealing with multiple vendors online, the multiplicity of shipping charges, and the lack of a unified warranty & support. In your case, with a neighborhood Fry's where you can load a single shopping cart with all the needed items at unbeatable prices, the build decision would have been the way to go. But for us "country cousins" out in the boonies it's not that easy or cheap to homebrew.

The best news about the new computer: the hard drive is almost completely silent! I've been used to the clickity clack of the head hunt and the whine of the drive spin since my first IBM-XT in, what, 1983? It is an amazing relief not to hear any of that any more. But now I have to peer at the little drive LED to make sure anything is actually happening sometimes!

The power fan is much less noisy than my Dell of 2 years ago, as well, and in total my venerable LaserJet III at idle makes about 2X the noise as the new Dimension 4100 - and that ain't much!

Have a great day, all the best,

Tim Loeb

I will agree that Word 2000 with SP-1 is good enough. 

>>1) that statement is not _quite_ accurate, or

>>2) Microsoft has trouble getting competent Windows administrators

>>given the "Code Red" infection of some "Windows Update" servers.


>>Calvin Dodge (who was very grateful to be running Apache after seeing Code >>Red probes from all over in our web log)

My point here is very valid and at least somewhat accurate. I would argue that MS's administrators may have missed the Code Red updates on some servers -- a fact that should cause them some embarressment today and should mean they update their procedures to fix any new holes in a swift and sure manner.

This is not at all different than the issues that have hit the hundreds of sites where BIND was not updated/patched in time and they were caught with their pants down. Did this mean that the admins were not at all competent on those sites? No. It means that the professional admins missed something, caught it, patched it and took steps to make sure it did not happen again.

Good systems administration is a 99% process (work) and 1% art (inspiration). This point just makes it clearer that both sides -- i.e.: professional admins need to be working at system security constantly -- to quote Mad Eye Moody -- CONSTANT VIGILENCE (Harry Potter, Book 4 -- The Golet of Fire) or else they'll end up as prisoners of their own trunk.

This is not symptomatic of a flaw in Windows or any flavor of Unix. This is the territory.

Chris Smith


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

>From time to time my computer hangs when loading an opening page. It hung this morning when loading Byte, exactly as you described. I use Netscape, and when it hangs it has a line at the bottom that says I have 100% of some number of bites, and sometimes shows me a declining receiving rate in bites per second. After some fiddling with it, I tried using the Stop icon in the work bar. Byte came up, and I read your column. Maybe a similar solution will work for you. Be advised that other sites were not affected, leaving the possibility that Byte is the source of the evil.

regards, William L. Jones 


BeOS was designed for media processing: it has media tools, and a low kernel latency so time-critical stuff (like recording samples from an input stream) will happen on time.

Demudi is a special version of Debian GNU/Linux, designed for the same goals.

Older versions of the Linux kernel have terrible latency: common operations lock the entire kernel (a non-efficient way to avoid deadlocks, but easy to code and debug). The work to make SMP work well cleaned up the kernel lock situation quite a bit, and a few simple changes were made here and there to reduce the latency, so recent versions of the Linux kernel are better. The latency is still a bit high for media work... but there are patches you can apply, that reduce the latency to make it Good Enough. The Demudi folks will be putting together a Debian that has the low-latency kernel patch already applied, plus a bunch of media tools, all together. Since it is still Debian, all your experience working with Debian applies, all your Linux applications are available and will run, and the very good Debian package management system will be in place.

(Why don't all Linux kernels have the low-latency patch? Because the patch is ugly, and makes the kernel harder to debug. Linus Torvalds, and even the guy who wrote the patch, think the patch touches too many places in the code. Linus has said he is willing to take low-latency patches if they are clean, so future kernels will likely have really low latency as a standard feature.)

Demudi is not ready yet, but I have high hopes for it. Perhaps some of the fans of BeOS will move to Demudi? Even if it does not do everything BeOS does, it I think it will be Good Enough, and because it is Linux it can share in the Linux momentum. There is a ton of good software now for Linux, and more coming all the time; Demudi should not prove to be a dead end, as alas BeOS now seems to be.

Stay well.

-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" 

I like BeOS as a programming environment, but I don't think it attracted enough systems to make it viable for people to use it for applications development.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I wrote about my experience in missile defense earlier. The New York Times has an article at  showing that the Pentagon is very sensitive to people pointing out the shortcomings of their work. The mere fact that something is public knowledge does not allow a person to point it out according to the military. My own opinion of the Pentagon's accomplishments in missile defense has not changed, but has only been reinforced by this article. Their attempt to use security to cover up lack of knowledge is nothing new. It is just as dangerous for the enemy to know where we lack capability as where we have mastered a problem. However, trying to classify newspaper and magazine articles after the publications have been distributed is folly of the stupidest sort. If the data in question was not yet in enemy hands, the Pentagon has assured that the oversight will be fixed. Remember when the college student told how to make an atomic bomb, using only publicly available data as a reference?

regards, William L. Jones

There is no cause so noble it will not attract fuggheads.  Niven's Laws.





This week:



Wednesday, August 1, 2001

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: the Dewey debate: interim report

Dear Jerry:

Well, I am still plowing through Dewey, and it is possible that I will change my mind, but my preliminary assessment is that I was about 99% accurate in my original contention. (Previous installments of the Dewey debate are at: , , , , & )

A story (quotes approx.): Management consultant Tom Peters gave a lecture stressing the importance of business people listening to and learning from their customers. Afterwards, one attendee asked Peters, "So what do I do?" Peters started to repeat the lecture, and the young man interrupted, "No, what do I DO?" After thinking a minute, Peters said, "Invite ten customers to dinner. Ask them what they think of your business. Listen." What did John Dewey do, and want others to do?

1) Dewey received a traditional education. He completed elementary and high school in eight years, enrolled at the University of Vermont at age sixteen, died at the age of ninety-three (93), and was recognized as USAmerica's foremost philosopher. He spent nearly his whole life in academia, and his collected works fill 37 volumes, not counting correspondence. While apparently this suited him, he disparaged it as harmful for the majority.

2) Dewey taught high school for two years, 1879-1881, then went on to graduate studies. In 1896, he founded an experimental school at the University of Chicago , and ran it for eight years. It had, at peak, 140 students, all white, with parents from the professional class (many were his colleagues at the U. of Chi.) They were taught by 23 teachers and 10 graduate student assistants, and of course, Dewey, the Director of the school, was a high genius. The students had parents who were enthusiastic about his ideas, and Dewey set his own goals for what constituted education, changed them as he pleased, and evaluated his own performance. On the basis of these experiences, and 'booklearning,' he thought himself competent to prescribe an educational system for the nation.

3) Dewey was an admirer of Rousseau, an advocate of socialism, and defender of the Soviet Union from Lenin's coup d'etat through the mid thirties. He was comfortable with the USSR's purges and secret police as long as they were directed at 'kulaks' and 'nepmen' (successful farmers and businessmen, respectively), and didn't see anything wrong with the ideological indoctrination of Soviet schools when they were pushing ideas he agreed with. He turned against Moscow when Stalin began purging the Party elites and intellectuals who were his friends and champions.

4) Dewey spent much time talking about 'democracy.' He wanted schools to advance 'democracy' by promoting the right attitudes in children and gradually reshaping society in the proper socialist course. Little of his work seems to be concerned with allowing the citizenry to vote on matters of concern to them.

5) Dewey talks a lot about science, experimental method, gathering data, testing things, etc. He doesn't bother to do much, if any, questioning of his basic assumptions, makes endless unsupported assertions, cites hardly any sources, and buttresses his theories of education with rather dubious history and psychology. He engages in near constant ad hominem against his opponents, and stoops in places to outright lying, as when he called Thomas Hutchins and Mortimer Adler admirers of Hitler.

6) Dewey's theoretical philosophic position is anti-dualist, but when the chips are down, there's a simple equation of 'good, Progressive, modern, secular, pro-socialist' thought vs. 'bad, reactionary, antiquated etc.' opponents.

7) Dewey talks about intellectual growth and the linking of experience to studies. He contends that you can link manual labor to academic studies, to the great enrichment of the student. Dewey says he wants an abolition of class distinction, with every child educated as far as he can go. He seems to have done this, too, when teaching the children of privilege at his Laboratory School. But when he praises other schools (see e.g. , from his Schools of Tomorrow, 1915), the academic content is missing, while the manual skills get emphasized. But then, the children at this school are all black. Dewey offered rhetorical opposition, occasionally, to those who were dumbing down the curriculum, but also frequently praised them. He was consistent only in his hostility to the traditional academic courses.

Although there's frequent reference to Dewey's critics as 'conservatives,' many of them were also left-wingers. The 'conservative' William Torrey Harris, U. S. Commissioner of Education, wanted to put less emphasis on the classic curriculum, while establishing modern languages and science as equal in value for college preparation. Harris wanted a vast expansion in the number and enrollment of secondary schools, and wanted to teach _the same academic curriculum to all high school students_, both those who already knew they'd be studying law or becoming college professors, and those who were going to be working on farms and in factories. (The only difference would be in what particular languages students chose to study.) Harris thought this would be particularly beneficial to those who would never use these academic subjects once in their adult occupations, and when charged with educating the lower classes to be dissatisfied with their station in life, he said he certainly hoped so.

Dewey opposed Harris and his allies in the early 1900s, just as he opposed Thomas Hutchins and Mortimer Adler in the 1930s when they proposed to teach the _hoi polloi_ out of the same texts he'd read in the University, the "Great Books of the Western World." Instead, Dewey wanted to connect school work to the children's life experiences and pre-existing interests -- leaving unmentioned that children from different social classes would have different experiences and interests, automatically self-sorting the lower classes into their slots as hewers of wood and drawers of water, and his class's children onto the fast track for power. Apparently, 'democracy' consists in _not_ making the same education available to all.

So, Dewey is yet another of the plague of left-wing bait-and-switch artists who promised to free people from the chains of traditional society, level class distinctions, and make it possible for all to rise -- while actually stamping out whatever liberty, equality, and opportunity exist. Like Rousseau, Dewey wanted to smash existing society because he and his fellow intellectuals weren't in charge of it. The present state of US-American education is neither an accident nor a perversion of his ideas. In my arrogant opinion, it's what he wanted.

Best, Stephen

From the Anderson family:

Poul Anderson died at home near midnight, Tuesday July 31, 2001. He had come home that day to receive hospice care after kidney failure brought on by prostate cancer.

His last day was spent with family and friends. He enjoyed his final meals, and especially a Jubilaeum akvavit and Carlsberg beer.

He was pleased and warmed by the many e-mails he received from friends and strangers around the world who had been touched by his writing.

Special thanks go to Diana Paxson, Geoff Kidd, and Gerry Nordley, who helped greatly in his homecoming.

A memorial gathering is planned for 2pm, Saturday, August 4 at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th Street, Oakland. 

"In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the SFWA Emergency

Medical Fund c/o Chuck Rothman, SFWA Treasurer, 1436 Altamount Ave., PMB

292, Schenectady, PA 12303-2977"


Karen Anderson writes:

Integer Vitae

In Poul's last hours, messages poured in from strangers who told how they had learned honor and courage from his writing, courtesy and kindness from his personal example. Such tributes cannot be awarded, but only earned.

He led his life without expecting to gain rewards or escape punishment in some other existence. He knew that good and evil arise from human nature, and believed it is our duty to choose the good. He was, in the words of the poet Horace, "integer vitae sclerisque purus" -- a man of blameless life and free of crime.

From Dan Spisak:


Take a look here at the SANS Institue's tracking of the re-emergence of the CodeRed worm: 

As you can see it's only Day 1 and they think 136,000 sites are infected. That is anywhere from 1/2 to 1/3rd of the total suspected number of infected systems from last months round. This round will also be worse due to an improved version of the worm that has a much better random IP address generation scheme then the original version did. Just to give some idea, as of 4PM my box has been hit by 11 others trying to infect it. There is a great project going on at: 

that has sites voluntarily forwarding their firewall and intrusion logs to a central repository to create a worldwide intrusion detection system. It looks pretty interesting.



A few other tidbits on CodeRed v2 I forgot to add. Caida is doing more analysis on the current spread but don't have links to all of it. You can see a almost live graph of infected numbers of hosts here: 

They are also doing a survey of systems to find out more information about who is infected here: 


So is the sky falling or not?


This came across an international list I frequent which is made up of graduates of Jeff Cooper's Modern Technique of the Pistol training. As you can expect, there are a lot of military, law enforecement, firearms trainers and just plain civilians on there.

jim dodd 

---------- Seven Taliban authorities attempting to take a lone female into custody were shot and killed here yesterday. It was not clear why they were arresting the woman. According to witnesses when she resisted their efforts to take her into custody they started to beat her at which time she produced a silenced pistol from her clothing and killed all seven Taliban. Witnesses said she reloaded the pistol and left the area before reinforcements arrived. Local police chief Colonel Ali-Asghar Sayyaf is concerned that the killer possessed a silenced weapon and had the skill to easily kill seven armed men before any were able to fire a shot. The Colonel refused any further comment and said he is confident his men will locate the woman soon. It is speculated by one Mujahideen source that she may be the same female assassin who has stalked key members of terrorist movements throughout Europe and the Middle East for the past decade. The source speculated that due to the proximity to one of his homes Usama Bin Laden himself has been selected as her next target. Commander Masood of the United Front has denied knowledge of any attempt to assassinate Bin Laden.

Serve them right?


[full Detroit Free Press story at ].

There are just some people in this world who should have their wrists bound to their ankles, sprayed with the phermones of a female rhinoceros in heat, and dropped by parachute into an African jungle...

Michigan police officers are among that group.

(OK, some of you are going to say that "it's only a few bad apples" and that I shouldn't assume that all police officers are bad. Well, I'm not a criminal, but I'm still considered guilty until proven innocent by the FBI every time I ask for their permission to buy something at the gun shop. So why should I give a damn if the whole bunch of cops is tarnished?)

Dmitri Sklyarov ( has been held by the U.S. Justice Department for two weeks now without a bail hearing. His "crime"? At DefCon9 in Las Vegas, he demonstrated that Adobe uses crappy encryption for their eBook Reader. He did not actually violate any copyrights -- he only demonstrated that Adobe's eBook security could be circumvented, either for legitimate or illegitimate purposes. The "potential" to violate copyright law is illegal under the Digitial Millenium Copyright Law of 1998. (On the bright side, Dmitry has finally been allowed to communicate with his wife and two small children, and rumor has it that a bail hearing is being negotiated with the government).

Yet a database which has been used by Michigan cops -- as though it was their personal perk -- to stalk women and intimidate people is considered "a powerful weapon in the fight against crime," and the abusers are usually "taken care of internally."

But the government doesn't consider outlawing these databases which have the "potential" (and proven track record) of being abused and misused, nor criminally prosecuting those officials who do misuse the. Instead, the government wants more databases to keep track of us. (Let's hope they don't use Adobe to secure these databases).

This should worry everybody.



Cops tap database to harass, intimidate

Misuse among police frequent, say some, but punishments rare

July 31, 2001








This week:


read book now


Thursday, August 2, 2001

Deadlines and stuff. Ricochet is NOT going to go away.








This week:



Friday, August 3, 2001

Let this stand for about 50 letters, and thanks:

Dr. Pournelle:

I know that you are a user of Ricochet wireless. Thought you might be interested in this link where the service is shutting down. 

Ray Thompson Oliver Springs, TN

It turns out Ricochet's death was greatly exaggerated. It's still up, and apparently there are bidders and buyers. As Roland and I surmised would happen. It's just too good a service to let die. 

On the Code Red Worm:,9565,169678,00.html 

A little sanity in the reporting...

Chris Smith

Indeed. Thanks.

I am not sure I make as much sense of this as the writer does:

Wow, haven't thought of Byte (or Niven) in a LONG time! While poking around depressing DNS and bandwidth news I noticed a link to your Ricochet story. Amazing, even a multi decade tech icon is having trouble with bandwidth in a populated area of a technological state in a noticable country.

Imagine my reaction, all these years later, to find myself in the position to teach you a fundamental thing or two about the state of computer industry!

"The information is out there, but finding it is not trivial and often requires expertise."

If only that were true.

Sadly the specs are NOT out there. Inspecting the GNU/Linux efforts in Mexico reveals a recent example of the hassles closed hardware (in this case the predatory 'WinModem') can generate on a large scale. It happens on a small scale too, as we learn over time (check for a spec friendly vendor before purchasing the latest widget or suffer).

"Begin with Pournelle's Law: If you don't know what you're doing, make sure you deal with people who do."

Reminds me of an old bit of advice; if you want three answers post a wrong one.

"It wasn't intended for Aunt Minnie, and it won't be: If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time."

This reveals a deep flaw in your understanding of the software development food chain and of the Linux culture. I can't remember if you are a SciFi writer that dabbles or hacks so I'll spare you the technopolitics but know this; that statement is not true.

Please teach the newbies carefully, freedom can be fragile.

-- Gary Johnson Privacy on the net is still illegal. <a href="">refactor</a> 

He seems convinced that Linux will be for the desktop user and soon. I suppose that is possible, but I have seen little that makes me believe it.

Hi, I'm a frequent reader of your column. I remember Byte (I think it's in your column) has an article on how to run windows application on linux but I failed to find the article.

could you help me ? I am currently running ASPLinux (based on redhat 7.1 with Gnome desktop) and I'd like to run applications such as ICQ2000 for windows, contact ( and Quicken. Thanks for your help.


Hanny Tidore []

I get this kind of letter all the time. I seldom have time to answer for obvious reasons...

Education Disasters:

You've run various discussions over the years on the concept of "If a foreign power had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war."

I don't know if you need more examples Here's another editorial (Arianna Huffington) on the topic, with more examples.  

(Greg Goss <> )


And it is true: if a foreign power imposed this education mess on us we would nuke them. The quote was Glenn T Seaborg in the 1983 Presidential COmmission on Education study: "If a foreign power had imposed this system of education on the United States we would rightfully consider it an act of war." That was drafted by Annette Kirk, but it was signed by GTS and the commission. Things have not changed for the better since.

Incidentally, I have met Arianna; she is quite charming in person, although I don't always make sense of her columns. At times she reminds me of Georgie Ann Geyer who is one of the best there is. I spent a weekend in Moscow with GG as she is known. Of course my wife was there too.

There is a lot of very interesting information on the attack on the USS Liberty in James Bamford's new book about the NSA, _Body of Secrets_. I've always felt it was a pity that we didn't respond to this by having a B-52 fly over Tel Aviv and drop a few thousand pounds of HE. When the Israelis complained we could have said "Whooops, we thought it was Hanoi. Sorry guys."

Jamie Jamison

I fear I can't agree with slaughtering civilians over an action of their government even if it were proved that this was a government act. The article referenced in View is persuasive: recall Napoleon Bonaparte, "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence." The author doesn't believe what he describes is incompetence but I do.

Mr Jamie Jameson's opinion is that it was a pity "we", the US, didn't bomb Tel Aviv when the Israelis attacked the USS Liberty. Well, we didn't bomb Pyongyang over the Pueblo, and North Korea wasn't even a nuclear power as Israel was, even back then. Israel is a foreign nation and nations act in what they conceive as their interest.

Lyndon Johnson's government made war on North Vietnam over a supposed torpedo boat attack that never happened, so it wasn't above making war without a reason. As to why they didn't take on Israel - who knows?

Talking tough is easy, but assuming Tsahal wouldn't fight back against US bombers is just plain dumb. I'm reminded of back in 1961 or 1962 when India took over Portuguese Goa in an unopposed invasion. Some Colonel Blimp type in Tokyo, where I was then stationed with AFRTS, opined that Portugal should "sail a gunboat up the Ganges" and demand India give Goa back. At that time Portugal had about two gunboats - small ones. India had an aircraft carrier, several light cruisers, submarines, not to mention an excellent airforce and professional army.

One could, I suppose, renew inquiries today, but to what point?

Al Frank (who is, BTW both Jewish and a US Army veteran)

As I understand it, Portugal made India "invade" because a referendum in Goa went overwhelmingly for staying Portuguese, but there was no actual resistance, not even a symbolic shot in the air.

I fear I do not understand the next letter either:

+---- Darren Remington wrote: | Gary, | | I saw your note to Pournelle on his mail page, and was | not surprised at his response: | "He seems convinced that Linux will be for the desktop | user and soon. I suppose that is possible, but I have | seen little that makes me believe it." +----

Now that is rude. I didn't even know he had a 'mail page', and his seemingly private response _to me_ was a feeble one liner. Thanks for the heads up. Gotta love that revolution, always quick to help at random!

Did Pournelle turn into a putz while I wasn't looking?!

-- Gary Johnson Privacy on the net is still illegal. <a href=""> Get up, stand up.</a>

I suppose I am not thinking clearly just now. 

I suspect the UNIX for the masses will be Mac OS X, although it is not yet a finished product. The lack of support in X for DVDs and PC Cards keeps me using Mac OS 9.1. (The lack of DVD support is supposedly because you can use gdb to step through the DVD decryption algorithm. Don't you just love the DMCA?)

 -- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. <>

That may be right, assuming that Aunt Minnie really wants to learn to egrep, or that Cousin Randall is willing to compromise by renaming the function.

On Education:

It could be worse. In the US, mathematicians and scientists are worried about eating the seed corn. In Europe, urp!!! If you don't have the teachers to teach the math or science or medicine or computing, you can't train the students in math or science or medicine or computing to produce the next generation of teachers. As a computational scientist, I use math all the time, but when I write an equation on the board for the students, I lose most of them. In the US, anyone with a degree in computer science from an accredited program has had a couple of semesters of math; not so in Europe. See the July issue of Communications of the ACM for some comments. 

-- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. <>

 o - o - o

Dear Sir,

I read with interest today's "Education Disasters" and the related article by Arianna Huffington about the state of education in our country.

I share your concern for the state of education today and also note that Georgie Anne Geyer, whom I read as regularly as I read you, also ran a piece yesterday ("Parents Must Bear Responsibility for Out-of-Control Kids" see:  ) suggesting that parents bear at least some of the responsibility for the problems facing American education.

Unfortunately, the solution to either problem will be long in coming and doubtlessly expensive. -- Cheers,

Art Russell

"Laws were most numerous when the commonwealth was most corrupt." - Tacitus

GG is always worth listening to.

And that ought to be enough for a day or so.







This week:




Out of Town






This week:


read book now


Sunday, August 5, 2001

Begin with the sort of pleasant letter I get every now and then:

Subject: No offense, but your website looks hideous

There's no way to sugar coat it. Your website looks hideous. It looks like it's 5 or 6 years behind the times. You're using Frontpage so I know it can be made much nicer looking and more up to date just by using a few property settings and some wizards. You're supposed to be the consumate power user so get with it and make use of the software.

Bill Guenthner

Always makes me feel like this is worth the effort.

Shortly after I got this:

How long has it been since your Web site was last designed? Are you interested in upgrading to a 21st Century Web site? Do you want more out of your hosting arrangement? Are you interested in some custom programming?

Maybe we can help. We have a variety of package deals at

Check us out at

Chris O'Kennon Director of Web Design AnyKey Consulting LLC

p.s. Ask me about our "We suck up to writers" discount.

Which I am sure is a pure coincidence, since I get stuff like that all the time. But I guess I'll just have to muddle along. I have thought of doing themes and designs,  but I am not particularly artistic, the words are the main thing here, and I'll just have to muddle along with my hideous web site. Sigh.

And of course I find that my hopes that Ricochet will be bought in time to keep it going were false, and the service will go dark shortly. So I am back to looking for another high speed service. Ah well. 

Jerry, I had earlier told you how happy I was with Ricochet, despite the fact that they were facing financial difficulties. I guess you got the email talking about their imminent dissolution. How sad - I had truly hoped that they would make it. Even more perplexing, if you follow the data that this person sent me (& the links) is that the modems had a Point-to-Point capability that the WWC and Ricochet folks went to great links to hide! How unfortunate - not only were they ahead of their time but apparently they never even reacted to changing markets that would have made this service very useful indeed. P2P at 128K with Palm Pilots in a corporate environment? Hmmmm...... I guess we will never know what could have become of this ability. Bill (details follow....) 

The above link is all the info on using P2P with a radio modem. This site uses Metricom modem as the example. If you can find a use for the modem, I would encourage you to try it. But if your still interested in selling it , I might be able to get if the price is right...

Bill Kennon

>From: "Bill Kennon" <> >To: "Joe" <> >Subject: Re: Question from eBay Member >Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2001 09:24:56 -0500 > >OK and you know this is the external unit? It's interesting, that they can >talk to each >other - I had never heard that before! >Ricochet and Metricom really missed the boat on these things - I was using >mine until >DSL became available - I am 2 miles outside the stated coverage area, and >it >worked great. >A couple of weeks ago DSL came in, and I was using it at the office. Great >devices. >Bill > >----- Original Message ----- >From: "Joe" <> >To: "Bill Kennon" <> >Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2001 9:03 AM >Subject: Re: Question from eBay Member > > > > The ricochet network is gone. I know that. the applications I am >interested in > > are P2P. I dont know if you knew or not, but the modems have a direct >connect > > method. 2 modem in two different computers can still connect directly to >each > > other without the ricochet network. Of course windows does not support >this, but > > under unix, the modems are still usable. Standard 802.11 cards can cost >upwards > > of 200-300 dollars, and the range at which they work is considerably >less >than > > the mile two ricochet cards will reach each other at. > > > > Bill Kennon wrote: > > > > > I pulled the auction when I realized that Metricom was not going to >try >to > > > keep the Ricochet service going - I was > > > concerned that a buyer might have an expectation of being able to use >the > > > modem on another service or that there > > > would be some sort of "resurrection". > > > You do realize that Ricochet is completel OOB? > > > Thanks, > > > Bill > > > > > > ----- Original Message ----- > > > From: <> > > > To: <> > > > Sent: Friday, August 03, 2001 11:38 PM > > > Subject: Question from eBay Member > > > > > > > > > > > To member: > > > > From member: jdo2001 > > > > > > > > -------------------- > > > > > > > > > > > > dont know if you still have the modem, but I might consider buying >it >if > > > the price is low enough. I know ricochet went out of business, but I >have a > > > practical application. please email me back > > > > > > > > -------------------- > > > > This email was sent by an eBay member via eBay's email forwarding >system. > > > > If you reply to the email, your response will go directly to the >member > > > and > > > > not through eBay. > > > > > > > > eBay does not tolerate spam (i.e., unsolicited commercial email) and >is > > > > taking steps to protect members from this abuse. In addition, > > > solicitations > > > > to buy or sell items outside of eBay violate eBay rules and are not > > > covered > > > > by services that protect members such as feedback, insurance, >escrow, >and > > > > dispute resolution. If this is an offer to buy/sell items outside of >eBay, > > > > please do not participate. Enter the following link into your >browser >to > > > learn more. Link: > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >

I think I had known about the P2P capability and I was going to look into that shortly. Ricochet worked and worked well, and my hope is that someone will buy it out of bankruptcy and turn it back on again.  Until then, sigh, I am looking again for a high speed connection system...

As Peter says, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

From John McCarthy:

Here's the story on the Ehrlich-Simon bet and its sequels - from my
 . I hope the html markers don't deter anyone. I interspersed my own comments with the Ehrlich-Schneider proposed bets.







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