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 Mail 180 November 19 - 25, 2001 

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This week:



Monday  November 19, 2001

Jack writes,

"Ismail Khan, the man who now rules over Herat and six other provinces on the Iranian border, is also a Pashtun"

No, he is a Tajik - and friend of Iran.

Beth Queman

Thank you. This place has some of the sharpest readers in the world, and I try to keep things as up to date as possible...


I ran across this a while back, and was reminded of it while reading your report entitled, "Why NASA?". I haven't researched it exhaustively, but it looks interesting, anyway.

Here's the link: 

I hope you find it interesting.

Best Regards,

Doug Hayden, "Loyal Fan in Science Fiction & Fact"

Sealaunch is the "Big Dumb Booster" concept, and has some advantages, but I think the right way to go to space is with reusable spacecraft. But sometimes you just need a truckload...

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Take a look at this: 

The government is ordering libaries to destroy information, even going so far as to designate certain libraries as depositories for such information. Perhaps we'll call the book-burners "firemen"?

The new secret police state will make us safer. No, really. Laffink ist verboten!

Gordon Runkle

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

I saw that in yesterday's paper. I have mixed emotions on the subject, although on the whole I am on the side of openness...

Now for something different:


Dear Mr.Jerry Pournelle.

I know how you'll be able to successfully fight with BIO-


I have idea which help USA defend their population from

terrible illnesses which terrorists send into envelopes.

I ready to sell my idea to USA at $10000.

If my information is interesting for you,please,send me your

information at my e-mail address:


I don't think I can help here...

Hi Jerry. I share your love of the movie Caesar & Cleopatra, it is quite true to the original. Curious readers may want to get the full text of Shaw's play, it is available from Project Gutenberg: 

All the best, David Mazzotta 



I read with interest that Ricochet may be back. That would be great for you. I know that DSL has made a huge improvement in my enjoyment of the Net and vastly improved my read/wait ratio. And downloads are fairly painless now. And my kids are finding online games. And and and. It's wonderful-ever since I improved the physical line it was running on. Bad connections are still bad connections.

I also can't say enough about my SMC Barricade router. It's a standard 4-port router that has a serial port for an analog modem for when the highspeed access goes down (that hasn't happened since I fixed my line). It also has a built-in print server, so the other computers on our little net can print when my machine-the one that used to "own" the printer-is turned off. Setup is browser-based and straightforward, and the manuals are very helpful. They have a more comprehensive set of manuals on the CD-ROM that comes with the router. And when I needed help with the print server and Windows XP, they really do have toll-free help 24/7.

On high-speed cable access, I do have one concern:

Researchers probe Net's 'dark address space' (from ) leads off with this: "Broadband customers and U.S. military systems are the most common victims of an online phenomenon researchers have dubbed "dark address space," which leaves some 100 million hosts completely unreachable from portions of the Internet." Further down, it says, "Why cable modem customers also top the list remains one of the unsolved mysteries in the project. . ."

This would push me toward DSL over cable, until the problem is fixed. I know that cable access is faster than DSL, but having used T1 lines in work situations, I find it good enough for me-other than streaming media or huge file downloads, where a hyperfast connect would make a difference.

Verizon tells me my connect speed may be up to 768 kB/sec. I have no way to know what my connect speed is, though-all the software I have seen simply tests download speed.

As I write this I am downloading a file from Denmark at a little over 62 kB/sec. The best I did on dial-up was about 4 kB/s. Typical download speeds on DSL range from 15 to 30 kB/s or so. Most of that is net congestion and slow servers, of course.

On the other hand, some download software (e.g.-Microsoft's Windows Update) doesn't tell you how fast you are downloading. In general, though, I get fast page downloads from places like Dawn (a Pakistani newspaper), the London Times, etc. Lots of fun.

Whatever you end up with, I'm sure you will be most happy.

Ed Hume

They tell me it won't be long now...

Meanwhile the satellite works when it works, which is usually until the evil spirits rise from the local graveyards, or my nose twitches improperly...

On BIOWAR: I have put up a long and sensible discourse. See the Security page of the Black September War section.

Now for something completely different

Some people just need to be burned -- in effigy, of course. The officers of the Boulder chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are among those people. Maybe they would be less upset about such an act if the effigies were wrapped in an American flag at the time of the burning...

Here in Boulder, Colorado - a.k.a. "The People's Republic of Boulder," or "the Berkeley of the Rocky Mountains," -- there was a controversy when the Boulder Public Library refused to display a large American flag in the aftermath of September 11 and the war in Afghanistan, because a flag might offend some people.

However, at the same time, the library was displaying an exhibit called "Hung Out to Dry," which consisted of ceramic penises hanging from a cord running across the library. "Hung Out to Dry" was part of a larger exhibit called "Art Triumphs Over Domestic Violence." Apparently, the penises are supposed to symbolized domestic violence [1].

On Saturday, November 10, somebody stole the penises and replaced them with an American flag [2].

After Bob Rowan - who became known as "El Dildo Bandito" - called a radio talk show and admitted to stealing the "art," Boulder Police recovered the items the next day. The police did not arrest Rowan, because they were not able to contact the "victim" - artist Susan Walker - to see if she wanted to press charges [3].

Of course, the Boulder police would have looked really bad if they had made an arrest of "El Dildo Bandito" within 48 hours, while still unable to make an arrest in the murder of 6 year old Jon Benet Ramsey after five years, but that's another topic.

Now, it's not hard to imagine that if the situation had gone the other way - say someone stole an American flag from the library and replaced it with a ceramic penis to make some idiotic statement about domestic violence - the ACLU would be defending such a courageous act of artistic expression on first amendment grounds, and probably demand federal funding for it.

However, not only will the ACLU refuse to defend Bob Rowan, they are urging that he be prosecuted. Judd Golden, vice chair of the Boulder County Chapter of the ACLU [4], referred to Rowan's brave act of civil disobedience as "censorship," even though Rowan was not an agent of the government.

Barry Satlow, chairman of the Boulder ACLU, is demanding that the district attorney prosecute Rowan. Satlow stated that leaving the decision to prosecute up to the victim is comparable to the days before arrests for domestic violence were mandatory. "If she doesn't complain, it's OK, it's not a crime? Bull. This is a crime and should be treated as a crime" [5].

Funny - the ACLU consistently claims that they're for a "woman's right to choose." Now they want to deny Ms. Walker - the artist - the choice of whether or not to press charges against Bob Rowan, and deny Mary Keenan - the district attorney - the choice of whether or not to prosecute him.

Of course, for years the ACLU has not defended the right of women to, say, weigh the risks vs. benefits of owning and carrying a firearm for self-protection, and act upon that choice. And they actively oppose a woman's right to choose how to use the funds collected and allocated for the education of her children, because she might *gasp* send her kids to a private school. To them (and most of the political Left), a woman's "choice" is narrowly defined in a warped Orwellian way, and has become an exclusive synonym for the termination of fetuses.

Somebody - and I wish I could remember who so I could credit him - said that the United States needs an American civil liberties union, and it's too bad that we don't have one.

1. Catherine Donaldson-Evans. "Colorado Library Exhibit Pushes Boundaries of What Defines Art." Fox News. November 08, 2001.,2933,38368,00.html 

2. "Ceramic Penises taken, replaced with Old Glory." Boulder Daily Camera. November 11, 2001. 

3. "'Bandito' admits to stealing library art.' Boulder Daily Camera. November 12, 2001. 

4. Boulder County Chapter of the ACLU web page: 

5. "Libarary art won't be reinstated." Denver Rocky Mountain News. November 13, 2001.,1299,DRMN_15_876414,00.html

Robert Racansky

You make your case well. Thanks.

Hi, Dr. Pournelle:

Well, it's no longer hearsay to my company: THE letter arrived from Microsoft, "kindly" requesting that we inventory the software licenses for every machine we own and make them all compliant with Microsoft's EULA "within 30 days".

We did it and we're in compliance, of course, but this is surely no way to treat your customers. As the open-source tide begins to build and Microsoft watches its customer support first trickle then flow away, perhaps they can scratch their chins and wonder what they did wrong.

I remember a time not that long ago when you found an item you wanted to buy, laid down your cash, and that was the end of your involvement with the seller. Are they really so paranoid and cash-starved that it's just not possible for them to sell their products, take the cash and move along?

Best Regards, 

I think they have lost their minds. TRUST US they say with Dot.NET. "We don't trust you," they say with their new policies.

I think they have gone insane.

The following sign is posted in the front window of a local (Florida) neighborhood business.









This week:



Tuesday,  November 20, 2001

Roland calls this "Magic lanterns..." 

And then we have on California education,2933,39146,00.html 

Oy vey this is getting bad.

{O.O} Joanne Dow,


And on that score


This article drifted back to the top of my pile, and I thought you might find the first paragraph as astonishing as I did.

Literacy by Robert Klassen <> Recently I witnessed a shocking demonstration by a new, English-speaking, college graduate. I don't normally talk about my writing with colleagues at work - there isn't time - but one intelligent youngster asked me a question that I could most easily answer by showing him one of my essays. He could not read it. I mean, he could sound out the words that he knew, skipping the words he didn't know, but he could not make sense of the sentences. After watching his ordeal for five painful minutes, I verbally gave him the message encoded in the English language that he could not read. He believes that he is educated, by the way, because he has a college degree. .... 

I wonder how many of those kids in fast food places who can't count back change are in college. The good news is, as someone who CAN read, I will likely continue to be employable as long as I care to work.

.........Karl Lembke



In yesterdays mail, one of your correspondents, Ed Hume says "I have no way to know what my connect speed is, though-all the software I have seen simply tests download speed."

There is a utility for improving internet download speed called Tweakmaster (available at Tweakmaster Pro includes a graphing routine that shows both upload and download rates. The program seemed to improve my connect rates considerably and might be worth a look.



And Jim Carr sends this link to a sad tale:


The item below speaks for itself. It appeared in current issue of OC Weekly which is owned by same folks as LA Weekly. The writer lives in Costa Mesa.


Dear Jerry,

I have just finished reading your "Janissaries" series of novels, and have enjoyed them very much. After finishing the 3rd book, I was hoping there might be a 4th, or at least plans for a 4th. Is Tran attacked with Sky Fire? How will Rick escape? Does Ganton become Wanax, Emperor, and High Rexja?

If there is not a 4th book, I would be very interested in a short description of how the story ends. If you have time, I'd would greatly appreciate your response.

Thanks very much for a great story,


--------------------------- Mark J. Rokey Ground Systems Manager NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

Actually I am dancing as fast as I can. I have about 50% of book 4 done.






This week:




Satellite problems








This week:


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Thursday, November 22, 2001

Thanksgiving Day

Worm Warning!



Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2001 01:16:12 -0800 (PST) From: Roland Dobbins 

 Subject: Further details of new Win32 worm.

Expanded vulnerability scope - machines with SQL Server currently installed and/or previously installed (including as part of SMS, Project 2000 Server, etc.) which have 'sa' accounts with no password, as well as machines not patched for this vulnerability: 

The abovementioned security notice seems to imply that unpatched machines onto which the SQL Server Desktop Engine has been installed may be vulnerable as well. Visio Enterprise Edition installs this Desktop Engine by default, as do a number of other database-oriented tools from various vendors.

>From Bugtraq:

> >Hi All, > > > >Analysed it a bit further (thanks to VMware and netmonitor) and > >once it is started it connects to an irc server at, > >port 6669. From the rest of the capture it seems it drops a message > >there with the name of the machine it compromised and a password > >like string. > > > >It furthermore (see strings output on executable, scan for registry > >keys) adds itself to the Run entry in the registry so it is started > >each time the machine is booted. A few of the registry keys: > > > >SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\TaskReg > > > >SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSSQLServer\Client\SuperSocketNetLib\ProtocolOrder  > > > >SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSSQLServer\Client\ConnectTo\DSQUERY > > > >From the strings output it seems to contain a scanner (sm6 ..) that > >will scan for new vulnerable machines. 

 Roland Dobbins 








This week:



Friday, November 23, 2001

This is a most amazing scam.  It began with this email:

[This got very long and very complicated. It is apparently a spam not a scam, and perhaps it is not even that: perhaps it is merely inept marketing. In essence I got email from a South African company telling me I have a virus (I do not) in mail that supposedly I had sent to them (I had sent them no mail nor had I ever heard of them before). 

Shortly after I got email from them offering to sell me an anti-virus service.

The entire story with all the emails is on a separate page, as it gets very long and becomes increasingly less interesting in the process. It may be a scam (but a legitimate one), it may be spam, or it may be rather inept marketing. 

The bottom line is that if you get email telling you that you have a virus, pay attention.  The whole story can be found on an attached page. Incidentally I now understand that ZA is Republic of South Africa rather than Zanzibar or Zaire.

My guess that ZA being the top level domain for South Africa comes from the Afrikaans Zuid Afrika.

Regards, Bas

Basilio Alferow


From Joel Rosenberg

---------------------------------- Politics: Meanwhile, the nation building continues, alas. There seems to be some coalition-building virus that's taken over the whole world community, and my guess is that it'll be about as successful as usual -- which is to say, dramatically not. I'd purely *love* to see a modern democracy take root in the Muslim world, if only pour encourager les autres, but I think that's purely a pipedream. Cuba is likely to go democratic (although, my guess is, probably not until after both Castros are dead) long before we have a real Muslim democracy.

Islam, to be fair, was socially rather ahead of its time, in many (not all) respects. But its time was the ninth century, and the world really has moved on.

More and more, I'm impressed with our own Founders, who -- while they got a lot of stuff wrong, IMHO -- got an amazing number of the basic principles right, and made it work (with some horrible lapses, down the line -- I don't think there were any good solutions to, say, the Cherokee problem, but the Trail of Tears was awfully bad) until the last century, more or less. How much of that is due to the culture or the individuals (George Washington riding back to the Continental Congress to return his commission, frex), deponent knoweth not.

And "more or less" is a lot better than, say, "one man, one vote, one time."

----------------------------- Mandrake: I'm getting more and more comfortable with Mandrake 8.1 as my working environment. The important things are easy -- Star Office, with a few annoying bugs, works like a charm -- and while I'm suffering from browser bloat (I've got two versions of Netscape, as well as Konqueror, Opera, and Mozilla up), that really amounts to an embarrassment of riches, more than anything else. I really need to get and install ViaVoice for Linux, but that's been a matter of lack of time and too much work, rather than anything else.

I keep hearing complaints about the lack of apps, but some people apparently need to do things that I don't. From my point of view, there is a serious embarrassment of riches problem, when it comes to things other than the main wordprocessor. For system configuration (I can't help playing around with stuff), I've pretty much settled on webmin, which can do more than I need to, and gcombust works wonderfully for burning backup data CDs.

The only real frustration is that I haven't been able to get both monitors working simultaneously, which is a handy thing to have. When it comes to automatic configuration of anything beyond the basics, Windows is still easier. But it'll come, I'm sure. 

-- ------------------------------------- There's a widow in sleepy Chester Who weeps for her only son; There's a grave on the Pabeng River, A grave that the Burmans shun, And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri Who tells how the work was done. -------------------------------------

Thanks. One thing: I had to paste your message into NoteTab Pro and manually add double spaces, even though Outlook displayed your text with proper line ends and double spaces: apparently your Linux word processor does not use the Line End character that FrontPage Paste Special expects. If there's a setting you can change it would be useful.

Has there ever been a Muslim democracy? CAN there be one, given the Koran and Caliphate traditions?

Hi, Jerry--

Remember that long-winded insult you found somewhere online and posted on SFF.Net a couple of months ago. A friend forwarded it to me ... but there's more to it than that. Go nine paragraphs down from "Cut here" and check it out.

-- Allen Steele

I have given this its own page. It's certainly interesting. I had not seen the paragraph 9 before... Thanks!

From Jim Warren:

Seems to me we are building the 4th Reich *much* more quickly than that other guy was able to build the 3rd Reich. --jim

LABELLE, Fla. -- A man of Palestinian descent was released after being jailed for more than two months when federal authorities dropped charges that he altered his U.S. passport by laminating it.

Nacer Mustafa, 24, had been jailed as a national security risk by federal officials in Texas. The same charges against his father, Fathi Mustafa, 66, also were dropped Tuesday. The elder Mustafa was free on bond and ordered to wear a computerized monitoring device.

A laboratory analysis of the passports determined neither was altered.

"The laboratory analysis showed that the laminate had most likely split and was not an additional laminate," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman wrote in his motion to dismiss the charges.

"You could say this was a miscarriage of justice," said Dan Gerson, a Houston attorney representing the family. "There's a potential here ... to sue the government."

The Mustafas were arrested Sept. 14 at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as they entered the United States from Mexico. A federal agent said there was a second layer of lamination on their passports.

Both men are U.S. citizens and run a small department store in LaBelle, east of Fort Myers, Florida.

Fathi Mustafa said Tuesday he was glad his and his son's names have been cleared, and that he will soon be reunited with his son. Nacer Mustafa was expected to return home this week.

Fathi Mustafa has spent the last six weeks wearing a computerized ankle bracelet. The Mustafas said they must wait for paperwork from Texas to be sent to the federal courthouse in Fort Myers before the monitoring device can be removed.

"I have been living this hell," he said.

Fathi Mustafa, a citizen for nearly 40 years, said doesn't understand the treatment by the United States.

"I've known from the first time that nothing was wrong with our passports," he said. "But we don't want to argue right now, we are just thanking God he's out of jail."

I suspect that not one person will be reprimanded, demoted, or even admonished as a result of this. When there are no consequences there is no deterrence. And this is the path to a new Waco. I would like to be mistaken on this.

The one man was carrying a passport that might have been altered; the other had done nothing at all as far as I can see. In both cases I would imagine that it would not take more than a couple of hours, less time than was spent "processing" them, to find out the truth of the matter, or at least that they had been in the community for years, and there was no more reason to suspect them than to suspect anyone else.  They owned property, they had a place in the local community, and a few phone calls to the local police in their community would determine that. But no, we can't do things that way.

And that's the way it is...






This week:



Saturday, November 24, 2001

Dr. Pournelle,

I first saw this item over on Radio Free nation [  ], which is an occasionally interesting site in it's own right.

As reported on ABC News. 

The Power Paper company of Israel has a new form of battery technology. Using standard printing methods, they have battery chemicals can be literally printed onto paper or any other flexible material. The battery ends up being about half a millimeter thick 

there are a number of other future applications that look interesting as well. 

The idea of animated packaging on stuff you buy in department stores is has certain nightmarish possibilities. 

Mike Zawistowski 

I was thinking of good applications until I came to that last sentence...  Thanks!

From Roland: 

More on Alvarez 

Roland also points to an incipient treaty we seem about to sign:

Note the reciprocal extradition, password-disclosure provisions, etc. We as private citizens are now at the caprice of foreign laws.  --

I haven't had a chance to look at this. It seems pretty grim on first reading. Welcome to the new empire.



From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: Those wacky Brits

Dear Jerry:

While deciding whether to sue that British magazine that libeled you, you might reflect on the following, from a pillar of British Establishment journalism:  Talk about LOL!

And in the "This must be a joke, it's too good to be true" dept., see 

Btw, Gordon Runkle misinterperted the story about the destruction of information by the govt. He seemed to think they were depositing information in certain libraries in order to destroy it. The _federales_ already designate certain libraries as depositories for information, and routinely provide them with large numbers of govt. documents. They have now asked those libraries to destroy some of the previously deposited information.

Best, Stephen

Thanks. In fact, my philosophy is "If I wanted to spend my life in a courtroom I would have been a lawyer." That's actually a Niven quote, of course. But I am a bit miffed that they never answered my email to them. Ah well.


I just read your article of 19 Nov in the online Byte. You mentioned that you wanted to shut down NetWinder, which I understand is a Linux box. You logged in as root, and typed

sync; sync

(which essentially gets the file systems ready for shutdown) and then didd an init 0 (which changes to runlevel 0).

Why not run, as root,

/sbin/shutdown -h now

This will cleanly shut down your machine -- all running processes are killed, file systems are closed, things are good. It also broadcasts a message to all users, saying that shutdown is imminent!

Instead of -h, if you use -r, the machine will reboot. If you change "now" to a number, it's the number of minutes until the machine halts or reboots.

Try a "man shutdown" for more info.

Good luck,

Andy Peters Tucson, AZ

Well, yes, and I guess this is the amusing thing about Linux/UNIX. It doesn't matter what you do or whether it works or not, there will always, always, always be someone who can and will tell you there's a better way to do it...


I just had to send you this as one of the great "Catch 22" e-mails of all time.

I have been calling Verizon, my ISP, for the past *6 weeks* trying to find out what "Miscellaneous charge $99.50" means on my bill. I've been calling and holding regularly on a recording that says we are now open 24 hrs / 7 days a week, but we're busy back when we aren't busy. It also gives me an email address I can complain to. My past experience with Verizon tech support was that their online support was awful ( email requests are replied to several days later, completely misunderstand the problem and are also rather rude) but the 800 # support was good. So reluctantly I sent off an email. I got an auto reply back saying my email was very important and I would be hearing from them shortly! What appears below seems to be the final reply. To add insult to injury, I use dial up service, not dsl. I would infer from this that my phone company doesn't pay it's own phone bill.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Mail Administrator" <> To: <> Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2001 4:04 PM Subject: Mail System Error - Returned Mail

> This Message was undeliverable due to the following reason: > > The user(s) account is temporarily over quota. > > <> > > Please reply to > if you feel this message to be in error. >

Droll.  Thanks.

Yup -- no matter how you do what you do, there's somebody with a better, or at least different way, to do it, who will be glad to explain it to you, but is often -- not always -- less helpful in explaining why their way is better.

(And, of course, in my experience, it sometimes *is* better. I *think* that my preference for the combination of RAID-5 and the ext3 journalized file system for everything except the /boot partition makes sense for a desktop user with a modern machine, although I really don't have anything near the expertise to be sure.)

One real weakness for Linux in terms of getting broad-based penetration is that method bloat, for a lot of things.

If you want to, say, configure your Linux box to connect to a share on an NT/2000 machine, you can do it from the command line, set up and run a script, edit smb.conf manually (not too hard, following the how-to), browse to http://localhost:901/ to use SWAT, or do it from webmin in, I think, at least two ways. In 2000, there's basically only one way.

Want to get and read email? Pick your choice of email client (granted, that's the same for Windows), but then you get to decide whether you want to use your ISP's SMTP server, or run Postfix (my recommendation, FWIW), or run Postfix and Fetchmail to deliver your popmail to your machine in the background (which is what I finally settled on). Want to know when your email's arrived? Kbiff or tkbiff or some other biff? All are fine, but somebody's got to choose.

Now, if I were to go to a friend's house and set up a Mandrake box -- which is probably in the cards, sooner than later -- I could do it, and I'd do it as plain-vanilla as I could, and with Mandrake, that would probably mean booting into X with Aurora (even though I don't like it -- it is the default) and autologin, KDE desktop, Kmail, Postfix (doesn't hurt -- the user can still use his/her ISP's SMTP server), Knode, etc. Still, I'd have to make some choices (do I install StarOffice in the user's home directory, or in /opt?), and somebody else trying to manage/reconfigure the system would have to either figure out those choices or just override them.

And Mandrake is, by design, intended to be an easy install.

But it's coming along, and I think it'll get there, and with Microsoft doing everything it can to maintain an iron grip on the desktop, it should.

Joel Rosenberg

-- ------------------------------------- There's a widow in sleepy Chester Who weeps for her only son; There's a grave on the Pabeng River, A grave that the Burmans shun, And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri Who tells how the work was done. -------------------------------------

Well at least it is very simple to cut and paste now...





This week:


read book now




Re with Linux there will "... always be someone who can and will tell you there's a better way to do it."

Linux (and Unix) have been around long enough now (20 years?) where things have evolved how to do things that are not so much the "right" way, but "the way" or "a way". A body of knowledge and experience exists. With the changing population of users caused by time and by growth, a lot of learning and re-learning goes on surrounding that knowledge.

I've noticed (and this applies to most things, not just computers) that people expect and seek complexity when trying to learn. When I'm teaching people, and I notice them "making it difficult" at least I know they are interested and trying. I advise and counsel to seek simpler things. If it seems hard, there ought to be another way.

Simplcity doesn't come easy. It's harder to create simple things than complex things, as we all know.

My Linux Learning: seek the simple solutions. Don't let it be complex and don't accept complex solutions as the way it is.

Robert Schneider

Good observation. On the other hand, "better is the enemy of good enough". Chaos Manor tends to be the house of good enough. The danger there is that sometimes better really is better and good enough isn't. And of course around here we do a lot of silly things so you don't have to...

Subject: Incredibly Funny: Why Microsoft really is a monopoly...

Dr. Pournelle-

While I try not to "blame" anyone for Microsoft's successes or failures, I found this piece extremely funny:  

Keep up the good work. I've always enjoyed your stuff.

Rob Madison

Clever indeed...

As you said, they won't necessarily speak English... 

-- Robert Bruce Thompson


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Below is some up-to-date information on Dmitry which I am forwarding with permission from Christopher Maden, who is actively involved with his situation.

Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2001 11:31:24 -0800 From: "Christopher R. Maden" <> Subject: Turkey w/ Dmitry X-Sender: To: [snip]

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Give thanks for your liberties, which Dmitry doesn't have - his family is with him, but he is thousands of miles from home and unable to return.

_The Register_ has a story at <URL:  > - Elcom was planning on reprising Dmitry's infamous talk at the Black Hat Europe conference, but since charges have been brought against them as well, they've dropped out.

The next legal step is a hearing on Monday. Predictably, attention has waned across the board, with no visible information on the EFF Web site, and being terribly out of date. However, the information I've gotten from the free-sklyarov mailing list indicates that the scheduled hearing is still on, though I don't have times. We will try to pack the courtroom again. Bust out the suit!

Ah-hah! <URL:


02a6eb945e051015882566a30060ea62?OpenDocument  > says that Judge Ronald M. White is hearing the case at 9 am in Courtroom 6 in San Jos. Be there or... be employed, I guess.


9:00:00 AM Status Hearing - DEFENDANT NEEDED - INTERPRETER:______________________________ (Russian)

~crism -- Libertarian candidate, California State Assembly, District 13 Free Sklyarov: <URL: > Freelance text nerd: <URL: > PGP Fingerprint: BBA6 4085 DED0 E176 D6D4 5DFC AC52 F825 AFEC 58DA




If you want to further complicate your life you could set your systems to get their DNS service from the Open Root Server Confederation at

What this does is enable your system to 'see' alternate top level domains like or http://free.tibet or my own instead of

They have been at this for years, some of the new TLDs offer free registration and others charge anything from a small amount to way too much for a domain that most of the world will never see.

I have become interested in alternatives to the ICANN/NSI dominated legacy domain system after some problems I have had with NSI recently. My wife runs an online wedding invitation business called The Busy Bride and we have and the .org and .net as well as and .net but was owned by someone else.

So we bought it from them and transferred ownership to my wife (after a month or so of screwing around). I immediately tried to transfer registration away from Network Solutions, I use a CORE affiliated registrar. But come to find out that NSI wants the domain to be with them for 60 days before they might let it go (They don't count the 3 years the previous owner had it registered with them). And to boot I find out that they want a $35 registration fee within 30 days!

It seems to me that NSI is essentially holding our domain hostage. We don't want to be associated with them, but because the previous owner had it there they are trying to hold on to it for as long as possible and extract the most from it that they can.

Whoops! Sorry for the long rant there. Anyway, this has inspired me to explore alternatives to the current system. Not that they will replace it any time soon, but maybe lending some support to a good cause will have a positive effect down the road. There is no reason for the current system to continue to exist, other than to constrain the freedom of the network.

Brian Lane

-- | | |

Fascinating. Thanks.

And Tracy Walters says this is Way Cool 

I don't recommend it for those without high speed connections, though. In fact, I strongly don't recommend it for those without high speed connections.

From Eric Pobirs:

A few years ago, at the last E3 held in Atlanta, a dinner conversation concerned the seemingly limitless extent to which Japanese urbanites will virtualize the most mundane activities. The virtual pet craze was understandable, since apartment dwellers everywhere are often denied the simple companionship of a small mammal of some sort, feline, canine, simian, etc. It was the innovation of Pokemon's combat options that took the virtual pet from mere companion to a combination of bloodsport and gambling that was desperately missing from the lives of Western children. Thus Nintendo was saved from a serious downturn in its set-top business.

Other virtual activities rake in the mega-yen in Japan while enjoying only a niche market in the West. Horse racing, fishing, strip mah jong, and dog walking are all in the arcades with numerous version of each on every computer and video game platform. 'Princess Maker' and its imitator child raising simulations are offered for the never-home salary men. 'Roomania' provides practice for those contemplating their first move away from the 'rents. Dating simulations tap into the same adolescent female market as the boy bands whose members themselves primarily resemble adolescent females.

During that long ago conversation I put forth that virtuality will have reached its pinnacle when Tokyo arcades offered the opportunity to simulate masturbation without using any portion of the body other than the hands. Thus the world's oldest form of virtual reality would itself finally be rendered virtual. One of the others suggested that the arcade hardware and cabinet for Sega's 'Get Bass' fishing simulator would lend itself to this goal. The entire group enthusiastically (and loudly) ventured ideas for designing a game that would have great visceral detail while requiring enough strategy as to completely eliminate any vestige of sexual release.

By the time we wound down the other patrons of that Wendy's franchise had disappeared. This may have been explained by the late hour but I like to believe that we had some influence on their departures.

At the time it all seemed just an elaborate jest but reality keeps creeping closer. Although actually the creation of a Korean company, this 'Boong Ga Boong Ga' machine is certainly a step closer to that dread day.,2101,48438,00.html 

Woo Hah./

Hi Jerry,

I just caught up on the last three byte issues and have a couple of comments for you.

1/ Another proxy software you might want to consider is called "Jana Server" written by some bright spark in Germany ( ). I have been using it since I upgraded my main computer to windows 2000. Highly recommended. Oh, and it's free.

When I switch from win98 to w2k on my main computer, my internet connection sharing stopped working for web browsing on all computers behind the main computer. I have never figured out why that was happening. All other internet connections work fine. Very strange. With the Jana server proxy installed, it was no longer an issue.

2/ There is a company that provided a commercially supported version of VNC. The url for the company is Of course, the software still remains free. The free version currently available is based on the last version released by AT&T laboratories. It also includes several improved compression algorithms, including the "tight" compression method you mentioned - all in one package. You might want to use that version for ease of installation. The improved compression algorithms have proven themselves when I have been supporting machines in Bangkok and Taipei from Hong Kong under Windows. (It wasn't quick, mind you...)

Tridiavnc now appears to have a new windows version available as a beta for a 30 day trial. I'm guessing that it provides improved windows remote control.

Lastly, the VNC program works very well under Linux and Solaris. In fact, it works so well, that I use my Linux box through a VNC window displayed under windows (with background bitmaps, 1280x1024 resolution and 24 bit color). It's fast! I guess that it is because the VNC acts as an X server and it knows how to intelligently update the windows in a speedy fashion, unlike how the current versions works under windows.

If you need to access any of your Linux boxes remotely and you are not doing so already through VNC, get someone to set it up for you. It's so nice to be able to sit in one chair looking at your best monitor and accessing the computer of your choice.

I call it being efficient, but my wife likes to tell me that I am being lazy ;)

- Paul

PS: If / When you have time for all that, of course...







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